Friday, October 24, 2014

Immune Health starts with a Health GI Track!

It might come as a surprise that your gastrointestinal (GI) track plays a role in the health of your immune system but in fact, it plays a rather sizable role. Our intestines are filled with healthy bacteria, antibodies and a variety of immune cells that all work to keep us healthy. The next time you get a cold, don't just think about who got you sick, think about - your diet.

While the research in gut immune health is still underway what seems to be especially important is the consumption of plenty of plant foods.   The variety of bacteria in plant foods, along with the variety of phytonutrients makes plant foods - grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds - good choices to fuel a healthy immune system.

If your diet is still a bit animal food heavy, take sometime to look for ways to sneak in more plant foods - try a few of these ideas.

  • Add shredded carrots and squash to chili or try 2 -3 different beans
  • Try dried fruit, nuts and shredded veggies in your next batch of muffins
  • Stretch your omelet veggies to squash, broccoli, green peas and carrots
  • Add diced beets to a beef casserole - they look like meat
  • Cut the amount of beef you use in a dish but adding chopped mushrooms
  • Fruit salsa flavors meat nicely and cranberry sauce on salmon is a nice twist
  • Chopped dried fruit and throw it into yogurt with some nuts or seeds
  • Combine brown rice and veggies for a colorful side
You can make these changes slowly if you need some time to adjust to the new look and different flavors.

Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD
Nutrition Communications Consultant

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hip Fracture and Soda Intake?

According to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition soda consumption has seen a small decline in the past 10 years but adults consume close to 100 Kcalories of sweetened soda per day in 2010. Diet soft drink has gone up with 28.3% of women 40 to 59 years and 23.1% of women over the age of 60 consuming diet soda on any given day.

At the same time the study looked at the incidence of hip fractures, especially in post-menopausal women. What the researchers found was that there seems to be a slightly increased risk of hip fracture with the consumption of larger amounts of soda, whether it is sweetened or not.

While the cause of this increased risk was not clear, what the researchers did report was that failure to consume enough calcium, while consuming more phosphorus from the soda, could be a factor. The researchers also noted that women who consumed more soda tended to have higher body mass indexes (BMI) so weight could be a factor.

So what does this mean if you are a soda drinker?

  • If you are drinking soda in place of calcium rich dairy - take time now to make that switch
  • Work to include at least 3 servings of dairy each day - - provides good ideas
  • Assess your body weight and develop a plan to achieve a healthier weight if you need to - a Registered Dietitian can help you do that
  • Make physical activity a part of your day - a good goal is 30 minutes, most days of the week
Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA
Nutrition Communications Consultant

Friday, October 3, 2014

Whole Grains – Health Benefits and Tips

You’ve probably heard of grains and whole grains but do you know what makes them different? Grains, which include wheat, barley, oats, cornmeal, rice, and other cereal grains are further divided into 2 groups: whole grain (e.g., whole wheat bread, oatmeal) and refined grains (e.g., white bread, pretzels). Whole grains contain the bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain kernel, whereas the bran and germ are removed in refined grains.

Whole Grain Nutrition
Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, which may help prevent heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes and bowel dysfunction.  In addition, fiber can also help provide a sense of fullness with fewer calories. Whole grains also contain some iron, which carries oxygen to the blood. If iron intake is inadequate, anemia may occur, which is common in young women. The type of iron in whole grains is better absorbed with vitamin C, so try pairing whole grains with foods high in vitamin C. Whole grains also are full of B vitamins that help your body get the energy it needs from food that you eat.

The removal of the bran and germ in refined grains removes the dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Although, some B vitamins and iron are added back in “enriched” refined grain products. MyPlate recommends that at least half of your grains are whole grains, and when choosing refined grain products, look for “enriched.”

Try the following tips to increase your whole grain intake:
·       Substitute whole grain breads and pastas for white, and substitute brown rice for white.
·       When baking, substitute whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the portion of white flour. This will add whole grain without compromising the texture of the product.
·       Snack on 100% whole grain crackers instead of refined grain crackers or chips.
·       Choose whole grain cereals, like oatmeal, instead of sugary, more refined cereals. Add an orange or a glass of orange juice for vitamin C.
·       Look for food products that are high in fiber. 10-19% of the daily value (DV) is good, while 20% or more is excellent.
·       Add barley or brown rice to soups and stews.
·       Pair broccoli or other vegetables high in vitamin C with brown rice.

For more information about whole grains, visit MyPlate (

For more whole grain recipes, visit the Whole Grains Council (

Written by Danica Pelzel, Dietetic Intern Fontbonne University
Reviewed by Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA
Nutrition Communications Consultant