Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in animal products including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Individuals following a vegetarian or vegan diet may need to supplement Vitamin B12 or consume other foods fortified with vitamin B12 for this reason. Vitamin B12 is responsible for several important functions in the body including DNA synthesis, the formation of blood cells, and the overall function of the nervous system. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults 19 years of age and older. The RDA is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the needs of nearly all healthy individuals (97%-98% of individuals). Humans are better able to absorb Vitamin B12 from whole food sources versus vitamins or supplements.
Best sources of Vitamin B12:
Skin is the largest organ in the body and the layers beneath the surface of our skin have direct contact with the bloodstream. This connection means that the nutrients (or lack thereof) from the diet impact the health and texture of our skin directly. Nutritional deficiencies often first appear on the skin, hair, or nails. The old adage “you are what you eat” is true when it comes to how you eat and how your skin looks and feels.
Just as you can toxify your skin with certain foods and beverages, it is possible to “detox” your skin with a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Heavily processed, high sugar foods and beverages can wreak havoc on your skin. After cutting out those types of foods and prioritizing hydration and a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and healthy fats, you may start to notice clearer and brighter skin. Insulin can trigger a hormonal response in the body that prompts an increase in sebum production in the skin, which can block follicular openings and lead to acne. Reducing sugar consumption and refined carbohydrates and focusing on a low-glycemic diet can help mitigate this response. Additionally, it is important to note that frequent yo-yo dieting and severe calorie restriction does not do our skin any favors. Our skin needs ample healthy fats to help retain hydration and keep that glow.
Great for skin:
What is the Nordic Diet?
The Nordic Diet has gained research interest due to potential health benefits similar to that of the Mediterranean diet. The principles of the Nordic Diet include an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like rye, oats, muesli, and barley), and nuts, with a reduction in livestock consumption. Rye is a traditional grain used heavily in the Nordic Diet, which is high in fiber and contains bioactive compounds that can support a healthy gut. The diet promotes eating seasonal produce like native berries, cruciferous and root vegetables, and fresh herbs. Fish is encouraged as the main animal proteins source. Other positive elements of the Nordic Diet are the promotion of daily exercise, enjoying meals with friends and family, and moderate alcohol consumption.
What are the drawbacks of the Nordic Diet?
Nutritionally, the Nordic Diet is a balanced, nutrient dense, and environmentally conscious way of eating! The drawback of this diet may be that some of the more commonly eaten foods might be harder to find in other areas of the world. It may also require people to learn new recipes or cooking methods to prepare new-to-them foods like lingonberries, herring, or reindeer. For those unfamiliar with this part of the world and the culture, it may be challenging to incorporate some of the more uncommon foods.
Would I recommend this eating pattern for my clients?
Sure! Like the Mediterranean Diet, it has an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, which almost everyone can benefit from including in their diet. It is a nutritionally sound diet that includes a variety of nutrient dense plant and animal foods. This diet may be easier for someone with a Nordic background or familiarity with the culture to adhere to.
Why do electrolytes accelerate hydration?
Electrolytes like sodium and potassium help facilitate the absorption of water earlier in the digestive systems and allow water to enter the bloodstream faster than water alone. These are a great option for people who are very active and sweat a lot during exercise, recovering from illness, do not enjoy the taste of plain water, or want additional health benefits from their beverage.
What are red flags to look out for when buying electrolyte powders/packets?
Try to avoid products containing sugar alcohols (xylitol, erythritol, glycerol, and mannitol), which in excess can cause GI upset. Electrolyte mixes man contain glucose (sugar) as an ingredient – especially if they are designed to be consumed during endurance exercise. Be aware of the sugar content and make it sure it aligns with any other added sugar intake throughout your day. In general, adults sugar limit added sugar intake to 7 tsp (about 28 grams) per day. When shopping for these types of products, be sure to check the expiration or “best by” date. It is recommended to consume electrolyte powders within 2-3 months after opening.
What are green flags to look out for when buying electrolyte powders/packets?
When shopping for this type of product, check the ingredient list for natural ingredients and natural forms of sugar and sugar alternatives. Natural sugar alternatives include stevia and monk fruit extract. If desired, you can also seek out brands that have been Verified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project. Electrolyte products should include directions for mixing with quantities of water to ensure the most effective ratio of electrolytes to water.
Why is it important to eat the right foods after a workout and does it depend on the type of workout?
Fueling properly after a workout is key to maximizing recovery. A combination of carbohydrates and protein is key – regardless of the type of workout. The amount of food consumed post-workout will depend on the type, duration, and intensity of the workout. Longer, more intense bouts of exercise will warrant a larger meal than shorter, less intense exercise sessions. Consuming enough carbohydrates and protein is key to replenishing the muscles so that you can return to your next training session feeling energized.
When is the best time to eat after a workout and why?
Try to eat as soon as practical after a workout – within 30 minutes to 1 hour is ideal. This timing is key because muscle tissue is most sensitive to nutrient intake during this window. If it will be more than an hour until your next meal after a workout, have something small to bridge the gap. A protein shake/smoothie or bar are great options to have right away.
What foods are best to eat after a workout when you’re trying losing weight?
It is always a good idea to seek the guidance of a nutrition professional for specific recommendations based on your personal goals and lifestyle. If weight loss is the goal, it will be important to make sure that the post-workout meal or snack aligns with the calorie target for the day. It is crucial to establish a calorie deficit when losing weight. Foods like low-fat Greek yogurt with berries, a simple protein shake with 2% cows milk or the unsweetened plant-based milk of your choice, or a turkey sandwich on wheat bread could all be fine choices.
What about when you’re trying to gain muscle?
For muscle gain, a calorie surplus is necessary. Achieving a calorie surplus means consuming more calories (with an emphasis on protein) than are burned. In this case a large snack or meal after a strength training workout is key. This could be a full meal containing protein (chicken breast, ground turkey, lean steak), carbohydrates (brown rice, baked sweet potato, whole grain pasta), healthy fat (avocado, olive oil, nuts), and vegetables.
What about when you’re trying to just get toned (meaning not get too bulky)?
Getting “toned” is tricky because it does require building muscle and trimming fat – when someone is “toned” you can see their muscle definition*. Focusing on protein and complex carbohydrate consumption without going overboard on calories should be the primary goal.
*As an aside, the word “toned” is rather a frustrating one in the fitness space (at least for me it is). Like I mentioned above, appearing toned requires visible muscle definition. Achieving this requires strength training and fueling appropriately to build muscle. Also, it is mainly women who have the goal of achieving a toned look, but at the same time may be afraid to do the type of workout required to achieve those results. My hope is that the conversation around women in fitness can shift from strictly aesthetics and looking a certain way, to overall strength and confidence in their body.
Why is tea, as opposed to coffee or other beverages, more beneficial for fighting off cold symptoms?
Tea catechins, which are a type of phenolic compound found in plant foods, are natural antioxidants. Antioxidants work in the body to protect cells from free radical damage. Drinking tea regularly may help boost your immune system and ease cold symptoms if you happen to get sick.
How do the flavonoids in tea help combat congestion, coughs, inflammation, etc?
Some research has been done looking into the effect of tea consumption on flu and cold viruses and there is some evidence that the catechins in tea may inhibit the viruses from attaching to host cells and from replicating. Additionally, drinking a hot beverage like tea can help loosen secretions in the chest and sinuses, which helps to clear congestion. Warm beverages can also soothe a sore throat and cough.
What is the best way to sip tea for a cold and what are the benefits of adding lemon and honey?
Adding honey to your cup of tea can help improve your cold symptoms thanks to it’s antimicrobial properties. Let the tea steep for several minutes before adding the honey – water that is too hot can destroy the health benefits. Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice is another way to add even more antioxidants and vitamin C to your cup of tea! If you enjoy your tea with a splash of milk, keep in mind that the fat and protein in milk may deactivate the antioxidant compounds in tea and reduce the cold-fighting benefits.
So what is my tea of choice for cold and flu season?
Green tea! It contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which is one of the most powerful compounds in tea. This powerful antioxidant makes green tea an excellent choice to sip on throughout cold and flu season. Bottled teas often have sweeteners added, so brew your own green tea at home, letting it steep in 180 degree water for 4-15 minutes before enjoying!
Lunch breaks are beneficial for productivity, stress levels, and personal health. Taking a break in the middle of the workday can boost productivity. We have all experienced moments at work when we feel stuck or have hit a mental roadblock. Stepping away from the desk and giving your brain a break from the task at hand can spark creativity and generate new ideas. Returning to your desk after a short break may help you finish whatever you were working on more efficiently.
Do your best to take your lunch break away from your workspace. If you can, spend a few minutes of your break outdoors. Taking some time outside during the workday can help reduce stress levels. A porch, patio, or deck can be a great place to have lunch if you work from home. Want to boost stress reduction even further? Add a little movement! A short walk outside before or after eating your lunch can reduce cortisol levels. The Park is a perfect example of a workplace that invites movement throughout the day, boasting a 3-mile walking path throughout the campus.
It is also important to take a lunch break for the sole purpose of eating during the day. Many people work through their lunch or forget to eat. Skipping meals, especially lunch can make it even harder to get through those afternoon work hours. Food provides our body, and more importantly – our brain – with the energy it needs to think critically and complete tasks. Taking the time to eat a balanced lunch containing vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and some healthy fat can leave you feeling satisfied and energized to take on the rest of your day. A proper midday meal can also ward off overeating later in the day because your blood sugar levels remain steady and you never reach that “starvation” level of hunger.
If you feel as though you don’t have the time to take an extended break just yet, try to spend just 10-15 minutes away from your workspace to eat your meal. Eating without the distractions of the computer or phone can help you eat more slowly and mindfully. Paying attention to what you’re eating can help you feel more content and satisfied with the meal. Another helpful tip – a collection of 2-3 different snacks can be paired together to form a meal - you don’t have to prepare gourmet or elaborate lunches! An example may be veggies with hummus, a yogurt cup, and a piece of fruit with nut butter. Alternatively, if you are back in the office, take a few minutes to peruse the options in the cafeteria. Look for options like grain bowls, salads, or sandwiches prepared on whole grain bread.
Shifting the mindset about lunch breaks from being “unproductive” to a time to refresh, recover, and recharge for the rest of your day can be the key to making this change in your routine.
Check out these 5 produce gems at your local farmer’s market this fall and how you can enjoy them a little differently this year!
Tara Tomaino, RD
T&B Coach, Nutrition Director
Canned pumpkin puree (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling) can be a budget friendly and nutritious addition to your pantry staples. Here are a few of my favorite budget friendly, healthy ways to eat pumpkin during the fall:
Tara Tomaino, RD
T&B Coach, Nutrition Director
Vegetables are tremendous for weight loss because they are generally low in calories and high in fiber. The high fiber content helps you to feel full and satisfied for a while after your meal. When in a calorie deficit for weight loss, eating large portions of vegetables can help fill your plate for fewer total calories. Eating a variety of different colored vegetables can also help you consume a wide array of nutrients your body needs to thrive.
Cooking or serving vegetables with excess fat can undo the weight-loss benefits of vegetables. Deep frying vegetables, for example can add a lot of additional saturated fat and calories. Instead of frying, try roasting or grilling vegetables with just 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Steaming and blanching vegetables are other cooking methods that do not add any additional fat or calories.
Salads can be a great go-to meal for those wanting to lose weight but drowning it with full-fat creamy dressing can add hundreds of calories. Be mindful of how much dressing you use by measuring out 1-2 tablespoons and choosing vinaigrette dressings made with olive oil or low-fat creamy dressings.
Snacking on raw vegetables is a great strategy for weight loss as it can be a quick and easy option to grab from the kitchen or pack with you. Baby carrots, sliced cucumber, celery sticks, and sliced bell peppers are all great low-calorie choices that can be paired with a healthy fat or protein source like nut butter, hummus, or cheese.
Although using some fat with cooking and/or serving vegetables can aid your body in the absorption of nutrients, you want to be careful of how much you use because it can quickly put you over your calorie goal. Rather than eliminate butter, oils, and dressings all together, get into the habit of measuring out these ingredients to keep the calories in check – 1-2 tablespoons is usually the standard serving size.