How to Read Food Labels

October 6, 2015

Don’t Let Food Labels Give You Indigestion bigstock-Woman-Reading-Packet-In-Superm-3915536

When you are cruising the grocery store aisles, you probably flip over a few items to scrutinize their nutrition labels. But do you understand what you’re looking at? The government is working on updating the label to reflect today’s nutritional concerns and include more realistic serving sizes, but until that happens, use the diagram included with this post to help make quick, informed food choices that contribute to a healthy, balanced diet. Also, remember these helpful tips:

1. Nutrition information is provided for one serving of a food or beverage. Many products contain more than one serving. If a serving size is one cup, and you eat two cups, then you must double the calories, fat, sugar, and other ingredients to get an accurate estimate of how much you’ve eaten. If you’ve eaten a smaller portion than what is on the label, calculate accordingly.

2. Pay special attention to the amount of sugars (including carbohydrates) in one serving. This is especially important if you have diabetes (or other health concerns) that require you to monitor sugar intake or the glycemic index of foods.

3. Check out the amount of fat, especially saturated fat, in one serving. Unhealthy fats contribute to many chronic health problems. Trans fats are also labeled because they are known to contribute to bad cholesterol,which contributes to heart disease. They also harden arteries and block cell to cell communication. Choose foods that are free of these fats. Trans fats are also referred to as “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” and are detrimental to your health. However, some foods, like nuts, have high fat content, but the source of fat is actually good for the body. It is not a saturated or a trans fat.

4. Be aware that “0” does not mean zero! It means less than 5% per serving!

5. In addition to understanding the nutrition label, take a look at the list of ingredients.
If you cannot pronounce the words that are listed on a food label, it’s likely coming from chemicals and processed (unnatural) elements that are not healthy for the body. Some of the items you want to avoid include:

  • Preservatives including BHA, BHT, brominated products
  • GMO – genetically modified organisms, common in corn and soy derivatives
  • Dextrose
  • Xanthan gum
  • Hydrocarbons (pesticides PCB, DDE, DDT)
  • Soy and cottonseed oil
  • Dyes (e.g., yellow dye no. 5, tartrazine)
  • MSG – monosodium glutamate (common in canned foods and Asian cooking)
  • Food allergens – if you or family members have a known allergy to peanuts, wheat, soy, or gluten

If you are in a hurry and can’t take the time to read labels, be sure to avoid packaged (bag, box, or bottle) foods. Instead, buy fresh foods and eat a rainbow everyday (e.g., fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt). Also, choose water, tea, or juices with no sugar added.

Finally, pay attention to what’s happening in the news – in July 2015 the government proposed a new nutrition information panel for food labeling. The public is invited to provide comment: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm387533.htm

In health,

Dr. Gina

Diagram_Nutrition_Label


The Potential of Resveratrol-is it Worth Adding to your Health Regimen?

August 20, 2009

grapeResveratrol is a naturally occurring chemical found in the skins and seeds of red grapes, peanuts and in Polygonum, a popular and well respected herbal medicine from the Far East.  Currently, the research on Resveratrol is promising as a protective chemical against the damaging effects of toxins, synthetic estrogen and xenoestrogens, inflammation, and the process of aging.  It has specific actions on the brain, immune system, and heart.

In my practice I will use between 200 and 500 mg per day of Resveratrol as part of a treatment protocol. This typically is added to a protocol after a patient has been tested to determine if he or she has a deficiency of antioxidants or an imbalance of free radicals relative to antioxidants in the body.  All too often patients come into my practice with a huge bag of supplements, with no idea of what is working, what is not working and still battling the same symptoms that led him or her down the path of supplementation.

You know your body better then anyone else… you have been living in it your entire life!  You may have a sense of what is causing your symptoms and you also may have a sense for what medicines are helping or harming you.  To help confirm that sense, and develop a balanced approach to solving your health challenge, I encourage getting lab testing completed through a qualified Naturopathic Medical Doctor who has access and has experience with taking objective measured to get to an underlying biochemical cause for your symptoms.  And at that point, adding a powerful antioxidant such as Resveratrol to your protocol, and then re-testing after 3-6 months, this will let you know for certain if what you are taking is actually helping to balance your body!

In health,

Dr. Gina


Dr. Gina’s New Organic Vegan Smoothie Recipe

March 17, 2009

I’d like to share a new recipe with you that I have come up with that offers all around immune, digestive, antioxidant, and detoxification support. This is my new morning smoothie regimen. And it takes about 1 minute to make!

Here it is:

  • 2 scoops of Intestinal RejuvenX
  • 1 heaping tablespoon LTP Green Light
  • 1 heaping tablespoon LTP Organic Reds
  • 1/2 – 1 cups frozen fruit (banana, blueberries, etc.)
  • ice and cold water

Blend together to desired consistency and enjoy!

*** You can call the office to order any of these products as they are all stocked in our medicinary. Just mention you’d like the “new smoothie” products.

In joy, and in health,

Dr. Gina


Healthy Meals Equal Better Grades in School

August 28, 2008

One of the most important components to children functioning at their best in school and on the playground is proper nutrition.  The Washington Post just reported on this subject, offering valuable tips and resources  to ensure that your child gets the nutrition he/she needs. Children who eat healthy, satisfying dinners sleep better, and are more alert the following morning. And children who eat a balanced nourishing breakfast and lunch have better neurotransmitter activity and improved concentration during the day.  Supplementation is also an important option to consider in children who are not getting the nutrition their brain and body need, particularly if they are challenged with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Affordable, Healthy Foods

August 5, 2008

As food prices climb, and the health of our nation, and our nation’s children, disintegrates, we have the opportunity to return to a simpler, more healthful diet. Here are 10 suggestions to get you started:

1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.

2. Organic Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, and organic eggs for a dollar fifty, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest—as fries or chips—we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.

5. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.

6. Bananas
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.

7. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but ’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.

8. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.

9. Pumpkin Seeds
When it’s time to carve your pumpkin this October, don’t shovel those seeds into the trash—they’re a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals. Plus, they come free with the purchase of a pumpkin.

10. Butternut Squash
This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and chunks and chunks of Vitamin A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.

Adapted from this original post on Divine Caroline

-Dr. Gina


Vitamin Deficiencies, From Eating Too Much, Cause Modern Illnesses

February 19, 2008

White BreadPeople are eating more calories then ever before, yet nutrient deficiencies are considered one of the major causes of modern illnesses including cancer, obesity and age-related degenerative diseases. How can this be? Because when you eat more calories then your body needs, and they are “empty” calories-meaning they are not rich in nutrients-this will cause your body to become deficient in at least on of the 40 micro-nutrients essential for life. When this happens, your body overcompensates to ensure immediate survival, but in the process causes a lowered immune system, DNA damage and accelerated aging. Dr. Bruce Ames, a professor at the University of California, Berkley, has been studying the connection between micro-nutrient deficiencies, genetic damage and cancer for several decades and discussed his findings at a recent medical association meeting. I have been citing Dr. Ames’ work for the past 10 years when lecturing to physicians. What I like about his research is it clearly establishes the fact that nutrient deficiencies are a more significant and correctable CAUSE of diseases like cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes then genetic predisposition. Just one more reason to look at your daily diet for true health.

Some examples of empty calorie foods are:

  • Pasta
  • All White Fluffy Foods (cakes, white bread, white rice, Twinkies)
  • Anything that has hydrogenated oil in it (read the labels!!!)
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Fried foods

Some examples of nutrient dense foods are:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Sprouted grain breads and tortillas (e.g. Ezekiel sprouted bread and tortillas)
  • Organic goat’s milk dairy products
  • Quality protein that is prepared simply (broiled, baked, poached)
  • Fresh fruit in limited quantities (always eat twice as many servings of vegetables as you do fruit)

In health,
Dr. Gina L. Nick
NMD PhD
President California Naturopathic Doctors Association

To view the research referenced above click here


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