Gut Microbiota

A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains allows beneficial bacteria to dominate and inhibits the growth of  harmful strains. Here are some general tips for helping microbes in our body, however more research is needed on what the optimal solution is:

  • Focus on fruits and vegetables: A plant based diet rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes and high in dietary fiber and polyphenols seems to help the microbiota. These foods offer prebiotics.
  • Fermented foods may affect microbiota by influencing the gene expression of the bacteria that already exists. Yogurt and kefir are both naturally fermented foods with live active cultures and sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and raw vinegar are high in Lactobacillus bacteria.
  • Garlic and leeks contain natural sources of prebiotic inulin.
  • Focus on minimum processed foods and limit sugar and unhealthy fats.
  • Consider taking a probiotic supplement (L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, B. longum and B. bifidium) — during and after antibiotic use to help manage antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Antibiotics kill all bacteria (good and bad!), so it is helpful to take probiotic supplements two hours before or after taking antibiotics.

Food & Nutrition May/June 2015. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Food Safety

Good food safety practices are critical to preventing the spread of bacteria and foodborne illness.

It is a good idea to follow these steps to keep food safe:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom.
  2. Wash food preparation surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after preparing foods.
  3. Consider using paper towels to clean up. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of a washing machine.
  4. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cold running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Do not use soap or detergent.
  5. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water, or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
  6. Keep books, backpacks, and shopping bags off work surfaces where food is prepared or served.

**Remember to refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Do not over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to help keep foods safe. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the temperature is consistently 40 degrees F or below. The freezer temperature should be 0 degrees F or below.

http://www.foodsafety.gov

Spring Clean Your Diet

As warm weather approaches us, spring is a perfect time to take advantage of seasonal spring produce! Seasonal fruits and vegetables are at their highest quality and optimal flavor during the months of March-June. There are also more fruits and vegetables available in season, so they cost less at the grocery store or farmer’s market. What is better than healthy choices at great prices? Some examples of fruits and vegetables that are seasonal during this time are apricots, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, Swiss chard, chives, mustard greens, mangoes, oranges, spinach, and strawberries! Spring is also a great time to think about growing your own food. Have you ever thought about having your own vegetable garden? Whether you start a garden big or small, there is nothing like picking fresh produce for you and your family in the summer. It also doubles as a great activity for you and your family to do, as well. No matter what time of the year it is, you can always incorporate a lot of healthy, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. The springtime is just a perfect time to jump start your excitement about eating and living well all year around!

http://www.sustainabletable.org/seasonalguide/seasonalfoodguide.php

Summer Squash

Squash is considered one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Western Hemisphere. It is low in calories – 1 cup contains fewer than 20 calories and it’s water content is more than 90 percent. They are excellent sources of vitamin C and potassium.

Zucchini: This is the most popular summer squash. It can be baked, fried, sauteed, grilled, steamed or shredded. It can be eaten raw or cooked!

Squash blossoms: These yellow or orange flowers can be used as a colorful garnish or can add to a mild squash flavor. You can stuff these with soft cheese and bake them or coat them in batter and lightly fry them!

Pattypan: This has a distinct saucer shape! You can slice this squash and pan fry, or scoop out the interior and stuff them.

Ronde de Nice: This French zucchini is firm and mild flavored. It is also sometimes called eight-ball squash. It is perfect for scooping out and stuffing with grains or vegetables before baking.

Yellow Crookneck: This bumpy yellow squash can be steamed, boiled, or sauteed. It is often used in soups and stews.

Source: July/August 2014: FoodandNutritionmag.org

Photo credit: www.homesteadanywhere.com

Spice Up Your Salad At Home!

When most people think of salads, they think of them as boring. But guess what… they don’t have to be! Here is a wonderful example of a way to spice up your salad. Share this wonderful recipe with family and friends!

Black Bean Salad:

What you will need: (Serves 4 people)

2 cups dried black beans

1 1/2 tbsp. coriander chopped

1 tbsp. fresh parsley chopped

1 tbsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup tomatoes chopped

1/2 cup avocado peeled and diced

2 tbsp. shallots chopped

1 tbsp. green chili seeded, minced

4 cups salad greens

Preparation:

1. Soak the beans overnight. Drain, rinse and place them into a medium size pot. Cover them with water and cook up to 2 hours until the beans are softened.

2. Combine the coriander, parsley, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk. Add beans, tomato, avocado, shallots, and chili and toss well. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Combine with the salad greens shortly before serving!

Photo Credit: http://www.trialx.com

For more great recipes: Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Chron’s, and IBS by Sandra Ramacher

Boost Your Metabolism

By eating these foods you can boost your metabolism naturally:

  • Egg whites
  • Lean meat
  • Water
  • Chili peppers
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Milk
  • Whole grains
  • Lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and spices
  • Non-starchy vegetables

foods-boost-metabolism

 

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20746339_10,00.html

Photo credit: bowloffun.com

Exposing Children to Veggies

Parents may have a hard time getting their children to eat vegetables, but just remember that when we are born, we have a blank palate and need to be exposed to different tastes. The foods a child is repeatedly exposed to will shape their preferences and habits. If a child is rejecting a certain vegetable, don’t worry because children may need 10-15 different exposures to accept a new food. Also, exposing your child to a garden can be a positive experience– both in learning where their food comes from as well as encouraging healthier eating. Adding vegetables to a certain dishes, like soups or casseroles, is also always a good way to “sneak” in some vegetables that kids might enjoy.

bailie_-_children_gardening_for_web1

Stay Motivated As The Weather Gets Cooler

It’s that time of the year again when we tend to eat more calories because of holidays, weather, and social gatherings. Do not get discouraged! There are plenty of  healthy “fall foods” that are packed with nutrients. Here are a few tips:

  • Soups can be great for you if they’re based around vegetables and not made with cream or cheese. Also, it’s important to watch your serving sizes!
  • If you are a fan of stew, make vegetables your main focus and go light on the meat and potatoes
  • Be conscious of what you’re eating and never eat out of a bag or box. Take the right serving sizes with you on your plate, bowl, to the table etc.
  • Many of us can’t live without pizza– and that’s fine. Just stick to one slice and add nutritious toppings (mainly vegetables) to get the nutrients you need while making you fuller
  • Instead of an apple pie, try apple crisp! Bake your apples and lightly dust them with cinnamon
  • The weather in the fall is extremely perfect for activities outdoors– hiking , riding bikes, walking (just to name a few) Get out there and enjoy the weather before the winter months ahead!

fall students walkingPhoto credit: school.eecs.wsu.edu

Getting Into The Fall Spirit With Food

Healthy, Fall foods can provide a boost to our immune systems to prepare us for the cold season. Here are some Fall favorites full of antioxidants and other great nutrients!

  • Pomegranates – Pomegranates are high in antioxidants, vitamin C and folic acid, a B vitamin.
  • Dates – Naturally sweet, dates contain tannins, which are antioxidants that help prevent illness, as well as potassium, magnesium and copper.
  • Apples – high in fiber and contains the active ingredient quercetin, a natural antihistamine to combat seasonal allergies and clear up colds.
  • Pears – Great source of fiber
  • Acorn squash – Excellent source of Vitamin A
  • Brussels sprouts – Great source of Vitamin K and folate
  • Kale –  Full of natural flavonoids that help protect against several types of cancers.
  • Kiwi -High in Vitamin C
  • Pumpkin – Rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E

fall-foods-superfruit-400x400

Photo credit: www.health.com

Thanks to Joan Endyke, who is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in food and nutrition.