Eating Locally & In-Season

Depending on where you live you probably have access to at least one farmer’s market or local produce stand. There is a lot of interest these days in shopping local, supporting local farmers and businesses and eating food that is “in season.”

While these are all noble endeavors and I can certainly get behind the movement to shop local, I want to offer a different perspective to the ‘eating local and in season’ trend.

First off, let’s talk about why someone would find this attractive.

  • Fresher food. When your local farmer picks his produce there may be a few days in between the time of picking and when you’re actually consuming the produce. More than likely you’re purchasing it within 2 days of its harvest, which is why it can be said that locally grown produce is often fresher.

  • Increased phytonutrient content. When we eat plants during a particular season, we are harnessing the phytochemicals produced during that time of year, which prime our physiology. There was a study done in rats showing the power of eating seasonally. The rats were kept under a long-light period (mimicking summer) and a short-light period (resembling winter). When they were fed a "summer food" (orange) during the short-light period (a.k.a., winter), they had a number of metabolic changes that were not experienced when the orange was fed during the "summer" period, namely, increased fat production, percentage of large adipocytes, and reduced activity in the brown adipose tissue (which is supposed to be metabolically active). Here's a link to the study.

  • Reduced food miles/environmental footprint. If you live in the northeast region of the United States and purchase avocados grown in Mexico, the environmental footprint of your purchase is much greater than if you were to have access to and purchase the avocado from a local grower.

  • Saves money (in theory)

  • Known food source

  • Contributes to local economy

With all of those positive points, what could I possibly say that would cause someone to reconsider the idea of “eating local?”

Well, here are some thoughts from history that touch on the issues that can arise from eating local:

  • Only “eating local" is how "goiter belts" develop around the world. When the local soil lacks nutrients and people are only eating food from that local soil, the population’s health will reflect the soil deficiencies. Iodine is just one example of this.

  • Eating only locally grown food in regions of the country where there are just a few months without frost means having a very limited diet....it goes against the maxum "eat a variety of foods". In the early 1800's there was a famine in Vermont when volcanic ash from the other side of the world changed the climate and there was no summer one year. Rather than starve in VT, farmers chose to move west to better farmland.

  • The idea of "eating local" is romantic, but not practical when drought or blight wipes out the state's entire tomato crop (or as in Ireland's case, the country's potato crops every twenty years).

I mention these few historic examples, lest we forget the past and so repeat it. While shopping local and eating in season are trendy and offer some benefits, it is unrealistic to expect the whole country to adopt this idealogical way of eating.

I want to hear your thoughts on this! Comment below and let me know what your non-negotiable shopping rules are, and what you tend to be a little more lenient with.

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When are supplements appropriate?

There has been a lot of talk recently on supplements. Everywhere we look we can find someone promoting the latest detox tea, collagen supplement, mushroom elixir, custom multivitamin – how do we know what we actually need, or if we should even be taking anything?

Up until a few months ago I prided myself on being a dietitian who promotes “food first.” In other words, I taught that everything we need, with the exception of a few micronutrients for my vegan clients, could be obtained through food. Supplements were often unnecessary and at times, harmful.

That all changed when I tested my own micronutrient status using the same test that I now use with my clients.

Let me back up a little bit and share a personal story with you. This time last year I lost almost all ability to write. I had noticed the quality of my handwriting slowly deteriorating for months before that, but it wasn’t until the end of 2017 that I finally (essentially) lost the physical ability to write.

I saw a neurologist for nerve testing, met 17 times with a chiropractic neurology specialist, had a brain MRI, had x-rays of my neck and arm, met with an occupational therapist, and have been meeting every other week with a performance enhancement specialist for massage therapy and cupping. I tested myself for food sensitivities (MRT) and put myself on the LEAP protocol to try to reduce inflammation in my arm and wrist. I took all the supplements I could attribute to joint health. I watched webinars, read medical journals, and called hand specialists around the country. All of this was entirely out of pocket. And none of it has given me back the ability to write.

The nerve testing showed no abnormalities, the brain MRI and x-rays were normal, and the occupational therapist said there’s no muscle wasting or weakness. No one can figure out why I can’t write or hold a pen correctly anymore.

I am 28 years old, exercise ~5 days/week, eat a plant-based diet and I have this invisible, frustrating, medical mystery going on.

 

Prior to getting married my husband and I joined OrangeTheory Fitness (OTF) and both bought the unlimited membership. We were going to OTF 4 days per week, in addition to exercising outside of the gym on our own. I felt and looked great so I continued going after the wedding.

About a year into OTF I started having night sweats no matter how cold we kept our apartment. I had panels of blood work done, to rule out any hormonal concerns and everything was normal. I wrote it off and just thought maybe I wasn’t hydrating enough.

Fast-forward to today and my micronutrient test results. Luckily I do not have any functional deficiencies, which is highly unusual especially for a vegan! However, I do have borderline deficiencies in very important nutrients and antioxidants.

I am borderline deficient in Vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid, both of which are depleted from heavy exercise, including HIIT activities such as OTF…

Vitamins B6, B12, and pantothenic acid are all related to melatonin and serotonin production. All B vitamins are involved in neurological function so correcting those borderline deficiencies has a high likelihood of helping with my hand issues.

Chromium is commonly deficient in athletes, and while I wouldn’t consider myself an “athlete” I have been doing HIIT frequently. This combined with dietary restrictions means that I was running at 100% and only refueling at about 50%.


SO MANY “AH-HA” MOMENTS HERE, GUYS! 

I’m not saying that supplementing with high-quality vitamins/minerals will fix my problems, but I’m not not saying it, either.

Our bodies are incredible machines but without proper fuel, rest, and activity they will eventually break down. So, while I still believe that food should be used as our primary means of obtaining nutrients, I know that there are some gaps that we all likely have that require supplements to fill.

The fact of the matter is our food supply is so depleted of nutrients that even if you manage to hit Dr. Greger’s “Daily Dozen,” you’re likely under-consuming certain nutrients. Things become even more complicated if your exercise routine frequently consists of high intensity interval training, Cross-Fit, etc.

There’s a great article out about vanishing nutrients in our food supply; I encourage you to read it. It highlights a hazard of climate change that isn’t often discussed, but one that is equally as concerning as the rest. Rising carbon dioxide levels are making our food less nutritious. This was previously only attributed to soil depletion, but now we know that high levels of carbon dioxide rob plants of vitamins that are essential to human development.

This should shock you, scare you, and/or enrage you! We need to do better for our planet, for ourselves, and for our future generations.

In the meantime, however, I encourage everyone to have his or her micronutrient levels checked and I am proud to offer that as a service at Prana Nutrition. The really cool thing about this test is it looks at what’s been going on the past 6-9 months – not just the past few weeks. If you’re interested in seeing what your levels are then get in touch with me and let’s chat! We can figure out what supplements (if any) need to be implemented in order for you to reach optimal health!

Happy Holidays!

Please note, I have no affiliation to supplement/pharmaceutical companies and I do not endorse any particular brands. The supplements in my photo are strictly for personal use only, and I make recommendations based on individual results and needs.

Please note, I have no affiliation to supplement/pharmaceutical companies and I do not endorse any particular brands. The supplements in my photo are strictly for personal use only, and I make recommendations based on individual results and needs.

New and exciting things are happening!

Hopefully you found your way to this month’s blog post through my brand new monthly newsletter! If not, don’t worry - you can totally still subscribe and receive all the great content!

If you didn’t see my newsletter yet, here’s the details: every month I will send out an exclusive email of my top favorite finds that month. These will be things like food prep hacks, recipes, nutrition headlines or tips, products or supplements that I’ve tried, podcasts, inspirational quotes or stories that I think are worth sharing!

I’m really excited to have you be a part of this new featured content, so please pass it along to anyone you think would benefit from it!

So if you’ve been keeping up with me for a little bit you’re probably wondering what is new and exciting at PN! I’m glad you asked.

In addition to food sensitivity testing, I now offer four different laboratory tests through Spectracell. The new tests are nutritional (micronutrient), cardiovascular, hormones and thyroid, and genetic testing. Below is a description of each, as stated on their website.

Nutritional Testing: Micronutrient testing measures how micronutrients are actually functioning within your white blood cells. These tests allow for nutritional assessment of clinical conditions, general wellness and the prevention of chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular risk, diabetes, immunological disorders and metabolic disorders.

CardioMetabolic Testing: Poor blood sugar regulation and unhealthy triglyceride and lipoprotein levels often present long before a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. This test helps define your risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), progression toward Type 2 Diabetes, and inflammation.

Hormone & Thyroid testing: A comprehensive (male and female) hormone panel that reveals the overall state of hormonal balance. Like nutrients, hormones influence all aspects of health and disease - mood, sleep, metabolism, immunity, heart health and appearance. An imbalance of one hormone can alter other hormones, so a comprehensive look at hormone status is key.
Thyroid hormones regulate functions like metabolism, emotions and thinking. I also test several proteins that affect thyroid function as well as antibodies to thyroid which can detect autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks healthy tissue) and your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

Genetic Testing: Telomeres, Apolipoprotein E, MTHFR, and Factor V Leiden Prothrombin. Telomeres are sections of genetic material at the end of each chromosome. As a cell ages, its telomeres become shorter. Eventually, the telomeres become too short to allow cell replication, the cell stops dividing and will ultimately die - a normal biological process. This test can determine the length of your telomeres in relation to your age. *Fun fact: a plant-based diet helps prevent telomere shortening!

What else?

Next month I have a super exciting and exclusive announcement about a passion project I’ve been working on. I will be emailing you about this awesome launch in the next few weeks, and you won’t want to miss the part about the incredible discount that I’m offering for only a limited time - trust me!

What would you like to see in your inbox? Let me know below in the comments section! I don’t want to be just another boring newsletter that you receive, so tell me what you’d like to learn about and let’s make it happen!

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Featured Article

As someone who follows a plant-based lifestyle and oftentimes falls into the category of “vegan”, I have given a lot of thought as to whether or not I support the production of lab grown meat.

From an animal welfare perspective, lab grown meat would essentially (one day) eliminate the exploitation of animals for consumption of their bodies - WIN! Although currently it would not be considered vegan, due to the use of stem cells involved in its production.

I will admit, the consumer in me who supports GMO labeling and organic farming is a bit turned off by the idea of eating something grown strictly in a lab. The dietitian in me who understands the connection between animal products and disease, is also a little skeptical about it all. What will the nutrient profile look like? Is there a way to isolate the saturated fat and remove it? Is that even something we want to do (further emphasizing the idea of Frankenstein meat)?

However, the fact remains that we as a society simply cannot continue to rely on the massive amount animal agriculture that we currently use. Our choices are catapulting us towards environmental devastation. David Katz reported that if everybody on the planet ate a paleo diet we would need 15 planets to sustain our current population! Thank god for vegans, right?!

Bottom line, it’s not sustainable and it’s downright irresponsible to be touting a diet that is so grossly unsustainable. We need to think beyond ourselves and for future generations to come.

Which brings me to my point (yes, I have one). Is lab grown meat the future?

In a follow up interview with the Epoch Times, I explored some of these questions to help weigh in on the topic.

Check out the full article below and let me know what you think in the comments section! Are you pro-lab grown meat? Or is it too much like something you’d see on the sci-fi channel?

https://www.theepochtimes.com/fake-meat-the-future-of-food_2676044.html

Fake Meat

Fall Wellness Tips

Fall is right around the corner! Can you feel it? I just got back from Philadelphia for a friend’s wedding and it was 54 degrees on Sunday! My husband and I stayed at my parent’s house Saturday night and my mom made an amazing bean chili, complete with fresh homemade bread from a neighbor who owns a French boulangerie! It was delicious and had me craving more of the brisk fall air that is just a few weeks away. Luckily I will be back up north again next month, taking a break from all this FL heat!

Speaking of fall, I recently contributed a few nutrition tips for an article in Reader’s Digest highlighting “50 Ways to Have a Healthier Fall”.

Here are three tips that I suggested:

1. Eat seasonally. Purchasing produce that is in-season can help you save money at the grocery store, and it can also provide nutrients that you wouldn't normally get from other foods. Fall foods such as winter squash or pumpkins offer unique nutrients as well as the comfort that comes from eating warm, nourishing foods this time of year.

2. Set an intention for your nutrition during this season. With winter comes the holidays, and that means extra opportunities for sweet treats. Fall can be a great time to check in with yourself and set an intention before the holiday mayhem starts. Try setting a goal for the fall such as limiting sweets to once per week or meal planning on the weekends to avoid pitfalls during the week. 

3. When dining out, start each meal with a vegetable soup or hearty salad. Research has shown that people who consume a bowl of vegetable soup eat significantly less calories during the rest of the meal, compared to those who opt for the bread or small salad. If you know that winter treats will be a challenge for you then optimize your nutrition during the fall so you're already feeling good (you'll be less likely to fall off the wagon when coworkers start bringing in those cookies!).

Check out the full article in the link above. My third tip was featured, about ¾ of the way down.

What are some of your healthy fall tips?

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