Ask The Nutritionist

Your boot camp training membership at Ultimate Fit Zone in Monmouth County includes a complimentary consultation with our holistic nutritionist each month.   You can use your consultation to get questions answered regarding weight loss, preventative health strategies, holistic nutrition and more.

Stacey Albert is our resident Holistic Nutritionist on staff for your assistance.  Her focus is on healthy weight loss through a whole foods diet (no starving, or calorie counting) as well as specialty meal plans for conditions like IBS, inflammatory diseases, anti-aging, anti-cancer and more.

Nutrition can be the missing key to your overall health and weight loss plan.  Fad diets may produce temporary results, but learning how to cook and prepare your own healthy meals is the best way to go for long term success.

Stacey’s holistic approach may include proper nutrition, essential oil therapy, meditation, yoga and more.

If you are a full time member and would like to schedule your complimentary consultation with Stacey, please send an email to info@ultimatefitzone.com

Certified Holistic Nutritionist Now On Staff

We are happy to announce that Ultimate Fit Zone Co-Owner, Stacey Albert, has completed her certification to become a Holistic Nutritionist and will now be offering nutrition, weight loss and preventative health services at both of our Monmouth County gyms (boot camp and Ultimate Fitness 24 hour gym).

Stacey has been studying nutrition independently since graduating college in 2000.  Her independent studies led her to research the effects of nutrition on healthy aging.  Her interest gradually transitioned to health and weight loss when she became a certified personal trainer and pilates instructor in 2006.

We are pleased to continue to offer our highly successful weight loss programs as well as specialized diet consulting for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive issues like Crohn’s and Colitis and much more.

Learn more about Stacey’s holistic nutrition services or send her an email to stacey@naturalnutritionist.net.

Eating Greens Helps Fight The Blues

holistic-nutritionist-nj
Winter is a tough time.  We aren’t as active, it’s freezing, many of us tend to gain weight over winter months and it’s just kind of depressing.  Research exists that links winter and lack of sunshine to Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.   Many of us feel sad in the winter.  Although lack of sunshine definitely plays a role, more emerging research suggests that what we eat can also play a role in our mood.

This is not new information.  For a few years now we have been looking at studies that seem to show an increase in fruits and vegetables helps boost a person’s mood and even lessen their risk of developing depression. The scientists at the forefront of these studies believed that those on plant-based diets had better moods, mostly due to the intake of a class of phytonutrients in plants that can cross the blood-brain barrier to support a healthy mood. The review of this study, published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, suggests that increasing dietary intake of fruits and vegetables “may present a noninvasive natural and inexpensive therapeutic means to support a healthy brain.”

An enzyme called monoamine oxidase appears to be elevated in those who are depressed.  Some drugs that are used to fight depression are are monoamine oxidase inhibitors.  What’s interesting about certain fruits and vegetable is that they appear to inhibit this enzyme—monoamine oxidase—so that it doesn’t do the damage to the brain.

Some of the veggies and fruits that contain these vital phytonutrients are kale, apples, berries, grapes and onions. Green tea contains them as well.

These statements and studies have not been evaluated by the FDA.  But it definitely couldn’t hurt to eat more fruits and veggies, and it just may even help brighten your outlook.  Seems like it’s worth a try, right?

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Move Over Aunt Jemima, Here Comes Honey!

There’s a reason your mother always made you tea with honey whenever you were getting sick with a sore throat.  She may not have known it, and was maybe just following a tradition, but honey is a powerful natural remedy with antibacterial properties that offers numerous health benefits.

Use honey wherever you would use a sweetener….in place of jelly for peanut bhealth-benefits-honeyutter and honey sandwiches, in your tea, in your oatmeal instead of syrup, on pancakes, waffles, fruit, etc. I absolutely love to start my day with whole grain waffles, all natural peanut butter and a drizzle of local honey.  Sorry Aunt Jemima, but your syrup is loaded with junk like high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors.  So move over Auntie, here comes honey.

Five Reasons You Should Eat More Honey

1.  Honey can boost your immune system. Its antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can also help improve the digestive system and help you stay healthy and fight disease.

2.Honey possesses carcinogen-preventing (anti-cancer) and anti-tumour properties! It can not cure cancer by any means but it can certainly help combat free radicals in your body.

3. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, honey not only soothes throats but can also kill certain bacteria that causes the infection

4. Honey is a great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies

5. Use in place of sugary sweeteners. The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly to give us energy, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy and reducing insulin spikes.

Local honey is best!  You can get local honey at farmer’s markets, Wegmans or natural health food stores.

Enjoy!

Profit Seeking ‘Magic’ Weight Loss Solutions

I became interested in nutrition when I was about 21 years old.  I had always been working out, but never really knew much about nutrition beyond eating things that were low fat.  I remember the night when my ‘ah hah’ moment happened. I was in bed watching TV very late at night. Couldn’t sleep. An infomercial came on featuring Dr Perricone and his ‘The Wrinkle Cure’ book. The infomercial was all about how eating the right foods could dramatically affect our skin’s appearance and drastically delay and reduce the signs of aging.  I was hooked! I ordered the book, read it cover to cover and immediately began incorporating these valuable foods into my diet.  From there I was fascinated with the relationship between food and our appearance as well as our overall health.

Fast forward about 15 years later and I continue my studies into holistic nutrition- preventing and healing with foods.  I’m reading fascinating books about our ‘health care’ system (which in the holistic community is referred to as a ‘disease care’ system) and how nutrition is grossly overlooked not only as a means of prevention, but also as a  means of healing.

Think about it- how quick are some doctors to prescribe you a pill if you go in complaining of an ailment? I remember one time in my early 20s I decided to go meat free so I replaced all meat and dairy with soy alternatives.  Not too long after that I had developed large cystic acne on my cheeks and some on my back.  I never had acne before and couldn’t understand what was happening. Of course- I didn’t make the connection between my diet change and the new acne. I went to a dermatologist for help and explained to her that all of a sudden I have these large cysts that are painful.  She could easily see what I was talking about.  It was like having Mount Rushmore on my face.  She never asked me any questions, specifically, ‘has anything in your lifestyle or diet changed recently???’  Nope, she took a look and prescribed me an oral anti-biotic as well as a topical cream and I was on my way home.  Of course, neither prescription worked because I did not have an infection in my body or under my skin.  The massive amounts of soy I was consuming was mimicking estrogen in my body and causing a shift in my hormones, which produced acne.

Lucky for me a friend of mine who noticed the change in my skin was smart enough to ask if I had changed my diet.  Thankfully- the light bulb went on and I eliminated the soy so that my body could balance itself out again.  It took time- but eventually my skin cleared and I threw away the prescriptions that were incorrectly prescribed for me- in my opinion by someone who was more concerned with treating my symptoms than helping uncover the cause. This is the so called ‘magic solution’ effect our health care system has become synonymous with and never has it been more apparent than in the weight loss industry.

I want to share with you a very profound excerpt from a book I am reading by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, a leader in nutrition research for more than 40 years and best selling author.  This excerpt will really bring home the ‘magical solution’ practice of our health care system.  Dr. Campbell writes:

“The wealthy and powerful industries that make up our health system have replaced its original goal–human health–with the pursuit of ever-increasing profits…The medical, pharmaceutical, and supplement industries figured out long ago that a nation of healthy eaters would be disastrous to their profits…The magic solution…easy and foolproof, is much more appareling than a realistic solution that takes time and is complex to get right. From weight loss solutions and financial services, to cleaning supplies and beauty products, the closer the product is to magic, the easier it is to sell and the more appealing it is to buy…Worried about getting a heart attack? All you need to do is take a couple of omega-3 capsules a day.  It just takes a few seconds and it’s easy as, well, popping a pill.  Got diabetes? Hey, here’s an insulin injector pen with a digital timer on the cap so you never have to thin about doses and timing–or improving your diet. Overweight? Drink an appetite suppressant shake, or just get your stomach stapled so you literally can’t overeat or tolerate rich foods anymore. “

Dr Campbell’s point is that magic solutions work by addressing symptoms rather than causes (like the antibiotics and cream for my cystic acne).  Symptoms can easily be suppressed, but causes take more time to figure out and are more complex to deal with.  Causes require involvement and responsibility by the person with the problem.  This is ESPECIALLY true when it comes to weight loss.  Instead of helping people understand nutrition, how to plan and prepare meals, everyone wants to sell you a pill or magic ‘diet’ that will melt away the pounds and be so easy!!!! All you have to do is only eat cabbage for 2 weeks and watch the pounds melt away!!! Are you going to pop pills your whole life or only eat cabbage forever???  Or should you start addressing the issues as to why you are not eating correctly and learn new ways of getting healthy and HAPPY with nutrition?

The truth is that the majority of chronic diseases and ailments plaguing Americans today are preventable and treatable with a whole foods diet rich in plant based foods.  The ONLY way to lose weight and have it be sustainable is with a healthy, whole foods diet.  Our weight loss programs are based on whole foods and healthy eating. Not starvation.  We will NEVER require you to starve in order to lose weight.  Even our 14 day cleanse is based around 5 meals a day from whole, organic sources.

If someone is offering you a ‘magic solution’ to  your problem instead of taking the time to learn more about the root cause- they don’t have your best interest at heart. They have their own wallet at heart.  Health is complex and takes time to understand. Our problems didn’t develop overnight and they won’t be solved overnight either.  If you truly care about your health, take the time to learn more about the root causes of your symptoms instead of just covering up the symptoms with pills, injections or creams.

7 Signs You Have a Gluten Allergy

Gluten has pretty much become a bad word in our society.  Once an ingredient never talked about, it seems today everyone is blaming everything on gluten.  Gluten is actually a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.  It is used to make pastas, breads and other pastries because it holds food together.  Some people have a sensitivity to gluten (not necessarily Celiac disease) and can become ill if they eat it.  Gluten intolerance has become so widely talked about in society that many people, even those who do not have  a gluten intolerance, are afraid to eat it.

(Celiac disease is  where the immune system produces an abnormal response to gluten.  This is much more serious condition than just a gluten intolerance)

Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits, but many foods that contain gluten, like whole grain breads, do.  So if you are on a quest to give up gluten either because of an ailment or mainstream hype, be sure to do your research so you don’t end up eliminating important nutrients from your diet. There are grains that don’t contain gluten, they are amaranth, millet, and quinoa.

Unless you have celiac or a sensitivity to gluten, you can feel comfortable having grains in your diet.  Remember, your brains NEEDS glucose for energy.  That is the brain’s preferred source of energy. If you eliminate foods that provide glucose to your brain (mainly fruits and grains),  your brain will have to resort to a different, less ideal source of energy. In most cases, the brain would tap into your protein supply.  But why would you want to waste precious protein supplies (essential for muscle and tissue development) for energy for your brain when glucose is so readily available?

So, do you or do you not have a gluten intolerance?

7 Signs You Have A Gluten Intolerance

  1. After eating gluten you experience:
  2. Diarrhea, constipation, reflux or abdominal pain after eating gluten
  3. Headaches or migraines
  4. Feelings of depression, anxiety and or irritability
  5. You often feel that sensation of pins and needs in your arms, legs and feet
  6. Itchy, scratchy rash
  7. Symptoms of ADHD

What should you do if you think you have a gluten intolerance?  Go see your doctor.

*This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition.  See your doctor for professional, medical advice.

Why I’m Obsessed With Black Rice

My mom knows how into health food I am and I’m always researching and digging for new ways to use food to not only fuel the body but to also help and prevent ailments, aging, aches, pains…anything.  So when she came over with a bag of black rice that she picked up from Trader Joe’s I was intrigued.  I know from my studies that most food that is very dark in color (spinach, blueberries, kale, etc) is traditionally loaded with antioxidants and health benefits.

Health Benefits Black RiceI cooked some up and the deep color of the rice magnified and the water turned a bright black/purple color.  The rice was a little sticky after it was done cooking, which I really liked.  I love sticky rice from Chinese restaurants in NYC! It also had a very good, mild flavor to it.  A bit nutty, but mild. Because it had a mild flavor I didn’t use too many seasonings.  A little olive oil, pink salt and black pepper was all it needed. I paired it with some fresh sautéed veggies.  Ok so now with the good stuff…

Health Benefits of Black Rice

I was really excited when I read on NaturalNews.com that black rice is one of the healthiest foods that can be obtained today!  As I thought, because of it’s deep, rich color, black rice is a good source of antioxidants. The color can be attributed to the same chemicals (anthocyanins) that give acai berry and blueberries their distinctive coloring.

Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid with antioxidant effects.  According to an article on About.com, they act as ‘antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.”

Also, the article states that  “In herbal medicine, anthocyanin-rich substances have long been used to treat a number of conditions (including high blood pressure, colds, and urinary tract infections). Recent research suggests that anthocyanins may also help fend off major health problems, including heart disease and cancer.”

Adding Black Rice To Your Diet

As with any other carbohydrate, we recommend eating your starches early in the day, before 3pm. And of course, measure and moderate.  Your total caloric intake from carbohydrates each day should be about 30% or less depending on if you are trying to maintain or lose excess weight.   Carbs are not your enemy.  We are our own enemy because we go overboard with the portions.

If you can’t find black rice at your local supermarket, you can order it online from Amazon.com.

 

 

Is Paleo Poisoning Your Body?

**The first thing we want to make clear is that this is not an article against Paleo.  Not in the least bit.  When you read through it, you’ll realize that.

The Paleo diet has been catapulted into mainstream media mainly by the CrossFit community that embraces this type of diet plan. Whenever any diet gets public attention- it seems that almost everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.  If you’re not following the truest form of Paleo- it most certainly could be toxic to your body. Here’s why.

paleo-diet-njFirst- what is Paleo? Simply put- the diet advises that followers eat only food that were around during the Paleolithic era.  Nothing processed, refined, chemically treated, genetically modified, etc.  In large part, this diet consists of  grass produced meats, nitrite/nitrate free bacon, fish, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, healthy oils and very few acceptable forms carbohydrates (yams are ok).   Grains, sugar, dairy (butter, cheese, etc), refined pastas, white flour, etc are not on the Paleo diet.

The Problem With Paleo

The problem we see with most people that choose to follow the Paleo diet is they neglect to truly adhere to the guidelines which call for grass fed beef, natural/organic meats and produce that are free from antibiotics  and the nitrite/nitrate free bacon. Instead, you have people following Paleo eating large amounts of chicken and beef from Walmart (nothing against Walmart- but their meats are not advertised to be organic or free of antibiotics), Oscar Mayer Weiner bacon, etc.

So what’s wrong with that???  What’s the big deal if people don’t choose the organic meats like Paleo says???

Toxins

If you’re eating a mostly meat based diet- you are consuming a higher amount of animal fat.  When animals consume toxins, from antibiotics, pesticides in the grass they eat, or from other environmental factors, these toxins get stored in their fat.  When you eat animal fat you are then consuming and storing  some of these toxins.    This is why Paleo recommends grass fed/hormone free meats.  As far as bacon goes- this is LOADED with animal fat and potentially full of toxins. Not to mention bacon (and cold cuts, hot dogs, etc) is loaded with nitrates and nitrites, proven causes of cancer.

Compromised Lymphatic Drainage

In the digestive system, animal foods high in fat will first be transported via your lymph system. These saturated and toxic fats can clog up your lymphatic drainage system, making it work harder and possibly overloading it and making the system less efficient at doing its general cleaning up process for the body.    Researchers have theorized that this is one possible reason why there are more incidences of cancer among meat eaters than in vegans.

If you’re not following a well-rounded Paleo diet and you are just overloading yourself on bacon and meat, you’re lymphatic system, and your health, is going to pay the price.

Too Little Activity, Too Much Protein

The Paleo diet is best suited for individuals who do enough physical activity that their bodies can utilize the large amounts of protein consumed.  An average person only needs about .5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  An active person could consume .75-1.0 gram of protein per body weight. And a super active person could consume up to 2 grams of protein per body weight. If you are not active- your body does not need that much protein.  Eating too much protein can lead to a host of health problems and imbalances within your internal systems including kidney problems and acne. You have probably seen guys at the gym with acne on their face, back and chest.  There is a chance that this is because of too much protein.  This excerpt from LiveStrong explains it perfectly:

  …protein is essential to life and health, yet balance is a key component of optimal health. If huge quantities of protein are ingested, the body’s digestive system, from the liver to the kidneys and into the intestines and colon, will become extremely burdened trying to break down these proteins into usable material. This extreme stress on valuable cleansing organs will create adverse reactions within other parts of the body. Whenever an organ or system within the body is burdened or stressed, the body will naturally respond through elimination of toxins through the skin…

In Summary- Our View of Paleo

Our view is that the Paleo diet- when strictly followed- can be a healthy meal plan for those who are active enough to consume large amounts of protein and for those who can adhere to the organic/natural meats, fruits and veggies.  (It’s important to note that you don’t have to eat high protein just because you are on a Paleo diet, but many people do)

We also think Paleo is a great way to cleanse the body of toxins and refined foods. In fact, we even offer a 2 week Paleo cleanse program at UFZ.

If you want to follow a certain meal plan because you heard that it helps people lose weight, you have to first consider a few things:

1) Is this diet right for my lifestyle?

2) Can I fully adhere to the guidelines of the diet long-term?

And of course- always check with your doctor first!  Reading an article about the Paleo diet and deciding it is for you could be dangerous.  Your doctor knows your healthy history, your family health history and whether or not certain diets would be safe for you to follow.

What are your thoughts on the Paleo diet?

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Foods That Reduce Stress

Winter is coming here in New Jersey and we all worry about the winter blues.  Less exposure to the sun reduces our levels of Vitamin D- which reduces our immune system and can also increase our feelings of sadness.  There are other factors behind why we feel sad in the winter- a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder- but nutrition definitely plays a part.

foods high in magnesiumCan you eat your way to less anxiety?  Well- sort of.  A healthy lifestyle complete with exercise, good nutrition  and maybe even some positive thinking/meditation can help reduce anxiety. Foods that are rich in magnesium have been shown to help combat depression.

Magnesium is actually a calming mineral that nourishes our nervous system. Research suggests that this may help prevent anxiety, fear and nervousness. This mineral is also a great protector of the heart and arteries. This is important for anxiety sufferers. Talk to your doctor if you want to consider taking a magnesium supplement for anxiety- as you may need more than the typical dose.

Foods That Are High In Magnesium

  • All forms of squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, acorn, butternut, kabocha, turban, pumpkin, and other winter squashes
  • Dark-green, leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale and chard as well as broccoli, green beans and seaweed
  • Whole, unrefined grains like millet, quinoa and buckwheat
  • Legumes
  • Beef, chicken and fish (esp halibut, cod and salmon) (choose organic meats and wild caught fish whenever possible)
  • Nuts and seeds

You can also soak up some extra magnesia by adding some espom salt to a night-time bath.  Be sure to add some calming lavender essential too!

 

 


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