Micronutrients: Even the Smallest of Nutrients Matter

When talking about food most people immediately think calories.  How many calories are in this? Is that too many calories? Can I afford to eat that many calories? Calories are even listed at the top of a nutrition label.  While our society has decided that calories should hold a high honor when discussing nutrition they are not the end all be all.  In fact, the types of nutrients we are consuming are more important than the calories.

So that must mean macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat?  Not exactly, while these are important and we want to be well rounded when it comes to macronutrients, we often forget about micronutrients.  While they are small and we need less of them in our diet, they are a mighty part of nutrition.  When talking about micronutrients we are referring to vitamins and minerals such as: Vit A, B, C, D, E, K, calcium, iodine, iron, potassium, sodium and zinc.

A few functions: Vitamin A helps with our vision and building healthy skin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and iodine is needed for normal thyroid function.  This does not cover all of the functions of all micronutrients, but it gives you an idea of how important they are in our diet.

There is no need to memorize the function of every vitamin and mineral, but be aware of some simple ways to incorporate them into your diet.  One tip is to choose foods over supplements.  Adding variety to your diet will decrease the need for supplements.  Start by eating a wide variety of food groups and incorporate varying colors.  There is not one food out there that can provide all of the micronutrients we need and adding variety to our diet will help incorporate different micronutrients.

In addition to choosing foods over supplements try adding items that are either fresh or frozen since air, light and processing can decrease the vitamin availability.  When cooking, boiling is the worst option as this process will breakdown the vitamins and minerals more than steaming, sautéing or roasting.  Know how nutrients interact so that you can optimize your absorption.  Vitamin C increases iron absorption.  Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are best absorbed with a healthy fat.  Meat sources of iron are better absorbed than plant sources.

The take away: Eating a wide variety of foods and incorporating many different colors will provide a wider range of micro and macronutrients.  Do not focus on individual components, but instead think about eating a healthy diet that is full of variety.

Top Health Concerns for Men

Young Man In Fitness Clothing Running Along Beach

Heart Disease

Risk Factors: high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol

How to Protect: Exercise and Diet

  • Include low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts
  • Limit refined carbohydrates and red meat
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,400 milligrams per day
  • Limit added sugar to no more than 25g per day
  • Include a fruit and vegetable with every meal and snack
  • Eat two servings of fish per week

Cognitive Function

Risk Factors: diet high in refined grains and saturated fat

How to Protect: follow the Mediterranean diet – study showed moderately diligent followers reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s by nearly half

  • Consume 2 vegetarian meals per week
  • Incorporate 1 serving of nuts per day
  • Replace butter and fats with olive oil
  • Consume fish a few times per week

Prostate Health

Risk Factors: consuming red, processed, grilled and barbecued meats and deep fried foods

How to Protect: consuming antioxidants in green tea and lycopene in tomato products

  • Consuming one food daily high in lycopene such as tomatoes or watermelon
  • Incorporate 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day and whole grains instead of refined grains
  • Limit grilled meat to 4 oz/serving
  • Incorporate lean cuts of meat that end in “loin“
  • Limit fried foods to no more than twice a week

Muscle Strength

Risk Factors: lack of strength training and adequate nutrition can result in men losing half their muscle mass by 70 years old

How to Protect: resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and consuming enough calories and protein to adequately supply muscles with needed nutrients

  • Eat 20-30 grams of protein per meal and incorporate protein-rich snacks
  • Choose lean meat such as chicken breasts, fish and 96% lean turkey and beef
  • Other sources of protein include cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, whole eggs, nuts and tofu
  • Do not go >1 hour when hungry before eating
  • Eat breakfast and do not go to bed hungry
  • Unprocessed carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potatoes will provide lasting energy


If you just don’t have time to put these tips into practice, let us help!

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How to get your child to eat vegetables

What are some strategies to get your kid to eat healthy? Make food fun, etc.?  Whether giving them a hands-on experience or allowing them to make choices, involving children in the preparation and cooking process is important. Food can be inherently exciting for children because it involves the sensory experiences of touching, smelling, seeing and tasting. Instead of teaching a healthy versus unhealthy approach to food, I recommend emphasizing the importance of moderation, balance and variety. Teaching children that it is OK to enjoy all types of foods in moderation is a more meaningful lesson than pitching “good” against “bad” foods.

Another strategy is to exemplify this food philosophy at home by modeling the way you eat in front of your children. If your child sees you enjoying a balanced meal with all types of foods in moderation, this message can go a long way for picky or resistant eaters. While parents are not the sole cause in the development of eating disorders, many girls and women connect the restrictive, diet-centered environments they grew up in with the development of their eating disorders.

What do you do if you pack your kids healthy lunches and they don’t eat them?  If the lunches you pack for your children resemble what they are eating at home, you might not hit as much resistance when it comes to them eating that lunch at school. If there are other issues with lunch at school, I encourage parents to talk to the school and share your concerns. Lunches have gotten earlier and shorter in many schools, so there may be other factors influencing your child’s choices, such as not having enough time to eat the lunch you pack. If you have concerns, share them; perhaps other children may benefit from changes being made.

How often is it good for kids to get treats like cookies, fruit snacks etc.?  It’s really going to look different for each child. There is a lot of scientific research about parents who restrict or promote a diet-centered food philosophy in the home, and this has been associated with children having lower self-esteem and who are also more likely to eat in the absence of hunger. Instead of telling your child that they eat too many cookies or fruit snacks, which can feel shaming and embarrassing for a child, point out that trying a new food may be exciting and suggest foods that you want to promote. If you place value on a diet rich in variety and moderation and model this at home, don’t worry about giving your child treats and allowing them to enjoy these foods as they would others.

What do you do when you are teaching your kids to eat healthy at home, but they get unhealthy foods at other people’s houses?  Consider these instances as a time to demonstrate moderation. Even if your child is eating something at a another person’s house that you might not serve at home, if the child is not allergic or intolerant of the food, it is not going to have any lasting, negative, or harmful effect on the child.

What are some things you should not say to kids when trying to get them to eat healthy?   Focusing on healthy versus unhealthy is a dead end because we eat food in combination rather than in isolation. Someone’s health does not come down to whether they had a dessert that day; but if they have had 10 desserts, that is obviously not moderation. Instead of emphasizing healthy or unhealthy, focus on the importance of variety. If a child is asking for the same food over and over and the parent wants to limit the child’s intake of that food, the concern really is rooted in that food not being eaten in moderation and encouraging more variety in the child’s choices. That being said, using statements like, “I’ve noticed you’ve been choosing a lot of food A, so today why don’t you choose between food B or C?” This can be a great statement for parents to encourage a child to make different food choices or try something that promotes variety.

What if a kid just won’t eat vegetables?  In these situations, take the emphasis off vegetables altogether and focus on empowering the child. One way to do this is to offer the child a choice of vegetables to try that week. Parents can take the child to the grocery store or show him or her pictures so that the choice feels exciting and hopefully elicits some curiosity. Another strategy that works is using pre-existing activities that the child already enjoys and linking these with vegetable choices. For example, if a child likes arts and crafts, creating a color wheel and having him or her group vegetables of like colors together can be exciting and take the focus off the vegetables themselves. Having the child choose a different color every week and identifying a couple of vegetables in that color category can be new and exciting for the child. If the child is reward-driven, giving them stickers or points for each new vegetable tried and providing an appropriate, nonfood reward at the end of a month or season can be effective. As parents, you know your child best, so find ways that engage or excite your child.

Nutrition Consultants of Tulsa, LLC

2021 South Lewis  Ste 325  Tulsa, Okla 74104                 918.749.9077                    www.nutritiontulsa.com

What’s the Skinny on Detox Diets?

On every social media site, all over the internet, and on TV celebrities are endorsing detox diets. They are often convincing, who wouldn’t want to look like a celebrity?  Beyoncé swears by the “Lemonade Diet” and Dr. Oz is singing praises of viewer success with the 3-Day Cleanse.  So what’s the skinny?

There are no short cuts! A year of unhealthy eating is not going to be corrected by a few days of drinking juice.  People claim to feel better and have more energy once they start detox diets, but those feelings are likely not from the new diet but from eliminating highly processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients.  Detoxing a few days per year? This is not going to make a big difference in your overall health, it will more likely just make you hungry and nutrient deprived.

Want to make a big difference you will actually notice? How about eating nutritious and healthy foods daily.  Take care of your body everyday by fueling it with proper nutrients and trust that your body will take care of you.  Your kidneys, liver and lungs naturally detox your body.  In fact, healthy people do not store toxins in the liver but the liver converts potentially harmful chemicals into water-soluble chemicals that can be sweated or excreted from the body.

Detox diets often lack protein which may cause your body to breakdown muscle tissue to get the nutrients it needs. Colon cleanses often do more harm than good by wiping out gut microflora -beneficial bacteria for immune health.

The bottom line? Ditch the detox diets and focus on a well-balanced diet year round.


Adding Added Sugar on Nutrition Labels

In 2014, the FDA proposed a plan to better highlight information on added sugars by including it on the nutrition facts label. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggested that reduction of added sugars was a primary target for optimal health, which most likely guided this change. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics on added sugars shows that intake for adults can range from 15-21 teaspoons of added sugars and 18-23 teaspoons for children and adolescents, which is way above the current recommendations. The World Health Organization recently published guidelines in 2014 proposing added sugars should make up less than 10 percent of total daily energy for the average adult, approximately 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Reduction below five percent of total calories is further recommended for additional health benefits. In the U.S., top sources of added sugar include soda, sports and energy drinks, grain-based desserts (cookies and cakes,) fruit drinks, ice cream, pudding, and candy.

Currently, the nutrition facts label does not clarify the difference between natural and added sugar. Most people are not aware that added and natural sugar are added together under the total carbohydrates section on the label and listed as sugar. One way to estimate added sugars is by reading the ingredients list and looking for added sweeteners, such as evaporated cane juice or corn syrup and checking their position on the list. Ingredients are listed in order by quantity with the first ingredient being the largest. For example, if evaporated cane juice is listed second on the ingredients list, you can bet the product contains added sugars. Keep in mind that added sugars are the target and natural sugars; such as from whole fruit are healthy. The recommended changes from the FDA would separate added sugars from naturally occurring sugars making it a lot easier to find on the food label. Unfortunately, these changes can take time and may not even be seen on the shelves until 2017.


Artificial Sweeteners… Are they safe?

Artificial sweeteners have been around for many years and are commonly used in products to make them sweet without the calories. What exactly are artificial sweeteners? They are a chemically processed sugar substitute, also known as non-nutritive, non-caloric or high intensity sweeteners. These sweeteners can be hundreds or even thousands of times sweeter than table sugar. Artificial sweeteners do not raise blood sugar levels because they are not carbohydrates. Therefore, they are a good alternative to sugar for someone with diabetes. As previously mentioned, artificial sweeteners do not provide calories, therefore they are commonly used for weight loss. These sweeteners can be found everywhere including soft drinks, gum, yogurt, ice cream, baked goods, and cereals.

The question on everyone’s mind, “Are they safe to eat?” Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began its approval system in 1958, the FDA has been testing sugar substitutes for their safety. Anytime a company wants to put an artificial sweetener in their product, they have to get permission from the FDA. The FDA reviews all of the scientific research provided and determines the safety by conducting studies typically on mice and rats. Since there are so many different studies that have been done using different test subjects, with different amounts of artificial sweetener, the results have varied and left most people confused.

Currently, the National Cancer Institute states there is not clear scientific evidence that any artificial sweetener approved in the U.S. causes cancer, therefore they are recognized as safe. However, the FDA does set Acceptable Daily Intakes, so moderation is key. Can artificial sweeteners be used in a safe and healthy way? Yes, just don’t overdo it.

How to Actually Lose Weight

If you are among the 69% of overweight/obese adults in America that are struggling to lose weight, this article is for you. Below is a list of basic principles that can help you lose the weight and keep it off.

  • Stop Dieting: To actually lose weight and keep it off long term, you have to give up dieting. Diets are generally too restrictive and not easy to maintain, which means the weight might come off, but it will most likely come back on and then some. Plus, diets could potentially be dangerous depending on what you are taking (diet pills) or removing from your diet (carbohydrates.)
  • Start Exercising: Exercise seems more intimidating than it needs to be. You do not have to start running six days a week. Start with something easy if you have never exercised before and work your way up. Find things you enjoy doing rather than forcing yourself to do something you hate. Swimming, riding your bike, yoga, and walking with your family are great places to start. If you don’t have a full hour in your day, try and shoot for ten to fifteen minutes here and there, because every little bit counts. Keep in mind that anything is better than nothing; so get started today rather than waiting for tomorrow.
  • Eat Consistently: Most healthy people eat consistently throughout the day. They wake up, have breakfast, and then eat every few hours when they are hungry. One of the most common habits in individuals struggling with their weight is going all day without enough food and then overeating at night. Make sure to get in a solid breakfast balanced with some protein (eggs, yogurt, nuts) and carbohydrate (oatmeal, cereal, toast, fruit) and work on eating consistently throughout the day without huge gaps in your meals. That does not mean you need to eat every two hours, but it does mean you should eat every time you feel hunger.
  • Portion Control: Once you have mastered eating consistently throughout the day, it is easier to manage your portions. If you go into a meal starving, you are more likely to overeat. However, if you fuel your body all day with nutritious meals and snacks, you are less likely to over indulge. Paying attention to when you are full is also important. Becoming more aware and checking in with yourself during a meal is a great way to determine how much food you actually need. Other ways to cut down on portions are using smaller plates, slowing down while eating, and eating without distractions, such as watching TV.



We Heart Canned Food! Tips for Eating for a Healthy Heart

It’s fitting that February – the month in which we celebrate love and Valentine’s Day – is American Heart Month. Isn’t now the perfect time to make heart-healthy eating a priority? Here’s a lineup of canned foods you – and your heart – will love.

Beans. Rich in fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium and several phytochemical health boosters, beans are linked to lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and even a lowered risk of having a second heart attack. Aim for several servings per week.

  • Drain and rinse canned beans to reduce about 40% of the sodium.
  • Add drained and rinsed canned beans to prepared soups or on top of a green salad.
  • Thicken a favorite soup with mashed cannellini beans.
  • Replace flour with pureed black beans in brownies and other chocolate desserts.
  • Toss canned black beans and corn with salsa for a super-fast salad or topping for grilled fish or chicken.

Fish. Reel in canned tuna, salmon and sardines. Each is rich in heart-shielding omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice weekly.

  • Keep cans of tuna and salmon on hand to toss together a quick sandwich or salad.
  • Cook a big batch of tuna or salmon patties for dinner; freeze some for lunches over the next few weeks.
  • Top whole grain crackers with sardines mashed with mustard and onions.

Fruits and Vegetables. Sadly, most Americans continue to fall far short of meeting the recommended fruit and vegetable intake. With canned F&V in your pantry, however, there’s no need go without the health-shielding powers of fruits and veggies. What under-consumed nutrients do they supply? Fiber, potassium, folate and so much more!

  • When selecting vegetables, choose low sodium and no salt added varieties most often. Not ready for all low sodium canned products? Mix the low sodium and regular varieties together.
  • Stock up on canned fruits packed in 100% juice; put a serving of canned fruit in lunchboxes.
  • Bulk up soups, stews and casseroles with your favorite canned vegetables.

See why I heart canned foods? They make it quick and easy to enjoy heart-healthy nutrition! Cheers to happy, healthy eating!


Cece Davis Gifford, RD, CSSD, LD

Nutrition Consultants of Tulsa, LLC

The Diet Soda Debate

In recent years, there has been much debate over diet vs. regular soda. For those in favor of diet soda, they argue it has zero calories and zero sugar compared to regular, which can help with weight loss. However, those that are opposed are pulling from emerging research indicating that diet soda is not conducive to weight control. According to the recommendations of the USDA Dietary Guidelines, non-nutritive sweeteners may reduce the intake of added sugar. However, the effectiveness as a weight management strategy is unclear.

In 2005, a study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that the larger the quantity of diet soda consumed, the higher the risk for becoming overweight or obese. The likelihood of becoming overweight was increased by 65 percent, and obese by 41 percent for each diet soda the participants drank per day. According to the same university, in 2011 another study was performed using 474 participants, aged 65 years or older and found that diet soda drinkers as a group had 70 percent greater increases in waist circumference than non-diet soda drinkers over ten years. Those that were considered high diet soda drinkers (two or more per day) had a waist circumference increase of 500 percent greater than non-diet soda drinkers.

Here are some things to consider with this study. There is no discussion of lifestyle choices in regards to diet soda drinkers vs. non-diet soda drinkers. Typically those that abstain from soda all together are generally healthier people as a whole, which could lead to such a significant difference in waist circumference.

However, there could be other reasons diet soda consumption may not aid in weight loss. There is the possibility of a disconnect in the brain between the taste of artificial sweeteners and their lack of calories. The brain anticipates the body will need to digest calories upon tasting artificial sweeteners, but because there are no calories the body is simply thrown off. One study found that when rodents consumed non-caloric sweetener in yogurt, they consumed more calories, gained more weight, and put on more body fat compared to those consuming yogurt with sugar.

Besides the potential for affecting weight, diet soda has also been linked to increasing other health risks, including diabetes. A study published in 2013 from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages were associated with type 2 diabetes risks in women, and the diet beverage drinkers carried the greatest risk.

Take home message. There is research arguing both sides for and against diet soda consumption. However, more research is emerging against diet soda consumption due to increased risks of health problems and weight gain. Therefore, drinking regular or diet soda often may not be the best choice, and it might be a good idea to cut back on both beverages and choose water, unsweetened iced tea or coffee, or sparkling water instead.

The Skinny on Butter

What to look for in a spread…

  • Contains no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving
  • 0 grams of trans fat
  • The ingredients list should not have partially hydrogenated oils listed (trans fat)
  • No added sugar
  • Choose spreadable or whipped over stick

So What should I buy? Here is a list of spreads to try!

Tubs & Squeezes:

  • Smart Beat Smart Squeeze
  • Olivio- Light, Original
  • Promise-Activ Light
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!- Whipped & Creamy Taste, Light, Calcium + Vitamin D, made with Olive Oil
  • Smart Balance- Light, made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Whipped Low Sodium
  • Brummel & Brown
  • Country Crock- Light, Calcium plus Vitamin D, Churn Style, Whipped Easy Squeeze

Butter (in a tub):

  • Land O Lakes Light with Canola Oil
  • Olivio Light with Canola, Olive & Flaxseed Oil
  • Smart Balance Light Butter & Canola Oil Blend

Note: Even though a band name might be on this list, that does not mean that every spread they make is healthy, so always check the nutrition labels.