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The goal of this blog is to present nutrition facts and advice in a fun and interesting way! We want to get our members involved in a healthy lifestyle as well as share articles that shine a light on nutrition and health.
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Hello, turkeys! It’s almost Thanksgiving which means friends, family, and FOOD. To make your holiday recipe scouting a little easier, I’ve put together a list of some amazing and festive fall recipes for you to try out on Turkey Day. Enjoy!
Freshman. Foods and Nutrition Major. SDSU.
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Happy Sunday, everybody! Thanksgiving is fast approaching, which means two things: no school, and TONS of food. Thanksgiving (these days) is a holiday based around being with friends and family, sharing love, thanks, and delicious meals, which I absolutely love. I want to share some tips and tricks for having the best Turkey day you can have!
Thanksgiving is a lovely time for so many people, but I know from all my Thanksgiving experiences that it's super easy to overeat. Over-eating is extremely common among Americans who can afford to do so, especially around the holidays. According to calorie control.org, the average Thanksgiving meal is about 3,000 calories, and could be up to 4,500 (keep in mind that’s 1,500 calories more than USFDA recommends for an entire day). Overconsumption of calories is a major contributor to obesity in the U.S. today, and very easy to fall prey to. While the Americans who can afford to put food on the table often put too much, there were still about 15.6 million households in the United States that were food insecure as of 2015 (meaning they can’t afford nutritious food or that they can’t afford enough food the sustain the household at all). Foodforward.org, states that, “According to a 2014 EPA study, America throws away more than 38 million tons of food every year”, so of the American households that can afford enough food, a large portion of it is simply thrown in the garbage. This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to not let that tryptophan get the best of you, and eat just until you’re satisfied. In addition, you can donate canned goods and even Thanksgiving leftovers to those in need! If you’re looking to donate leftover Thanksgiving food, most food pantries will take them, and you can find one near you by following this link: https://www.foodpantries.org/.You can also look into donating leftovers, canned goods, or other food to your local food bank! You can find the nearest one here: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/.
Giving back is a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Get some friends and family together to donate food or volunteer (here’s a website to find some awesome non-profits in your area:https://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/homeless-and-housing?gclid=CMqoofGOybgCFcqe4AodiWoA9A). Give thanks this year by spreading the love and helping someone out! I hope you all have a happy, healthy, lovely Thanksgiving!
Foods and Nutrition Major. SDSU.
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Hey SNO fam! Today I wanted to share something a little different that has really been igniting my passion lately: Health at Every Size.
If you haven’t already heard of the "Health at Every Size" movement, it was started by Linda Bacon who wrote the book Health At Every Size which is has now essentially become “a website and a social movement whose purpose is to encourage bodily acceptance and self confidence with one's body, often by the rejection of dieting. Proponents aim to improve the standard of living for people who are overweight or obese by promoting healthy lifestyles and anti-discrimination efforts. Generally, these efforts do not include weight loss as a direct goal.” (Wikipedia) A lot of people are probably thrown off by this title and think, "Well, what about the millions of Americans and people worldwide who are obese? And what about people at the other extreme? They certainly aren't healthy at their size."
And you might be correct, depending on the individual circumstances.
But the point of Health at Every Size is that health shouldn't be limited to weight or an appearance of health, but rather the feeling of health and the existence of health...even if it isn't visible. A thin body may be diseased and an larger body may be in top-notch health, but sadly our society makes associations and assumptions that are often scientifically incorrect, equating body type with the presence or absence of health. Health is so much more complex than weight and calories and nutrients...it's about the little things that you are doing each day to take care of yourself and make sure your needs are met: nourishing your body, moving your body, engaging your mind, connecting with loved ones, savoring the things that bring you joy, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks when you need them. If all of these are habits that make a person healthy...then why are our assumptions about health determined, judgmentally, by how much space we take up?
Of course unhealthy lifestyle habits lead to lifestyle diseases...but these diseases can occur in any sized body. Until current and future health care providers start looking past the number on the scale and looking toward patients’ self-care practices, it seems that society will always be waging a war against weight.
That being said, I don't expect every health care provider to drop what they're doing and switch to a HAES approach. My hope is that even if all health care providers can't adopt HAES, they can at least learn from it, and see why America's obsession with weight is anything but healthy. And for all of you future dietitians, nurses, doctors, psychologists/psychiatrists, counselors, and other health care personnel, I hope that HAES might open up your mind a little more to the ways in which we can create a culture that embraces bodies of all shapes and sizes and acknowledges the ways that they can be healthy, happy, and nourished.
Here is Dr. Bacon's book. Take a look if you are interested in learning more about Health at Every Size:
Freshman. SDSU. Foods and Nutrition.
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I'm back for part two of my series on gut health. If you haven't already read my post on why gut health is important, go ahead and read it here:
Now that you have an idea about why gut health is important and all of the things it can do for our mood and optimal functioning, here are some tips to get your gut on track! I have personally dealt with gut issues off and on for the past few years, but once I discovered these health habits, I saw radical changes in the way my gut functions and the way that I feel overall!
2. Eat sprouted grains
While eating sprouted grains doesn't necessarily introduce more bacteria into your gut microbiome, it does ensure better digestion and makes the grain’s nutrients more readily available. Soaked and sprouted gluten is easier to break down in the digestive tract, which means it’s easier for the gut to do its work. In addition, sprouted grains tend to have more fiber and be more nutrient dense than regular non-sprouted grains. If you're looking for a good sprouted bread to try out, I recommend Alvarado Street Bakery!
3. Cut down on stress
I cannot emphasize this enough y'all!!! Managing stress is a hugely important component of optimizing gut health, as you can probably tell from my previous post. Stress can wreck havoc on the little guys in our gut and alter digestive processes via the gut-brain axis (the connections between the gut and the brain) which can lead to anything from indigestion to full-on digestive disorders such as IBS and leaky-gut syndrome! Cut down on stress by:
Exercise not only promotes peristaltic contractions to occur in the gut which can promote digestion, but it has also actually been found to increase the number and diversity of microbial species in the gut! This doesn't mean that you have to go out and run 10 miles every day because #guthealth...this implies that moving in any way that feels good to you could actually go a long way as far as promoting healthy gut flora. Walking, running, biking, hiking, rowing, yoga, swimming, dancing...whatever way it is that you like to move, do that! There is no "right" way to move...simply getting some movement in each day can have amazing effects on your microbiome, and not to mention your mood, energy, and focus.
I hope you find this guide to a healthier gut useful and that you are able to apply a few of these suggestions to your life. As I mentioned earlier, I can attest to each and every one of these...since developing these practices, my gut has changed phenomenally and let-me-tell-ya, it feels amazing. Here are the sources I consulted when compiling these tips...feel free to visit them for more information on gut health!
SDSU. Freshman. Foods and Nutrition Major.
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It seems like fall fell overnight here in sunny San Diego. The weather went from 107˚F one day to brisk and foggy the next. I don’t know about you, but I’m super into it. Changing of the seasons from summer to fall is one of my favorite things on earth, especially because it means there is a lot of good autumn food in store for the next few months. Since we’re still a little bit away from Thanksgiving and a long, long way from Christmas, I’ll spare you the holiday recipes until another week. This week, I present to you one of my absolute favorite warm & satisfying comfort foods: coconut curry. The best part about it is that you can improvise as much as you want and it will always be delicious; that’s why I’ve included a list of my favorite ingredients in addition to a yummy and reliable recipe that I like. Put it in your repertoire for the next time it drops below 65˚F in San Diego!
My Simplified Adaptable Autumn Coconut Curry Recipe
For the sauce:
A Completely Detailed Coconut Curry Recipe
Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Coconut Curry
A few other good recipes for inspiration:
Junior. SDSU. Foods and Nutrition major.
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So a lot of you have probably noticed the jargon on social media, whether on wellness websites, health podcasts, or related platforms, about the gut: the microbiome, the second brain, the gut-brain connection, gut flora. At least one of these probably sounds familiar.
But what's the big deal?
It's just your gut, right?
Actually, the gut is a lot more important than you think it is, in that yes, it functions to help us digest what we consume, but more extraordinarily, it participates in a mutual interaction with our sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system as well as our brain that can affect not only the way that we digest (or rather the quality of our digestion), but also the way we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It's pretty cool. But how does it work?
The mechanisms of the gut can be altered by the brain, and the brain can also be altered by the mechanisms of the gut.
Let's start with the influence of the brain on gut health. When we are in a high-stress state, we are said to be in sympathetic mode, meaning our bodily functions perform in such a way as to allow us to most effectively respond to the stressor. This includes dilation of the pupils, constriction of the blood vessels, increase in heart rate, decreased production of digestive fluids, and decreased gut activity. This means that if you're in a high-stress state for prolonged periods of time, your gut will not be functioning optimally since your body is trying to "perform", or feels that it is in the flight-or-fight response 24/7, and by inhibiting gut activity, your body can respond to the stressor more effectively. No wonder so many Americans have digestive issues, given the high-stress state in which we are constantly living, with everything from work to school to obligations. The American hustle culture is the gut microbiome's worst nightmare!
In contrast, if we are in a low-stress state, we are in parasympathetic mode, which causes the pupils to constrict, the blood vessels to dilate, the heart rate to increase, digestive fluid production to increase, and gut activity to increase. This is why it's so, so, so important to figure out ways to manage your stress daily so that you can be kind to yourself and to your gut, because digestive issues are serious business.
So now you see how the brain can influence the gut, but how can the gut influence the brain?
Aside from the fact that your mood tends to be better when your digestive system is on point and worse when it's less than optimal, healthy bacteria in the gut has been proven to alter one’s mood, and a gut bacteria imbalance has even been linked to conditions such as anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. The gut has its own communicative system called the enteric nervous system (ENS), which consists of about 100 million nerves lining the gut. I guess that's why the phrases "you've got guts" and "you've got a lot of nerve" are so interchangeable! The gut communicates to the brain via the vagus nerve, which is one of the major nerves bringing information to the brain from all over the body. So basically, the gut and the brain are true homies, so closely linked that they influence each other in profound ways. This has been shown in various studies in which the bacteria found in anxious animals' guts have been replaced with calmer animals' bacteria and vice versa, producing an exchange in anxiety levels between the two that corresponds with the type of bacteria found in the gut (good bacteria balance = good mood, dysbiosis = not so good mood).
I don't know about you, but a smoothly running digestive system and a happy brain sounds like a pretty freakin' nice existence to me, so gut health has really become a priority for me. Stay tuned for part two. Next week, I'll teach you how to improve your gut health, and how I've improved mine.
The sources below will show you more about why the gut is a much more vital part of your health than you think.
San Diego State University, Foods and Nutrition Major. Freshman.