Showing posts with label Mary Brighton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Brighton. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bioavailability: Using the Food We Eat In the Body We Have (Part Two)

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

“It has been shown as proof positive that carefully prepared chocolate is as healthful a food as it is pleasant; that it is nourishing and easily digested... that it is above all helpful to people who must do a great deal of mental work.” Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin Physiology of Taste, 1825

Welcome to Part Two Bioavailability: Using the Food We Eat in the Body We Have – How the Preparation of Food and Combining Nutrients Can Influence the Bioavailability of Food.

Part One is about the importance of digestion and absorption to obtain and use nutrients in the foods we eat - the bioavailability of food (click here to read Part One). In this sense ‘bioavailability’ refers to the degree nutrients are available based on a person’s digestion and absorption mechanisms. But did you know that the nutrients in our meals can also have varying degrees of bioavailability depending on how food is prepared, whether eaten raw or combined with other foods? For example, vitamins and minerals in leafy greens like spinach, chard and kale are more or less bioavailable depending on whether they are eaten cooked or raw. In some instances, cooking ‘transforms’ that food so we obtain more from it. Cooking can also destroy key nutrients, especially when high heat is involved. What is the general rule? As Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” And I will add “Food needs to taste good to be enjoyed.” Variety, creativity, freshness and using a combination of different preparation and ingredients can increase the nutrition and pleasure we get from our meals.

If you are not sure what methods are the best, read my top 10 tips on food preparation and ingredient combinations, and then call for an appointment at 732-994-7855. I like to talk about our “Food is Medicine” philosophy and how to get the most nutrition from every bite you eat.

My Top Ten Ways to Get the Most Nutrients from Your Food:

1. Don’t boil or overcook any vegetable. High heat destroys water-soluble vitamins especially those in green vegetables. In general, steaming is the preferred method of cooking vegetables.

2. Eat locally sourced produce. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutrients when they are separated from their soil or root nutrient source soon after harvest. Buy local, eat quickly.

3. Match vitamin C foods like citrus and tomatoes with iron-rich plant foods like lentils and other legumes. When these ‘friends’ are together in the same meal, iron is better absorbed. This tip is especially important for vegetarians who rely on non-heme plant sources like lentils and other legumes for iron.

4. Soak dried beans before cooking. Beans contain phytic acid which is considered a beneficial anti-nutrient because phytic acids functions both as an antioxidant, but it also limits absorption of key minerals like iron and zinc. My advice: soak beans 12-36 hours in water, rinse them at least once to remove phytic acid. Keep your diet diverse, eat a variety of plants, nuts and grains in a plant forward eating plan. For vegetarians who need iron from legumes, soaking beans is an important step to maintaining adequate iron stores.

5. Store food correctly. Heat, light and oxygen destroy nutrients. Eat produce quickly or store in refrigerator. Keep food away from direct sunlight and enjoy cut fruit as you cut it, as soon as the fruit is exposed to oxygen it starts to lose vitamins.

6. Crushing, cutting or chopping vegetables maximizes nutrient bioavailability and release beneficial compounds. Some micro and phytonutrients are liberated by the physical act of damage to the cell walls of plants. Allium foods like garlic and onion emit protective compounds and help micronutrient bioavailability when they are broken by a knife or mortar. The physical act of chewing food also helps to increase the bioavailability because the food is broken down and is better digested.

7. Cook tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid and powerful antioxidant that protects against degenerative disease. Cooked tomatoes contain significant more lycopene than raw tomatoes. By adding a healthy fat like olive oil to tomatoes lycopene is even more bioavailable because of pairing ‘like with like’ and better absorption thru the small intestinal barrier.

8. Pairing like with like increases bioavailability. Fat is unique because it is carried differently thru the intestinal wall than proteins or carbohydrates. Fat soluble vitamins and phytonutrients like carotenoids and lycopene, need ‘like with like’ to increase bioavailability. Fat must be present for the fat soluble vitamins and phytonutrients to be absorbed and carried thru the body in the lymph system. As an example, a green salad topped with tomatoes and carrots needs a healthy fat salad dressing to use the phytonutrients present in the salad.

9. Cooking or citric acid denatures proteins. Heat or acid denatures (breaks apart) proteins, rearranging them and allowing them to unfold. The exposed protein chains are more easily digested and bioavailable than raw proteins.

10. Chose frozen vegetables and fruits as an alternate for fresh. In non-growing seasons or just to have on hand for a quick meal, frozen vegetables are a viable go-to meal option because they are frozen quickly after harvest and retain much of their nutrients.

Call Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine at 732-263-7999 or visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine to learn more about us.



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bioavailability: Using the Food We Eat In the Body We Have (Part One)

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

“Food is all those substances which, submitted to the action of the stomach, can be assimilated or changed into life by digestion, and can thus repair the losses which the human body suffers through the act of living.” Jean Brillat-Savarin

My last blog post ,“Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are”, focused on food and water and the importance of mindfulness and making meals a sacred part of your day.

But good nutrition isn’t only about taking time for meals and eating healthy foods. There are two critical next steps: digesting and absorbing the food you eat. This *bioavailability* of food depends on that delicate process to “use the food we eat in the body we have.”

You have to use the foods you eat efficiently with the biological needs of your body both in how your body uses foods but also how foods we eat are nutrient-available for the body it enters! In other words, we cannot assume just because we open our mouth to eat a healthy diet that we use all the nutrients present in those foods. Digestion and absorption of nutrients is incredibly complex but is so critical for good health and overall wellbeing.

How do we know if our bodies are *bioavailable* and using food efficiently? The main area where most digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place is the small intestine, so problems in this area of the body puts you at risk for nutrition-related and other health issues. Chronic constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas or frothy stools are a body’s signal that something is going wrong in your gut.

Furthermore, a poor diet lacking fruits, vegetables and variety of whole foods, chronic stress, trauma, and overuse of certain medications can put the gut area at risk for dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the intestinal flora. This leads to increased risk of inflammation in the gut and other health problems.

Here at Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine, we look at a whole body approach, and support a Five Pillar approach (Purpose, Activity, Nutrition, Sleep and Resilience) to improve and optimize your health. We realize that an imbalance in one of these pillars can influence digestion and absorption of nutrients. We address this in our nutrition and health assessments and support you to be the best health shape you can be, one bite at a time!

In Part Two of Bioavailability: Using the Food We Eat in the Body We Have—how preparation of food and combining certain nutrients can influence the bioavailability of that food.

To meet with one of our nutritionists and learn more, call 732-263-7999. We are currently taking appointments in our Jackson and Old Bridge offices.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are (Part 2)

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist

Welcome to Part 2 of Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are. This blog is not about the food we consume, but about the most essential nutrient vital for health and life - our beloved H2O - water. In the last decade, the water we drink for our main beverage has changed from tap water to water from a packaged bottle. An average American consumes 300 bottles of water a year! The bottled water industry is a multi-billion dollar drink market.  The good news is that high-sugar soft drink consumption has decreased as bottled water sales have increased, and we know it’s always a good healthy habit to drink water in place of sugar rich drinks. 

Now I ask you: do you know where the water you drink comes from? Let me give you an example of what I mean. Last year I taught a nutrition class at a community college. My students were busy young adults who propped their water bottles on their desks during the lectures. During our lecture on nutrition and water I walked around the classroom and stopped by each student’s desk. I picked up the branded water bottle they owned, held it up and asked that student where the water they drank came from. 

Their typical answer: “I don’t know.” But they were curious. Where does Spring, P.W.S, Mineral or Purified water come from and is one water type better than the others?  Even if my students didn’t know where their water came from, they did consume a lot of it. And this is a good thing. We need about half our body weight in pounds converted to ounces in water daily to function well. As an example: A 160 pound man would need 80 ounces or 10 cups (1 cup equals 8 ounces) of water daily. 

What is the best water for health? That is a harder question to answer because the source is important. A clean water source that has been filtered is my go-to water. Tap water is low-cost and is monitored by the local authorities where you live.  If you drink tap water, you can add a water filter on your pipes or use a Brita-type water pitcher that filters your water for contaminants. 

If you drink bottled water, here are the main different terms and what they mean: 
'
Artesian is water obtained from a well that hits a confined aquifer which is an underground layer of rock or sand that contains water. 

Mineral is groundwater that contains minerals and trace elements from the source and has dissolved solids of at least 250 parts per million. 

Public Water Source P.W.S. is tap water. 

Purified is water treated from any source, including tap water, to remove chemicals and pathogens. 

Spring is water from an underground formation and comes naturally to the earth’s surface
Keep in mind that if you are concerned with your water source, check with the town or company where you drink your water from. Bottled water from a ‘natural source’ like spring water may not fully come 100% from that source, some water bottle companies mix their water sources from what it states on the bottle with purified water. 

Finally, water first is a good health mantra. You are what you eat, you are what you drink; good nutrition and clean water helps to keep the body functioning at its best. 


If you missed part 1, you can read it by clicking here: “Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are.”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You Who You Are

By Mary Brighton, M.S., RDN
Integrative Nutritionist 

You have probably heard the adage “You are what you eat,” but did you know this proverb came from France? In 1825, the French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin published this now celebrated quote in his masterpiece book Physiology of Taste: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es” which translates to "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are." The French still take their food seriously and this “you are what you eat” theme still holds true today, in France, in America and worldwide.

What you may not know is that how you eat has an influence on your health. Mr. Brillat-Savarin knew this too, and if you delve into his “meal process adds to life’s happiness” attitude you will see trends that we incorporate here at Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine. Mindful thinking and eating, living with a purpose, and life enjoyment are interrelated with food and meals. What better way to feel part of a social relationship than sharing a meal around a table? And is there nothing better to wind down from a busy day than enjoying a home-cooked meal? The meal process is as important as what foods you put into your body. Eating mindfully and with pleasure can help your whole body and overall health.

Here are a few ideas to add mindfulness around your meals: turn off screens, sit around a table, light a candle and dim the lights. Take a moment to feel gratitude for the positive parts of your day and sip and savor your dishes. Even the simplest foods can be pleasurable if we have a mindful attitude. Enjoy the meal process, just as Mr. Brillant-Savarin said, "The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all areas; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.”

To learn more about nutrition and our Five Pillars of Health & Wellness, contact me at 732.994.7855 or visit our website at HackensackMeridian.org/IntegrativeMedicine