Food Gums: What matters is dosage.

by Nancy Mehlert MS

Food gums are plant sourced food additives used as thickening, stabilizing, and emulsifying agents. The most common gums are agar agar, arabic, locust bean, guar, acacia, gellan, xanthan, and carrageenan.   They are very common in dairy, nut milks, and non-dairy yogurt and cheese replacements, salad dressings, baked goods, and many gluten free foods. They do not provide any valuable nutrition.

Most people seem to be fine consuming gums, however if you have digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, you may want to closely examine how many foods you are consuming that have gums in them.  While a small amount in one food is generally recognized as safe and harmless, many people who count on pre-packaged and gluten free foods, as well as non-dairy dairy replacements, are actually consuming more than they realize. While all the gums are used in very small amounts, often times multiple gums will be used in one product, making the amount more than it seems.

Xanthan, carrageenan, and guar gums are polysaccharides, banned from the popular FODMOPS diet due to their impact on digestive issues. Guar gum feeds pesky bad bacteria in the gut and can cause significant bloating. Carrageenan gum is a possible source for monosodium glutamate (MSG), and has been known to cause stomach inflammation. It is currently being investigated more closely by the FDA.

To summarize, be aware of the sources of gums you are consuming, realizing that less is likely better, especially if you have a sensitive digestive system.


Dessey, Mira. The Pantry Principle; The Woodlands, Texas: Versadia Press, 2013., accessed on 1/23/21

By |2021-02-24T06:13:18-06:00February 24th, 2021|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Allulose : A New Healthy Sugar Alternative?

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

You may have noticed allulose showing up on the grocery store shelf or on an ingredient list of a packaged food.  It came to my attention about a year ago, and I’ve been watching and waiting to hear more about it from nutritionists, doctors, and scientist in the functional medicine realm.

As I’ve mentioned before, maintaining balanced blood sugar and avoiding toxic chemical substances are both foundational to good health.  These are two factors we use to determine the healthfulness of a sweetener.  As you may know, we are generally supportive of monk fruit, stevia, erythritol, and xylitol. Each of these are derived from natural sources such as fruit, herbs, and bark with minimal processing in most cases.  They also move through the upper digestive tract without being converted to energy (i.e. not metabolized, having little caloric value, and therefore not elevating blood sugar levels). For the same reasons, allulose is another promising option on the scene now[1].

Allulose is found naturally in fruit and, at the molecular level, it is similar to fructose (a less favorable sugar). Allulose has 95% fewer calories than sugar and has about 70% of sugar’s sweetness. The most interesting potential found in animal studies for allulose suggest that it may actually lower blood glucose, reduce abdominal fat, decrease insulin resistance, and decrease fat accumulation in the liver. In one meta-analysis of human trials, when allulose was given with carbohydrate containing meals, it was found to decrease post-meal glucose levels by 10%.  Dr. Peter Attia, author of the referenced article, has personally put allulose in his morning coffee and observed a drop in his blood glucose level. It appears that allulose, rather than raising glucose levels, drags glucose with it to excretion through the kidneys.

Allulose feels like and tastes like sugar. Animal studies have shown no toxicity at high doses.  Literature suggests very few side effects. Digestive issues related to using allulose appear to be temporary and mild, especially compared to the sugar alcohols such as xylitol. It can be substituted 1:1 in recipes, and most people note no strange aftertaste or mouth sensation. One characteristic worth noting is, when allulose is used in baking, it does turn brown, so it can make baked goods darker than expected.

You will find Allulose in some HEB grocery stores and online.

[1] Peter Attia, MD,, Dec 6, 2020.


By |2021-02-09T06:21:02-06:00February 10th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Triggering Autophagy through Nutrition

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

What in the world is aah-TAAH-fuh-jee you ask?  “Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat.  Thus the literal meaning is “self-eating”.  It is the natural way that the body cleans out accumulated debris, including toxins and damaged cells, to make way for regeneration of newer, healthier cells. Read What is Autophagy? for more information.

Your dietary choices have a direct impact, for better or worse, on processes like inflammation and autophagy. There are several dietary choices we can avoid if we want to stimulate autophagy. We will describe two of the most significant here and then list food-specific do’s and don’ts.

  • mTOR, or the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin, is a complex protein that serves as the body’s most important nutrient pathway. When mTOR is stimulated, muscle-building is promoted.  When mTOR is not stimulated, it instructs the cell to turn on the repair and maintenance processes, one of which is autophagy.  Both actions are necessary.  mTOR is stimulated when we eat large amounts of protein, preventing the body from effectively cleaning out debris and damaged cells. Virtually all cancers are associated with mTOR activation.  When fully grown humans consume significant protein without doing adequate exercise to build additional muscle, then overstimulating the mTOR pathway becomes a very inflammatory process. Balance with protein is key.  Yes we need it for essential bodily processes, but too much is harmful[i].
  • Insulin is a hormone that controls nutrient storage. When we eat, we secrete insulin into the bloodstream to usher nutrients into the right storage places. If there are excess carbohydrates in the diet, they are converted by insulin to fat. The lower your average insulin level, the slower the aging process.  Lower insulin levels activate autophagy; high levels, especially chronically, result in inhibiting autophagy, adding to inflammation, and ultimately leading to disease and faster aging.

With these two concepts in mind, here are dietary do’s and don’ts for staying young and healthy:

  • Intermittent fasting even for a couple days a week for at least 16-17 hours will activate autophagy. An example of this would be to finish dinner by 7:00 p.m. and then sleep through the night not eating again until noon the next day. Water and coffee are fine during the fast.
  • Examine Protein Intake. Reduce daily protein intake to 15-20 grams a few days a week. Many Americans consume 8-15 or more ounces of protein every day. Six ounces of meat is equivalent to 50 g of protein, a healthy range for a person weighing about 130-135 lbs. with 25% body fat. But in order to trigger autophagy, this amount can be lowered to 15-20 grams which equates to only 2 ½ ounces of protein. Most of us could reduce significant inflammation by increasing healthy fats and vegetables and reducing our meat portions.
  • Examine Carbohydrate Intake. Depending on weight, age, height, metabolic rate, and health status, carbohydrate needs vary widely. With a Metabolic test, we can determine the correct carbohydrate intake for you to maintain your current weight, or lose weight.
  • Eat at the same time each day and avoid snacking prior to bedtime (avoid food 3 or more hours before bedtime). Sleep is not for digesting, but rather restoration, healing, cleaning (autophagy) and resetting.
  • Avoid sugars and processed foods, dairy, and hydrogenated oils. These foods hinder the role of your mitochondria where some autophagy occurs, diminishing their function and causing inflammation.
  • More good autophagy-inducing foods include curcumin, organic green tea, organic coffee, Reishi mushrooms, ginseng, garlic, pomegranate, elderberries, ginger, and cinnamon.

If you are interested in your personal ideal carbohydrate and protein needs, call (281) 298-6742 to schedule an appointment with our Staff Nutrition expert, Nancy Mehlert MS, for a Metacheck and private nutrition consultation.

[i] J.Mercola, Fat for Fuel, (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House,Inc.,2017) p. 51-52.


By |2020-11-10T08:37:42-06:00November 10th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Coffee and High Cholesterol?

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

Photo by Mike Kenneally

If your cholesterol continues to climb, you may be interested to know that one possible culprit worth exploring is your coffee preparation method!  There are compounds in coffee called diterpines, one specifically called cafestol, which has cholesterol boosting properties for some people.  One review said that patients with high cholesterol seem to be more sensitive to the cafestol in coffee.  It is found in both regular and decaffeinated coffee.  Cafestol is highest in pressed coffee preparations such as espresso and French pressed coffee.  Coffee prepared through a paper filter has the least amount of cafestol.  Instant coffee has relatively little. You need not forego your coffee, just save the French pressed for special occasions or run it through a paper filter after you press it.


By |2020-10-13T06:59:22-05:00October 13th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Parasite Prevention – Food & Environment

Nancy Mehlert, MS

Parasitic infections are probably under-diagnosed because most doctor’s don’t consider them to be a likelihood in the United States.  They may be more common than we realize and should be considered as a root cause when chronic illness cannot be explained otherwise (see the main article).

In the meantime, no one wants a parasitic infection and there are things we can do to avoid them. 

Many parasites can be transmitted in foods including protozoa and helminths (roundworms and tapeworms). The most common food sources to be aware of include:

  • Undercooked fish, crabs, and mollusks, including sushi
  • Undercooked meat, especially pork
  • Raw aquatic plants, such as watercress
  • Raw vegetables that have been contaminated by human or animal feces (even USDA Organic Standards allow animal waste)
  • Foods contaminated as a result of food service workers who practice poor hygiene or work in unsanitary facilities

Action steps in the kitchen include making sure to cook fish and meat thoroughly and carefully. Also consider if eating sushi is worth the risk.  Wash produce well before use. Visit reputable restaurants with good sanitation practices.

Many parasites are also transmitted by water, soil, or person to person contact.  Here are several more action steps you can take to protect yourself from parasitic infection:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after handling uncooked food or feces.
  • Drink clean water, including bottled water when traveling, especially in tropical, subtropical, or under-developed countries.
  • Avoid swallowing water from lakes, streams, or ponds.
  • Avoid cat litter and feces, especially if pregnant. Outdoor cats can come into contact with infected rodents and birds, which makes owners more likely to contract toxoplasmosis, a type of protozoa.

Be informed, be safe, be well.


By |2020-09-01T11:54:52-05:00September 13th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

The Latest on Avocado Oil

Nancy Mehlert, MS

I have been wondering how long it would take for this news break, and to be honest, I am not surprised at all.  Over this last decade, much has been documented about the fact that most olive oils, are not in fact, pure, fresh pressed, unadulterated oil.  In light of that, it is no surprise that the same has been stated now about avocado oil. 

According to Dr. Mercola[i], and based on a study completed in October of this year published by the journal Food Control (116:107328) a number of similar concerns about olive oil are also true about avocado oil:

  • 22 avocado oil brands were evaluated, 82% of which were found to be rancid, and 3 of which had no avocado oil in them but were mostly soybean oil instead.
  • Countries of origin were California, Mexico, Brazil, and Spain

As with many plant oils, the reasons for concern center around the quality of the source of the oil.  If the avocados used are bruised, overripe, and insect infected, they will not render a quality, fresh and pure oil.  Additionally, oil deteriorates with time by becoming oxidized, so if the time between harvest and  processing is too long, then an oxidized oil will be the outcome.  Finally, and importantly, most oil extraction methods, which are fast and cheap, are accomplished through high heat processing, resulting in damage to these delicate, mono-unsaturated fats. Molecular damage means your body cannot make good use of the nutrient source and it becomes an interfering toxicant or “trash” that must be cleared from the body.

For the time being, I have been able to confirm with Primal Kitchen that their olive and avocado oils are pure, with no other oils added, and have been tested for high quality and purity numerous times throughout every phase of production. Our books and dietary instructions include how to choose a good olive oil. Until then, the best way to benefit from the incredible nutrition in an avocado is to eat the real whole fruit. It remains one of the healthiest foods in the world!


By |2020-08-05T13:20:55-05:00August 8th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Dietary Stressors

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

What and how we eat can impact our body’s ability to cope with extra electromagnetic radiation. That may sound strange, but what I mean is that we often have dietary habits that ADD TO metabolic stress rather than minimize or reduce it.   Overall stress reduction on the human body is what allows for a strong immune system and effective detoxification pathways. 

Here are examples of habits that add stress to the human body, thus promoting oxidative stress and weakness.

  • Overeating, either constant eating throughout the day or eating too much at once until feeling “stuffed”
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, and especially intoxication
  • Microwaving food
  • Eating sugary foods and destabilizing blood sugar

Habits such as these add to aging caused by oxidative damage.  Alternatively, intermittent fasting, staying well hydrated, eating clean, whole food, especially vegetables, all help to keep us young, our immune systems strong, and our detoxification pathways running smoothly.

By |2020-07-07T09:53:01-05:00July 8th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Technical or Adaptive?

Nancy Mehlert, MS

Having trouble getting a new lifestyle habit established? 

A technical challenge has a straightforward solution. Need the remote control to work? Read the instructions and do what it says and the problem is solved. But this approach does not work for lifestyle challenges.  In fact, you can’t address adaptive challenges with a technical solution, though we often try!

Lifestyle changes are adaptive challenges and can only be met by transforming our mindset and changing our behavior.

Adaptive challenges require a change of mind – a change in how we think.

By |2020-06-03T10:17:47-05:00June 5th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Going Forward

Nancy Mehlert, MS

Ready to leave the COVID 19 Pandemic behind you?  It seems like a lot of people are ready for the quarantined life to be over. 

I’ve been thinking about what happens to our nutrition at times like these, and I think it has been different, for different people. I know many who have stayed the course, gotten more exercise and smoothly sailed through, in terms of nutrition at least.  And others, who have found the stresses dragging them back to old habits, comfort food, and drinks.  We are all different.  We struggle in different ways.

It is common for major life changes to get in the way of our best laid nutritional plans.

May I encourage you to be kind to yourself? There is no use in beating yourself up or drowning in guilt.  These times have been, and continue to be, difficult. It is hard to find anyone who thinks this is an easy time.  The complexities of caring for the elderly, schooling children, staying employed, and all working under the same roof 24-7 – none of this is easy stuff, individually or collectively.  

But as we see some possible light at the end of this tunnel, now is a good time to take stock and organize your thoughts in a positive, GO FORWARD mind set.  It is a good time to figure out how to GO FORWARD in confidence and make some corrections to course where needed.  Here are some productive and healthy things to do in the next couple of weeks as we hopefully emerge from this quarantine:

  • If you feel like your nutritional wheels totally fell off the wagon, have you discovered something valuable from the experience? We learn from our mistakes. What’s yours?  What would you do differently next time as a key learning point?  Then, forgive yourself, and GO FORWARD.
  • What have you done well? Look hard. Find at least one thing.  There is something good to be discovered.  Give yourself credit for that one thing. GO FORWARD with that good thing.
  • Talk to friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. Ask them how they have coped nutritionally during this strange time and learn from their successes and mistakes. Take a new idea, a new recipe, a new habit, and GO FORWARD with it tucked into your steps.
  • Start now to pull your nutritional boundaries back into place, one thing at a time. Start with just one thing and do it (or stop it).  Then choose the next thing.  GO FORWARD in positive and affirming ways that will help you transition smoothly into the next season of life.
  • Reach out if you need help with course correction. Perhaps a detoxification program would be in order, or a nutrition consultation to revitalize your menu plans with a few easy recipes.  Or maybe some ONDAMED sessions and/or IR Saunas to reinvigorate your energy pathways and detoxify.
  • Resolve to take one new good habit into the future with you. I’ve started to use Stasher® Bags for food storage and Swedish dishcloths ( , both of which make me happier and less wasteful in the kitchen. Take a look at our revised and updated Highway to Health and Health Reset Protocol Cookbook where you will find helpful reminders and plenty of ideas for healthy eating. Let’s GO FORWARD TOGETHER!
By |2020-04-30T14:31:35-05:00May 1st, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Do Five & Detoxify

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

photo courtesy fit living tips .com

Promoting routine detoxification through our dietary choices is a simple thing everyone can do. 

Here are the top FIVE dietary detoxifiers:

#1 Eat organic food

#2 Eat your veggies – especially cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage, as well as cucumber, celery, carrot, zucchini, squash, watercress, artichoke, asparagus, ginger, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, lemon, apples, beets, and dark leafy greens.  (See our Green Juice recipe of the month in this issue!)

#3 Stay hydrated with clean, filtered water

#4 Avoid dairy (clogs lymphatic movement)

#5 Avoid processed, fake, manufactured and sugary food

By |2020-04-12T09:35:46-05:00April 14th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|
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