Salt Selection Matters

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

Salt is a flavor most of us really enjoy.  Salt is life-givingEvery cell in your body relies on it for regulation of body fluids, bone density, blood sugar stabilization, good circulation and muscle and nerve function.

Naturally occurring salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The chemical formula is NaCl. Sodium and chloride are both essential electrolytes your body requires. Sodium balance in the body is complex and impacted by magnesium, calcium, and potassium. If you change the level of one electrolyte, such as sodium, you are impacting the others. Balance is essential to your overall health. Most table salts and sodium in processed food do NOT contain the good stuff, but rather a manufactured salt which negatively impacts the delicate balance of electrolytes in the body.

Here’s the dirt on most common table salts:

  • Most table salt today is heated and cooked at 1200°F. At this extremely high temperature, the salt loses more than eighty important alkaline elements that occur naturally in it, including natural iodine, leaving just pure sodium chloride. Then it is chemically bleached to make it white.
  • Other chemicals often added in table salt including manufactured forms of fluoride, anti-caking agents and toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum derivates, as well as white sugar and mono-sodium-glutamate (MSG). This is what you find in processed food and table salt.
  • As a result, sometimes table salt can be literally toxic to the human body.
  • It is found in virtually every processed and fast food in the marketplace today. Typically, bread, fast food, and frozen meals have the largest quantities.

Processed table salt wreaks havoc in the human body, especially over time. Here’s how:

  • Causes a rapid rise in blood pressure as the body attempts to move the toxic elements away from the heart.
  • Causes fluid retention and is hard on the circulatory, nervous, and lymph system.
  • Chronic imbalances contribute to and/or worsen diabetes, gout, and obesity.
  • Additives in salt can cause major kidney, thyroid, and liver problems, goiter, hypertension, heart disease, strained elimination systems, muscle cramps, edema, stroke, heart failure, PMS, and major nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • It is highly addictive as the chemical additives are designed to stimulate pleasure centers of the brain, in the same way sugar does this.

So, what’s your best option?  Usually, normal use of high-quality table salt along with a whole food diet will not invite issues with blood pressure, water retention, or cardiovascular disease.  However, surprisingly, sea salt may not be the answer.  As a result of plastics polluting the oceans, sea salt has been found to contain microplastic particles. This leaves the optimal choice to be Himalayan salt, which is mined from salt beds created long before plastic and other toxic chemicals were manufactured. Himalayan salt contains at least 80 naturally occurring trace elements which are beneficial to our health.

Be cautious when you make your purchase as there are cheap knock offs. Two brands that appear to be authentic and pure are Evolution Salt Company (harvested in the Himalayas), and Redmond’s Real Salt (sea salt harvested from a pristine ancient sea near Redmond, Utah). Most people need about 1.5 teaspoons, or 3500mg of sodium a day. Quality salt along with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, will provide a balance of electrolytes and essential minerals for the day.

 

Resources:

Group, Edward., (2017). The Health Dangers of Table Salt. Global Healing Center. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-salt/

Mercola, Joseph., (2018). Ninety Percent of Sea Salt Contains Plastic. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/10/31/sea-salt-plastic.aspx

Mercola, Joseph., (2022). Do You Know the Difference Between Salt and Sodium?

https://takecontrol.substack.com/p/salt-and-sodium?s=r

www.realsalt.com/Ingredients

By |2022-07-21T07:58:18-05:00July 21st, 2022|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

The Problems with Powders

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

One of the most frequent questions I get as the staff nutritionist is about protein powders and green superfood powders. For many people, these popular powders represent a healthy, simple, and quick way to get nourishment. But are they safe and healthy?

Pause for just a moment and consider these powders. Do you really know what is in that canister?   Does it resemble anything like the original plants or animals from which it was derived?  How did it become a powder?  What processes and techniques were used to extract the nutrients from the original source?  Could it be something other than what the package claims to be? Could harmful things make their way into the product?  Did the manufacturer test or confirm the purity of its product?

I would argue that most food powders contain things that would surprise you, and perhaps much more than the ingredient list implies or the manufacturer claims. The Clean Label Project [https://cleanlabelproject.org/the-best-worst-protein-powder-products/] has carefully tested 134 of the most popular protein powders in the marketplace and discovered a plethora of pesticide, heavy metals, and plastic residues in the vast majority of them.  Recently, I picked up a container of Psyllium Husks that were described on the packaging as “100% Pure Psyllium, No Additives, No Fillers, Non-GMO, and Gluten Free” but on the back of the package in small print a warning was written, “This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Last year, I contacted a maker of a protein powder who claimed their product was pure, organic, and Non-GMO. I inquired if they had conducted an analysis of their product for plastics, pesticides, or heavy metals.  The representative responded proudly with a “yes”! When I asked if I could see the Certificate of Analysis, she claimed that this information was not available for the public. When I hung up the phone, all I could think of was that, if their product were clean and free of any concerns, then they would have had nothing to hide. It caused me to pause and consider the high likelihood that powdered products, from green drinks to protein powders are not as good for us as we might believe. Some of the most well marketed, popular, organic brands are very likely to contain heavy metals and plastics.

Please consider that powders are highly manufactured, processed products, far from the original source. In many cases, it may be generous to even call them “food”. Though organic certifications should protect the original source to be free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and not genetically modified, it does not mean there are not plastic particulates or heavy metals in that powder.  It does not ensure that chlorine or other bleaches and chemicals have not been used to make the final product.  We should shop carefully, ask questions, and tend toward consuming real whole food.

If a protein powder is helpful to you, we have vetted some pharmaceutical grade protein powders that have been tested for purity which we can safely recommend.

By |2022-02-23T06:40:32-06:00February 24th, 2022|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Food Labeling Changes to Know About : Genetically Modified Ingredients

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Effective, January 1, 2022, The USDA, through The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure law requires all food manufacturers to disclose if genetically modified ingredients are in their products.  The way in which this is done however will not be a simple, uniform way such as an established symbol similar to the USDA Organic Certification.  Rather, the manufacturer has options including a text message, a symbol, digital links, or verbiage on the package.

According to the USDA*, “The Standard defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through certain lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature.”  Some call that “Frankenfood”, others “fake food”, and “man”-ufactured food.  Anyway you call it, there is nothing natural about it and likely represents a foreign enemy to the human body, potentially contributing to harm, disease, immune response, inflammation, and/or congestion.

According to the Environmental Working Group,* “Shockingly, virtually no long-term health studies have been done on consumption of genetically engineered food. And there aren’t likely to be any such studies anytime soon. The government isn’t doing this kind of research and is not requiring it of the food industry. It isn’t even making it possible for independent scientists to do it, since under the law, those who hold patents on genetically engineered food get to decide in most cases what testing can – and cannot – be conducted. As a result, the jury is still out – in fact, it hasn’t even heard the evidence – on whether genetically engineered food might cause health problems. And the answer to this question will likely remain unclear for years.”

Apparently the organic and GMO Project Verified labels will still be in use. As a reminder, the USDA Organic standard symbol does mean synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used. Thus buying organic should be a safe way to always avoid genetically modified or bioengineered food.

The Non-GMO Project Verified* is a symbol created by a non-profit organization working in the interest of the consumer. According to nongmoproject.org, “ the Non-GMO Project Verified mark assures consumers that the product bearing the label has been evaluated for compliance with the Non-GMO Standard, which can be found here. Similar to the USDA Organic symbol, this symbol should give some confidence that the product is free of genetic modification and is, we believe, a good measure of protection.

You may also see “Bioengineered Food Ingredients” written on the label.  It may be necessary to scan the barcode or look at the manufacturer’s webpage to find out.  My experience on webpages is that many food producers make it difficult to find nutritional facts and ingredient lists because they don’t really want you to find the information, but they are required to provide it. You may discover that this disclosure is not easy to find. Others will be forthcoming and more direct.

For optimal health and wellness, we recommend that you make every effort to avoid genetically engineered food. Recognize that most restaurant food will contain it, while eating at home after careful selection during grocery shopping will guarantee the best success.

Resources:

USDA.gov

Nongmoproject.org

https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/americans-eat-their-weight-genetically-engineered-food

Mira Dessy, The Ingredient Guru, Weekly Email dated January 4, 2022, The New GMO Label.

By |2022-02-01T12:28:23-06:00February 2nd, 2022|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Common Mistakes Eating Low Carb

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Controlling carbohydrates is critical to weight loss, reducing inflammation, and managing all disease models. All carbohydrates are primarily glucose and fiber molecules. The glycemic impact of a carbohydrate is determined by how quickly the body breaks them down and releases the glucose into the blood stream. The faster a carbohydrate converts to glucose, the higher the glycemic index. Low glycemic index carbohydrates are usually vegetables and fruits. Higher glycemic index carbohydrates include all processed and baked breads/pastries, donuts, pastas, potatoes, rice, and cereals. Of course, all sugar in drinks, desserts, and candy are included as well. Glycemic impact increases in the absence of fiber, fat, and protein, all three of which help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates into glucose, especially fat and fiber. Fat and fiber also contribute best to being satiated.

Over the past two decades, there have been hundreds of studies consistently showing low or very low carbohydrate diets to be beneficial. We often term these dietary lifestyles as keto or ketogenic. Another familiar lower carb lifestyle is called Whole30. In 2018, the American Diabetes Association Nutrition Committee reported agreement that evidence for a low carb or very low-carb diet is beneficial for Type 2 diabetes more so than any other diet tested, including Mediterranean diets and the DASH diet.

In our practice, we are advocates of a lower carbohydrate diet for most adults because it supports reduction of inflammation, congestion, fat storage, imbalanced blood sugar levels – all of which lead to the lifestyle diseases of our day. It also points people back to eating real whole food – especially vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fats. Most people need more of these in their diets for fiber and the plentiful micro-nutrients and vitamins found in them.

As you consider your diet, especially if you are working toward a very low carbohydrate diet, there are two important mistakes to avoid.

  • First, while processed sugars and grains are certainly a significant contributor to obesity and ill-health, the types of fats you eat play an equally important role. Inflammatory fats, high in Omega 6’s and usually damaged (i.e., oxidized/rancid), can be worse than excess sugar. Especially harmful are canola, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oil. Common in salad dressings, packaged and pre-prepared foods, all restaurant food – their removal, or minimization is mission critical to successful weight loss and reduction of inflammation and illness. These vegetable seed oils damage mitochondria in the cells and impact metabolic functioning. The oxidative stress results in insulin resistance just as sugar does.
  • Second, if you are using intermittent fasting and eating low to very low carbohydrate every day, over time this may actually make you more sensitive or intolerant to many healthy foods, causing you to restrict or narrow your diet too far. Generally, a low or very low carbohydrate diet would range in Net Carbohydrates [carbohydrates minus fiber] between 25 to 85 grams per day. What we are suggesting here is to pop out above that range at certain intervals to keep your metabolism flexible. You don’t want your body to lose its ability [i.e. flexibility]to handle a higher carbohydrate range when needed.

For the individual working to lose unwanted weight, this means having one or two days per week where you bump your carb intake above your normal range by 100-200% of your target to maintain flexibility.

If you are at your ideal weight, maintaining with a low carb diet, it may be best to alternate days of very low carb with double or triple the intake to maintain metabolic flexibility. My personal low carb range is between 25-30 net carbohydrates each day. Since my weight is normal, two or three days each week, I will range up to 50-75 net carbohydrate grams in a day. By alternating, I have the ability to deal with a higher carb intake from time to time without a net gain in weight. My body burns fat efficiently in the low carb days, and does not over-react by storing fat or elevating blood sugar on the pop-out days. That’s metabolic flexibility.

This gives you tolerance to eat a wide range of healthy choices and maintain good nutrition. It is not meant to be an excuse to eat junk food. The point here is to add in healthy nutrient-dense choices such as beans, beets, sweet potato, potato, rice, quinoa, an extra piece of fruit, or a gluten free oat item. Live well!

Mercola, Joseph. The Case for Keto, accessed October 2021 from www.mercola.com

By |2021-12-14T08:18:39-06:00December 22nd, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Are you eating mushrooms?

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Mushrooms are proving to be a highly medicinal food and are now found on the ingredient list for many supplements and protein powders.  From a nutritional standpoint, mushrooms are a low fat, low calorie option that provide some fiber and protein. But it’s the minerals, vitamins, and micro-compounds found in them that make them a nutritional powerhouse. Mushrooms are a very good source of phosphorus, needed for our bones, teeth, and proper metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Three important B vitamins can be found in mushrooms: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Potassium and selenium as well as small amounts of calcium and iron are also found in mushrooms. Almost exclusive to mushrooms, ergothioneine, a sulfur containing derivative of histidine, plays a specific role in protecting our DNA from oxidative damage.

A considerable amount of research has been done on mushrooms, and they have been highly valued in Eastern medicine practices for centuries.  Health benefits include:

  • Invigorating and modulating the immune system.
  • Providing anti-cancer activity including blocking the formation of tumors.
  • Increasing vitamin D levels
  • Interfering with the progression of atherogenesis (artery plaque formation) and cardiovascular disease
  • Anti-inflammatory properties helpful for treating autoimmune diseases and bacteria-induced chronic inflammation.

There are many varieties of mushrooms. The most deeply nutritious varieties include Maitake, Shiitake, Portobello, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps. Many of these are being used in the treatment of cancer. You will find teas made with them as well. Ideally, make sure your mushrooms are organic. You should never pick them in the wild and eat them. If you are taking medications, you may want to check with your doctor as some can interfere with certain medications.

References:

Winters, Nasha and Kelley, Jess H. The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green, 2017. (166-168)

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/08/31/growing-mushrooms.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20180831Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM231141&et_rid=407627793

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/portobello-mushroom.html

By |2021-11-30T07:40:12-06:00December 1st, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Monk Fruit – The Superfood No-Calorie Sweetener

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Monk Fruit, our favorite healthy sweetener, has some surprising benefits that qualify calling it a superfood!  It is an ancient Chinese fruit that has not been genetically modified.  Studies * show promising benefits including:

  • Fights Free Radicals as a high antioxidant food
  • Lowers Risk of Obesity and Diabetes
  • Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory and Coolant
  • Helps Treat and Prevent Cancer

Consider using Monk Fruit as your sweetener of choice!  No bitter aftertaste with excellent sweetening power. We recommend a pure liquid such as offered by Lakanto, NOW, or Smart138. If you prefer a powder or crystal, make sure it is mixed with erythritol rather than maltodextrin or dextrose.

*for references and more details, follow this link: https://draxe.com/nutrition/monk-fruit/

By |2021-09-29T15:37:53-05:00September 30th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Perfect Pasta Replacement!

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

If you are on the lookout for a good angel hair, lasagna, or linguini pasta replacement, we’ve found just the thing.  Gluten-free options can be frustrating because they are very high carbohydrate. Bean and lentil options are not much better and can be mushy and fall apart. Here’s a new option in the market place that is delightfully surprising, very low carbohydrate, and very flexible with all kinds of Italian sauces, cheeses, and flavors.

Welcome to PALMINI !  It is made from hearts of palm. Give it a try.

Available at Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Amazon, and directly from www.eatpalmini.com.

By |2021-08-17T17:18:15-05:00August 18th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Our Need for Collagen

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body.  Our physical structure and function requires it to make and repair our bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, skin, and gastrointestinal tract, so it is critical for movement, healthy skin, and digestion. Ensuring you are getting adequate sources of collagen is important as an anti-aging strategy as well as an immune building strategy! Your gastro-intestinal tract and skin barrier are two critical organ systems essential for protecting your body from outside harm.

There are many barriers to getting adequate collagen in the diet.  An important one to remember is that, as we age, we produce less collagen, precisely when we need it the most.  Processed foods, chronic stress, strenuous exercise, sleep deprivation, environmental pollutants, smoking, excessive alcohol, and poor nutrient absorption all diminish odds for adequate collagen to be obtained by the body. 

The most ideal food sources to support collagen production in the body include:

  • Homemade authentic bone broth
  • Spirulina (use dried powder or tablet form, and purchase high quality)
  • Wild Alaskan fish including cod, salmon, sardines, and mackerel
  • Eggs – we recommend pasture raised chicken eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, and arugula are the best
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Garlic
  • Fermented Foods
  • Herbs and Spices

There are also excellent supplemental forms, and selecting a high quality, properly sourced, and formulated one is very important.  We carry two excellent products to support collagen needs. CollaGEN  is a powdered dietary supplement easily mixed with a liquid. Pure PaleoMeal is a Bone Broth Protein powder in chocolate or vanilla.

By |2021-07-14T12:51:14-05:00July 21st, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Personal Nutrition: Take a Close Look

By Nancy Mehlert, MS.

When it comes to personal nutrition, seasonal changes offer a great opportunity to pause and examine what our diet looks like at this point in time.  As we move into Spring, here are three simple examinations you can put your personal nutrition under the magnifying glass:

  • When is the last time you tried a new food or changed up your food routine?

Since there are not 15-25 foods that can offer all of the macro and micro nutrients we need, it is important to rotate foods often, expand the number of foods we eat, and increase our variety for good health. This is especially true of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even meat choices.

  • Have you slid down the slippery slope?

It happens to the best of us! Too many sweets, too much fruit, eating gluten again, too many nights a week with alcohol, eating out a lot more, buying more packaged food, over eating, eating before bed, not drinking enough water…. Whatever your slippery slopes are, is it time to get back on track?

  • When is the last time you stopped your routine for a detoxification of some sort?

It is a toxic world, and everyone benefits by scheduling some routine detoxification efforts a couple times a year at least.  Consider some fasting, a detoxification diet, a Health Reset Program, ONDAMED, or HCG to promote cleansing, weight loss, or healing.

Visit our webiste TWIHW.com or call 281.298.6742 for more information.

 

By |2021-04-26T14:45:15-05:00April 28th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Replacing Electrolytes: Better Options

By Nancy Mehlert, MS.

There are a couple of well known electrolyte and hydration drinks popular in the marketplace today. Everyone has seen commercials and ads for them. Common to the sports scene in our schools, colleges, and professional sports, these sweet, fruity flavored hydrators are sold by some of the largest beverage retailers in the world. In addition, many companies make cheaper knock-offs.  That makes them very affordable and easily obtained, but what about the ingredients? Should we be concerned? ABSOLUTELY!

These beverages, whether you have chosen the zero sugar options, the regular, or even the organic, have a number of concerning ingredients. Sugar content is the first concern.  Remember, the intended goal of these beverages is to return water to the body and to bring electrolytes (sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium) back into the body.  The need is not sugar, yet the most popular versions contribute more than 45-50 grams of sugar in each bottle. Considering our optimal blood sugar at any given moment should be about 4 grams, these drinks elevate blood sugar immediately by more than 10 times. This creates a very dysregulated blood sugar problem for the body.  Another concerning ingredient is the sweetener most commonly used in lieu of sugar.  While sucralose removes the sugar, this artificial sweetener is known for destroying the favorable bacteria in the GI tract, contributing to yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndromes. Two additional concerning ingredients include food dyes and caramel coloring. There are a number of health concerns from these man-made chemicals, ranging from cancers to allergic reactions.  All of these concerning ingredients can be avoided with a little effort.

Perfection is difficult to find.  The recommendations below would be a significant improvement over most options offered by our largest retailers.  I’ve listed them in descending order from satisfactory to the most ideal. The  more sugar it contains, the better it is to use before and during very demanding and high activity exercise. Everyone needs less sugar, more water, and good electrolytes.

  • Nuun Rapid Instant Hydration portable packets
  • Harmless Harvest coconut water (pure coconut water, 23g naturally occurring sugar) ok for very active people
  • Ultimareplenisher.com – Hydration Powder stick packs
  • Liquid IV (11 g of sugar) ok for very active people
  • Keynutrients.com – Electrolyte Recovery Plus, Keto approved, Lemonade flavor
  • 8 ounces of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of Redmond’s Sea Salt, along with eating your vegetables (an excellent source of electrolytes and water)!

Support your health and that of your family.  Small changes add up to greater health and wellness.

Standard Gatorade, ½ a bottle is 22g or whole bottle 51 g of sugar:  

WATERSUGARDEXTROSECITRIC ACIDSALTSODIUM CITRATEMONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATEMODIFIED FOOD STARCHNATURAL FLAVORGLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSINRED 40CARAMEL COLOR

Organic Thirst Quencher, Berry Flavor by Gatorade – 30 g of sugar:

WATERORGANIC SUGARCITRIC ACIDORGANIC NATURAL FLAVORSEA SALTSODIUM CITRATEPOTASSIUM CHLORIDE

Gatorade Zero:

WATERCITRIC ACIDSODIUM CITRATE, SALT, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUCRALOSEACESULFAME POTASSIUM, SUCROSE ACETATE ISOBUTYRATE, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, YELLOW 6.

By |2021-04-07T09:25:47-05:00April 7th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|
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