Here is the second part of our series Your Top Nutritionist Questions with Coreen Reinhart (who is completely responsible for the passion we found in food and healthy eating habits). She showed us what a magnificent impact food can have on health and while some conditions are out of our control, eating properly is something we do have power over. We decided to do a series of questions with Coreen for those who want to learn more about nutrition and might not have access to a nutritionist of their own.
Coreen Reinhart is widely recognized for her expertise as a Nutrition Consultant, Speaker & Wellness Coach. She has worked in the nutrition field since 1987 and specializes in designing individual nutrition programs that teach clients to focus on themselves and listen to their bodies. Coreen believes that improving health is an individual process, and once clients understand what their bodies need and why they are different from everybody else, change is more readily accepted. She also speaks for corporations, organizations, schools, families and various wellness groups to help them understand the importance of Nutrition and how a balanced diet really does prevent disease and illness.
For those who can’t afford to buy every supplement and vitamin that they would like to, is there one or a few that you would you say is the most worthwhile to spend money on?
Supplements are a huge industry. There’s billions of dollars made in supplements and there’s a seemingly endless amount of choices out there and people are getting bombarded with ‘take this’ and ‘take that’. I’m starting to get more strict that my clients clients should not take something if they don’t really need to and they should be only take something they actually need. Sometimes supplements and vitamins don’t do positive things in your body if you don’t need it, calcium being one of them. I don’t advocate taking calcium just because you’re trying to protect your bones; you need to know if you really need calcium before you take it.
Vitamin D in people is often really low unless you supplement, and it’s very important vitamin for the body. Often, people will say to me well I’m in the sun a lot so my Vitamin D levels are probably good. Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have adequate levels. It takes a lot for the sun to convert vitamin D in the skin, so that’s one supplement I would recommend taking.
Probiotics are another thing I constantly recommend mostly because our gut flora and flora throughout the whole body gets messed up with our lifestyle and the way we live now. Most people have been on antibiotics at some point, we shower a lot, we clean our skin maybe too much, we disinfect maybe too much, our diets are not conducive to keeping healthy flora, there’s so many people with constipation or diarrhea or digestive issues, so I do really like my clients to take a good probiotic to help keep a good balance.
Fish oil I’ve always been all about as well. Get a good quality one, like the liquid versions and make sure that it is molecularly distilled, and that it’s pure. Sometimes it’s easy to get a fish oil that’s not that healthy, fish oil can go rancid and cause radical damage, so make sure you’re getting a quality product. What I recommend if someone is unsure is calling the company, often there’s a 1-800 number on the bottle and you can ask for their certificate of analysis. Quality matters with fish oil, and I like the liquid version because it absorbs so much better and faster. Personally, I don’t like the capsules and don’t recommend them. Fish oil has to be in gelatin because it is unstable, but the gelatin it’s cased in doesn’t digest or break down easily in the gut so by the time you’re digesting the fish oil, often you burp it up and won’t feel great.
Another product I would recommend taking is magnesium. It’s a very common deficiency yet it’s a really important mineral for your body. It’s good for heart disease (especially in men), muscle cramping, and constipation.
And for things like vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, would you recommend getting a blood test prior to this to see where your levels are at?
The blood levels of magnesium don’t necessarily give you an accurate reading. If your blood levels are low, that means you’re severely low in your tissue levels. Because the side effects of taking it even if you may not need it aren’t sever (the only real side effect would be loose stool) I would try it anyway.
Calcium blood testing does help, because if you don’t absorb calcium it does deposit somewhere in your body. Even heart doctors now are really careful to not recommend too much calcium because excess can be harmful. People seem to think taking it is the cure for osteoporosis and that’s just not the case. If it was, the disease would not exist. So you have to be careful when you take it. If your blood levels show low, then you probably do need to take it and be sure to take it with vitamin D (get a rounded calcium not just plain calcium).
Similarly, buying organic can increase the cost of groceries. When is it important to buy organic if you can not exclusively do so?
That’s a big topic right now and I’m becoming more and more partial towards organic the more I find out about our food industry and healthy eating. Even if you pick up fruits and vegetables in a store that are not organic, the pesticides and chemicals on your hands can absorb into your blood. I used to say if you’re eating dairy products, make sure they’re organic. We all know our cattle are not fed organic, healthy ingredients, but if its 100% organic, at least you’re giving your body a good chance.
Similarly, if you’re eating meat make sure it’s organic and hormone/antibiotic free. With fruits and vegetables, my philosophy used to be if it has a thick peel on it, organic probably isn’t that important (but remember, if you’re picking things up with your hands, it is still getting into your bloodstream that way). If you can’t afford it to buy organic exclusively, I would just buy organic with the vegetables and fruits that don’t have a thick skin on or a skin you can’t cut off, like lettuces, greens, and fruits where you eat the skin. Places like Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, and even Costco even, are now offering organic foods at a little more reasonable prices that makes healthy eating even easier.
If you have a good farmers market in your area, you can get to know local growers and they can let you good deals for certain produce. So that was a long winded answer to your question to healthy eating, but i do think it’s important to look at organic as much as you can now in days. The studies on pesticides and chemicals entering our system is pretty overwhelming and shows it can cause issues with your immune system and hormones.
We know that high sugar diets are not ideal for healthy eating. For those who still have a sweet tooth what sugar substitutes do you recommend?
If someone has a sweet tooth, first look at why they do. If it’s out of control, it’s likely their diet and the fact that they are not eating right for their body type. Someone with an intense sweet tooth probably needs more healthy fat and protein in their day to day diet. There are so many keto recipes on the internet now with no sugar that are easy to access that it makes it really easy to switch to low sugar. Really try and avoid high fructose corn syrup and the additives that are in a lot of prepackaged snacks. Personally, I like finding whole foods like a dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content, it’s actually good for you and you need less of it because it’s whole, real foods and more satisfying.
Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol are all fine to use if you want to add sweetness to a tea, lemonade, dessert, etc. and those won’t spike your insulin levels.
If someone is making the switch to gluten free or low histamine or dairy free, how long can they expect to wait until they start feeling the positive effects of those healthy eating changes?
It can vary a lot, someone can do a gluten free diet and have instant changes. Lets say its a colitis patient who has a lot of digestive issues that stop eating gluten, all of sudden their symptoms could be almost all gone. On the other end of the spectrum, a person could do gluten free and it doesn’t make that much of a difference or it could talk a lot longer for it to clear their system of it, so it varies all over the board. Some people need a little more encouragement to keep going if they are not noticing the benefits right away, but often I think the difference comes from being able to detoxify and clear your pathways (especially if there’s a lot of food allergies or inflammation in the body), and that can change how quickly somebody sees results.
I would say a good rule of thumb is to give it 3 months because it gives your cells and body enough time to clear out, and some of that too depends on who you are and what’s going on in your life. Stress does keep the inflammation up, so if it’s a particularly stressful time, it might take a bit longer.
And what’s a good way to clear your pathways and detox?
Well the number one thing is to get the foods out that are irritating you. You can do all the detoxes and cleanses in the world but if you’re still putting in foods that irritate the body (they could be ‘healthy eating’ foods too) you’re not going to get the benefits. Someones with histamine issues can have almost instant benefits if you get rid of the food that’s irritating you. I know people who routinely get rashes and headaches from histamine, but if they don’t eat the food, they don’t get the symptoms. That’s a good example of someone really needing to stay away from certain food because their systems are so sensitive. Histamine is a tricky diet for people because a lot of food that is considered healthy can be mildly positioning to them, for example fermented food.
A lot of fermented foods are praised for their health benefits, but for those with histamine issues, fermented foods are poorly tolerated. Often people don’t know if their histamine is high, so if they’ve tried a lot of other elimination diets and all different types of things and haven’t felt better, histamine might be a good one to look at. Where as histamine can be pretty immedient, eliminating dairy is a diet where the positive effects can be more of a delayed reaction. Skin issues are really common with dairy sensitivities and that might not improve right away. It should improve quicker than 3 months, but sometimes it can take a while.
The second thing to do is take B vitamins. This can really help with detoxification as long as you’re taking the activated form and you’re not taking too many (you may need some guidance to make sure you’re getting the correct dosage).