What’s Really in Your Food?

What’s Really in Your Food?

 

By Lindsey Woodkey

As you sit down to enjoy your next meal, take an honest look at your plate. Do you really know what is in your food? Can you pronounce all the ingredients? Do you know where it came from or how it was made?  Sadly enough, most of us don’t.

When it comes to eating healthy, we need to take into account much more than just calories, carbs and fat. It is more than a simple math equation. What I tell you today is not to scare you, or to make you run to your pantry and begin throwing away food. My goal is to make you an educated consumer, and let you decide what is right for you and your family. These are the facts, not my opinion, on what is already listed on any food label. If you can read, you can make a conscious effort to improve the health of your family and yourself.

Our discussion begins with food additives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines “additives” as “Any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristic of any food.” Confusing, right? Basically, they are added to foods to make up for a lack of color, poor texture and to increase shelf life. Let’s touch on a few of the most controversial food additives.  (Information from the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Chemical Cuisine” publication).

  • Artificial Flavor- These are synthetic chemicals designed to mimic natural flavors. Food companies are not required to identify what compound they are using, but instead can use the umbrella term “artificial flavor”.  They are found mostly in processed foods and can lead to headaches, nausea, and drowsiness in some individuals.
  • Modified Starch- This is used as a thickening agent and is often genetically modified. Commonly listed on labels as “sodium hydroxide”, “hydrochloric acid” “potassium hydroxide” and others. Often found in powdered drinks and baby food.
  • Artificial Colors- Many artificial colors have been banned by the FDA. Even approved ones are derived from coal tar making them carcinogens. Visit http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#dyes to read more about artificial colors and their effects on your health.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oil (trans fat) – Also known as “trans fat”, this is polyunsaturated vegetable in which hydrogen has been added to create a solid substance. This increases the shelf life of many baked goods and other processed foods. Recently, trans fat was banned in restaurants across the nation. May be listed on label as any “partially hydrogenated” oil (corn, sunflower, etc.).
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) ,  BHT(Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Propyl Gallate and TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone)- These are used as preservatives (BHA, BHT, and Propyl Gallate) and to prevent rancidity in oils and fats (TBHQ). Banned in some countries, these are found mostly in processed foods and fast foods. All are known carcinogens and also linked to hormone disruption and even birth defects (TBHQ).
  • Potassium Benzoate- Found mostly in soft drinks and juices (when sodium benzoate and vitamin C are mixed) and used as a preservative. Derived from coal tar or petroleum making it a carcinogen.
  • Potassium Bromate- Used in bread and other dough as a bleaching agent and conditioner. It has been banned in many countries (as called for by the World Health Organization) but is still used in the USA. Found mostly in white breads and flours.
  • Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite- Used as a flavoring agent and responsible for coloring and preserving processed meats. Found in canned, cured, and processed meats, this is a carcinogen and neurotoxin especially when heated.

So how do you stay away from all of these chemical additives? It’s not easy, and if you eat any processed foods (including chewing gum) impossible. My advice? Be a label reader. Compare brands and products and search for those that keep foods as close to their natural state as possible. Do most of your cooking at home and stay away from processed foods as much as possible. It is a case where a little may not be harmful, but too much can be. A hotdog once or twice a year at barbeques? You’re probably safe. One every day for lunch? You may be setting yourself up for health problems later on in life.

Be an educated consumer. Know what you’re putting in your body. Pick foods with short ingredient lists and few additives. It may take a little more time and effort, but you and your family are worth it.

 

Want more information on food additives and the FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) certification process? Visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/FoodAdditives/default.htm. Or consider reading Michael Pollan’s book, “An Omnivore’s Dilemma”.

 

Lindsey Woodkey of Ellensburg is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with bachelors’ degrees in exercise science and nutrition from Central Washington University.

 

Working Out: Shake it Up BEFORE You Get Bored!

Shake it Up BEFORE You Get Bored!
By Lindsey Woodkey
Fitness and nutrition are like movies. If you watch the same one over and over again, eventually you will get bored (even with the best of them). You begin to know exactly what is coming, and probably even finish the characters’ sentences. Whether you set a New Year’s Resolution and are a month into your healthy lifestyle, or you’ve been living it for years, make sure you have variety in both your diet and workouts.
Doing the same thing every day, at the same time, in the same environment is not only boring mentally, but also physically. Bodies are made to adapt. We get stronger, our cardiovascular systems adapt, and we get more flexible. This means we must push ourselves beyond that current threshold to continue seeing results. Remember when you started walking a mile, bench pressing 25 pound dumbbells or holding the downward dog pose in yoga? Think back to how tough it felt, or how sore you were afterwards. Hopefully after doing it for a few weeks it feels easier. You are progressing. This is a good thing, but unless you want to stay at that level it’s time to add some more difficult elements to your program.
Think of it as a set of stairs. You accomplish fitness feats to climb to the next step. Once there, you must conquer a new set of challenges to get even higher. These challenges need not be monumental. Some can be as simple as raising the weight you’re using by 2.5 to 5 pounds or adding two more minutes to your cardio session. Remember, every little increase, be it weight, sets, reps, or time, is more than you are currently doing and will force your body to improve.
Now, I’m not saying you have to change things each time you workout. You can use the same exercises, cardio routine, or class for a while before your body asks for something new. Some signs that it’s time to progress or change it up completely include: lowered motivation, the activity feeling “too easy”, having to drag yourself through the program, or finding yourself simply going through the motions instead of being invested in what you’re doing. Even if you haven’t experienced any of these yet, I recommend changing components of your program every 4-6 weeks to prevent both mental and physical boredom.
When a client is expressing boredom with any part of their program, we know it’s time to shake it up. Failure to do so can lead to lessened results and even worse, throwing in the towel. Now how do you go about making these changes? Switch Equipment- If you love the elliptical, try the stair stepper instead. Love running? Increase the incline and do hill work. Used to using weight machine? Branch out and use some free weights. The options are endless.
Raise Your Weights- If you can do your entire number of reps and sets without problem two workouts in a row, increase upper body loads by 2.5 pounds and lower body by 5 pounds. Change Reps, Sets, or Duration- If you’ve been using three sets of 12 reps, try going for 15, or raise that weight and do four sets of 8. Keep in mind that reps and set prescriptions are based on your current fitness level and goals. Try Something New- Fitness classes are a great way to change up your routine. Check “The Spark”, “The Gym” or “Ellensburg Crossfit” for options. Working out with or around others can be inspiring and increase adherence. Experiment with Different Times and/or Days- If you normally workout at night, try a morning session. You may find your energy is higher the rest of the day (and vice versa). Set a New Fitness Goal- Goals are motivating, plain and simple. For example, sign up for a mud run that tests both your strength and endurance. Find a Workout Partner- Similar to classes, workout partners can push you past what you normally do. Take turns setting up routines to keep things fresh. Hire a Trainer- A trainer can help set you up with a plan based on your goals and fitness level, not to mention show you how to properly perform exercises to prevent injury.
Bust boredom before it strikes and keep your body progressing. No matter where you are in life, you can always make a positive change. Use some of these tips and keep those results coming!
Lindsey Woodkey of Ellensburg is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with bachelors’ degrees in exercise science and nutrition from Central Washington University.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

By Lindsey Woodkey
This month’s article began as “Healthy Eating for College Students”, but I soon realized that regardless of income, we all want to save money on groceries while still filling the cart with nutritious items. Too many people use the excuse “I can’t afford healthy food”, yet it is easier than you think to eat healthy on a budget.
It begins before even stepping foot in the supermarket. Have a small snack with filling protein before leaving the house. A small handful of almonds, can of tuna, or celery with natural peanut butter should do the trick. This will help prevent you from buying unhealthy, processed food out of hunger, benefiting not only your wallet but your waistline as well.
Next, have a list. Take ten extra minutes to look through your fridge and pantry and note items you already have. Flip through recent newspaper ads or log onto the website of your favorite grocery store. Many are going digital allowing you to load coupons onto your card or print them from your own home. Remember the key with coupons: only buy items you normally buy. You don’t need “buy one get one free”(BOGO) orange juice if your family won’t drink it.
Lastly, try to shop when your children are in school or day care. This allows you to focus on your trip and only purchase items you need or want in your home. Of course this is not always possible. If your children will be accompanying you, make a rule beforehand that they may select one item (preferably a new fruit or vegetable). Stay strong and say “no” to sugary children’s cereals and fruit snacks that are anything but fruit.
Fruits and vegetables are key to a healthy diet, but can be rather spendy. First, if you are going to buy organic, stick to purchasing “the dirty dozen”. These 12 items, if not organic, are the most likely to be exposed to pesticides and include: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens.
Onions, corn and other items from which you remove the skin are included in the “Clean 15” list and are usually safe and cheaper when purchased non-organic (for the complete pesticide report and list see http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ ).
If you find yourself throwing away fruits and vegetables that have gone bad, consider buying them frozen or even canned. Frozen vegetables often have the same nutrients as fresh, while canned are slightly reduced due to processing. A canned vegetable (preferably low in sodium) is better than no vegetable, so choose accordingly. Don’t forget to shop produce that is “in season” or hit up your local farmers’ market. This will save you money and ensure you get the best tasting items possible.
For a list of produce and their peak seasons visit http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/features-month/whats-season .
With meats, don’t be afraid to purchase tougher, leaner cuts (think beef round, turkey breast, etc.) and cook them in your crockpot or pressure cooker. This “moist” method keeps the meat tender, imparts flavor, but it also cheaper and healthier. Marinating your meats can also take a so-so variety to “Wow!” Shopping the clearance meat section may also save money, as long as you plan on cooking the item that day. Don’t overlook canned tuna or chicken (buy the canned-in-water variety) for dishes where the meat will be hidden (quesadillas, pasta salad, etc). These are less fancy but also less expensive. Going “meatless” one or two nights a week will also help shrink your grocery bill. Make sure to include higher protein grains such as quinoa and beans or legumes for protein.
Buying in bulk is great, as long as the item will keep well and you will use it before the expiration date. Whole grain cereals, nuts, rice, beans and oats are all excellent options. Your freezer is also a great tool. Load up on items you use often while on sale, and consider freezing what you won’t use right away. Cheeses, breads and some fruits and veggies freeze well. Canning and pickling are also great ways to preserve foods and aren’t as difficult as they may seem. (For information on safely freezing, canning, or pickling foods see http://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html).
If you have the time and space, growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs is a great way to save money, and ensure your produce is safe. If you are new to gardening, start small and work up from there. Also consider joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture) or Bountiful Basket (http://bountifulbaskets.org/) in which you pay a set price and get a selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other items. These programs benefit both the farmers and consumers.
Save money by skipping on convenient, prepared foods. While they may save you time, they will cost you money and are often less nutritious. Chop your own lettuce, mix your own oil and vinegar salad dressing, marinate your own meat and peel your own potatoes. An extra five minutes can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
The obvious way to save money is to forgo the drive through restaurant, eat out only a few times a month, make your own coffee concoctions at home, and keep healthy snacks in your car and at your desk. I challenge you to purchase only four food or drink items “out” this month. Your wallet will be fatter, your waist will be smaller, and you can spend that extra money on something you truly enjoy (a vacation?!). Happy shopping!
Lindsey Woodkey of Ellensburg is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with bachelors’ degrees in exercise science and nutrition from Central Washington University.

Chronic Venous Disease: Your Questions Answered

What is chronic venous disease?
• Venous insufficiency is a very common condition resulting from decreased blood flow from the leg veins up to the heart, with pooling of blood in the veins.
• When the valves become weak and don’t close properly, they allow blood to flow backward, a condition called reflux. Veins that have lost their valve effectiveness become elongated, rope-like, bulged, and thickened and are known as varicose veins — a result of increased pressure from reflux.
• Symptoms include: Swelling, skin changes, leg tiredness, heaviness, aching, cramps, itching, restless leg syndrome.

Who’s affected?
Chronic venous disease of the legs is one of the most common conditions affecting people of all races.
• – 20 to 25% of the women and 10 to 15% of men have visible varicose veins.
• Varicose veins affect 1 out of 2 people age 50 and older, and 15 to 25% of all adults.
• Gender, genetics, age and obesity are primary risk factors. Secondary risk factors include workplace conditions

How is Chronic Venous Disease diagnosed?
• A physician takes a health history, assesses symptoms and perform a physical exam.
• A physician may order a duplex ultrasound test or sometimes another test called a venogram to confirm diagnosis.
o Duplex ultrasound allows a physician
o to measure the speed of blood flow and to see the structure of leg veins.
o A venogram is an x-ray that also allows a doctor to see the anatomy of your veins. The physician injects a dye, called contrast, which makes the blood in your veins appear on an x-ray.

What is the treatment?
CVI is usually not considered a serious health risk. A physician will focus treatment on decreasing pain and disability.
• Compression stockings- Used to treat mild cases of CVI
• Sclerotherapy – A physician injects a chemical into affected veins. The chemical scars veins from the inside out so your abnormal veins can then no longer fill with blood.
• Endovenous Laser Therapy – A laser catheter is placed into the abnormal vein feeding the varicose veins. Laser energy/heat then closes the vein from the inside so the vein doesn’t have to be removed (stripped). This is done in our office, with minimal pain and downtime

Fewer than 10 percent of people with CVI require surgery to correct the problem. Surgical treatments include ablation, vein stripping, and angioplasty or stenting of a vein.

A vascular surgeon will help you decide the best treatment option for your particular situation.

For more information, go to yakimavascular.com or call 453-4614

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