Wednesday, June 17, 2015

To tea or not to tea that is the question

 Renee Gosselin, MS MBA RD
Nutrition Instructor/Professor

Tea continues to be a popular conversation point in aspects of nutrition. There are numerous types of teas and many times I come across individuals who associate tea with being sick. However, tea has many properties that can help prevent disease and just overall wellness. Tea has been popular for many years and was a large part of the Chinese and Indian cultures.

 There are three main varieties of teas: green, black and oolong. The overall difference in a tea is how it is processed.  Green teas that are unfermented leaves contain large amounts of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants which fight free radicals which are cells that are abnormal. Free radicals are known for the development of cancer and also attribute to some types of heart disease. 

Additionally, green tea has been linked to helping those with atherosclerosis- or hardening of the arteries. Green tea has been shown to lower triglyceride and high cholesterol blood levels which can decrease the risk of heart disease. In relationship to cancer, there have been multiple studies that have shown longer life spans in those that drink green tea than those who do not. However, everyone is different and an individual being treated for any condition should contact their MD for the best options.
Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sport Drinks, Bars, and Carbohydrate Gels : the facts, what should you look for and who really needs these

Renee Gosselin, MS MBA RD
Nutrition Instructor/Professor

In general, we see so many different drinks, gels and bars that the public can sometimes become confused and who needs these or what to select/look for. There are some basic guidelines that an individual can look for when selecting these. 

Sports drinks can provide great fuel for those who continually do aerobic exercise lasting from 90 minutes to several hours. The majority of sports drinks provide a mixture of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and galactose. There has been some noted research that utilizing glucose and sucrose rather than using just one single carbohydrate source provides better results. When utilizing a sports drink, keep in mind 1½ cups to 4 cups of sports drink per hour is usually sufficient for intense exercise (however, this varies per person). Fitness waters are an option to keep hydrated; however, they do not provide sufficient carbs when doing intense exercise.  

Carbohydrate gels are also an option for endurance athletes. Gels are easy to carry and usually provide sugars and maltodextrins. It is important that an individual reads the label when consuming gels as some have caffeine and provide stimulation and possible jittery and nervousness. On average, carbohydrate gels provide 25-100 grams of carbohydrate in each package. Dependent on activity, 1-3 packages can be consumed every hour (this is generalized information, not a recommendation).

Carbohydrate bars can also provide carbohydrates that can for energy during a long term workout. On average, bars provide 70% of their calories from carbohydrate. Sucrose and grains such as brown rice syrup provide carbohydrates to those who utilize these. Carbohydrate bars in general are absorbed at different rates due to the amount of fat and protein present in each bar. Bars with 25-40 grams of carbohydrates are generally recommended. Bars that are high in fat should be avoided during exercise as digestion will slow down. A general recommendation is to eat a bar 1 per hour before a long workout.

Lastly, food such as fruit can be utilized for fuel during long endurance exercise. A serving of dry fruit provides is about ¼ cup and is well digested. An individual in general should try for 1-2 servings before the workout and 2-3 servings for every hour running.

Overall, long endurance athletes must prepare and pick which form of carbohydrate is best for them and the type of endurance they are doing.

American College of Sports Medicine. (n.d.). Advancing health through science. Retrieved from
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Continued: Is obesity the government’s responsibility?

Back to our debate about the role of government in health…

In all honesty, the question about the role of government in health is not a question easily answered. Many experts debate the idea and they all (well most) have valid points. The issue of how involved do we want our government to be in our personal lives as it the forefront of the argument. Mayor Bloomberg did not exactly receive universally glowing praise for his restrictions on the size of sodas, after all. But the other issue that we have to address is how effective government intervention would actually be for reducing disease risk. Of course there are many others issues as well. But it is a discussion worth having both among ourselves and among the community as well.

To start here is a great clip from NPR about this issue:

Emily Boldrin PhD, RD
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Is Obesity the Government's Responsibility?

My husband and I recently took a very long road trip. We traveled 65 hours (5000 miles) by car in a period of a week. I think that might be the definition of insanity. J It is not something I would recommend to everyone! But boy do you learn a lot about the other person in that span of time! Even after 10 years of marriage. Most of all you learn not to be a backseat driver. Hehe.

We had a lot of great conversations during our 65 hour trip, but one in particular still has its hold on me. One of our conversations revolved around the idea of individual responsibility vs. corporate responsibility. We could also say individual responsibility vs. government responsibility. As a medical health professional and someone who has spent a lot of time working in the public/community health sector, I tend to think (but not always) that if the government can do something to reduce disease risk, they should. My husband on the other hand, views individual responsibility as much more important and thinks that we should rely on the individual alone to make healthy changes.

So I am curious, as a student in this field, what do you think? Do you think preventable diseases like obesity should be the government’s responsibility or not? Why or why not?

Emily Boldrin PhD, RD
Monday, June 1, 2015

The Health Food Diner

I have been wondering and wondering what to write about this week. Honestly there are so many different topics to cover, but none of them felt “right” to me. Do you ever have those moments when something sounds good on paper, but in your gut it just doesn’t click? Me Too! Well I had a nice long blog post written out, but at the last minute I just had to do something else.

As an undergraduate I went to a liberal arts university that strongly emphasized the integration of art and literature into every subject and class that we studied. At the time, it was rather irritating! J But now, it allows me to see the world in an entirely different way. In particular, I love observing how literature reflects what is happening in society, and role of food in society is no exception.

There are many “governmental” examples of this – for example, you can tell that the US is in the Great Depression simply by the food guidelines published in that time frame.  But, we can’t overlook what writers and poets talk about in their poems. These reflections by writers/poets, allow us to imagine what is happening in the time they wrote it. In the poem below by Maya Angelou, I imagine that this is written either in the late 1970’s/early 80’s (with the first “health boom” or obsession with low fat come about) or even today! What does this poem tell you about society and the food culture at this time?

The Health-Food Diner - Poem by Maya Angelou

The Health-Food Diner
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run


Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

Emily Boldrin PhD, RD

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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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