Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nutritionist advice from my first visit

My nutritionist visit!
I decided to seek out a nutritionist mainly because I wanted to make sure I was on the right track with my new diet and supplement plan. The exciting thing to learn was that Keystone Health Plan East covers up to 6 visits per calendar year - if you have coverage, take advantage of it! I went to Rittenhouse Women's Wellness Center this morning for my visit, and I have mixed feelings about how it went, maybe in part because I had no idea what to expect. The nutritionist I met with was very nice. I got the sense that she was a professional and she gave me some suggestions which I value and will share, but I also wondered if someone with additional years of experience could have provided me with more insight when I had specific questions (she was young). This might also be the difference between going to a holistic doctor and going to a more traditional doctor: if I wanted someone to talk with in detail about Spirulina or the intracacies of juicing, for example, I may just need to go to a naturopath. We'll see.

What an innocent looking egg
Regardless, I had filled out a nutritional history form and a 3-day food diary for her to look over, and she surprised me by asking how I knew so much about nutrition, as my current diet is quite good. She hadn't heard of Kris Carr, but I found it gratifying that all of the work I've done thus far to change my eating habits has been confirmed as good by another source. She said yes: a whole foods, plant-based diet is the right choice, and also confirmed what many won't like to hear: dairy is not great for you, friends. She gave me a summary copy of a report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which outlines the issues which can be linked to dairy consumption: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, lactose intolerance, vitamin D toxicity, contaminants (such as synthetic hormones), specific concerns for infants and children, and last but not least: clinical research which shows that milk does not prevent osteoporosis as commonly thought. What can reduce osteoporosis risk, according to this research? A reduction in sodium and animal protein, an increased intake of fruits and veggies, increased calcium from leafy green veggies and beans, and exercise. Good thing I love vanilla almond milk so much!

The more I learn about nutrition, the more I realize that subsidized industries which can promote their products heavily (such as dairy and meat) are part of the reason we all think that dairy and meat are the key answers to staying healthy. All of the mounting evidence against dairy has me thinking hard about what I want to do moving forward. I love cheese just as much as anyone else, and there are plenty of recipes which call for eggs or butter. I think my decision is to stop trying to have all of the answers right this minute: I'll keep taking this day by day.

I asked her specifically about the supplements I've been taking, as I'm worried about overdosing on certain vitamins (especially Vitamin A) and creating more toxicity in my body. She told me that I can keep taking Spirulina, but that I should only take a multivitamin on the days when I don't think I'm getting enough nutrition from food. This might have ALWAYS been the case before I started juicing, but essentially I no longer need a multivitamin. How liberating (and cheaper, too)! For the days when I do need them though, she said very few brands have been backed by clinical research. The one she recommends is Juice Plus, so I'll be looking that up in the future.

I've also been taking a D3 supplement which she asked me to cut back on. I will now take it every other day and spend 15-20 minutes outside in the sun 2-3 times a week. She said vitamin D creates toxicity in the system if we have too much, and that the sun is still the best source - she said spending a little bit of time outside a few times a week should be enough. I'm supposed to go back to the doctor and get my D levels re-tested in April, so we'll see if this experiment works! She also suggested that I cut back on probiotics too and see how I feel, as the healthier our diets get, the less we need the supplements.

Protein and fruits / veggies
She said we need less protein as part of our daily diet than the media would suggest. Eating a serving of plant sourced protein 2-3 times a day should be enough (such as: beans, legumes, nuts, etc). She told me that I'm currently getting enough servings of veggies (woo!), but that I need to bump up my fruit intake. Fruit smoothies, anyone? :) I also want to start eating something in the morning in conjunction with my veggie juice, such as almond butter, to help make sure my blood sugar is level.

Books to consider
She suggested I read Do you have the guts to be beautiful? by Mitra Ray. I also ran across another book yesterday which I'm interested in reading, called The blood sugar solution by Mark Harmon.