The Wonders of Alginic Acid

After learning of a new acid in class; I figured I would praise the amazing features that this compound holds. It is called Alginic acid and it is primarily found in brown seaweed (Phaeophyceae) and is what gives this seaweed strength and flexibility.

This is the structure

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of Alginic acid

  • Alginate was first isolated by E.C.C Stanford in 1883. He discovered that alkali salts such as potassium and calcium alginate produced a viscous and aqueous solution at low levels.
  • Alginate is part of a family called hydrocolloids; hydrocolloids are substances which form gels in the presence of water.
  • Sodium Alginate: is used in foods as a stabilizer for ice cream, yogurt, cream, and cheese. It is also used in the food industry as a thickener, emulsifier for salad dressings, pudding, tomato juice, and jam.

Some cool applications may include:

Food spherification

ALGINATE

  • In order to make spheres of this sort; you must first make a mixture of sodium alginate and your desired substance (like the flavors above). Then simply add droplets from your desired substance into a pool of calcium chloride(direct method). For more information regarding this process watch this  video  https://youtu.be/TzmnmLI79IE
  • The spherification process works due to the sodium alginate coming in contact with divalent ions, of calcium. In result gel forms as sodium ions exchange with calcium ions and polymers become cross-linked.
  • When sodium alginate is used without calcium the effects are as a shear thinning thickener and this can be useful in thickening pie fillings as well as being a stabilizer in water in oil emulsions.(e.g salad dressing, cream)

Alginate wound dressings (hydrogels)

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  • Facilitates wound healing
  • Maintains a physiologically moist microenvironment
  • Minimizes bacterial infections at wound sites

Polynesian Sauce 

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  • You can even find alginate in Polynesian sauce from Chick-fil-A, HOPEFULLY, you get the point. Alginate has a variety of applications and ways of being used!

Hopefully, after this short article, you are more aware of the effects that alginate can have on the food and pharmaceutical industry. It seems mother nature has an everlasting list of amazing goods.

References

“Food+spherification.” Google Search. Google, n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

“Sauces and Dressings.” Chick-fil-A. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

Augst, Alexander D., Hyun Joon Kong, and David J. Mooney. “Alginate Hydrogels as Biomaterials.” Macromolecular Bioscience 6.8 (2006): 623-33. Web.

The seaweed site: information on marine algae. [Internet]. Galway, Ireland: Seaweed.ie. [Accessed 2017 April 22]. Available from

Dry Powder Alginates | Sodium Alginate Suppliers. In: SNP Inc. http://www.snpinc.com/chemical-products/alginates/. Accessed 23 Apr 2017

 

Blood Sugar and The Brain

References

Does “BPA FREE” really make water bottles safe?

 

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Consuming water is part of everyday life, especially for college students. When walking through a college campus you can see most people carrying a water bottle, each one different by either color, shape, size and even decorations i.e. sticker. One thing that tends to go unnoticed is the material that the bottle is made of. Most water bottles are made of plastic which allows for a strong yet not too heavy material. Manufacturers were using BPA (bisphenol A) as a strengthening agent, but after 40 years in the market, research was done and it was discovered that BPA was harmful to reproduction, development and had carcinogenic effects (Rafizadeh, 2016). This new found harmful compound caused a rapid change in the removal of BPA from consumer products. With the removal of BPA, BPS (bisphenol S) would replace it since it was believed that it would be less harmful because it’s more heat stable.

In a recent study done by Nancy Wayne, it was shown that “making plastic products with BPA alternatives does not necessarily leave them safer” (Schmidt, 2016). The study involved exposing zebrafish to either BPA or BPS at low levels and observing the embryos. It was observed that there was an impact on the development as well as the egg hatching time. This means that both BPA and BPS have an effect on the endocrine system.

With these shocking results, it was recommended by Wayne to replace all plastic products with glass. Although it is expensive to do this, the change from plastic to glass can be done slowly. It’s also important to realize that although an item may say BPA free, it most likely contains BPS. For this reason, consumers are urged to demand the manufacturers to produce more stable plastic products that release less endocrine disruptors.

You may be wondering, what can I do if I’m someone who uses a plastic water bottle? It’s recommended not to leave plastic water bottles in the heat i.e. your car and if it happens by accident, then don’t drink the water from the bottle. It was shown in a study done by the University of Florida that when bottles were left somewhere warm for a long time, the material from the bottles caused a release of the chemicals like BPA (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences). Another simple thing is replacing your plastic bottle with a glass or stainless steel bottle. Another option can be aluminum water bottles, but since they are lined with enamel or epoxy, BPA being the main ingredient in epoxy, it wears away over time (Bottling Your Own Water). Making small, but smart changes are

the best way to go!

 

References

“Bottling Your Own Water.” Glass Bottles vs Plastic Bottles vs Stainless Steel. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. http://www.aquasana.com/education/bottle-battle

 

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and IFAS Communications. “Don’t Drink the (warm) Water Left in a Plastic Bottle, UF/IFAS Study Says.” IFAS News. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2014/09/dont-drink-the-warm-water-ufifas-study-says/

Rafizadeh, Diane. “BPA-Free Isn’t Always Better: The Dangers of BPS, a BPA Substitute.”Yale Scientific Magazine. Yale Scientific Magazine – http://www.yalescientific.org, 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. http://www.yalescientific.org/2016/08/bpa-free-isnt-always-better-the-dangers-of-bps-a-bpa-substitute/

 

Schmidt, Elaine. “Chemical Used to Replace BPA in Plastic Accelerates Embryonic Development, Disrupts Reproductive System.” UCLA Newsroom. N.p., 01 Feb. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/chemical-used-to-replace-bpa-in-plastic-accelerates-embryonic-development-disrupts-reproductive-system

 

Spice Up your Valentine’s Day (Literally)

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Well, Broncos, it’s the season of love again and heart-eye emojis are in the air.  You may be considering breaking out the big bucks to take your valentine to dinner, but what’s more romantic than a freshly prepared meal for you and your sweetheart?  Although we may be Nutrition students, we can’t forget the other, tastier half of our major: FOOD.

When I first started in dietetics, I hated that people told me I had to like cooking.  I wanted to learn about the health of the food, not how to make it.  However, I quickly realized that the two go hand-in-hand.  So what makes dishes healthy?  Yes, macronutrient balance is the easy answer, but what about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the works.

As future dietitians and health food advocates, our secret weapons are spices. While the food industry tends to over-salt everything, cooking with spices and herbs allows us to add flavor without added sodium.  You can think of spices and herbs as tiny fruits and vegetables with all the same benefits, concentrated in small, colorful packages.  Whether it’s recipe development, modification, or creation, cooking allows you to take your health into your own hands (and this Valentine’s day, your date’s too!)

Turmeric is one of my absolute favorites and if you have ever cooked with it, you know it dyes everything yellow.  Unfortunate for your fingers, but beneficial for your body, turmeric contains the yellow pigment curcumin, which has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  In a recent, 2017 study, done by Bastyr University in Washington state, it was found that curcumin inhibits the growth of certain types of tumors (Bastyr University, 2017); a side effect well worth yellow fingers.  Found commonly in Indian cuisine, this can be added to lots of ethnic recipes that can be made quick and easy.

Ginger (which is in the same family as turmeric) also contains curcumins, giving it the beneficial, anti-inflammatory properties, as well as some added bonuses.  Nervous for your big date?  Add a fresh piece of ginger to some hot water and enjoy some stomach-soothing tea.  If you have a more bromantic evening planned at the gym, a 2015 study showed that ginger significantly reduced delayed onset muscle soreness (Hoseinzadeh, et al).

Cumin can be added to so many different recipes making it a spice cupboard must.  In a 2014 study, comparing two groups of obese women trying to lose weight, those who added cumin into their diet saw a greater reduction in serum cholesterol levels (Zare R., et al).

Rosemary is technically a herb, but to stick with our theme here we’ll roll with it.  Rosemary contains a naturally-occurring antibacterial compound, alpha-Pinene which can help fight bacteria in the body, such as foodborne pathogens and acne.  Rosemary also contains rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant, which also promotes skin health to keep you glowing for love day (Tadtong et al, 2016).

Although this may mean doing dishes, getting fancy in the kitchen can impress your date while stirring up love and some new favorite dishes.  Enjoy Valentine’s Day, and stay spicy Broncos.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28129008

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26793652

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25456022

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27032218

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-Pinene

http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/rosmarinic-acid.php

New year, new me?

Welcome back Broncos,

Well, winter break was tons of fun, lots of late nights, lots of toasts, lots of junk foods, and festive eating. Or at least that’s what I might have done …

Like many others I decided to make a resolution, except mine was not a new year’s resolution but more of a lifestyle resolution. What better resolution than one which will help you in all aspects of life! Hmmm, you may be wondering what the HECK could that be !? Wait no longer I will tell you!

Diet and exercise! Not the typical “diet” that most people say they are on for a few weeks that help you shred fat overnight or the ones that restrict you from eating carbs (which is the highest supplier of energy). But simply, a diet which is fun, tasty, balanced, and allows your body to function optimally. Let me let you in on a secret, one that many people would hate for me to spoil, those special “diets” are many times not supported scientifically and they are simply made to sell false books and short-term success.

Now I will share with you some useful information to help you (and myself) live a LONG more healthy life.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help rid the body of free radicals, “Free radicals are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons, which can react rapidly with other molecules in processes of oxidation” (Sasoon et al., 2004). These freed radicals are a normal part of the bodies metabolism, and antioxidants are what combat and help keep radicals in balance. Some antioxidants are made in the body, but that can only occur with the trace mineral selenium which must be obtained through food consumption; some antioxidants like beta-carotene (found in carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes), vitamin C (found in oranges, kiwi, and bell pepper), and vitamin E (found in almonds and spinach), can only be obtained through consumption of foods. Without sufficient amounts of antioxidants diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and cancers are more likely to occur.

FUN

Humans are adventurous, interested in new things, new flavors, new textures, new scents, and colors. Below are listed some awesome fruits and vegetables which can be added to your diet to help you live a more healthy exciting lifestyle.

Bell peppers

A colorful new snack to add to your diet, full of antioxidants, high fiber, high in vitamin C, and lastly they’re delicious and sweet!

  • Cut them into french fry shape, and eat them raw as a snack.
  • Also nice when sauteed and eaten in a burrito or as a side.yellow-red-green-bell-peppers

 

Baby carrots

A small snack that could be added to your new life;  high in beta-carotene (antioxidant), fiber, vitamin K, potassium and in a small portable shape!

  • Can easily be packed as a snack on the go!
  • Also nice when steamed or sauteed with other veggies.baby carrots.png

Kiwis

Kiwis are sweet, refreshing, and high in vitamin C, K, and antioxidants!

  • Can be mixed in and eaten with salads.
  • Mix in a smoothie or simply by itself.

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Weight

Weight is a key factor in good health, but losing weight needs to be done safely. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or “program”. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits” (2015). A safe rate to lose weight is 1lb-2lb per week; this means eating 500-1000 Calories less than you burn in a day. This reduction in calories has to also be combined with the efforts of healthful eating and consistent exercise. Simple ways to manage caloric intake may be by using the free app Myfitnesspal. Lastly, in case you didn’t know, 1(g) of Protein or Carbohydrate = 4(Kcal), while 1(g) of fat=9(Kcal).

Simple ways to self-motivate yourself can be by positive or negative reinforcement.

  • One example of positive reinforcement may be by telling yourself if at the end of the week you have accomplished all your cardio exercises then you can go see the new movie you have been wanting to watch.
  • One example of negative reinforcement is, setting your phone on airplane mode while at the gym so that you are more focused on actually exercising.
  • These are just a couple of examples, but in reality, positive and negative reinforcements can be used in many different ways to benefit you.

 

As with most things adaption takes time and making new habits can be difficult. But if you do something long enough it is bound to become a habit. So join me and others to a new lifestyle, where colorful foods are eaten, risks of diseases are lowered, and vitality is higher than ever before!

Best of luck Broncos, keep up the hard work and work collectively!

 

References

“Bell Peppers.” Bell Peppers. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=50&tname=foodspice

“Kiwifruit.” Kiwifruit. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=41&tname=foodspice

“Losing Weight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 May 2015. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/

“The 5 Best Calorie Counter Websites and Apps.” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 27 July 2016. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

https://authoritynutrition.com/5-best-calorie-counters/

Sassoon, Judyth, and Larry Blaser. “Antioxidants.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2004, pp. 239-241. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com.proxy.library.cpp.edu/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=los53368&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3418500145&asid=92ede8edcf0c6a5110a35654656e4c4f. Accessed 14 Jan. 2017.

 

 

Staying Energized During Finals

It’s that time of the quarter again! It’s week 10 and with that comes lots of worries, stress, tears, lack of sleep and not so healthy food choices.

food-meme

The kinds of food you choose are vital in keeping you energized and getting through each day. The hard part is knowing which foods to look for.

These are several foods and specific nutrients that have proven to help boost memory and cognitive brain function.

  • Veggies: any dark green leafy vegetable like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. These vegetables are nutritionally dense and contain tons of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin K which is found in dark green vegetables has been shown to have an important role in maintaining optimal brain function.
    • Eating vegetables at times can be very discouraging due to their bland taste, but with the addition of a light dressing they can be really yummy and stay low in Calories. Adding some hummus with your vegetables or a fruit-based vinaigrette can make a dramatic difference.
  • Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries all have the antioxidant anthocyanin that helps boost cognitive function.
    • Some simple ways to incorporate berries into your diet can be by adding them to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning. To eat berries on the go simply freeze them and put them in a container or incorporate the berries into a smoothie.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: specifically “DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain” (Andrea Giancoli RD).  Fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich sources of omega 3’s (DHA, and EPA).
  • Another important Omega fatty acid is (ALA), which can be found in a variety of nuts, seeds, and legumes. For example: walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and chickpeas( so yes hummus would be a great source of ALA !!).
    • Buying small single serving packs of tuna and taking them for lunch with a side of salad can make for a great meal rich in essential fatty acids. Additionally, a small container full of mixed nuts and a bottle of water with chia seeds can be packed as a snack and consumed throughout the day.

Even though it can be difficult to make smart choices during these next two weeks, it is still very possible. I hope you take up on some of these awesome tips given above and fuel yourself with some rich super-foods, instead of the usual junk foods! Eating healthy snacks and staying properly hydrated will be key in keeping you up and alert through the long horrendous hours of studying/test taking.

I believe in you, now let’s finish strong broncos!

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24108469

http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/healthy-aging/memory-boosting-foods

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids

http://www.dhaomega3.org/Overview/Dietary-Sources-of-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids

The Thanksgiving Food Coma

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With week 8 now on the horizon, the holidays are up and coming.  Starbucks has pretty holiday cups, projects are due, and if you listen carefully…you may even hear Michael Buble’s Christmas album.

Synonymous to holidays are the wonderful, calorically-dense foods that we can finally justify eating.  But in a couple of weeks, when you find your plate empty of 8 ounces of turkey, a heavy helping of mashed potatoes, and a slice-and-a-half of pumpkin pie, you may find yourself with the inevitable food coma.  Maybe the tryptophan did it, or the extreme spike and drop in blood sugar.  But before you go pointing fingers at the turkey, let’s take a look at what causes this infamous, nap-loving holiday.

Tryptophan levels in Thanksgiving turkey have been blamed for this phenomenon for decades, but new science has uncovered that turkey isn’t to be blamed.  Tryptophan is one of the key ingredients in producing the relaxation hormone serotonin, which is then converted into melanin, a predominant sleep hormone.  Things like chicken, cheese,
and tofu contain just as much tryptophan as turkey, technically giving it the same effect.  However,the larger portion sizes of tryptophan-containing foods on Thanksgiving may increase the sleepy sensation, in turn making you all the more drowsy.

Portion size can’t be ignored when the overwhelmingly full feeling sets in after eating heaps of food.  Overeating causes the parasympathetic nervous system to induce the “rest or digest”response, telling your body to stop seeking food and to focus on what you were already given (ironically true to the Thanksgiving theme).

Macronutrient composition also plays a part and is a fancy phrase for explaining this high carbohydrate, high-fat meal.  Hand-in-hand with simply excess calories, the fatty, starchy foods we love to eat on Thanksgiving force our bodies into a blissful, sleepy state.  When we eat high-carb foods, our bodies release serotonin, relaxing the body.  Paired with tryptophan (which itself is used to making more serotonin), this a drowsy duo.

The excess of fatty foods also taps into the brain’s pleasure centers, a way of rewarding itself for finding high-calorie foods (we’re looking at you, gravy).  The combination of sugars and fat ultimately put you into a state of euphoria, like sliding ice along a slippery slope into a food coma.

From hormone responses to feelings of pleasure, it is no mystery that we may feel a little dopey and groggy after Thanksgiving dinner.  The infamous food coma cannot be pinpointed to one reason in particular, but rather the combination of several sleepy effects  of our favorite holiday foods that make the meal a triple-threat.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving break and eat on, Broncos.

Resources

http://www.livescience.com/41543-thanksgiving-myth-busted-eating-turkey-won-t-make-you-sleepy.html

http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/why-do-i-feel-tired-after-eating#1

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/22/sleepy-after-eating-a-big-meal-why_n_2171058.html

“Fight or Flight” vs. “Rest and Digest”

http://www.livestrong.com/article/530662-does-eating-carbs-make-you-sleepy/

Is Aspartame Harmful?

AspartameStructure

Most of you have heard of it (some of you might have even used it). It has gone by the name NutraSweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin, but the majority of people know it by the name associated with controversy and (supposedly) countless adverse health effects: aspartame. This product is an artificial, non-nutritive sweetener – “non-nutritive” insinuates that there are very few calories (if any) in the product. It is used in diet sodas and foods that are “sugar-free.” Additionally, it has been approved to be safe for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unfortunately, there have been people (horrible individuals, really) who have spread lies about aspartame. So, without further ado, let’s get into the real science behind this “dangerous” sweetener.

First off, to understand the concept that this sweetener is truly safe, you need to become a little bit familiar with the chemical structure of aspartame. There are three components of aspartame: aspartate (an amino acid that is also known as aspartic acid), phenylalanine (another amino acid), and methanol (also called methyl alcohol). Now, by themselves, are any of these components toxic? The answer is NO (well…for most people they’re not – look at the second-to-last paragraph for my input on that)! Why do I say this? To answer that question, let’s delve a bit deeper into aspartame’s components.

Aspartate and phenylalanine are two of many amino acids – the building blocks of protein. They are actually found in foods that are relatively common to our everyday diets. Both aspartate and phenylalanine, for example, have fairly high amounts in chicken and skim milk. In about 3.5 ounces of roasted, boneless, skinless chicken breast, there is 1231 mg phenylalanine and 2764 mg of aspartate. In 12 ounces of a 100% aspartame-sweetened soda, there is roughly 90 mg of phenylalanine and 72 mg of aspartate – those quantities are significantly less than the ones found in chicken. Now…I don’t know about you, but I have never suffered from any adverse health effects related to the phenylalanine and aspartate content of 3.5 ounces of chicken. I know I’ve eaten a lot more than 3.5 ounces of chicken in one meal! What you need to remember: whether the aspartate or phenylalanine are in a piece of roasted chicken or an aspartame-sweetened beverage, the amino acids are metabolized (broken down and used by our body) the exact same way. Our bodies don’t see them as different.

Next we have methanol (yes, it is chemically classified as an alcohol…do not try to get drunk off of this stuff). This component of aspartame is the “toxic” portion, if you wanted to get really technical. It is true that 2 tablespoons (about 1 ounce) of methanol could kill a child, and it is also true that 2 to 8 ounces could kill an adult (NLM, 2015); HOWEVER, those specific amounts of methanol will never be present in foods (don’t get me started on cross-contamination…that’s for a different article). Let’s go back to our 12 ounce, 100% aspartame-sweetened soda – in this beverage, there is about 18 milligrams of methanol. Okay, cool…now, let’s look at 12 ounces of tomato juice: there’s roughly 107 milligrams of methanol! By some mathematical conversions, I was able to figure out how much 107 milligrams translated to in ounces… it translates to approximately 0.004 ounces. So, even if you drank 12 ounces of 100% aspartame-sweetened soda, you have to remember that it has less than 20% of the amount of methanol in 12 ounces of tomato juice, AND even the tomato juice contains 0.4% of the toxic level of methanol for a child. The basic point: methanol is present naturally in produce and products of produce – its content in these foods is typically greater than in foods sweetened by aspartame.

Lastly, aspartame, as a sweetener, is EXTREMELY sweet. It is actually sweeter than sucrose (a science-y name for sugar); according to the Food and Drug Administration, “it is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar” (2015). That also leads to another reason why you’ll never have adverse health effects from this product (or the foods sweetened by it): since it is sweeter than sugar, you would need a very, very miniscule amount of aspartame to sweeten something. Let me give an example: imagine that we were making a huge batch of lemonade, and we figured out that we needed 12.5 cups of sugar (sucrose). There’s a small problem, though… When we go to our pantry, all we can find is a box of aspartame packets; however, there’s a conversion chart, and we realize that all we need is, roughly, 1 tablespoon of aspartame to substitute for the 12.5 cups of sugar. That’s a really, really, really big difference in amounts, but because aspartame is so much sweeter than sucrose, those values are a reality.

According to the FDA’s website, “FDA scientists have reviewed scientific data regarding the safety of aspartame in food and concluded that it is safe for the general population under certain conditions” (2015). What are those certain conditions? There is a disease called phenylketonuria (PKU); the individuals who have this disease are not able to process the amino acid phenylalanine correctly, due to a flaw in a metabolic pathway. Because of this factor, consumption of aspartame could mean a bad health-related experience for people with PKU. Hence, this is the one group of individuals that is instructed not to consume products sweetened with aspartame.

There you have it. I’ve given my input on aspartame, and I’ve hopefully explained the science behind the sweetener’s safety. I understand that some people are still wary of the whole idea behind artificial sweeteners, but it’s important to realize that they are, in no way, capable of causing horrible health effects to the human population. Their components (specifically the two amino acids) are metabolized in the body in the exact same way as if they came from “natural” foods. Do keep in mind that I am not trying to push my own perspectives on anyone. All I’d like for you to consider is this: understand the science before you fear the food!

Add Global Diversity to Your Resume

Expand your global view and study nutrition abroad like me in Peru!

IMG_9221

This past summer I participated in a program offered by Iowa State University where I spent 28 days in the capital city of Lima, studying international nutrition at the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (IIN). The IIN is a private research institute that undertakes research and educational activities related to health and nutrition. This study abroad program consisted of two, 2-week modules that focused on community and nutrition education and community-based research. There was a total of 15 participants that represented four different universities, 3 from the US and 1 from Canada. I was the only one representing Cal Poly Pomona – Go Broncos! The program also included 6 Peruvian nutrition students, making this a total of 21 students, and a melting pot of diversity.  

In the first two weeks we got into groups of 4-5 to conduct research within the Peruvian community. My group tested for an association between taste preference for sweetness in a popular Peruvian drink, Chicha Morada, and BMI amongst pre-school aged children. This was a fun hands on experience in the field of nutrition research. In the second half of the course we were immersed within the community and provided nutrition education to mothers in need. In a total of 28 days, I conducted research, provided nutrition education and counseling, traveled to the highlands of Peru where I was able to cohabit with a native community in the city of Chiclayo, hike the mountain lands of Huascaran, and experience the capital city of Lima. I returned to the US with an expanded view of global nutrition and greater sense of passion for our field.

I know what you’re thinking, this sounds great but I can’t afford to study abroad, and that’s where you are wrong. You can have a similar experience as me and there are scholarships to help!  The Gilman International Scholarship for one is the one I went through which helped pay for half of my trip! This program aims to help students like us who want to expand their global views and enhance our career opportunities. The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is aimed towards US undergraduate students who demonstrate high financial needs.  The application process involves an online application that includes uploading your official transcripts and uploading an online certification from your study abroad and financial aid advisors. Deadlines and more information regarding the application process can be found on their website: http://www.iie.org/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program.

 

So what are you waiting for? Whether it’s to network, gain a global perspective, learn a new culture , explore your career options, or just to travel, step out of the normal boring classroom routine and step into the real world. Your study abroad experience awaits you.

 

P.S. The international nutrition in Peru program is offered on a bi-yearly basis by Iowa State, so stay on the look out in 2017.

Any questions regarding the program offered by Iowa State or on how to apply for the Gilman Scholarship please leave in the comments below, I am happy to answer them! ☺

OT-Gilman

 

Carbohydrates: They Aren’t So Scary

Did Someone Say The Word CARB??


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There have been many rumors and fad diets that consider carbohydrates evil. This is NOT true! Complex and simple carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy or fuel for muscle contraction or biological works like in the use for the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain, they balance blood sugar levels, and may decrease bad blood cholesterol levels!! Complex and simple carbohydrates are considered: grains, fruit, milk groups and vegetables. You should definitely include all these different types of carbohydrates in your diet. However, carbohydrates that you should watch out for are refined carbohydrates. What are refined carbohydrates? These are carbohydrates that have been processed to the point where most of its nutrients have been stripped away i.e white bread, white rice, pastries, pastas etc.

Once the carbohydrate has been stripped from its nutrients, what is left behind is the highly digestible part starch or sugar. Why are refined carbohydrates bad?

  1. They have been stripped from its natural nutrients and fiber
  2. They raise blood sugar levels
  3. Increase blood fats know as triglycerides
  4. Increase in triglycerides increases the chances of getting a heart attack, stroke, diabetes or obesity

What Should I Eat?

Replace all your refined carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates for a rich nutritions diet:

Replace white breads, regular pasta, and white rice with whole grains. Some common types of breads that you can replace refined breads with: Rye, buckwheat, whole-wheat and my favorite Ezekiel Bread! Replace your white rice with different types of grains: quinoa, couscous, brown rice, and wild rice, replace regular pasta with whole wheat pastas and have oats instead of regular cereal!

By doing so you will not only fulfill the nutritional needs your body requires but you will feel full for a longer period of time, have extended energy throughout the day, decrease the chances of certain diseases and even the common flu, and most importantly have more mental energy and stamina to ace your exams!!

Everything In Moderation!!

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Theres nothing wrong with eating simple carbohydrate foods, as long as its in moderation. Im not saying you should religiously eat nothing but complex carbohydrates everyday.  I would hate to keep you away from your favorite snacks, guilty pleasures and cheat meals (this includes me … I love donuts, hmmmm donuts and of course DARK chocolate)  that would just be evil! Bu for a healthier lifestyle most of your daily carbohydrates should be complexed!!

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Whats The Take Away?

Simply remember that nothing is bad for you as long as its eaten in moderation. Limit refined carbohydrates and replace them with nutritious  carbohydrates for a greater health benefit.

References:

  1.  Complex Carbohydrates. National Institutes of Health U.S. National Library of Medicine, 5 May 14. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/19529.htm&gt;.
  2. “Making Sense of Foods.” Nutrition MD. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/carbs_versus.html&gt;.