Getting Rid of “Uh-oh!” When You Go

Getting Rid of “Uh-oh!” When You Go

Question:

How do I get rid of runny stools?

– Bjorn

Answer:

What goes in must come out, so I consider what happens in the bathroom open for discussion here. If you suffer from persistent runny stool, there may be an underlying physical cause or infection and you should first consult a physician*. Aside from medication side effects, if your bowel movements are loose on occasion it could be stress or something you’re eating that ‘disagrees’ with you.

The gut can be affected by not only emotional stress or anxiety, but physical stress as well. (e.g., endurance runners often have colitis, resulting in bathroom issues when they run). A diet change or introduction of new/unusual foods, particularly spicy ones, may prompt your GI system to partially reject what it’s unfamiliar with. Another possibility is that you may have a reduced tolerance for lactose, fructose, gluten or sugar alcohols.

Here are some tips to deal with runny poop:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat slowly
  • Chew thoroughly                            
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Slowly increase soluble fiber intake (potatoes, beans, instant oats, figs) Soluble fiber helps to bind water and form soft, bulky stools.

To help determine if particular foods may be bothering you:

  • Try going a week avoiding your most likely trigger: alcohol, caffeine, greasy foods, diet drinks, dairy products, gluten sources, apple/peaches/pears or spicy foods.
  • Keep a food journal of everything else you are eating and whether you have loose stools.
  • If symptoms resolve, then incorporate the item back into your diet before moving on to eliminating the next one.

*See a medical doctor if you have chronic diarrhea, defined by 3 or more watery stools per day lasting 4 weeks or more, or if you’ve lost weight unintentionally as you may be at risk for dehydration or malabsorption.

References:

  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea
  2. WebMD https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/chronic-diarrhea-16/default.htm

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Which Salt is Best – Himalayan Pink, Celtic Sea, Iodized?

Which Salt is Best – Himalayan Pink, Celtic Sea, Iodized?

Question:

Hi! I have read various articles about healthy salt. Some say Himalayan Pink Salt and another article talks about Celtic sea salt. I know it’s important to get iodine in our diet. Which salt is best?

– Mary F.

Answer:

Besides the sodium-chloride compound we know as the base of our table salt, natural salts of the earth contain other elements and possibly some contaminants. In the case of Himalayan pink salt which is harvested from mountains in Pakistan and sun-dried, the mineral content varies by mine since the salt range is so expansive. Iron oxide is evident in the characteristic pink color, while potassium, magnesium and calcium are imperceptible. The content of these trace minerals is so low that it would take cups, if not pounds, of Himalayan salt to make a nutritional impact.

Similar to sea salt procured elsewhere around the globe, Celtic sea salt harvested in seaside fields contains minerals, sediment, and algae that affect its color and taste. It is sun-dried in solar evaporation ponds and contains small amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, and to a lesser extent, iodine. Contaminants like microplastics and heavy metals are possible, as there is global ocean pollution and open water circulates.

Granulated table salt is refined to remove such impurities, but other trace minerals are lost and chemical traces remain. Ferrocyanide, talc, and silica aluminate are commonly included in its processing. The addition of potassium-iodide to salt in the United States began as a public strategy for treating goiter and continued as a prevention, much like our fortification of folate in cereals for neural tube defects during pregnancy. About 70% of the table salts sold in the US are iodized and contain additional stabilizers.

Other notable food-grade salts include Kosher salt coarse grains usually processed without iodine, fleur del sel flakes collected from the top of seawater salt ponds, sel gris salt crystals from the bottom of those evaporated ponds, rock salt mined through brining, and those mixed with earthen compounds (such as kala namak, Hawaiian ‘alaea’, and black lava salt).

The best salt for you depends on your concern. If you need to limit sodium intake but want to use a naturally sourced salt, then consider a coarse or “rough” granule of any raw type as there is less packing of salt crystals in a measured volume. If your concern is getting enough iodine, then you can choose a Celtic sea salt and eat sea vegetables, potatoes, cranberries, strawberries, yogurt, navy beans, eggs and salmon for additional iodine.

Of course, if you rarely salt your food or only use small amounts like ¼ teaspoon in baking, the health difference is probably negligible and iodized table salt will work.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Which Rice is Most Nutritious?

Which Rice is Most Nutritious?

Question:

Which rice do you think is the best for all around nutrition, whether you are trying to gain mass or lose weight?

– Allen C.

Answer:

A particular food’s nutritional value can be interpreted many ways. What you consider to be most nutritious might be the most nutrient dense, highest calorie or healthiest (preventing disease) food. With respect to your question regarding weight change, a single food item plays a small part in an overall varied diet.

See our answer to a similar question last year: Brown Rice vs. White Rice – Which is Healthier? | Q+A

There are nearly 40,000 varieties of rice! My top picks for packing a nutrition punch are wild rice, brown rice, red rice and black rice. Their nutrient and phytochemical content varies as does their speed/completeness of digestion. Method of preparation can affect the starch breakdown and glycemic index, which play a role in satiety and therefore caloric intake. The less processed the better – I’d take fresh cooked white rice over a can of wild rice soup any day. Organically grown rice is less likely to have arsenic and would, therefore, be healthier, though it won’t affect weight directly.

Keep in mind the likelihood of cooking & incorporating these rice types into your preferred dishes and your willingness to try new recipes. If you don’t end up eating it, there is zero nutrition.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Let’s Talk About the Basics: Carbs, Fats & Proteins

Let’s Talk About the Basics: Carbs, Fats & Proteins

Question:

Can you provide me with a basic understanding of carbs, fats, and proteins?

– Mandeep P.

Answer:

Carbohydrate, fat, and protein are the three macronutrients (needed in large quantities) that give us energy. Alcohol also provides calories but is not a nutrient. Water is the other macronutrient but is calorie-free.

Carbohydrates are compounds that are predominantly used for energy in the body to fuel our brain, nervous system, organs, metabolic processes, and muscles. We get 4 calories per gram from carbohydrate molecules that reach our cells. Some carbohydrates aren’t even digested or absorbed – namely dietary fiber. It is specifically identified on a food’s Nutrition Facts panel, as are sugars. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex in structure. Simple carbohydrates are single or double sugar units, while complex carbohydrates are starchy. Sugars are naturally found in fruits, milk and yogurt, some vegetables, but can be added to just about any packaged or processed food. Starches include foods like potatoes, pasta, bread, rice, corn and cereal grains.

Fats that we eat are triglyceride compounds, the same type we store in our bodies. We get 9 calories per gram of fat, making fat the most energy-rich macronutrient. In addition to long-term energy, we use fat for insulation and protecting our internal organs. Each triglyceride has 3 fatty acid strands. Some of the bonds in a fatty acid are doubled-up making them unsaturated. Mono-(single) and poly-(multiple) unsaturated fats are healthier for us than saturated fat. Trans fat is produced unintentionally when in food processing, and unsaturated fat (typically plant oil) is hydrogenated to become solid. These are the worst fats that negatively impact health, even more so than saturated fat. The highest sources of beneficial unsaturated fats are fatty fish and plant foods like nuts, olives, and avocados.

Proteins are chains of nitrogen-containing amino acids that we break down and reuse to form our own protein in cell membranes, antibodies, and enzymes. These are functions neither fats nor carbohydrates can perform, and we don’t have amino acid reserves, so it’s important to get enough protein. We get 4 calories per gram of protein. Some of the amino acids we can’t form ourselves and so are considered essential to our bodies. Protein sources with the most essential amino acids include eggs, poultry, beef, pork, and dairy products. With an adequate amount of a wide variety of legumes, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, vegans can get enough essential amino acids from plant foods alone.

Did you know?… If you eat too many calories from any energy source, your body can convert it to stored fat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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What No One Tells You About Organic Produce

What No One Tells You About Organic Produce

When I was a kid, we picked wild blackberries from a nearby field, took them home, rinsed them under water and popped them into our mouths. No worries about pesticides, genetic modification or added wax. The only things we had to watch out for were bugs. They feed off plants just like we do, and produce is no exception. I remember tiny caterpillars creeping along a stalk of celery or burrowed into an apple. And some are so good at hiding between folds of lettuce or florets of broccoli, you’d never know they were there. Gross or natural?

You’ve got to expect some infestation across all types of produce grown in all areas of land if you only let them rely on their own defenses, such as in organic farming. Bugs on produce generally aren’t harmful. On the other hand, spiders that feed on those bugs can be. Black widows have been spotted on grapes! Of course, you wouldn’t eat one, but in handling the fruit you could be bitten. Due to our agricultural processes and quality control, we are lucky enough to have plentiful supplies of quality organic produce that we usually don’t need to worry about other pathogens from contaminated crops.

Sometimes, those wild blackberries were uneven and lumpy or irregular in size. In the summer, when they were ripe, we were allowed to climb up a neighbor’s tree and pick some cherries. There were always a few that were conjoined, eliciting “eew” and “yay/bonus/double!” at the same time. The vegetables at the one farmer’s stand-in town included those that were spotted, discolored or just weirdly shaped. We nicknamed some “Misfit Mushrooms” and “Awful Eggplant”. They were still quite edible though. What I’m trying to convey is that natural produce with blemishes or deformity aren’t always pretty and can be downright ugly.

With the modern concern of food waste, there is a movement to use all of an available crop. Search the hashtag #UglyProduce and you’ll see what’s usually rejected by major grocers that can be salvaged. There’s actually a market for less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables! A California company ships boxes of such produce to customers in major cities on the west coast and Illinois. A major grocery chain in France offers a discount on its “inglorious fruits and vegetables.” Organic produce may or may not be ugly, but it’s certainly more prone to natural genetic diversity and environmental exposure.

The good news about organic produce is that you won’t get food grown with synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, or derived from genetic bioengineering. The USDA Pesticide Data Program summary for 2016 indicates that pesticide residue was present in 77% of fruit and vegetable commodity (high-consumption) samples, though 99% were below the tolerance levels allowed by the EPA. The criteria for carrying the USDA Organic Seal mandate that organic fruits and vegetables are grown in accordance with the National Organic Program regulations. To certify and carry the Certified Organic seal from CCOF, it’s required to follow similar organic standards.

According to Consumer Reports’ special report “Pesticides in Produce” eating produce that is organic lowers your personal exposure to pesticides and has a myriad of other health benefits. It may be tougher on your wallet, however. Before you decide to spend up for pricier organic options, be sure you’re getting the benefit of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

 

Whether organic or conventional, remember to WASH OFF YOUR PRODUCE under running water for 10-20 seconds before enjoying! Bye bye creepy crawlies, hello clean.

Note: Some organic produce isn’t certified if the farm opts not to go through the process and pay for the certifications and inspections, or the grower produces a very small amount of organic crop.


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