Tag Archives: nutrition
Pop-Tarts Nation: Misery is Optional

Pop-Tarts Nation: Misery is Optional

Pop-Tarts and Milk: Guilt Free Mornings?

Pop-Tarts and Milk: Guilt Free Mornings?

While walking through my local supermarket this weekend, I strolled by the Pop-Tarts aisle to see what was happening in this section. Over the years, I’ve made fun of Pop-Tarts, not only because of their total lack of nutritional value, but because of the important place they have taken on the breakfast tables across America since 1964. So many individuals, especially parents, in an effort to get their kids up out of bed, hair combed, and dressed for school or other morning activities in a timely fashion, slap down a Pop-Tarts, as a quick and easy breakfast. This requires absolutely minimal thought our planning for this activity. For many, it is mission accomplished; Little Johnny and Mary have had breakfast, and are scooted out the door.

What parents should be saying to themselves, as well as anyone else who’s eating a Pop-Tarts, is basically that they’ve eaten a sugar-filled breakfast, with effectively no nutritional value, setting these kids up (and yourself) for hunger soon afterwards, and further bad eating habits for rest of the day, and possibly rest of their lives.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and sadly, Pop-Tarts are doing nothing to help this along. With the ever-growing problem of childhood obesity, we have to stop for a minute and take stock of what we’re feeding kids for breakfast. This has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

What struck me during this stroll down the Pop-Tarts aisle was a rather eye-catching advertisement that was out in plain sight. It caught my attention, and I photographed it here. Essentially, the message is that a combination of a Pop-Tarts with a glass of fat free milk is the perfect way to start a breakfast off, and none of us should feel guilty feeding our kids such a crappy meal. This is marketing 101 at its finest. Any parent or consumer walking down the aisle, looking at this sign, is granted license to buy Pop-Tarts, and serve them to their kids and family. This subliminal message tells you, “hey it’s OK to feed little Johnny and Mary Pop-Tarts”. Adding a little bit of milk makes whatever reservations you have about Pop-Tarts vanish.

Unfortunately, falling into this advertising trap does nothing for us as individuals, or collectively as an obese nation. I swung back through the fresh produce section, and saw no such advertisement helping to steer consumers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, or other unprocessed forms of proteins to be served at breakfast table across America. It just isn’t any fun to eat a scrambled egg, a small bowl of fresh blueberries, with a quarter of an avocado. A small cup of unsweetened yogurt would also be an excellent addition to this power breakfast for your 10-year-old.

So before everyone e-mails me back saying that I am out of line, please take personal stock of how much time and effort you invest personally in crafting meals for yourselves and your families. Cooking real food, which is unprocessed, and thus nutritious for you, takes time. Time to plan the meals, shop, and cook them. And yes, cooking fresh meals at home is messy. In all of my years of practicing medicine, it is far more messy, and far much more of a pain in the butt to suffer the consequences of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

You make the choice. Pop-Tarts in the morning, or hemodialysis? Misery is optional.

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31 Days of Wellness: Sipping Ourselves to Death

31 Days of Wellness: Sipping Ourselves to Death

We are surrounded by an ocean of sugary drinks, coming in every possible flavor, color, bottle, can, container, and size known to man. They are all missing one component-nutritional value.

We are sipping ourselves to death. We are told by advertisers that these fluids will make us better athletes, more hip as a person, or simply enjoy life better. What they don’t say is the needless calories they make you pack on with each gulp.

While none of these beverages on their own are lethal, it is the sum of all we consume that causes damage. An occasional soda will not kill you. Having several every day, as you wash down your favorite junk food, will. An occasional “anything” is not what hurts us. Daily dosing of man-made junk does.

For this year, among all of the other rules I’d like you to think about, is to work on eliminating all of these sugary, no-nutrition drinks. Drink water, coffee, and tea. Give it a try.

Have a great day.

Dr. Joe Galati

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31 Days of Wellness: Starting 2016 on the Right Step

31 Days of Wellness: Starting 2016 on the Right Step

Each January, I do my best to post 30 daily entries, allowing all of our readers to get a daily dose of inspiration to start off the new

year. While the vast majority of New Years resolutions are “health related”, the majority fail by months end. The reason for this high failure rate is simple-people don’t change habits easily. These resolutions require some sort of change in a person’s daily routine. Weight loss, eating better, spending more time exercising, cutting back on alcohol use are common themes each year, yet the difficulty in changing entrenched behaviors is what makes all of this so hard. So why should we even talk about this? My feeling is that while the failure rate is high, there are those that are able to make the changes needed to improve their health. I remain optimistic that there are those of you that have finally seen the light, and make the bold steps to change for the right reasons.

For today, let me leave you with this message (and challenge):

IMG_4379Make plans to try one new vegetable each week. Pretty simple. With the vegetable you select, try various recipes until you find one you like. Get feedback from your family and those you eat with. You may have to experiment until you get it right.

One of my favorite websites for learning about vegetables and fruits is Worlds Healthiest Foods. Use this site as a starting point to fine new foods to try.

 

Happy 2016.

Let me know what you think. Share these daily entries with those you care about.

Cheers,

Joe Galati, M.D.

 

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Top Five Reasons to Evaluate Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Dr. Rashid Khan adds this blog entry further reviewing important issues related to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

I few weeks ago I wrote on this topic as guest editor on Dr Joe Galati’s blog. We talked about some basic concepts surrounding Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). To recap, this condition involves fat accumulation in the liver of non drinkers. I mentioned the importance of prompt evaluation, necessary investigations and potential therapies. Here I once again write about this common condition, afflicting close to 100 million Americans, highlighting five reasons why NAFLD needs to be taken seriously.

  1. The most relevant reason from a liver doctor’s perspective is the potential transformation of fatty liver disease to liver cirrhosis. Fatty liver is generally benign, but the development of cirrhosis becomes a game changer.
  2. Along with the potential risk of cirrhosis, comes the added risk of developing liver cancer. Studies have shown that this risk is even present in the absence of cirrhosis, though small.
  3. Cardiovascular disease( CVD) is one of the most common medical conditions in the US and globally. NAFLD and CVD go hand in hand. Usually both exist in many patients. Fatty liver is known to be an independent predictor of CVD.
  4. Type II diabetes is another very common medical condition . Numerous studies have shown the propensity of diabetic patients to develop fatty liver . This association is bi directional, meaning some patients with fatty liver will go on to develope diabetes.
  5. Finally, I will mention chronic kidney disease( CKD), another disease afflicting millions of Americans in this day and age. While the association of NAFLD and CKD may not be as robust as with CVD and diabetes, nevertheless it all comes back to the metabolic syndrome entity, which involves dangerous plaque build up in the blood vessels throughout the body.

 

Here at Liver Specialists of Texas, it is our sincere hope that fatty liver disease is recognized and evaluated in its earliest stages. Our practice is specifically geared towards the management of these patients, as well as other liver diseases, and we will be more than happy to see you in our offices.

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AASLD Liver Meeting 2015

AASLD Liver Meeting 2015

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For the next several days, liver disease experts from around the world will be in San Francisco learning and sharing the latest developments in liver disease at the annual Liver Meeting.

Today, the one-day postgraduate course covered common clinical conditions, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis C, liver cancer/hepatocellular carcinoma, and complications of cirrhosis, including volume overload/ascites, malnutrition, and hepatic encephalopathy.

More updates will be posted through the meeting.

Dr. Joe Galati

Liver Meeting 2015

 

 

 

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Fight Obesity: Dr. Joe Galati’s Great American Produce Giveaway

I have been educating patients for a long time. It’s the best part of my job. Educate, educate, educate. Despite all of my efforts, there are frustrating days where I feel we are losing the war on obesity. The general population is lax on what they eat, and settle for junk. Everyone is too busy to cook a fresh meal at home. Children grow up eating highly processed foods, get fat, and develop diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, and lots more. Why? People can’t pick out a cucumber from a zucchini, let along how to cook the darn thing.

The Great American Produce Giveaway is my answer to all this. Some may laugh (and I hope it puts a smile on your face), and some may just not get it. Yes, it is a naive way to stimulate conversation, but it’s a start. Share it with your friends and family, and buy a vegetable for your neighbor.

Dr. Joe Galati
Houston, Texas

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Airport Food: Trying to Eat Health?

Airport Food: Trying to Eat Health?

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So as I sit here for an evening flight to Minneapolis, I realize that because of the flight delay, I’m going to have to force myself to eat something at the airport. My original plan was to tough it through the flights with nothing more than water, and eat something on the healthier side once I landed. Strolling around the B terminal of Bush Intercontinental Airport, the selection for healthy food is slim to none. Patrons are surrounded by fast food chains that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. Nothing is nutritious.

After a few laps around the terminal, I settle on a veggie bowl at Bullritos. I’m not denying that this is fast food, but with some careful choices, it can turn into a halfway decent meal.

Skipping the meat is a no-brainer. While the choices are a few different varieties of beef and chicken, they appear to be high in fat and salt. The quality of the meat is also suspect. Sitting in a puddle of grease doesn’t seem all that appealing. My selection tonight includes cilantro rice, grilled onions and peppers, grilled corn, medium hot sauce, pico de gallo, and some chopped romaine lettuce. A small scoop of freshly made guacamole topped it off.

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I don’t feel too guilty with the meal I ate at the gate. I was able to manage to get some decent dietary fiber, some vegetables, and most importantly, the avoidance of meat.

So what’s the message for weary travelers, who unfortunately have to do this much more often than I do? The answer is simple. Choose wisely. While it would be optimal to bring food from home, when you are forced to eat the food at the airport, avoid fast food like the plague. Meals where you have the option to add or subtract components gives you the most control, and likely a healthier choice. At the larger terminals, there appears to be a new breed of healthier food choices, including freshly prepared salads and sandwiches. The sandwich choices I’ve seen allows for lots of vegetable toppings, and what would appear to be lean meats. Some even offer a breadless sandwich.

Feel free to share your dietary travel stories with us.

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Salad for Breakfast: Really? Another Twist to Try

Salad for Breakfast: Really? Another Twist to Try

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Over the years, I have written about the benefits of eating salad for breakfast. Usually, this is received with an assortment of facial expressions, and the obligatory polite statement that they would “give it a try”. To date, numerous colleagues and patients have admitted that they’ve made salad for breakfast. Others frown. Despite this, I continued to eat it myself, as well as preach the benefits of eating a fresh salad for breakfast.

Mark Bittman, an author and columnist for the New York Times, is quite serious about preparing salad for breakfast. In his new book, VB6, he outlines the benefits of eating salad for breakfast, and supplying a number of wonderful recipes to readers.

This morning, I prepared an off the top of my head salad for breakfast. This included a bed of fresh romaine lettuce. Side note: I am rethinking bagged salad, which is proliferating at grocery stores around the country. I’m a bit concerned about foodborne illnesses that are becoming routine stories on the nightly news related to a wide assortment of prepackaged salads.

More on this morning’s salad.

After cleaning the romaine lettuce, I used half a can of white navy beans, rinsed them thoroughly, and mashed them with a fork in a bowl. I added copious amounts of extra-virgin olive oil, along with salt and garlic powder to taste. With a little more time, I would’ve used a clove of freshly crushed garlic. Placing this in the center of the romaine bed, I added to it the following items:

Half of a banana sliced
One whole fresh tomato sliced
One green pepper chopped into small pieces (normally I would’ve tried for a red pepper but the green one is all I had handy)
One fresh orange divided and sliced

I drizzled a small amount of a prepared raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing low in sodium, sugar, and overall calories.

I won’t bother with analyzing the nutritional content with regard to fruit and vegetable servings, dietary fiber, phytonutrient content, calories, and fat. It’s clear from any observer that this is a nutrient rich breakfast, that is inherently high in nutritional value and simply good for you. There’s no chemicals, artificial flavors, or ingredients that are not natural.

This breakfast took me less than 10 minutes to prepare. The contents should be readily available in a house that takes nutrition serious. I feel good about myself this morning, and I’m confident that I am off to a good start.

Seriously think about having salad for breakfast at least once a week. I believe you’ll find it’s not as bad as it sounds.

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Liver Transplant Houston: Is There a Special Diet to Follow?

A common question I am asked daily is in regard to “what kind of diet do I need to be on while waiting for my liver transplant?”. There is a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding this, that it deserves a few simple comments.

The simple answer is that there is no special diet you have to follow if you have cirrhosis. The central area of concern is dietary sodium or salt. The goal is to have a reduced salt diet, in the neighborhood of 1,500-2,000 mg per day. This is a very restrictive diet compared to the standard American diet (aka SAD). The SAD may include well over 6,000 mg per day. Too much!

The simplest way to achieve such a restricted diet is to eliminate all processes foods, avoid all foods in a can, bag, or box. If it has more than 5 ingredients on the label, keep away.

Salt is the enemy to anyone with chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The body’s handling of salt and sodium are malfunctioning, resulting in fluid retention, edema, and the development of ascites. In many circumstances, diuretics (water pills) need to be used to remove the excess salt and fluid from the body.

All of our patients need to consume fresh fruits and vegetables, lean fresh meat and fish, and foods found in their natural state. This may be an overwhelming challenge to those accustomed to eating out and or consuming large quantities of processed foods. It is impossible to meet this less than 2,000 mg salt intake by eating out.

I highlight numerous tips from
past entries that will help you with this mission. Read labels, stop eating out, and eat foods found in their natural state.

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31 Day of Wellness 2013: Start with Brussels Sprouts

Every January, we post the 31 Days of Wellness, with entries from myself and my good friend, Chuck Garcia. Together, with additional bloggers, we present an outline for the year, to get you started on a path to health and wellness. The simplest way to think of the next 31 days is consider the following points:

1. What are the foods to avoid?

2. What are the new foods to try, and incorporate into your diet?

3. What exercise to I need to participate in?

4. What are the other habits I need to follow that will lead to better health and the prevention of disease? Todays first entry, penned by Chuck Garcia, discussed one of the many “super foods” that we will discuss this month. We enjoy discussing Brussels Sprouts, because they are filled with needed vitamins and minerals. Most of my patients are unfamiliar with them, unaware of how to select to cook them,  but with a little guidance, they come to enjoy these little treats, making them part of their weekly vegetable repertoire.

I am a big fan of bacon.  By itself or mixed in with something else.  Bacon just makes everything taste better.  Bacon however is popular (rightfully so) and consumed all the time. One vegetable that is not so popular (what a shame) and should be is Brussels sprouts.  Woefully misunderstood (your Mom made you eat it when you were a kid), many people have a bad impression of this great vegetable and refuse to give it a try.  When combined with bacon, this is a great addition to any meal.  What is the deal on Brussels sprouts and why should you eat it? Consumed since the 13th century, this powerhouse is related to cabbage and kale.  Thankfully, it is finally earning some respect.  I travel a lot on business and eat out when on the road.   I have noticed that this vegetable is making resurgence and appearing on menus more often; especially in steak houses offered as a side. Good thing.

This is a powerhouse of a vegetable.  There are many benefits including these:

Antioxidants A host of antioxidant ingredients are found in Brussels sprouts, including Vitamins C, E, and A, as well as the mineral manganese. Furthermore, flavonoid antioxidants like isorhamnetin, quercitin, and kaempferol also serve well to protect against oxidative stress on the body’s cells.

Inflammation Glucobrassicin, a glucosinolate particularly abundant in Brussels sprouts, has been shown to fight inflammation on a genetic level once converted into the molecule indole-3-carbinol, or ITC. Furthermore, one and a half cups of Brussels sprouts contain about 430 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (about ⅓ of the daily recommended amount) that are an essential part of our body’s anti-inflammatory messaging molecules. Finally, the wealth of vitamin K found in Brussels sprouts has been shown to effectively regulate our body’s inflammatory responses.

Cancer Prevention Glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts and their detox-activating isothiocyanates are shown to fight against and even prevent various cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Cardiovascular Support Brussels sprouts contain the isothiocyanate sulforaphane made from glucosinolates. This powerful compounds not only triggers anti-inflammatory activity in our cardiovascular system but may also prevent and even possibly help reverse blood vessel damage. By regulating inflammation within the body, Brussels sprouts can fight against the onset of heart attacks, ischemic heart disease, and arteriosclerosis. Furthermore, the lowered cholesterol mentioned earlier may also lessen the possibility of arterial blockage. How best to eat it: There are multiple ways to eat Brussels sprouts.

In keeping with bacon as its best complement, I recommend taking a recipe out of Rachel Ray’s play book:

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, small spouts left whole, larger spouts halved
  • Salt and pepper, to your taste
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Directions Brown bacon in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan, 1 turn. Add shallots to the pan and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add Brussels spouts and coat in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook Brussels sprouts 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften, then add broth. Bring broth to a bubble, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 10 minutes, until tender. Transfer sprouts to a serving dish with a slotted spoon and top with cooked bacon bits.  I recommend serving this on the side of any protein source.  Fish, steak, chicken, take your pick. Serve it when friends are coming over.  Don’t tell them in advance or they are likely to resist.  Put it on the plate and watch their reaction.  They will be surprised and impressed!

Click here for Rachel Ray’s recipe.

Your feedback is important to all of us. Let us know what you think.

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