Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Does Sunscreen Expire?


It's time to head to the pool, but the only sunscreen you can find is the half-used tube at the bottom of last summer's beach tote. Will it still protect you? 
Sunscreen is formulated to remain effective for at least three years, according to Food and Drug Administration regulations- but not forever. Check the expirartion date on the container and toss it if it has passed. If there's no date on the tube and you can't remember when you brought it, play it safe and buy a new one. Write the purchase date on the new container with a permanent marker. Remember, too, that even on the new bottle of sunscreen, heat can accelerate its breakdown, so avoid storing it in places where the temperature can spike, such as in your car. The FDA also recommends that you keep sunscreen out of direct sunlight by swaddling it in a towl or stashing it in the shade or even in a cooler when you carry it with you on outings.

Helpful tips:
  • Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • "Water-resistant" sunscreen must maintain their SPF level for either 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 40 or higher and cautious of mineral formulations, which we found to be less effective. 
  • Wearing a swim shirt in the water helps protect your skin-and potentially the enviroment because less sunscreen is applied. 
  • No matter what your skin type the sun can cause damage. 
Consumer Reports, Issue July 2018 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Smarter Snacks

How can we help our children eat healthy snacks? What is a healthy snack? When is a good time for snacking? These are some of the questions that we as parents always ask ourselves. Sometimes we consider a snack any food that our children will eat between meals, disregarding the nutrition content of it. While the purpose of snacks is, either, to provide nutritious food to children to prevent them from being hungry between meals or to provide extra nutrition to small meal eaters, snacks should be considered part of the diet of our children. This means snacks should follow certain guidelines. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a healthy snack should be low in calories, sodium and sugar, be a whole grain rich product or have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein. The Academy also recommends children to have three complete meals and two snacks, while a teen should have three complete meals and one snack; if the teenager is physically active an extra snack may be added.
To incorporate snacks into our children’s diet, we should consider that snacks should not interfere with the time or amount of food eaten at regular meals. Snacks should be spaced enough between meals to avoid meal replacement. This means that the perfect time to offer snacks to children would be 1 to 2 hours after the first meal and 1 to 2 hours before the next meal, this will allow them to be hungry at meal time. 
Replacing less nutritious foods with healthy snacks may be challenging, but there are some tips that we can use to achieve this goal.

  • Set up schedules. It is important that children get used to eating meals and snacks at specific times. In this way they are going to be hungry and they are going to be willing to eat what you are offering them, an opportunity to offer healthy foods.
  • Avoid allowing children to eat while watching television. When they watch television, they get distracted and they do not pay attention to what they are eating. This pattern may lead to overeating.
  •  Have healthy snacks, like fruit, fresh vegetables, and whole grain crackers available. Place these snacks where your child can see them and have access to them. Be sure to have everything washed, cut and ready to eat, in order to make it easier for your children to choose them.
  • Have snacks packaged individually. In this way you will be able to combine food groups to provide variety, healthy options and will allow you to guide or manage portion sizes. It also would be very useful for grab and go snacks that fit better your children needs.
  • Reduce food costs by choosing fresh seasonal products or buying frozen fruits and vegetables. This won’t impact your budget and will provide the same nutrition.
  • Be creative. There are many food options that you can include on snacks to provide variety for your young ones. Some options are: celery with peanut butter, fresh fruit, whole grain granola bars, low fat yogurt, and cheese sticks.

Making small changes to our daily routines will improve children’s quality of life and reduce the risk of obesity and chronic conditions related to it. Let’s help them to live a better present to have a healthier future.

Judith Chavira is a Dietetic Intern in the Combined Dietetic Internship and FCS Master’s degree program at NMSU with a B.S. in Nutrition with emphasis in Dietetics from NMSU and a Master’s degree in Spanish with emphasis in Linguistics from NMSU. She is passionate about nutrition and she believes that helping the community to have a better understanding about nutrition will have a very positive impact in the health and wellbeing of the people in the region.

The Potential of Probiotics


Exploring the promising world of probiotics, one species at a time.
By Esther L. Ellis, MS, RD, LDN

As scientists discover more about probiotics, it appears these microscopic bacteria may be instrumental to the treatment and prevention of certain infectious diseases, metabolic conditions, immune disorders and neurological disorders.
Probiotics are live, active microorganisms ingested to alter the gastrointestinal flora for health benefits. They often are referred to as "good" bacteria in the gut and compete with "bad" bacteria for adhesion sites to either rid the body of pathogens or increase the host's immune system. Their benefits were first noticed centuries ago, when people started eating fermented foods. Today, those foods include fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, miso, fermented cheese, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, pickles, kimchi, green olives, wine, natto, and sourdough bread. In addition to fermented food, probiotic supplements are available in pill, powder and chew forms, and some manufactures have begun adding probiotics to non-fermented grocery items such as water, chips and juice.
The potential benefits of probiotics are widespread, but there is no one-size-fits-all application. Under the umbrella of probiotic genera are hundreds of species with even more strains, each performing a separate function or producing a different benefit in the body when used alone or in conjunction with others. The most widely researched bacterial genera include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus, while yeast varieties include Saccharmyces boulardii. 

Lactobacillus bacteria are found in the GI and urinary tracts and are the most abundant bacteria in the vagina. These aerobic, lactic acid-forming bacteria are the most widely used probiotic in foods such as yogurt.
Their ability to form biofilms allows them to survive in harsh conditions, such as the low pH of stomach acid and maintain colonies in their host.

Lactobacillus acidophilus
L. acidopilus is the most common species of Lactobacillus. Research suggests it may help certain vaginal conditions treat diarrhea and boost immunity. 
Suppositories of L. acidophilus have been successful in treating bacterial vaginosis, and some research shows the ingestion or application of yogurt to the vagina can help prevent yeast infections. In combination with other forms of Lactobacillus, research suggests it may prevent traveler's diarrhea; antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD; and Clostridium difficile when taken with antibiotics. In some instances, L. acidophilus reduced the incidence of eczema in infants when it was taken orally by their pregnant or breast-feeding mothers. 
Dietary sources of L. acidophilus include certain brands of yogurt and milk, miso and tempeh. It also is available as pill, freeze-dried granules, powders and vaginal suppositories. Probiotic supplements should be refrigerated to maintain quality. Recommended doses vary but range from 1 billion to 15 billion colony forming units, or CFU, per day. 

March/April 2018, FoodandNutrition.org

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sodium, Salt, and MSG-Confused?

Confused about sodium, what about monosodium glutamate? Most people either do not know much about these food components or have heard conflicting information from different sources such as family, friends, and magazine articles. This article will attempt to make it easy for you to understand common sources of sodium in the diet, what sodium does, and how to lower intake as well as what MSG is and why it is in foods. In general, people consume more sodium than they need to. Sodium raises blood pressure which can cause damage to arteries. Recent research has shown that sodium can even cause hardening of the arteries without it being related to blood pressure.  It is a good recommendation to limit daily salt intake (our major source of sodium) and aim for the 2,400mg limit for healthy people and the 1,500mg limit in those with hypertension. Sodium is also lost through sweat, so keep in mind that exercise may help to control sodium in the body as well, although exercise should not replace any efforts to decrease salt coming from our foods.
There are some people who think MSG is bad; however, it naturally occurs in many foods such as seaweed, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. Umami- the Japanese word for delicious, has been identified to be recognized by the tongue just as sweet, salty, sour, and bitter are. Mono Sodium Glutamate, or MSG, is one molecule responsible for the Umami flavor. According to the Institute of Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), MSG can make food more palatable with less sodium because it enhances flavor. Both the IOM and the AND recognize MSG as safe. The AND evidence analysis team also found that there is no difference in the amount of food people consume depending on MSG content. It is important to note that foods with MSG are often very high in sodium, and that the sodium intake is more of an issue than the glutamate intake. Using low sodium soy sauce and low sodium tomato sauce will help to provide flavor to your dishes without adding as much sodium.
Sodium intake can be reduced by a combination of approaches to the diet. When buying canned foods like beans or corn, look for low or no sodium added on the label. When eating at a restaurant, especially if it is a frequent occasion, it is a good idea to know how much sodium is in the dish. Restaurants often have high salt content in their foods. Sodium is also often high in dressings and condiments like mustard. Commonly consumed foods that contribute to sodium intake include bread, cheese, lunch meat, and most processed foods. Cooking your own foods with measured additions of salt will help with controlling the level of sodium in a dish. Just a teaspoon of table salt provides nearly the entire recommended amount of sodium for 1 person a day (2,325 mg of sodium). Tracking intake through measuring the salt you add and paying attention to labels can be useful for reducing total sodium consumption. This can be easily done with diet trackers such as USDA Super tracker, the MyFitnessPal app, or the American Heart Association’s Salt Tracker which are linked below. Always check the label for sodium in a dish. Doing these things will help you to get an idea of how much sodium you consume in a day and what foods to cut out or cut back on. It is also important to find something to replace those foods with. If you eat a lot of canned foods, try replacing them with fresh or frozen options.

This infographic from the AHA shows a comparison of high and low sodium meal options for a full day: “Sodium Can Be Sneaky” https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/infographics/sodium-can-be-sneaky-infographic
USDA Super tracker is a tracking option with a large, reliable database of foods: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/

MyFitnessPal: Has many common commercial food items for both restaurants and stores it can help you easily add up your daily sodium intake if you eat prepackaged and from restaurants frequently. https://www.myfitnesspal.com/

References available upon request.

Connor Hudson is a student in the Combined Dietetic Internship/FCS Master’s degree program at NMSU with a B.S. in Nutrition/Dietetics from UNM. He has over 300 volunteer hours collegiate sports dietetics setting and is generally passionate about health and nutrition.