11 Ways to Improve Endurance


So you wanna be a superhero? Me too. Let’s start with endurance.  I’ve got the research, now all you have to do is put in the effort. Here’s my 11 tips:

1. Train

Think you have to keel over to improve your endurance? Think again. According to the ACE Personal Trainer Manual 5th edition, studies have shown that endurance improvement favored those who had performed more zone 1 training.

80% of training should be done at intensities where speech is comfortable (zone 1) and only about 10% of training should be performed at intensities above VT2 (zone 3, where blood lactate increases significantly).

It would make sense that this 80% zone 1 training should, for the most part, be performed relatively high in zone 1.  So, if you are just getting into endurance activities like running, just getting started will improve your endurance.  However, to really get your speed up and improve, get a little uncomfortable with the “talk test.” Can you sing comfortably while you are running? If you can, then you can definitely try to go a little faster. Get on those hills, and laugh fearlessly at your struggles!

2. Hydrate

Did you know that muscles are 70-75% water? That’s right! According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, muscle is only 15-20% protein, 5-7% fat, glycogen, and minerals.

Why is hydration important?

  • Temperature regulation
  • Blood volume + blood pressure
  • Keep organs, kidneys, cells, working optimally
  • Prevent dehydration

Things to consider:

  • Weather
  • Clothing
  • Your personal sweaty-ness

According to the American Counsel on Exercise (ACE):

  • ~4 hours before the event, drink 3-4 cups of water + weigh yourself
  • > during the event: definitely varies, but drink about ½ cup water every 20 minute
  • after event drink about 2 cups of water for every pound that you lost during the event

IMPORTANT: Prevent depletion in electrolytes like sodium and potassium as those are necessary for muscle contraction and blood pressure regulation which, if low can cause cramping, twitching and even heart issues. These electrolytes may be excreted with sweat

In general, water alone should be fine to rehydrate, but if it is extra humid or you lose 3% or more body weight during the event I recommend a natural electrolyte beverage like coconut water and / or datorade.


  • 2 cups water
  • ½ lime or lemon, juiced
  • 2-3 dates
  • maybe a pinch of Himalayan salt or dulse flakes

Blend for about 1 minute. This provides natural sources of electrolytes, antioxidants and nutrients without the added colors, flavors, or refined sugars and is a great go-to beverage before, during, and after an event.

3. Carb Load Correctly

FACT: Activity that lasts longer than several hours depletes glycogen stores. Carbohydrates consumed during exercise helps endurance athletes maintain a fast pace; fat is used more efficiently for fuel as exercise continues. Protein is a very minor fuel source during endurance exercise.

PROTEIN: it is important for repairing tissues, making enzymes + hormones, transporting nutrients, making muscles contract, regulating water balance. However, if you don’t consume enough carbs for your high energy demands, the body will use protein for energy instead which is EXTREMELY COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO YOUR PHYSICAL GOALS! Although protein may supply energy, extra amounts are not your best fuel. While carbs are stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen to be used for quick energy, excess protein is stored as fat, and not used for energy if you already consume enough calories. In general, protein should supply 10-35% of overall calorie intake which is met easily without powders or supplements in a balanced whole foods plant based diet. Since athletes usually eat more with a good appetite, they easily get the protein and nutrients they need. Protein requires more fluid in order to be metabolized because we need to excrete the toxic nitrogenous waste as urea so can lead to kidney issues, dehydration, cramping, and fatigue.

Energy need for endurance sports depends on body size, duration of activity, and overall effort. An elite athlete may need 4000-6000 calories daily, chosen from a high carbohydrate diet. Don’t worry about calculating your protein because if you are eating a balanced diet of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, and are eating enough calories, the protein in these foods will add up to be enough protein.

7 days before the event:

  • Days 1-3 Moderate-CHO diet of around 55% of calories, in general, recommendations are 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates
  • Days 4-6 Increase to high carbohydrate diet of about 80% of calories
  • Dinner before the event: >80% calories from carbohydrates

4. Four Hours Out:

Simple balanced meal should be fine. Try to keep it around 500 calories and under to prevent fatigue and slow gastric emptying. If you are nervous it is ok to eat less and eat more simple carbs like fruit or fruit juice 1-2 hours before the event

5. Pre Workout

While what you eat pre-workout is very important, it is essential that the previous workout was properly recovered from and that we eat a healthy balanced diet with adequate calories and nutrients on a daily basis.

Day of the event: If in the morning, I recommend staying light with datorade or fruit juice beverage. Within 1-2 hours of event, The food eaten should be around 200-300 calories, high in carbohydrate to maximize blood glucose availability, and low in fat and fiber to minimize GI distress and facilitate gastric emptying, it should be moderate to low in protein, and known to be well tolerated by you. A go to for before, during, and after workouts.

6. During Event

During extended training sessions, lasting longer than 1 hour, and especially in extreme heat, cold or high altitude, exercisers should consume 30-60g CHO / hr of training to maintain blood glucose levels.

30-60 grams of carbs looks like:

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 5-6 dates.

7. Post Workout

Eat in abundance! It is counterproductive for endurance athletes to restrict. The best meals post workout include an abundance of carbohydrates accompanied by some protein. ACE recommends about 2.2 grams of carbs for each pound of body weight to be eaten within the first 30 minutes after exercise and then every 2 hours for 4-6 hours. A diet of whole plant foods consisting of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit that is sufficient in calories should provide adequate post-workout carbohydrates and protein.

8. Prevent Pain

Prevent oxidative stress and reduce cell damage and muscle pain with: Antioxidants

  • Antioxidant power aka the power to protect our cells from damage was significantly increased with banana beverage versus plain carbohydrate beverage
  • Cherry juice was shown to decrease perceived pain significantly in runners versus placebo cherry flavored drink
  • There are lots of studies out there on various plant foods, when choosing fuel to prevent pain, recover quickly I recommend whole plant foods

9. Improve Oxygen Utilization

Yes, Nitrates are components in plant foods like beets, spinach, celery, and arugula that can cause athletes to perform intensely with less oxygen needed. Crazy!

In a study with cyclists, beet juice compared to current juice improved oxygen utilization by a whopping 20% which is quite significant. Drinking beet juice is so powerful that it can bring someones high blood pressure down within 3 hours. Also, pharmaceutical companies use this concept for patients with chest pain to help with blood flow. These drugs are called nitroglycerines. You know another nitrate drug? It’s called Viagra and it certainly improves blood flow but you might as well just eat your vegetables.

How do nitrates work? Bacteria in our saliva convert it to nitric oxide. HOWEVER be sure to not use antibacterial mouth wash because this has been shown to deplete healthy mouth bacteria and therefore inhibit the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide to allow us to oxygenate our blood.

10. Build Blood

Think you don’t need to eat your greens? Ever been to a smoothie joint that sold wheatgrass shots? One thing that wheatgrass juice is dense in is that dark green pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has been shown to increase hemoglobin in anemic rabbits. Hemoglobin is the component of blood that carries oxygen and as you can see is very similar to chlorophyll in dark leafy green vegetables. I recommend eating about 5 cups of leafy greens daily.

11. Adequate REST

Symptoms can be both physiological and emotional and are highly individualized.

Signs/ symptoms of overtraining:

  • decline in performance with continued training
  • sleep disturbances
  • weight loss
  • multiple colds / frequent sickness
  • irritability, restlessness, anxiousness
  • loss of motivation / vigor
  • lack of mental concentration / focus
  • lack of appreciation for things that are normally enjoyable

Best way to prevent overtraining is with periodization: alternate easy, moderate, and hard periods of training. Generally, one or two days of intense training should be followed by an equal number of easy training days. A week or two of hard training should be followed by a week or two of easier effort.

Today you learned

about hydration, the talk test, carbohydrate loading, what to eat pre, during, and post workout, how to prevent muscle soreness, how to increase oxygen utilization and how to build blood and prevent overtraining. Get out there and awaken your inner athlete! Give this video a thumbs up, leave your comments below, and remember. Deep down, you truly are a morning person. Wake up and live, Reines and shine!

Dr. Michael Greger’s “Doping with Beet Juice” : http://nutritionfacts.org/video/doping-with-beet-juice/

Dr. Michael Greger’s “Enhanced Athletic Recovery Without Undermining Adaptation” : http://nutritionfacts.org/video/enhanced-athletic-recovery-without-undermining-adaptation/

Cherry Juice Study: G. Howatson, M. P. McHugh, J. A. Hill, J. Brouner, A. P. Jewell, K. A. van Someren, R. E. Shave, S. A. Howatson. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 20(6):843 – 852.

Beet Juice Study: Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology. August 6, 2009. 107: 1144-1155.

Antibacterial Mouthwash and Nitric Oxide: Goconi M, Janasson E, Weitzberg E, et al. The increase in plasma nitrite after a dietary nitrate load is markedly attenuated by an antibacterial mouthwash. Elsevier. 2008. 2: 171-177.

Anemic Rabbits Study: Hughes JH, Latner AL. Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin Regeneration after Hemorrhage. Journal of Physiology. 1936. 612 (119) :338-395

Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin: Hughes JH, Latner AL. Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin Regeneration after Hemorrhage. Journal of Physiology. 1936. 612 (119) :338-395

RL Duyff. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.

American Council on Exercise: https://www.acefitness.org/


Healthy Pasta TASTE TEST + 4 Reasons Why I STILL Avoid Gluten


Pasta. What a delectable vehicle for vegetables!  Add your favorite beans, steamed veggies, and tomato sauce and BOOM! An impressive gourmet dinner.  While intact grains are the gold standard (grains in their whole form), whole grains, yes including their bran, germ, and endosperm, are milled into a fine flour to make whole grain pastas, breakfast cereals, and other “whole grain” products.  A few examples of legit whole intact grains would be steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, and millet.


How to tell if the product is WHOLE GRAIN?

  1. Whole grain stamp is on the package
  2. “100%” or “Whole” are used to describe it
  3. The first ingredient listed is a whole grain


Refined grains are not only grains milled into a flour, but their grain was stripped of the nutrient and fiber containing bran and germ! Murder! Refined grains are white / light in color and examples include white bread, cookies, cakes, pretzels, white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white flour. Darn!

Don’t fret too much! The recommendation is:

Make at least 1/2 of your grains whole grains.

Grains are an important part of a healthy balanced diet for fiber, iron,powerplategraphichirez magnesium, selenium, b vitamins, and lasting energy! Be sure to include them on your plate.

The Taste Test

Well before #1, my personal favorite is ZUCCHINILINI OF COURSE! Which is simply zucchini or summer squash, spirilized to look and feel like spaghetti. I like to mix it with pasta dishes to add bulk, flavor, color, and more veg of course!

#1 Nature’s Promise Whole Wheat Spaghetti: #1 in taste, texture, and nutritional profile. Contains gluten.

#2. Bionaturae Gluten Free Corn and Soy Spaghetti: Fabulous texture and taste and with 5g protein and 6% iron, this product is ok. Low in fiber :-/

#3. Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti: Quite sticky texture, but great flavor and elasticity.  Would go great with a sauce. However, low in fiber although whole grain. Brown rice is naturally low in fiber.


#4. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Corn and Quinoa Spaghetti: Texture dry and kinda crunchy, but a good source of fiber at 16% daily value and 10% iron!

#5. Andean Dream Quinoa Gluten Free Spaghetti: Texture was definitely a little sandy.  But I must say with 6% calcium, 12% iron, and just barely a good source of fiber at 10% daily value, not bad.


The Consensus:

The quinoa based gluten free products have a better nutritional profile, but are not as delicious as the lower fiber rice based ones.

Why I personally still avoid Gluten?

Do I go out of my way to avoid gluten?

No.  I still enjoy it in moderation. My mom makes homemade bread and pizza with gluten which I eat occasionally.  My diet is whole foods based, so I rarely purchase packaged products that might contain gluten.

Do I eat gluten every day?

No.  Maybe I eat a gluten containing meal or snack 3-4 times a week.  I am generally healthy and do not currently feel any reason to put more effort into seriously avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and foods containing gluten 100% of the time.

Why I make this personal choice:

  1. My sister has ulcerative colitis, which is similar to celiacs in that they are both autoimmune inflammatory intestinal disorders. With a genetic risk factor in my family, I try to not over load the gluten as a personal preventative measure.
  2. Studies linking gluten and autism spectrum disorders autism-and-nutrition-1. The GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet has been shown to help people with ADHD and autism, what else could it be linked to? I am ever curious and after reading such articles have trouble stomaching gluten (and of course would never recommend drinking milk).
  3. Naturopaths recommend avoiding gluten initially when trying to avoid inflammation with an “elimination diet,” along with dairy and other common inflammatory trigger foods. With this in mind, many people have success reversing adverse symptoms like rashes, IBS, fatigue, etc (SO MANY), once they remove gluten from their diet.  I grew up with canker sores, weird rashes, and eczema so, avoiding inflammation (and gluten) is in my best interest.
  4. Close friends with celiac disease so it is easier for everybody to find a gluten free delicious option!

While as you could see from the video, a gluten free diet is not recommended for the general public because it tends to have less nutrients. Be a savvy shopper and let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy those intact whole grains and plant yums! xx


Rainbow Ginger Citrus Zoodles | Raw, Vegan, Simple, Delicious.

The research I am doing for my graduate program is on plant foods and cancer- I am on cloud 8374378457 with all the EUREKA WHATT research that is out there!! Sulforaphane in broccoli, sweet potato protein, flavanols in cacao, cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes, the plant kingdom cures cancer!! Amazing! The best is to get organic and picked ripe because plants produce natural components called salvestrols to protect themselves from harm similarly to how the plant foods protect us.  It. Is. Unbelievable. Potent cancer killers without harming the body, truly healing it. Mind, body, spirit, immunity, vitality, sustainability ❤ Eat the rainbow, reap the success, love, beauty, and happiness *starstruck*

Rainbow Citrus Zoodles

citrus zoodles

The Noodles:

  • 4 small zucchini, spiralized
  • 2-3 medium carrots, spiralized
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 purple cabbage leaves, sliced thin

The Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh scallion
  • a quarter sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini
  1. Combine noodles in a large bowl
  2. Blend sauce ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth
  3. Drizzle over noodles, mix and devour with some people you love!

Nut, Ginger, and Chocolate Radiance Bars

Your search for a healthy crowd-pleasing holiday treat ends here. These are perfectly sweet and satisfying with a warming hint of ginger, and an irresistible combination of crunch and chocolatey creaminess.  Please watch the recipe video from http://www.greenkitchenstories.com for the original recipe.  It is my favorite recipe video of all time, beautiful videography ❤ and the recipe is truly delicious.


Makes about 24 bars

  • 10 coconut date rolls
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup puffed millet
  • 1 handful walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3.5oz 60% dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Watch video
  2. Combine date rolls together by smushing them with a fork on a plate and add to a medium saucepan over low heat with coconut oil, almond butter, and grated ginger. Mix well to combine
  3. Add in millet, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and salt and mix well
  4. Line a 13” x 9” pan with parchment paper and press mixture evenly into pan
  5. Melt chocolate and spread over the top. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  6. Cover and freeze for about an hour. Cut into 24 bars. Store in the freezer or refrigerator.


1 Bar (based on 24 bar yield):
Calories 140
Protein 3g
Carbohydrate 8g
Total Fat 12g
Fiber 2g
Cholesterol 0mg


Why these bars make you radiant?

  • Sweetened with fruit with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants; preventing blood sugar spike and crash which ultimately prevents depression, fatigue, and cravings for more sugar
  • Coconut oil, although the gold standard saturated fat source, should be regarded like any other oil: a concentrated food that provides a lot of calories with limited nutrients. It’s okay to use some unrefined high-quality coconut oil when preparing special-occasion treats, but as with other oils, its use should be minimized. *read more about coconut + coconut oil in article below!
  • Almonds are high in the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cell membranes from damage; preventing disease, inflammation, muscle soreness, and keeping skin glowing preventing wrinkles
  • Ginger is well known for its powers of healing indigestion and migraine headaches. Ginger also has potent anti-inflammatory properties
  • Millet is a whole grain, a complex carbohydrate helping to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day. It also has protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Walnuts contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids, which convert to the most abundant fatty acid in our brains, DHA. Omega-3s in the diet improve focus and cognitive function, and they have also been shown to decrease inflammation leading to heart disease.
  • Raw pumpkin seeds are a fabulous source of minerals like zinc, which is important for immune system function as well as formation of proteins and DNA. Pumpkin seeds also have vitamins like the antioxidant vitamin E mentioned previously.
  • Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are part of a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These flavonoids may decrease oxidation (damage) from LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Also, chocolate contains many minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium



*Coconut Oil Info:

“Few foods have been at once as maligned and acclaimed as coconut oil. Because it’s the most concentrated source of saturated fat in the food supply—even higher than lard or butter—some view it as a notorious health villain. Not surprisingly, it rests atop the “avoid” column of mainstream healthy-heart-food lists.

Others view coconut oil as a fountain of youth and the greatest health discovery in decades. These advocates claim that coconut oil can provide therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes, digestive disturbances, heart disease, high blood pressure, HIV, kidney disease, osteoporosis, overweight, Parkinson’s disease, and many other serious conditions. So what’s the truth?

Based on the available science, coconut oil is neither a menace nor a miracle food. Coconut oil should be regarded like any other oil: a concentrated food that provides a lot of calories with limited nutrients. It’s okay to use some high-quality coconut oil when preparing special-occasion treats, but as with other oils, its use should be minimized. On the other hand, whole coconut should be treated in much the same way as other high-fat plant foods—enjoyed primarily as a whole food. As such, it’s loaded with fiber, vitamin E, and healthful phytochemicals, and has powerful antimicrobial properties.

The relative health effects of coconut oil consumption remain somewhat uncertain. Some people believe that eating coconut oil does no harm because it’s cholesterol-free; others claim it’s harmful because it lacks essential fatty acids. But we can’t ignore the fact that in many parts of the world where coconut and coconut oil are the principal sources of dietary fat, the rates of chronic disease, including CAD, are low. There is one major caveat: the benefits seem to apply only when coconut products are consumed as part of a diet rich in high-fiber plant foods and lacking processed foods.

The people of the Marshall Islands provide a poignant example. The traditional Marshallese diet employed a wide variety of coconut products, which furnished an estimated 50 to 60 percent of total calories. Seventy years ago, when this diet was standard fare, diabetes was pretty much unheard of. When their indigenous diet gave way to a Western-style diet of processed foods and fatty animal products, diabetes rates escalated even though coconut products continued to be featured prominently in the diet.

Coconut oil is so often blacklisted by health-care providers mainly because approximately 87 percent of its fat is saturated. Many people imagine saturated fat as a single tyrant that clogs arteries, but different types of saturated fats exist. They contain fatty acid chains whose lengths contain from 4 to 30 carbon atoms. Depending on the length of the carbon chain, these fatty acids have very different effects on blood cholesterol levels and on health.

The most common saturated fatty acids are lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. Their carbon-chain length and main food sources are:

  • lauric acid (12 carbon atoms): coconut, coconut oil, palm kernel oil
  • myristic acid (14 carbon atoms): dairy products, coconut, palm oil, palm kernel oil, nutmeg oil
  • palmitic acid (16 carbon atoms): palm oil, animal fats
  • stearic acid (18 carbon atoms): cocoa butter, mutton fat, beef fat, lard, butter

Saturated fatty acids with 12 to 16 carbon atoms increase LDL cholesterol levels, while 18-carbon stearic acid doesn’t. However, stearic acid isn’t completely off the hook; some evidence shows high intakes could adversely affect other CVD risk factors, such as lipoprotein(a) and certain clotting factors.

As it happens, approximately three-quarters of the fat in coconut oil comprises saturated fatty acids known to raise blood cholesterol levels: 15 percent is saturated fatty acids with small carbon chains (6 to 10 carbon atoms), 47 percent is lauric acid, 18 percent is myristic acid, 9 percent is palmitic acid, and 3 percent is stearic acid. Case closed?

Well, not exactly. The predominant fatty acid, lauric acid, does raise total cholesterol, but it appears to raise HDL cholesterol to an even greater extent than LDL cholesterol, favorably altering the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol. In addition, lauric acid is converted in the body into monolaurin, a powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic compound—and coconut oil is among the richest food sources of lauric acid. There’s also evidence that coconut products have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. However, the compounds responsible (which include a variety of phytochemicals, such as phenolic acids) are largely eliminated when coconut oil is refined.”

– See more at: http://plantbaseddietitian.com/coconut-oil-menace-or-miracle/#sthash.ld9rrM3w.dpuf

5 Ways To Lower Cholesterol

Click here to watch my new video: 5 Ways to Lower Cholesterol 

Click here to watch!
Click here to watch!

What’s the number one cause of death in America? According to the CDC, it’s heart disease. The preventable, unnecessary, easily avoidable, heart disease.  Half of men >65 years old are prescribed expensive statin medications that cause obnoxious side effects like muscle pain. Here’s 5 tips to decrease cholesterol naturally.

1. Minimize Dietary Cholesterol and Saturated Fat

Cholesterol and saturated fat stick to our blood vessels and cause them to narrow, leading to erectile dysfunction and heart disease
Cholesterol and saturated fat stick to our blood vessels and cause them to narrow, leading to erectile dysfunction and heart disease

Cholesterol is only found in animal foods like meat, dairy, eggs, butter, and mayonnaise, and products containing animal foods like pastries, ice cream, cakes, and cookies.  Our livers make cholesterol to help fat travel in the blood.  Cholesterol is not a nutrient and it is not necessary to eat it.

Screen shot 2015-07-25 at 6.28.46 PM
Meat consumption is associated with a 25% greater risk of coronary heart disease

Saturated fat is fat that is solid at room temperature.  Most animal fats are saturated (fish being the exception).  Be sure to avoid processed  and red meats and high fat animal products like cheeses and creams.

Screen shot 2015-07-26 at 8.12.33 AM
A few years after experiencing erectile dysfunction, one is likely to have a heart attack.

2. Portion Control Healthy Fats

There are lots of benefits to a little bit of healthy fat but be sure to remember the two key words here, LITTLE BIT! Healthy fats would be the fats from plant sources or ones that are liquid at room temperature, like avocado, olives, almonds, sunflower seeds, and olive oil.  The general rule is 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat is enough per meal.  Think of it as a garnish, not a main event.  Try these 10 tips to help decrease fat intake:

  1. Steam, boil, or bake food instead of frying it.  Be sure to use parchment paper instead of spraying pans with oil. It is super quick clean up and very effective non-stick.
  2. Sautee in water, it tastes the same!
  3. Buy a nonstick pan, I have made perfect pancakes without any oil
  4. Replace some of the oil in recipes with apple sauce
  5. Instead of eggs try making a “flax/chia egg”: 1 to 3 ratio- 1 tablespoon of ground flax or chia to 3 tablespoons of water, combine and let sit for about 10 minutes to let it form a gel.  Or, a mashed banana also works as a great egg alternative.
  6. Choose low fat plant based alternatives when it comes to meat, cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk
  7. Incorporate more products that are already naturally fat free like salsa, fat free marinara, jelly and jam
  8. Instead of snacking on fatty snack foods like chips, try pretzels, fat free organic popcorn, fat free granola, or rice cakes
  9. Be sure to read ingredients labels and look out for any added fats and oils, especially “hydrogenated oils” because those are trans fats!
  10. When you go out to eat, ask for dressing on the side so you can control how much fat you are eating and let them know you are sensitive to oil so they won’t sprinkle any extra on top of your food.

3. Eat Plenty of Plant Foods

Screen shot 2015-07-25 at 4.30.24 PM
The American Heart Association did not hold back when recommending plant foods like grains, vegetables, and fruits. 4-5 servings of fruit a day! That could be 5 bananas!

Plant foods like grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are all sources of fiber.  Soluble fiber has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.


4. Exercise!

The American Council of Exercise says most adults could gain substantial health benefits from 2 1/2 hours of weekly moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or gardening.  That’s only 30 minutes a day 5 days a week! Our hearts are muscles too- gotta work those out!

5. Make Stress Your Friend

Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal has a great talk about recent research showing if we believe that the stress response is a good thing, the negative effects decrease.  Definitely watch her talk and remember: our stress is good! It makes us perform better, and there is nothing that we can’t handle.

Click here to watch my new video: 5 Ways to Lower Cholesterol 


Adoption of Vegan Diet in Early Childhood

NUTR 360/490: Life Cycle Nutrition

Spring 2014

Project 1: Keeping Current to Provide Guidance

            With the ever-changing culture of Americans- trying to “go green” and get healthy, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more and more prevalent. It is necessary for us, the nutrition professionals; to ensure all ages of the population at all stages of life meet dietary reference intakes. The issue is whether or not eliminating animal products from growing children’s diets is beneficial or harmful. From the research that I have conducted, it appears that a child brought up on a vegan diet can meet recommendations and grow healthily with the use of supplements and fortified foods to meet nutrient needs. Although I will also be pointing out what research has shown about the effects of a plant based diet later in life, the population group that I focus on is from pre-conception until puberty, of all ethnicities, economic statuses, and regions. More research should be conducted on the growth rates of vegan babies in comparison to omnivorous children; as well as the bioavailability of different sources of certain nutrients.

There have been studies in the past relating to vegan children having lower growth rates than omnivore children as well as press about vegan babies dying from malnourishment. In 1982, a study was done in a vegan religious community. Twenty-five infants of this community who were seen at the hospital showed evidence of protein-calorie malnutrition, iron and vitamin B12-deficient anemia, rickets, zinc deficiency, and multiple recurrent infections. Evidence of growth retardation was also found in 47 infants seen at the local mother-child health clinic1. It is clear from an anthropometric and dietary assessment of the nutritional status of vegan preschool children2 that deficiencies may occur on macrobiotic diets (more strict vegan diet often not including fortified foods) if the use of fortified foods is prohibited, macrobiotic children may suffer deficiencies of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. However, the article concludes that studies of growth and development of vegetarian children show that when vegetarian children are fed well-balanced diets that follow appropriate guidelines, they grow well. Often, their diets come closer to recommendations by nutrition experts.2 Health parameters in well-nourished vegetarian children may be closer to optimal than children following more standard American patterns.2 In 2002, a vegan couple from New Zealand was accused of child abuse after ‘failing to provide the necessities of life’ for their six-month-old child. Their son died of medical complications due to vitamin B12 deficiency after the parents left the hospital against medical advice to treat their son with herbal remedies. Second Opinions. Vegan Child Abuse.3  Also in 2005, despite the significant available literature on the potential risks of alternate diets, strict vegan parents were taken to court and charged with neglect after one of their children died of malnutrition. 4 My findings may make it seem like a vegetarian or vegan diet in early childhood is a bad idea. However, these studies are based on vegans who have very low calorie or very limited diets. Also, growth charts vary- especially comparing breast-fed infants to bottle-fed babies. Most vegan parents begin with breast-feeding. Growth charts based on formula-fed infants may make it seem that breastfed infants are not growing well because formula-fed infants grow faster than breastfed infants do.5 More research needs to be conducted on comparisons of adaptation of a vegan diet in early childhood comparing standard American diets with well-planned vegan diets. I could not find any recent studies that show that vegan children can have growth rates, which do not differ from those of omnivorous children of the same age. An area of concern for vegans is getting adequate amounts of vitamin B12. One study 6, examined the role of maternal vitamin B12 on fetal growth. Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that is only bioavailable through consumption of animal products and supplements (the vegan supplements are made by the B12-producing bacteria, not animal products.)7 It is still confusing to me why fermented foods like miso and kombucha that contain the bacteria that B12 grow from, and have B12 on their nutrition labels, are not considered a bioavailable source of B12 given that the claim this article makes is that they do not contain the active forms of the vitamin. Another suggestion for a recommendation for the future would be to study bioavailability further and have that coincide with what is written on nutrition labels. Low maternal vitamin B12 status and protein intake are associated with increased risk of neural tube defects, low lean mass and excess adiposity, increased insulin resistance, impaired neurodevelopment and altered risk of cancer in the offspring.8 We can conclude that B12 supplementation is necessary for a healthy baby and adaptation of a vegan diet early in childhood. Although there is need for supplementation, vegetarian diets often contain more fruits, vegetables, and fiber, with less fat and cholesterol, and people who consume them are likely to have reduced risk of chronic disease, weight gain, and weight related illnesses.9 With this in mind, it is necessary that recommendations provide information about healthy vegetarian diets to further promote foods that need to be increased to increase overall health. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, child- hood, and adolescence, and for athletes.10

In trying to find a natural cure, beneficial effects of fasting followed by a vegetarian diet in rheumatoid arthritis are confirmed by randomized controlled trials.11 The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets may not only be able to prevent chronic disease and weight gain for children later in life, but they can even reverse and lessen the symptoms of these chronic diseases for older adults who already have them if they switch to a more plant based diet.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for people of all ages and all stages in life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescents, and for athletes.16              

References Cited:

  1. Shinwell, ED, and R. Gorodischer. “Totally Vegetarian Diets and Infant Nutrition.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1982. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6812012&gt;.
  2. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA, and Julia Driggers, RD, CNSC, LDN. “The Youngest Vegetarians- Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers.” Can.sagepub.com. ICAN: Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <http://can.sagepub.com.ezproxy.lib.purdue.edu/content/4/1/8&gt;.
  3. Groves, Barry, PhD, RD, FADA. “Child Abuse by Vegan Parents.” Child Abuse by Vegan Parents. Second Opinions, 9 June 2002. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/child_abuse.html#.Uu7h5SjpbHM&gt;.
  4. Grinberg, Emanuella. “Child Abuse by Vegan Parents.” Child Abuse by Vegan Parents. Court TV Online, 18 Oct. 2005. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/child_abuse.html#.Uu7h5SjpbHM&gt;.
  5. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, FADA. “Feeding Vegan Kids.” — The Vegetarian Resource Group. The Vegetarian Resource Group, 2 May 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php&gt;.
  6. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One carbon metabolism, fetal growth and programming for chronic disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24219896&gt;.
  7. Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois. “Vitamin B12: What Vegans Need to Know.” – McKinley Health Center. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/vitamin_b12/vitamin_b12.htm&gt;.
  8. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One carbon metabolism, fetal growth and programming for chronic disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24219896&gt;.
  9. RD Resources for Consumers. “Vegan Nutrition for School-Age Children.” Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, July 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <http://www.eatright.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442471778&gt;.

10. “Balancing a Healthy Vegetarian Diet.” Student Health. Student Health Services UC San Diego, 2007. Web. 2 Feb. 2014. <http://studenthealth.ucsd.edu/pdfdocs/balancehealthyvegediet.pdf&gt;.

  1. Michalsen, Li C A. “Fasting Therapy For Treating and Preventing Disease- Current State of Evidence.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Dec. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24434759&gt;.

15. King, Debbie, MS, RD, LD. “Raising Vegetarian Infants.” Vegetarian Nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <http://vegetariannutrition.net/vegetarian-kids/raising-vegetarian-infants/&gt;.

16. Craig, W. J., and A. R. Mangles. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2009. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864&gt;.

17. Mangles, Reed, PhD, RD, FADA. “Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet.” VRG Health, Environment, Ethics. The Vegetarian Resource Group, 2005. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php&gt;.

List of Articles for Step 1B:

12. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One Carbon Metabolism, Fetal Growth and Programming for Chronic Disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24219896&gt;.

13. Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle M., PhD, MS, RD, Sarah B. Hales, MSW, and Angela C. Baum, PhD. “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition Policies: Nutrient Content of Preschool Menus Differs by Presence of Vegetarian Main Entree.” Www.eatright.org. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/2212-2672/PIIS2212267213012501.pdf&gt;.

  1. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA, and Julia Driggers, RD, CNSC, LDN. “The Youngest Vegetarians- Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers.” Can.sagepub.com. ICAN: Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <http://can.sagepub.com.ezproxy.lib.purdue.edu/content/4/1/8&gt;.

    This section will be turned in for review separately, then corrected for inclusion in the final project with the list of articles becoming the References Cited section of Step 1B.

B: Review of the Literature
(insert text here as described page 3)

            According to research so far, vegetarian diet patterns are likely to cause good health and if recommendations are met using supplements or animal products, it is possible to raise healthy vegetarian and vegan children. These three articles go over vegetarian diet recommendations and the necessity for nutrients found in animal products or supplements early in life. The first article, “Vitamin B12: one carbon metabolism, fetal growth, and programming for chronic disease,” goes into the necessity of vitamin B12 in the diet. The other two articles, “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition…” and “The Youngest Vegetarians; Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers,” go more in depth about the plant-based nutrition. The “Transitioning…” article suggests how vegetarian diets provide optimal nutrient content while “The Youngest Vegetarians..” describes nutrient recommendations for meeting the needs of vegetarian infants at different stages of growth. The articles show that it is possible to raise a vegetarian or vegan child healthily. However, there isn’t much recent research with data that proves that vegan children meet the same height and growth averages as vegetarian or omnivorous children; there are only alternate suggestions of obtaining nutrients. Also, these alternate suggestions of obtaining nutrients are from supplements- there isn’t much research out there on the bioavailability of various plant super foods and fermented foods that could potentially be used for vegans. As benefits of plant-based diets are becoming better known, more research should be done on the topic.

            The article, “Vitamin B12: one carbon metabolism, fetal growth, and programming for chronic disease,” is a selective literature retrospective cohort review article that goes into how vitamin B12 is not only important for growth and development of the infant, but maternal vitamin B12 is also very important. The purpose of the study was to examine the possible role of maternal vitamin B12 on fetal growth and its programming for susceptibility to chronic disease. Research was reviewed using human and animal studies particularly in the context of a vegetarian diet that may be low in B12. “Low maternal vitamin B12 status is associated with a slew of problems for the baby.”12 The review points out that vegan diets are often low in protein and vitamin B12 and high in carbohydrate- suggesting a necessity for supplementation.

The second research article, “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition Policies” was an observational study with the goal to examine changes that occurred at a large, child-care center during the implementation of new nutrition standards. These changes observed were those in the nutrition content of menus before and after implementation of the new standards, as well as the influence of vegetarian meals on the nutrient content of menus. Also, parent opinions and support for these changes were examined as well as parent support for adding more vegetarian entrees. took place at a large, university-based child-care center serving 200 children at 6 weeks and older in Columbia, SC between June and December 2012. This observational study involved a survey to parents and analysis of nutrient changes of menus before and after the nutrition policy change. The study concluded “adding more vegetarian menu items improve the nutrient content of menus while keeping energy intake, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels at a more optimum level.”2 Also, there is high parent support for meeting nutrition needs by adding more vegetarian menu items. 13

The third article, “The Youngest Vegetarians”, was designed to examine key nutritional issues for the youngest vegetarians, from birth to 2 years; which is the time period of rapid growth when nutrient needs are high. It includes recommendations and research from credible sources in a collective manner that shows clearly the nutritional needs of infants at this age and how these needs are best met without the use of animal products.

            There is still little research following the growth of vegan children whose nutrient needs are definitely met. Still, the combination of these articles shows that babies can grow and develop normally if they are given a well balanced vegan or vegetarian diet. There would be less confusion if more available primary prevention tools were available describing how to prevent malnutrition in vegetarian or vegan babies. The articles did a good job showing scientific evidence of the need for supplements and what nutrients to increase, as well as a growing interest in plant based diets. Healthy vegetarian and vegan diets may benefit the high prevalence of chronic disease in America. However, more research needs to be conducted on how early in life adopting a plant-based diet will be beneficial.

References Cited:

1. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One Carbon Metabolism, Fetal Growth and Programming for Chronic Disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24219896&gt;.

2. Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle M., PhD, MS, RD, Sarah B. Hales, MSW, and Angela C. Baum, PhD. “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition Policies: Nutrient Content of Preschool Menus Differs by Presence of Vegetarian Main Entree.” Www.eatright.org. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/2212-2672/PIIS2212267213012501.pdf&gt;.

  1. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA, and Julia Driggers, RD, CNSC, LDN. “The Youngest Vegetarians- Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers.” Can.sagepub.com. ICAN: Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <http://can.sagepub.com.ezproxy.lib.purdue.edu/content/4/1/8&gt;.

C: Credible Sources of Information for Populations Affected

#1 – Title: Raising Vegetarian Infants

URL: http://vegetariannutrition.net/vegetarian-kids/raising-vegetarian-infants/

Date: October 16, 2013

Sponsor/Author: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Information provided:

            This pdf file shows how to raise a vegetarian baby, what foods a mother can feed a vegan baby, and how to make sure that a vegan or vegetarian baby is healthy. This is a primary prevention paper educating the public about how babies can grow and develop normally if they are given a well-balanced vegetarian diet. The pamphlet even provides a sample menu for an 11-month old vegan infant, as well as a table of dietary reference intakes for key nutrients for infants.


            This information is all quite credible since it comes from a reputable source. It also provides some easy to understand guidance and recommendations. However, it is not easily accessible, and the majority of mothers out there might not understand how to meet the dietary reference intakes.


#2 – Title: Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet

URL: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php

Date: 1999

Sponsor/Author: The Vegetarian Resource Group

Information provided:

            This webpage goes in depth about nutrient needs for a pregnant women. It educates about weight gain, nutrients of concern, and how to obtain nutrients and have a healthy pregnancy with a vegan diet.


            This article is taken from a book written in 2005, so it is quite outdated. However, the more recent “Raising Vegetarian Infants” from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, uses this article as a reference. If such a credible source as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is still using this outdated information for its own articles, I think it is safe to say that it is still credible.


#3 – Title: Vegetarian Diets For Pregnancy

URL: http://pcrm.org/pdfs/health/pregnancy_factsheet.pdf

Date: Feb 2005

Sponsor/Author: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Information provided:

            This article provides charts to help a pregnant women plan balanced vegan meals. It goes over guidelines for good health during pregnancy, with menu ideas, breast-feeding information, as well as all of the nutrients of concern during pregnancy and how to meet those needs.


            The sponsor, “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” seems quite credible. However, this article (as is every other article I could find on this subject) is quite outdated. I do think it has good information, but new research should be done and new guidelines should be made accordingly.


D: Providing Guidance – Option # 2


A questionable health conscious mother might ask this question. Parents want to do whatever they can to provide the most quality care to their children. If there is evidence out there that a vegan or vegetarian diet will help their child be healthy in the long run, they will do what they can to provide that for them.


  1. Are there any notable benefits to raising a child vegetarian or vegan?


            It is clear that later in life, well-balanced vegan and vegetarian diets may not only prevent, but help to reverse the chronic diseases are a problem in America.13 More studies definitely need to done to provide current advice on whether or not vegetarian and vegan children have normal growth patterns during their most rapid stages of growth.14 Increased phytonutrients, fiber, and antioxidants of concern do appear to be beneficial during pregnancy and child birth, helping them go smoothly as well as decreased incidences of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes in vegetarian and vegan mothers. 2 One can conclude that a vegan pregnancy and a baby-raised vegan can be healthy, but it is still unknown whether or not this baby is necessarily healthier than omnivorous babies. However, vegan mothers are much more concerned about meeting their nutritional needs than omnivorous mothers, so often the help and guidance ends up making them meeting their nutrient needs better than omnivorous mothers who wouldn’t look to intensely at their diet pattern.1


A vegan or humane mother who is considering how to meet her needs without the use of animal products would ask this question. She is looking for what nutrients are of extra concern if she isn’t consuming animal products during her pregnancy and how those needs might be met. If the information is easily accessible and sounds easy to accomplish, she is likely to go forth with trying a plant-based pregnancy and upbringing.


  1. What are the nutrients of concern for vegan babies and mothers, and how should those nutrient needs met?


            It is still recommended that the first food babies consume is breast milk. 15 Vegan mothers need to consider their nutrient intake prior to conception. “Low maternal vitamin B12 status and protein intake are associated with increased risk of neural tube defect, low lean mass and excess adiposity, increased insulin resistance, impaired neurodevelopment, and altered risk of cancer in the offspring.” 1 “Breast milk levels of vitamin B12 have been postulated to be proportional to maternal dietary intake rather than maternal vitamin B12 stores.”2 Key nutrients of concern are protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc. After 4-6 months, or when babies begin to show that they are ready for solid foods, the first solid food for vegan infants should be baby cereal fortified with iron and zinc, mixed with breast milk. It should be thin in the beginning of introduction, made thicker over time. As cereal is accepted, one new food can be started every 3-4 days. When baby is 7-8 months old, or is ready, add foods like well-cooked and mashed or pureed dried beans, mashed tofu, and soy yogurt. A mix of iron and zinc fortified infant cereal, breast milk, whole grains, soy and soy products, as well as other beans and legumes, vegetables, and fruits in the diet, prepared in a fashion that is easily digested by the infant (chopped, steamed, mashed, pureed, etc) would meet the needs of a typical 11-month old vegan infant. 14


A vegan woman who would like to have a child in the near future who is concerned about her nutrient status would ask this. It is good that she is aware of the concerns about nutrient stores prior to pregnancy, and she is preparing to take action in the right direction to seek advice to ensure her child will not be malnourished.


  1. What supplements should I start taking to ensure I have my nutrient needs met prior to, and throughout my pregnancy?


            Before thinking about individual nutrients, it is important to know how much weight the mother will need to gain and how many calories to take in throughout her pregnancy. This can be figured out by using the pre-pregnant BMI. If the potential mother is underweight, she will have to gain 28-30 pounds, whereas an obese potential mother, will be recommended to gain 11-20 pounds.17  Fortified beverages and cereals may provide the necessary vitamin B12 prior to pregnancy. It would be a good idea to have blood tested for levels of iron to ensure there is no iron deficiency anemia prior to pregnancy. Iron supplements during pregnancy are commonly recommended along with iron-rich foods because iron needs increase. Vitamin B12 definitely needs to be supplemented because as far as research shows now, there is no plant food that produces naturally bioavailable vitamin B12. Levels of protein, calcium, vitamin D, folate, DHA, and iodine in the diet should also be checked prior to supplementing, and work with a professional to get supplements necessary or to change your dietary habits to meet your needs better.6