How To Choose a Good Nutritionist?

Choosing a nutritionist can be a tough decision to make. With all of the diet advice and vitamin choices it gets confusing real fast. To help you decide here are two simple things to remember when choosing your diet yogi.

Bumpy Ride

Any good nutritionist will tell you right away that food science is shaky at best. We are in a period of unprecedented period diet related diseases including the leading killers in America. The obesity and diabetes epidemics are raging across the country. There is definitely something wrong and it may just be “the latest study shows” lifestyle we have become accustomed to.

For example, take a look at these two images from David McCandless who took the time to research and compare a large portion of the studies on nutrition.

The first image shows vitamins, minerals, nutrients of no proven value.

Every single item in this picture has no evidence proving its value for health. Now, I’m not saying this is definitive or I am an expert, I’m just saying food science is shaky. Take a look at the next picture to see the ones with conflicting evidence:

There are so many on this list that many would consider absolutely essential to health and yet the studies have not shown that yet. The question is then, where we getting this proof from, is it social proof, marketing proof?

One better make sure to ask any nutritionist about this before making major changes.

It’s the Food, Stupid!

Like the Bill Clinton’s ringing catchphrase, it’s about the economy, stupid! In the world of nutrition its all about the food and no amount of pills, supplements, or working out can replace it. The right nutritionist will make sure to talk with you about this and ask you to focus on the quality of the food you are eating.

Quality is an essential element to food, but many would have you believe that selection is more important. All to often the advice will be to eat less meat and more vegetables. Or, you have a deficiency of XX so you should eat more of YY. This can be extremely problematic especially if one is always selecting low quality food.

A good nutritionist will provide expert advice on how to find quality food. They will tell you about the difference between supermarket vegetables and farmers market vegetables (I have yet to find one doing this). With the difference being extreme, sometimes as much as three times worse for you. Supermarket vegetables are grown for hardiness and long lasting at the expense of nutrition. Whereas farmers market vegetables are grown from high quality seeds (called heritage seeds), grown in specific seasons to maximize nutritional value and sold as fresh as possible to capitalize on the vitamins/minerals before they degrade.

The same type of story can be told for fruits, nuts, meats, cheese; for everything you eat. Eating quality food can often make or break a health routine. After all quality food not only tastes better but provides more nutrition per ounce. This means that you will need to eat less to feel full and meet your nutritional needs (i.e. lose weight).

Further, studies are showing that seasonal, fresh, and high quality food contains not only more nutrients but extra ones too. It might be possible that one can get all the calcium they need from fresh, seasonal broccoli and avoid the need for all those calcium pills, soy cartons, and expensive seafood.

Make sure to choose a nutritionist who understands food quality and makes it an important part of their advice.

Conclusion

I’m not a doctor nor a nutritionist but I have spent the past year studying these issues for my own personal health and for this non-profit. I have talked to hundreds of people, including doctors and nutritionists. Only a handful of them even consider what I wrote about in this post, even though they seem like common sense.

These issues are common sense to me and I hope they help you to choose the right nutritionist.

Images pulled from Snake Oil? Scientific Evidence For Health Supplements

Beach Water Quality in Southern California

It just so happens that three of the top ten worst beaches in California are two that I frequented in college and the third is an island 22 miles off the coast. The list is rounded out by LA County taking up half the list and San Diego, Orange, and San Francisco Counties only having one “dirty-ass beach”.

I found this report from Heal the Bay thanks to a tip from the LATimes.

These worst of the worst beaches are so named due to risk of “potential illness (to) include stomach flu, ear infection, respiratory infection, and major skin rash”. Which can result after only a one-time exposure on a single day. Going in the water more than once can “significantly increase” your chances.

The good news is that 90% of the beaches in California came in with a A or B grade. Only 13 beaches completely failed with an F. It seems that the majority of the dirty beaches problems arise only during wet weather. During dry conditions the grades are better with 92% scoring and A/B.

The report says that stormwater runoff is the major culprit. Which just so happens to be the place where kids like to play. I agree with the kids it is the ‘funnest’ place on the beach, if the waves are not hitting.

The worst place for this runoff turns out be Avalon Harbor which is 22 miles out in the ocean on Catalina Island. This seems counter-intuitive but the facts don’t lie, Avalon has been the worst beach in the state 9 out of the past 11 years.

Five others on the list from LA County including two of my old haunts the Santa Monica Pier and where Sunset Blvd hits PCH. Since the county is sorely in need of improvement it is good news to hear that the California budget foibles are minimally affecting LA’s programs.

A few quick other details about LA County. There were five sewage spills into county beaches, with the largest being larger than 100,000 gallons (into Lunada Bay). The county is the only county in the state to measure water quality at point zero, or pipe outlet, which allows for a more accurate picture of pollution. Most counties grab their data lower down the line after the pollution has been diluted.

Orange County, on the surface, appears to be doing well with 96% of its beaches making the grade (A/B). Only one beach, Poche Beach, getting a failing grade. However, during the few wet weather periods when measurements were taken only 42% of the beaches had A/B grades. The old advice is definitely still holding out “never go in the water after a rain”.

Also of note is Dana Point’s Baby Beach, a location that has been given a consistent failing grade in the past, will no longer be monitored.

As the county faces the same budget troubles as LA County they are making positive steps to improve. Which include unifying the county agencies responsible for monitoring the water quality, eliminating redundant measurements, and dropping consistently clean locations to focus on the dirtier spots.

Steps like these are needed to ensure that what’s happening in San Diego doesn’t spread to the rest of the state. San Diego County has seventeen sewage spills, a top worst beach, and has to continually deal with the pollution coming out of Tiajuana (the Tiajuana Slough).

Only time will tell how our beaches fare during the budget crisis, but the writing is clear. Counties are on their own. I guess so are beach goers…

Read the full report (84 pg PDF).

*all photos from the Heal the Bay full report*

The Case for Local Food

Here is a food claim may shock you.

Farmers markets offer food that is three times better for you than supermarkets.

A study published in September 2007 by the Organic Center discovered this startling fact after looking into our modern food system. They had a theory that food has changed since the 1950s, before the industrial food revolution. To test this they gathered seeds from the 1950s and today, grew them to harvest, and compared their nutrient values.

In nearly every category our modern food was lacking. The study gets complicated and covers many areas, so an easy way to sum it up is this. Industrial food producers grow crops for quantity. They want to grow more every year and have increased their production by incredible amounts (400x!). The unfortunate consequence of this massive growth is their food quality has dropped.

The quality vs quantity difference is on average 3x.

It’s a seminal piece of work, or has the potential to be. It could explain our obesity epidemic since we are eating three times more food than we used to. It could explain why so many people dislike healthy food in favor of fast food. It could even explain why healthy food cost more.

Imagine our obesity epidemic if we all ate 1/3 less.

Imagine how different vegetables would taste if they are three times as rich.

Imagine if you had to purchase 1/3 less food. Most folks say that healthy food costs twice as much. Do the math and if you’re buying 1/3 less and spending twice as much it is still cheaper.

Combine these three and you have the perfect solution. A diet that is cheap, tasty, and healthy. If this is true it also supports local economies, small business, and drastically reduces our environmental waste.

Here is the kicker. In America we do not subsidize fruits and vegetables, but we do subsidize fast food. Imagine how this whole equation could change if we made fast food more expensive and fruits and vegetables cheaper.

This is the case for local food.

Try It Out

No more imagining. Test this study out in real life. Find the quality food. See if it fills you up, gives you energy, and saves you money. It has for me and hundreds of my friends.

Here are a few recommendations to help you find quality food:

Fruits/Vegetables – farmers markets. They offer items that are picked at their peak. Grown in ideal conditions. Sold at their freshest. Every other place, including supermarkets, offer declining levels of quality.

Grains/Beans/Nuts – only buy from the bulk sections at Whole Foods and other health food stores. Sometimes also sold at farmers markets.

Meat/Seafood/Dairy – sold at farmers markets and Whole Foods (health stores). The key is to buy items that are raised cleanly and sold fresh.