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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Nutritionist Belief Systems

What Is a Nutritionist?

In most countries, including the United States, the title “nutritionist” is not as regulated as “dietitian” is. In fact, in the U.S. almost anyone can call him- or herself a nutritionist, since the title is not legally protected nor the profession legally controlled. Being a nutritionist therefore has a broader, more general meaning than being a dietitian because it doesn’t require formal training or a specific licensure process to be completed.

Nutritionists can have a wide range of backgrounds, experience and training. Some consider themselves “health coaches,” nutritional therapists, certified nutrition specialist (a protected title that is explained more below) or other similar titles. Others are even doctors of functional medicine or naturopaths. These titles all differ from one another but require completion of nutrition training modules in addition to passing exams. Some may also involve completion of an internship, an existing four-year degree in a related health care field or even a graduate-level degree.

Most nutritionists are educated in one or more (typically many) of the following diet-related subjects:

  • Functional medicine.
  • Nutrient-dense diets, avoiding processed foods and reducing intake of empty calories.
  • Various dietary theories, such as ancestral/traditional diets, the Paleo diet, vegetarian or vegan diets, low-carb diets, alkaline diets, etc.
  • Disease prevention, including managing diabetes and preventing heart disease or obesity.
  • Stress management, the importance of sleep and circadian rhythms, and appropriate exercise.
  • Coaching techniques, including active listening, and others used to help clients with habit formation and behavioral change.
  • Supplements, herbal medicine and aromatherapy/essential oils.
  • The link between diet and immunity, digestive and gut health, and neurological/mental health.
  • Agriculture and farming practices.
  • Food politics and food marketing/advertising.
  • Specific traditional diets or medicinal practices, such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Healthy shopping, meal planning and cooking.
  • In some cases alternative/complimentary treatments like acupuncture, massage, homeopathy, etc.
  • And many other diet-related topics.

Some nutritionists are trained to work with specific populations or in particular setting. For example, types of nutritionists include:

  • Public Health Nutritionists
  • Pediatric Nutritionists
  • Geriatric Nutritionists
  • Sports Nutritionists
  • Clinical Nutritionists
  • Maternal and Family Health Nutritionists

Nutritionist vs. Dietitian

“Dietitian” is a protected title in many countries, just like other health care titles, such as physician, nurse, chiropractor or pharmacist. This means that someone has to meet certain qualifications in order to be referred to as a dietitian, which is not necessarily the case when it comes to being a nutritionist. (2)

Because being a nutritionist doesn’t require proof of qualifications, a nutritionist’s expertise is not always guaranteed. While it is usually more accessible and less time-consuming to practice as a nutritionist, this doesn’t mean nutritionists are devoid of any training or expertise.

Many nutritionists DO in fact have training in the fields of nutrition, diet, holistic health, supplements, alternative care and healthy living. They might not be qualified to work in a hospital, make diagnoses or treat their patients’ diseases, but their knowledge and coaching can be very helpful when it comes to making behavioral changes and transitioning to a healthier way of living.

What are some of the reasons someone might want to work with a nutritionist over a registered dietitian?

One of the greatest benefits of working with a nutritionist is the approach to promoting better health goes beyond just a focus on “good” versus “bad” foods or calories. There’s a much better chance that a nutritionist’s training was not highly influenced by authorities such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in the United States, both of which promote eating plans like “MyPlate” that are somewhat controversial.

Dietitians have historically been taught to focus on helping clients to manage their “calories in versus calories out,” which means they often tend to promote low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar and overall low-calorie foods. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be when higher-calorie traditional foods are discouraged (such as coconut oil, raw dairy products, grass-fed butter or grass fed beef) despite the fact they are actually healthy.

Additionally, a growing number of health care professionals now believe that dietetics is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. Registered dietitians tend to have a lot of knowledge about food groups, different nutrients and diet plans used to to help manage diseases, but they don’t usually focus on other aspects of healthy living as much nutritionists do — for example, factors like stress, getting enough sleep, physical movement, spirituality, relationships that contribute to happiness and mental health.

To sum it up, nutritionists typically take a “big picture view” of health. They recognize that high-quality ingredients are very important, diets that includes a wide variety of foods are usually best, a lot can be learned from mimicking traditional diets, and other aspects of life are also highly influential when it comes to our well-being, especially movement and stress.

Nutritionist Training and Education

How to Become a Nutritionist:

As mentioned above, nutritionists vary considerably in terms of their exact area of expertise, as well their training. Believe it or not certain nutritionists even have graduate degrees or Ph.Ds in related fields but choose not to become registered dietitians for any number of reasons, such as not agreeing with dietitians’ belief systems or due to the time and financial investment required to become an RD. Depending on the training a nutritionist receives, he or she may have had to pass certification boards or completed an internship-type program.

Qualifications vary from school to school since requirements are not tightly regulated. Therefore the first step in becoming a nutritionist is to determine how much time, money and effort you’re willing to invest into a nutritionist training program. If you plan on being a practicing nutritionist full time, it pays to invest in a quality program. If you hope to practice nutrition coaching/counseling part time or in addition to other treatment approaches you already offer clients (such as personal training, physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga, etc.), then you may want to earn your title more quickly and with less investment.

Sports Nutritionists:

Depending on their degrees, sports nutritionists may also be called sports dietitians. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a sports dietitian “provides individual and group/team nutrition counseling and education to enhance the performance of competitive and recreational athletes, on-site and during travel.” Most work as part of a multidisciplinary sports medical team, and when they are registered dietitians may be employed by professional teams, universities or health care facilities. (5) The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) is considered the world leader and only nonprofit academic society that is “dedicated to promoting the science and application of evidence-based sports nutrition and supplementation.” (6)

In order to be sports dietician, someone must complete a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, food and nutrition, or related area from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university, earn a master’s degree in nutrition or exercise physiology preferred, complete a didactic program in dietetics, and usually have minimum of two years experience in nutrition counseling. Another type of degree, called a Sports Nutrition Specialist (SNS), is also offered by the ISSN to those who don’t have a four-year degree in a related field. Some of the responsibilities that a sports nutritionist/sports dietitian has include:

  • Tailoring diet plans for athletes based on their body composition, energy balance (intake and expenditure), level of training and goals.
  • Optimizing nutrient intake based on different training phases and goals — for example, before or after competitions in order to fuel activity and boost recovery.
  • Helping athletes with weight management, muscle gains and other body composition changes.
  • Training athletes to stay properly hydrated and preventing dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.
  • Improving athlete’s energy levels, immunity, stress response and sleep.
  • Working with athletes who are dealing with disordered eating.
  • Helping athletic teams continue to eat well during times of travel.
  • Offering advice regarding supplementation based on rules and regulations of athletic governing bodies.
  • Providing meal and snack plans that are personalized based on food allergies, gastrointestinal disturbances, deficiencies and preferences.

Keratin Treatment Bad for Your Hair

What Is Keratin?

For humans, keratin is defined as the fibrous structural protein of hair, nails and epithelial cells found in the outermost layers of the skin. For animals, the keratin definition is the same, but animals can also have more keratin-rich parts like their hoofs, horns, wool and feathers. Put more simply, keratin is an essential building block of our hair, nails and skin. Some types of keratin also regulate vital cellular activities like protein production and cell growth.

There are two types of keratin proteins: alpha-keratins and beta-keratins. The keratin found in our skin and hair is alpha-keratin. The identifying trait of keratin is the presence of large amounts of cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid. Human hair is about 14 percent cysteine. There is one other type of organic material known to match the the toughness of keratinized tissue, which is chitin. Chitin makes up the exoskeletons of lobsters, shrimp and insects, among other things. When it comes to our hair, keratin is one strong and essential building block of our locks no matter how long or how short.

Is Keratin Treatment Bad for Your Hair?

Brazilian hair straightening is a semi-permanent hair straightening method accomplished by temporarily sealing a liquid keratin complex and a preservative solution into hair strands with a hair iron. This version of hair straightening is typically done in a salon with the whole process taking 90 minutes or longer, depending on hair length. The effects usually last about three months. It’s important to note that if you have fine, straight hair, you shouldn’t even consider a keratin treatment. Most people who are “ideal candidates” for keratin smoothing treatment have frizzy and/or curly and thicker textured hair.

The main complaint and health concern with Brazilian keratin treatments is that so many (if not all) contain formaldehyde and/or formaldehyde-producing ingredients. The International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as the National Toxicology Program classify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. According to an interview with Environmental Working Group Vice President for Research Jane Houlihan, the potential dangers of hair straighteners are very valid and widespread: (2)

We surveyed 41 top salons and found that almost all of them are using hair straightening treatments. We look across the industry, and the fact is if you’re using a Brazilian-style keratin treatment, it’s almost certainly releasing formaldehydOur bodies naturally make small amounts of formaldehyde, but it’s the formaldehyde we breathe in that can be dangerous. It’s found in tobacco smoke, in the air around unvented, fuel-burning appliances, like gas or wood-burning stoves and in the air at a salon during a keratin treatment — and it’s one of the reasons that Brazilian hair smoothing treatments are so dangerous, not only for your health, but that of your stylist’s. (3)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer tells pregnant women or those who are trying to become pregnant are advised not to get keratin treatments during pregnancy as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, formaldehyde exposure can cause fertility and reproductive problems as well as miscarriage. (7)

Repeated exposure to formaldehyde means that salon workers are the likeliest to be affected long-term by Brazilian hair straightening treatments, as they are performing the treatments regularly. But just because you get the treatment done a few times a year doesn’t mean you’re safe. That’s because …

You’ll likely feel the effects of formaldehyde immediately — and months to come. Watery, burning eyes. An itchy throat. Nosebleeds. These are all symptoms of formaldehyde exposure, and they can occur as soon as you breathe in the nasties. If you have asthma, bronchitis or another breathing condition, you are more sensitive to exposure, because formaldehyde irritates your airways, making it harder to breathe. If you have a chronic disease, you might also be more susceptible to the side effects. (8)

The fun doesn’t stop when you’re out of the salon, either. Each time you use a heat styling tool at home, like a flat iron or blow dryer, while you have keratin in your hair, you actually reactivate the chemicals, creating the toxic fumes at home. Though you may eventually become desensitized to the effects, they’re still wreaking havoc on your health. You may find yourself developing allergies as your body attempts to fight back.

Your Brazilian hair straightening probably contains more formaldehyde than is legally acceptable. In the U.S., the maximum safe concentration of formaldehyde in beauty products is anything under 0.2 percent.

One study, however, looked at 10 different treatments and found that seven of them had formaldehyde levels higher than the safe amount; the average concentration was 1.46 percent, well over 0.2 percent. (9) That means both salon workers and clients are repeatedly being exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde.

Even if you aren’t getting a Brazilian hair smoothing treatment, if your salon does them regularly, you’re being exposed to the fumes. A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that formaldehyde levels in the air at salons that did keratin treatments, even those labeled formaldehyde-free, were higher than what is deemed safe. (10)

And another study found that during the Brazilian hair smoothing process, formaldehyde levels reached unsafe concentrations for salon workers and clients; the brand Brazilian Blowout was the worst offender. (11) And even treatments touted as “formaldehyde-free” degraded into formaldehyde, but that’s no surprise since …

6 Best Natural Treatments for Your Hair

There are so many awesome natural ways to improve your hair from what you eat to what hair products you use on a daily basis. I’m not pretending that these treatments equate to a salon keratin treatment, but they definitely improve your hair without all the dangerous side effects.

1. Natural Hair Products with Keratin

Brazilian keratin treatment isn’t the only way you can topically apply keratin to your hair. You can give your hair an awesome boost of protein by purchasing natural shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments that contain keratin. By using these keratin-rich products regularly, you can get the smoothing, reparative and even straightening benefits of keratin minus the questionable ingredients that are in the majority of salon hair straightening treatments.

2. Homemade Hair Masks

Looking to do your own keratin treatment at home but don’t want any health-hazardous ingredients? There are a lot of awesome recipes out there for nourishing hair masks that can help tame unruly hair. They may not last as long, but they should leave your locks looking silkier and shinier than before.

Some great recipe ideas:

  • Natural Keratin Hair Mask — includes argan or jojoba oil, avocado, coconut oil and liquid biotin
  • DIY Gelatin Protein Treatment for Damaged Hair — features gelatin, an awesome protein for hair and skin health

The list could go on and on. If you’re feeling creative, try different combinations of moisture sources like olive oil, honey or avocado with protein sources like eggs, gelatin or whole milk yogurt. These are ingredients that are affordable and you likely have on hand in your kitchen. You may just find the perfect mask for your hair by testing out different homemade recipes. Once you do, you can use it regularly to keep your hair smooth, vibrant and growing strong..

If you have dandruff or dry scalp, do an overnight treatment twice per week until dandruff is gone. Continue on with weekly treatments or as needed.e.

3. Use Coconut Oil

Hair can easily become damaged from styling and overheating — thankfully, we have coconut oil for hair protection. Coconut oil can prevent hair breakage and improve hair condition. (8) In addition to helping with breakage, coconut oil is an awesome natural remedy for frizzy hair. Start with a tiny amount (1/4 teaspoon to a teaspoon) depending on your hair, warming it in your palms. Smooth from root to tips, and blow dry and style as desired. It takes just a bit longer to dry your hair, but it will be soft, shiny and manageable.

Coconut oil make Health

What’s in coconut oil?
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the fruit. It contains mostly saturated fat, which is also found in large quantities in butter and red meat. Like other saturated fats, coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol associated with increased risk of heart disease. In fact, coconut oil has more saturated fat and raises LDL more than butter, according to Willett.
Are nuts healthy?
But coconut oil does a particularly nice job of raising HDL, the “good” cholesterol, especially when replacing carbohydrates in the diet. This may be due to its high content of a fatty acid known as lauric acid.
“Coconut oil is half lauric acid, which is a little bit unique,” Klatt said, as the acid seems to raise HDL more than other saturated fats and is rarely found in such high amounts in foods.
Still, though the increase in HDL seen with consumption of coconut oil may offset some of the disease risk, it’s still not as good as consuming unsaturated oils, which not only raise HDL but lower LDL, according to Willett.
Complicating matters is the fact that we still don’t know for sure what exactly a high HDL translates to in terms of health risk. “There’s been debate about the role of HDL,” Willett cautioned. “Partly because there are many forms of HDL which have different health consequences … which has made the water murky.”
For example, there are different forms of HDL that do different things. One role is to help take LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream. “But some forms of HDL don’t do that,” Willett said, “so we don’t know for sure that higher HDL is better.”
And while it’s true that an elevated LDL level is only a risk factor for heart disease and doesn’t always translate to heart attacks, it’s still cause for concern. “High LDL is a risk factor, but it strongly predicts negative health events,” Willett said.
There is extremely preliminary evidence that the increase in LDL may not be as pronounced if one consumes extra virgin coconut oil instead of refined coconut oil, according to Klatt. For example, polyphenols present in unrefined oils may help to blunt the effects on LDL. But “the effects of extra virgin compared to refined coconut oil and other common oils require further study,” he cautioned.


Like other oils, coconut oil is calorie-dense, which means consuming large amounts without reducing other calorie sources can lead to weight gain. Just one tablespoon has 120 calories, about the same as a large apple or four cups of air-popped popcor
“Oil is a really easy way to increase the energy density of a food. Things like almonds have a lot of fat, but it’s easier to overeat pure oil than overeat pure almonds,” Klatt said.
In small amounts, however, coconut oil can have a place in one’s diet.
“It’s not that you have to absolutely avoid coconut oil but rather limit coconut oil to where you really need that special flavor, like for Thai food or for baking a special dessert,” Willett said.
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“If you love using butter and need a hard fat, coconut oil may be a better choice and is certainly fine to consume occasionally, when a recipe calls for it,” Klatt added.
But for day-to-day use, vegetable oils such as olive, canola or soybean oil, along with nuts and seeds, should be your primary fats. “These have better effects on blood cholesterol and long-term studies showing reduced risk of heart disease,” Willett said.

Bigger meals

Small frequent meals vs. fewer big meals

 Weight loss can be tied to when, not just what, you eat
Many studies suggest that eating more frequently may offer benefits by decreasing hunger and food intake at subsequent meals. One study involving close to 2,700 women and men found that those who ate at least six times per day ate fewer calories, consumed healthier foods and had a lower body mass index than those who ate fewer than four times over a 24-hour period. Research has also shown that increased meal frequency has positive effects on cholesterol and insulin levels.
But while eating small frequent meals can discourage large swings in blood sugar, decrease hunger and prevent impulsive snacking throughout the day, other studies suggest that eating more often may not be optimal.
And despite the notion that eating more often means more opportunities to burn calories, thanks to the energy involved in digesting, absorbing and metabolizing food’s nutrients, research suggests that doing so does not appear to significantly enhance metabolism or total calories burned.
“In the ’80s, grazing was thought to be an optimal way of losing weight … but human studies did not support this at all,” said David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University who has researched the topic of meal frequency and its effects on calorie intake. “It was thought that if you ate more frequently, the amount of calories you retain would go down, and more calories would be burned. But controlled experiments in humans show that there is no metabolic advantage to eating 12 smaller meals versus eating three or four meals per day, with the same total number of calories.”
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Other experts agree. “Meal frequency does not affect metabolic rate and thus has no direct effect on weight loss,” said Carla Wolper, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant at the ColumbiaDoctors Executive Health assessment program who spent 25 years on the nutrition faculty at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center.
In fact, some research suggests that eating even fewer than three meals may be best in terms of controlling calories: In one study, when individuals skipped breakfast, they consumed about 400 fewer calories for the entire day compared to when they ate breakfast.
“If you decrease the number of occasions to eat, your total calorie intake goes down,” said Levitsky, who authored the study. “People think if you skip breakfast, you will overeat later … and that doesn’t happen. Your intake goes up, but not nearly as much as the amount that you skipped.”

The case for small, frequent meals

While some may enjoy sitting down to three meals each day, others may find that it’s just too much food at once.
“Some people don’t have huge appetites. … If they have a 600-calorie sandwich, they may have half at noon and eat the other half at 3 p.m.,” McKittrick said. “Eating large meals may also make them tired … so they’re better off with small frequent feedings because it promotes more stable blood sugar and they get more energized.”
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One’s daily routine may not allow for the opportunity to take a big lunch break — and so a grazing style of eating is a better fit.
For a new mom, eating three meals a day can be particularly challenging. “Lots of mothers spend so much time with their kids that they can’t sit down and have a full lunch … so eating more frequently better suits their lifestyle,” McKittrick said.
Health issues may also dictate which style of eating is best. For example, people who have diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can feel shaky, tired and weak if they go too long without eating, so six small meals may be best. Those who have other health conditions including gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux may feel better by eating small meals spaced three or four hours apart. The same may be true for seniors.
“A lot of seniors can only have a piece of toast and an egg, and then they get full. As you get older, you just don’t have as much of an appetite, and you feel full more quickly,” McKittrick said.

The case for three bigger meals

Experts say that eating more frequently may be problematic for those who have trouble with portion control or something known as stimulus-bound eating, when the sight of a specific food prompts you to eat it, which can lead to weight gain.
Americans are cutting calories, but far from eating healthy
“The bulk of the evidence suggests that humans are opportunistic eaters … and if we are given more chances to eat, the more we will eat,” Levitsky said. “If people did nothing other than eliminate snacks, their total calorie intake will go down.”
A 500-calorie smoothie, for example, will defeat the strategy’s purpose. “If you want to eat small frequent meals, take a look at your calories and really divide them up. If you’re on 1,500-calorie diet, are you really having five 300-calorie mini-meals?” McKittrick asked.
An “all or nothing person” may be better off with three meals per day if a small snack quickly turns into a bigger one, as in the case of nuts. “Nuts are super healthy, but some people can’t stop once they start eating nuts, and that can be a problem,” McKittrick said.
The environment plays a role, too. If your office has a kitchen full of free snacks, it’s a lot easier to go in and grab something like chips or cookies instead of planning your own healthy meals and bringing them in. Working from home, with constant access to the kitchen, can present similar challenges.
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And then there are others who just don’t want to be bothered with making eating an all-day affair. “Some just want to eat and get it done with, so they don’t do well with small snacks. … They’re really busy, and they just don’t have the time to deal with it, and so those people may be better off with three meals per day.”
The bottom line is that either style of eating can offer health and weight-loss benefits. But what matters most is what will work for you.