Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Nutrition and Weight Loss: Why Is It So Hard to Stick to a Diet?

ThinkstockPhotos-157175948.jpgIt has been found that up to 50% of women in the US are on a diet at any given time. Americans spend more than $60 billion on weight loss products. So with all of these individuals spending money and dieting, why are we still by far the least healthy country in the world?

Most of the reasons are due to the extreme and unrealistic expectations that diets force individuals to follow. So why is it so hard to stick to a diet?

  • Trying to change your life and not making it a lifestyle change: Anything that has a start and end date when it comes to food choices doesn’t make it a lifestyle change. If you think of it as “I only have to get through this for the next x amount of time,” this isn’t something that you could or should maintain for a lifetime. Learning how to eat meals and snacks that will nourish your body for the rest of your life leads to success for the long-term.
  • All-or-nothing mentality: Are you on a diet or completely off of one at all times? The key is balance. Allowing yourself to have all foods in moderation at all times has been found to be the most successful “diet” there is. Enjoying foods that you would normally think of as forbidden, but making sure to balance it with the good-for-you everyday foods is key. Instead of cheat meals or days, toss that thinking out and enjoy any food at any time.
  • No patience: Change is tough. Trying to completely overhaul your diet is a recipe for disaster! Instead, have patience by making small changes that will last. One week start trying to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and figure out how you can make that a new habit. Once you have achieved that, move on to another goal such as packing lunch three times per week instead of one. Slow and steady changes have been found to be more effective, and you are more likely to stick to them.
  • Not nourishing your body: When you are walking around hungry, it is really hard to stick to a restrictive diet that has a lot of do’s and don’ts. A balanced diet that incorporates whole grains, lean protein, fruits and veggies, and low-fat dairy will help to make you feel full and satisfied and able to get through the day without the hunger pangs or guilt feelings for overeating. Aim for three food groups at mealtimes and two at snacks to guarantee a satisfying and balanced diet.

Studies vary, but between 5% and 20% of individuals that lose weight are successful at keeping it off long term. Those that are the most successful report following a balanced diet, self regulation by checking their weight once per week, averaging one hour per day of physical activity, eating breakfast, and maintaining consistent eating patterns across weekdays and weekends. Follow these tips to help add yourself to the list of successful dieters!

Looking for an app to help you track your diet?  Download our quick read for Angie's top 4 app choices for healthy eating! 


Topics: nutrition weight loss snacks lunch diet

Navigating the Dining Options at Your Senior Living Community

So you moved to a retirement community! Raking leaves is soooo 10 years ago. Who needs a lawnmower—not you! Snow is just a pretty decoration because you don’t have to shovel it, or in some cases, even clean off your car. Some do miss these seasonal outdoor chores, but many don’t.

ThinkstockPhotos-120726908_1.jpgThe biggest change, however, is the fact that you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner, or lunch, or even breakfast. What a joy! My husband and I have the same exact conversation every day at around 5:30pm: What’s for dinner? I don’t know. What do you want? I don’t care. What do we have lying around that I can toss together quickly? I don’t know, eggs, a salad? And we end up usually having a salad, maybe with an omelet. Easy, but sooo boring.

The Many Choices in the CCRC Dining Room

When you move in to a senior living community, you are sure to take advantage of the wonderful food options. Blueberry pancakes on a Tuesday? Why not! You would probably have a boring bowl of cereal, but not now. You can have eggs Benedict, grits and toast, and sausage. What’s for dinner? I bet it’s the soup of the day, a salad, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Oh and the desserts. No graham crackers or dry cereal for you! No sir! Cakes, pies, a wide selection of ice cream, Jell-O, crème brûlée, pudding, the works! Oh and lunch. You can have a cheeseburger or a BLT every single day if you want to.

It’s no wonder that many put on what I like to call the “Freshman 15.” Just like when we went to college, we had this amazing buffet of options every day, and who am I to turn down these delectable items? I want to get my money’s worth! So I eat everything that is offered to me. But there are plenty of healthy options. You just need to practice a tiny amount of restraint with an eye toward weight management, and learn how to navigate the menu.

Choosing Healthy, Nutrition-Packed Dining Options

Easy enough. Here are my tips:

  • Avoid the sauces. Try to stay away from stuff with lots of sauce on it. Always get the sauce on the side. Dip your fork in the sauce then in your food. That saves a little bit of calories.
  • Eat more salad. Make a salad your entrée twice a week, instead of the side for your main course. Practice the same restraint with the salad dressing that you do with sauces. Even if you LOVE Parmesan peppercorn dressing, dip your fork in the dressing first and then stab it into your salad.
  • Keep veggies healthy. See if you can get your vegetables steamed or roasted, without sauce or butter on them, with maybe a squeeze of lemon and salt-free seasoning.
  • Increase your fiber. Fiber helps you feel more full and has lots of healthy side-effects. Pick whole-grain items off the menu, like brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain breads. Stick with sweet potatoes and skip the baked potato if possible.
  • Enjoy healthy fish dishes. Look for the catch of the day and get it broiled or blackened, and always ask whether they prepare it with lots of butter or oil (and skip it if they do).
  • Indulge occasionally. And finally, dessert. As hard as this is, choose two days a week that you can treat yourself to dessert, and see if anyone at the table wants to share it with you. Often the serving you get is really meant for two or even three, so don’t try to scarf it all down by yourself. I also suggest saving your dessert, taking it home, and having it for breakfast! Your body does a much better job of burning calories during the day, and by the evening your metabolism has begun to slow down to prepare for sleep. (Do you know how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight? They eat a big meal, about 2,000 calories, and then go right to sleep.) And who doesn’t love chocolate cake for breakfast? 

So enjoy the easy life; you have earned it! Just don’t get too carried away with the food options. You are in this for the long haul, and if you eat sensibly, get a little exercise, and get involved with programs and activities at your new home, you will truly make your new life the best it can be!

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Topics: nutrition weight management senior wellness senior living calories fiber dining food

NIFS Health Coach Gets “Shamed” over Her Nutrition Choices

ThinkstockPhotos-147092372.jpgThe other day I went out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s recent work promotion. Being a health-conscious person, I ordered grilled chicken and a salad with a small glass of wine. As I handed my menu to the waiter, my friends commented about how I didn’t “need a salad” and that I should “eat what I want” because I exercise enough.

I laughed off the comments and said I was trying real hard to practice what I preached (they all know I am a health coach, after all). Plus, if I wanted a cheeseburger and fries, I would order them. Everything in moderation, right?

Dessert: A Food-Choice Hot Button

When it came time for dessert, the conversation quickly turned to questions about who was going to order what. Maybe I was feeling a little sensitive because of the comments about my earlier food choices, but it seemed like my friends were looking for validation rather than simply wanting to know what my dessert of choice would be. I ordered a small sundae, not because I wanted something sweet, but because I didn’t want to seem like the odd one out.

Toward the end of the meal, one of them pointed out that I had only a few bites of my sundae and declared I was “making her feel terrible” for eating cheesecake. This seemed to open the floodgates for the rest of my friends, who were apparently thinking along the same lines:

“A piece of cake won’t kill you!” 

“Look at you being all healthy and stuff.”

“Are you trying to show us up?”

“Don’t you want to have a good time with us?”

“You’re making us all look fat!”

“You used to be way more fun!”

The comments persisted. Other dessert plates were pushed toward me. More wine poured in my glass to help me “relax” and “enjoy myself for once.” I stood my ground, saying I felt full; but looking back, it’s hard to tell if I was really full or if the conversation had caused me to lose my appetite.

Health Shaming Is Real…and Impacts Motivation

My clients have told me how difficult it can be to make healthy choices when your family and loved ones don’t have similar nutrition and fitness goals, but I had never experienced that type of peer pressure or “health shaming” until this night.

Skinny shaming…fat shaminghealth shaming…how many of you have experienced something like this? How have you responded? How do you make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by people who don’t share your goals?


NIFS Registered Dietitian shares the top four app for healthier eating, download the quick read below to help you stay on track with your desired choices.  Be proud of your decision to make healthy choices!



Topics: nutrition motivation NIFS restaurant healthy eating

Tips for an Effective Exercise Program

ThinkstockPhotos-497351161.jpgYou know you want and need to have a regular plan for your exercise, but where do you begin to
 develop an exercise program? Here are my best tips for creating a workout regimen that will work for you whether you are in your corporate fitness center, or at home and on the go.

Setting Goals

Setting goals establishes a justifiable reason for consistent exercise. Having a goal in place can also improve commitment and has been shown to improve adherence to programs and routines. The SMART system was designed as an acronym to help with goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Ideally, established goals should be characterized by these five words. Following the SMART guideline can improve the chances that you will achieve your goals.

The Mind-Muscle Connection

When it comes to resistance exercise, building muscle and strength is about much more than going through the motions. As you would imagine, concentration is an important part of achieving any goal, and focused concentration becomes even more important during resistance training. This focused concentration during weightlifting is the mind-muscle connection, and refers to contracting or tensing a muscle not only through physical movement, but also through thought. An example of someone incorporating the mind-muscle connection would be an individual performing a biceps curl and focusing their concentration on slowly flexing the elbow joint using the biceps muscle, as opposed to just going through the movement.


Whether speaking about aerobic capacity, muscular strength, or muscular endurance, fitness is all about adaptation. For example, the heart eventually adapts to aerobic exercise when it is performed consistently, and it begins to pump blood and oxygen more efficiently. Muscles adapt to strength/resistance training by recruiting more muscle fibers and possibly splitting the fibers to form new muscle cells. However, physiological adaptations do not always yield positive results, which is why variety plays an important role.

Adaptation to a particular exercise also translates to less calories burned performing that exercise, because just as the heart has become more efficient at pumping blood, the metabolism has become more efficient with burning calories. To avoid this, it is important to perform a variety of different exercises targeting different muscles and muscle groups. Doing so will not only prevent imbalances, but also ensure that all sections of a muscle get adequate stimulation.


There’s a well-known saying in the fitness industry along the lines of, “Abs are made in the kitchen”—referring to the well-tested theory that nutrition plays a larger role in muscle definition than exercise itself. But this phrase can be applied to more than just the aesthetic appeal of defined abdominals. Eating habits play an important role in achieving fitness results, whether these habits refer to the amount, quality, or time that food is consumed. Muscles require nourishment through food, along with adequate protein and carbohydrates to rebuild in the recovery after a workout.

Group Fitness or Personal Training

Getting up and getting moving is said to be the hardest part of staying active, but sometimes more guidance is required in order to stick with a healthy routine. Luckily, there are options for those who need a more structured and supportive environment to stay active. Your corporate fitness center may offer group fitness classes Monday through Friday at varying times, and these can be a great way to incorporate exercise and social time into your day. Personal training is a great option for those who prefer more detailed, hands-on instruction when performing exercise.  Be cautious when hiring a trainer and that they are qualified professionals.  

Looking to have a fitness professional onsite at your corporate office?  NIFS Fitness Management hires degreed, qualified staff to provide NIFS services at our client sites.  Click below for more on how we find great staff.

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Topics: nutrition NIFS goal setting group fitness exercise program muscles weightlifting recovery protein carbohydrates personal training

A Simple Nutrition Checklist to Keep You Healthy and On the Move

couple_cooking-1.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! It may be time to revisit and reestablish your New Year’s diet resolutions. I wanted to pass along a basic guide to healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can also be used for weight loss.

Following is a checklist of six healthy habits to guide you on the path to better dietary health. If you are continually skipping any of these steps, you are probably missing opportunities to keep your weight in check or to keep your body healthy and your metabolism strong.

1. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Every person is different, so the need for more water comes with extra weight and increased levels of activity. But 64 ounces is a good baseline for hydration. Unsweet tea and zero-calorie drinks count. Diet sodas and coffee do not. WARNING: Don’t jump from 20 ounces a day to 64 ounces! Your bladder will not appreciate the drastic change. Instead, increase by 8 ounces every week until you reach 64 ounces.

2. Make your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates look like the ChooseMyPlate diagram.

When trying to lose weight, go with half a plate of vegetables for meals (especially lunch and dinner) and save the fruit for snacks. Feel free to go off the beaten path and give veggies a try for breakfast. Who says you have to have breakfast food for breakfast? Try scrambled eggs with chopped veggies, or top a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.

3. Include snacks.

If you are going 4+ hours between meals or find yourself hungry between meals, add a snack. The time between lunch and dinner is most often the biggest gap between eating during the day—sometimes 5 to 7 hours. Cravings tend to sneak up on you during this time as well. Fight cravings and trips to the vending machine by having healthy snacks readily available. Make sure they include at least two of the groups from the ChooseMyPlate diagram, such as:

  • Grain + Protein
  • Protein + Fruit or Vegetable
  • Dairy + Fruit

4. Moderate Portions.

A couple of ways to do this:

  • Use a salad-size plate instead of a regular dinner plate.
  • Track what you are eating. Use free online tools like to determine how many calories, protein, carbs, and fat you are consuming. This includes weekdays and weekends. Note: Do not go below 1,200 calories without medical supervision. 
  • Women typically stay between 1,200 and 1,800 calories for weight maintenance and weight loss. Older, more sedentary women should eat closer to 1,200 calories. Younger, more active women can eat for maintenance and weight loss, eating closer to 1,800 calories.
  • Men typically fall between 1,800 and 2,200 calories for both weight loss and maintenance. Older, more sedentary men should eat closer to 1,800 calories. Younger, more active men can lose or maintain weight eating closer to 2,200 calories. Teenagers and young guys who are very active may need well above this amount. This range is relevant to those with desk jobs who get in a decent 30 to 45-minute workout during the day.

5. Make sure you are active throughout the day.

Think 3 minutes of activity (walking, walking in place, desk exercises, taking a flight of stairs up and down) for every 60 minutes of sitting. If you have time for a longer walk or workout, great!

6. Get your sleep.

Missing out on sleep can interfere with your mental acuity as well as your weight loss/maintenance efforts. Lack of sleep increases cravings for simple and refined carbohydrates that contain little nutritional value but lots of empty, unsatisfying calories. Give up the late-night shows and get your 7 to 8 hours of Zzzz’s. The benefits go well beyond more productivity at work.


There you have it! Were you able to check off all of the above? Great! Keep up the hard work. If not, celebrate National Nutrition Month by choosing one of the above recommendations and implementing it consistently. Once this behavior becomes second nature, adopt a new habit to practice. Remember, long-term success requires sustained practice and patience. Don’t let a small or even big bump in the road discourage you from moving forward. Your health is worth the effort!

 Click below to download NIFS Top 4 Apps for Healthier Eating!



Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water sleep calories new year healthy habits

Weight Loss Secrets: You’re Dieting Wrong

I’ve tried everything. Why doesn’t my diet work?

When you open your newsfeed, you see advertisements and personal testimonies from friends and family with weight-loss and dieting successes. That alone can be the motivation needed to give something new a try, but not everything works for everyone. Various weight-loss systems have time-sensitive supplements, complex counting systems, and other essential guidelines that you must follow strictly to be successful.

“Diets” Raise Questions and Lead to Failure

ThinkstockPhotos-503894126.jpgThe next fad diet may work, but what happens afterward? Do you continue that system forever? Should you follow a program designed for weight loss if you’re no longer trying to lose weight? Diets seem to always pose more questions than answers, and the “I’m going on a diet” phrase will inevitably lead to failure.

Most people will transition “off the diet” when they reach their target weight, eventually returning to the previous eating habits that initially caused the weight gain. This up and down continues the yo-yo weight-loss cycle. This is why “dieting” doesn’t work.

Some people can see results by making a few healthy choices or decreasing calories. Eventually everyone will hit a plateau, but the answer isn’t to further restrict nutrient intake. Long-term dieting can have a prolonged negative effect on metabolism, making it much more difficult for the body to use nutrients.

Most people prefer restrictive diets in which they decrease total calories or put a limitation on types of foods consumed. These include but are not limited to fat-free, sugar-free, no carbohydrates, gluten-free, or protein-free. Others try overindulgent diets in which they eat nothing but one type of food. These diets are like the cabbage soup diet, protein-only diets, or having nothing but juices or meal-replacement shakes. However, both restrictive and overindulgent diets contribute to inadequate essential nutrients.

Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change

Let’s be clear. A diet isn’t a restriction or an overconsumption of any foods. A diet consists of your daily intake of nutrients. To be successful this year, you need to ask yourself why you want to diet. Are you looking to temporarily lose weight, or are you looking for a long-term solution? If you’re looking for short-term weight loss, continue to check Facebook for inspiration. If you are ready to stop the yo-yo “dieting,” you are ready to make a healthy lifestyle change.

Rethink your daily diet to include foods that will satisfy your hunger and foods you’ll enjoy. Say goodbye to the old diet foods that you used to endure and say hello to flavorful, real, whole foods. Instead of depriving your body of the energy and fuel it desperately needs to function, feel free to eat a meal that consists of at least 300 calories. Just keep in mind that dieting alone never works for long. Take that as a sign to progress to the next step and gradually add activity and exercise into your daily routine.

Nutrition Help from NIFS

For more nutritional advice, a NIFS Registered Dietitian can help give you direction and focus your energy in a positive way. The My Nutrition Coach mobile app allows members to interact daily with a Registered Dietitian at NIFS. You will receive feedback, suggestions, and information on ways to improve your nutrition and help you achieve results.

To get started with My Nutrition Coach, contact NIFS Registered Dietitian Angie Scheetz at or by phone at 317-274-3432 ext. 239. 

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Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS apps diet and nutrition diet and exercise

NIFS Nutrition: 10 Healthy Snacks for Road Warriors

travel_snacksWhether you are traveling for business or for pleasure it typically means most meals are eaten out or on the go.  This can be challenging to make the most balanced choices and keeping your eating on the right track.  You want to try foods special to that region, you are busy and grabbing the first thing that sounds good, you don’t have access to a grocery store for more fresh foods can all be challenges while traveling.

The following 10 healthy snack ideas can help to keep you satisfied between meals and allow you to make balanced decisions at lunch or dinner.  These are snacks that you can bring from home that don’t require any refrigeration or utensils.  These can be easily thrown in a purse, bag or suitcase and readily available for you to grab at snack time.

Trail mix – Grab a handful of your favorite lightly salted or unsalted nuts, a handful of dried fruit, and a handful of high fiber cereal and toss in sandwich baggies for a high fiber and shelf stable snack.

Fresh fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, grapes, and citrus fruits are great options to grab from home for a sweet and tasty snack.  If you are concerned about the fruit bruising or spoiling during traveling, consider grabbing the squeezable fruit pouches.  Just be sure to pick the ones with only fruit and vegetables listed in the ingredients. 

Peanut butter sandwich – These aren’t just for kids!  2 slices of whole wheat bread can provide 8 grams of filling fiber and 2 Tbsp of peanut butter can provide 8 grams of protein.  This delicious and portable snack is perfect for traveling away from home. 

Hardboiled egg – This snack will provide you with all of the essential amino acids your body needs.  They can go a few hours without being refrigerated, so try to eat them as a morning snack if possible.  Or if you have access to a refrigerator, they will stay good in their shell for up to a week.

Jerky – This portable protein snack comes in many options such as beef, turkey, chicken, venison, and bison.  They are typically low in saturated fat and calories.  However, these can be loaded with sodium and not so good for you nitrates.  Look for lower sodium varieties and jerky with very short ingredient lists. 

Nutrition bar – These prepackaged bars can be confusing since there are so many options on the market.  Check out my blog with tips and suggestions, but as a rule of thumb grab a bar with less than 15 grams of protein, more than 3 grams of fiber, 15 grams or less of sugar, and mainly heart healthy fats. 

If you forget to grab snack when you leave home, here are some options that can be available for purchase.

McDonald’s fruit and yogurt parfait – This snack size treat has 150 calories and 4 grams of protein.  Save 30 calories and 40 mg of sodium when you skip the granola topping. 

Starbucks protein box (1/2 the box) – The full box is 380 calories which is more along the lines of a meal than a snack, but if you have someone to split with or a fridge for the leftovers, ½ the box is a great snack option.  Apples, grapes, a hardboiled egg, multigrain muesli bread, cheddar cheese, and peanut butter are all included.  

Wendy’s small chili – At only 170 calories and loaded with 15 grams of filling protein, the small chili is a great snack option.  Beware of the toppings though…the cheese will double the fat content and add 60 calories to the cup. 

Subway apple slices and cheese slice – For a perfect combination of fiber and protein, grab a bag of apple slices and 2 pieces of cheese for a snack around 100 calories total. 

The most important tip is everything in moderation!  Enjoy your travels, try something new, and get out there and explore the new city!

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition News: Top 5 Worst Snacks to Eat While Watching Football

football_foodIt’s that time of the year again: football season. With every year comes a clean slate for each team. Rosters are changed, stars have yet to emerge, and the underdog team is nowhere close to being discovered. With the changes the football season brings, have you ever considered your dietary habits for the season? Similar to the new football season ahead, do you plan to change your eating or drinking habits for football Sunday?

You really can keep nutrition and wellness in mind while enjoying a game party. Here are some of the worst snacks to eat while watching football, followed by suggested alternatives.

The Top 5 Worst Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Heavy or dark beer: Heavy or dark beer is loaded with calories and often has more alcohol per volume than a lighter beer. Consuming a six-pack of this type of beer in an afternoon can easily equal half of your daily caloric intake allowance and set back your hard work over the previous few months.
  2. Fattening ribs: Ribs are often loaded with fat and sodium, two culprits of poor heart health. Ribs tend to have flavorful dipping sauces and marinades that are primarily sodium infused. One serving of ribs can quickly tack on a load of sodium, which is known to cause water retention in the body.
  3. 7-Layer Bean Dip: Tortilla chips, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, and refried beans are all loaded with calories. If this is combined with ribs and some dark beer, it’s a diet’s worst nightmare.
  4. Original potato or tortilla chips: A one-ounce serving of original-style potato chips contains about one fifth of your daily fat intake. There is even more in tortilla chips. When combined with bean dip and fatty ribs, potato chips are the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  5. Nachos: Nachos often include ground beef, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, cheese spread or whole cheese, and olives. While this may sound appetizing to some, it can quickly add up to a weight-gaining mess. If you are eating out at a local bar for the Sunday game, avoid nachos as an “appetizer” because based on the total calories in one meal, it could be considered two meals.

 The Top 5 Best Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Light beer or wine in moderation: Light beer contains a fraction of the calories in dark brew. In addition, wine is full of flavonoids and contains fewer calories than a dark beer. Remember to exercise moderation when having any alcohol regardless of the “strength” of the source.
  2. Grilled salmon: Grilling does not always need to be bad for you. In fact, grilling can be a much better option than baking. Exchange ribs for a nice piece of salmon. Salmon is full of good fat and it can fill you up quickly.
  3. Fat-free onion or spinach dip: Homemade dip that includes fat-free sour cream and a dip mix can save loads of calories from entering the body. Try out your favorite flavor and mix it up frequently.
  4. Baked chips or sweet potato chips: If chips are going to be consumed, buy ones that are baked. Baked chips have less fat and less sodium than fried. If you are more inclined toward the healthiest option, try fat-free and low-sodium chips.
  5. Assorted vegetable tray: An assorted vegetable tray is a great snack for the game. Veggies can be dipped or used as a side dish. Swap out the nachos for veggies and try this as your appetizer instead.

For more tips for a fumble free football party, check out this article. For more help making healthy eating choices, find out more about NIFS Personal Nutrition Consulting.

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices

Active Aging: Why should I consume probiotics?

senior eating yogurt resized 600We see probiotics all over the nutritional world now. So many foods, especially yogurts, are offering probiotics and making sure they are on the front label. But you may be wondering what these probiotics are and why they are so important.

We're glad you asked!  Here are 3 of the best explanations as to how they help and why we should consider taking them.

  1. Replace what we kill – We hear about bacteria in the body and automatically think that it is all bad, but we rely on an average of 500 different species in our intestines to digest our foods and process our nutrients. There is so much in our food today that helps kill these bacteria. It has been shown too that even one round of antibiotics can drastically decrease the amount of good bacteria in our body. The top four bacteria to look for are: Lactobacillus bulgaricus,  Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacteria.
  2. Digestive Health – So now we know we need to replace the bacteria that we kill and we know where it lives.  It’s time to see just what they do for us. These bacteria help break down and work through all the foods that we eat. This helps our body to use less energy while breaking down the foods and increases the absorption rate of all the nutrients that we eat. Both the Vitamin B’s and Vitamin K are processing are greatly increased by these bacteria. And don’t forget these are two vitamins that are responsible for giving us energy. When you think about it these bacteria are great energy boosters for us! We use less energy processing food and gain more energy from our foods. Finally all this bacterial helps regulate our digestive system. It is amazing the effect these tiny things have on our bowels. Once everything is in balance there is no more constipation or diarrhea or the bouncing back and forth between the two.
  3. Infection Prevention – Wait doesn’t bacteria cause infections? The answer is yes and no and to be even more confusing some of the good bacteria start with the name of bad bacteria as well. At first look what came to mind when you read Streptococcus thermophilus? Probably strep throat right? Well believe it or not this is a good bacteria and it does not cause strep throat. It actually helps with lactose intolerance and other irritations of the digestive track. Yeast infections are caused by the lack of good bacteria in our bodies. The yeast grows rapidly in warm moist areas and the bacteria are there to consume it. Lack of these bacteria has also been linked to urinary tract infections, bladder infections and kidney infection.

As you can see these little bugs are very important to our ability to digest, receive energy and stay overall healthy. These bacteria are found in many of the yogurts such as Activia®, Oikos® and Kefir. If you are lactose intolerant don’t worry there are soy and coconut based yogurts and drinks for you too. 

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Topics: nutrition active aging health and wellness

NIFS: Nutrition Labels Get a Much Needed Face Lift

Blog Author: Alyssa Furman, NIFS Intern

man reviewing food label resized 600The Food and Drug Administration is announcing the biggest overhaul to Nutrition Facts labels since 1994.

The new labels are geared toward society’s evolution in nutrition and dietary recommendations that have occurred over the past 20 years. Some of the biggest proposed changes include an adjustment to the serving size, making calorie counts more prominent to consumers, exposing any added sugar, and declaring nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamin D.

According to leading experts, the change in serving size will become “more realistic” since consumers are now eating more than two decades ago. For example, ½ C serving of ice cream will turn to 1c. This does not mean that we should consume more, but just make people aware of what they are actually consuming. A bottled beverage, such as soda, needs to provide accurate nutritional information for the entire bottle, not split between multiple servings. If someone buys a bottle, they are going to drink the whole thing, not measure out a serving.

A larger, bold font will be used in regards to calorie count at the top of each label. Consumers won’t be able to miss this one, as the FDA hopes this will have a true impact. By making packages easier to read, there is a good change the obesity rate will decrease, according to a recent study, which analyzed the positive effects of reading nutrition labels to lower overall BMI.

Currently Americans are consuming more added sugars that ever before. With an astounding 23 teaspoons per day, compared to the 6-9teaspoon recommendation from the American Heart Association. Have you checked the label of some of your favorite items? People may be taking in close to 15 teaspoons of added sugar just from one soda. It is very difficult to know how much of this added sugar is in the things we love to eat with the current information on nutrition labels. For example, you may see 18g of sugar in a container of yogurt. However some of this sugar is naturally occurring, which means it cannot be removed, like milk sugar, or fruit sugar. The problem is what is being added. Added sugars are NOT the same as natural sugar and they need to be distinguished on labels. Added sugars have been linked to many health issues such as heart disease or diabetes. Having an idea of such sugars will help consumers make more conscious choices.

New labels will also include facts on nutrients such as Vitamin D, Calcium, and Potassium. Facts such as these may help consumers to reach their Daily Recommended Values of such nutrients, as society as a whole is lacking in this department.

These new labels should be much simpler for consumers to understand as they rush though the aisles of their local grocery store in their busy schedules. There will be a 90 day public comment period about the changes, followed by a final ruling on label changes. If proposed changes are adopted, they will be phased in over the course of the next 2 years. 

What do you think of these new changes to the nutrition facts label?

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Topics: nutrition weight loss food label FDA