What You Need to Know About Micronutrients

What You Need to Know About Micronutrients

Ready to talk about another healthy eating strategy that isn’t dieting? ME TOO. Especially with 2021 quickly approaching, and the phrase “I’ll worry about my weight in the new year” already circulating this holiday season. Today I’m going to dive into a topic that is not often a number one priority when I start working with a new client but is important to be aware of and shouldn’t be overlooked. That is micronutrients. 

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and other compounds such as phytonutrients that we need in appropriate amounts for normal metabolic and physiological processes. If we don’t get enough we won’t function properly and can get sick.

Yes, traditionally we put more emphasis on overall calories and macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins), however, some diets and programs focus more on how much than the actual what. When my husband talks to people about nutrition (he obviously became an expert immediately when I became a nutritionist) he shares the Twinkie example. Yes, you could follow the Twinkie diet and use those as your daily needed carbs, most of your calories, and still potentially lose weight- if that was literally all you ate. But, think about what you would be depriving your body of if that’s how you chose to fuel yourself regularly. That’s right, micronutrients.

Deficiency symptoms from missing vitamins in your diet like Vitamin A, E, and B12, can contribute to nagging, chronic health problems. It is time to think about the big picture and use the mindset that not only is food fuel, but also preventative medicine.

Why is it called a Vitamin?

The word vitamin originally comes from the Latin root “vita” or “life.” For the human body, vitamins participate in metabolic processes of growth, digestion, repair, energy transfer, nervous system function, and immunity. An important point to note is that we need them in our diet because we can’t make most vitamins ourselves.

When it comes to digestion and absorption of these nutrients, we categorize Vitamins and minerals as either fat-soluble or water-soluble. These water-soluble micronutrients are passively and actively absorbed in the GI tract (why gut health is so important) and are less likely to be stored because we are constantly taking in and excreting water. For this reason, we need to get these more often. Examples include B vitamins and vitamin C.

Fat-soluble vitamins are mostly passively absorbed in the GI tract and as expected by their name, they travel in the body bound to dietary fat. Meaning, if we don’t eat enough dietary fat, we may not effectively absorb, transport, or use these key vitamins appropriately. Healthy fats have slowly been making a comeback since the Fat-Free craze started back in the 1950s, and we have learned the necessity of them in our diet. Examples of these vitamins include A,D, E, and K.

How can I improve my diet by focusing on Micronutrients?

First off I do want to acknowledge that not every person needs the same micronutrients in the same amounts. There are numerous factors that influence personal vitamin need including biological sex, age, medications, stress, food choices, energy intake, activity levels, and illness or injury. Even beyond that, special considerations need to be kept in mind for plant-based diets, athletes, specific medications, disordered eating, and malabsorption syndromes.

Below I will provide some general recommendations that will benefit a majority of our population. Yes, in an ideal world we get all of our nutrients from the food we eat. However, I believe it is fair to say a majority of us do not achieve our ideal vitamin intake each day on our own. Because of this, we have created a nutritional gap between nutrients consumed in the diet vs nutrients required for optimal health. 

There are numerous reasons behind the nutrient gap: not enough fruits and veggies in the diet, lack of a high-quality multivitamin, digestion issues, and fewer micronutrients available in the soil these days (since farming the same food in the same spots can decrease vitamin availability.)

If we look at these reasons as areas of opportunity and focus on what we can control personally, we will be more likely to succeed. So what do we do with these areas of opportunity? I recommend a change in our dietary focus regarding micronutrients to then drive improvements in everyday health.

Let’s fill in the gaps

Now that we know where our areas of opportunity lie, how can we change our current dietary focus to a healthier one?

Depending on your schedule, foods you typically eat, the number of meals eaten per day, fruits and veggies may not have been your main focus when it comes to nutrition. And now, I’m going to tell you why they should be.

The CDC recommends 1.5- 2 cups of fruit per day and at least 3 cups of vegetables. I don’t feel like that’s asking much honestly, but sadly as of research they conducted in 2017, only 1/10 Americans actually hit both of those totals. That blew my mind.

How do we improve on that? Are more veggies straws and dried apple chips the answer? Sorry but no. More whole food options of fruits and vegetables in the diet is the best place to begin. With my nutrition clients, I try to first focus on adding in more of the good, before necessarily removing the bad. Then sometimes the process takes care of itself.

Supplementation

Like I said earlier, ideally, our micronutrients, like our macronutrients, come from the foods we eat. However, it isn’t always enough. Thanks to years of continued research, we know that certain groups of a greater need can especially benefit from a multivitamin. Those populations include teens, athletes, the elderly, chronic disease patients, and those who take any medications putting them at risk for a nutrient deficiency as a side effect.

Now, know that when I say multivitamin I am mentioning something of high quality. When it comes to effective mineral digestion and absorption the most effective type of supplementary “vitamin” proves to be in capsule form. Not a tablet, and definitely not a gummy. Sorry gummy lovers, but you simply can’t digest, absorb, and put to good use the nutrients from that tasty chewable.

So, how do you know who to trust? I’ll be honest when I say the Costco brand is not always the best option. My number one rule when it comes to supplementation is to make sure the product is 3rd party tested. In the supplement industry, anything from vitamins to protein powders are not regulated by the FDA. This means some cheap companies, and even those you wouldn’t expect can sneak different fillers and ingredients into the product without putting them on the label.

I don’t know how you feel about that, but let’s be honest if I plan to take something every day to supplement my nutritional gap, you best believe I want to know 100% what’s in it.

 So, who do you trust?

One company I have used for over four years now is Thorne. I’ll link our product dispensary here so anyone interested can check it out. I have flagged my favorite products and scientific articles that compile some of the latest research in the industry. They boast 3rd party testing by the National Sports Foundation, which drug tests every professional and college athlete in America for banned substances. If they say my product is clean I definitely trust them.

https://www.thorne.com/u/biancoprimarycare

The supplement industry can be overwhelming and remember my note earlier, your attempts to supplement your nutrition gap are personal to you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions on what options may be best for you and your family.

I do hope that this post inspires you to change your personal fueling strategies, and make addressing your nutritional gap a priority. Optimal vitamin intake specifically will help you boost your health in terms of metabolic growth, digestion, cellular repair, energy transfer, nervous system function, and arguably most importantly right now, immunity.

 

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

Need Help With Proper Nutrition?

We are here to get and keep you healthy. We treat the whole person with affordable, accessible Primary Care, Nutrition, and Fitness guidance. 

5 Healthy Habits the Nutritionist is Doing this Holiday Season

5 Healthy Habits the Nutritionist is Doing this Holiday Season

Last week our Office Manager Eileen and our Nutritionist, Kathryn Terry, had a great conversation about health during the holidays. Eileen thought some of Kathryn’s points were important enough to be shared and asked Kathryn to write about 5 habits of her normal routine that she sees as essential for her health, especially during the holiday season. Here is Kathryn’s top 5 below.

1) Sleep

Sleep pops in my mind first because if I do fall short in one of these categories when my schedule is busier, it is sleep. I have learned in more recent years that I have to make it a number one priority as it is my body’s main time to restore and recover from the chaos and stress around me. More stress on the body= more sleep needed. Give yourself an absolute time on both ends of your sleep cycle. An absolute “no later to bed than” and a “will not sleep later than.” Strict bedtime boundaries are important to set when the to-do lists are long as they make us prioritize what has to get done immediately vs what can get done tomorrow, fostering healthy tasking relationship development at the same time. 

A smaller wake-up window is crucial as well. Your body has a specific time for its needed cortisol pop, or “natural delivery of caffeine” in the morning to wake you up. Waking up way before or way after this natural pop often can confuse your body and lead to a decrease in the strength of the initial pop we desire to wake us up. This pop can be crucial to energy supply in the early morning especially and will keep us from walking to the coffee machine like a zombie on repeat. 

2) Stress Outlet

You may initially laugh when I say, “when you are busy, make sure to make time for you too”, but this mindset is important now more than ever. Remember the phrase your grandma said, “Fill your cup up so it can overflow into others”? I believe this to my core and have seen great benefit in finding just a few minutes to dedicate toward restoration and recovery for not only the body and the soul. Bonus points if you enjoy both at the same time. For me, a long run is a good mental fix, and even better if I can talk with a friend along the way. Find something small daily that makes your shoulders relax from your ears, brings a smile to your face, and maybe even a laugh to your lips.

3) Planning Ahead For Meals

My husband makes fun of me sometimes to the extent I plan ahead, but I find great reward in these strategies, especially during the holidays. Whether you are out shopping, running extra holiday errands, or simply stuck in traffic for longer than normal, having some on-the-go snacks in the glove box, purse, diaper bag (but for you, not the baby) fanny pack (I don’t judge here),  can prevent you from making a quick food, instant gratifying decision, you might regret just 10 minutes later.

Planning ahead for food also includes your trips to the grocery store. I do this by printing out a weekly calendar figuring out roughly what meals we want to have each night, and then I make sure my grocery list matches. This helps cut down on our contact with other people in the grocery store and allows you to maximize your time during this specifically chaotic season. Did I mention this will help save money too? I think we can all benefit from that during the holidays…

4) Continuous Learning

Despite a hectic schedule making time to read and educate yourself on topics of interest can keep your mind sharp. Whether you are keeping up with a medical news outlet, slowly pursuing a new certification, or are reading a new post from a certified healthcare professional, just a few minutes a day to continue expanding your knowledge on a subject of your interest will not only expand your knowledge on the subject, but give you the accomplished feeling that learning something new can provide. (And you didn’t have to even get up for this one!)

5) Water

Water intake is one of my first discussion points with all of my nutrition clients, as well as my family and friends when they ask how to optimize their nutrition habits because it is THAT important. The biggest impact water can make during your holiday season (besides keeping you hydrated for normal functions) is aiding in your digestion. Continual water drinking, especially after a meal can aid in nutrient breakdown and transport of nutrients to the rest of your body. The general recommendation is ½ your body weight in ounces per day.

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

Need Help With A Healthy Holiday Eating Strategy?

We provide personalized fitness and/or nutrition strategies to help keep the holiday pounds off and keep them off for good.  

The Day After Thanksgiving – Healthy Eating Strategies

The Day After Thanksgiving – Healthy Eating Strategies

Thanksgiving Day ~  A day for many of us that is full of buttery casseroles and enough pies to feed an army, despite the honest size of our gathering. Yet, for many Americans following this holiday tradition, the way we fuel ourselves the day after is potentially more important than how we eat on the day of. 

But wait, do not go telling your relatives that nutritionist Kathryn says that you can eat all the excess you want on Thanksgiving and it will not matter at all. Not my point. However, I am acknowledging that despite our best efforts to follow the thousands of articles like “10 Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving”,  the day is still geared around food and we are most likely eating meals with all those yummy carbohydrate rich mashed potatoes, rolls, sugar filled yams, casseroles, and desserts that have not been on our tables in many months.

This is where our trouble begins. For many people, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the food indulgences for the entire holiday season.

Creating the right mindset from the day after Thanksgiving into the remaining holiday season is crucial for many and their health. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have a true number to represent how many pounds on average that Americans really do gain over the holiday season, so I can’t give you “this big scary statistic”. (Make sure you fact check what you read online or hear on the radio.) The last creditable study on this topic was published in 2000, and they found on average no more than 1 lb was gained. However, due to the increase in the food industry’s seasonally processed food items, our eating and even social habits around food have changed over a 20 year span.

 Importantly, what I can give you are a couple strategies to help you keep those pounds off, not only through Thanksgiving, but for the remaining holiday season. 

I’m aware that these next few holidays may look different for many of you, thanks to Covid-19, so I hope you can take my tips and personalize them to fit your new holiday routine. 

Make an “After Thanksgiving” Plan

Sit down and plan. There is nothing like a good session with the pen and paper, or for you techies maybe the notes app on your iPhone, am I right?   However you do it, plan a healthy eating strategy to succeed.

Picture this: you go through a lot of effort to make an amazing Thanksgiving meal. You order groceries online, pre-cook some casseroles, decorate your home, and maybe send someone for a last-minute item you forgot.  It feels like weeks of work to have a great Thanksgiving. You go to all that effort only wake up the Friday after and not have anything other than left-overs to eat for the next three days.  No, I’m not suggesting a “cold-turkey” cut off: one day you’re indulging and the next day you’re expected to be back to perfect eating habits. Not at all. 

I am suggesting you plan for the days after. What are some veggies and lean proteins you can have ready in the freezer as you transition out of your butter coma? How can you re-use or combine your turkey and leftovers with healthy ingredients for a good balance and help you transition back to healthy eating?  

Planning ahead to transition back to healthy eating is one of your biggest weapons of success that many people undervalue. Whether you travel for the holiday or not, do you really want to be bloated and lethargic starting back to work on Monday? Make a plan! 

The “Food Is Fuel” Mindset

Focus your mindset on what food is. Food is many things to all of us: delicious, cultural, social, fun, it tells a story, and is a way many of us show love. But most importantly to our bodies food is fuel. Healthy food provides the nutrition and energy that keeps us moving.

I try to use the mindset that on special occasions, like Thanksgiving, food is fun, and a way to share my love language with my family. It’s often full of fat and sugar and all those yummy typically unhealthy things.  However, I do my best to shift back to my everyday, healthy mindset on food the day after Thanksgiving. That means finishing the leftovers within 1-2 days by repurposing or I toss them. I make the decision that my fridge needs room for next week’s new healthy groceries. This sets me up for success when being bombarded with temptations of holiday treats until the New Year.

I have to hand it to some marketing companies. They can take something you might not normally get, but make it holiday-themed and well, we want it. I’m looking at you Reese’s Cups shaped like Christmas trees, Hershey’s Peppermint Kisses, and Krispy Kreme’s cute reindeer donut. And of course, our kids just have to have the red and green Rice Krispie treats and the Hot Cocoa Grahams Goldfish…… Do not even get me started on those holiday Starbucks drinks! 

I think we let these things slip into our carts by calling it a temporary treat that we don’t enjoy all year long. But when the treats start in November (for some when the candy comes in during October) and we eat these treats all the way through “Grandma’s leftover Christmas Cookies” in January, these decisions have a big potential to negatively impact our health.

Over a two-month holiday stretch, our little treats keep our bodies in a calorie surplus. Calories equal energy, and more energy in than energy out means we gain mass.

Planning ahead and using a healthy, long term mindset when it comes to deciding to eat a holiday treat or not has the potential to help you come out of the holidays healthier this year.

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

Need Help With A Healthy Holiday Eating Strategy?

We provide personalized fitness and/or nutrition strategies to help keep the holiday pounds off and keep them off for good.  

Sustainable Healthy Eating Strategies That Aren’t Diets

Sustainable Healthy Eating Strategies That Aren’t Diets

You do not have to diet for the rest of your life to look the way you want to look and feel the way you want to feel. Yep, you read that right. However, I’m acknowledging you can’t eat plates full of processed carbohydrates and drink your teas and diet cokes to your heart’s content either. Lucky you, there is a middle ground. That is where long term, sustainable success not only lives but thrives! In this quick read, I want to give you 3 strategies that can be adaptable overtime for a true lifestyle change.

Diet Rules: Throw them out!

Like some of my clients, I personally thrive with rules. I outline foods I can’t eat and they are out the window. This year, before my wedding, I ignored all processed foods and desserts on several occasions including the Fourth of July and even my own birthday! I didn’t mind because I had a goal, was determined to achieve it and I knew these dieting rules were short-term. Unlike many diets, I had an end date for my challenge.

Most people will enter a new diet with the mindset of making a big change. Losing those pesky 30 pounds for good. And some people do see good success short term. Now, I don’t have to go into detail on why over time it will all be gained back, because we all know how it happens. (If you want to lean more about that here is a great article from Webmd.) What I will detail here is what you can do differently to prevent either those pounds from coming back, or if you’re at the beginning of your journey, starting off with the long term success in mind.

My first tip is to throw the rules out the window!  Unless you are doing a brief 30 or 60-day challenge prior to an event (like a wedding 😀 ) or making dietary changes necessary for something like a medical procedure, forget the rules.   Sometimes dietary rules are necessary, but they are given with the mindset of a temporary challenge. Beyond the challenge, nutrition should not follow the mindset of rules. Who likes to be told exactly what to drink or eat by anyone all the time? 

The Fattening Influence of Advertising

The amount of ads we are exposed to on a daily basis is enormous, and food ads are no exception. Seeing an ad for a McRib or a Super Cheesy Stuffed Crust Pizza on TV doesn’t just make us crave those foods specifically, but also crave the processed, higher in refined carbohydrate and calorie-dense foods in the same category. All these ads imprint on our subconscious. This is why when we travel somewhere unfamiliar or find ourselves hungry while running errands out-and-about we find ourselves choosing something from our subconscious covered in cheese that was advertised to us as a quick and easy grab.

How do you fight these ads?  Have a list handy of your best healthy food options, on your phone, or written down on a piece of paper you keep with you.  That way when you are at the quicker places on a time crunch, at your favorite healthier chain restaurants, or anytime you travel and feel pressured to make a quick decision, you can reference the healthy options on your list.  Planning ahead and having a list of healthy food choices handy can help you make better choices even on the most hectic schedules. 

What’s on the Plate?

Now, that we’ve talked about throwing rules out the window, and defeating the “quick and easy choosing” subconscious, what should be on our plate when we do go to eat? (A little background on me, my Nutrition Certification is through Precision Nutrition, and I love explaining the science behind their model.) Precision Nutrition (or PN for short here) presents an Anytime Plate Model that they share as a visual way to help build your mealtime plate.

Bianco Primary Care Family Practice healthy diet plate

I want you to close your eyes and think about how many of your plates actually look like this one. If it’s one-per-day, awesome, two per-day, even better! If it’s only a few a week or none at all, let’s get to brainstorming and figure out how to improve.

Just a few small changes could make that vegetable portion look larger.  How can we use what we cook our protein and vegetables in as our healthy fat portions for this meal? Using olive oil or avocado oil as a true healthy fat to roast your veggies in rather than using butter or steaming can be an easy way to increase your dietary Omega-3s, which helps reduce inflammation. Now keep in mind adjustments will need to be made based on activity level, fullness, preferences, goals, and results. PN is smart to also have sample plates for Post-Workout and a Vegetarian-based plate that I plan to share and write on and explain more of in the future. 

So how do you incorporate this daily? As I mentioned above, if your plates don’t look like this, what is one small change you can make for dinner tonight to get it a little bit closer? What is one dish at your son’s favorite fast food restaurant that looks close to this plate? Notice with The PN plate, there are no rules, just reminders to fill it with healthier options and portions. I hope you enjoy using this model to nourish you and your family by filling your plates with a variety of vegetables and whole foods of true minimal processing to carry you into a healthier future.  

Kathryn Terry, MS, CPT, PN 1

Need Help With Proper Nutrition?

We are here to get and keep you healthy. We treat the whole person with affordable, accessible Primary Care, Nutrition, and Fitness guidance. 

Certified Nutrition Specialist and Fitness Trainer Joins Bianco Primary Care

Certified Nutrition Specialist and Fitness Trainer Joins Bianco Primary Care

In the effort to provide the best health care to its patients, Bianco Primary care has recently brought on board Kathryn Terry, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Personal Trainer, to be the Bianco Primary Care Nutrition and Fitness Director. Proper nutrition and fitness are key components of treating the whole person so patients can get healthy and maintain optimal health. 

Recently, Bianco Primary Care Office Manager Eileen Smith interviewed our Nutrition and Fitness Director Kathryn Terry about her nutrition philosophies, reasons why she’s so excited to be a part of the practice and what patients can expect.

 

Eileen: Kathryn, we have so enjoyed having you as part of our practice for over a month now. What has you most excited about being part of the Bianco family?

Kathryn: Honestly Eileen, it is the ability to work with our patients by treating the whole person. By having their blood work prior to seeing them, and for some patients even years of bloodwork history- which is so valuable. I also have records of current medications/ past medications and diseases already notated, which helps save me time and gives me an idea of some factors affecting the patients’ metabolism before I even speak with them.

Eileen: How do patients benefit from seeing you in this primary care setting specifically?

Kathryn: Beyond having health history detailed, I now get to work hand in hand with their primary care doctor and work towards getting them off medications. We all get to take part in and see the lifestyle transformation that Dr. Shelley, Dr. Mike, and I all want them to have.

Eileen: Absolutely. Now, you said lifestyle transformation. What do you mean by that?

Kathryn: It means helping our patients achieve changes that will last. The framework we discuss and habit changes we build on are meant to be adaptable for the rest of the lifetime. Gone is the mentality of a 30 day fix when you’re feeling low, just to gain it all back after the holidays. Gone is the mentality of comparing yourself to “so and so’s” diet because you heard it worked for them last year. This is a lifestyle transformation that we work on together, and it is personal.

Eileen: Well that sounds different. So is there isn’t just one specific diet, that you have all your clients follow?

Kathryn: No, we step away from all the different “diets” that you see in the media and talk about a way of eating that is sustainable and works best for each client, in the present. Diets are not sustainable. Now I have seen plenty of people shed 10’s to even 100 lbs following a specific diet, but I have also seen them gain it back when life changed or when a roadblock was thrown in their way because they didn’t know how to eat when NOT following that diet. The lifestyle change that I will embark on with each client is designed to help them think and plan around these roadblocks.

Eileen: I really love how you just explained that. Can you share a little bit about the types of clients that you specialize in working with? Is it all weight loss?

Kathryn:Thank you, and sure! I actually work with a variety of clients. I have clients who are looking for weight loss yes, but I also have clients who are looking for weight/ muscle gain, and people in between. I’ve worked with many athletes in the past looking to fuel themselves appropriately for competition, and also helped the everyday mom planning for a family of 5 on little time and a limited budget. I truly have a wide range of experience in this field, and if anyone even has a question on if I could help them or not, please reach out!

Eileen: That sounds great, Kathryn. Now to my understanding you are also a personal trainer too right? Tell me about that part of your background.

Kathryn:Yes, I am a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, inspired by my enjoyment of being physically active and sharing that passion with others. I decided to dive deeper into corrective exercise when I discovered through my experience that the injuries that so many people tolerate long-term and write-off for old age, simply are a result of moving incorrectly. This is where my “Type-A/ fix it” mindset plays as a strength, and allows me to see to the true root of someone’s problem. I then fix the pain or weakness through specific exercises, rather than non-immediate unnecessary surgery or medication.

Eileen: That sounds like a neat niche that some of our clients could really benefit from. Can you do any of that here at Bianco Primary Care without a gym?

Kathryn: This has been a tricky thing to figure out, if we are being honest. We have decided to offer three options for helping our members with their fitness. First is a simple workout routine. If someone would like guidance on what to do to help lose weight, gain muscle, train for a specific sport and/or gain endurance, or rehab a specific injury I can create a detailed plan month by month, to help take the guesswork out of their programming.

Eileen: So does that involve meeting with you in person at all?

Kathryn:Technically twice. It could be virtually nowadays, but I will meet with the member once to discuss their goals, talk about injury history, learn about what exercises equipment they have available, etc… Then we will meet once more to go over their plan I have created to make sure everything makes sense that I have included and the goals appear doable.

Eileen: Got it. So what do you offer beyond the workout design? Anything in person?

Kathryn: We do, we also offer virtual training for ½ hours and full hours, and in person training for full hours where I go to the client and train them in their home or at an outdoor space. This would be for those who need the extra guidance and accountability through the process of achieving their fitness goals.

Eileen: That sounds great Kathryn. The last thing I want to wrap up with is a question. There is so much conflicting information out on the internet from bloggers, influencers and coaches alike. If you had to tell our members one piece of advice to help them stay healthy, what would it be?

Kathryn: Wow, ah, honestly, it would be to not model your health journey after someone else’s. We all have so many different factors affecting our metabolism- things we can and can’t control- so why would you try to control your pieces to look like someone with a different genetic make-up, height, age, or even different gender than you? What research and time has told us is that a healthy diet, and physical activity leads to better overall mental and physical health. Here at Bianco Primary Care I hope to break down more walls of confusion and help each client personalize their long term, lifestyle plan.

Personalized Nutrition Plans
Personal Fitness Training

Is it time for an affordable Primary Care Doctor who knows you and you can reach when you need them? In-office, text, phone, email – No insurance required.