Annie B. Kay, MS, RD, RYT

Annie B. Kay, MS, RD, RYT

Annie is Lead Nutritionist at Kripalu. Author of the award-winning Every Bite Is Divine, she is also an integrative dietitian and a Kripalu Yoga teacher. Annie is the former director of the Osteoporosis Awareness Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For nearly 20 years, she has been an advocate for science-based mind-body health in the national media, at conferences and workshops, and through her writing. She knits, cooks, gardens, and writes. www.everybiteisdivine.com

It’s Plant Protein Season

Americans love protein; in fact, most Americans eat twice the amount of protein recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Institutes of Health. (It recommends about 50 gm of protein per day for the average adult. For reference, a cut of animal protein the size of a deck of cards contains about 21 gm of protein) While the media and food marketing companies suggest that these high levels of protein make us strong and healthy, a growing body of science disagrees, reminding us that when it comes to nutrition, more isn’t necessarily better. While protein is critical for good nutrition, too much can cause problems, such as an acid-base imbalance, which can undermine bone and overall health. The food we eat profoundly impacts this balance.

Our bodies operate best at an overall pH of 7.35. When we eat foods that create acids (typically those that are high in protein and low in minerals), the body needs to buffer the acid in order to maintain its pH. The buffering process taxes the respiratory system and other organs, works the kidneys harder, and can draw calcium out of the body. In addition, research has shown that cancer development and growth is much greater in even slightly acidic conditions.

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Posted on June 29th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Have Fun with Flavor

Play with the flavor palate of whole foods by thinking beyond sugar and salt and invigorate your favorite recipes.

There are classic flavor combinations that many foodies find exciting and most of us find satisfying: sweet walnuts, arugula, and pears; strawberries and balsamic vinegar; blueberries and lavender; and, here at Kripalu, spicy chutney with sweet Indian spices, to name a few.

Using taste as a tool to come back into balance is something that Ayurveda has taught us, and when it comes to plants, following your taste buds is a health-enhancing idea. The bold flavors and bright colors of pungent, zesty, or bitter herbs and vegetables are bursting with healing phytonutrients such as flavanoids, which protect against the imbalances that can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. One way to play with flavors is to begin with a popular combination—say the lemon, mint, parsley, and olive oil at the heart of tabouli salad. Then create your own variation—try, for starters, that dressing on sautéed greens and quinoa, then as a marinade for tofu or fish. Find inspiration from the fresh herbs coming into season now; why not try Kripalu’s Cilantro Mint Chutney.

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Posted on June 11th, 2012 by in Ask the Expert, Nutrition

Ask the Expert: Bite by Bite

In this edition of Ask the Expert, Kripalu’s Lead Nutritionist, Annie B. Kay, answers your questions. An integrative dietitian and a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Annie is the author of the book Every Bite is Divine.

What would you recommend as a good diet for someone who is vegan and has IBS?

I invite those with IBS to try the experiment of eating gluten free as a starting point. Nutritional science research suggests that up to 40 percent of people have some level of difficulty digesting gluten, and if you have an IBS diagnosis, that risk skyrockets. Try it for 30 days. And don’t think of it as, I’m never going to be able to eat my favorite foods again. Think of it as collecting data. Even if you do find you’re sensitive to gluten, most people can tolerate a little bit of gluten.

You may not notice the full benefits for as long as six months, but you may notice a significant difference before then. Then you can determine whether eating gluten free is a lifestyle choice for you, or if you want to try reintroducing gluten. About half of those with IBS who go gluten free find it’s a miracle cure.

What kinds of tea have the most beneficial properties?

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Posted on June 1st, 2012 by in Nutrition

Nutrition Notes: Sprouts for Spring

The world awakens earlier, and life sprouts all around us now. Accept spring’s invitation to lighten up by cleaning out your pantry, your fridge, and your eating habits. Choosing the season’s young greens will give you the nutrient density (a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, per calorie) to make the most of the lengthening days, and allow you to feel the energy of fresh local food.

Reconnecting with raw foods this season ensures that you get the most phytonutrition to keep your body’s systems operating properly. Phytonutrients have a wide variety of benefits, from cardioprotection, to antivirals, to antibacterials, and more. Cooking and processing often decreases phytonutrient activity, so having some raw fruits and vegetables in your diet ensures their phytonutrient potency.

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Posted on April 20th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Plants Help Create a Healthy Internal Environment

Meals like the ones found in the Kripalu Dining Hall (and hopefully in your own kitchen)—filled with a variety of plants prepared simply—are strong medicine for the prevention or recurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases. These diets provide rich antioxidant support, cool inflammation, aid blood sugar regulation, and support the body’s natural detoxification processes. All these actions add up to an environment within our bodies that is less conducive to the initiation and development of cancers. This is particularly true for cancers such as breast and prostate, where a dietary link has been clearly established.

Phytonutrient (plant) antioxidants—the carotenoids, volatile oils, and alliums that often give plants their bright colors and bold flavors—reduce the damaging effects of highly reactive compounds aptly called free radicals. Following an active, healthy lifestyle can keep free radicals and antioxidants in balance.

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Posted on March 23rd, 2012 by in Nutrition

Sweet Comfort: Replacing Refined Sugars with Whole-Food Sweeteners

Through the colder months, warm, sweet foods feed both body and soul. But with the added sweeteners in much of our food supply, sugar can be easy to overdo. Too much sugar has clear health effects: increased risk for disease, mood swings, added calories, and crowding out nutritious foods. Remember, refined sugar only provides empty calories; it doesn’t serve up healing vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients.

Sweeten your favorite foods—from pancakes to sauces to desserts—more healthfully with the natural sweetness of whole foods such as fruit, spices, and sweet vegetables. Apples, dates, bananas, prunes, or dried fruit are nutrient-packed alternatives to refined sugar and are great to use in oatmeal and other grain-based breakfasts. The naturally sweet moistness of applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed prunes can replace some of the sugar in baking as well. Try substituting half of the required sugar with mashed apples, prunes, or bananas and cutting out 1/4 cup of the liquid in your favorite recipe. Or, simply skip the sugar in pies and cobblers. You will be surprised to find that you hardly miss it. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, turmeric, and other spices can also be used to warm and sweeten breakfasts, stews, and roasted vegetables

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