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Jeffrey S. Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN

Jeff’s insightful and humorous approach to nutrition and health has helped thousands worldwide make the transition to healthy living. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University in nutrition with minors in Exercise Science.

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Agave & AGE's: More Reasons To Avoid Agave PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 28 August 2009 14:55

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog on why Agave is not only "not" a health food, but may be one sweetener you definitely want to avoid.   Agave is mostly fructose, which can comprise about 70-90% of the sugar in agave.  Since fructose goes directly to the liver, it appears to not effect blood sugar as much.  However, in the liver, it can increase triglycerides, LDL, VLDL, and insulin resistance. 

This is why it is important to never been misled by any marketing highlighting an isolated component of a food and/or food product.    Agave may look good in relation to blood sugar, but it looks very bad when looked at in relation to heart disease and diabetes.

Well, there are even more reasons why you should avoid Agave and that is AGE's.

When fructose is heated in can create Advanced Glycogen End Products (AGEs), which may be harmful as they may play a role in development of atherosclerosis, diabetes, aging and chronic renal failure.  

One study compared the amount of AGE's formed between the subject following a traditional omnivorous diet and one following a more traditional vegetarian diet

Nutrition Education: Finding The Best Path, Final Summary PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 21 August 2009 16:23
Having read the first 3 parts of my series on nutrition education, the question is, where do we begin and/or where do we go from here?

I see nutrition in 2 ways, the first is the nutrition about the foods we eat "before" we consume them, which would be the analysis of foods, nutrient sources, meal planning, recipes, etc. The second is the nutrition about foods "after" we eat them, which is the biochemistry and physiology part of it, which to me, is the core of what nutrition really is, how foods breaks, down, is metabolized, interacts and functions with in the human body.

Now, regardless of whether you choose to get a formal education or not, and regardless of whether you choose to go for the traditional or non-traditional degree, there is so much excellent information available, much of it free on the internet, that is available for everyone to educate themselves with.

Many of the classic textbooks used during formal traditional education are great resources for the background and basic information on biochemistry and physiology.
Nutrition Education: Finding The Best Path, Pt 3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 14 August 2009 21:51

Continuing on the topic of the best path to obtaining an education in nutrition....

 Just like in most professions, the formal education mostly sets the stage and gives someone basic preparatory skills to go out and function in the profession. In addition, graduate work, and post graduate work, will give provide more education and preparation.

The education needed to get an RD, or to get a BS or a MS or a PhD in nutrition, is valuable and helpful but can never cover everything. As someone continues on in the process of graduate work, they can pick a specific area  to focus more on, and so their education in that specific area, would become greater.

Also, once they get the basics, there is specialized education, training and continued education available, but again, one would have to really look for it, and it is usually broad scoped or a narrow perspective. I have taken some excellent continuing education classes in the traditional fields.

Agave: Health Food, Health Fad or Health Fraud? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 07 August 2009 13:23

Agave: Health Food, Health Fad or Health Fraud?

Agave has become the sweetener of choice for many health enthusiasts. It is appearing on store shelves everywhere, in many new products and being promoted in magazines and cooking shows. One of the main benefits we hear is that it is lower in the gylcemic index. Is Agave really a health food and something you should be including in your diet?

No, but to understand why, let us take a closer look at the issue.

To begin with, we have to understand some points about fructose which is the main form of sugar in Agave. Fructose is metabolized differently than other sugars. Instead of going into the blood stream (where it could raise blood sugar), most of it goes directly to the liver. This is why Fructose has a lower Glycemic index as the GI is based on a foods influence on blood sugar.

While many promote this as a positive, as the consumption of fructose tends not to raise blood sugar, fructose, or any concentrated caloric sweeteners high in fructose, can cause elevated levels of triglycerides and increase someones risk for heart disease. It may also somewhat increase the risk of metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance. And these effects are most likely in those who are insulin resistant, and/or overweight and/or obese. It also may not effect the satiety mechanism as well as pure sucrose.

For the record, these are all the reasons we are being told to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as it has a higher level of fructose than regular table sugar or regular corn syrup.

Here is the real irony in all of this.

Nutrition Education: Finding The Best Path, Pt 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 15:22

As I said, I am not a fan of these "holistic" health, "herbalist" or "nutritionist" programs , and have taken several of them.    I would rather see people pursue a traditional accredited education and take courses in biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, etc many of which are even available now online from traditional universities. Many of them can also be done at your own pace and for a reasonable price.

The reason I feel this way is if people really want to help other people and be effective in helping other people, then they need to really learn these issues, concepts and skills in the best way possible. I have yet to find one of these courses that effectively covers these or teaches these skills in an effective way.

Somehow or other it seems that good solid nutrition science (which i am a strong proponent of) gets its self aligned with lots of stuff that is really of questionable value, and some of it is just plain quackery (of which I am strongly opposed to). 

Nutrition Education: Finding The Best Path PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Thursday, 23 July 2009 13:18
I am often asked my opinion on what is the best way for someone to pursue an education and/or career in nutrition.  Usually, it is from someone who has seen the results of what living healthfully can do and often experienced a dramatic improvement in their health and now wants to help others and carry the message.   

The dilemma they often face is how best to go about this as there seems to be no perfect way to do this.  On one hand, they can pursue an accredited degree from an accredited school which will entail learning lots of information that is industry sponsored and may be inaccurate just so they can get a recognized and accredited degree.  The positive aspect of this is that it will open many doors in the traditional world of healthcare and medicine.   On the other hand, they can pursue one of the non-accredited degrees from a non accredited school and while they may learn more information that is closer to what they feel is accurate, they will still need to learn lots of information that is inaccurate and contradictory.  In addition, it is much harder to become established and be recongized and/or accepted in the traditional world of healthcare and medicine. In addition, patients may not feel as confident in a non accredited degree as an accredited degree.

So, what's one to do?
The ADA Position Paper On Vegetarian Diets PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

The American Dietitic Association just released their 2009 update of their Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets.  

Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets.
Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association.
J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82.
PMID: 19562864

Their positition is...

"It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. "

This paper, published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietitic Association, is a comprehensive overview of the current science surrounding vegetarian diets and covers many areas and aspects of the vegetarin diet including consumer trends, new product availability, health implications and nutritional considerations.   The conclusion states...

The Incredible Healing Potential That Lies Within Each One Of Us - Pt 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 10 July 2009 00:00
The following was posted recently in a public discussion forum I help facilitate from a client I worked with. He is an attorney and and works for the State of California Attorney General's Office. I will let him tell his story in his own words. When asked if he minded if I posted this in publicly elsewhere, Bob responded,

"Jeff, you are welcome to use my real name anywhere you would like. One of the reasons I did the repeat test was to hopefully benefit others through your program. And thanks again for the help."

The real congratulations goes to the client who diligently implemented the dietary and lifestyle recommendations.



Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn promise that heart disease can be reversed, and I am happy to say that I can confirm what they say.

Variety vs Simplicity: The Key to Success Pt 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 03 July 2009 17:48

After writing last weeks blog, I was reminded of an article I wrote on the topic a few year back on the same topic and am going to reprint it here this week.

Simplicity: The Key to Health!

Over the last 25 years of following the principles of "healthful living", I often hear the following comment...

"Jeff, this is SIMPLE for you to do and follow because you have been doing it for so LONG".

To which I respond...

"You have it backwards, the reason I have been able to do this for so LONG is because I have always kept it so SIMPLE."

Well, turns out that maybe I am correct as my personal philosophy and thoughts were just recently supported by an interesting study that was done. These results may also be able to help many of you by pointing out the "key" component to following a program of healthful living successfully.

Variety vs Simplicity: The Key to Success Pt 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 00:00

"Variety" may be the "spice of life" but "simplicity" is truly the "key to health"

Many cultures around the world have survived, (and even thrived) on very limited food supplies with very limited varieties of the foods. Not only the Okinawans and Chinese centenarians on mostly sweet potatoes but also the Tarahumara's & the Pima's in the Sierra Madre's Mountains of Mexico on corn and beans, the Papau of New Guinea, the Irish on potatoes, etc, And of course, the simple variety available to them changed somewhat over the course of the year.

The negative aspect of this is that "if" the soil happens to be deficient in a mineral, then there is a greater chance for deficiency of that mineral. There are two well known examples of this happening including the problem with iodine in the Great Lakes "Goiter Belt" of America, and selenium in an area of China.

The Incredible Healing Potential That Lies Within Each One Of Us - Pt 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 00:00

I received the following note recently from a client who is a successful business man and A Real Estate Broker and the President of his own Real Estate Consulting Company.

As a result of diligently following the principles of health living, he was able to get off all his medications and reduce his lipid numbers to normal.

While I appreciate the accolades, the real congratulations goes to the client who diligently implemented the dietary and lifestyle recommendations.


Professor Novick,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your recommended regimen for controlling my cholesterol issues.

My family has a history of cholesterol related issues and it has been my goal to be proactive about staying off of medications.

As you know, for the past 10 years, my overall total cholesterol has fluctuated between a low of 204 and a high of 241, not to mention that my Triglycerides, HDL and LDL levels have always been boarder line at best.

Up until March 2008 I had been working with a holistic pharmacist that had me taking up to 16 pills a day..

At some point in March 2008 after 7 years of this routine, in frustration, I stopped taking all supplements.

Within 90 days, my total cholesterol had shot back up to 221 and my triglycerides, LDL and HDL levels had all gone beyond acceptable levels.

After consulting with you in June 2008, I began your recommendations. Within 90 days, my total cholesterol had gone down to it’s lowest level in over 10 years, at 191.

As we wanted my cholesterol numbers to be lower, you made further adjustments to my regime and now 6 months later, my total cholesterol is now at 163, triglycerides went from 175 to 125 and both HDL & LDL levels are exactly where they should be. My plumbing is (on its way to being) officially gunk free!

My only wish is that you find a way to publicize this method of cholesterol management in order to educate others on this easy way to maintain great health.

Thank you for your recommendations, and thanks to you, I am grateful to say that I do not need nor do I expect that I will ever become a slave to any medications to control my cholesterol levels.

Kind Regards,
G.P. Stevens

PS Your results may differ and may even be better as these results ARE typical of anyone who is willing to follow these recommendations. In addition, these (and similar) results have been published in over dozens of studies on 1000s of people in all the leading medical journals for the last 3 decades.

The choice is yours. The same incredible healing potential lies within all of us.

In Health


Kombucha Tea: Another Health Food or Fad? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 00:00

 While Kombucha tea is widely promoted to have miraculous medicinal properties, there is no evidence that Kombucha tea is effective for any of the reasons it is promoted for.

In fact, as the saying goes, I would not touch it with a 10 foot pole. smile

What is being sold as Kombucha today is a colony of numerous species of fungi and bacteria living together, which permeate the tea. The precise composition of any sample of Kombucha depends to a great extent on what was floating around in your kitchen when you grew it or the kitchen (room) where it was grown.

The most common microorganisms found in Kombucha tea include species of Brettanomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, Saccharomyces, Candida, Torula, Acetobacter, and Pichia. However, some analyzed specimens have been found to contain completely different organisms, and there is no guarantee that they will be harmless.

DHA Supplements: Has The Need Been Established? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 00:00

I have received many emails in regard to my position on DHA supplements and whether or not vegans need to supplement with DHA.   I have even been quotes as saying that I am strictly opposed to the use of algal DHA supplementation.

However, (and just for the record) I am not "opposed" to the use of algae based DHA supplements (or any supplement) but am not convinced of the need, which is the number one requirement to establish before taking any supplement.

This important article just came out supporting my position and concluded..

"In the absence of convincing evidence for the deleterious effects resulting from the lack of DHA from the diet of vegetarians, it must be concluded that needs for omega-3 fatty acids can be met by dietary ALA. "

Arsenic In Rice Milk PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 00:00

Many health advocates recommend and/or use non-dairy beverages like rice and/or soy milk as a substitute for dairy milk.   While these products may be a better alternative than dairy milks, these products are not health foods and if included in ones diet, they should be used as a condiment and contribute very little to the total caloric intake of ones day. They are not necessary and can be avoided completely if one wanted to.

Recently, rice milk has been in the news because there has been reports of arsenic being found in rice milk. The arsenic issue has been around for a few years and is due to chemicals used in the growing of the rice. You can read more about it below.

When Is Organic Food NOT Organic? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 00:00

When you allow the food industry and the government to get involved, take over and run the program.

Here is a link to the official website and the list of the allowed and prohibited substances

National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances which identifies synthetic substances that may be used, and the nonsynthetic substances that cannot be used, in organic production and handling operations.

which will include the details of...

What Should We Eat? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 16:52

So, what should we eat?  

Does this sound familiar?

"Households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods."

Sounds like the advice from some natural health, alternative health guru or organization, doesn't it?  Maybe even sounds like some extremely radical and controversial recommendation from a vegetarian, vegan or alternative health group?

Would it surprise you to find out that this recommendation comes from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations?

Well, surprise, surprise....

... it did!

Can You Over Eat On Healthy Foods? Pt 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Thursday, 14 May 2009 11:22

Following up where we last left off on losing weight and whether or not you can overeat on healthy foods....

 Weighing yourself on a scale on a weekly basis is the best method to tell if you are in a negative calorie balance. On average, you should be able to safely and healthfully lose about 1% of your weight a week and maybe even more. That is an average over time and some weeks will be better and some weeks will be less. While it may not seem like much, if you multiply the number out by 12 weeks or 24 weeks or 52 weeks, this could be 24, 48 or 100 lbs lost.

If weight is not coming off as fast as you would like, then you have to make some adjustments to what you are doing. There are several adjustments you can make in regard to the caloric in end and the caloric out end.

In regard to calories out, you have three areas you can adjust which are frequency, intensity and time (FIT). You can exercise on more days or more times in a day (Frequency), you can raise the intensity of your exercise (Intensity), and/or you can do it for a longer period of time (Time).

In regard to calories out, you can lower the calorie density of the diet, by shifting the composition of your meals to include more foods that are the lowest in calorie density (vegetables, salads, soups, fruit, etc)

In addition, the following items are also known (and proven) to reduce calorie intake

Can You Over Eat On Healthy Foods? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Monday, 11 May 2009 00:00

I am often asked if it is possible to over eat on healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and legumes.     

While it may be difficult to do for most people, especially in regard to fruit and to vegetables, I do not doubt that there are those who can gain weight eating just starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and/or legumes.  However, let us remember, no one is recommending such a program.

In the end, calories will always "count" but the problems is just "counting" calories is ineffective because 1) we have very poor tools that are highly inaccurate to count calories with, 2) it eventually and almost always leads to portion control, which leads to hunger, which leads to binging, 3) there are many other factors that may influence the daily fluctuations in weight that we have no way to control for (fluid balance, etc), Even fecal content of the bowels can cause a weight change of several pounds when eliminated if elimination is not regular.

There is just no way to micro manage all these details on a daily basis and that is why trying to micro-manage energy balance on a daily basis is virtually impossible. Some days it will not make any sense and some days it may make too much sense.

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