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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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The New Atkins Study: Effective Diet or Misleading Media? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Thursday, 17 July 2008 12:53

The media is flooded with reports of the latest study in the New England Journal of Medicine which supposedly shows that the Atkins diet is the most effective diet for weight loss.

Before eveyone switches over to an Atkins diet :), let us take a closer look at this study.

The full text of the study is readily available for everyone to read. I would encourage everyone to do this and specifically to look at the "tables."

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/359/3/229

The majority of the weight loss in all three groups happened between the first 5-6 months. After that, all groups regained weight.

According to the tables, here is the amount of weight loss followed by the reduction in calories from baseline (before the diets started)

Low Carb, - ~6.5 kg, -561 calories

MED Diet, - ~4.5 kg, -254 calories

Low Fat, - ~4.5 kg, - 458 calories

Now, is anyone surprised that a group consuming 100 less calories per day for 6 months, lost 2 more kgs of weight over those 6 months

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Less IS More: Body Weight, Longevity and You! Pt. 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 21:41

Q. What is the relationship between health and longevity and body weight? I have heard that national health organizations recommend a Body Mass Index (BMI) range of 18.5 to 25. However, is there a difference within the healthy range? Is lower better?

A. There is no one simple answer as there are many things that influence mortality & influence BMI. And BMI is only one factor that may influence mortality.

First, a little about BMI.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems."

While, BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for adults. it is important to note that BMI is not a diagnostic tool.

BMI is calculated for adults using the following formula:

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Vitamin D: Update: Vit D2 vs D3 & How Much Sun? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Sunday, 13 July 2008 13:21

Vitamin D3 is often regarded as the best source of Vitamin D "if" someone was to need to take a supplement. However, recent evidence shows that Vitamin D2 may be as effective as Vitamin D3.

The following Q & A's come from a very recent article from Micheal Holick, who is considered the worlds leading expert on Vitamin D. I am copying his responses to the Vitamin D2 vs D3 quesion along with the response to how much sun expsoure is required for the body to manufcature adequate amounts of Vitamin D. For those who would like to read the full article, I have include a link to it also.

For those not familair with him, Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, is professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics; director of the General Clinical Research Center; and director of the Bone Health Care Clinic and the Heliotherapy, Light, and Skin Research Center at Boston University Medical Center.


Q: Has recent research shown that both vitamin D 2 and D3 are equally effective at increasing the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D? This is in opposition with earlier studies, is it not?

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See The Truth About Sea Salt PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008 18:48

Many health conscious people avoid and/or limit salt in in packaged and processed foods and avod adding salt to foods and recipes. However, many of these same people who put effort into avoiding salt, are mislead into using sea salt, thinking it is a healthier alternative. But, in spite of the marketing and advertising behind it, sea salt is not a better choice.

Sodium chloride is sodium chloride and it does not matter if it comes from salt mines on land, or from the sea. While it is true that sea salt has slightly less sodium per gram and has a few minerals, these are all completely irrelevant when you step back and put the claims in to perspective.

The Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, recommends healthy people limit their sodium intake to no more than 1200-1500 mgs per day. The set an upper limit of 2300 mgs, meaning that if you go over that on a regular basis, it can be harmful. They also recognize that a healthy human only needs less than 500 mgs a day, which is easily obtainable from the amount that occurs naturally in foods.

Now, lets put all this in persepctive.

 

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Sunlight, Body Weight, & Vit D PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Saturday, 05 July 2008 14:43

There is much in the news these days about Vit D deficiencies and the increasing number of people being diagnosed with low levels of Vit D

One thing that is being left out of the equation is the relationship between somones percentage of body fat and their Vit D Status.  It turns out there is increasing prevalance of Vit D deficiency amongst those with higher body fat percentage.

Considering 66% of Americans are overweight and 33% are obese, I wonder how this is effecting some of the results we are seeing in those who are being diagnosed with "low' Vit D Levels.

As we can see from the following recent studies, this association is fairly well established and known in the medical literature.  Why this is not being adressed publically is the quesiton..

 

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Just The Flax Facts, Please! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   

I was recently asked a few questions about flax seeds. Specifically, the question were 1) is there any nutritional reason (or any other reason) to prefer using either the brown flax seed or the golden flax seed ? 2) What is the best way to store them?

Well, like with many things, there are many misconceptions about flax seeds in regard to these two issues, and as usual, some of it is based on misinformation that comes from marketing and advertising.

In regard to the color difference, as you may know, you can show some minor difference between the different colored varieties of any foods and this is true whether it is apples, pears, etc. However, there is really little difference between the different varieties of flax seeds

From the Flax Council, which supports the growth and sale of both..

"The color of flax has no bearing on its nutritional value, despite claims by its growers that golden flax is superior. In tests conducted by the Canadian Grain Commission in the summer of 2001, the "Dakota Gold" flax from South Dakota was shown to have 43-44% oil content, while the Canadian brown flax tested had 44%, virtually the same.

However, the level of ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid -- source of Omega 3 fatty acids) in the Canadian brown seed was 59% of the oil, compared to 51% in the "Dakota Gold". This difference is due to the colder Canadian climate, and perhaps better soil quality, not the color variety. 

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Watch Out For Those Weekends! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Thursday, 26 June 2008 15:54
A brand new study may answer many peoples questions abut their inability to lose weight.  And, the answer may not be that surprising.

We all look forward to the weekend as a time to relax, get away and maybe even to overindulge. It is as time when many will go out to eat, go on picnics, or cook up feasts of food at home.  Even songs have been written about it.

"Every bodies working for the weekend"

This recent study, published in the journal Obesity, looked at this behavior and it may be having a bigger effect on our waistlines and weight then we think.  It also may be interfering with peoples inability to maintain their weight loss.

This randomized controlled trial looked 48 healthy adults between the ages of 50-60 who were split into 2 groups.  Half of the subjects followed a calorie restricted diet and the other half engaged in daily exercise  Subjects food intake was calculated by using food dairies and their daily weight changes were tracked for weekends (from Friday to Monday) and for weekdays (Monday to Friday) each morning for 437 weeks.  Daily energy expenditure was tracked using accelerometers.

During the year study, all subjects in both groups lost weight. However, during the weekend,  those who were on the reduced calorie diet, stopped losing weight.  and the subjects who were in the exercise group, gained weight because on increased calorie consumption.

The authors concluded...

"Alterations in lifestyle behaviors on weekends contribute to weight gain or cessation of weight loss on weekends. These results provide one explanation for the relatively slow rates of weight loss observed in many studies, and the difficulty with maintaining significant weight loss."

Enjoy the weekends, but don't overindulge!

Jeff

Influence of Weekend Lifestyle Patterns on Body Weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jun 12  PMID: 18551108


 
Upcoming Public Presentation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 17:30

I will be speaking this coming Saturday at the Miami EarthSave monthly meeting in Miami, Florida.

The topic will be "From Oil To Nuts: Essential Facts On Fats, Nuts, Oils and High Fat Diets.

Have you ever wondered......  Are all fats created equal? Is olive oil a health food? Is the Mediterranean diet the healthiest diet?  What about the French Paradox?  Are nuts and seeds good for you?  Everyday the headlines are filled with conflicting information about fats, oils, nuts and seeds.   Are you "Going Nuts" trying to understand all the controversies?  In this enlightening and humorous talk,I will help you understand  the real "facts on fats" regarding all these issues and more.

For more information, check out the EarthSave Miami Website.

I look forward to seeing many of you there.

 
More On AGE's And You PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 11:18

Last week, we reviewed the issue of starchy foods and AGE's in the blog of 06/04/2008, Starchy Foods, AGE's and You!

Today we are going to revisit the issue with some other relatively new information on the topic.

Recently, the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research dedicated an entire issue to the discussion of AGE's diet and health.

The following quotes are from the summary review article of the debate, from the same issue.

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Preserve Your Muscles With Fruits & Veggies! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 10:11

As we age, we tend to lost some muscle mass.  Some of this is due to changes in our lifestyle, such as inadequate diet and inactivity.   Many people think they need to eat extra protein to prevent the loss of muscle mass and adequate protein is always important.  However, it turns out that fruit and veggies may be as much if not more important.

The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.   The study was led by physician and nutrition specialist Bess Dawson-Hughes at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass.

The typical American diet is rich in  acid-producing foods such as foods high in protein, animal products, dairy products, and refined and processed cereals and grains.  According to researchers, these foods generate small amounts of acid each day and overtime, an increasing metabolic "acidosis" develops.

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Beans, Beans... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Thursday, 05 June 2008 15:57

Everyone is looking for that "superfood."  But as I explained in my blog of March 7, 2008, The Real Superfoods, are fresh fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and legumes.   

However, it turns out that when they look at long-lived populations around the world, one of these food groups shows up more often than the others.   And, that food group is...

Beans!

Yes, Beans.  The musical fruit.   :)

In one study, Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities. which was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition ( 2004;13(2):217-20.) they authors concluded, "This longitudinal study shows that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity."  And, this protective predictor of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrollment (in 5-year interval), gender, and smoking.

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Starchy Foods, AGEs, and You! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Wednesday, 04 June 2008 09:38

I was recently asked if I recommended avoiding "starchy" foods because they cause an increase in Advanced Glycogen End-products (AGEs).   AGEs are toxic molecules formed by heating foods and are thought to increase the risk and severity of many diseases including the metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, arthritis, Alzheimer's Disease, cancer and AGEs are also thought to contribute to diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy and aging.

So, should you avoid starchy foods?

The simple answer is no.

However, to better understand this, we have to put this in perspective.

The information on AGEs and its relationship to diet is important and interesting however, there is no evidence that consuming starches in their natural intact state (i.e., potato, oatmeal, brown rice, yams, etc), that are conservatively cooked,  as we at the NHA recommend, would be harmful and in fact, the opposite. 

It is true that carbohydrates that are cooked for long periods at very high temperatures (ie french fries, potato chips) and/or contain large amounts of refined sugars added to them (i.e., Frosted Flakes, Captain Crunch), can create AGEs.  However, no one here is recommending that you consume carbohydrates in those forms.  These types of carbs are prevalant in the American diet and so when a typical American diet is analyzed, there has been a connection seen between "starchy" foods and AGEs.  But we have to remember the source and type of these carbs that are being implicated.   These studies do not implicate starchy foods like oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potatoes.

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Mystery Ingredients: Mono & Diglycerides PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 30 May 2008 12:27

A member recently wrote me and said they have seen these items, mono and diglycerides listed in some packaged products and wanted to know what they were.   And, should they be avoiding them.

Well, let me explain, but it takes a little chemistry to understand what these are.

 

Mono and diglyceride's are fatty acids.

A mono-glyceride is a single fatty acid that is attached to a glycerol molecule.  Hence the name mono, meaning one, and glyceride, for the glycerol molecule. A di-glyceride is where 2 fatty acids are attached to  a glycerol molecule.   Di meaning two. 

 

Fats (or triglycerides) are made up of 3 fatty acids (tri) on a glycerol molecule.

 

These mono and diglcerides are often added to foods to add texture, creaminess, and they act as emulsifiers and help to blend together certain ingredients such as oil and water which would not otherwise blend well.   They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, chewing gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections. Or in other words, junk foods.

 

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Member Support Forum PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 30 May 2008 10:58

 If you have not visited the members support forum, you may want to head on over and check it out.  You can easily access it from the home page by clicking on the link right below where you log in.

 Once there, you can interact with other member in various forums, post questions and also find support.  I check in regularly and will be answering your questions.

Remember, it is your forum, so the more members who actvely visit and participate in it, the more effective it will be.  


See ya in the forums!!

Jeff 

 
Healthy Packaged Foods? Pt II PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 09:13

Lets continue where we left off last week with my favorite packaged staple foods that can be included as part of a  healthy diet.

6) Whole Grain Pasta

The problem with many whole grain processed products (like bread, dry cereals, bagels and crackers) is that even if they are whole grain, they are still calorie dense.  The only exception is whole grain pasta.  The reason is, when you cook whole grain pasta, it absorbs some of the water it is cooked in, which is absorbed into the structure of the pasta, lowering its calorie density.  Foods with high water content, are lower in calorie density and generally higher in satiety.

Unlike most processed whole grains, which have a calorie density of 1200-1500 calories per pound, the calorie density of most cooked whole grain pasta is the same as most intact whole grains and starchy vegetables, which is around 300-600 calories per pound.  It is also very quick and easy to cook and can be ready in under 10 minutes.   Mix in some fresh or frozen vegetables and you have a healthy, nutritious and filling meal.

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Healthy Packaged Foods? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Wednesday, 21 May 2008 14:24

The healthiest foods are the foods that come straight out of the garden and are consumed in their natural form or as simply prepared as possible.   These foods are fresh fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, and intact whole grains and should be the focus of anyones healthy diet.

Packaged and processed foods are usually loaded with fats, salt, refined sugars/sweeteners and refined carbohydrates/grains, They are also almost always calorie dense.

However, there are some packaged and processed foods that can be included as part of a healthy diet.  And in fact, keeping some of them around and on hand, can actually make following a healthy diet, easier.  

And, of course, everyone always wants to know what foods I personally eat and/or recommend.  So, I went around my house and looked around to see what packaged and processed foods I had in my house and would recommend to you, and why.

Here they are.   

(Today, we will cover the first 5)

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Sugar Blues? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Saturday, 17 May 2008 14:12

In the recent flurry of diet books based on low carb diets, sugar, along with carbohydrates, became the villan. Americans turned away from carbohydrates and sugar persuaded they were to blame for their weight problems.  Many Americans who struggle to lose weight, avoid sugar at any cost.

While sugar is clearly not a health food, is sugar, in and of itself, to blame for weight gain.  

The following study is eye-opening in regard to this issue. And, it really challenges the whole concept of sugar and weight gain.

The study compared two diets both containing the same amount of calories (1100)), and the same percentages of fat (11%), protein (19%) and carb (71%). The only difference was where the carbs came from. In one group, 43% of the calories camefrom white sugar. In the other diet, only 4% came from white sugar. Thats 118 grams (around 30 tsps) vs 11 grams (around 3 tsps)

Both groups experienced

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The Never Ending Protein Myth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:29

Recently, a member asked if they needed to consume more protein as they were engaged in resistance training with weights.  They were told they would need to consume 1.5 gram of protein per kilogram body weight, as this is the "golden rule" in weight lifting circles.   

The answer is no. For several reasons.

While adequate protein intake is important, it is not the primary, or even secondary issue in muscle growth.

As you know, if you sit in front of the TV all day and eat steak, your muscles will not grow bigger.    

The biggest influence on someone's ability to develop big and bulky muscles is their muscle fiber type, which is determined by genetics. Training will have little influence on muscle fiber type.  The second biggest influence is resistance exercise.  Muscles grow bigger and stronger as a result of the demand put on them.  

And, excess protein is not necessary for this to occur.  This was shown in a recent study where subjects were put on a low protein diet (less than what you get on the whole foods plant based diet) and not only increased strength, but also built muscle. The difference wasnt in the protein consumed, but in the exercise engaged in.


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