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Jeff Novick's Blog

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). 

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