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Hello! Dr. Alvi here,

Are carbohydrates unhealthy?

This is one of the most common questions my patients ask me. In order to answer this question, lets start by taking a look at what carbohydrates actually are.

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients our bodies need. The other two are fat and protein. Each macronutrient serves its own specific function and all three are a vital source of nutrition. It is important to remember that many Whole Foods have some combination of these three macronutrients.

When evaluating the carbohydrate content of a food, its important to look at the TYPE of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates can be broken down into complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are found in naturally occurring unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as health promoting whole grains and vegetables. Simple carbohydrates are found in both unhealthy processed or refined foods and health promoting fruits.

Grains can be broken down to whole grains and refined grains. We can use the schematic of a whole grain and refined grain above to understand the difference between the two types.

As you can see, a WHOLE grain (shown on the left) is full of fiber, nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals while a REFINED grain is stripped away of some of the most nutritional components of the grain. The refined grain (shown on the right) is devoid of the beneficial bran and germ layers and left with the higher carbohydrate endosperm.

Studies have shown that those eating WHOLE grains have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and even premature death. Those eating refined carbohydrates may increase their risk of the same chronic diseases.

So in summary, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Eating a doughnut is NOT the same as eating Kale or Oatmeal. Complex carbohydrate and Whole grain options are Quinoa, Brown rice, Oats, and Amaranth.


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Hello, Dr. Alvi here,

Let’s talk about fruit.  As an Endocrinologist, I often get asked about it:

  • Is it healthy?
  • Does it have a lot of sugar?
  • Can I eat any fruits, or stick to certain ones?

There is certainly a lot of misinformation out there, so it’s a topic that deserves the time to be discussed!

The answer to these common questions can be explained simply by looking at what fruit is providing nutritionally, alongside a deeper dive into the the evidence-based literature  supporting how healthful fruit can be. 

Fruits NATURALLY contain simple sugars such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose. Sugars commonly ADDED to a lot of foods are these exact simple sugars. Since these simple sugars are found in both foods, they are indeed the root of the confusion and misinformation. 

Let’s talk about what the whole fruit provides: HEALTH PROMOTING Water, Fiber, Nutrients, Minerals, Antioxidants, and Phytonutrients.  There are many studies to support the favorable outcomes of fruit on health. One large epidemiological study showed higher fruit consumption being associated with a lower risk of Diabetes.  

Let’s talk about what added sugar provides: Essentially it provides Empty Calories. Sugar sweetened beverages in particular have been linked to Type 2 diabetes. 

My take away is basically the same message when it comes to nutrition – to look at foods as a whole package and the benefits they can provide to optimize overall health. 

I love all fruit, but mangos are my top favorite fruit.  What are your favorite fruits?

References:

  1. Du et al. Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. PLOS med. 2017
  2. palmer et al. Sugar sweetened beverages and incidence of type 2 DM. Archives of Internal Medicine 2008.

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June 24, 2019 Plant-based Recipes

At our June 18 seminar, How To Build Your Power Plate, Plant-based Nutrition Specialist Barbara Penaranda shared two of her delicious recipes, No-Tuna Salad and Berry Banana Nice Cream.

Barbara is on a mission to work with people to create a sustainable change in our world – starting by what we eat. From there, we can expand our consciousness and harvest healthy habits for future generations. She coaches on nutrition, teaches cooking classes, gives nutrition lectures and creates menus and recipes. She also provides weekly meal planning and cooking to help individuals achieve their nutritional goals.

Connect with Barbara at:
@Barbyfitmom
407-692-6903
barbarawellnesscoach@gmail.com

No-Tuna Salad
1 can organic chickpeas, drained
1/3 red onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
½ tsp garlic powder
2 vine tomatoes, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped, without stalk
4 lemons (juice)
1 tsp Himalayan salt
pinch of pepper to taste
2 tbls Tahini

In a bowl, pour the chickpeas, lemon and tahini and mashed them with a fork. You can instead use a food processor; if you do, don’t chop the chickpeas to the point of a cream, so that it has texture. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Serve cold with corn tortillas, crackers or bread and enjoy.

Berry Banana Nice Cream
4 frozen bananas
2 cups frozen strawberries
8 – 10 pitted dates
4 tbls plant milk unsweetened

Pour all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix well until a thick and creamy mixture is obtained. If you feel you need a little more liquid to make it happen use a few more spoonfuls. Transfer all the mix to a container you can freeze for at least 1 hour. Serve cold and enjoy. You can also serve right after you blend it. Also you can use toppings like almonds, fresh strawberries, cacao chips, coconut unsweetened flakes, etc.


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June 24, 2019 Uncategorized

If you want more nutrient-dense foods as the staples for your daily diet, focus on building your power plate. A power plate avoids animal products and processed foods including oils. It includes fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables.

Incorporating more of these types of whole foods can positively affect a person’s well-being, including lowering risks of many chronic diseases, improving mood, increasing energy, improving mental clarity and maintaining a healthy weight.

The easiest way to build a power plate is to focus on eating a good variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. This helps provide the body with the macro- and micronutrients it needs to perform at its peak.

Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an essential component of the power plate. Good complex carbs include whole (versus refined) grains and vegetables. Good simple carbohydrates are fruits (versus junk food).

Proteins
Proteins are made up of amino acids. They build and repair tissue loss. Plant proteins are really the high quality sources of protein since they can also include health-promoting fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Less than 5% of Americans eat the minimum RDI of fiber. Incorporating more fiber into the diet is one of the best ways to build the power plate.

Fats
The US Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of fats is 20-35% of calories. Fats provide energy and help the body absorb nutrients. What’s important is the type of fat eaten, as the bad fats can raise LDL, which is a risk factor for our number one killer, heart disease.

To lower LDL cholesterol levels, avoid:
– Saturated Fats, with the top source being cheese
– Trans Fats, sometimes labeled “partially hydrogenated oils,” found in junk food and some animal products
– Cholesterol, with the top source being eggs

Cholesterol is needed for cell wall structure integrity and to make hormones; the body generates ample cholesterol. We don’t need to be obtaining more of it from our diet; plant foods are essentially free of cholesterol.

Unsaturated/Polyunsaturated fats can lower cholesterol levels. Great sources of these “good” fats are nuts, avocados, flax seeds and chia seeds.

Micronutrients
A power plate also typically provides vitamins and minerals. I’ll discuss micronutrients in more detail in a future story.

Summary
This powerful nutrition pattern is recognized by professional organizations including:
– The American Diabetes Association stated in 2018 that a plant-based diet is an effective option for type 2 diabetes management
– The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology suggested in 2018 that a plant-based diet is the preferred eating pattern for patients with type 2 diabetes
– The Academy of Nutritional and Dietetics states that an appropriately-planned vegetarian diets are healthful and nutritionally adequate, and they may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. They also state that these diets are appropriate for all stages of life including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adults and athletes.

Building a whole-foods power plate of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits can improve a person’s overall physical and mental health. A whole food, plant-based diet can be your simple “diet for life.”

Note: It is important to discuss nutrition changes with a physician to address any existing conditions or medications you take.


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May 20, 2019 Plant-based News

Dr. Saadia Alvi believes in the power of plant-based nutrition. Here, she discusses the benefits of changing your nutrition habits.

One of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight is sustainable nutrition habits – making changes to, and sticking with, the types of food you eat on an ongoing basis. This does not mean you have to make sudden, drastic changes to what you eat; taking simple steps toward eating better will help your nutrition.

For many people, evolving their nutrition to better-for-them foods is a realistic approach to changing their habits and their tastes. If you like what you are eating, you will eat those foods. As you get more comfortable with “new” foods, spices and recipes, you’ll naturally expand your palette. Deciding to improve your nutrition is a great excuse to get creative in the kitchen.

I emphasize plant-based nutrition because the positive results of eating more whole and plant-based foods are well-documented. The quality of the food is also important – whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits are the healthier options. While technically plant-based, foods like potato chips and French fries are not great choices for your best nutrition or ideal weight.

Whole foods and plant-based foods are ones that have been processed or refined as little as possible and are free from additives or other artificial substances. They provide superior nutrition as they contain no cholesterol and less saturated fat and provide the protein, vitamins, iron and omega fatty acids your body needs for optimum energy and health. Nutrition benefits including pre-biotics, phytonutrients and flavonoids.

In the average American diet, it is estimated that 32% of calories comes from animal foods, 57% from processed plant foods and only 11% from total plant foods. Of that 11%, less than 6% comes from actual whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts (U.S. Dept of Agriculture).

That average diet is reflected in our weights – 31.8% of U.S. adults aged 20+ are overweight and 39.8% are obese (cdc.gov). That’s 71.6% of Americans.

As you add more whole, plant-based foods to your daily nutrition, it does not have to be an “all-or-nothing” scenario. You can start by making some simple switches, like using plant milk in your coffee or tea instead of dairy; steaming vegetables instead of frying them; flavoring foods with spices and herbs instead of fatty sauces; and adding non-animal protein to your meals like tofu, quinoa, chick peas or lentils.

In helping my patients manage and prevent chronic health conditions, I encourage them to focus on nutrition and lifestyle changes that they will adopt as their “new normal,” and thus, stick to. Just like a person didn’t gain 50 unwanted pounds overnight, it’s not always realistic to try to change habits all at once. It is much simpler to find ways to fix your favorite vegetables or non-animal proteins so you love eating them.

This sustainable approach to nutrition is why fad diets rarely work for people for the long-term. They’re just a whole lot of work – measuring, counting and restricting what you eat. They may provide short-term results, most typically due to water loss, but as soon as you deviate from the diet, your weight gain will begin anew.

Plant-based nutrition can help you reach and maintain your healthy weight with no calorie counting. Eating healthier can also lower your risk of chronic diseases including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. A whole food, plant-based diet can be your simple “diet for life.”

Note: It is important to discuss nutrition changes with a physician to address any existing conditions or medications you take.


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May 18, 2019 Plant-based Recipes

At our May 13 seminar, Ditch the Diet, Focus on Your Fuel, Plant-based Nutrition Specialist Barbara Penaranda shared two of her delicious recipes, Kale & Mango Ceviche and Cacao Pudding with Walnuts & Dates Crumble.

Barbara is on a mission to work with people to create a sustainable change in our world – starting by what we eat. From there, we can expand our consciousness and harvest healthy habits for future generations. She coaches on nutrition, teaches cooking classes, gives nutrition lectures and creates menus and recipes. She also provides weekly meal planning and cooking to help individuals achieve their nutritional goals.

Connect with Barbara at:
@Barbyfitmom
407-692-6903
barbarawellnesscoach@gmail.com

Kale & Mango Ceviche
3 mangos (not very ripe, not too green), chopped in strips
½ red onion, diced
1 can whole corn in water
1 red pepper, cut in strips
4 cups organic kale washed, without stem, chopped (whole bunch)
1 cup cilantro, without stalk, washed and chopped
4 limes (juice)
½ tsp Himalayan salt
Pinch of pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of turmeric powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper powder (optional)
1 can chickpeas (preferably organic, in water, or equivalent to 2 cups of freshly cooked chickpeas)* *Optional for higher protein intake as a main dish

In a large bowl, add all the kale. Sprinkle some salt onto the kale; massage with your hands the leaves for about three minutes. You will notice how the color and texture change. This process is important for better digestion and flavor. After doing this, add the rest of the ingredients. mix and let stand for a few minutes, stirring a little. Serve cold with corn tortillas.

Cacao Pudding with Walnuts & Dates Crumble

Pudding
1 block firm or extra firm tofu
½ cup cacao powder, unsweetened
½ cup whole pitted dates
1/3 cup plant milk, unsweetened

Crumble Nuts
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted dates

Pudding | In a blender or food processor, add all the pudding ingredients, liquefy well until a thick and creamy mixture is obtained. The pudding will get a firmer consistency when you refrigerate it. Transfer your pudding to small containers, if you want them as shots. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Crumble Topping | Place all ingredients into a food processor. Chop until a lumpy mixture is obtained. Add to pudding as topping. Serve cold.


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April 18, 2019 Plant-based News

Working this powerful little seed and crucial vitamin into your daily routine has a big impact on your health.

Flaxseed is a seed so powerful that a couple tablespoons a day could help lower cholesterol, promote healthy skin and ward off sugar cravings. How? The small seed is a great source of fiber, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, which provide us with antioxidants.

They also:

  • help lower bad cholesterol
  • help promote healthy skin
  • help promote hormonal balance

Also ensure you are consuming Vitamin B12 every day, as the lack of it could drive to neurological consequences. The B group vitamins play pivotal roles and have a great impact on neurological health and brain cell functions. These vitamins are essential for the proper functioning and development of nerve cells.


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April 18, 2019 Lifestyle Medicine

Treating the causes of disease
How you live your daily life – your lifestyle – impacts your overall health and risk of chronic diseases.

Through the discipline of lifestyle medicine, Dr. Alvi treats the causes of endocrine-related disease – focusing on ways to prevent chronic diseases and conditions through changes in your daily habits. Dr. Alvi works with you on lifestyle behaviors including improving your diet, ways you’ll enjoy being active and more fit, managing stress, stopping smoking, sleeping more soundly and more. She develops a “Lifestyle Rx” – your personalized plan to help you manage your lifestyle and attain better health, based on your current health, family history and goals. Together, you’ll track your progress in sustaining your healthier you via evidence-based lab tests to screen, diagnose and monitor lifestyle-related diseases.

You’ll be empowered with the knowledge and life skills to make effective behavior changes that address the underlying causes of disease.

By changing your lifestyle, you invest in your better health, lower health care costs and enhanced well-being. This approach helps you avoid chronic conditions before they develop. It can also help you manage and even reverse chronic conditions you already have.

Dr. Alvi is working toward her accreditation as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), the professional medical association for physicians, medical professionals, allied health professionals and those with professional careers devoted to advancing the mission of lifestyle medicine. This preventive approach is rooted in a modern value and outcomes-based system of care versus the traditional fee-per-service treatment of chronic conditions.


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April 18, 2019 Plant-based News

Better nutrition, better health
As a Plant-based Endocrinologist, Dr. Alvi believes the more plant-based foods you eat, the better your health will be. Upgrading your body’s fuel with the right proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals helps you prevent chronic disease and function at your mental and physical best.

Dr. Alvi guides her patients on eating more vegetables, fruits and fiber-rich foods while cutting back on processed foods filled with fats, sugar and salt. She emphasizes a balanced diet that works for you – no extremes, no gimmicks, no fads. Just a common-sense approach to eating with nutrition top-of-mind.

Improved nutrition helps prevent chronic disease. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, combat aging and improve your immune system. Simple changes to plant-based foods can also save you the health care costs of chronic conditions that poor diet accelerates.

The connection between better nutrition and better health is well documented. Some examples:

  • After 18 weeks participants following a low-fat plant-based diet lost an average of 9.48 pounds, dropped 13 points off their LDL cholesterol score and lowered their biochemical markers for Type 2 diabetes. [The GEICO Study, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012]
  • A study at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio found a plant-based diet without “dairy, fish meat and added oil” reduced coronary artery disease symptoms in 94% of patients and reversed the disease in 22%. [The Journal of Family Practice, 2014]

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April 18, 2019 Endocrinology News

Humans have over 50 different hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and are part of the endocrine system. They regulate metabolism, respiration, growth, reproduction, sensory perception and movement. The endocrine system regulates our heart rate, metabolism – how the body gets energy from the foods we eat – appetite, mood, sexual function, reproduction, growth and development, sleep cycles, and more.

Hormone imbalances are the underlying reason for a wide range of medical conditions. Maintaining proper hormone balances is an ongoing process. We emphasize a combination of medicines that regulate your hormone levels alongside good nutrition and lifestyle habits.

Endocrinology focuses both on the hormones and the many glands and tissues that produce them. The human endocrine system consists of a number of glands, which release hormones to control many different functions. Endocrine glands make hormones, which travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, and control most of our body’s major systems. They can exist in very small amounts and still have a significant impact on bodily function and development. Some of the factors that affect endocrine organs include aging, certain diseases and conditions, stress, the environment and genetics.

There are three broad groups of endocrine disorders:

  • hyposecretion: when a gland does not produce enough of its hormones
  • hypersecretion: when a gland produces too much of its hormones
  • Tumors develop in the endocrine glands. They may be malignant, or cancerous, but they may also be benign, or non-cancerous.

[content sourced from hormone.org, the Hormone Health Network from the Endocrine Society]


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Saadia Alvi, MD believes in the power of both evidence-based conventional and lifestyle medical approaches to prevent, manage and treat endocrine conditions. She aspires to help patients actively pursue better health.

Her practice is based on conventional evidence-based medicine. An Endocrinology Specialist, she is Board Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in the specialties of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

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