Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How These Healthy Breakfast Choices Fuel Your Brain and Body

A Healthy Breakfast, a Healthy Starthealthy breakfast


After a good night’s rest, you’re recharged and ready to take on a new day. It’s important to fuel your body with the energy it needs to get work done. Eating a healthy breakfast is your best bet and sets you up for your entire day ahead.

Even if you aren’t hungry in the morning, it’s a good idea to eat a healthy breakfast. And it can come in many shapes and sizes. But there are a few things you can do to maximize your morning meal.

Amp up the Protein

Protein is an important component of a healthy diet. Many scientific studies have shown that consuming a high-protein breakfast reduces the urge to snack on high-fat and high-sugar treats. Eggs, yogurt, and lean meats provide the fuel your body needs to make it through the day. These foods are rich in protein and provide long-lasting energy.

Your muscles also need protein to stay in shape. Your recommended amount of protein per day depends on your weight. It’s 0.8 grams per kilogram of weight (or 0.36 grams per pound). To find your number, multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8 or your weight in pounds by 0.36. For example, if you’re 70 kilograms (155 pounds), you need to get at least 56 grams of protein each day to supply energy and maintain muscle mass. Divide your daily protein requirement by your number of meals to find how much protein you need for breakfast.

Plugging protein into your healthy breakfast can help throughout the day. You can fight your snack cravings and maintain your muscles by starting each day with a protein-packed breakfast.

Choose Low-Glycemic Options

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly your body absorbs sugar. Sugar, or carbohydrates, are an important and essential part of a healthy diet. But you have to be deliberate in the carbohydrates you chose.

When you opt for high-glycemic options, your blood sugar quickly spikes. This isn’t healthy and your body knows it. As a response, it dumps a lot of hormones into our blood stream (the major one of course is insulin) to coax your cells to absorb it—quickly.

As a result, even more quickly than your blood sugar rises, it comes crashing down. This can result in low blood sugar (also an unhealthy circumstance). When this happens, you can feel tired and lose focus. The response is your brain telling you to eat something—and anything—quickly. As a result, you reach for the closest thing (snack), which tends to be an unhealthy option.

To break this high-glycemic rollercoaster ride, choose carbohydrates that are absorbed more slowly to keep your blood-sugar levels low. This will also help you keep feeling full for longer and will provide a longer-term source of energy for your body (and brain) to use. And because your blood sugar won’t come crashing down, you get hungry slowly and this gives you time to make healthy food choices for your upcoming meals.

It has also been shown that people who eat breakfast—and especially low-glycemic breakfasts—tend to eat fewer calories through the day.

Choose Whole Grains for a Healthy Breakfast

Now that you have the protein taken care of, let’s help you chose the healthy carbohydrates in your breakfast. Here you want to focus on fiber. That’s because it aids in digestion and keeps you feeling full after a meal.

Whole grains have higher fiber content than their refined counterparts and are better for you. By choosing whole grains, your body can help maintain steady blood sugar and avoid sudden spikes or drops. Whole grain foods help maintain healthy cholesterol already in the normal range and support heart health.

Phytonutrients (nutrients derived from plants) are also abundant in whole grains. They’re important because your body can’t make these essential compounds. Eating whole-wheat toast, or whole-grain cereals can increase the fiber and phytonutrients in your diet and will help you stay full throughout the day.

Skip the Juice, Go with Fruit

Fruit juice is a tempting choice when preparing breakfast. Unfortunately, these drinks are high in sugar, low in fiber, and associated with negative health effects.

So, juices aren’t the best choice for a healthy breakfast. Going with whole fruit is more nutritious. Whole fruit can satisfy a craving for sweets and has the added benefit of fiber, which helps support healthy digestion.

Some of the best fruits to eat at breakfast are berries, grapefruit, and bananas. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and help maintain cellular vitality. Grapefruit is full of fiber and can fill you up faster than pastries and sweet drinks. Bananas are packed with potassium, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients help maintain a healthy body and sustain you throughout the day. And bananas are easy to grab and take with you when you’re in a hurry.

Be Smart About Your Fat Selection

Fat isn’t a bad word. It’s one of the essential macronutrients and provides a great source of sustained energy. Fat can even help you feel full longer. But you have to be selective about the type of fat you choose and be careful about the extra calories they add.

That’s because not all fats are created equal. Trans fats—like margarine—should be avoided altogether. For other fats, you should first consider the source.

An avocado and a pork sausage patty both contain fat. But it’s pretty easy to guess which one is better for your body. As a general rule, fats that come from plants are usually healthier and fats that come from animals are usually less healthy.

So, don’t skip the fat. Just be smart about your selection.

What You Drink Matters

When you find yourself in need of a morning beverage, look to water, coffee, and tea instead of caffeinated soda, juice, or energy drinks—even so-called “diet” options. These sugary beverages can spike blood sugar, dehydrate your body over the course of the day, and in the case of diet beverages, even trigger you to snack more.

Water provides lasting hydration and helps your body function optimally. Tea and coffee are natural sources of energy boosting caffeine and have been shown to activate the areas of the brain that keep you alert and focused. Green, white, black, and herbal teas are also valuable sources of phytonutrients and antioxidants. These compounds are important for supporting healthy cell and immune function.

Pair Your Favorite Healthy Breakfast with Nutritional Supplements

Even when you try to eat right, your nutrient supply can fall short of your daily needs. Multivitamins are quick, easy ways to ensure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your engine running smoothly.

Nutritional supplementation, as recommended by your healthcare provider, helps close the gap between what your body needs and what your diet provides. Supplements can optimize the efficiency of your cellular communication, help support your immune system, and help you turn the macronutrients you just ate (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) into the energy your body needs for the day.

Start your day with a healthy breakfast and a multivitamin to put your body in the best position for success.

Easy Ways to Make Better Breakfast Choices

Eating a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be difficult. Small changes and substitutions to your current breakfast routine could be enough to improve your morning nutrition.
Here are some simple ways to have a better breakfast today:
  • Substitute white bread with a whole-grain alternative.
  • Try to avoid most cold cereals. Even what looks to be the healthiest choice tends to be high glycemic.
  • Drink tea or other healthy beverages instead of juice. If you need to sweeten, use natural sweeteners like stevia or agave nectar.
  • In a hurry? Make sure your on-the-go breakfast includes a fruit/vegetable, protein, a smart fat, and whole grains. A piece of fruit, hard-boiled egg, and whole-wheat bagel will fill you up, fuel your busy day, and help you make smart eating choices later on. Or alternatively, a low-glycemic meal replacement shake can be quick, healthy, on-the-go option.
  • Take a multivitamin at breakfast each day. After you make it a habit, taking your vitamins will be easy to remember.

About the Author

Sydney Sprouse is a freelance science writer based out of Forest Grove, Oregon. She holds a bachelor of science in human biology from Utah State University, where she worked as an undergraduate researcher and writing fellow. Sydney is a lifelong student of science and makes it her goal to translate current scientific research as effectively as possible. She writes with particular interest in human biology, health, and nutrition.



From Deanna:  I start my day out with a Usana nutritional shake, called Nutrimeal, sometimes adding berries.  I love the balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What Makes a Superior Children's Vitamin Over Gummies?

Making a Top Quality Children’s Multivitamin/ Mineral Supplement – A Perspective   www.askthescientists.com

Nearly 70 percent of children’s multivitamins come in gummy form. While this may make them appealing to kids, that may not be a good thing as hundreds of parents rush to the emergency room each year with children who ate the whole bottle.

We have been asked many times over the years why we don’t make our children’s vitamins in a gummy form because “kids don’t like ours.” 

First of all, just like all of our products, we hold our children’s supplements to very high standards (which gummies cannot meet), and second, they really shouldn’t be seen as candy or a treat. Give them with a meal, don’t make them a treat or a chore.

Very few people truly understand how difficult it is to make a children’s chewable vitamin that is complete, palatable, low in sugar, and without any artificial sweeteners or flavors. There are many companies that provide products with some of these characteristics, but very, very few have the whole package.

The easiest way to make them taste better is by adding more sugar or artificial flavors and sweeteners. In order to satisfy our own philosophy and that of most of our customers, we do not use artificial sweeteners or flavors. 

And, we keep the sugar content to an absolute minimum at about 0.75 grams per tablet.

What makes this most difficult, and what sets us apart from the vast majority of other children’s vitamins, is that we add higher amounts of magnesium, calcium and other minerals. And, we provide trace minerals like selenium, manganese, copper, chromium, and molybdenum that aren’t found in most competitors. If they are important for adults, why wouldn’t they be important for children?
children's multivitamin

Here is something you probably won’t hear anywhere else. But, the primary reason most children’s chewable have lower and less complete mineral dosages is because they taste NASTY. Covering the flavor without adding tons of sugar or artificial ingredients takes some talented food scientists.

I distinctly remember sitting around a table in the lab many years ago before a reformulation. In front of us were little plates of mineral raw materials that we each had to taste. The purpose was to determine which of the minerals was resulting in the bad flavor we were attempting to overcome. 

I can tell you from experience that it is a minor miracle the Usanimals taste as good as they do with the level of minerals and the restricted flavors and sweeteners we use.

Gummies, on the other hand, typically contain 2 or more grams of sugar per gummy. And, even if they are providing natural flavoring, they are never as complete in nutrients, especially minerals, as the Usanimals. 

The next time you are at the store, or looking online, compare the label of the Usanimals to different brands of gummy vitamins and you’ll see what I mean.

We’ve always said food first to get your recommended daily dose of vitamins, but the reality is that most diets are deficient in many areas. And, in many ways, nutrition is even more crucial in children that are actively growing and developing.

Yes, we could make the Usanimals taste better, put them in a different form, or simply leave out the nasty tasting nutrients. But then, who would we be? Everybody else.

About the Author

Russ Barton earned his MS in Nutritional Science from Brigham Young University in 1993 where his research emphasis was analysis of individuals who successfully maintain a significant weight loss. He has a BS degree in Zoology with a minor in chemistry also from Brigham Young University (1988).

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Are You Getting the Essential Nutrients for Your Brain's Health?

Your brain is powerful. You can even use it to think about how the brain itself works. Crazy, right? But this power doesn’t make your brain immune to factors that impact the rest of your body. Lifestyle and environment can affect your brain health. Luckily, there are nutrients for brain health shown to support cognitive function.


For a long time, dietary fats (lipids) have been connected to brain health. Originally, lipids’ effect on the cardiovascular system was thought to facilitate that connection. But more recent research shows dietary fats have more direct actions on the brain.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like DHA from fish oil) normally make up cell membranes throughout your body. And like other saturated fat, they’re fundamental building blocks for your brain cells. That’s part of the reason fish is often called a brain food.


The antioxidant effects of flavonoids are well-established in a test-tube setting. But these plant compounds—like cocoa, ginkgo, and grape-seed extracts—have more complex actions in the body that is continually being researched.

Some flavonoids show promising results in maintaining healthy brain function. Quercetin—a flavonoid that’s a major component of ginkgo biloba extracts—has been shown to maintain memory and learning abilities in some studies. Further research on the subject is needed.

B Vitamins

Adequate levels of the B vitamin folate are essential for brain function. The proof? Folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, like depression and cognitive impairment.

Clinical trial results have deepened the connection between folate and cognitive function. These studies have shown folate supplementation—by itself or in conjunction with other B vitamins (B6 and B12)—to be effective at maintaining healthy cognitive function during aging.

Other Nutrients

There are more nutrients for brain health. Here’s a short list of the other nutrients with researched roles in brain health:
  • Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to maintain memory and cognitive function.
  • Vitamin E, or α-tocopherol, has also been implicated in cognitive performance. Decreasing serum levels of vitamin E were associated with poor memory performance in older individuals.
  • Curcumin is a strong antioxidant that seems to protect the brain from lipid peroxidation and nitric-oxide-based radicals.
  • Several gut hormones or peptides—like leptin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and insulin—have been found to support healthy emotional response and cognitive processes.

Energy Production

The brain runs your body. And it takes a lot of energy to literally be the brain of the operation. Healthy macronutrients are necessary to fuel your brain and provide the energy it needs.
The mechanisms involved in the transfer of energy from foods to neurons are likely to be fundamental to the control of brain function. Processes that are associated with the management of energy in neurons can affect brain plasticity.

Far-Reaching Impacts

Lifestyle and diet have long-term effects on your health. That means they are likely underestimated for their importance to public health—especially when it comes to healthy aging. But they’re important to your brain. The gradual and sometimes imperceptible cognitive decline that characterizes normal aging can be influenced by the nutrients you feed your brain through a healthy diet.

These impacts go beyond your life, too. Through epigenetics, you pass on traits to your children and their children. Newer studies back this up. They indicate that these nutritional effects on your brain might even be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events.
Gómez-Pinilla, Fernando. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jul; 9(7): 568–578.

From Deanna: As the years go by, I am especially aware of how important it is to nutrient my brain!  I don't want to get overly forgetful or fall to Dementia or Alzheimer's.   That's why I have trusted the Usana products for over 23 years.  In addition to a healthy diet (as much as possible) I appreciate the optimal nutrition provided by the Usana supplements and nutritional shakes.