Category: Nutrition Therapy

Inflammation & Nutrition

Image: Shutterstock. Description: Selection of healthy food reducing chronic inflammation salmon fish avocado seeds nuts leafy green vegetables berries on a white rustic wooden table.

What is inflammation & why does it matter?

Inflammation is a natural and protective response by the body’s immune system to an injury, infection or harmful substances.  Symptoms of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling and pain.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Imagine cutting your finger or scraping your knee. What happens? The area turns red, is painful and perhaps starts swelling. This is acute inflammation – your immune system is sending white blood cells to your injured finger or knee to protect it. In this way, inflammation is helpful and essential and speeds up the healing process.

In contrast, chronic inflammation happens when the body continues to respond for a long time as if it was under attack by a foreign or unwanted substance. Chronic inflammation does not help the body because it fights against its own cells by mistake. Some diseases or medical conditions associated with inflammation are rheumatoid arthritis, where many joints throughout the body are permanently inflamed, psoriasis – a chronic skin disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.  These chronic inflammatory diseases can last for years or even a lifetime. Chronic inflammation also contributes to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and some allergic conditions.

What you can do about managing inflammation?

With all the conditions that involve inflammation, no wonder people are interested in food choices to help reduce ongoing harmful chronic inflammation. Overall good nutrition is key to enhancing immunity and providing antioxidants that lower the stress of inflammation. You may be wondering about specific foods that have been called out as part of the ‘anti-inflammatory diet’.   Here are FIVE types of foods to keep on top of your list that may help reduce chronic inflammation:

1.Foods rich in omega- 3 fats

  • Eat oily fish 2 – 3 times / week (salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, trout)
  • Replace regular eggs with omega-3 eggs
  • Choose plant-based sources of omega-3 fats including flax oil, ground flax seeds and walnuts

2.Antioxidant rich vegetables and fruit

  • Look for colour – dark green, red, orange, yellow, purple and blue – they are chock full of antioxidants
  • Enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruit everyday – make them half your plate at each meal

3. Fibre

  • Choose fibre rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils) and whole grains. High fibre foods help support your gut health and nourish the beneficial bacteria that help fight inflammation and disease.

4. Herbs and spices

  • Add flavour with cinnamon, ginger and turmeric which seem to supress inflammation, but evidence is unclear about how often and how much to eat. Have fun exploring some dietitian approved recipes that enhance flavour with these herbs and spices.

5. Protein

  • Eat protein foods to build antibodies which play a role in supporting a healthy immune system. Include fatty fish (see tip #1 above) and lean white meat in your diet. Use cooking methods that do not char meat such as poaching, stewing, and steaming. Try acidic marinades such as lemon, lime vinegar or yogurt for a health and flavour boost. Acid ingredients tenderize meat and studies show that marinating meats may reduce harmful compounds that can form on meat exposed to high cooking temperatures.
  • Choose plant proteins including tofu, tempeh, edamame, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds.

 Bottom line

There is no single anti-inflammatory or miracle food!  However, eating an overall healthy diet is an important way to help manage inflammation.  In addition,  getting enough sleep , engaging in regular physical activity as well as other lifestyle factors (such as NOT smoking)  have a direct impact on lowering inflammation.

A registered dietitian can break down the anti-inflammatory diet for you into easy-to-follow steps and provide you with a variety of enjoyable ways to eat well.  Contact us to find out more about our personalized nutrition counselling sessions.


Dietitian or Nutritionist? What’s the Difference?

There is often a mix-up about the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.  Many people mistakenly use the terms “Dietitian” and “Nutritionist” interchangeably but there are big differences between the qualifications and the protection of your health. To be sure you are accessing the most qualified nutrition professional, look for the initials RD or PDt (DtP in French) after the health professional’s name or ask – are you a dietitian? Remember EVERY dietitian is also a nutritionist but NOT every nutritionist is a registered dietitian.

Let’s take a closer look at the important differences that can impact your health and wellness.

What is a Dietitian?

  • The title ‘Dietitian’ is protected by provincial laws across Canada just like a nurse, dentist, physician and pharmacist.
  • Dietitians are highly educated and trained. They have a university degree in foods and nutrition. After graduating they undergo comprehensive training, both on the job and in universities and then they have to pass a rigorous professional licensing exam.
  • Dietitians are the only regulated health professionals in the field of nutrition. This means that they must belong to a regulatory body and adhere to their standards, otherwise they will be penalized with legal action.
  • Regulated by a Health Professional College the public is protected and has access to accredited and licensed nutrition advice from Dietitians.
  • Dietitians are held accountable for safe, competent and ethical nutrition services throughout their career.

What is a Nutritionist*?

  • The title ‘Nutritionist’ is NOT protected by law so technically anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.
  • A Nutritionist’s education varies with different levels of training and knowledge. The title nutritionist is often used by those who have completed privately owned training programs that vary in length and rigor.
  • The risk is that unregulated people calling themselves ‘nutritionist’ can offer advice regardless of their education or training which could be dangerous. For example recommending vitamins, minerals herbal products regardless of their knowledge and training in this area could put the public at risk of nutrition misinformation that may result in health-related harm.
  • * In the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia the title Nutritionist is also a protected title along with Dietitian.  If you live in these provinces, please refer to your provincial regulations for criteria or send us a question and we’ll be happy to direct you to the source information. Dietitians of Canada – The difference between a dietitian and nutritionist

Why Work with a Dietitian?

We are all hungry for information about nutrition and health, but not all advice out there is credible and evidence-based.  Think about it, you wouldn’t ask a celebrity how to build a safe bridge; you’d ask a professional engineer. You also wouldn’t ask any friend to fill your cavity, you’d ask a dentist. The same thinking should apply for nutrition advice. So dig a little deeper and look for credentials.

If you choose to work with a Dietitian you know they are qualified health professionals who give you life-changing advice for healthy living. Dietitians are passionate about the power of food and help unlock its power for your health and wellness.

Dietitians are the most credible and trusted health professionals who promote health through food and nutrition. You can find out if your nutrition professional is a registered dietitian by checking the College of Dietitians Registry in your province or territory. Many dietitians are also found on the Dietitians of Canada website under ‘find a dietitian’.

As dietitians we are experts at translating the science to help people navigate their food and nutrition related health and wellness journey. Contact us with your questions! We’re ready to help.

Diabetes Nutrition – Top 5 FAQ

November is Diabetes Month and a great time to check in on the concerns of people at risk or living with Diabetes. With so much free information online, as a dietitian I’m often asked questions about facts versus myths. Read on for credible tips and answers to 5 frequently asked questions about nutrition and diabetes.

There are many factors that help to manage diabetes and food is an important one.  We have long known that a balanced diet helps lead to better blood sugar control. But taking care of diabetes can be demanding and implementing a healthy way of eating is easier said than done. Registered Dietitians are here to help you along the way. Contact us for more information and support to help manage diabetes through personal nutrition counselling.

Q: Can I get rid of type 2 diabetes if I stop eating carbs?  

A: Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes you cannot ‘get rid’ of it, but you can find ways to help control it. Through diet and lifestyle changes many people find that they can control blood sugar levels. Your goal should be to manage the amount and type of carbohydrate that meets your body’s needs, not to eliminate carbs. You need the carbohydrates as energy for your brain and other body cells and they also provide many essential nutrients. Set your carbohydrate targets with the help of a healthcare professional.

Q: Do I need to give up fruit since it’s full of carbohydrate?

A: You can still enjoy fruit, you just need to know the amount that’s right for you in your meals and snacks. All fruit (fresh, frozen, dried, and canned without added sugar) are mainly carbohydrate foods. Fruit is a healthy food choice because it contains vitamins, minerals and fibre that are important for overall health. Your dietitian can help create a meal plan that will include the amount of fruit that is right for you.

Q: Is brown sugar better for me than white sugar?

A: No. All types of sugars will affect your blood glucose levels in the same way and are digested in the same way. Sugars differ in colour, flavour and crystal size, but whether it’s honey, brown sugar, agave syrup, brown or white sugar, nutritionally speaking, they are much the same. Your body can’t tell the difference between where the sugars come from and uses them all as easily digested carbohydrates for energy. The key to eating added sugars is to choose them in relatively small amounts and find ways to eat and use less.

Q: How do I read the Nutrition Facts Table for sugars?

A: The Nutrition Facts Table lists total sugars. Check for the word “Carbohydrates” and then look below it to find the amount of sugar (in grams) in one serving of the food. The amount of sugar on the Nutrition Facts Table combines both naturally occurring and added sugars found in the food. Look at the ingredient list to see if a food has added sugars. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that added sugars and sweetened foods be used in moderation. Reading Nutrition Labels can teach you about how the foods you buy may affect your blood glucose levels. Registered Dietitians can help with label reading.

Q: How can I stay motivated to take care of myself?

A:  Being newly diagnosed can be an intimidating experience. Taking care of diabetes and getting through your daily responsibilities is demanding. With these challenges it’s understandable that staying motivated is tough. You’re not alone and we have tools and resources to help you succeed and live your healthiest life possible. We’d like to offer some tips to help you get started:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Make small meaningful changes that you can keep up in the long run
  3. Get support

If you’re looking for more 1:1 nutrition support, education and life changing advice to move your diabetes management plan forward reach out to us.