Nutrition plays a critical role in supporting our immune system. Now more than ever it's time to prioritize your nutrition to keep you healthy and well. This doesn't need to take excessive amounts of time or advanced culinary skills. Give a listen to our podcast to learn easy ways to prepare and eat meals that support your immune health.
In this podcast, you'll hear Gennev's Director of Coaching Stasi Kasianchuk, RND, talking with another Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Monika Jacobson, about the importance of good food during stressful times.
Healthy food is always important, but in this time of global pandemic, the more we can do to take care of ourselves, the more we slow the spread and ease the burden on overloaded health care facilities.
And if the way we take care of ourselves makes us and our families feel good, happens to be delicious as well as nutritious, and can even be a fun activity to do together, well, even better!
Click here for more information on Gennev's HealthFix program. And learn more about Monika and her organization, Eat Move Thrive-Spokane.
Looking for more great information on wellness during COVID 19 and beyond? Check out Gennev's free Weekly Webinar series, where we talk with experts in women's health about the issues that concern you most.
About our speakers:
Coach Stasi Kasianchuk RDN is a Sports Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist, and menopause specialist. Check out her movement videos on the Gennev channel of YouTube.
Monika Jacobson is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with over 10 years of experience coaching people through their health and wellness journeys.
I am Stasi Kasianchuk. I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist, and the Director of Gennev Health Coaching. Today I'm here with Monika Jacobson, and we're going to be talking about how to prepare nutritious meals during this COVID-19 crisis. So Monika, I'd love if you could just give our audience a little bit of background for you, on your business, Eat Move Thrive - Spokane, and what you do on a day-to-day basis there.
Monika Jacobson RND:
Thanks Stasi. I'm also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I own a business called Eat Move Thrive - Spokane. And I'm located in Spokane, Washington... Eastern Washington, for those of you who may not know and in my business I do one-on-one virtual coaching and most of that is centered around nutrition, but I'm always talking about exercise and stress management and sleep and the psychological pieces that play into all of that because it definitely works very much together. But nutrition is definitely my expertise. So, I work with clients one-on-one and video meetings like this, or over the phone. And when we're not in the middle of a global pandemic, I'm out in the community a lot doing cooking classes, teaching various nutrition topics or wellness topics to groups of people in studios, gyms, and corporate settings. I do a lot of corporate wellness with local companies in town. A little bit of everything, but lots on the coaching side of things these days as most of us are at home.
That’s such a great thing that we have the telehealth platform to work from right now. It’s certainly working to our advantage.
Well, you know, you bring up the pandemic that we're in and certainly it is a unique situation. I think I can speak for both of us and that we have never lived through anything like this and it's certainly a unique time. One thing that excites me is that the importance of nutrition for immune health, which you and I both know from our studying, our training and our backgrounds, but now I have clients that are a lot more interested in this. So I'd love if we could just talk maybe through some basics, have a good conversation about why nutrition is important for the immune system, and different foods that can help with that.
And then we'll get into the nitty gritty on how to help people to do that. Does that sound okay for you?
Monika Jacobson RND:
All right, awesome. Well, you know, I love food in general and the power of food to support the immune system. And I see the opportunities here for people to expand and try new things, but also to understand the importance of how food supports our health in a variety of different ways, especially immune support. Most recently, I've been talking to my clients about food being kind of the building blocks of the immune system. And if we're going outside into our world right now, we want to have an armor on. And food can definitely do that. What types of conversations have you been having with your clients around this, and what has helped them to understand the importance that food plays with immune health?
Monika Jacobson RND:
That's a great question. I have been talking more about immunity. In general, I would say even at the start of cold and flu season, but now more than ever, it's front of mind. So, I do think of food as medicine, but also as preventative medicine. And I think of it as fuel in our gas tanks. And if you put high-quality fuel into your gas tank, you're going to perform better. And I don't mean from an athletic standpoint or performance (standpoint). What I mean is, that the natural metabolic processes in your body, including those around immunity, can function at their best. Food has really powerful properties and especially very specific foods to support that immunity.
I'm talking with my clients about how to make the most nutritious choices right now, so they're keeping their immunity in tip-top shape for whatever bugs and viruses they may encounter right now. Because not only do we want to avoid COVID-19, but we also want to avoid having to go to the hospital for just anything at this point. So I'm keeping our immunity strong for all those reasons just feels extra important right now.
That's such a good point. Obviously COVID-19 is getting a lot of attention, but that doesn't mean other colds, flus, bugs are disappeared. They still exist too. That's the great thing about food that I like because it's not like a drug that's just targeting one thing, and you can get so many benefits from foods, especially fruits and vegetables. I think sometimes my clients might get tired of me saying, “You need to eat more fruits and vegetables”. But really at the basics, these whole foods do provide such a benefit that we don't have to worry about overdosing. I have not yet had anyone overdose on vegetables. I suppose there could be some digestive challenges, but you know, I think we have some benefits there that they're powerhouses.
And like you said, food in general, contains these phytochemicals when we're thinking about plants that go in and really support the immune system and doing the job of filling that tank. So the quality that you're putting in can really support the quality of your health.
When it comes to other foods... Obviously fruits and vegetables are important. They are going to support our immune system. They have lots of vitamins, minerals to do that. Other foods that you see as important to help your clients... Do you have other things that you're recommending to them when it comes to immune function?
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, that's a good question. So, you're right. Certainly fruits and vegetables. Absolutely, ginger, garlic, turmeric. I'm thinking more about herbs and spices and not fruits and veggies that you would just eat whole.
I mean, you can eat a whole knob of ginger or a head of garlic cloves, but incorporating those natural herbs and spices into cooking can be really powerful. I think we think about like, “Oh, maybe taking those in supplemental form”, which also has its place. But I encourage my clients to use those types of foods, ginger, garlic, turmeric, those are the ones that always come in front of mind to me because they're so easy to incorporate in lots of different types of recipes. And even together, like those three together, working a lot of like Thai dishes and Indian dishes. So keeping those in the refrigerator… those are foods that I would always encourage. Tell me what you think Stasi, but I know there's some research around Omega 3s... So, aside from fruits and vegetables, getting fatty, cold-water fish, like salmon, or sardines. Smaller fish that are white flesh, like a Black Cod, is a little harder fish to find.
I think you're right on the Omega 3s too. Again, going back to those building blocks… you know, Vitamin C and Zinc get a lot of credit, but Vitamin C and Zinc alone are not going to support your immune system. It really is multifactorial and we got to have all the pieces. And certainly, if you do eat animal protein, fish is a great option. And if you can get a hold of high quality, say, a wild-caught salmon, that's great. The anchovies and sardines like you mentioned are great ones, sometimes a tough sell for people. But those are obviously canned products too, so they're really shelf stable right now, and you can stock up on those and have those as easy Omega 3 sources available to you.
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, absolutely. One of my favorite recipes is a canned salmon, sweet potato cake that I bought from actually another fellow dietitian. And these are a tasty, easy recipe that you can even batch cook and have that ready to go, on hand for a week, or freeze some and cook them as needed. Canned salmon, which I think a lot of people would go, “Ooh, I don't know about that,” but there's a lot you can do with those shelf-stable, seafood products, actually.
Right now, shelf stable is just really important. They can be convenient: you can stock up on them, keep you out of the grocery store a little bit longer, and be able to use those as nutrient-rich sources.
That reminds me of another nutrient that I don't know always gets the attention it deserves for the important role it plays in our immune function, but protein. I think, for protein, we always think “muscle building”. You know, it's going to repair our muscles after a workout, but really, (also) recognizing that adequate protein intake is needed when to support the immune system, to support antibodies, to support the enzymes and the processes that go into immune function. So, that's another gray area where something like the canned salmon is also going to provide those Omega 3s and the protein.
Again, food for the win, because you're getting more, more than one thing out of there.
Monika Jacobson RND:
I'm always a fan of trying to get nutrition through food first and then supplements. I will say one of the supplements, and I'm not really a big supplement person at all, but one supplement that I think is pretty warranted is Vitamin D
We've all heard that a lot of us are deficient, especially in parts of the country with less sunlight or not as warm weather. Where our skin isn’t as exposed to daily sunlight. I know, certainly at this latitude in Washington, and it's cold and dark more often than we'd like, so many of us are deficient. But Vitamin D is also really supportive of immunity amongst a million other things. So if you have that supplement at home, it's not a bad one...just make sure you're being consistent with it right now. For lots of reasons, but certainly immunity during this time.
Yeah. And that's a great reminder, especially with vitamin like that, that you can't really get from food. Well, it's in some sources, but the amount that you would have to take... the amount of salmon you would have to eat or the amount of fortified milk you'd have to drink to get what you, (what most people) need, it's going to be way over what's maybe tolerable for you.
So, yeah. Good point. That is a relatively inexpensive supplement. You know, buying just the generic brand, 2000 IUs per day, to start with. And then keeping that in your consistency point is really important.
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, exactly. Thanks for putting out the dosage. I agree with that.
Yeah. Awesome. The other thing that I've been working with a lot of my clients on too is hydration and that can also support immune function. And what with being at home more often, I've noticed that some people, including myself, I would say my hydration has probably decreased because I'm in a different routine.
So typically if I would go out, I'd bring a water bottle... and if I'm at a meeting, I'm sipping on my sipping on water throughout the meeting. But now, with the shift in routine, things are getting juggled. And so, I've had to remind clients too, that hydration plays a role in your immune function. So that's another area of, of support there.
Monika Jacobson RND:
That's a great point. It's making me thirsty and I’m reaching for my water.
There you go. Everyone take a water break right now. Sip of water if it's near you. So we got one question: Can I buy any vitamin C or D brand because there are vegan and common ones? To the best of my knowledge, when it comes to vitamin C or Vitamin D, even a generic brand is typically going to be okay.
The one caution I would put with the vitamin C is that I would limit it to a thousand milligrams or less. Right now I have heard of people thinking, “Oh, vitamin C is good for the common cold, so COVID is worse than the common cold, so I'm going to take more vitamin C.”
And more is not always better. It is an antioxidant and sometimes antioxidants in high amounts can become pro-oxidative. So you want to be careful with that on the vitamin C… that would be my recommendation. I don't know if you have any insight on that, Monika, or any additional things to add?
Monika Jacobson RND:
I think that's a good answer. I think that it doesn't really matter from what I know: vegan versus non-vegan ones. Sometimes that has to do with the capsule of the supplement, if that's made from like gelatin from an animal versus not, that's often what the vegan differentiation is. So that itself I don't think would really matter unless, unless it's personal preference. But for the actual C or D itself, I don't think that would matter. And I will also say, when you take a supplement, it's often not as bio-available and as readily absorbed in the body. So, if you can take the supplement but eat an orange that day, or put some lemon juice into your salad... I'm sure Stasi and I have helped lots of clients with figuring out how to do practical things with food. So you're getting those nutrients through food first. But that's just another way to ensure instead of taking double the supplement, we'll take your normal supplement and then just eat it through the food as well.
Yeah, exactly. No, I like that point too. Especially with things with vitamin C, you're going to get that fiber which is also important to fuel your gut health, which plays a role in the immune system. So again, you're always going to get more bang for your buck when you're getting food to provide those nutrients.
Well, we got another question that says, “I have family members in my home that are exhibiting symptoms. Are there menu tips I should be following to help them improve?”
We’ve got one more question on the supplements... So let's finish up with supplements and then let's dive into some practical strategies. I think that's really where the rubber hits the road and we can talk about some of that menu planning. So, the other question on the supplements was, “Is it wise to take vitamin C and D together, or are there combinations that make them more effective?”
So based off of my understanding with these, is that their supplements are good to take with food to help increase their bio-availability. Vitamin D can be better absorbed if consumed with fat. So that might help with that absorption.
As far as vitamin C, I don't know of anything specific to help with the absorption of vitamin C... although vitamin C can help with the absorption of iron. So there is that connection there. Monika, anything that you would recommend around how to take these supplements?
Monika Jacobson RND:
I don't think it matters if Vitamin D and C are taken together. I don't think they compete for absorption, if that makes sense. But I agree with you, Stasi, that they should take those supplements with food. Pretty much, almost always, supplements should be taken with food... unless there's a medication interaction that would differentiate or, take them separately for some reason. I don't think it would matter if you did like vitamin C with breakfast and Vitamin D at bedtime or with dinner.
I don't think it's, it's a huge issue either way.
That's my understanding as well. We have several supplement questions coming in right now. So maybe we'll tackle some of these and then transition to the food, which may also help, from a supplement standpoint... letting you know different nutrients that could come from the food.
So are there good food sources of zinc?
Seafood is a good source of zinc. That's definitely one area where you can get a really high amount of zinc. Things like oysters and shellfish especially. As far as other food sources with zinc… A lot of things that may depend on the soil, but a lot of things that are grown in soil, there's going to be zinc in there. So you're thinking, again, plants are going to be high sources of zinc, or contain zinc, that can be available to support your immune system. And the other additional zinc sources come to mind for you. Monika?
Monika Jacobson RND:
Mm beans. I think beans are another source. We can beans, but no, I agree. Like anything that's grown in the soil, because zinc is a mineral that food naturally occurs. It does pull the zinc out of the soil into the food. So yeah, I don't think so. Aside from seafood, that's, that's the big one actually.
In animal products, there is going to be zinc… thinking of turkey, chicken, there's going to be zinc in those, but certainly seafood is going to pack pack a bigger punch on that.
And then another question, how about... is it okay to eat canned sardines to get Omega 3s ?
Absolutely. That's a great source. Sardines, anchovies... they're bottom feeders. So, the bigger the fish, the more contaminants that can be in that fish because of the other things they eat.
So those bottom feeders are actually the better ones to consume.
And then, can you comment on B vitamins? B2 as a stress vitamin and a, B complex? Also, getting Bs through the diet, especially in non-meat eaters.
So, for B vitamins, they are involved in a lot of metabolic processes in the body.
So they're definitely important to include. Again, going back to food first, you're going to get a lot of benefits from foods that are high in B vitamins.
So even things like whole greens, beans, these are going to be B sources that are in non-animal products. B12, depending on if you eat any animal products, if you don't... B12 maybe what you're missing. So, if you are vegan for example, that's where a B12 supplement may be appropriate because that is going to be much more of a challenge for you to get. Any additional recommendations from you or what you recommend working with vegan clients?
Monika Jacobson RND:
No, I think you're right. B12 is the big concern for people that don't eat meats, or eat very little of it. That’s often a supplement that I think can be pretty warranted for people with vegan or vegetarian diets, especially long term.
I would say otherwise, if you're eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and beans and whole grains, you probably don't need to supplement with extra B’s.
Aside from the B12.
We see a lot of products too that are super, super high in B vitamins and while they are water soluble, again, going back to we may not know what this super supplementation longterm does, we don't know that we actually need that supplementation.
And these high amounts may have unintended consequences down the line. So always be careful that when you see a label where the amount is hundreds of thousands times what you actually need.
One other question on drinking vitamin C versus taking it as a pill. So this person says that they love Emergen-C. And again, I would go back to perhaps by drinking in the liquid, maybe it is more bio-available because it's broken down, it's spread out versus in one capsule.
However I would still recommend sticking to one packet of Emergen-C per day. There tends to be high amounts of other, more synthetic, vitamins, and then getting your other sources of vitamin C from those whole foods.
All right, let's jump into the fun stuff. Let's talk about cooking meal planning... Rubber hits the road... eating. All of those things. I'm putting this stuff together, when it comes to meal planning right now, which for many people looks different than when they were meal planning a month ago... or maybe even last week. Things change very quickly, day to day.
I have to say, I have several clients that have been wanting to meal plan for awhile, and a silver lining to this coronavirus is, they have more time and they really almost have to right now.
There is some strategy to going to the grocery store. So it's helping them to implement those habits on a more need-to basis.
Monika Jacobson RND:
Well, with the meal planning, what have you found for yourself, or for your clients, that has been the first step? Especially if you're thinking about never having meal-planned before? Maybe you always wanted to, but where, where do you start with your clients or, or even what you do for yourself?
Monika Jacobson RND:
Sure. I think we have this idea that meal planning is maybe bigger than it needs to be. I know I've talked with lots of clients who feel like, “Oh, but then I don't have a whole Sunday afternoon to just make all my meals for the week. ” Or, “Our lives are so busy. Like we have lots of stuff in the evenings just it doesn't work for me.” Or, “I don't want to eat the same thing like many days in a row.”
But it doesn't need to be any of that.
I think the biggest thing about meal planning is what's in that word itself, which is “plan”. I think we have to plan, and that doesn't mean 7 days in advance. I think it can even be, “What's for dinner tonight?”
Or, “What am I going to feed my family or myself tomorrow?” Because the simple act of taking chicken out of the freezer to thaw-out so you can cook it at night means you've planned ahead.
So, the more I'm thinking in advance, the better prepared we can be as meal planners. When I'm working with my clients, I'm, I'm talking about, “Okay, let's figure out a system that's gonna work well for you.“
There's lots of ways to meal plan. There's apps, and there's ways you can write foods down on paper, or put a cute little chalkboard in your kitchen, or whatever you want to do.
I'll show you what I give all my clients when I'm working with them, one-on-one... it’s this little meal planner and basically it's all days of the week with a shopping list next to it.
So as you're planning out, okay, Monday we're doing spaghetti and salad. Tuesday we're doing taco Tuesday, or maybe we're doing meatless Monday on Monday. Wednesdays we're doing I don't know, bean burgers or something like that. So then as you're mapping out, I'm just talking about dinners here, but I think dinners are the hardest for a lot of us, especially if you're cooking for multiple people or a whole family.
So then you can make your grocery list side-by-side to the menu. And so when you're shopping, you know you're buying for exactly what you need. Versus impulse buys are just buying a bunch of random stuff that sounds good and then trying to figure out what you're going to make with that. I think the biggest thing about meal planning is that itself; planning and writing it down in some way.
Yeah, that's such a good point to have that. And I like how it's visually laid out. So that it's all right there. You see what matches up to what you're buying, and what day that's going for can be really helpful. That strategy and taking that time to write it down. And what I find too is sometimes it's that initial planning. If it's new, if I haven't done it before, it feels uncomfortable…
So even plan out one day... start with one day, if you're new to meal planning or this routine of being home is new to you… just start with one day. And maybe you play, you practice with choosing a recipe for the evening, for one meal, and then what would that writing it down be as well to just kind of go through those motions and start, start feeling that and understanding that.
Yeah, just get started. Just jump in and start playing.. And, and I like too, how you mentioned there's no right or wrong way. And I think you've told me before too, you know, meal planning doesn't have to look like Instagram-perfect. It can be messy. It should be messy, have fun with it, make the kitchen a mess. And it may be looking like that and it doesn't have to all fit into, you know, glass containers that fit perfectly in your refrigerator. It can look in a lot of different ways on how you do that. So give yourself permission to make mistakes. Have fun, but just start that initial planning process.
One question that came through, any great options for feeding a family of five? I sit at my desk working from 10 to 3 every day, so I don't have time. And then, any tips for creating meals that my kids and husband can grab and go, because we're all doing our own thing throughout the day.
So a lot of, you know, if you're now working from home, it may not necessarily mean, “Oh, you're working from home. You can also meal prep all day.”
If you're working from home, you're working all day. So having those convenient meals can be helpful. Do you have any recommendations for more of that batch cooking, or things that can feed larger families but still be relatively simple to make?
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, definitely. So I think there's some things that you can do at the start of the week. Maybe it is on a Sunday, where you do a little bit of work, but then it sets you up for success for the rest of the week. Right now, we've got a family of 4, so my husband and I are both working from home, and we've got 2 kids that are young... they're 3 and 5, so they're not quite making their own meals just yet, but soon enough.
But I like to have stuff ready to go, so when we're busy, we can just get in there and grab things, which I think is what you're looking for. So like maybe it's boiling off a dozen hard boiled eggs at the start of the week or chopping up some vegetables that will keep well in the fridge for several days. Like some celery and carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, radishes, and just have those chopped up.
So you kind of have this veggie tray, maybe you have a dip or two that the whole family likes where people can just come grab their little plate or bowl of veggies with a scoop at the dip and then mosey on.
I also like to have some cooked, whole grain on hand. So maybe I do a pot of brown rice or quinoa.
And also have some cooked protein on hand, like some shredded-up chicken or open up a can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans. So you've got protein and grains and veggies kind of already to go, can even put that all together and make rainbows for lunches.
But I think having some of those whole foods prepped and ready to go will be just as easy for someone to come and grab any of that stuff. Then, open a bag of chips... or raid the pantry for the other more snacky foods, which aren't necessarily bad at all, but it's just having some of that stuff ready to go.
I like what you said, Stasi, about batch cooking too. Maybe at the start of the week you make a big pot of chili or soup, or a one-pot meal, that just everyone kind of takes their scoop of this, warm it up for themselves when they're hungry and ready to go. And it's already done in advance.
I think those kinds of meals work well on those busy weeknights when kids are in sports, or everyone's kinda here and there and everywhere, or in times like now where people kind of fend for themselves for that like midday meal.
Having your food environment to set you up for success.
I think there's a great opportunity to stock it with healthy options, first. Obviously, you can have flexibility around some of those treats, things that you enjoy, maybe some of those comfort foods right now, but really having the majority being from those whole foods.
And I love what you mentioned around vegetables that can be eaten raw or with, you know, your hummus dip, your bean dip... something that's easy to grab. Right now buying things in prepared and plastic may be a better option.
There's things like the, the vegetables that are already cut up that are even saved that step... buy them already cut up and prepared and then just have those available in your refrigerator for your family.
We got a question here: ”My son is 11 years old and he's still really picky... I think is what was meant to be there… He eats just beans, eggs, nuggets, and tomatoes. What can I do with this picky boy? Any suggestions?”
And yes, kids have a natural tendency to be a little bit pickier earlier on. I do love Ellyn Satter's resources. She's a dietitian that focuses on childhood nutrition and strategies to help create positive food environments for kids. As someone that doesn't have children, I don't have anything that I've personally tried. I have worked with clients on creating, you know, environments where kids are welcome to try things. But Monika, if you have tried-and-true things that you've done with your kids, I'd love to hear or maybe things you've learned that don't work.
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, absolutely. So well first of all, I will say beans, eggs, nuggets and tomatoes... It's pretty good. I feel like often picky kids get stuck on like Mac-and-cheese, or just like a cheese quesadillas and nothing else or something where there's maybe not as much protein. And to see tomatoes... eating a veggie... I'm like, okay, there's some wins in there. I just want to point that out. But, you know, I think kids’ taste preferences evolve over time. Most of us adults aren't as picky as we were as kids. So I think as parents we need to remember that every once in a while that, okay, they're probably going to grow out of this. Just like most things that annoy with our own children. But I do think that kids, and Ellyn Satter speaks to this for sure, but the, the repeated exposure of different foods is really powerful.
My kids are 3 and 5 and they, by all means, don't eat everything in front of them. And we still have our battles at dinner every once in a while... Or now more like all of our meals.
But it's been interesting to watch the evolution of my kids as they've gotten older. And their pickiness starts to subside. And I think at 11 years old, it's not too late to continue exposing kids to new foods. So for example, I think if there's something to say about putting the, let's just say broccoli for the sake of this example, putting broccoli on the plate, and even if the kid isn't going to ingest the broccoli, they're seeing it. They're touching it, they're smelling it. They're using like these different all their senses to take that food in, even if they're not actually eating it.
And I give my son, who's 3, I give him the little one bite of salad on his plate every night. And after about doing that for about one year, he finally started putting it into his mouth... or tasting it. And it's kind of a dramatic example, but my point is in knowing, “Okay, these are the foods we eat as a family with dinner and eventually this is what you get. So you might want to consider trying it.”
I think kids come around to that over time. Every kid is different. I know that there's a lot of other issues that play into kids being picky and sensory issues with food for lots of different reasons. But I think that repeated exposure is really powerful. So I just encourage parents not to give up on that.
And to not make it a battle either. But just expose the kids to different foods. Because the chances that your son at 11 years old will eat other foods is very, very high. So it just probably will take some time. And I think it's not something to give up on, but not to worry too much either... that there's still hope.
Yes. Yeah. But I like that. Don't give up. Keep trying...
And right now too I think if you have the time, everyone's at-home situation might be a little bit different, but what a way to get kids involved in the meals. You know, it may be extending the dinner preparation, especially if you've never had them involved. Budget some time for that, but let them prepare a part of the meal... let them choose a part of the meal. So, you know, you might choose the main portion, but give them the option to choose between two different side dishes, and then involve them in the preparation. Then they're taking ownership. They may be more willing to try it. And there's a lot of research to support family involvement around meal planning to set a good foundation for nutrition lifelong.
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, I love that. When I'm also working with my clients on filling out their meal planners for their week we always get the family involved like, okay one person, every person gets to name one thing that they want to be as part of the family dinner. And because I think that, like you said, Stasi, gives some ownership to other family members. And if a lot of us are at home right now, and have a little bit more time to cook, it's a great time to use this opportunity to educate kids on those cooking skills. And yourself. I think a lot of adults don't cook that much these days. And so it's a good, unique opportunity to challenge yourself to try some new things in the kitchen.
Well, yeah, and it can really set a foundation for developing healthier eating habits. We know that if we are eating in the home more often, we tend to have higher fruit and vegetable intake, more whole foods, less processed foods, less refined sugar that we're consuming. And that brings me back to a question that I didn't mean to miss, but it got pushed up a little bit.
One was a question: “What is best to eat to solve brain fog in menopause or lack of concentration?”, which a lot of women, do experience. That is normal. Estrogen plays a role in the, basically the neurochemical balance in the brain. And so when estrogen decreases, certainly there can be that brain fog, difficulty with short term memory, things like that.
And so what I would go back to is really thinking about the foods that are helpful to support brain health and what we know.
It's gonna sound like a broken record, but those brightly colored fruits and vegetables like we talked about that are also great for your immune system. So again, you can support your immune system and your brain health at the same time.
Omega 3s, so certainly the cold water fish, fatty fish that we talked about, but even plant sources of Omega 3s: your flaxseeds, your walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, these are great sources to also include. They're going to provide fiber and protein as well. And we've been talking a lot about foods to add in. And I know Monika and I both have a more additive approach versus a subtractive approach. But certainly limiting things like refined carbohydrates, so your white bread, your white pasta, and added sugars. So things that are, you know, soda or juices. This can also support brain health because those, in high amounts, can be detrimental as well. They can have their place: you don't have to eliminate it completely if you enjoy those foods. But decreasing the amount can also support brain health, concentration, and memory. Any additions to that, Monika that come to mind for you?
Monika Jacobson RND:
I was just thinking a little outside of the nutrition box. Well hold on, before I do that, I think those are all, I totally agree with all the foods you suggested, Stasi, but also just making sure you're eating a little more often. I don't totally give a specific number, but about every three to four hours, so you're not going too long without eating because when you go too long between meals your blood sugars come down, your brain isn't getting glucose, which is the main fuel for your brain, as easily. So sometimes if you feel like your brain's a little fuzzy, you might just need a snack.
And then back to being outside of the nutrition box, things like... how's your sleep been? I know that a lot of women in menopause really struggle asleep. So that's significant. So if you didn't sleep well the night before, that could certainly explain it.
I think we also get stuck into our project, and our work, and what we're doing, and we can get sucked into our computers at our desks. And there's a lot of good research to show that you can wake up your, your brain and kind of stimulate the neurons firing in our brains when we get away from our computers... stand up, stretch, move our bodies around, step outside, get some fresh air for a minute that can really wake up our senses... make sure our brain is working so we can have that concentration.
Yeah, such a good point too, on the holistic, I mean this, none of this is one-sided; none of this is one piece. And all of those things can also support immune function. So I think, you know, thinking about how you can incorporate these healthy habits in ways that are realistic for you are really important.
We got a question on tuna. This person says, “I really love tuna. How much is dangerous for mercury issues?”
Good question. Because tuna is typically high in mercury being one of those top feeders. So, I typically recommend no more than one can per week of canned tuna as far just to keep the mercury in check. You don't know how much mercury is in you unless you have a blood test to specifically test that. So typically one can per week or less can keep you in that safe range, but you certainly want to be aware of if you're having other fish, you know, if you're going out for sushi or maybe not so much right now, but if you're having sushi or having other sources of larger fish in addition to tuna, that there could be a cumulative effect. Or if you have things like dental amalgams, those can also exert or leach mercury into your system. So things to be careful of around that and, and something to be aware of.
All right, well, we're coming up into the end here, so if there's any other questions, please put them in the chat. And then, or in the Facebook page, one question that just came through.
“Do you recommend any vitamins for women in menopause?” I think you already said it, but I didn't get it. So typically it's things that I'm recommending to women when it comes to menopause. Certainly, getting vitamin D levels checked or taking at least that baseline 2000 IUs per day of vitamin D.
Again, if you get them checked with your physician they might recommend something higher just based off of your blood labs. And vitamin D is going to be important for immune function, brain health, as well as bone health, which is important during menopause. Omega 3s I typically recommend for the women I work with.
Again, looking at the inflammation, increased inflammation at times during menopause and brain health Omega 3s can help with that. And then magnesium is one that I recommend to help with sleep. And it also plays a role in bone health as well. Black cohosh is a supplement that has research around it to support managing symptoms, specifically specifically hot flashes with women in menopause. And I have women that have a lot of success around that.
We are putting together at Gennev, a vitamin-mineral supplement that's designed for women, so check out our shop. It's not available yet, but we do have magnesium, black cohosh, and other products available there if you're interested.
Let's see here. “I'm on zoom happy hours frequently. Any recommendations for low calorie cocktails?” Yes, for Zoom happy hours, you don't need to drive. So yes, but having those low calorie cocktails are great. Monika, do you have any cocktail recipes that you enjoy or recommend to your clients around that?
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah, it's a good question and I think it's a popular topic right now because people are craving that connection and having work happy hours and family happy hours. And I mean, I've had a lot of those too, so I totally get it. And I think, in a way alcohol is, of course, it's a bit of a stress relief for people and people are stretched right now. So I think there's that layered in too, so because of all of that, it is important to consider like how many extra calories you're taking in with cocktails or whatever alcoholic beverages it is. So, in a real like simplified nutshell a glass of wine that's about five ounces is equivalent to about a 12 ounce beer, like a lighter beerm and not like a high alcohol, heavy, heavy homebrew, crafty kind of beer. And about one ounce of hard alcohol.
So like one ounce of vodka for example. So I say, without thinking too much about it, but pick your poison, what's your favorite? Which one do you actually like the most? If you're a red wine person, then do the red wine. But be mindful of how much six ounces is in your wine glass.
I know when I pour six ounces into my wine glass, it's like half maybe full. Like it's, it doesn't look like a lot. So big restaurant pours. So that's, that's about a hundred calories for cocktails. Those specifically think about what you're adding to that spirit. So things like soda water, any kind of like bubbles that aren't sweetened would be my suggestion if you like that carbonation. I like to add some bitters of some kind like orange bitters, or you can get bitters or just about any flavor, but that just a little drop or two of that with like a, a clear liquor and some soda water makes a really flavorful cocktail.
You can even do infused bubbly water with a spirit of choice, and throw in some like fruit or cucumber or herbs like mint or thyme or basil that can make a fun kind of earthy cocktail. But just be mindful of the added sugars, the syrups, the sweeteners soda like actual sugar-soda. Creamy liquors are going to have a little bit more calories and sugar added to it. So I think the cocktails that, the biggest trick there is just how much alcohol you're putting in and how much added sugar.
Yeah, it's such a good point. And I love adding the herbs... and that comes back to adding some of those nutrients to your cocktails that are good for your immune system. We should put the caveat out there that alcohol does not support your immune system. So we gotta unfortunately, at least put that there.
Someone did comment, around one glass of wine can support heart and stress health. So for women, one drink per day is the recommended limit, for men that's two drinks per day. And there's some association with red wine related to heart and stress health. It's important to recognize that a lot of those studies are multifactorial. So there's other components too that may be, depending on the nutrition, someone that has red wine is drinking. So keep that in mind. And that there is an association also, that if you are having more than one glass per day, or more than one serving of alcohol per day, there has been research to show that there's increased risk for breast cancer.
Again, these are large studies that are looking at associations. So it's not necessarily cause and effect, but certainly we see some of those associations out there when it comes to research, and reasons why alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation.
So, great question on the happy hour, certainly that's a calorie piece. And things that are changing for people right now. Another question around magnesium, “Is magnesium really important? Can you talk about that? I use it for sleep and anxiety.” So magnesium is a nutrient that is essential in our bodies and tend that's where some of the benefits have been found. It can support sleep and help to decrease anxiety. I would say the effects of magnesium on anxiety I compare it to turning down the volume. So if you are suffering from extreme anxiety, certainly reaching out to your healthcare professional or a therapist to get support that you need, rather than relying on just magnesium.
But magnesium may help. Or if you find that you just have this moderate level of anxiety that is manageable but you'd like, like the volume turned down a little bit, magnesium can certainly be helpful there. Important to note, magnesium can also impact your digestion. So be careful with how much you take, typically recommending about starting with 200 milligrams. And if that, if you can tolerate that going up to 300 or 400 milligrams of magnesium glycinate. But definitely test your tolerability. Some people it can increase your bowel movement frequency and you just want to be careful of that, especially if you're taking it before bed. And do you have anything to add on the magnesium, Monika?
Monika Jacobson RND:
I don't think so. No, I think you've covered it. You mentioned the digestion piece.
Excellent. so we had a question, “Do you recommend a stool test to determine what health areas to target?” I do not recommend a specific stool test for health areas to target. Typically, when I'm working with individuals, it's really gonna come down to what their priorities are, what their goals are, and figuring out how all of this fits. And what area to target, I start with what's going to be the easiest for them to implement… Let's start building on successful habits and then getting to multiple areas. Cause more often than not there's going to be multiple areas that need to be targeted and we have to prioritize. I don't know if you have any insight on stool tests, or how you target areas of health with your clients?
Monika Jacobson RND:
Yeah. I don't necessarily recommend stool tests either. If someone's having digestive symptoms, like, I mean, I love working with people on that, but sometimes it gets out of the scope of what I can do without looping in other medical professionals such as gastrointestinal specialists like a physician or a PA. Sometimes I've seen they'll test stool for various things, but I think like the kind where you can order the stool test ship that out from your home. It's my understanding that some of that science is still a bit inconclusive, a little nascent. So like more to come on that, but I don't put all my chips on that necessarily.
Yeah, no, that's a good point there. Some recommendations here that just going back to one of our panelists said, “I had to handle the food plan for years or their family of 5, three older teens. They always cooked food at dinner enough to make lunch for the next day.” So, the more of those convertible meals. So for example, they may have had a roasted chicken, roasted vegetables, brown rice that will provide protein. And then it would provide them also be put on a salad combination of leftovers for sandwich sandwiches for her husband. And then they could make a rice bowl for one, one child instead of a case study for another child. And then chicken and vegetable toppings for a store bought pizza for the last one. So a lot of options. I like that. Convertible meals as well.
I'm a big fan of leftovers. We will make large, larger portions and often dinner becomes lunch for the next couple of days. So I have no problem with that as well.
This person also made a comment on the black cohosh that from this research standpoint… there is research to support some of the benefits. A lot of it is, and then also anecdotal, one of the things that we also make sure to do at Gennev, is that the recommendations we have for our supplements that they do no harm. So with black cohosh, a lot of times women that I work with, they provide, they either feel, notice the benefit of it but they don't or if they don't notice that effect, there's no detriment to it. So it's a safer herbal supplement to use and certainly sourcing is going to be important.
So you want to know the source of the supplement. So that's something that we've done with the products we've provided, but certainly researching and knowing where they're coming from, looking for third-party verification with any supplement is important and certainly could be a whole nother podcast or webinar.
All right. So there are several types of magnesium which is best?
Typically glycinate is most bio-available. But it really, it can also depend on your digestion. So I do start with that with most clients and then if we have to adjust the form depending on what their needs are, we can do that. All right. Well let's, we're going to finish up here in the last few minutes that we have. Monika, if anybody wants to get in touch with you, how would they go about doing that?
Monika Jacobson RND:
My website is https://eatmovethrivespokane.com. All one word. I'm also on Facebook and Instagram and I'm pretty active on there. So I, I would love you guys to follow me on Instagram and Facebook and check out the recipes, the tips, the inspiration, the fun things we're doing on there all the time. If you're interested in hearing more about my one on one coaching, you can send me a message on there or connect with me through my website. There's a contact place. And my email is Monika with a “K”... email@example.com.
Thank you so much Monika for your time. And if you're interested in working with any of our health coaches through the Gennev HealthFix Plans, you can look at our website to find out more information. And then we also offer telemedicine.
So right now, while we want to be saying out of a doctor's offices certainly if you still have specially OB GYN, gynecological needs it's important to still be taken care of your general health in addition to, and your immune health. It's all connected.
So we do have OB GYNs who are able to provide that care as well as in some States, they're able to provide primary care right now. So if you are looking for more of those primary care options for you, but remotely, please take a look at that as well.
All right, well thank you so much Monika. This was fun getting to talk with you and I hope you and your family all stay healthy.
Join 200,000 women to learn more about your symptoms and where you are in the menopause journey.TAKE THE ASSESSMENT