Should I Take Tons of Mega-Dose Vitamin C Packets When I Have a Cold?

Should I Take Tons of Mega-Dose Vitamin C Packets When I Have a Cold?

Hello again, internet friends! I am back in the JC/NYC area after yet another whirlwind mini trip around the US last week. Phew. While I was gone I actually wrote a whole post on Eating Disorders in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness week and scheduled it to post, but it failed, and now I feel like it’s beyond #NEDA week and I feel weird publishing it. Would you be interested anyway? Let me know down below.

Anywho, while I was at the Charlotte airport, I was watching some ladies slam Emergen-C packets one after another and posted a selfie to my Instagram story with the caption “People know Emergen-C doesn’t work, right?”

And the response I got was overwhelming. A lot of people seemed to not only surprised to hear this information, but wanted to know exactly how or why I don’t recommend mega-dose supplements such as Emergen-C or Arbornne to cure the common cold.

I thought I’d go a little further into the topic here, #ontheblog, and I hope to film a little “Nutrition FAQs” video about it too next week, once I’m back in Wisconsin and have the time and space to film.

Anyways, let’s get to chatting about Emergen-C and the common cold. Starting with the basics…

How Much Vitamin C Do You Actually Need?

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Well, according to the USDA dietary guidelines for Americans, the average healthy adult women needs 75mg, and the average healthy adult male needs 90mg. Smokers need an additional 35 mg per day, as some of vitamin is used to quench free-radicals and combat oxidative stress from toxins exhaled from cigarette smoke.

Pregnant and lactating women need more, requiring roughly 85mg/day and 120 mg/day respectively.

Vitamin C is naturally found in high levels in many foods, including strawberries (~90mg/cup), bell peppers (~120 mg/cup), guavas (~126 mg/fruit), kale (~80mg/cup) oranges (~70mg/fruit), and kiwis (~80mg/fruit). Most people in developed countries do not suffer from vitamin C deficiency. Select groups, including smokers and low-income populations, may be at an increased risk of deficiency.

Each packet of Emergen-C contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C. As you can see, this is much, much more than an adult or child needs; in fact, you could say it’s over 1000% of the RDA.

So, Does Emergen-C Work?

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First, let’s get one thing clear: there are exactly zero scientific studies that have specifically tested the product Emergen-C and its potential impact on incidence (number of people who get a cold) or duration (length) of a cold.

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What I’ve Realized About Health Recently

What I’ve Realized About Health Recently

Hey hey! It’s almost 2019! Truth be told I actually had an entire probably-too-lengthy post reflecting on 2018 and what I’ve learned and what I’m thankful for and what I hope to accomplish in 2019, etc etc. But as I sit here waiting for my MacBook pro appointment at the Mayfair genius bar, publishing it didn’t feel right. I may still publish it later, but I felt inspired after my physical therapy appointment to write about something else, especially amidst all the diet/fitness goal posts I’ve seen on social media lately.

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So today, I’m going to share some important realizations I’ve had lately about health. I hope these inspire you to see health as something more than ‘eating clean’ and/or ‘keeping it tight.’ If you need more inspo, check out my post from last year, 11 Food and Health-Related New Year’s Resolutions That Are Way Better Than Losing Weight.

So here are 5 things I’ve sort of been reflecting on in regards to what ‘health’ means lately; I hope they serve you well into the new year. Thanks as always, for your support, and for sticking by me! Love you the most!

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Midterm Season Vegan Eats + Cherry Bombe University Recap

Midterm Season Vegan Eats + Cherry Bombe University Recap

Hello once again to my fine internet friends! I hope you are having the warmest coziest fall filled with mugs of tea, hearty soups, scrumptious baked goods, and warm blankies. I’m back in the blogging game after a fatiguing few weeks of midterms and application work.

Midterms really did not bring out the best in me this year, and after crying in public from lack of sleep and overloads of stress, I decided it was a healthful idea to take a step back from the internet and putting pressure on myself to blog for a few days and focus on learning how to chill and sleep and and socialize and eat like a normal homeostatic human being again.

But! I’m feeling quite restored after this weekend of naps and friends and oodles of baking and wanted to share some meals and snacks from the past few weeks. Hope you enjoy! Leave me your favorite snacks and cozy meals in the comments below, or pop over to my Instagram and slide into my DMs.

I’ll also be recapping my experience at Cherry Bombe University, so keep on reading for that!

Avocado Toast with Za’atar:

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This was a new-to-me-combo that I’d wanted to try out for a while. I also added some hemp hearts and nutritional yeast for extra flavor/texture/satiety. It was pretty good, but not my favorite avo toast flavor combo. Still fun to try though!

Oatmeal with frozen blueberries and almond butter

I cannot get enough of this combo lately. I basically make this cinnamon banana-blurberry-oatmeal thing by cooking a 1/2 cup oats with 1/2 a mashed banana and about 1/4 cup frozen blueberries stirred in towards the end of cooking. I then pour my oats into a bowl and top with almond butter while the oats are still warm so the almond butter gets melty, and pour almond milk on top to cool it off, and enjoy.

Dumplings and the Sweet Soy Bowl from Luanne’s Wild Ginger

I visited one of my BFFs Raag in Brookyln last weekend for an early bday celebration. We grabbed lunch at Luanne’s Wild Ginger and it was excellent.

We started with dumplings (<3) and tempura. I’m not a huge fried-foods person, but I love me some doughy doughy dumplings.

For my entree, I got a sweet soy something bowl (can’t remember the actual name), with chewy brown rice, tangy-sweet-sour-spicy gluttonous soy medallions, steamed Japanese pumpkin, house-madee pickled veggies, and kale, and some yummy sauces. This was incredible. I’d eat it every day. Yum.

Happy birthday Raag!

Cinnamon Rolls

Made from scratch with Raag. We used this minimalist baker recipe. Delish! Cinnamon rolls are life.

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Is it Really Bad to Eat Late at Night?

Is it Really Bad to Eat Late at Night?

Wednesdays are a doousy this semester, filled with running between two campuses (I TA at the Columbia main campus and am a student at the CUMC campus), and capped off beautifully with a 3-hour night class that lets out around 8:30pm. Brutal. I don’t often hate my hour commute, but let me tell you – on Wednesday nights I find it very unfun.

Typically, I snack before night class, but for whatever reason, never feel like eating a meal before/during class. Hence, I usually eat dinner once I’ve gotten home/unloaded/gotten Millie out for a walk, typically around 10:00pm. As I often document what I’m up to on Insta stories, I had a follower ask me if it’s really true that it’s bad for you to eat before bed.

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I get asked about if it’s really bad for you to eat before bed quite a bit, and see confusion surrounding the topic circulating the internet quite a bit, so I thought it could make for a fun and informative blog post.

Disclaimer: As with all my nutrition and health-related posts, I’d like to point out that while I have a background in nutrition science, I am not your healthcare provider nor personal nutritionist. I have no information on your health history or current state of physical and mental well-being. These posts are intended as general information for healthy adults. Please do not substitute what you read on the internet for seeking individualized clinical care.

First of all, Here’s The Right Time You Should Eat:

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You know when the best time to eat is? When you’re hungry, that’s when! We’re living creatures with circadian rhythms and every day presents different activity levels, stress levels, sleep levels, and environmental factors that may impact when hunger hits and when we eat.

If you ask me, clocks are pretty arbitrary when it comes to hunger. The idea that you should ‘close the kitchen’ or ‘stop eating after 7/8:00pm is totally arbitrary and it bothers me that so many people think this is a rule you should implement into your life.

So the best time to eat dinner (or any meal) is when you’re hungry for dinner (and of course, have access to food and time to eat it), whether this be 4:30pm or 10:30pm.

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5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

1. Collagen-mushroom-potion-infused-bulletproof-caffeinated beverages

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Seems like it’s mega on-trend to whip up $12 lattes filled with grass-fed collagen, 8 different mushroom powders, and 17 other expensive supplement potion/powders these days.

It’s not that I have anything against those drinks; in fact I can appreciate the creativity behind them and recognize that they may be filling if they’re brimming with fats and protein powders. I simply don’t really buy into the grandiose health-promoting claims of these concoctions.

First, let’s talk about collagen. I’ve been digging through clinics research about it and am planning a whole post devoted just to collagen. But to keep it short and sweet in this post, let’s just say that from what I’ve read so far, I’ve concluded that if you’re into collagen and your diet lacks protein, it can be a source of protein for you.

But I’m not yet convinced that after orally digesting collagen and your stomach acid has broken it down, that it can actually maintain its structural integrity as collagen and end up in your skin and hair and nails as such.

There is some mixed clinical research on collagen and joint health, and a couple of studies on collagen and beauty (some of which have been funded by collagen supplement companies), but at this point in my PubMed dive, I feel the research is a bit shaky.

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How Climate Change is Impacting The Nutritional Value of Your Food: Part 1, Carbon Dioxide

How Climate Change is Impacting The Nutritional Value of Your Food: Part 1, Carbon Dioxide

I still remember sitting in my Public Health Impacts of Climate Change course at Columbia Mailman School of Health (my elective choice while a Columbia nutrition MS student) learning about how climate change is impacting the nutritional value of food.

To sum it up, I was “shook,” as the cool kids say. It was actually one of the lectures in one of the classes that set my on my current path, and I gotta say, no regrets.

One of the most amazing and wonderful things about studying what I study (which is the intersection of nutrition and environmental health) is that I am honestly so interested in what I am learning about that I eagerly listen and complete my reading and assignments. Especially about things like climate change and how it is disrupting the quality, quantity, and nutritional value of our foods.

I thought this could make for an interesting and enlightening blog post that will perhaps leave you feeling “woke” on the topic, eliciting similar feelings to those I felt in my chair of Mailman room 1101 (shout out to my EHS crew). If this isn’t your thing or your find this super boring, don’t worry, I’m sure more dog and dessert pictures will be coming your way soon.

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How Studying Nutrition Changed The Way I Eat

How Studying Nutrition Changed The Way I Eat

Back in the day, I got my master’s degree in human nutrition from Columbia University. It was an intense, interesting, and rewarding experience: one that left me hungry (no pun intended) to learn more about the field. A pivotal experience, my MS in human nutrition instilled an insatiable scientific curiosity in me, and is probably why I’m on the path I am on today.

I chose to study nutrition because I was always fascinated in how the foods we use to fuel our body have the power to impact our health. For many, many, years, however, I wanted to be a doctor. However, when I was shadowing physicians, I realized many lacked nutrition education and training.

Which totally is not their fault – most medical schools have minimal time/curriculum devoted to nutrition. But when I learned about this reality, I wanted to ensure I’d have a solid foundation of nutrition (outside the nutrition minor I got while at NYU) in addition to a medical degree. And so, I enrolled at Columbia prior to going to med school.

Obviously, I’ve gone a none-medical route since, but since I’ve studied the topic, I occasionally get asked questions about nutrition, specific ingredients, my diet, and how I think others should eat.

So I thought it may be interested to list out how I’ve changed my diet since studying nutrition. Below are 12 ways studying nutrition morphed how I eat and how I think about food and health in general.

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Hunger vs Appetite, and Fullness vs Satisfaction

Hunger vs Appetite, and Fullness vs Satisfaction

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Gosh darn it, when did eating get so complicated?” Because it really shouldn’t be. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s if you’re feeling any confusion, it’s certainly not your fault.

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We live in a food and weight loss-obsessed culture. Without even trying, we’re exposed to numerous food and fitness ads, ideas, and theories on a daily basis. They’re everywhere: the internet, social media feeds, TV commercials, even tabloids in the aisle at the grocery store.

All of these tidbits of information can be overwhelming. And oftentimes, to confuse things further, we hear opposing “facts” about the same topics. This encourages us to disengage with our natural eating instincts, and ignore our internal cues regarding hunger and fullness.

Today, I wanted to address a few words/concepts that may help you get back in touch with how to eat like an actual instinctual human rather than a confused oversaturated-with-misinformation human. Let’s go.

Hunger vs Appetite:

Vegan Cookie Levain Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

These words are often used interchangeably, but actually have different meanings in the nutrition science world. Physical hunger is defined by the physiological need for food. This may manifest itself as a rumbly tummy, empty-feeling stomach, low energy, and/or inability to concentrate. I know for me personally, I feel light-headed when I need to eat. But everyone is different.

Physical hunger is a result of blood glucose dropping in your body. When this happens, and your stomach is empty, a hormone called ghrenlin is released by your GI tract, sending a signal to your brain to increase gastric (stomach) acid and let your brain know “Hey! You up there! I need food!”

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Ghrenlin stops being released when food enters the stomach, letting your brain know that the need for food has been taken care of.

Appetite, on the other hand, is a desire to eat, less from a physical need, and more as a result of physical or environmental cues, such as the smell of freshly baking cookies, routines, and/or the desire to eat the doughnuts in front of you at a meeting even though you may be physically full.

If you eat in a very rigid, routine-style fashion, you may develop appetite to eat out of habit, kind of like a dog (#relatable).

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What are Macros? And Should You Count Them?

What are Macros? And Should You Count Them?

Macros! Such a trendy health buzzword these days. But what are macros? And should you count them? In today’s post I want to address everything you need to know about macros, and my thoughts on counting them from a physical and mental health prospective.

Macros, Explained:

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“Macro” is short for “macronutrient.” Macronutrient is defined as a component of the diet that provides energy, and includes protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The USDA also considers alcohol a macronutrient, which I agree with because alcohol provides calories, but also don’t really think of when I hear “macros” because I mainly think of the other 3 essential groups (fat, carbs, and protein).

Basically, macronutrients are sources of calories, which your body uses for fuel. This is different from micronutrients (also known as vitamins and minerals) which are also essential for maintaining healthy body function, but don’t provide energy (calories) to your diet.

Macronutrients provide your body with the following amounts of energy:

  • Protein: 4 calories/gram

  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram

  • Fat: 9 calories/gram

  • Alcohol: 7 calories/gram

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Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

By now, you’ve probably come across an article on your social feed about how French fries or fried potatoes in general are causing cancer. If not, congrats. The blissfully ignorant state of not knowing about the potential harm of over consuming fried potatoes means your life is probably less anxiety-ridden than my own (oh, and sorry for bursting that bubble of cozy comfort with this post. Feel free to stop reading right now if you’d like).

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Anyways, I’ve gotten a lot of Qs about this topic, so I thought I’d address it here. As a potato-finatic and food tox and food safety enthusiast, this issue hits close to home and is one I wanted to examine for myself. This topic actually came up in food tox before I saw it trending all over social media, so I was happy to have a solid grip on the science before all the media hype surrounding it.

So, let’s dive into the nitty starchy gritty: potatoes, French fries, and acrylamide: what you need to know about the risks, and how to minimize your own.

Ps: I had been pausing blogging, not by choice, but out of circumstance, as when I tried to transfer hosting sites, my site was kind of MIA from the internet for over a week…talk about anxiety-inducing. Oy.

Anyways, now that I’ve got my site back, I’m going to work with a different company on transferring the site (because I’ve got bigger and better things planned) and in the meantime keep chugging along here.

So what’s the risk? Are my potatoes and grains giving me cancer?

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Acrylamide does not appear to be of concern in raw foods themselves; it seems to be formed when certain starchy foods are cooked at high temps.

So the risk does not lie necessarily in the potatoes or grains per se, so don’t think you have to instantly ban potatoes from your household. The risk is actually from the acrylamide that develops upon high heat cooking of the potatoes (usually above 250°F).

What is acrylamide?

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Acrylamide is a chemical compound found in a lot of industrial production. It’s also found in cigarette smoke. It’s also in many foods, including canned black olives, potato chips, French fries, dark browned toast, coffee, prune juice, and some breakfast cereals.

Acrylamide can also form in some foods as a result of the amino acid asparagine being heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars. This is what happens when potatoes are fried in hot oil. Potatoes happen to have high levels of asparagine, hence the recent concern about french fries, acrylamide and cancer.

Baking and roasting can also lead to acrylamide formation. Generally speaking, the longer and hotter the cooking method, the more acrylamide is likely to form. Boiling and steaming do not typically lead to acrylamide formation.

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