Author Archives: av415666

Caffeine: Good or Bad?

Photo of spoons holding coffee beans and ground coffee

By: Marisol Mercado, BS, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022

We’ve all seen (or been in) those long lines in the early morning or mid-afternoon lunch break of people waiting for that tasty cup of Joe (or tea). It’s all worth it once the caffeine starts to kick in. We’re alert, energized, and ready to tackle the demands of the day!

Although daily consumption of caffeine may be safe in the general population within recommended doses, there are certain individuals for which caffeine intake should be monitored. Here we will briefly review the sources, recommended intakes, potential benefits, and contraindications of caffeine.

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The Power of Plants: Purslanes

By: Estefania Ramos, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022

There is an underrated green that deserves recognition for having similar properties to the highly consumed leafy greens, spinach and kale. Research shows that the common purslane contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and vitamin A.1,2 The power-packed leaves contain higher amounts of ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, than spinach leaves.3,4 A comparison study found that purslanes also have more phytochemicals than spinach and kale.3,4 Moreover, the stems and roots contain essential amino acids that aid in muscle repair, and carotenoids used for their antioxidant properties.1 The common purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) is an herb that comes from the Portulaca family. This elongated annual, with a thin, fleshy stem is commonly found in fields and lawns.3 Furthermore, purslanes can grow in various climates and types of soil, from mud to clay.2 Purslanes grow well in vineyards, roadsides, and gardens.2,5 This vivacious succulent is a bio-accumulator that absorbs and stores minerals and other nutrients from the soil. With that being said, it is important to be cautious of where the edible weed is grown before it is consumed. The herb contains succulent-like leaves that produce small yellow or white flowers and tiny pods that store seeds to help cyclic growth.5 Do not underestimate the unique properties of the self-perpetuating herb!

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Renal Diets: How To Be Gentle To Your Kidneys

By: Ana Garcia, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022 

Healthy kidneys are essential to our well-being since their function is to keep our body in balance by regulating and removing substances, such as minerals, electrolytes, (e.g., calcium, potassium, sodium), acids, and protein in the blood as needed.1 The kidneys also function to produce erythropoietin (a hormone needed to make red blood cells) and turn vitamin D into its active form so it is usable in the body. Kidneys regulate fluid with a million filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron has a filter known as the glomerulus.2 To know how well our kidneys are functioning, a lab test would measure our glomerular filtration rate (GFR). A GFR consistently below normal is a cause for concern because it indicates that the kidneys cannot properly remove waste products such as ammonia, urea, uric acid, and creatinine from our blood.3 If waste cannot be excreted in the urine, these toxins build up in our body.3 Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual loss of kidney function and is diagnosed when GFR is <60.3 People with CKD must adhere to strict dietary recommendations to prevent further kidney damage and limit waste buildup in the body.  

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Low-Sodium Meals 

By: Patricia Garcia Guillen, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022 

Let’s be honest: there is a misconception that low-sodium meals, or meals low in salt, can be unappetizing and lack some serious flavor. You are probably thinking, “How can I possibly add any flavor to my meals while using less salt?” Well, there are plenty of methods and ingredients that help make meals taste great by using little to no salt at all. Whether you are looking to decrease your sodium intake for health reasons, or are curious and excited about cooking new recipes, let’s explore the different ways we can make tasty, low-sodium meals packed with flavor!  

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Nutrition Support for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

By: Lucia Botta, MSN, Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022

Located at the base of the neck, the thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland whose main job is to make thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones play a vital role in regulating many cellular activities in our body and help to control metabolism, regulate body temperature, and ensure that our main organs work efficiently.1 

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Berries & Cardiovascular Disease

Berries in a heart shaped bowl

By: Joya Johnson, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022 

Did you know that every 36 seconds, one person dies from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States?1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CVD is highly prevalent in the United States and is the leading cause of death for men and women.1 CVD encompasses the multiple conditions that affect the function of the heart and blood vessels, including blood vessel disease, heart valve disease, heart infection, congenital heart defects, heart rhythm problems, and disease of the heart muscle.1 Coronary artery disease (CAD) happens to be the most common form of heart disease in the United States.1 Physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and use of tobacco are the leading risk factors that contribute to heart disease.1 Diet is of significant importance since it can impact CAD by mitigating or encouraging the progression of heart disease.  

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Diarrhea and Constipation: A Breakdown of Common Gastrointestinal Issues

By: Ana Garcia, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022 

Discussing bowel movements, commonly known as “poop”, may be an uncomfortable or embarrassing topic. However, the frequency of our bowel movements and the consistency of stools actually reveals a lot of useful information regarding our health and diet. After a meal, the coordinated contractions and relaxations of smooth muscles in the gut transport food throughout the intestines so water, electrolytes, and nutrients can be absorbed while waste is eliminated.Assuming normal gut function, a person can expect between 3 bowel movements per day to 3 bowel movements per week.2 

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Fiber and the Gut Microbiome

By: Joya Johnson, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2022 

What is the gut microbiome? The cecum is a specific section of our large intestines that serves as a home to bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and other microbes and together, this area is known as the gut microbiome. Bacteria and viruses are most commonly known for being associated with illnesses and diseases, but the microbiota that inhabit our gut have a prominent impact on our immune system and other metabolic functions.1

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