Should you be eating more dirt?Probiotics are having a good year, thanks to an explosion of research on the relationship between the friendly bacteria that (we hope) hang out in our digestive tract and good health. And now, some are promoting the benefits of bacteria that come from the soil. Yup, we’re eating dirt now, folks.  At your request, I take a look at the pros and cons, benefits, and safety concerns associated with soil-based probiotic supplements in this week’s podcast.

Last week’s show explored the s0-called full fat paradox: New research suggests that drinking low-fat or skim milk may increase your risk of obesity. What’s with that?! My thoughts here.

As long as we’re on the subject of butterfat, here’s a quick review of the Olivio bread spreads and a Q&A about ghee, a type of clarified butter native to India.


exercise to reduce your risk of cancerThis week, I reviewed a new report from a CDC-sponsored task group, focusing on the “opportunities for cancer prevention in midlife.”  Many of the things you might expect to see in a report like this (such as eating organic and avoiding pesticides) didn’t even make the cut! I’ve also tried to add some much-needed perspective on the role of diet and lifestyle choices in preventing cancer. You can read or listen to it here.

A few readers objected to my review of a practice called “oil-pulling” on the grounds that I did not try it myself before commenting. As I responded to one of them, “There are already plenty of anecdotal reports out there. Rather than add one more, I chose to base my review on the evidence…which turned out to be pretty slim.”  What do you think? Was I remiss in not adding a first person impression to my report?

I also waded into the carrageenan controversy this week, attempting to sort out the charges and counter-charges surrounding this natural ingredient. Should a generally well-tolerated ingredient be banned because it may cause harm to those with a sensitivity to it? The FDA decided that it shouldn’t. But could you be among the minority who are bothered by it? Read more here.

By request, here’s a quick and dirty cheat sheet of how much fiber you get from common fruits and vegetables (most of which don’t come with Nutrition Facts labels). Lastly, some thoughts on these new “fruit infused” water bottles.

Have a great week!

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Aquaculture (aka fish farming) is the fastest growing segment of the agricultural industry. At the same time, global demand continues to threaten worldwide fish populations. This week’s podcast reviews the latest recommendations on farmed vs. wild-caught fish.

Here’s an update on the ever popular topic of soaking grains to reduce phytic acid. Soaking oats in yogurt may not be a good idea after all.

From the Try Something New Today department, here’s an introduction to natto, a traditional Japanese food being touted in the west as a natural way to strengthen bones. It may not be love at first sight (or smell), however.

There’s new concerns about those popular K cup coffee machines. Could these little plastic pods cause cancer? Hard to say, but they’re definitely a nightmare for the landfills.

In other news, Huffington Post picked up my recent article on the Yoga Mat Subway Scandal, eliciting a predictable and entertaining avalanche of comments.

Please forgive my brevity this week. I’m recovering from a short but intense stomach bug. Fortunately, I don’t seem to get these things very often but for those who do, here’s one from the archives on how to reduce your risk.



It’s great that so many people care so much about nutrition these days. And in today’s world of viral videos and online petitions, we consumers actually wield a fair amount of power.  But, as I explain in this week’s controversial podcast (“Why I’m not worried about yoga mat chemicals in my food“), I think we need to use our leverage wisely.

I tackled another controversy in this podcast on coconut oil and cholesterol. Lots of people (most of them, selling coconut oil) are making lots of claims about the health properties of coconut oil. Here’s the latest research on how the saturated fats in coconut oil affect cholesterol levels.

Here is some encouraging news on probiotics and weight loss and a reality check on collagen supplements to improve your skin.

And in the e-mailbag this week, a reader wonders about the health and nutritional features of quark cheese and another worries about whether baby carrots are actually a good choice.

Have a great week!

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turmericFebruary is Heart Health Month, so what better time to review the conventional wisdom?  Is the standard advice on diet, cholesterol, and heart disease bogus? A lot of people think so. But it’s important to take family history into account.

While we’re on the subject of sacred nutritional cows, there’s a persistent rumor that milk actually causes osteoporosis. I’ve got a closer look at the arguments against milk here.

I frequently hear from folks who wonder whether blending fruits and vegetables into a smoothie somehow destroys the fiber. Yet an equal number of people seem convinced that blending fruits and vegetables actually releases more nutrients. So which is it? Does blending produce make it better or worse for you?  My answer here.

If you’re worried about recent reports of counterfeit olive oil, here’s a quick guide on how to identify the real stuff.

Finally, a quick Q&A on curcumin, the compound that makes turmeric so good for you.



Avocados for Healthy Weight Gain

Although it wasn’t a planned theme, the last two Nutrition Diva podcasts focus, at least in part, on the medical profession. This episode on whether you should take lutein supplements to protect your eyes also takes a look at the ethics of doctors selling supplements to patients. The following week’s show is about how patients, doctors, and nutritionists need to work together to address complex health problems (with some additional info on diverticular disease, IBS, and GERD).

From the mailbag this week, advice for those who find that eating healthy has unpleasant side effects (“Help! My healthy diet gives me gas”), and a request for a nutritional comparison of whole wheat and spelt.  And from the “news you can use” category, a new study finds that adding avocado to your lunch can banish afternoon snack attacks.


This week: Why will power isn’t enough

by Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN on January 14, 2014

SatietyJust in time to rescue those  New Year’s resolutions, this week’s podcast is on will power and why it probably WON’T power you through for more than a week or two. You might also enjoy this interview on the same topic with Tom Hall on WYPR-FM.

There’s also good news for those who prefer their pork a little pink in the middle, instead of well-done (the way our mothers were trained to prepare it.)

And finally, Ann Fisher (of WOSU-FM) and I discuss the week’s most interesting nutrition news–everything from vibrating forks to the USDA’s  surrender on school lunches.  (The segment starts right around minute 20.)

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Happy New Year!

A few tips for wrapping up your holiday season and kicking off your New Year’s Resolutions:

And, just to break things up a bit, here are a couple of topics that have nothing to do with the holidays:

  • A round up of research on maca, a Peruvian herb said to help with menopause, prostate health, fertility, and libido!
  • New research finds that corn oil lowers cholesterol 3 times more than olive oil. Nonetheless, I won’t be replacing my EVOO with corn oil anytime soon. Here’s why.

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