Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins KCAAs “On the Brink” hosts, Erin Brinker (left) and Tobin Brinker (middle) to discuss naturopathic approaches to heart health.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
- Diet trends and fads
- Meals that are rich in antioxidants, whole foods, fat and fiber
- Trans Fats
- Reading labels
- How to be an educated consumer while grocery shopping
- Culinary herbs as a substitute for salt
- And More…
Erin: Dr. Yanez, welcome to the show.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning folks, how are you both?
Erin: Doing great. You all have a blog and every month there’s a different article on there, and this month it’s really all about your heart.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is. We’re putting out so many different blog posts and so this month we are talking about heart health and how to keep your heart healthy and more so how to really live in a way that honors your body and practices prevention. So, we try to practice what we preach here at the AANMC and this morning I got on the dreaded … what do they call that machine? It’s the one, the stairs that keep rotating and kill you.
Erin: The Stairmaster?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well no it’s not the Stairmaster, it’s the rotating stair one.
Erin: I don’t know what that one’s called, it sounds evil.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is awesome, it’s a good evil.
Erin: So yeah, I’m sure that was a workout.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It was. And I think in the spirit of heart health our article really talks about all of the different things that it takes to keep your cardiovascular system and your body in general healthy. And so from a naturopathic perspective that incorporates nutrition, it incorporates stress and your mental health and it incorporates of course, exercise and keeping those blood vessels pumping.
Erin: So, we all know that eating healthy is important, but the messages … and we’ve talked about this before, but the messages that we’re getting from advertisers etc., they’re so conflicting. Or even just articles, you should eat paleo, you should be vegan, you should be vegetarian, you should do the South Beach Diet or the Mediterranean diet etc., etc., etc. It’s confusing.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is really confusing and every person is an individual. I think when it comes to cardiovascular health the diet has been researched the most is the Mediterranean diet, but in general the things that are going to be good for your heart … And diet is specific, it’s going to vary based on a person’s energy levels, or their exercise level and their age and other health conditions that are going on. So there’s no one size fits all diet, and I think that’s where a lot of the diet trends and fads get me, is that they often will push this one diet as the best way for everyone, and I’ve never really seen in my years of clinical practice, as well just personally, that there is going to be one diet that is going to be perfect for every single person.
There is usually going to be some sort of tailoring that’s going to have to happen. However, that said, the Mediterranean diet has been researched the most for cardiovascular disease and death prevention and really when you think of what is the Mediterranean diet? It’s very high in high fat, good fat seafood, things like olive oil and olives, lots of vegetables, some whole grains in moderation and a little bit of wine in moderation as well. And so when we look at those types of things, really what you’re talking about is a diet that’s rich in antioxidants, rich in whole foods and good fat and fiber. And at the end of the day you’re not going to really go wrong with something along those lines.
Erin: Indeed. Now let’s talk about fats that aren’t necessarily good. And those are trans fats. How do you avoid those in your diet?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You read labels. So I have always been a big proponent of reading things. Since I was a little girl and started to read my mom got me starting reading labels and so I would go in the grocery store with her and I would read the box. And I think so many people skip that very important step and just throw the stuff into their cart without looking at what’s inside. I’ve given lectures at universities across the country on how to read labels. And I think that it is a vital skill, as is cooking, and knowing how to prepare foods in a healthy and tasty way that folks really need as a starting point for good health.
So number one, read your labels. Take a look at what’s in there. Really you should have five things or less if you’re buying something. You want to see whole foods. You don’t want to see things like processed, or modified or any of those adjectives that would indicate something has been processed. So if there’s meat in there you want to see meat, chicken, fish, dairy, there are lots of ways on ingredient labels that folks can hide processed foods as well. There are so many different ways that they add sugar, dehydrated cane syrup is one way, and that’s just sugar.
Erin: Dehydrated cane syrup.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It’s really just reading those labels, Erin.
Erin: Oh, my G-d … and I’m laughing because the verbal gymnastics that they use to hide what they’re feeding you is incredible.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There’s a lot of gymnastics that happens, verbal and otherwise, yes. And that’s why I think folks needs to be an educated consumer and just know what you’re putting in your body. If you don’t understand it, Google it, or if you don’t understand it just put it back. You know, I think when I’ve talked to people about grocery shopping, is to shop the perimeters of the grocery store and shop your farmer’s market. You know, you’re going to get the freshest produce at your local farmer’s market, it may be less expensive because you’re buying seasonally. If you can have a small garden that’s a wonderful option for some people as well, and so I think there are options for really keeping your produce as whole and as unprocessed as possible.
Erin: So, let’s talk about salt. Tobin is on a low salt diet, for him salt is … he really can’t have it, it makes
Tobin: It’s prohibado.
Erin: It’s … exactly. And so, but for me I love salt, I had soy sauce on some rice noodles yesterday. So what is too much salt?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You know this is controversial as well. There are various camps out there on salt. To salt or not to salt, that is the question folks. And I think that the conventional advice of watching your sodium intake has had some benefits for some people who are salt sensitive, but there are other folks who actually may be low in salt.
The other piece of things is salt in this country has been very processed. If you think of your white table salt, it is processed salt, it’s iodized, it’s maybe bleached. You are going to salt on your food, I would highly recommend having a more natural source for that sodium.
Erin: So, like sea salt.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes.
Erin: So, one of the things that we have been on a journey, the last several years, is using spices that we hadn’t used before. And we found that we don’t … Because Tobin’s been on this low salt diet, and we’ve found that if you use all kinds of spices you really don’t need as much salt.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: No, you don’t. And I come from a tradition of Cuban cooking where every single dish that you started, they call it the holy trinity of food, it was garlic, onions and peppers-
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It’s delicious. Yeah you sautéed that, and you sautéed it with some herbs and you know, parsley, cilantro, basil etc., and that was the base for everything that was cooked in my house, and so maybe you would add some salt at the end to round the flavors out, but it wasn’t the main delivery point for flavor in the meal. And so I think that getting into that spice cabinet, grabbing some seasonings that maybe you aren’t familiar with, learning how to cook with them is a wonderful way for adding seasoning and also adding antioxidants. You know there are nutritional benefits to many of the culinary herbs that can be found in your cabinet.
Erin: So, another thing that we’ve heard conflicting reports about is whether you should drink alcohol. You know, you read reports that drinking a glass of red wine in the evening is good for your heart and then you read reports that alcohol is problematic, especially if you’re trying to lose weight you should avoid it. What are your thoughts?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You know that is also going to be one of those individual things. Alcohol is obviously addictive and can lead to many health issues for many people, I’ve seen patients on the tail end of decades of alcoholism and it’s not pretty. And it’s what it does to the family as well. So, I think that alcohol is one of those things that there are some health benefits from moderate red wine use that has been indicated, and that’s predominantly from the flavanoids, the antioxidants that are present, and what I think, though, is that on a very moderate basis a little bit of wine can be fine, but again that boils down to the individual. And what they consider moderate. Additionally, if your goal is weight loss, wine metabolizes quickly raising blood sugar levels and that can counter weight loss efforts.
Erin: A six pack of beer every night is not moderate.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: No. No.
Erin: So, we are about out of time, how do people find this article, find out more about you and follow you on social media?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You know today, right now actually, we are on our virtual fair. So, if you log onto the aanmc.org events calendar, all of the schools have representatives on today talking and chatting live.
Erin: Oh, how fun.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yeah, so if folks want to reach out to us that is an awesome way. So just go to aanmc.org and you can hit us up online and today you can talk to us live.
Erin: Wonderful, well Dr. JoAnn Yanez, it’s always a delight to have you on. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thank you as well folks, have a great day.
Erin: You too. So it’s time for a break, I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin: And we’ll be right back.