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21 Questions for an Integrative Nutritionist

January 19, 2010 - Linda Grasso

Just about everyone is thinking more about nutrition nowadays.  How can we be as healthy as possible?  How can we eat foods that will help not hurt us - now and in the long run? How can we maximize our energy? I'm constantly reading about nutrition trying to educate myself, but sometimes I get confused with all the different opinions.  With that in mind, we turned to Integrative Nutritionist and SheSez contributor Elissa Goodman. We asked her 21 simple questions about nutrition in the year 2010 - do's and don'ts - and things we can do to enhance our bodies and our health by merely choosing the right foods. 


1.      What exactly is an integrative nutritionist?

An integrative nutritionist is someone who advises people on the alternative and holistic world of nutrition. This approach to nutrition integrates a variety of different dietary theories: new and old, Northern and Eastern, as well as Southern and Western. The approach emphasize the importance of health and wellbeing, but it tends to go one step further and delve into the personal side of diet, not to mention the social and political aspects.


2.      When is it time to hire a nutritionist and how much does it cost?

It's time to hire a nutritionist when you feel that you need guidance handling your health or want to be educated on how to enhance your wellbeing. Some people may only meet with a nutritionist once and can take the recommendations from there - applying them as needed. Other people, particularly those with related health conditions, may need regular, ongoing visits.

Since nutritionists bring a varied range of experience to their jobs, the rate they charge for their services also differs. Rates may also vary depending on whether the nutritionist runs a private practice or works as part of a healthcare clinic or in some type of facility or health club setting. The hourly rate for a private nutritionist consultation typically costs from $100 to $375.


3.      What's the one thing we should not eat in 2010?

Don’t eat ANYTHING with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). New research shows that consuming HFCS actually causes the body to grow fat cells and contributes to the early-onset of diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Moreover, traces of mercury have been found in almost half of the commercial HFCS used in the United States. HFCS is found in everything from soda to bread, and is a large factor in our country’s quickly rising rates of obesity. The solution is to read food labels! HFCS is not only found in common foods like cookies and candy, but also shows up in chips, breakfast cereals, salad dressings, and sauces. . Knowing that HFCS doesn’t only make you fat, but also makes you sick, should help you avoid fast-food and soda this year!


4.    What's the one thing we should eat?

You SHOULD eat is sweet potatoes! They are like a nutritional All-Star. They’re one of the best vegetables you can eat – loaded with complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, calcium, and fiber. Studies have found that the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates – like sweet potatoes!


5.     Is there value in drinking alkaline water?

That’s a hard question to answer. Yes, I believe there is some value in drinking alkaline water. More than 70% of our body weight is water so you want to take in the best product you can, right? The issue I have – is whether it’s worth such a hefty monetary investment. A great deal of research has been conducted on the effects of alkaline water on the body’s response systems. Some reports from studies do suggest that structured or clustered water with a high pH can help the body resist disease and slow aging. Having said that, many of the alkaline water systems are grossly overpriced electrical devices with price tags of $4000. Pus, not all of their scientific evidence is credible.


6.     Should I buy one of those expensive Kangen systems? If not, what's the best kind of water to drink?

Spending thousands of dollars on a “miracle” water machine isn’t something I’d recommend to my clients. The word “kangen” in Japanese means “return to origin” and is simply a marketing term.

The Enagic water ionizer has a filter and ionizing chamber just like all other alkaline water ionizers. Basically, Kangen water is simply another name for ionized, alkaline water and may not be worth the investment. Any water that has electrolytes is the way you want to go!


7.      Why is kale such a good veggie to eat?

A member of the Brassica family, kale is a great food if you’re looking to protect your health and enjoy a delicious food at the same time. Kale can optimize your cells’ detoxification and cleansing ability, as well as promote lung health, protect against cancers, and act as a very good source of fiber. Kale offers antioxidant protection and immune support with its healthy dose of vitamin A and C. Leafy greens like kale also are rich in vitamin E – which slow the loss of mental function with aging.


8.      Can you give me a couple of simple, tasty ways to serve it?

#1: Sauté kale with onions (sauté onions 2 minutes before adding Kale) and add a few drops of tamari (soy sauce) to mellow the flavor

#2: Combine steamed chopped kale, pine nuts and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil


9.      Which type of fish has the most nutritional value?

Wild salmon has the most nutritional value of any fish we eat. Fish are a great source of protein and contain healthy fats that will reduce your cholesterol and improve your health. Wild salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your heart healthy and may even improve your mood. The best salmon to eat to get the most omega-3s would be Wild King salmon, also called Chinook salmon.


10.   Is conventional wisdom still that one should only eat red meat once a week?

Yes, I recommend eating red meat around 5 times a month. Most people are concerned about red meat because of its fat and cholesterol content and how it can affect their heart. Eating leaner cuts with less saturated fat is key for a healthier cardiovascular system.


11.   Do you believe in all the health benefits touted by makers of Acai juice? 

I’m skeptical. Acai berries are marketed to be one of the elite superfoods with anti-aging and weight loss properties. The actual Acai berry is an inch-long reddish, purple fruit and comes from the Acai palm tree, from native to Central South America. There have been studies showing that Acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity (even higher than cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or blueberry). However, these studies are ongoing and so far, Acai berries have no known health benefit that’s any different than that of other similar fruits.


12.  Is there any bottled salad dressing you love that’s healthy?

To be honest, no bottled salad dressing is healthy. The simpler the food, the healthier it is. Many dressings at the supermarket are filled with tons of ingredients you’ve never heard of. Vinaigrettes are one of the healthiest ways to flavor a salad. The basic Vinaigrette ratio is:

¼ acid; ¾ oil, salt+pepper. My all time favorite dressing that I use on almost everything is an extremely simple blend that I buy at Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles. Its basic ingredients are: vinegar, mustard, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices!


13.   Should I really buy everything organic?

It’s not necessary to buy everything organic. You only need buy organic when the foods are susceptible to toxicity. The most toxic foods (and the ones that should be bought in their organic form) are strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, apples, grapes, potatoes, celery, and spinach.


14.  What don’t I need to buy organic?

On the other hand, for foods that are least likely to be toxic, it's not necessary to buy organic. Those include: mangoes, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, bananas, sweet peas, avocado, broccoli, and asparagus.


15. Favorite healthy restaurant in LA?

My favorite healthy restaurant in LA is a contemporary macrobiotic cuisine called M Café de Chaya. They have balanced, nutritious, and creative dishes built on the foundation of Michio Kushi – prepared fresh daily using only the finest ingredients without any refined sugars, eggs, dairy, red meat or poultry.  M Café draws influence form all global culinary traditions and I just can’t get enough of it!


16.  Favorite healthy restaurant in NY?

Pure Food and Wine Restaurant (a trustworthy friend told me about this restaurant).


17.  Favorite unhealthy restaurant in LA?

I must admit that an unhealthy indulgence for me in LA is The Cheesecake Factory. Their generous portions with unlimited, inventive menu selections make it impossible not to leave completely overstuffed.


18.  Best thing to eat for energy

Almonds are the best quick snack you can eat when you feel a low energy slump to lift your energy levels. Almonds contain good amounts of iron and B vitamins, helping your brain, muscles, and nerves to function properly. It is important to combine almonds with some source of vitamin C, so that the body can actually absorb these nutrients (vitamin C helps the absorption process of iron and vitamin B). So eat almonds with a piece of fruit and reap the benefits of more energy!


19.Best thing to eat for great skin

You are what you eat. Doctors say the less attention we pay to what goes in our mouth, the more problems we may see cropping up with our skin. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and plums all are high in antioxidant content and are wonderful for your skin.


20.Best thing to eat for great sex

Dark chocolate! Studies have found that women who consume at least  one cube of chocolate daily report significantly greater desire and better overall sexual function than individuals who do not. The reasoning behind it is that high-flavonoid chocolate consumption has been linked to improved circulation.


21. How many cups of green tea should one drink each day?

The more green tea consumed daily, the greater the benefits, with 5 cups being the upper limit. If you are sensitive to caffeine, or suffer from insomnia, 5 cups of green tea is probably going to be too much for your system. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you should definitely limit your green tea consumptions to two cups a day because it can decrease the absorption of folic acid and iron. 

Elissa Goodman runs a private practice in Los Angeles.  For more check out her website


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Great and informative interview!!!!! Thanks Linda. All the best, Joan

Very useful and helpful information.
I feel we should also ensure that our fresh food is FRESH as it starts to lose its nutritional content very quickly.

Great article! Because of this, I now know how good a dark chocolate is for sex! LOL!

Nice interview. I agree with many of the points, but do think Kangen water is well worth the investment-- it's just made with the highest quality components. It's the only ionization machine recognized as a medical device in Japan.

Hi, Elissa. Can you recommend a good quality water system?

Excellent resource. I have been hearing lots about kale though have never cooked or had. Thanks for posting how to prepare it as well. How about supplements? Realistically most (or at least many) people do not eat 'right' or 'healthy' and need to supplement.

I love those questions. I always wondered about which foods need to be organic and if there were many not necessary. About the Kangen water... I am delivering to cancer patients (and others)in the Portland area and seeing them get cancer free quickly. Nutrition is important... but Enagic's systems are amazing with quick results.

Another benefit of buying organic is that it contributes the the "organic movement" and really helps out organic farmers.
What we eat really does represent itself in how we look. As you mentioned in skin conditions. Better health and better sex is another plus.

Hey Elissa

Great review, great points and I'm impressed with your impartial but very knowledgable answer about water ionizers. It's disappointing that so many people think Kangen is the whole ionizer industry when in reality there are so many good machines out there, many that are BETTER than the Enagic machines that are more than half the price.

Also love the hat tip to Kale and Sweet Potato! Two absolute superstars of nutrition!

Have a great day

Thanks for sharing that Q&A. It's good to know them from an expert on nutrition. I really learned a lot.

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