Do Vitamins Boost Health?


Americans are gobbling down their vitamins, but do vitamin supplements provide true health benefits?

“Most adults with a balanced diet don’t need to take supplements,” says Tarini Anand, M.D., a Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) internal medicine doctor. “A variety of natural foods, rather than supplements, is the best source for getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need to stay healthy.”

Proceed with Caution

“Think carefully about your diet and what supplements you are taking,” Lisa Hladik, M.D., a PAMF internal medicine doctor, says. “A supplement could potentially give you too much of one nutrient and cause a health issue.” Read More

Breakfast Made Easy


With excuses ranging from “I don’t have time” to “I work out in the morning,” breakfast has become the most skipped meal of the day. But breakfast may be one of the best things you can do for your body.

“A balanced breakfast that includes protein and healthy carbohydrates helps give you mental stamina,” says Karen Astrachan, CSSD, R.D., M.S. CDE, a nutritionist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF). “It also helps you feel full for longer, so you won’t grab that processed high-calorie pastry or donut mid-morning, when you start to feel famished!”  

By keeping your blood sugar levels steady with a balanced breakfast, you’ll feel better all around, and get off to a good start for the day.  

There are simple, healthy choices you can pull together in just a few minutes, says Darcie K. Ellyne, R.D., M.S. CDE, who helps people develop healthy eating habits. The key is planning ahead – shop for the right foods and prepare them in advance.

Give yourself a fresh start to the day with a healthy breakfast energy boost. Here are some recipes for quick morning meals from PAMF’s registered dietitians: Read More

Make Healthy Eating a Lifelong Habit

lifehealthyeatingblogAmericans are obsessed with losing weight, and with good cause. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 68.8 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. This condition can cause a wide range of health problems, from type 2 diabetes and gallstones to coronary disease and strokes.

But despite all the headlines about one “magic diet” or another, there’s really only one way to achieve and maintain your healthy weight, says Erica Framsted, M.S., R.D. CSO, a dietitian at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Turn healthy eating into a lifelong habit you enjoy.

Healthy eating, she says, is not a diet. It’s more like a hobby that you can get better at over the years. Here are her tips to help you get started.

Read More

Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Fruit_Veg Basket-larger

Winter often brings on sniffles, coughs and sometimes the flu. Beyond a flu vaccination, what else can you do to stay healthy? Research suggests you can boost your immune system by getting enough sleep, exercising, and – most importantly – eating key healthy foods.

“The three main antioxidants that help boost our immune systems are vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. And the best way to get those antioxidants is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables,” says Judy Farnsworth, R.D., CDE, a registered dietitian at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Food That Fight Illness

Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which can damage the body’s cells and compromise the immune system. Different fruits and vegetables contain different types of antioxidants, so it’s important to eat a colorful variety, Farnsworth says. Stock up on green leafy vegetables, broccoli, garlic, citrus fruit and berries. Dark berries such as blueberries are especially potent, antioxidant powerhouses. Read More

Holiday Eating Can Be Healthy

Yes, Virginia, you can keep a healthy diet during the holidays, even when sugar plum fairies are dancing in your head.

The trick? Don’t deprive yourself – have a little of your favorite treats and still maintain good overall nutrition. In this video, Linda Shiue, M.D., shares her top tips for healthy eating during the holidays, including:

  • Don’t deprive yourself
  • Pre-eat: have some fruit before the party
  • Chose foods carefully
  • Drink in moderation
  • Don’t forget to exercise
  • Get enough sleep

Unique Youth Nutrition Program Engages Local School Kids for Better Health

Childhood obesity – it’s in the news and the facts are startling. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • 13.8 percent of students ate vegetables three or more times per day during the seven days before the survey
  • 18.4 percent of students were physically active at least 60 minutes per day during the seven days before the survey
  • 19 hours, 40 minutes is the average time per week that the American child ages two and 17 spends watching television
  • Due to obesity-related illness, today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than that of their parents.

Jeremy Loader of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Youth Nutrition Program, is determined to reverse these distressing statistics with a unique program for local schools called “5-2-1-0.”

“School-age children spend the bulk of their waking hours at school,” says Loader. “Our 5210 school curriculum is designed to give parents and educators tools to combat childhood obesity in a simple, clear and positive way.”

In the 5210 program each number represents a goal:

5:   Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Limit juice to small amounts of 100 percent fruit juice.

2:   No more that two hours of screen time a day. Less is better!

1:   Participate in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

0:   Aim to drink zero servings of soda and sugar-sweetened sports and fruit drinks. Instead, drink water and three to four servings/day of fat-free/skim or 1 percent milk.

The 5210 program includes:

  • Lesson plans
  • Activity ideas
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Newsletter samples
  • Goal-tracking campaigns

Each month, the students concentrate on a different number in the 5210 program. Each number is color-coded, students get a wristband color-coded with that month’s number. There are also tips on how to fit these goals into real life, one at a time. Among other resources is a list of free healthy rewards for the kids – choose a favorite game, get a homework pass, have class outside – and learning what constitutes a portion size.

Engaging activities are tailored to elementary school children’s interests, and some of their favorites are the poster contest, cooking classes and a jump rope contest.

“The kids were so excited about the jump rope contest that they spent the whole week before practicing,” says Loader. “One third grade student did 96 jumps in one minute.”

According to Loader, schools that implemented the program have seen marked results, with schools that actively participated in all the activities seeing the best results. For example, one Sunnyvale elementary school that participated in all the activities in the program reported that:

  • 79 percent of the students spend one or more hours being active on the weekend.
  • 78 percent have zero or one sweetened drinks per day.
  • Only 22 percent spend more than two hours a day in front of screens during the week.

For more information on the 5210 Program and to access the 5210 Program educational materials, visit the 5210 section of PAMF’s Youth Nutrition Program website. Under the “Schools” section you’ll find handouts, templates, presentations, and other resources that schools can download and use to implement their own 5210 program.