Q & A with Nutritionist Jennifer Van Horn - Part 2

Jennifer Van Horn  with  Jen Van Horn Health  ,  is a   Health and Nutrition Coach   specializing in integrative approaches to optimal wellness.

Jennifer Van Horn with Jen Van Horn Health, is a Health and Nutrition Coach specializing in integrative approaches to optimal wellness.

If you could ask a nutritionist anything, what would it be? This was a poll we ran a few weeks ago on social media and the response was huge! We loved everyone's feedback and because there were so many great questions, this Q & A with Jennifer will have two parts. While we wish we could respond to every one of your questions, we will only be selecting 10 for this two part series. See below for part 2! Take a look at our previous blog post here to read part 1.

Before we begin, we'd like to introduce Jennifer Van Horn. Health and Nutrition Coach who specializes in integrative approaches to optimal wellness, Jennifer runs her own successful business, Jen Van Horn Health in the Hampton Roads area. Her approach integrates comprehensive holistic nutrition and healthy routines into her clients' individual lifestyle. We are proud to call Jennifer a close partner of ours since before the opening of our first store. From collaborating with us in menu development to meeting her clients in our flagship store, Jennifer is a Fruitive regular and we certainly wouldn't be where we are today without her wealth of knowledge. To learn more about Jennifer and to schedule a consultation with her, visit her website here.

Now let's get to YOUR questions! 

"How do I keep blood sugar levels more stable?" (Type 2 diabetes)

The secret is to have fiber with every meal. Try chia or flax seeds in a morning smoothie or sprinkle them on any breakfast. Incorporate cruciferous veggies for lunch or dinner: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, brussel sprouts, and cabbage will help regulate insulin. Healthy fats can also slow insulin release when added to a meal. Forks Over Knives is a great documentary to watch about reversing many diseases, especially diabetes, with a plant-based diet. Add cinnamon to your diet, as well. This delicious spice has been proven to benefit insulin sensitivity; generously add it in smoothies, almond milk lattes, and chia seed puddings (my fav treat)!

"What foods do you recommend for a mom to first introduce to her baby?"

From my professional & personal experience I would try homemade pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, or even mashed avocado. Do not introduce a new food for at least 3 to 4 days to see if there’s any sensitivities. I do not recommend starting with fortified rice cereal. Always try homemade, organic purees as much as possible. It’s a very exciting time, but it can be intimidating to have to know what’s best for your child. Believe in your own gut instincts--Mommy’s intuition is the strongest! Breastfeeding is the best you can possibly do, and even supplementing along with the puréed food is a great idea. Do make sure Mama’s diet is as clean as possible, with no hidden MSG, artificial sweeteners, hormones, gluten, or dairy. Remember to take time for your self care!

"How do you prepare the body for a vegan pregnancy?"

Hydration, vitamins & minerals, and clean food choices are so important to prepare for vegan pregnancy. I do believe in taking supplements while preparing for a baby. I would recommend a food-grade prenatal (folic acid is the most important), vitamin D3 with K2, and B12. I love Global Healing Vegan B12--my favorite ever! I would eliminate any artificial sweeteners of any kind; read all labels to watch for hidden MSG (yeast extract, soy protein isolate, etc.) and when eating out, know what oils restaurants use. Get rid of any known canola, trans fats, soybean, or safflower oils in your diet, and ask questions while in restaurants. It’s alright to be annoying and ask (I do it all the time!)--it’s important for you and that sweet baby to come. Many oils turn rancid very quickly, which can cause cellular DNA damage. Even olive oil heated can turn rancid…. Use olive oil in its raw state only for salads and drizzling over veggies, etc. Try unrefined coconut and avocado oil for cooking. Healthy fat is imperative for a healthy pregnancy! I would add as many super foods as possible, as well. Try goji berries, wild blueberries, sprouts, cacao, spirulina, sprouted nuts & seeds, quinoa, and nutritional yeast in your diet to flood your system to prepare for growing the healthiest being ever!

"How much protein do you need a day as a vegan?"

For an average adult, it’s estimated around 55 grams of protein per day for someone who weighs 150 pounds. That would be around 63 grams for the average adult male and 52 grams for an average female. It’s much easier to meet the daily recommendations for protein on a vegan diet then many people think. Nearly all vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds contain protein. For example: quinoa, rice with beans, tempeh, buckwheat, almonds, chickpeas, and spinach all contain good amounts of protein. Men do need more protein, but not much more and athletes do need a bit more, too. I LOVE my protein bowls filled with organic spinach, quinoa, raw carrots, lightly steamed broccoli, raw radishes, avocado, sprouted sunflower seeds, and Himalayan salt, drizzled with homemade tahini dressing or simple olive oil and apple cider vinegar. It’s delicious and packed with protein, nutrients, and superfoods!

"Recently I’ve been interested in adding fermented foods to my diet but after trying organic sauerkraut three times & getting horrible gas each time I’m hesitant to continue. Same with homemade chicken bone broth and beans. I find it discouraging as I really am mostly vegetarian and yet so many healthy foods give me gas. Any ideas?"

The benefits of eating fermented foods are certainly incredible, but sometimes it can cause very unpleasant & uncomfortable G.I stress with bloating, gas, and reflux. No fun! Cabbage does contain a plant sugar that our small intestines can’t break down, so when it reaches the colon it ferments, therefore causing gas. That could also be a sign that you have an imbalance of bad versus good bacteria in your colon. Start slowly and add probiotics gradually to reseed the gut lining; you will find that when eating sauerkraut, beans, etc., you will have no G.I. discomfort. Try one bite of sauerkraut or kimchi before a meal a few times a week, then gradually move up. Same goes with those other healthy foods. Consider trying Renew Life 80 Billion or Dr. O’hhira’s Professional Probiotic A.M & P.M. to bring balance. Digestive enzymes during your meal could also greatly help! My ol’ favorite is Digest Gold Enzymedica. It works wonders to help break down food. The better we can digest our food, the more nutrients we absorb. I always say, “We ARE what we absorb!” Researching the “food combining” principles might help you, as well.

Well, that wraps up our Q & A with Jennifer! Isn't she a wealth of knowledge? We hope you enjoyed this series as much as we did. If you still have questions or concerns about your health and would like to schedule a consultation with Jennifer, you can contact her here.