Hello everybody, today I’m honored to introduce you to Jennifer Adler. Jennifer is a renowned nutritionist specializing in the treatment and prevention of eating disorders. She’s the founder of Passionate Nutrition and co-founder of the International Eating Disorders Institute. She holds a Master of Science in clinical nutrition and counseling.
Note to readers: This transcription below is not identical to the audio file. Some parts of the interview have been shortened or deleted.
Vic: Why did you decide to become a nutritionist?
J.A.: Well, it started when my mother developed breast cancer in her late 20’s so I grew up with illness and I learned at a young age that I was disillusioned with Western medicine. And I felt like there had to be another way for people to be healthy. It made sense to me that food is what’s making up our body. And so what we eat can have a big impact on our health.
Vic: Have you come to the conclusion that through nutrition cancers can be cured?
J.A.: I can never say that cancers be can be cured (Vic: through diet), but I have seen where people can get much better. Working through food can impact people’s cancer in a positive way.
Vic: Now talk to me why you decided to farm seaweed? (Vic: Jennifer raises bulwhip kelp off Lopez island as a sustainable crop.)
J.A.: I love seaweed. It’s a miracle food. If you take a pint of ocean water and a pint of our blood, the mineral content is almost identical. Seaweed is loaded with the minerals that our body needs. I got interested looking at cancer specifically. Seaweed can be really helpful with cancer.
Vic: Have there been any scientific studies to substantiate the seaweed/cancer relationship.
J.A.: Looking at women of Japan, one of the theories as to why they have such a low incidence of breast cancer is because of the iodine in their diet and a lot of that iodine comes from the seaweed that they’re eating.
Another thing I like about seaweed is it’s sustainable. Bullwhip kelp that we’re growing is the fastest growing plant that there is. Kelp is bathed in nutrition all the time. So, if people know how to harvest it sustainably, not only is it good for our health, it’s also a sustainable food for our environment.
Vic: Does seaweed pick up toxins out of the water?
J.A.: It does. You have to be careful where seaweed is grown. One of the amazing things about seaweed is that it binds to heavy metals and radiation in our body and it helps to get rid of it.
Vic: If it binds to heavy metals such as Mercury and since Mercury is a problem in numerous fish species, will it stay bound to the seaweed when it is consumed.
J.A. I don’t know this definitively, but knowing how the body works, it seems like it would be bound and excreted. But also, heavy metals, like Mercury in the ocean are in higher concentrations as it moves up the food chain.
Vic: Do you think it’s a good idea for people to eliminate red meat from their diet?
J.A.: I don’t. I think it depends on the source of the red meat. Red meat has been eaten throughout history, but some things have changed. The quantity and source of the red meat have changed. Throughout history people have eaten red meat from 100% grass fed elk, deer or pasture fed cows. That’s going to change the nutritional profile of that food. For instance, the fatty acid content of grass fed meat is close to that of salmon. But the essential fatty acid content of feed lot meat is virtually non-existent.
Vic: So you’re not one of these adamant vegetarians or vegans?
J.A.: No. I don’t believe in extremes. I also like to look at history and how people have eaten throughout time.
Vic: Do you think there might be some metabolic influences where some people might be healthier with a higher protein diet and others are healthier on more fruit and vegetables?
J.A.: I agree. I don’t believe there’s a one size fits all with diet. There’s no one diet that fits everyone.
Vic: In Compassionate Nutrition, do you do blood tests to determine a person’s needs.
J.A.: No. As nutritionists we’re not allowed to do that. By looking at the person and asking enough questions, we’re able to determine what could be a match for them.
Vic: What would you recommend to a person to feel his or her best?
J.A.: At Passionate Nutrition we do have some core philosophies. Eat foods closer to their source, and getting enough of the basic nutrients to be eaten through the day.
Vic: What is your view of eating butter versus olive oil?
J.A.: Both. For some things butter will taste better and for others olive oil will taste better. Also, butter can be heated to a higher temperature than butter. There are a lot of factors that come to play. If you think about our cellular membranes, we need different kinds of fat to make them healthy.
Vic: Are there specific food for specific complaints. For instance on Spa From Scratch, people are concerned about their skin.
J.A.: Yes. There is so much you can do.
Vic: What is your view on additives?
J.A.: Avoid them as much as possible. If the label reads like part of a chemistry set, avoid it. Some foods banned in other countries are allowed here. (The United States)
Vic: What about sodium benzoate?
J.A.: Avoid it. Try to stick to less processed foods with simple ingredients.
Vic: Speaking of less processed foods, what do you think about the safety of foods we buy in our grocery stores? There is a lot of discussion about herbicides, pesticides and nutritional loss due to the length of storage. Is it better to buy frozen foods versus fresh?
J.A.: It’s true, not everything that’s on our food is labeled. Fruit that’s out of season or has been shipped a long distance is better purchased frozen.
Vic: In your studies, what is the level of degradation over time?
J.A.: Vitamin C and some of the B vitamins degrade with time.
Vic: And you don’t believe in supplements?
J.A.: We focus more on the power of food.
Vic: What is your success in working with people?
J.A.: We have a high success rate.
Vic: How big a threat do you feel the residual chemicals on fruit and vegetables pose?
J.A.: I think it’s a concern, but sometimes we get too caught up in information. Do the best you can. As much as the budget permits, buy organic foods from local forms, but it’s more important to eat fruits and vegetables even if they’re not ideal.
Vic: Are there specific foods that will help them eliminate toxins?
J.A.: Any dark green leafy vegetables, but seaweed and cilantro are the best.
Vic: Does that include (the elimination of) herbicides and pesticides?
J.A.: Yes, but it’s in a round about way. Anything that helps our liver function more efficiently helps detox.
Vic: You hear so much about the need for supplements to provide enough nutrients. Do you think you can get enough nutrition from foods alone?
J.A.: I don’t believe we need supplements. That’s why we need to eat nutrient dense foods. Actually what is missing from food is usually the necessary minerals. Seaweed, foods that have not been hybridized and wild foods can provide the necessary minerals. For instance, kale’s claim to fame is its calcium content, but compared to nettle, kale look like iceberg lettuce. One cup of kale has about 206 mg of calcium, but one cup of nettle has about 2900 mg of calcium. Seaweed and wild foods.
Vic: What are your views on natural versus synthetic vitamins?
J.A.: Natural, but getting the nutrients from food is best.
Vic: What do you think about genetically modified foods?
J.A.: I’m not a fan of genetically modified foods and we donate to try and force labeling of them. The studies that have been done on them so far don’t look good.
Vic: You have a reputation for helping people to lose weight. If someone came to you with the need to lose weight, what would you advise?
J.A.: It’s very individual and much more complex than calories in and calories out. What works with one person for weight loss won’t work for another. When a person eats during the day is a factor along with the endocrine system and the bacteria in their gut.
Vic: You mentioned the bacteria. How does a person populate themselves with the right bacteria?
J.A.: The best way is by eating fermented food with live bacteria such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. These foods are found in the refrigerated section of the store, if it’s a food off the unrefrigerated section, the bacteria are dead. Raw foods have some of the bacteria, but they’re not as good as fermented food.
Vic: What about yogurt?
J.A.: It’s marketed the most, but it is not as good as other fermented foods.
Vic: What about the people that just don’t like fermented foods?
J.A.: Then a probiotic supplement can be used, but the variety of organisms is not as great as in fermented food.
Vic: It’s my understanding that the good bacteria push out bad bacteria. Is that true?
J. A.: Yes.
Vic: Would you share with our readers what are the most important weight loss tips?
J.A.: Eat healthy foods with few or no additives. Also, maintaining a proper bacterial population is very important. (Vic: See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263193/  for more information.)
Vic: What are your views of Stevia and other artificial sugars?
J.A.: It’s my view that they should be avoided.
Now go have fun and relax.