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Sometimes, achieving real health can seem like a far-away idea. We get so inundated with complicated diets and routines that it feels easier to just give up. Not so fast because Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN is here to lift the complications that fog people’s desire for a healthy life. She gets down on the basics, centering on nutrition as the gateway to helping people feel healthy and great. Amy Shapiro is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. In this episode, she talks about how we can nourish our body best to sleep better, recover from stress, and boost immune function. Join her as she shows the simple ways we can change our lives through nutrition.
Key takeaways from this episode:
- The baseline to achieving great health
- Why certain diet trends don’t work for the long term
- When to take supplements
- Debunking nutrition myths
Guest Social Links:
Real Nutrition For Real Heath: Sleep Better, Recover From Stress, And Boost Immune Function With Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
As we kick off this episode, remember that when we dig into the science of nutrition and health, this show was offered for informational purposes only. If you have a specific health concern, you'll want to connect with your healthcare provider. You are in for a real treat now as I introduce you to a well-versed registered dietician who has a ton of experience guiding people through all sorts of health challenges, from those that seek to lose weight to those that are working to get the most out of their physical performance as elite athletes.
Her name is Amy Shapiro. She operates out of New York City with her company, Real Nutrition NYC. She has been in private practice for fifteen years and loves conversations about nutrition like the one we'll have here now. She offers realistic recommendations on how people like you can meet your nutrition goals and receive better health through better nutrition. As we connect with her now, we're going to focus on what you can do to nourish your body best so you can recover from stress, sleep better, and feel better, especially if you're one of the many that are suffering from symptoms of long COVID. We have a lot to cover now, so I'm going to jump right in with Amy Shapiro. Amy, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me.
I've given the audience a taste of what you're all about, but this is just the beginning of the story. Why don't you share with us what brought you into this world of nutrition and why you're so passionate about supporting people specifically as it relates to the food and the things that they ingest?
I grew up in a health food household before it was cool. My dad owned multiple health food stores. He's worked in the vitamin supplement business since I was a baby like the Expo East. I was there when I was 6 when there were only 5,000 vendors. Now, you probably know there are over 85,000 vendors. I grew up in this world. Like many other people growing up with it, it's forced on you, and you hate it, so I avoided it. I didn't study it. I also didn't want to go to school undergrad and study all the sciences that it requires to become a dietician.
Eventually, after working eight years in corporate, I went back to school because I couldn't shake it. I also recognized I was living this healthy life because it was ingrained in me. I said to myself, "I wake up feeling good every day." People can feel so much better, but they don't know how much better they can feel, and it doesn't have to be that hard. That was my drive. Helping people feel great is motivating. When we focus on the basics, it gives you a huge boost to your energy, and then you're motivated to do it. That's why I love helping people because I know that food works to make you feel better. I know proper nutrition can help you make feel better. That is my passion. By the way, my dad is still in the industry in his mid-70s, and we now go to Expo East together.
I might know him. I've been going to those shows since 1999.
He's in the vitamin supplement area, not the fun food stuff.
I've worked in the space of health and nutrition, specifically in omega-3s and also other supplements for the entirety of my career since '99. It's part of why we're talking here about nutrition without compromise. Let's talk about great nutrition for stress and better recovery from the assaults that we confront, whether it be something like a cold or flu or just the effect of stress so that we can get better sleep, recover better, and wake up with that spring in our step, just like you were talking.
It's a whole host of things. Even without those "ailments" that you mentioned, people aren't getting as much sleep as they need and aren't feeling as good as they can feel on the baseline. Once we can do that, then after we get hit by anything that creates inflammation or illness in the body, we can recover better if we have a strong baseline to start with.
What does the baseline look like? What do you think the fundamentals are that we need to be sure that we're just taking care of checking off that list every day?
I always say we start with the basics which nobody wants to start with because they're boring. Everybody's like, "I know that." I say, "If you know it, how many people are doing it?" When I give corporate lectures, that's one of the first questions I ask, especially when I talk about hydration, which is key. Everybody rolls their eyes when I'm like, "You got to meet your hydration goals." They know, but nobody's doing it. The basics are adequate hydration with clean water. Sometimes, adding electrolytes or a little bit of sea salt if you need some in the morning to help your cells get that hydration.
It's really important to hydrate before we caffeinate, which is something other people don't like when I say that. They roll their eyes again at me. We are dehydrating overnight. We're drinking coffee and alcohol, which are diuretics. We're walking around pretty much dehydrated, which means our organs aren't functioning at their highest level. That's my first. Once my clients start to drink an adequate amount of water, their pep is back in their step, even if they're not doing anything else. That's rule one. It's a chore for a lot of people to drink enough water. I always say my baseline is half your body weight ounces, give or take, where you live, how much you exercise, and all of those types of things.
We got to look at the fruits and vegetables, which most adults are not meeting their fruit and vegetable goals, which means they're not meeting their fiber goals. We want to eat fruits and vegetables. Even to back up a little bit, I would even say eating three meals a day and snacks in between if you want, but a lot of people push past breakfast, "I don't need it. I'm too busy. It's easy for me to bypass this. I'll just wait until lunch."
Once you cut out an entire meal, you already are losing really important nutrients like fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and disease-fighting nutrients. It's getting people to eat right and what you're putting on your plate, which dives into all of the specifics. Those are your baseline along with living an active life, which, given COVID, many of us have stopped moving, commuting, doing things, and we sit. Everybody underestimates how your activities of daily living enhance your lifestyle.
I want to unpack a couple of things because you've shared a lot. One of the issues that we started with is hydration. I've listened to a couple of shows that you've guessed on in the marathoning space. I have experience in running marathons myself. I'm no longer a distance athlete, but I will tell you that some simple changes occur when you go through all these training initiatives. If you are exercising and sweating a lot, I had a simple tell. I'd go ahead and take a shower after a hard training run, and I knew I needed a lot more salt or electrolytes in my system when my sweat would start to not be salty anymore.
It was an indicator for me that I needed to make sure that I was getting more salt in my diet because of the fact that I was running 60 to 80 miles a week in training. That's a lot of distance you're putting on your feet each and every week, which incidentally is why I no longer am a distance athlete. I have some running-inspired injuries, mostly bunions, which start to aggravate me after about the sixth mile. I don't like running less than eight miles, so I stopped running. Now, I do a lot of hiking. I still do a lot of weights and things like that. I'm getting outdoors and my cardio because I do a lot of hills. Even just the way I weightlift is getting me that cardio.
I still use that as an indicator because it's something I learned early on. If my sweat starts to get less salty, it's an indicator to me that I need to add more electrolytes. That could be eating the banana that gives me potassium, being just a little bit more liberal with a bit of table salt or even taking an electrolytes supplement. What are your go-to's for people to ensure that they get adequate nutrition from that water baseline because that's such an important baseline to start with?
If you're sweating a lot, I say we don't require any electrolytes if we are exercising or sweating for an hour or less, but once we hit the 90-minute mark, we try to incorporate that, give or take, the environment that you are in. Eating a balanced diet is going to provide you with most of the electrolytes that you need. Many people who are on a low carbohydrate diet or a keto diet tend to be lower in salt and sodium. They typically will feel better when they add sodium as their electrolyte or as part of their electrolyte packet or equation. Potassium is great to add through fruits and vegetables like bananas or avocado.
If you're losing the salt in your sweat and potassium isn't what you need, you've lost all your salt, so you have to make sure that you're consuming the sodium piece. I like to recommend things that either are part of your food, but when you are sweating at that level and you need quick electrolyte delivery, that's where I like to add it into your water. I don't know if I can name any brands on here, I don't work with any.
There are certain electrolyte powders that I like that don't have any added sugars, no artificial colors and have natural flavors. I like those cleaner brands. I usually say over an hour is a good time to add them if you are working out at that level. As an average person who's in the office and just wants to add it, sometimes it helps because it enhances the flavor of your water and encourages you to drink more. It does help your cells to take up the water so you can hydrate on the cellular level as well.
This is a somewhat controversial topic, and I don't think this should necessarily be controversial, but you mentioned breakfast. There are so many people now that are starting to hear about things like intermittent fasting, and so they're going sometimes 12, 16, 18 hours without consuming anything, and they're skipping breakfast for that reason and may not be consuming anything after 7:00 PM in the evening as well. What do you say to that individual who's practicing something like intermittent fasting for health applications?
Intermittent fasting is absolutely a wonderful healthy application for most people. People who are doing intermittent fasting correctly are getting all the nutrients they need within their eating window. That's why it works, they feel good, and it's encouraging them to continue to do that. Individuals who are intermittent fasting and know how to properly intermittent fast are not lacking their nutrients because they're making sure that they are building their day with the nutrition that they need.
Many people who say, "I'm going to try fasting," are trying to do it as a weight loss endeavor because it's easy to skip a meal, but they will skip a meal, wait, and then they'll start with pizza. I'm not saying pizza's bad but less healthy and more processed foods because it gives them that opportunity to eat it, and then they'll stop eating at 11:00 at night. They're not always doing it with, "How can I make sure that within my eating window, I'm getting the most nutrition for my body?"
In that case, they're not even using the benefit of the body's natural circadian rhythms because they're eating so late before they're going to bed.
They're just trying to use it to help themselves cut off a certain time. Therefore, I always say, "If you're going to do it that way, I'd rather you not even do it because we can meet those goals in a different way." If you are intermittent fasting, making sure you're getting in all the nutrition you need is the essential piece. It's not about cutting calories and having less, which you probably know. For the audience, it is about getting all the calories you need for that day to support your metabolism, health, sleep, and rhythms from the food that you need just within a short window.
To meet my health objectives, specifically, because I lift a fair amount of weight, too, I've been given a diet guideline from my personal trainer of having 40% of my calories from protein, and then 30% from carbs, and 30% from fat. It's fairly balanced across the board with a little bit more protein because I want to be building muscle and a healthy lean body mass while also limiting my fat production.
This doesn't sound like crazy talk to any registered dietician I've spoken to, but I have seen many extreme diets that are gaining traction that is a bit possibly fad. I'm thinking specifically of the carnivore diet when I say this, but also keto sometimes, and the way people are applying it, and some other more fat-oriented diets out there. Why do you think that these trends don't work in the long term? They might work for a short window but, in the long term, don't deliver the best health outcome.
First of all, these are extreme diets. In my practice and what I've seen, believed, and know is that nothing extreme A) Can work, or B) Maintained long-term. There are certainly people who live a carnivore lifestyle, and that is fantastic, or are fully in ketosis and know how to manage it. Like intermittent fasting, they're all in. They're probably taking the right supplements and all of the things, which most of the people who are reading about it and then trying themselves are not working with a professional to go to that level. With that being said, I do not recommend the keto diet unless you have epilepsy.
Clinically, it's not proven. Regardless, you will get results because you are cutting out an entire food group. If you cut out all of your carbs, you lose all of the water that's stored in your muscles when you use up the stored glucose and glycogen. You lose this very quick rapid weight loss, water weight, and then you go through the keto flu symptoms and all these things where you feel pretty crappy. Most people don't even sustain that part because once you start to feel bad, you don't want to stick to it anymore, but you have to get through that. Anyway, they're short term and the results are there, but then what happens when the holiday party comes up, when your friends want to go out to dinner, or when your kids have a birthday party?
They're not lifestyle choices. My approach is very lifestyle focused because my clients have kids. They want to go out to dinner, travel and do all of these things. Lifestyle extreme diets are not lifestyle-driven, and that's why they don't really work long-term and why I don't recommend them unless there is a medical reason. They're not diet tools because ultimately, you may lose some weight, but what are you doing to your heart health, blood pressure, bones, and all the other systems in your body when you're removing an entire food group?
Let's come back then to some of the earlier positioning conversations about getting better sleep and supporting your nutrition. There is quite a trend around consuming magnesium, sometimes even taking supplementary magnesium to both enable your muscles to relax, and also to eat and sleep. Are there other specific nutrition tools to point people to who are having trouble getting a solid seven hours or more of sleep a night?
I always start with behaviors. Stop drinking your liquids 2 to 3 hours before you go to sleep so you're not interrupting your sleep by having to go to the bathroom, which can be very disruptive, and your room is cold that you stop eating. I truly recommend not consuming food about 2 to 3 hours prior to bed, so your body has the ability to not focus on digestion, but to help with sleep repair and recovery instead of putting this energy towards digestion, and not having big meals so you're not getting any discomfort and acid reflux.
Do not consume food about two to three hours prior to bed, so your body has the ability to not focus on digestion, but to help with sleep repair and recovery.
There are those basic things that I recommend. Believe it or not, when I speak with my clients, these are things that a lot of people aren't doing. They're coming home from work late, eat their biggest meal at the end of the day, and go to sleep right after. All of these things are very basic. We're talking about the basics, but those really help. I recommend some things like tea. You can use certain herbs, but tea is a nice sleepy behavior. Having my tea, I know I'm going to bed soon, even though I did mention cutting the liquids if that's a piece for you.
It's the wellness routine.
Lemon balm or chamomile is a very soothing herb that you can just take with tea. If you need to eat something, sometimes people do benefit from eating something like almonds before bed because they are rich in melatonin, instead of having to take a melatonin supplement. Eliminate desserts and alcohol. These things can be sleep disruptors. Watch your caffeine intake, and maybe cut it off at 12:00, not having that 2:00 or 4:00 caffeine boost. These are some behaviors that I recommend when we're trying to do that along with magnesium glycinate. It's a fantastic supplement for many people that does relax the essential nervous system.
Some people like to take CBD oil. It does help some people. There are so many different methodologies. In terms of nutrition, I like to recommend some herbs. If you need a snack, have something that is supportive of sleep like melatonin, tryptophan, or turkey. Kiwis have some serotonin in it, which relaxes you. Go for healthy food, not an ice cream treat or something that people often reach for when they're feeling anxious about going to bed.
Let's talk for a moment about the why behind not the sugar and not the alcohol, especially in the last few hours before you go to bed. Can you explain a little bit about why that is such a challenge?
When we have dessert or alcohol, typically, what happens is we get this blood sugar spike, which gives us a little bit of energy. Even if it's not giving you that boost of crazy energy, it gives you the spike. Once your blood sugar drops, that can disrupt and wake you up from sleep. That tends to happen with both alcohol and sweet foods at night if you are sensitive to it. It's almost like a little bit of a sugar hike, but also with that glass of wine, which immediately relaxes you. When your blood sugar drops, it does disturb and disrupts your sleep.
That's why people that have too much alcohol will likely wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning if they've gone to bed a couple of hours before, something to that effect.
It's easy to fall asleep, but it can disrupt your sleep. We know that too much alcohol goes hand in hand with not as healthy food sources. That could also disrupt your sleep there, too.
Thank you so much for sharing that. I did not know that almonds were a good source of melatonin. Given that you've introduced melatonin and we've talked a little bit about magnesium, I've often had the question from people, given that we often speak of omega-3s on this show, about whether or not they should take that in the morning or the evening. I wonder if you have an opinion on when they should get their omega-3 supplements.
My opinion with supplements is when you are going to remember to take them.
This sounds like I'm talking to a mirror at this point because that's usually what my response is, whenever it's easiest for you to remember.
Unless it's something that's going to give you energy, which, therefore, will interrupt your sleep. We should take vitamin D in the morning. Personally, I like to take omegas before I go to bed because that's just when I take them because I leave them right by my toothbrush. I don't need to take them with food. That's when I take mine.
You're resting and repairing. That's when your cells are getting all of the absorbing.
That's when I personally take them and when I recommend most of my clients take them. Also, a lot of individuals are concerned about not feeling well when they take a supplement, which most people don't have any negative effects with omega-3s that I know of, except for some if they're burping up something.
If they're taking the Orlo, they won't have that experience because it's in that polar lipid form. This is a complaint I've heard from people when they did take fish oil at night. Sometimes they'd feel almost not heartburn per se, but an aldehyde byproduct if you want to get really specific. Even if it's not fishy, they're feeling it come up a little bit or having a bit of a taste in their mouth. If you're consuming your omega-3 in a polar lipid form, it just gets easily integrated into the tissues. You don't need to consume it with food because it doesn't need any co-products in there to help absorb it either. You can easily take it right before bed and get the benefits of the omega-3 that's helping you rebuild overnight. I love that.
If you are not taking that, which I am encouraging more and more of my clients, too, then nighttime is a safe bet because you're like, "I'll take it, go to sleep, and I won't have to worry about it."
There's a question about when people should consume things like probiotics or prebiotics if they're also supplementing. I know some are shelf stable. What do you guide your clients to do in that case?
I like to recommend that my clients take their probiotics on an empty stomach before they eat their first meal, or if they've gone a decent amount of time before they go to bed or something like that. The priority is when you will remember to take it. If they're not shelf stable but are in the fridge, and it has to be a little bit more strategic, in terms of a prebiotic, if it's a symbiotic probiotic that you're taking where they're both in one dose, then you can take that.
Ideally, I'm encouraging my clients to eat a high-prebiotic, high-fiber diet. Ideally, their diet is naturally rich in prebiotics, which will help to feed those probiotics and help them to proliferate, stay healthy, and make everything hum right along. We incorporate prebiotics in our food recommendations. Mostly, I tell people to take them before their first meal of the day.
In a couple of past episodes, we interviewed Marc Washington, who started a company called Supergut, about prebiotics. They're producing products to do that service. How would you guide people to eat to ensure that they're getting enough of that prebiotics in their first meal of the day so that they've got a good base to absorb the nutrition that they consume?
In every meal, I recommend individuals consume some fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fat. The breakdown that your trainer recommended, some version of that. Whether you're eating Greek or plant-based yogurt with some chia seeds and some berries in there, you have your prebiotics happening in that meal. Throughout the day, you're going to be eating roughage greens, vegetables, resistant starch from some already cooked and chilled potatoes, and some not overly ripe bananas. I don't know why I'm categorizing these as lunch or dinner because many people eat cooked vegetables at lunch. I just personally don't always.
Your asparagus, artichoke, and hearts of palm are foods that are high and resistant to starch, which is the prebiotics. It's slipping it through the day, so it helps with your digestion. You're not loading yourself up with fiber in one meal, and then it sits and has to get in the way of easy digestion, but you're distributing it throughout the day. When we have a healthy gut microbiome, because we're constantly feeding our microbiome with prebiotics, it doesn't necessarily matter if it's right at that breakfast when you take your probiotic because it's just over the course of the day. I always encourage some healthy fiber at your first meal. I should say first meal because we've discussed how not everybody eats breakfast, but to support that.
This sits well with the recommendation that Mia Syn made. She is also a registered dietician. She likes to convert people from a sweet breakfast or the first meal of the day to something more savory. More savory foods tend to also be higher in fiber. I'm picturing that artichoke integrated into a frittata or something along those lines, which honestly has my tummy rumbling right now because I've yet to have my first meal of the day. Something that you mentioned in your intake form was debunking myths. I wondered if you had any particular myths that you think deserve debunking. I have a few of my own to cover.
One that I find myself talking about a lot is alternative plant milk. There's a lot of debunking in terms of oat milk, and as much as we talk about it, everyone thinks that it is a healthier option. Even if you're not allergic to dairy or do not eat dairy, it's just the healthier option. I took my first call after dropping my kids off at school, and I was in a coffee shop. I sit there mesmerized every single morning when I get my coffee about how many people are ordering oat milk. They don't even know why they're ordering it, but they're doing it because it's just taken. That's my biggest myth debunker that I'm constantly talking about, especially because most people aren't buying their own and making sure the ingredients are clean.
It has fat in it. Where's the fat coming from? It's not coming from the oat, so they're adding seed oils. I love this topic because people don't necessarily understand how they're so out of whack with their omega-3 to omega-6 ratios. Even when they make a choice to have a healthy salad, they're using a salad dressing that is made with canola oil or soybean oil, and it's all omega-6. They're going and getting their Starbucks oat milk latte because they hear that dairy's bad for some reason, and they've made that choice even though they don't know if they're sensitive.
I personally am sensitive to dairy, and I learned this through trying to help my younger son figure out what he's allergic to. I didn't want to have his blood tested when he was so young, so I had mine tested to find out I'm pretty dairy sensitive. I probably always knew, but I love dairy, so I've since cut it out. I make my own oat milk and also almond milk at home. Every once in a while, I buy the stuff from the store, but I'm also reading my ingredient labels and being mindful when I get the store-bought one. It has fat and it's probably an omega-6. I think about it.
Especially if it's an oat.
They're adding omega-6 to that. If you think about the other ingredients, they're often using emulsifiers of some sort. You may or may not have digestive trouble from that emulsifier. Label reading is important.
Also, if they're not organic oats, you're getting glyphosate. This is one of my biggest myths. I feel like no matter how much I put it out there or how much it's written about, because of oat milk, we can all agree that it tastes probably the richest for all the reasons that we just talked about. It's one of those I'm just ignoring. What I say all the time, and you'd probably feel the same, is that often with an unhealthy, if something comes up or you don't feel well, or if it's not the one-off big holiday dinner that you had. At the moment, you might have some indigestion, but it's the habits that we do every single day that creates the constant consumption of omega-6 which throw off our balance to our omega-3s. Every single day people get their coffee maybe twice a day. These are the things that just rile me up.
If you're me, I drink a lot of coffee.
I love coffee.
That's my beverage of choice. I also drink tea. I drink a lot of water, too. I am working to balance that. I have another one for you. A calorie is a calorie.
I absolutely disagree with that. That goes in with my intermittent fasting, but starting your fast with pizza or some other processed junk food.
This gets back to nourishing your body. If you were to consume the standard, which all of our nutrition percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie diet, which would be far too much food for some people and not enough for somebody else. Again, this is another myth. Do we all need 2,000 calories? Not true. If we are looking at that 2,000-calorie diet just as a baseline, and you were to consume something much richer in prebiotic fibers, a lot of vegetables, and you compared that to a piece of cake, these are not the same. One is going to stimulate your metabolism to work efficiently, and the other is going to give you a huge glycemic spike, which may encourage your body to hold on to water and also hold on to fat.
It starts to mess with your hormones. The glycemic spike leads to a crash, and that affects a whole other system in our body.
Also, it negatively affects your immune health. If we're looking at this whole picture of getting better sleep, ensuring that you're handling stress well, and also making sure that you have a healthy immune system so that you don't get COVID that 2nd or 3rd time. I'm hearing in my community from people who have had COVID already 2 or 3 times, and who are suffering from some of the long COVID symptoms like restlessness, inability to sleep through the night, inflammation in different spots of their body, and pain. The list is quite long. If you seek to educate yourself a little bit, if we start to look at nutrition as nourishment and what is giving your body as opposed to just a simple calorie, then we're doing a much better job.
That's where people like you, experts, can offer such incredible service to your clients and help them navigate that, and get to a space where a calorie is a calorie is debunked from their entire mind, and where perhaps they follow more of a plant-based diet as well because they start to understand that you can get so much of what your body needs from vegetables and fruits. You reach that 3 to 5 servings much more easily a day of those key things that are going to nourish your digestion and also provide micronutrients to support your health and balance your hormones.
You're then getting the protein you need, not only from the vegetation but also from anything supplementary that you consume, whether it be a protein shake, or if you're a meat eater, meats, and other vegetarian sources like beans and things along those lines. We had Dr. Fuhrman on this show. He talks specifically about getting to a mostly vegetarian whole foods diet to support long-term health. He works in his practice to get people off of the 3 to 5 and more medications that they might be on as they navigate these health challenges, and do so much of that work through nutrition, and starting there.
I feel like the conversation becomes a little bit difficult because people are afraid to give up their favorite things. They think it's almost all or nothing. I also think the beauty of fresh fruits and vegetables is the way that they easily crowd things out. We also have to remember that our portions have gotten so much bigger of these not calorie equal foods, cake, fast foods, and all these things. The portions now are really big versus what they used to be. When we can add more of this like Dr. Fuhrman's doing, we can add more, so you're not walking around miserable and hungry, but you're crowding out the unhealthy foods.
Many of my clients are never going to go without their favorite X, Y, or Z, but it's a little bit more sustainable if they don't walk around feeling hungry, and they can feel like there are other healthy choices that can help, too, instead of make them eliminate more, so crowd out the unhealthy food. That's something I like to discuss.
I'm with you there. I used to travel a lot by airplane. Thankfully, I'm not doing so much of that anymore for numerous reasons. One, it's certainly leaving a greener footprint on this earth. I often would travel with my own food and bring a few key things with me so I didn't grab Anne's pretzel or whatever else was offered.
We wish it was Anne's pretzel. However, it's not. I look at those pretzels, and there are those seed oils in them.
There are a lot of seed oils. Again, you're just building your inflammation by overburdening your system with omega-6s, which create pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and undernourishing them with omega-3s, which help to quash that inflammation and support your cellular health. Here's another one that I have heard a few times in the media of late. It seems the media likes to report negatively or super positively on specific things. They might say something as simple as, "There was a meta-analysis that multivitamins don't work. Omega-3s don't work. Vitamin D doesn't work." I've seen so many of these hits.
They're not consistent.
I know. What would you say to somebody who says, "I just saw this study that supplements don't work, so I'm just not going to take any of them."?
As for my career, I will always say, "Are you sure that your diet is providing you with all of the nutrition that you need?" One of the things that I'm always recommending in supplementation is omega-3s. Even if they're watching their omega-6s, most people just do not consume enough complete sources of omega-3s. Is your diet completely balanced? Do you know exactly what nourishment you need to fill? It's all of those gaps, which many of us are not, especially when we talk about vitamin D, which comes from the sun unless you're running around naked for fifteen minutes every single day in a warm climate without sunscreen.
I would ask about that first. Certainly, not all supplements are created the same. Do your research about what supplements work and why. The phospholipid process is awesome, but many people don't even know the difference if they're reading it. Know what to look for. Work with a professional. Some supplements, as you know and I know, are not fantastic, but that's probably what's catching the media. If you know the right ones to take and know what to look for, that would be my education on it. I hear you, but let me educate you on why. I would start with, "These are the few that you should take regardless." I'm only making recommendations. I'm not writing prescriptions.
Not all supplements are created the same. Do your research about what supplements actually work.
I will point people again to Dr. Fuhrman's episode on this show. He revealed something to me that I hadn't known even after years of working in this industry, saying that he wanted people to look for supplements when it comes to a multivitamin that does not include folic acid but rather folate, the food form of that particular nutrient. Many women are told throughout pregnancy and beyond that they need to be sure they're getting folic acid, so they look for a supplement that contains folic acid. What they need is folate in your cruciferous vegetables. It is in some of the more mindful whole food-based multivitamins that you can find on the market, some of which are blended with probiotics to help you absorb them.
If you're getting your nutrition from a food source, it's generally speaking going to be better absorbed. Another myth I hear quite frequently is vegans get enough omega-3. I can work to debunk this one, but the reality is some of the same conversations we had a little bit earlier, which relate to the seed oils. It's challenging to get enough of the omega-3s in your system if you're eating a fully plant-based diet and not consuming fish 2 to 3 times a week.
I'm talking about fish that are low on the food chain, have high levels of omega-3, and are not farmed. That's getting more and more challenging to meet those three metrics. At the same time, you also understand that we are living in this plastic world, and we consume about a credit card's worth of plastic each week. A lot of that is coming from seafood. What's the best choice?
It's wild. This is why I love Orlo. It is the fact that we can now get omega-3s with a negative footprint, but also from where the fish get their omega-3s from. Therefore, it's not just ALA, which then has to be converted into DHA and EPA, which the chia seeds, walnuts, and flax aren't officially efficiently converting. That's incredible. Many people, at least my clients, don't know that.
Even though people think that they're getting enough from all the flax and all of their things, which is great and is good for so many things, having the going right to the source, where the fish are getting it, and not having to worry about your mercury levels and not have all these other concerns is just incredible. It's in everybody. It doesn't matter if you're vegan, vegetarian, eating, drinking, or whatever it is. It's in everybody. I know you can appreciate when I'm getting all nutrition nerdy on that, but it's very exciting.
I have always said to people that flax oil is a great nutrition source, but when you go to a flax soil, you should be looking for the high lignan flax soil because that high lignan flax oil, while it might have a little bit more of that nutty flavor to it, it's providing a lot of benefits too. It can help people. I have seen people who consume a fair amount of omega-3 from fish but still have hormonal outbreaks every time they have their period, for example. When they add high lignan flax soil, it helps to balance hormones, and then they experience less outbreaks and things like that.
We can all be a little vain. We want our skin to be healthy. We don't want the pain of cystic acne or some other things that are essentially erupting from our bodies saying that something's out of balance. A lot of times, we can address these things through proper nutrition. I love using flax seeds and flax oils as part of a base in salad dressings because you can have that healthy oil and mix it in with things like pistachios and pumpkin seeds, and make some nutty, beautiful salad dressings without going to buy the store-bought stuff. You save money, get better nutrition, and it tastes better. What part do you want?
It's not hard. That deters people. It seems to be confusing and hard. Although when I talk about those seeds, we were talking about in terms of omega-3s and how they convert from the ALA, there are other health benefits. Chia seeds, I like to recommend to people because they hold onto hydration, keep you full, and help with digestion. I didn't mean to say that they're not great.
They're a great nutrition source, high in fiber. I like to make a chia seed pudding, put a little vanilla extract in that or almond if I want to, and give it a little extra kick. I use oat milk that I make at home. There's a very simple recipe for oat milk that Mia Syn has in her cookbook, Mostly Plant-Based. I've put that up there. I will tell you it is so easy to make oat milk if you want to do this on your own. It's the same thing with almond milk. Almond milk is so easy to make.
I just made chia pudding. I put pumpkin pie spice in mine. It was delicious.
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You just spray a couple of sprays in your mouth and get all the benefits of vitamin D, spirulina, and a smattering of B vitamins to support your health. It's delicious, easy, and immune-supportive. I will stop there for now and talk about this next subject. I wanted to get your view on building better habits by ending your day and starting your day correctly. We alluded to this a little bit earlier, but half the battle is really building these healthy habits. What does your routine look like at the end of the day and the beginning of the day?
I'm a morning person, which I know is annoying to most people. I have three kids and running a business, I love morning. It makes me very happy, and it's quiet in my house. My morning is to wake up early before everybody and drink hot water with the juice of half a lemon always. It's got to be the exact temperature. It's always about 12 to 16 ounces of that to start while I'm getting things organized for off to school. Some mornings, I'll get a workout in at that time as well because there is uninterrupted time. I always say, and people don't always like to hear this, but I feel like the morning is borrowed time. It's the only thing that you're not getting is extra sleep, but other people are not disturbing you. That is what my morning looks like. I have my coffee after that, and then I will eat my first meal of the day.
Morning is borrowed time.
Why the lemon with the hot water?
I like to get the extra vitamin C in there. I don't want tea in the morning. I just want water, but I don't like cold water. It might be because I live in New York, and the weather here is just cold at this time, but I like hot liquids. I do it for digestion, liver support, and vitamin C, which is great for immunity but also great for your skin. I like the flavor of it, so it's not too intense but just bright enough to give you that energy in the morning. Sometimes, when I have the time, which isn't always, I'll put in a slice of ginger to boost that little digestive fire. I can't get into the cayenne pepper scenario that people like to do in there, too, which is a boost of metabolism. I don't want to start my day that way.
I can feel you. I like the cayenne pepper. I have found a couple of kombuchas, the combined lemon, ginger, and that fire from the cayenne pepper that I simply love. They aren't the thing I want to drink first thing in the morning though, either. I like hot liquids. I also love lemons, and I have two lemon trees, so there's an abundant supply at my home. I throw the whole lemon because I use Meyer lemons, which are a little bit on the sweeter side than the standard limit. I cut it in half, and I will just use the hand juicer to juice it and throw the whole lemon in there with the rind. There are no pesticides on that thing because of the fact that I know how it's grown. I rinse it, but I don't have to worry about it. When I'm done with my water, I will eat the lemon including the rind.
The rind, yes. You're getting all those oils in there.
Also, the vitamin C from that. Maybe perhaps I'm a freak, but I enjoy it. It's like a healthy trait. I know some people will add honey to this routine, but if you are going to add honey, be mindful of the fact that it's sugar. It's extra calories. Also, consider local honey first because that can help people battle seasonal allergies and things along those lines.
I also don't like to start my day with any sugar because for many people, once you get that sugar going, it can spiral into a whole day's worth of craving sugar or energy bits and starts. Lemon water for me, then coffee with some cinnamon for more blood sugar regulation as well. No milk. I take it back.
I feel like you're me in so many ways. The coffee, I will brew it with cinnamon. I put the cinnamon powder directly on the coffee grounds. The reason that it works this way is it contains this methyl hydroxychalcone polymer. It is the thing that is responsible for its blood sugar-modulating activity so that it keeps things more stable. This is part of the reason likely is used in so many sweet treats. We've just integrated it into things like oatmeal cookies. Even Mexican hot chocolate has a lot of cinnamon in it. It helps to balance out that potential for a blood sugar spike. If you do require a sweet treat, adding a little extra cinnamon is never a bad idea.
I love that. That's my morning routine. In my evening routine, I end it with hot liquids. This is a new theme I'm recognizing myself, but I prefer to cook food. In New York City, we have exposure to lots of dinners out, but I will always try to not eat 2 to 3 hours before bed, but I have tea, so I bookend my day with hot liquids. Also, the tea is very soothing. It's a really nice way to get herbs into your diet without being stressed about them. Sometimes, if I'm looking for more immune support, if I want astragalus tea, looking for just a soothing, calming more of a lemon balm, or something that is a little bit more like a dessert like a chai experience. That's pretty much how I end my day. I try to get that seven hours of sleep. With three kids, that doesn't always happen.
I have two young boys, so I get that. I have to ask a question. Is there a specific reason that you do not like cold water?
It must be part of my makeup because, on a beach, I will drink hot coffee if I'm on vacation.
I have the same thing. It feels like a shock to the system when I have cold water.
I don't understand iced coffee. I don't understand why people would drink that. I don't understand why it was invented. People will ask me, "What should I make for a smoothie?" I'm not a big smoothie person because I just prefer warm food, and I know that it's nice to digest and all of these things. I just think it must be part of my composition. I'm sure that my acupuncturist or someone else can tell me really why, and it makes my teeth hurt.
That's a good reason. It hurts your teeth. Do you have any quick tips or tricks that you'd like to share with our audience before we prepare to wrap, things that can help them save time and build better habits?
One, I always say to be prepared. Take a minute before your week starts and assess what's coming up. You might need to pack some snacks. Are you traveling on an airplane? Should you pack some of your own snacks? Can you meal prep some quick things like making some hard-boiled eggs in the morning? If it's hard for you to get your supplements out, can you just get them organized in a little container so you can grab and go, and set them up where you are? Considering your week is something that I always have with my clients. What's coming up? What do we have to look forward to? What might throw a wrench into the plant? Everyone wants to look at the moment or at the meal that they're eating. If you can consider your day and therefore your week, you can make better choices for balance.
I know that's not a quick tip because it does take time, but it works and is a good habit starter. I always say to carry snacks in your bag. I know that we shouldn't be snacking all the time, but better to have something you know you can eat them having to eat pretzels on a plane or whatever is in your kid's backpack that they got from a friend. My kids are older now, so I'm not in as much control, but what you can get on the corner. Always have something you can eat that you feel good about that can just take the edge off, so when you get to your meal, you're not showing up completely ravenous and making poor choices.
Even the healthy us, if we show up too hungry, we're going to maybe dive headfirst into the bread basket. I always have a snack on hand because you never want to show up to your dinner or your next meal too hungry. That is one of the things. Most of my clients have a very well-stocked desk drawer, diaper bag, snack purse, and backpack with a few.
I've even seen some research studies that back that up that saying something as simple as eating a small apple, buying a small apple something smaller than the size of your fist can reduce your total caloric intake at dinner. People just get full sooner. If you have that snack before you're eating by half an hour or so, then you're going to make more mindful choices. You'll feel full sooner, and you aren't as likely to overeat. It makes a lot of sense.
Most people try to wait as long as they can. I don't want to waste those calories. It's wanting to skip breakfast. I can just forget about that meal. The more balance your blood sugar is, the less torturous you make, and the better you can walk into a meal and feel you're supporting yourself and making better choices. I always say don't be afraid to spoil your appetite, which is probably not what a lot of parents say to their kids about this.
The more balanced your blood sugar is, the less torture you feel and the better you can walk into a meal feeling supported and making better choices.
I do find, too, that I travel with apples in my purse because I can hand one to my child or consume myself if I need a quick snack on the go, and they're always much more agreeable when they have had some food.
So am I.
The overall theme of this episode has been about building a good and strong foundation so that you can have success, aren't overstressing yourself, and aren't developing poor habits, so you sleep poorly or your immune system is in peril. I understand that you offer resources on your site, including what I printed out here, the real nutrition one-day nutrition reset, which is available to anybody that subscribes to your newsletter. I love this. You have a beautiful picture of a shake here. Even if that's not your preferred start to the day, I think of shakes as a healthy treat, snack, or foundational protein supplement. That's how I use them. I love that you offer some simple recipes here as well.
Sometimes, you just need a one-day reset.
Build a better habit. They can go ahead and see that by going to your website, which is RealNutritionNYC.com. Do you have any other parting words?
Thank you for having me. I am super excited about the negative carbon footprint, an all-person friendly, digestible, and absorbable omega-3 as a nutritionist. Nerding out on something like that is very exciting. Also, focus on your basics because your basics will get you further than any fad that you read about.
That's certainly true. I've seen it proved time and again over the years. Thank you so much for joining me today, Amy. This has been awesome.
Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.
To find out more about Amy Shapiro and her programs, or to subscribe to that newsletter and get your own one-day nutrition reset, visit RealNutritionNYC.com. You can also visit her Instagram @RealNutrition. I follow her there. She gives some incredible information. It's a free resource for you, so check that out as well. If you learned something, I hope that you'll subscribe to the show on your favorite platform. While you're at it, please give us a thumbs up, a five-star review, and even a written review. All of those things help more people discover the show so that we can help them along their journey as well. Those reviews, thumbs up, and five stars serve as their own currency.
To learn more about what we're doing at Orlo Nutrition and to build better nutrition solutions that are better absorbed so that you can reach your best health, visit OrloNutrition.com. Remember that the coupon code is NWC 10 for Nutrition Without Compromise, an extra 10% off at checkout. There you'll find a page dedicated to this show with complete transcripts for every episode and features that you won't find anywhere else, including those recipes I mentioned from previous episodes, connections to Dr. Fuhrman, and his episode as well.
This show is all about serving you. If you'd like us to dive deep into specific topics, if you have questions that you'd like to see answered, or guests that you want to be featured, please reach out. You can send us a note on social channels @OrloNutrition, or you can send me an email note directly to Hello@OrloNutrition.com. As we close this show, I hope that you'll raise a cup of your favorite beverage. As I say in my closing words, here's to your health.
- Real Nutrition NYC
- Marc Washington – Better Digestion = Better Health with Marc Washington
- Become A Nutritarian To Supercharge Your Immune System And Health With Joel Fuhrman, M.D., The 7x New York Times Bestselling Author Of Super Immunity And Eat For Life – Past Episode
- Mostly Plant-Based
- @RealNutrition – Instagram
- @OrloNutrition – Instagram
About Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. She is internationally recognized for her individualized, lifestyle-focused approach, which integrates realistic food plans, smart eating habits, and active living. Through encouragement, education, and the right “tricks of the trade”, Amy believes that anyone can achieve their nutritional goals while still enjoying the foods and flavors they crave.