Monthly Archives: February 2016

Good for your Gut

You’ve probably heard of prebiotics and probiotics, but do you know what they are? Nutrition research has pinpointed specific functional components of foods that may improve health, and prebiotics and probiotics are two such substances.

What Are Prebiotics and What Do They Do?

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food ingredients that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut. Simply said, they’re “good” bacteria promoters. That’s right, not all bacteria are bad! Prebiotics may GI healthimprove gastrointestinal health as well as potentially enhance calcium absorption.

Prebiotics in Your Diet

Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides, such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides. But rather than focusing on these lengthy words, include more prebiotics in your diet by eating these foods: bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.

What Are Probiotics and What Do They Do?

Probiotics are actually the “good” bacteria — or live cultures — just like those naturally found in your gut. These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. This functional component may boost immunity and overall health, especially GI health. For instance, probiotics have been used for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Some strains of these live cultures may help prevent specific allergy symptoms, reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance and more. However, effects can vary from person to person.

Probiotics in Your Diet


To obtain more probiotics, try fermented dairy foods including yogurt, kefir products and aged cheeses, which contain live cultures (for example, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). Plus, she suggests some non-dairy foods which also have beneficial cultures, including kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and soy beverages. Here at Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition, LLC we offer a Probiotic Supplement with over 30 different strains of live cultures available, RAW Probiotics: Ultimate Care and RAW Probiotics for Kids. These are gluten free, soy free, and acceptable for vegetarians!


What Makes Prebiotics and Probiotics the “Dynamic Duo?”

Ultimately, prebiotics (“good” bacteria promoters) and probiotics (“good” bacteria) work together synergistically. In other words, prebiotics are breakfast, lunch and dinner for probiotics, which restores and can improve GI health. Products that combine these together are called synbiotics. On the menu, that means enjoying bananas atop yogurt or stir-frying asparagus with tempeh is a win-win.

So be sure to include food sources of prebiotics and probiotics on your grocery shopping list, taking time to double-check labels at the market. Although you won’t find a FDA health claim on products that provide these “nutrition boosters,” you may find a structure-function claim such as “promotes a healthy digestive system.”

The bottom line: At minimum, prebiotics and probiotics are keys for good gut health. Incorporating health-promoting functional foods, such as foods containing prebiotics and probiotics, into the diet potentially aids in creating a healthier you.

Article adapted from Food and Nutrition Magazine, and Jackie Newgent, RD

8 Simple Ways To Destress

We have all heard that too much stress can lead to serious health problems. It can be hard to take a moment for ourselves to destress, especially in today’s workaholic society where “stressed out” is the new normal. Excess stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, digestive problems, depression, sleep disturbances, and imbalances in our metabolism. Excess stress is also associated with weight gain, because a high level of the stress hormone cortisol has been shown to increase appetite, drive cravings for junk food, and increase our abdominal fat.

Whether you love your job or not, work can be a source of stress in our lives. Try to include one of these tips in your daily work routine to help you de-stress:

  1. HYDRATE: Keep a post-it note on your desk at work to remind you to drink more aqua; sometimes we get caught up in our work and forget to drink. Think “Out of sight, out of mind”; if we see a water bottle on our Hydratedesk, we are more likely to drink water.
  2. GET UP: Sitting for long periods of time wreaks havoc on our health, even if we get in our morning workout. Make sure to get up every hour and take a short walk to stretch out your limbs. This can be accomplished by walking over to a co-workers desk instead of writing an email; filling up your water bottle; or just taking a trip to the restroom.
  3. HIGH FIVE: a happy work environment can eliminate a lot of stress from your job. High fiving has been shown to increase the hormone oxytocin (the “trust” or “hug” hormone) and reduce the hormone cortisol.High Five
  4. TAKE A WALK: Take a walk at lunch with a friend, and get some fresh air! If you have a business call, put in your earbuds and take it to the pavement. You can also try listening to a new podcast or book!
  5. WRITE IT DOWN: Write down 1 thing that makes you grateful each day. There is always someone out there working hard to get to where you currently are, and taking a few minutes each day to appreciate it does wonders for our mind! It does not have to be different each day, and “having a job” can be one of them.
  6. SNOOZE DURING LUNCH: A lot of us are not taking a lunch break, and are instead working through it. Make sure to use your time wisely, and you can even recharge with a nap. To beat the afternoon slump, drink 1 cup of coffee and nap for 20 minutes; that is how long it takes for the effects of coffee to kick in so when you wake up you will feel extra recharged!Nap
  7. PARK IT: Park at the back of the parking lot to get some extra steps in! A bonus is that most likely you will always get a spot.
  8. STRETCH: Make sure to get up and stretch if you are sitting at your desk for long periods of time. Stretching can be an instant mood booster, too!

Article adapted from Huffington Post and SnackNation

The Art of Jumping and Landing Correctly

Basketball season is upon us and for those of you who don’t know it is supposedly Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour.  As I began reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s career and his highlight reel of dunks, I was inspired to chat about The Art of Jumping and Landing Correctly in this week’s Blog topic.

Jumping is involved in many sports or activities.  The obvious sports that come to mind are volleyball, basketball and ballet.  Not so obvious is running, which is comprised of thousands of jump and landing sequences (1).

When you jump and land, force absorbed by your knees is roughly 3 or more times your body weight (1).  So you can imagine the toll jumping countless times takes on your body.  Magnify that by jumping and landing w/ faulty mechanics and it will make you cringe.  These faulty mechanics are contributing factors to many injuries particularly to the knee complex such as anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, osteoarthritis and Jumper’s knee.  In the United States alone,  250,000 ACL injuries occur per year, which is a startling statistic considering just how catastrophic these injuries are to an athlete (1).  Being equipped with the right jumping and landing techniques is imperative for the athlete, weekend warrior or runner.

So now that you readers have an idea of the importance of jumping and landing correctly, let’s get into the specifics.

Poor jumping and landing mechanics usually consist of these of common faults:

  • Knees forward and shins not perpendicular to the surface
  • Toes pointing inward/outward
  • Poor core stabilization
  • Knees collapsing inward (1)

Correct jumping and landing mechanics consist of:

  • Shift your weight back onto your hips
  • Knees, feet and back are neutral
  • Land with your knees and feet straight
  • Drive your knees outward on landing (1)

Mastering the skill of jumping and landing correctly will pay dividends regarding your athletic endeavors and greatly diminish the trauma your knees will sustain.

Both Joe and I at Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition possess the knowledge and expertise to evaluate your jumping and landing techniques to identify faults and educate you in correct technique.  We also reintroduce jumping for patient’s rehabilitating from injury or surgery.  Joe and I have a number of interventions such as jumping rope, platform jumping, abdominal bracing, single leg stance drills, swiss ball wall squats and air squats to assist in achieving ideal jumping and landing mechanics.


(1)  Starrett, K. & Murphy, T. J. Ready to Run.  2014 Victory Belt Publishing Inc.

Ed Kinsella P.T. D.P.T. Cert. MDT

Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition, LLC

1278 Yardville Allentown Rd. Suite 3

Allentown, NJ 08501


Go Nuts! But consider portion size too!

Because of their high fat content, nuts have been at the heart of many discussions about dietary recommendations. But with February as the official American Heart Month, we are going to discuss this heart healthy, nutrient dense food.

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are a heart-protecting fatty acid that is vital to heart health. Nuts also contain fiber, serve as a plant-based protein source, and are a great low-carbohydrate snack option. Nuts have been found to decrease LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and help reduce the risk of blood clots.

And, not only do nuts have a wide range of health benefits, they can positively affect weight, as well. Recent research has shown that nut consumption actually corresponds positively to a healthier lifestyle, healthier weight and overall better blood work results. Researchers have found no association between high nut consumption and increased rate of weight gain throughout the years, which means eating more nuts does not equal gaining more weight. What this means is that nuts should consumed not in addition to your regular diet, but replacing a less healthful option in an equal caloric amount.

Nuts are a good substitute for other snack options such as crackers and bread products, as they provide good nutrition and can help you to feel full longer. When looking for a snack when you are hungry and tired, consider choosing nuts to snack on.

Keep Portion Size in Mind Almonds in Hand

However, portion size is an important factor to consider even with something that is healthy. One to 2 ounces (about ¼ to ½ cup) of nuts provides 200 to 400 calories, which is the proper daily portion for this food. Oftentimes we recommend limiting nuts or avoiding them if you are trying to lose weight as these extra calories can sometimes be the culprit holding you back. But, if you make sure to use nuts as an appropriate snack, they can be part of your weight loss goals. Make sure not to just add these nuts to your typical diet, but make sure to use them as a replacement for a less nutritious option.

For instance, instead of having a sandwich with two slices of bread, use one slice only or ditch the bread entirely and make the meal into a salad or a lettuce-wrapped sandwich — and then add a small handful of nuts to your meal. Or, instead of snacking on crackers, have a banana with almonds. Instead of granola in your morning greek yogurt, replace this with some unsalted nuts. Small choices such as these will help you incorporate more healthy fats into your diet, while helping you lose weight and have more energy.

It is important to find a weight-loss program that works for you, and incorporating healthy fats into your diet can increase satiety as well as give you that “crunch”. Nuts are a great way to boost your healthy fat intake and make it easier to stick to a healthy-eating plan.

Serving Sizes of Almonds










Article adapted from Registered Dietitian Tveen Verano