Chris4Life Young Professional Board Interviews Registered Dietitian Sarah Waybright in Anticipation of Eat4Life: Celebrity Chef-off on March 19th
With the upcoming Eat4Life Celebrity Chef Cook-Off, the Young Professional Board wanted to have a better understanding of how food plays a part in digestive health.
Who better than a Registered Dietitian, who also happens to have a Master’s in Human Nutrition and started a company dedicated to explaining how food affects our bodies?
Cue Sarah Waybright, founder of whyfoodworks.com and passionate about all things food and healthy eating. She began her company and blog as a way to share with people not only what foods are good for us, but WHY they are good for us and how we can maximize their positive effects.
The Chris4Life Young Professional’s recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Sarah about how her knowledge and practices can help everyone live a colon-healthy life. She also shared some awesome recipes that we can’t wait to try!
Can you give me a brief background on your experience and what drew you to becoming a dietitian and founding WhyFoodWorks?
At the core, I'm a food lover. I got my Master's in Human Nutrition to become a dietitian because it's the perfect intersection between food and science, and I already had a bachelor's degree in science (at one point I thought I wanted to be a doctor). WhyFoodWorks grew from a couple things - first, I find it really hard to stick to anything (including a recipe!) if I don't know WHY it's important. Don't get any yolk in egg whites when you're making meringue? Bake in a water bath? These things seem like silly precautions until you know why they're important (fat destabilizes protein and prevents it from bonding properly, and water baths allow even cooking because the sides will never be hotter than boiling water!). During my degree, I was fascinated to learn all the WHYS: why fiber affects cholesterol, why different nutrients work well (or not well) together, why certain diet patterns contribute to diseases more than others. When you're focusing on all these good things, it's easier to shift towards a healthier diet. So I want to share the "whys" with people.
The second part is that I love to throw a good dinner party. There is nothing better than having a group of friends around a table of good food and wine and feeding them from the heart. So I developed WhyFoodWorks to provide healthy, interactive dinner parties http://whyfoodworks.com/wfw-dinner-parties/ that are an education on the "whys" and "hows" of food and a good time all wrapped up in a meal.
What are some examples of colon friendly foods and meals? How do these foods work with our bodies to support colon health?
There are some interesting studies about different foods and spices (like garlic and curcumin) that seem to reduce risk of cancer, or can even shrink polyps if they turn up, but the biggest area I think people should focus on is fiber. It's no coincidence that Americans don't get enough fiber AND don't eat enough fruits and veggies - that's where the fiber is. And we don't just not get quite enough fiber - we don't get enough by more than HALF what we should.
I tell people to eat a fruit or veggie at every eating occasion - 3 meals, 2 snacks, that gets you to 5, and really more like 7-9 is ideal. And 80% of Americans don't eat a fruit or vegetable at breakfast - grab and apple! grab a banana! That's so easy. One of the reasons fiber is so good particularly for prevention of colon cancer is because it reduces something called "transit time" - the time it takes your food to get from your stomach to (how to put this delicately?) the toilet. Think of fiber as an intestinal broom. If you don't eat enough, your food won't move as fast through the intestines, and so it sits in your system for longer while undergoing dozens of chemical reactions that might produce harmful byproducts. Add in the complexity and the unknowns of what happens when your gut microbiome (all the bacteria that line your gut) get involved, and there's even more potential for something to go wrong.
On the opposite end, what are some examples of foods or meals that have adverse effects on our colons? How do these foods work against our bodies?
On the flip side, things that are detrimental are things that either slow transit time or displace fruits and vegetables. Meat (especially processed and red meat), while having muscle fibers, doesn't contain any dietary fiber, and has been linked to colon cancer. It's important to note that many of these studies only follow people's diets by asking them what they ate, and aren't randomized, controlled trials, so causation can't be proved. It could be that people who eat a lot of meat are also eating a lot of refined carbohydrates and not many fresh fruits and vegetables. How many people do you know who regularly eat hot dogs, who also have a great intake of dark leafy greens and fresh tomatoes? And who drink lots of water and exercise? Drinking alcohol in excess also seems to have a detrimental effect, but having a single drink a day (and no, you can't save them up for the weekend!) is actually healthy.
Do you have any favorite recipes that would support a colon friendly diet?
My favorite, and my friends' favorite recipe that I make by far, is kale salad. Kids like it. People who don't like salad like it. People who don't like kale like it. It's pretty amazing, and only has 4 ingredients. My basic version (with raisins and slivered almonds added) has about 5g of fiber in 2 cups, and is a great vehicle for all kinds of other high fiber add ons - beans, quinoa, cucumbers or strawberries. People rave about it, which I know sounds a little ridiculous...so you'll just have to try it!
●1 large bunch kale
●juice of a lemon
●1/4-1/3c olive oil (depending on how much kale there is)
●1 c grated parmesan cheese.
De-stem and chop the kale, then drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil. HERE IS THE IMPORTANT STEP: with clean hands, massage the leaves until they turn bright green and soften (about 2 minutes). Toss with parmesan. Add toppings like nuts, dried fruit, beans, corn, avocado...I recommend sticking to 2-3! Why this "works" for you: kale is incredibly high in vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin. That means if you eat it with fat (like olive oil), your body is better able to absorb the vitamin K, which helps to regulate blood thickness.
Can you give any advice or strategies on how to make smarter choices to lead an overall healthier life?
Start every day with a big glass of water first thing to rehydrate, especially during the winter. As I said above - try to get a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat. Snacks get a bad rap, but that's only because they're usually junk food! My favorite snack options are dried fruit and nuts (like dried apricots and almonds, or raisins and walnuts; just a handful of each), an apple or pear and piece of string cheese, some of my greek yogurt Ranch dip http://whyfoodworks.com/2013/01/15/guilt-free-ranch-dip-side/ with some carrots and sugar snap peas, a hard boiled egg and some cherry tomatoes...notice they also all pair a fruit or veg with a protein, a combo that can curb appetite. Eating 2 healthy snacks a day is the easiest initial switch you can make, and better choices will start to radiate into other parts of your day.
Sarah’s company hosts dinner parties where you can learn basic cooking skills and how to eat healthy without giving up on flavor! For every ten parties booked, she will donate one to charity. http://whyfoodworks.com/wfw-dinner-parties/
She is also the nutritional advisor to scratchDC http://www.scratchdc.com/
Are you at Risk For Colorectal Cancer?
- 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined
- Colonoscopies not only discover cancer, but can also stop cancer
- 50% of Americans still do not get colonoscopy reimbursement
- Colon cancer research is still vastly under-funded