"I really want people that are worried about diabetes or have diabetes to truly watch what you're drinking. I think a lot of times that sugar sources are coming in through our drinks without us even being aware of that."-Kelly Springer, RD
Shireen: Today we are joined by Kelly Springer. Kelly Springer's passion for nutrition started at a very young age and goes stronger every day. She has been fortunate to have worked in multiple areas of nutrition. She started her career at age 17 and has worked as a clinical residential, geriatric community retail and media dietitian. Welcome, Kelly.
Kelly: Thank you for having me.
Shireen: So Kelly diving right in. I want to speak a little bit more about your background, what you do, how you got interested in it, and what sort of you, what you know, what sort of got you on this path to become a registered dietician?
Kelly: Well, I was really fortunate. My dad is one of 12, which sounds crazy, but my dad's youngest sister is a dietitian. And I was her main babysitter. I was her nanny for multiple years and summers, and I saw that she could use her nutrition degree with her family. And also she could kind of reinvent herself throughout the year, she had worked as a retail dietitian and diabetic dietitian. And I love the fact that she was able to do all different things out in the community and also at home.
Shireen: That's lovely. So Kelly, what is the, what is the relationship between how we eat and how we feel?
Kelly: Direct correlation, right. So I know you've always heard the term you are what you eat, and you basically you are what you feel. So we now know a lot more about research than we ever did. So I started in this field 20 years ago, which seems crazy. But we now know that our gut bacteria actually have a direct correlation to our brain. And they are responsible for 90% of the serotonin made. Now that might seem very sciency. So let's break it down. serotonin is our happiness transmitter. So if you're not feeding the gut bacteria, good healthy foods, like fiber rich sources, you're not going to be that happy. So there's a direct correlation of what you eat and how you feel.
Shireen: Now nutrition can get overwhelming, because there's a lot to remember with the carbs and the impact the carbs has on your body. And then with all the different proteins so on and so forth. How can you break down all of that? How can we synthesize all this information in a way that's helpful for us?
Kelly: You are, it is very confusing. And I'm going to put that out there, I'm sorry, to the general population that is very confusing. And even us as dietitians, we have to take all of the information that comes out, and truly stick to research what we know that research finds to be true. So working with registered dieticians, will always give you the latest and research. So when breaking it down. And I do know that there's a lot here, and that's why it can be confusing. So when we talk about, for instance, carbohydrates, you want to think about carbohydrates as fiber, I think the word carbs now has gotten a negative connotation. But it shouldn't, it's the number one source of energy, it's just choosing the right type of carbohydrate. So when we talk about fiber, that also is very confusing, we're talking about getting in foods that have whole grains, fruits, vegetables, the reason for that is this fiber rich source. So I like to break it down and kind of talk about carbohydrates as in the way of what a carb is, and a whole grain. So there's three parts actually, when you're thinking about whole grain, there's a brand, a germ and endosperm. When you have white flour, like white bread, or white pasta, you actually are removing the brand and the germ. And the reason why that's so important is because that's where the fiber is. So once I explain that to my patients and my, the consumers I'm working with, they understand that they're just left with basically pure sugar, which isn't giving them any fiber. So that's where I think when you understand and break it down of the nutrition and the education, it makes sense now of why my patients would look for the word whole or 100%.
Shireen: Okay, make senses. And so what are some examples of… so when we're going to shop for these types of carbs? How can we make smarter fiber rich choices?
Kelly: Usually the fiber rich foods are the ones that have one ingredient. So if you look at for instance, the grain Ferro, if you turn over a box, it will say ingredients Ferro. So unlike your enriched white breads or pastas, we'll have probably 15 to 20 ingredients. Also think about grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, even your whole wheat, they're not going to have a ton of ingredients, it's going to stick to very, very small ingredients or just one. Also if we think about peppers, apples, those are always ingredient foods that almost always weren't sure that you will have fiber, you can also look it up because in the beginning, it's difficult to understand what foods have fiber. And you can use simple free systems like calorieking, or My Fitness Pal. But in the beginning, you might have to look up some foods because you may not realize that they have fiber or they don't. So it's definitely a learning experience.
Shireen: Now, this is a good time, through COVID, to understand some of those things, and actually invest time into those things. Because we're eating a lot at home, we're buying groceries. So this is a good time to sort of shop for those types of, for those types of items. So with that, with a change in routine, how does it really impact our health?
Kelly: Impacts a lot. So I just went on a walk with my husband this morning. And I said, it's, you know, it's affecting my house, I had a routine where I take my teenage girls to school at, you know, seven o'clock, and I would be at the gym and work out and come home and have my breakfast. And now I'm sleeping in and having a very leisurely breakfast and my weight has been affected. Usually I say the same all the time. So even as a dietitian, this has been even a difficult time with me in the way of eating and keeping a routine. So we have this conversation this morning about making sure we're getting in those fiber rich foods, making sure we have protein and vegetables at meals, and truly sticking to meal times. I think that has been the hardest thing in the world. Because there's food all around us in our pantries and refrigerators. And it's, we have full access. So by keeping those set mealtimes it's going to keep us over not looking at snacking and eating just all the time.
Shireen: And then speaking of that, I think anxiety plays a huge role in this. We had a episode actually a couple of weeks ago about that topic with mental health. How does this play into eating habits, just the anxiety of it all? You know what's going to happen next, when we're going to be able to go back to pre COVID? You know, sort of time, what would that look like? When will it be here? Will we be able to interact? What would that social interaction look like employment? I mean, there's just so much uncertainty right now, how does anxiety correlate with eating habits and then health outcomes?
Kelly: So when we have that low lying stress, right, because a lot of us are in this weird, unknown low lying stress, that can actually trigger different hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, which can store carbohydrates more readily. So because our bodies still feel like we're back in caveman days, and it's flight or fight. So we are actually ready without anxiety. And that hormone is raised to be able to do that. So there's different stress management skills of number one, making sure you're going for a walk doing some meditation. We're lucky right now online, there's a lot of yoga classes and meditation classes. But you want to make sure you're kind of in check with that. And anxiety. I know. It's there for me as well. I feel it, I feel it. Because, you know, a lot of my work has been canceled, the presentations and travel and where I'm supposed to be. And I know a lot of people are uncertain about money is a huge factor, right? Are we going to be able to pay our rent and mortgage? Are we going to be able to have food? A lot of people right now are struggling with food, where we're going to find it. And so with that anxiety, we truly are more likely to eat simple carbohydrates to help feed our brain and keep us happy. And also we're storing more. So it's kind of being a check and saying, alright, I'm feeling anxious, what do I do about it, but then also putting some things in place like we were talking about of, you know, honestly keeping that set mealtime, making sure you get that fiber rich source and another huge key player a huge key player is hydration. Hydration truly can bring down stress level, it helps also feed that gut bacteria and keep it so those bacteria can move freely. It helps rid the body of toxins it does so much. And it seems so simple as drinking a glass of water. But truly trying to get in about 70 ounces of hydration a day will help to reduce your anxiety.
Shireen: And so 70 ounces is how many glasses about?
Kelly: Alright, so if we're thinking about in the way of glasses, most of our water bottles are 20 ounces. That's having what I try to break it down as having one in the morning, one around lunchtime, one at dinner and 10 ounces at snack and that gets me to 70 without you feeling like you're gonna float away.
Shireen: So with that, I want to dive in, into diabetes specifically, and the type of foods that someone who has diabetes should focus on again, waste COVID-19. We're, we're trying our best to, to incorporate the healthy eating habits sort of manage that stress. But specifically, for diabetes, what can folks sort of do starting today make it very, very simple, not overwhelming of the type of changes they can make and the type of foods they should stock up on?
Kelly: Well, number one, I really want people that are worried about diabetes or have diabetes to truly watch what you're drinking. I think a lot of times that sugar sources are coming in through our drinks without us even being aware of that. Just recently, we were driving somewhere, and I stopped and picked up a, it was a honey green tea, which sounds like the healthiest thing you could possibly drink. And it has about 60 grams of sugar and one drink. So just so you kind of break that down. When we talk about carbs servings, it's about 15 grams. So think about how much that one drink was giving me. And also in the way of our coffee drinks are different types of teas, lemonades, we always knew soda. But like looking at lemonade, it may even be higher than soda. So right away, I want you to look turnover the bottle of what you're drinking and be very aware of how much sugar is coming in that way. Number two, I want to make sure that you have a protein and vegetable source at every single meal. So when I say protein that could consist of a whole bunch of different foods. That could be eggs, it could be beans, it can be whole grain rice, it could be coming from your grains, it could be coming from chicken and venison or fish, lots of different protein sources. But I know we throw out these words’ protein and fiber, but actually giving real concrete ideas of what that is, and vegetables. So I talked about vegetables. And they always get lumped in with fruit, I want to separate those out and make sure that you understand that vegetables are a little bit lower in sugar, and they high in fiber. So making sure that half your plate comes from vegetables. Now that might seem overwhelming. But the way that we do it in our house is that we have a hot and a cold vegetable. So we have two different sides. So it doesn't just look like a whole half plate of broccoli, we actually mix it up and frozen vegetables are so inexpensive, and just as good as fresh.
Shireen: Okay, go ahead. Makes sense. So we said you just a little bit ago, you spoke about sugars. Why do sugars get such a bad rap?
Kelly: So the deal of sugar is simple sugar, the ones that are missing the brand. And the pyramid just are pure sugar, simple carbohydrates, as we call them, those actually go straight into your system. Insulin, which is a hormone is triggered, it's supposed to get into the cells. But the kicker is the cells go, Hey, we're frozen the last time she ate, let's go store as fat because she might be going to hump buffalo later. And she needs those stores to go do that. So we just keep storing and storing and storing versus using it. The also the second negative is that your bad bacteria in your intestine, which we don't want to have actually feed off of sugar sources, these simple carbohydrates, what happens is if they start to take over, it can cause a host of different health issues. Number one, metabolism can decrease. Also, immunity can decrease I think immunity at this time is a pretty important thing. Right? The other thing is vitamin breakdown and awesome manufacturing or vitamins like b 12, and K and B sex that can be diminished. So it seems so simple of saying you know, sugars aren't that great for us? No, they actually cause a whole host of issues in our body. So just making sure you know, definitely you can have, I had some, you know, chocolate and Caramel last night, it's not that we have to completely cut it out. But just making sure you're watching how many simple carbohydrates you're getting.
Shireen: And then what would be a good number? So when I am looking at a drink and you know if I do turn to the nutrition label, what are the types of numbers I want to look for?
Kelly: So you want to make sure that that sugar is the, less than 15 grams. And if you're having something that's higher than that, but also don't be tricked, because a lot of times the serving size is not going to be I don't want to say honest, but it seems that way. So when I was looking at that iced tea I was drinking it was only you know, it was only 16 ounces, two serving sizes. So it said 30 but I asked 60 because who's not drinking the whole thing. Right? So just making sure. So you want to have less sugar. I mean, if you can get it less than five grams of sugar per serving, that's even better. Okay, it's just creeping in.
Shireen: You spoke about how sugar feeds the bad bacteria, what is good bacteria? And how can we feed that.
Kelly: So the good bacteria, there's kind of like a tropical rainforest, there's all these different types of bacteria that work in combination together. And so if we feed these gut bacteria, the food they need to eat the fiber rich foods, like we talked about in the beginning. So from your whole grains and your fruits and vegetables, that's the food that they eat. So I kind of equate these gut bacteria, kind of like goldfish, and we don't have goldfish in us, but they're like these little teeny bacteria. But the goldfish needs certain things to live, they need fish food. And this fiber is like fish food to these bacteria, they also need a lot of water, think about a goldfish and a little bit of water, it would kind of get all nervous and flip out, it needs a lot of water and soda, these bacteria to move around and survive. It also needs and this is kind of tough part, a low stress environment. If you remember, like we have a state fair by us. And if you take the goldfish in a plastic bag and shake it, cause it stress, it probably won't survive. And the same with our gut bacteria, they need a low stress environment. And then the fourth one is a low chemical balance. So thinking about this is terrible. But if you were to pour Clorox into a fishbowl, yeah, your face is not so good for that fish. And the same with our gut bacteria. We want to keep that chemical level really low. So when we talk about aspartame, and sweet and low and things like that, we want to make sure that we're keeping a very, very low chemical profile. So those are the four things that keep the fish alive. And they're also the fourth thing that keep our gut bacteria alive.
Shireen: I love that metaphor. Thank you for walking us through that. I'm gonna remember that.
Kelly: But someone asked does it have to be a goldfish. And I was like, no, no. I promise. No. That's where my mind went. Actually, immediately, I started thinking of that. And I was like, well, I can't do that.
Shireen: Okay, well, this. This was great. Thank you so much for your time, Kelly. So with that, how can people learn more about your work. What you do? Tell us more about that.
Kelly: So I own a company called Kelly's choice. And Kelly's choice was started because I was working as a retail dietitian for Wegmans, which is a big grocery store in the northeast. And I was hired for the employees, not for the customers, which was really interesting, because they realized that nutrition could make such an impact on their employees because they were self-insured. And that's how Kelly's choice came to be. So we work in workplace wellness, private practice, I work in media with food companies, I work in all aspects of nutrition, and I have a whole team of dieticians that work with me. So right now, a huge focus of ours is diabetes, we now can make the claim due to the science that we have research that we can reverse type two diabetes in just 12 weeks. And this is about 95% of cases, there's a few outliers that something's going on with their organs, but in most cases, about 95% of cases, we can reverse type two diabetes in 12 weeks. That's a powerful message, isn't it?
Shireen: What is and so I have to ask a follow up question. So what does that mean anything extreme that people have to do like what, just give us a brief overview of what that looks like?
Kelly: We walk them through a program, which has, it's been the most successful thing we've ever done. So we actually break down carbohydrates, how many to have what they are, go into protein, the next session, then we get into fats, and we put together in the way of mindful eating and digestive health. So through this entire track, are kind of like cheerleaders on your side to help walk you through this process, give you the education to make really smart choices. And it's not that, it's a bad or good or you have to cut everything out. It's just making these small little changes over 12 weeks that ensure that you're going to have success.
Shireen: I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that Kelly, I love I love looking at health outcomes and looking at what we can do in terms of chronic illness from a nutrition lens because I truly feel that there's so much untapped potential within that and there's so much that we can harness just from the foods in our fridge and you know, that we can pick up from the grocery store and be able to use that to sort of impact our health and diabetes, of course, being a big one for us. So thank you so very much for your time. It was an absolute pleasure having you on do you have a website where folks can connect with you?
Kelly: Yeah, it's it's choice.org you can connect right there and definitely follow us on Instagram and Facebook. It's Kelly Springer underscore rd.
Shireen: Perfect. Thanks so much.
Kelly: You're welcome. Thank you