After last weeks unseasonably foggy weather, it was so nice to see the sun come out and shine on all the dietitians attending the annual FNCE {Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo} convention which happened to take place this year in my home town of San Diego.

Balboa Park and the downtown San Diego skyline.
Mama/Baby Flamingo Love at the San Diego Zoo.

It was fun for me, as this was the first FNCE conference I have attended in a LONG time.  I even got to meet some fabulous fellow foodie RD bloggers I have gotten to be friends with over Facebook and Twitter. SO fun to meet everyone!

Here’s just a little bit of the scoop on the education sessions I attended… {Just to give you a heads up, this is a bit of a long post, but so much good information to share!}

Omega 3 Fatty Acids in the treatment of Mood Disorders:

WIld Alaska Salmon: Loaded with omega-3s!

This talk was presented by Dr. David Mischoulon, MD and Gretchen Vannice, MS, RD.  Here are some of the key take home points:

  • Rates of depression are lower in geographic areas where people have high intakes of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Although short chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as ALA {alpha linolenic acid} which is found in flax, chia, walnuts, and avocado, may confer some health benefits, the conversion rate to the more active/long chain omega-3 fatty acids {EPA and DHA} is very low {5 % for ALA to EPA and 0.5 % for ALA to DHA}.
  • Based on current research, the American Psychiatry Association recommends 1-2 grams, combined EPA and DHA per day for persons with depression as an adjuvant therapy to medications.
  • The US and Canada are some of the only industrialized nations without recommendations for EPA and DHA intake.  The ADA, in 2007 made recommendations for all {healthy} persons to eat fatty fish {i.e. salmon, sardines} 2+ times per week to get an average of 500 mg/day combined EPA and DHA.  Current intakes in the US are very low at an average intake of 28-40 mg EPA/day and 57-70 mg DHA/day.  {Note: In Japan, where there are low rates of depression and heart disease, the recommendation is to get 1000 mg combined EPA and DHA/day.}
  • Supplements may be taken as well.  Look for products that have been molecularly distilled and third party tested to ensure purity and aim for a minimum of 500 mg combined EPA/DHA per day {healthy persons}. Vegetarians may take algal sources of DHA.
  • Regarding sustainability, the fish that are used to make fish oil are also used for other purposes {i.e. wild salmon oil is taken from the heads and the fish are sold for consumption.}

As an aside, I have been taking Coromega Fish oil supplement for the past month as part of the “Omega-3 Challenge” hosted by Coromega.

As part of the challenge, I was provided a Holman Omega-3 blood test kit to take at the beginning of the study. Interestingly, despite my overall very healthy diet, I found out that while my blood levels of EPA and DHA were higher than average, they were still below the optimal level.

So…I will continue to take my Coromega supplement every day and report back to you at the end of the testing period in November!

Up next…

Sweet, Savory, Crunchy, Creamy: Satiating Effects of Taste and Texture

This was a fun presentation by Valerie Duffy, PhD, RD and the very entertaining Brian Wansink, PhD, author of the popular book Mindless Eating.  

The presenters focused on the genetic differences between “non-tasters and “super-tasters”, and also talked about research done on the effects of different snack combinations on satiety levels.  Here are just a few findings…

  • Taste preferences begin in-utero and during breastfeeding.  {If you are pregnant or nursing, make sure you eat your veggies!}
  • About 25 % of people are “Super-tasters”, 25 % are “Non-tasters” and 50 % fall in the middle.  Super-tasters tend to be lower in weight than Non-tasters, who are more likely to have a higher body weight.
  • Add lots of flavor {herbs, and spices!} to foods for Non-Tasters so they will be satisfied with less food.  Also, SLOW DOWN and savor your food!!!!
  • In a snacking/satiety study done on both women and children, when both groups were given unlimited chips and crackers to snack on they consumed between 310 {women}-621 {children} calories on average.  However, when they were given a combo of veggies and cheese to snack on, both groups consumed an average of 172 calories. And here’s the kicker…When asked about their satiety levels, both children and women were JUST as satiated eating the cheese and crackers at the lower calorie levels as they were consuming the chips and crackers.

My take home from this:  The best snacks contain a combo of veggies or fruit PLUS some source of protein to provide satiety without a lot of extra calories.  This is actually what I teach my clients and how I make snacks for myself and my kids, so I was happy to find out Dr. Wansink and I are in agreement 🙂

Also, after hearing Dr. Wansink speak, I’m definitely eager to read his book Mindless Eating which has come highly recommended by many colleagues.

And finally…

Navigating the Gluten-Free Maze

This was a great talk presented by well known Celiac and Gluten-Sensitivity researcher Dr. Alessio Fasano, along with Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, an expert on the gluten-free diet, and Colleen Zammer, a food scientist and marketing professional. Here are the highlights of the presentation…

  • Per Dr. Fasano, the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease has doubled approximately every three years since 2003 in the united State.  Currently about 180,000 of the projected 3 million people with celiac disease have been diagnosed.  Why is this happening???  It must be something in the environment…
  • There is a lot of research being done right now as to what environmental factors are leading to increased rates of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.  One theory is that the “wheat of today” is not like the wheat our grandparents ate.  It is higher in gluten content, AND we also consume a lot more wheat than our ancestors did.
  • Another theory being examined is the “hygiene hypothesis”.  This may be explained in part by the changing microbiome in our guts.  I love this explanation from Dr. Fasano. He basically said that “back in the day, kids used to play in the backyard.  They got their hands dirty, scratched their butts, and put their hands in their hands in their mouth.”  Not so much these days though…Our current obsession with cleanliness is changing the microbiome in our guts which in turn may be a co-factor in the increased incidence of celiac disease.
  • Tricia Thompson made the recommendation that people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity eat ONLY naturally gluten-free grains/grain products that are LABELED gluten-free.  The reason?  Cross contamination of gluten-free grains by wheat and other gluten containing grains.
  • In her testing, Ms Thompson found gluten-free grains {millet, buckwheat, sorghum} labeled “gluten-free” to contain less than 20 ppm gluten.  On the other hand, similar grains NOT labeled “gluten-free” were found to contain anywhere from 65-327 ppm gluten. {Note: The FDA is currently reviewing a proposal that products labeled “gluten-free” contain less than 20 ppm gluten.  For more information on this proposal or to make a comment on the proposal up until October 2, please click here.}
  • Celiac disease is only the tip of the iceberg.  Although there are no known biomarkers yet, there is a lot of research currently being done on gluten-sensitivity which is estimated to affect up to 6 % of the population.


That was a bit long-winded.

Before I go though, I have one more bit of news brouhaha to share with you…

For those who haven’t heard, it was announced at FNCE that the American Dietetic Association is changing it’s name, as of January 20112, to the “Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”.


Lots of conversation about this….

Some supporters, as well as several detractors…

I guess I have mixed feelings about it…  I do like the inclusion of “nutrition” in the name, but like many others have voiced, I wish “food” were in the name too.  Because after all, isn’t good nutrition all about eating {real} food???

Do you think your omega-3 levels are optimal?  Do you eat fatty fish 2 x/week or take fish oil supplements?  Are you a “super-taster” or a “non-taster”?  Do you find snacks that include some protein fill you up faster than simply carbohydrates?  What are your favorite snack combos? Have you read the book Mindless Eating?  Are you on a gluten-free diet?  If, so do you have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity?  Has a gluten-free diet helped you? What do you think of the name change from ADA to AND???