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Dietitians attend annual food and nutrition conference in Atlanta

Did you know were supposed to be feeding the friendly bacteria that naturally live in your gut?

That’s just one of the hot topics in nutrition research presented to registered dietitians gathered in Atlanta for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2014 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). “Increasing the intake of foods such as yogurt and kefir with live and active cultures and fermented foods including sauerkraut or kimchi helps add more good bugs to our digestive tracts,” explained Jennifer McDaniel, an Academy spokesperson and private practice dietitian in St. Louis, Missouri. Studies presented at the conference show that a healthy balance in the population of good versus bad bacteria in the gut called the “microbiome” is related to improved immune function, a smaller waist circumference and even improved cognitive function.

“Most folks have heard they need to eat more fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains for overall good health but these plant-based foods feed the microbiome too,” said Lauri Wright, registered dietitian and professor of Public Health at the University of South Florida.

Health coach help

If it seems like you read something new and confusing about nutrition every day, then you’re not alone. There’s an emerging specialty in nutrition coaching. Taking one lesson to improve your tennis serve or golf swing can’t significantly change your game.

The same goes for handing out a list of diet do’s and don’ts to lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, treat hypertension or lose weight. Atlanta registered dietitian Caitlin Russell who specializes in weight control said, “I know that one visit is not enough. For long term weight management success, people need a personalized lifestyle plan so I can coach them through challenges along the way.”

The dietitian is in

Dietitians are moving beyond the clinical setting to a grocery store near you. Many retail food companies are employing dietitians to help source specialty products from gluten-free bread to reduced-sodium soups, teach cooking classes and work with pharmacists to create displays of foods that support the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes. Registered dietitian Jane Andrews, of Wegmans Food Markets based in New York, said, “While registered dietitians help shoppers improve their health, it’s also healthy for the supermarket business because we’re building strong customer loyalty.”

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook.”Email her at

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