Category: Nutrition

Hydration 101: Essential Tips for Staying Refreshed and Healthy

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Hydration 101: Essential Tips for Staying Refreshed and Healthy

National Hydration Day is celebrated on June 23 each year. The beginning of summer is the perfect time to remember how essential hydration is to survive and thrive. Water is a huge part of the human body and crucial to every bodily function. At birth, water makes up about 75% of body weight. Dr. Eleonora Gafton, Program Director of the Whole Foods Cooking Labs at Maryland University of Integrative Health, explains the significant roles of water in the body: 

  • Transports oxygen, and nutrients through the blood to muscles and other tissues 
  • Eliminates metabolic wastes in the form of urine 
  • Absorbs muscle heat during exercise and dissipates it through sweat via the skin- regulating body temperature 
  • Helps digest food through saliva and gastric secretions 
  • Lubricates joints and cushions organs and tissues 
  • Keeps mucosa moist 
  • Supports health brain function 

According to Dr. Eleonora Gafton there are various sources of hydration besides water. These include water in other beverages and food. Approximately 1/5 of total water intake comes from food.1 Good sources include cabbage, celery, cucumber, grapes, melons, zucchini, and watermelon. 

Contrary to popular belief, almost all beverages are hydrating including still water, sparkling water, soda, sports drinks, milk, juice, tea, and even coffee and lower-alcohol beer.2 That said, Dr. Gafton suggests consuming many of these drinks in only limited quantities to avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, sugar, and/or alcohol content.  

Some of the best sources of water to stay hydrated are:  

  1. Purified water: Water that is produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, and carbon filtration. Impurities cannot exceed ten parts per million, and the water is free of contaminants and chemicals.
  1. Spring water: Water that flows to the surface of the earth and is collected only at the spring.
  1. Tap water: Depending on where you live, tap water is often a cheap and healthy option.
  1. Black, green and herbal tea: Teas not only help hydrate but can be a source of health-promoting phytochemicals. There are many options here, but some “cooling” ones for hot days include hibiscus, spearmint, peppermint, and chamomile. If you drink black or green tea (Camellia sinensis) be aware that they contain varying levels of caffeine and related stimulants. For the best results, use whole herbs rather than instant teas, which often contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

How to know if you are dehydrated? 

Some signs of mild to moderate dehydration include thirst, decreased urination, dry mucous membranes, a stick mouth, fatigue and muscle weakness, dizziness, and headache.

Recipes to Stay Hydrated 

Sun Tea- Hibiscus flowers:

  • Place herbs in a glass vessel 
  • Cover with water 
  • Allow the vessel to be exposed to sun for several hours (4-6)  
  • The vessel must be tightly covered 
  • Same process for moon tea 
  • Cold infusion is preferred for some herbs like marshmallow due to mucilage or bitter principals which are denatured by boiling water 

Basic formula: 

  • 1 ounce of plant material to 32 oz of water 

Magic Mineral Broth – excellent for hydration as it is filled with electrolytes:

  • Mixture of grounding root vegetables 
    • Carrots, celery, leeks, onions, non-starchy potato, sweet potato, burdock 
  • Aromatic herbs and spices 
    • Bouquet garni, juniper berries, bay leaf 
  • Sea vegetable 
    • Kombu or Wakame or Kelp 
  • Filtered water – make sure all your ingredients are always submerged under the water. 
  • 1 tsp Celtic Sea Salt

Simmer on low for 2-4 hours for full extraction 

Flavored water:

  • Water, cucumber sliced, and fresh dill or basil 
  • Water, citrus slices like orange, lemon, lime, or fresh mint 


  1. Institute of Medicine (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 
  2. Maughan, R. J., Watson, P., Cordery, P. A., Walsh, N. P., Oliver, S. J., Dolci, A., Rodriguez-Sanchez, N., & Galloway, S. D. (2016). A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 103(3), 717–723.   

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) stands out for its unique nutrition programs. MUIH offers one of the few integrative Doctor of Clinical Nutrition program in the U.S., and the Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health is one of only two master’s degree programs in the U.S. accredited by the Accreditation Council for Nutrition Professional Education.

Additionally, MUIH offers other different programs in nutrition to start or complement your holistic wellness career: 

Looking to see a Nutritionist at the Natural Care Center to meet your nutritional needs? Integrative nutritionists use science-based diet and nutrition therapies to support your health and well-being.  

During your first visit at the NCC, your practitioner will gather information about your health and personal history, review your dietary preferences and health concerns, and assess your nutritional status. To talk with someone about making an appointment, call 443-906-5794 or email .

What is Ghee?

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Let’s start with the source. If you want to make ghee you want to source organic butter from cows raised on “natural pasturage” preferable from Jersey or Guernsey cows, is a stable fat made from cream with a wide range of short, medium, and odd chain fatty acids that have anti-tumor effects as well as typical saturated (40-60%), monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is solid at room temperature butter contains fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin A and E have strong antioxidant properties that protect the health of the thyroid and adrenals glands that maintain the proper function of the heart and cardiovascular system.  Butter has short and medium-chain fatty acids (15%) and conjugated linoleic Acid (CLA) which has strong anti-cancer properties. It is rich in selenium, a vital antioxidant. Butterfat contains glycosphingolipids, which is the fatty acid that protects against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in the young and the elderly. This makes butter an excellent source for treating candida overgrowth. Another important natural component in butter is Lecithin, which helps assimilate and metabolize cholesterol and other fat constituents.  All these properties are only in the fat part of the milk. Butter and cream contain little lactose or casein and are usually well-tolerated even by those who are sensitive to dairy. 

Ghee is especially well-tolerated by most because the milk solids are removed. In traditional Indian medicine, ghee is considered the most satvic, or health-promoting fat available. Although you can purchase organic or hormone-free ghee, making it yourself is fun and easy. It takes only about 15 minutes from start to finish making it. As the ghee forms, the milk solids stick to the bottom of the pot, leaving only the pure stable fat, suitable for high heat sautéing. Check frequently after the gurgling stops. It’s a sign that the water has evaporated out and that the milk solids are beginning to brown. Because it is so rich in antioxidants and lacking in milk solids, ghee does not have to be refrigerated, which makes it great for travel and for use in herbal medicines. 

A few spices sautéed in ghee and added right before your dish is finished lends the most delicious flavoring. 

Butter is 80% fat and 20% water and milk solids; ghee is 99.9% fat.  

Making Ghee 

Makes 1 1/2 cups 

1pound unsalted butter, preferably organic grass-fed pastured cows 

In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter over medium low heat until it is melted completely, about 5 minutes. The butter will start to gurgle as the water evaporates. The top will cover with foam. Simmer uncovered on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the milk solids start to brown on the bottom of the pot. Check after 10 minutes and frequently after that by pushing aside the foam and tilting the pan to see if the solids have browned. As soon as the solids turn brown turn off the heat and let the residue settle to the bottom. Pour the liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container to catch any residue; discard the solids. 

5 Tips to Improve Your Heart Health

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heart health

February is American Heart Month, and while this is an important topic all year round, this is a wonderful time to raise awareness about making changes and choices to improve cardiovascular health. Understanding the root causes of heart disease can guide the development of preventative strategies, such as the use of integrative medicine and a holistic approach to self-care. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease mortality is increasing in working-age adults. As the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, it is crucial to be proactive about our heart health. Cardiovascular disease typically involves the development of plaque in the arteries that obstruct or reduce blood flow and can cause heart attack or stroke. Several factors contribute to plaque formation, including foods rich in sugar and cholesterol, excess stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.  

Depending on the specific illness, the symptoms of heart disease can show up as indigestion, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, excessive exhaustion, upper body discomfort, dizziness, shortness of breath, swelling of the feet or ankles, excessive fatigue, fluttering in the chest, or chest pain and discomfort.  

How can we be more proactive in reducing our risk of heart disease? Here are some simple tips to consider to care for our hearts: 

  • “There are many aspects of heart health, and nutrition is part of it. We have an abundance of whole foods that are excellent sources of polyphenols. These are compounds found in whole foods and have antioxidant properties; they scavenge the free radicals which are formed in our bodies. Red wine in moderation, green tea, and chocolate are only a few to mention,” says Eleonora Gafton, Program Director Whole Foods Cooking Labs, and Associate Professor at MUIH.
  • Adopt healthier behaviors such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. As Gafton explains, “Even when something is good for us, we need to be mindful and not overindulge. In addition, our body makes its antioxidants like CoQ10, one of the most potent antioxidants that support our heart muscles. Most of us know about the supplement, yet we also have foods high in CoQ10, like wild-caught salmon.”
  • “Herbal medicines can offer a variety of benefits for supporting heart health. Hawthorne (Craetagus oxycantha) has a long history for supporting a healthy heart, and has been examined for its hypotensive and antioxidant effects. It is a safe herbal medicine and well tolerated, and a good place to begin if you want to add in extra support and prevention,” says Bevin Clare, Program Director Clinical Herbal Medicine, and Professor at MUIH.  
  • Monitor your blood sugar and cholesterol levels to keep your blood pressure under control. Increase your fiber, omega 3-fatty acids, fruits, nuts, avoid fatty foods, red and processed meats. Having regular checkups with your doctor can help to monitor and manage these health markers.
  • Learn to manage stress through relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. Have a supportive social network that you can rely on. Get the proper amount of rest by practicing good sleep hygiene and having a sleep schedule. Sleep tips include keeping your bedroom dark, taking a warm bath, and avoiding screens, such as smart phones, in the evening.  

Remember, these changes should become new habits for life. Following these tips can significantly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. 

For 40 years, patients have received healing experiences from the Natural Care Center, the student’s clinic at Maryland University of Integrative Health. To craft a personalized nutrition plan, experience relaxation with yoga therapy and acupuncture techniques, and achieve balance with herbal medicine, call 443-906-5794 or visit  

Top 10 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter by Amy Riolo

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stay healthy this winter

In our recent live discussion, How to be Healthy This Winter, Sean Rose, Sarajean Rudman, and Sherryl Van Lare from the Maryland University of Integrative Health shared numerous ways to feel healthy in winter.  This blog reveals 10 easy ways to use herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and nutrition to stay in top shape all season long and beyond!  

As temperatures turn colder, strategies to stay healthy become even more critical. The global medical community is currently challenged with curing new viruses and conditions without known cures. Boosting our immunity is a powerful way to take charge of our health and prevent illnesses. Whether you are looking to stay healthy or recover from an illness, herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and good nutrition can help. 

Try making the following tips a part of your daily ritual: 

  1. According to Ayurvedic principles, consume more warm and oily foods during winter to balance the cold, windy, and dry season. It is essential to eat at the warmest time of day – at midday – when the sun is brightest.  
  1. Make meals a ritual – mindful and intentional eating will aid your body’s digestion and allow you to absorb nutrients. 
  1. Herbal Medicine tries to counteract the coldness and dryness of winter by boosting metabolism and increasing circulation to stay warm. If you often have cold hands and feet, boost your circulation by moving your body, and drink warm foods and tea or tisanes to warm yourself from the inside out.
  1. Food provides our body with the nutrients and information it needs to function. Carotenes, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin D help to stimulate our immune response in several ways. Eat foods that contain all colors of the rainbow to receive the variety of nutrients that you need to stay healthy, and consult your nutritionist or health care professional to see if supplements are right for you. 
  1. Use herbs in steams and potpourris. Simmer a mixture of cinnamon sticks, citrus peels, clove buds, and star of anise on the stove and let the scent permeate your space. Evidence shows that the volatile oils released into the air from steam could have antimicrobial effects if someone feels sick.
  1. Cinnamon and ginger are spicy and warm, and those tastes tell us they will warm us up. They can be used often in your daily winter recipes or as needed!
  1. Drink warming herbs and spices! Cardamom, black pepper, rosemary, and turmeric have warming qualities and can be blended into tisanes. Adaptogens such as holy basil, ashwagandha, and medicinal mushrooms can help the body’s immune response.
  1. Control excess mucus with cooked oatmeal, flax seed tea, cinnamon, and mullein which contain mucilage and can help reduce excess mucus.
  1. Slowing down is important in winter. Nature goes dormant in winter because there is less energy in the air. It is important for us to do the same.
  1. Eat foods that are in season. If you reside in a colder environment, these might include onions and garlic, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, winter squash, apples, and citrus. Pumpkin seeds, elderberry, citrus peel, and rose hip also provide a variety of components that help us stay healthy in winter.

Please visit for more information about our herbal medicine, nutrition, and Ayurveda programs. Be sure to access our recipes for more nutritious and delicious ideas as well.  

Integrative Health Tips for Transitioning to Winter

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For many, November through December is the best time of the year. During the holidays, there are many special occasions for getting together with families and friends, like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. It’s a perfect time for cooking, trying new recipes, sharing dishes, and exchanging quality time and gifts. 

Even with all there is to look forward to, this time of year brings some challenges as well. The days get shorter and shorter until the solstice on December 21. The transition of seasons, the change of weather, the fading of leaves, and the evolution of light can slightly affect your health and wellness balance. During this time, you can experience, for example, an increase in food cravings, a change in sleeping habits, mood changes, different allergies, and a lack of energy. 

Implementing self-care and learning to adapt to the time change are essential to feeling good at this time of year. Meditation and self-reflection can help you understand your body. Learning health and wellness tips can keep us active and healthy this time of year. 

Have you noticed how you perform in early spring as opposed to early winter? 

Think back to early spring. Chances are we were feeling more energetic, and more excited about going out, getting in touch with nature, and meeting some friends. But in early winter, we may be feeling more receptive and reflective. It is the perfect time to let go, end a natural cycle, and prepare for winter. We can get ready by eating locally grown vegetables, warming herbs, and feel gratitude for the warmth of family and friends during the holidays.  

To help you transition into winter, Maryland University of Integrative Health MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health student Maya Lechowick has prepared some helpful actions, tips, and recipes to keep you feeling your best during the season transition: 

  • Don’t go out with an empty tank. Before going to a party, eat something so you do not arrive famished. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, such as apple slices with peanut butter.   
  • Be buffet savvy. At a buffet, peruse the food table before putting anything on your plate. You might be less inclined to pile on items by checking out all your options.  
  • At dinner, serve yourself the standard portions. Once you have finished eating, take a 10-minute break to realize if you are still hungry before going back for seconds. 
  • Drink to your health – a glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories.  Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. 
  • Put on your walking or dancing shoes. Dancing is a great way to get your body moving. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert. 
  • Lower your expectations. Holidays don’t always look and feel like they do in the movies. Make it your own by doing the things that fit your lifestyle and make you happy. 
  • Cook from (and for) the heart. To show family and friends care and love, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats. Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat. 
  • Pay attention to what matters. Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter, and joy. But, if balance and moderation are your usual guides, indulging or overeating occasionally is okay. 
  • Make time for laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. So, make time for it just as you would for a healthy meal, exercise break, or deep breathing exercises. The great news about adding a daily dose of laughter is that there are no known side effects, and so far, we have not documented any allergies to our laughing breaks. 
  • Hydrate and warm yourself with healthy beverages like green teas, infusions, cinnamon, spicy, ginger, and lemon teas.  
  • Dress in layers to keep yourself warm and regulate your body temperature.  
  • Try to be active. Indoor exercising can be beneficial if it is too cold to walk outside. 
  • Get plenty of sleep to recover from stress and work.  

During the holiday season, nourish to flourish. Maryland University of Integrative Health Nutrition Outreach team created delicious seasonal recipes for your holiday meals including health benefits: 

Lemon Broccoli with Parmesan  

Broccoli is in the family of food known as Brassicas. These foods are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, immune-supporting, and cancer-suppressing.  

Garlic contains a phytochemical called allicin. This sulfur-containing compound boosts immunity, stabilizes blood sugar, and is suitable for your heart and brain. 

Squash with Ginger and Cranberry 

Butternut Squash is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which are excellent for skin and eye health. This starchy vegetable is versatile for both sweet and savory dishes. 

Cranberries are native to North America. These high acid fruits are rich in Vitamin C. Their red pigment is high in phenolic acid and antioxidants with anti-bacterial properties. 

Dressed Carrots & Brussel Sprouts 

Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A, which is linked to eye health. This vitamin helps to reduce the risk of night blindness. 

Rosemary has been shown to boost cognitive function and performance. Rosemary may also help improve memory and sharpen understanding.  

Squash-Sweet Brittle 

Seeds from squash and pumpkin are small and powerful bites of energy. They are high in both zinc and magnesium, two minerals that are often lacking in the Western diet and that are important for heart health. 

Ginger is a great ingredient to utilize on feast days as it stimulates healthy digestion and keeps food moving, as well as reduces uncomfortable gas and bloat. 

Change old habits, break the routine, and try new things in the kitchen. It is healthy to experiment with new recipes and ways of eating. Christina Vollbrecht, MA, MS, Cooking Lab Manager & Recipe Book Project Manager explains, “While we offer plenty of tips and recipes for health and wellness this season, we mostly want you to remember that food is not supposed to be stressful.” Vollbrecht continues, “Whether you are doing the cooking, the eating, the hosting, the travelling, or all of it – treat yourself with kindness and grace and cook and eat from a place of love and you will derive the most benefit both nutritionally and emotionally.” Learn more and check out different recipes for every occasion. 




Skerrett, P. (2019). 12 tips for holiday eating. Harvard Health.

Jones, L. (2020). 7 Simple Holiday Wellness Tips and Quotes to Lower Your Stress. Living 

10 Top Tips for Eating Better, Eating Together

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By Amy Riolo 

The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was known for saying “We should look for someone to eat or drink with before looking for something to eat or drink.” Each October, National Eat Better, Eat Together Month promotes the health, social, and communal benefits of eating with others. Since enjoying food with others is key to my culinary philosophy, I have chosen this symbolic month to encourage others to enjoy the pleasurable and beneficial ritual of communal dining. 

The world has a long history of giving importance to eating together. Everything from biblical verses to Ancient Egyptian texts and the Renaissance  into modern times underlined this important tradition. Many modern health and wellness research confirms the importance of Epicurus’ quote as well. In modern times, however, when our economies became more industrial and less based on agriculture, communal eating no longer coincided with urban workdays, and the trend fell out of fashion. 

Nowadays, many American families enjoy the luxury of eating in large groups only on major holidays. Incidentally, according to MDLinx, a news service for physicians, “The newest epidemic in America (loneliness) now affects up to 47% of adults – double the number affected a few decades ago.”  Eating together doesn’t mean that you need to change your social status, move, or go on a date. It does, however, involve getting creative, especially if you live alone or have work schedules that vary greatly from the people you live with.  In many modern nutrition debates, we discuss only what we are eating, not who we are eating with, in stark contrast to Epicurus’ advice.   

When I wrote my 10th book, Mediterranean Lifestyle for Dummies, I had the opportunity to research the health benefits of communal eating. Here’s what I learned and included in the book: 

  • According to a study that appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health which was based on more than 18,000 adolescents, even teenagers who eat regularly with their parents developed much better nutritional habits.  
  • Cornell University research revealed that even coworkers of diverse backgrounds who ate together performed better at work. They found that “companies that invest in an inviting dining room or cafeteria or shared meal space may be getting a particularly good return on their investment.”   
  • Research by Brain Health shows that communal eating not only activates beneficial neurochemicals, but also improves digestion. When you bond with others and experience a sense of connection, endogenous opioids and oxytocin (pain and stress-relieving hormones) are released. 

There are many other psychological and physical rewards that eating communally fosters as well.  For example, residents in Sardinia are ten times more likely to live past 100 than people in the United States. Researchers attribute this to daily communal eating and the psychological security of being surrounded by loved ones. But every country and culture in the Mediterranean region has its own way of encouraging people to plan meals and eat together, and this tradition also has been linked to improved digestion and eating less overall. 

Faced with overbooked schedules and increasing demands, most of us treat mealtimes as an afterthought. For many people, it’s a challenge just to make sure that they eat, and perhaps that their food is nutritious. With just a little extra effort in the beginning, however, your overall wellness will improve.  Luckily, starting your own tradition of eating with friends and family is easy to do.   

Here are ten simple ideas to help you enjoy more meals with others:  

  1. Schedule meals with others into your weekly planning. 

Just as we plan going to the movies, working out, carpooling, the theater, or spectator sports with one another, we should also plan our meal times and physical activity. Even if you start with just one meal a week, it is worth it to pencil it into your schedule so you can plan accordingly.  

  1. Remember, communal meals don’t have to mean dinner. 

Some people work really long days or have schedules which don’t permit them to get out for dinner. If that’s the case, plan other meals when you do have time with friends, family, co-workers or neighbors, even if it needs to be virtual. A lot of people I know enjoy meeting for breakfast or lunch, and then, of course, there’s always the days off which can be more flexible. 

  1. Make breakfast the new dinner. 

You can bond just as easily over breakfast as you can over dinner. Busy couples and families are taking advantage of a communal breakfast to enjoy a bit of time together before their hectic days begin.  

  1. Allow cooking to be part of the communal eating experience. 

Some people refrain from entertaining because they believe that they have to have everything “ready” for whomever they’re eating with, and busy schedules don’t allow for prep work. If you can relate, keep in mind that it can be fun and efficient to work as a team. Assign one person the responsibility to pick up the groceries—or order them online—and cook together. It allows for more communal time in the kitchen. 

  1. Brunch is Better

Brunch is an easy meal to fit into weekends, and it involves less rigid “dining rules” than other eating times. Try planning  a group brunch for you and your friends, invite the whole family to your place for dinner and a movie, or help your kids plan a fun and healthy food-themed party. You’ll be starting your own tradition and gaining a lifetime of health and happiness. 

Be sure to check out our recipe section from our Nutrition students here at MUIH or my blog for more inspiration. 

  1. Enjoy Lunch with colleagues

Many people have the most interaction with others during their work day—so lunchtime is a great time to eat together. Ask your coworkers or fellow students to join you for your midday meal or invite a friend to lunch.   

  1. Make technology work for you

One of the positive things that came out of the recent lockdown was our ability to use technology to help us feel connected to loved ones. Since some of my work (the writing portion) was always done at home even prior to 2019, I became accustomed to “eating” with others over the phone or internet. If I know I am going to be alone writing or testing recipes, for example, I’ll set up a phone call with a friend or family member during lunch or dinner. Even though they are not in person with me, we still enjoy each other’s’ camaraderie while eating, and therefore, many of the same psychological benefits that dining together offers, without ever leaving our homes or places of work.  

  1. The heart seeks a friend

There is a Turkish proverb that says “The heart seeks neither the coffee nor the coffee house, the heart seeks a friend, coffee is just an excuse.” It’s a beautiful reminder of how important company can be. Even if regular meals are impossible, be sure to schedule in some regular coffee or tea times with a loved one. 

  1. Make like-minded acquaintances

We all go through transitions in life. Maybe you just moved or are experiencing a breakup, or have welcomed a new member in the family which makes socializing more challenging. Nowadays, there are many virtual and in person meet-ups for like-minded people who enjoy various themes such as wine, gardening, books, sports, languages, music, art, etc. Try joining one that appeals to you. You could, at a bare minimum, meet friendly people who would also enjoy dining together. 

  1. Change the rules

Our society has a social stigma around dining. Asking someone who isn’t a romantic partner, close friend, or family member to dinner is synonymous with asking someone on a date. But it doesn’t need to be that way. 50 years ago carpooling wasn’t a thing either, and the idea of signing up online for a tennis partner would have seemed outlandish. Nowadays, however, we sign up for carpools with people and play sports with others who we may not know very well and definitely don’t have romantic feelings for. Eating should be viewed the same way. If friends and family are not available, we should be able to comfortably mention to acquaintances that we value the health benefits of communal eating and would like to start a breakfast, lunch, or dinner club with them. Many of my friends have done this, and the tradition has become of one of the most anticipated events on their social calendar. 

Recognizing the benefits of eating together reminds us that the field of nutrition is more than counting calories and studying vitamins. MUIH’s programs approach nutrition from an integrative, whole-person perspective to understand the multifaceted role of food in our lives. Even though it can be difficult to arrange more shared meals, it’s totally worth it when you think about all you will gain. For delicious, nutritious, and fun recipes to share, check out our MUIH recipe resources as well as those on my personal blog 

What Can You Do with a Nutrition Degree?

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cooking with a nutrition degree

What can I do with a Degree in Nutrition?

You love learning about food and its role in influencing health. You’ve experienced firsthand how a personalized diet can revitalize your physical and emotional well-being. You have a passion for helping other people prevent or manage a chronic disease, achieve their health goals, and feel empowered by their lifestyle. Whatever your reason for pursuing a nutrition degree, our team at the Maryland University of Integrative Health is honored to help you get started on your journey!

Keep reading to learn more about the different careers in nutrition and what your path toward starting one may look like.

Careers in Nutrition

With a faster-the-average projected job growth and so many settings to work in—including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, clinics, or even entrepreneurial or government fields—nutritionists can expect a wide range of opportunities to help people improve their health and quality of life and reduce healthcare costs. Nutritionists also regularly collaborate with other professionals and providers—including physicians, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, mental health counselors, teachers, and public health officials—and play a key role in ensuring patients receive comprehensive and personalized care.

Here are just a few examples of what a career in nutrition could look like for you:

Clinical Nutrition

Clinical nutritionists provide individual, family, and group counseling to people of any and all ages who need help changing their diet, achieving their health goals, correcting nutritional deficiencies, and managing chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to arthritis.

Functional Nutrition

Functional medicine is an integrative, systems-based field of medicine that focuses on addressing the root cause of disease and optimizing individual well-being. As a branch of functional medicine, functional nutrition incorporates this holistic philosophy into the prescription and implementation of whole foods diets and individualized supplementation programs.

Nutritional Therapist

Nutrition therapy is an exciting field that combines the insights of food science with human behavior. Nutrition therapists support and guide patients on their health and/or weight loss journeys by helping them modify their mindset, habits, and beliefs surrounding food and diets.

Public Health Nutrition

As a career in public health nutrition, you can work with elected officials and other professionals to make a larger-scale impact through nutrition. You’ll work less often with clients on a one-on-one basis but instead offer your expertise for the development of programs and policies that help improve nutrition in schools and communities while integrating the unique aspects of your target demographic (e.g., culture, needs, cost).

Nutrition Education and Research

Earning a degree or certification in nutrition education and research allows you to get involved in the latest advancements and innovations in nutrition science, lead or assist with research studies, and even teach others who are interested in following in your footsteps into a nutrition career, whether at the secondary or college level.

Private Practice/Consulting

Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you dream of opening your own business? Do you desire flexibility and agency over your career? Do you love working one-on-one with people? If so, working in private practice or even as a consultant can be an excellent path to pursue. Thanks to the advent of telemedicine, you can even provide your valuable services from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere your career takes you.

Business and Industry Nutritionist

This career path allows you to work with organizations and companies that seek to reduce healthcare costs, promote healthy changes within their workplace culture, and improve the lives of their employees.

International Food Organizations

Around the world, there are so many incredible organizations and charities doing the hard work of helping underserved or at-risk populations. These organizations rely on expert input from professionals like you to make the most cost-effective and impactful decisions possible. If you have big goals (e.g., ending world hunger, improving access to care), a career-focused in international food organizations could be ideal for you.

Are nutritionists in high demand?

Nutritionists are in high demand right now. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this diverse and exciting career field is projected to see an 8 percent growth over the next decade—much faster than average.

How do I start a career in nutrition?

Getting your career started as a nutritionist typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, which requires four years to complete. Many people who enter the nutrition field end up pursuing a master’s or doctorate level degree in clinical nutrition and integrative health, both of which are offered at MUIH.

As part of their degree fulfillment, nutritionists-in-training also need to undergo supervised training via internships. Internships provide valuable opportunities for degree candidates to hone their skills and integrate their education into a real-world setting. Depending on the state, nutritionists will also need to pass a certifying exam, earn specific credentials (e.g., Certified Nutrition Specialty), and become licensed to practice.

As a nutritionist, you can expand your career opportunities and depth of knowledge by pursuing advanced training and voluntary certifications offered by organizations such as The American Council on Exercise, the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board, the American Association of Nutrition Consultants, and the American Fitness Professionals & Associates.

Can I become a nutritionist online?

Are you a working professional who would like to start or advance your career in nutrition, but are concerned that you don’t have the time to fulfill the course requirements? Don’t worry! It’s possible to become a nutritionist online by enrolling in accredited online nutrition programs, such as the ones offered at MUIH. These competitive yet highly rewarding programs give you the education and training you need to become a nutritionist while giving you the convenience and flexibility you need to pursue your potential, even with your busy schedule.

MUIH’s Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health is consistently ranked among the top 10 online master’s in nutrition programs in the U.S.


Nutrition is a rapidly expanding and diverse career field that stands to offer degree candidates a variety of job opportunities. If you’re interested in entering a career that can make a difference in people’s lives and help you gain a better, more holistic understanding of food, get in touch with MUIH to learn more about our advanced, industry-leading degree programs in nutrition.

Culinary Health and Healing: A Personal Statement

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What we eat; Does it really define who we are? Food has always been central to my life. My journey with food began creating absurd after-school snacks with whatever we could find in the cupboard to becoming sous chef of a Michelin-starred fine-dining kitchen. Food taught me how to savor the moment, how to focus and work hard, how to appreciate cultures other than my own, and how to connect with people around me. It’s a common denominator – we all need it.  

But cooking in restaurants isn’t enough. There is too much pain, too much disparity, too much waste, too much sacrifice at all levels of the food system to ignore. As my passion, I knew I wanted to focus on food but in a healthy and sustainable way. So, I left the restaurant, but I stayed in the kitchen. After studying nutrition at MUIH I now manage community nutrition literacy programming, supporting underserved populations to take back control of their own health and healing through culinary skills training and wellness practices.  

MUIH is accepting applications for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing. This 8-month program is designed for individuals who want to reconnect to something essential for life. What does it mean to use food and cooking for personal and public good? If you are a chef looking to pivot your career, a caregiver for the chronically ill, a non-profit leader helping feed your community, a home-cook wanting to raise a healthy family, or if you are simply curious about nutrition and self-care – this is an opportunity to focus on how what we eat does define who we are. The food we consume impacts not just our bodies but our mentalities, economies, communities, and environments. It is essential that we understand these connections so that we can help build a healthier world from our kitchens. 


Christina Vollbrecht 
Adjunct Faculty/Cooking Lab Manager/Nutrition Literacy Outreach Programs 
MUIH MS Nutrition and Integrative Health Alumni 

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing: Self-Efficacy and Community Health from the Kitchen

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Making healthy meal

Cooking is about more than flavor! A focus of MUIH’s new Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing is giving students information they need to take back control of their own health and the tools they need to share this nutritional literacy with their communities. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed our food and health care systems to the breaking point, at no fault of the individuals devoted to these industries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allotted more assistance to families and individuals in 2020 than in the history of the program (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020) while hospitals are still running at maximum capacity to this day, dealing now with complications related to chronic illness like diabetes and high blood pressure as thousands delayed their medical care over the past year and a half. 

The Culinary Health and Healing curriculum provides students with the contextual, culinary, nutritional, and teaching background needed to make a significant difference in their communities. Malnutrition is more than not having enough to eat, it is not having the right food to eat, and is directly associated with the development of chronic disease and obesity. The multidimensional problem of malnutrition is related to culture, industry, the economy, politics, agriculture, education, healthcare, and inequitable division of power and resources. But there are accessible ways to regain individual health autonomy and prevent chronic disease in our communities. 

The program offers culinary skills training in addition to providing a solid introduction to behavior change, culinary education, and mindful eatingNutritional literacy is defined as individual knowledge, motivation, competencies, and awareness of one’s relationship to food, the food system, and nutrition (Vettori et al., 2019). Research and experience have demonstrated that higher nutritional literacy strengthens one’s self-efficacy, increases positive health behavior change, and returns power to the individual. This program combines knowledge with increased behavioral confidence for the students themselves and provides training for students to share this knowledge with others.  

MUIH is now accepting applications from individuals for the Spring 2022 start for this Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Culinary Health and Healing. We’re looking for applicants who want to understand the science of cooking and make a positive impact on their own health and wellness in addition to becoming leaders in a quickly changing food and health landscape through sustainable and equitable nourishment practices. 

Consider Becoming a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition

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At the Maryland University of Integrative Health, our Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (DCN) program is one of the only two doctoral programs in the country offering advanced training and education in integrative and functional nutrition. We encourage nutrition professionals and other clinicians who are interested in advancing their nutrition-related skills and knowledge to apply for a DCN. You’ll be inspired by what this advanced degree can do for your career and the communities you serve.

What is a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition?

A doctorate is an advanced degree that signifies a person has developed mastery in their given field of study. As a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, graduates of the MUIH DCN program achieve the highest possible degree available in their field. Successful graduates are recognized as topic experts with enhanced credibility. Graduates will hold the title of doctor (Dr.), enhance their stature with clients and other healthcare professionals, and expand their job opportunities and career paths.

How can a doctorate advance my career?

A DCN provides a health professional with applied skills and cutting-edge knowledge in functional nutrition that can be used in clinical settings, academic settings, and research settings. This is a great way for CNSs, RDs, and other clinicians to contribute to the growing body of scientific literature related to nutrition, advance the field of nutrition as a whole, and help patients, organizations, and communities optimize health through the healing potential of food and root cause healthcare.

Professionals who have earned a DCN are able to:

  • Provide advanced nutrition care that incorporates personalized, evidence-informed plans
  • Serve as educators in higher education
  • Serve as nutrition consultants for organizations, including government agencies and nonprofits
  • Deliver clinical care in conventional and functional medicine practices
  • Publish original research in peer-reviewed journals

Job Opportunities for Doctor of Clinical Nutrition

Earning a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition degree allows someone who is already working as a nutrition professional to advance in their career. As an expert within the field of integrative and functional nutrition, DCN graduates can find themselves making a contribution in a variety of settings, including:

  • Schools and universities
  • Healthcare systems, including hospitals and community clinics
  • Private practices
  • State, local, national, and international health departments
  • School systems
  • Athletic and recreational organizations, including professional sports teams

Because a DCN provides a professional with such a breadth of knowledge, many graduates are also able to offer their skills and expertise in a variety of positions. This provides individuals with greater flexibility and enhanced networking opportunities.

Doctor of Clinical Nutrition Salary

Given that a DCN provides such expansive career flexibility, the possible earning potential of a DCN is expansive, as well.

Nutrition professionals typically earn around $55,000 annually.. As an educator with a DCN degree, this salary can jump to $80,000 or more. In private practice, nutritionists with doctoral degrees can earn upwards of $100,000 to $200,000 a year.

The Path to Becoming a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition

The path to becoming a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition varies depending on where you begin your journey. At MUIH, we make it easy to help you get started and fulfill your admission and degree requirements.

Master’s Degree Pathway:

  • Degree Requirement (one of the following): 
    • Master of Science or Doctoral degree in nutrition or a related field (including, but not limited to, Public Health, Health Science, Biochemistry, Nursing, and Physician’s Assistant). 
    • Doctoral degree in clinical healthcare (including, but not limited to, DC, DDS, OD, Doctor of Nursing, ND, and PharmD). 

Degree must be from a degree-granting college or university accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, or if a school uses a Pass/Fail system, passing grades in all coursework.

  • Coursework requirements (all of the following):
    • Nutrition Science: 12 semester credit hours at the graduate level. Biochemistry: 6 semester hours at the undergraduate or graduate level. 
    • Physiology or Anatomy & Physiology: 3 semester hours at the undergraduate or graduate level.
    • Clinical or Life Sciences: 12 semester hours at the undergraduate or graduate level.
    • Behavioral Science: 3 semester hours at the undergraduate or graduate level. 

Coursework must be from a degree-granting college or university accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Registered Dietitians (RDs) Pathway


Doctor of Clinical Nutrition Courses

MUIH offers a range of evidence-based, up-to-date courses that build on existing skills and knowledge in research literacy, ethics, and foundational nutrition. Expect to develop mastery in innovative topics such as:

  • Immune, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic, and neurological systems as they relate to nutrition and lifestyle
  • How to conduct a nutrition-focused physical exam
  • Epigenetics and bioethics as it relates to nutrition
  • Detoxification and energy metabolism
  • Designing research and participating in academic journal writing


Never before has the role of nutrition been more important in improving both individual and community health. As leaders in their field, Doctors of Clinical Nutrition are able to expand the types of clients and cases they work with, including individuals with complex clinical conditions. DCN graduates help people identify the root causes of their disease symptoms, understand how their environment and lifestyle influence their well-being, and learn how a holistic and personalized approach to nutrition can optimize their quality of life. DCN graduatesare also able to advance the field of nutrition as a whole, both as researchers and as educational leaders who can guide future professionals into an exciting and growing career.

Contact MUIH today to learn more about our DCN program, apply now, or register for one of our Doctor of Clinical Nutrition Program Webinars!

How to Become a Certified Nutrition Specialist

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How to Become a Certified Nutrition Specialist

A Certified Nutrition Specialist® (CNS®) is an advanced credential offered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists℠ (BCNS℠). Certified Nutrition Specialists are whole food experts who practice nutrition therapy using a science-informed, personalized approach to help people optimize health, manage or prevent disease, and improve their quality of life. CNS is the most advanced certification for practitioners of personalized nutrition.

Why become a CNS? This kind of advanced training gives a person the chance to make meaningful, sustainable, and evidence-informed impacts on the health and lives of individuals, families, and communities. Your training and knowledge prove your expertise, boost your credibility as a practitioner of nutrition and dietary science, and enhances your career opportunities within a range of industries, including health care, government, business, and education.

At the Maryland University of Integrative Health, we’ve made the process of becoming a certified nutrition specialist as streamlined as possible. There are multiple paths and steps you can take to earn your CNS credential, and your journey will depend on where you’re coming from. Whether you have a background as a nutritionist, registered dietitian (RD), a medical doctor (MD or DO), or another profession, our university is happy to help you explore this exciting career field.

What Does a Certified Nutrition Specialist Do?

Certified Nutrition Specialists work and make an impact in a variety of settings, including government and social service agencies, food services, hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, and outpatient clinics. Plus, the job and career opportunities for nutrition specialists continue to expand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Typically, certified nutrition specialists will:

  • Help individuals reach health goals or manage chronic diseases by designing and implementing personalized meal and food plans
  • May recommend targeted nutritional and herbal supplements
  • Can interpret laboratory testing
  • Monitor the progress of their clients and provide ongoing feedback and support
  • Provide nutrition education based on the latest research and scientific evidence
  • Play an important role in a health care team

Like RDs, CNSsuse medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to work with people who have a range of health conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and more. Compared to RDs, however, CNSs are more likely to help with organizing and running community initiatives, public health programs, and food service programs that can have a broader impact on a community or region.

How Much Does a Certified Nutrition Specialist Make?

Since Certified Nutrition Specialists come from so many professional backgrounds and can work in a variety of settings and locations, the expected salary range can vary greatly. Typical salaries range from $58,000 to $80,000 per year or more for positions within outpatient care centers, insurance companies, home health, the federal government, and education. CNSs who also hold other advanced degrees, including DDS, DO, MD, NP, and PA, may earn as much as $120,000 per year or more.

Are There Any Prerequisites to Becoming a Certified Nutrition Specialist?

According to the American Nutrition Association, there are a variety of prerequisites to becoming a CNS. These include:

  • Degrees: candidates must hold a Masters or doctoral degree in Nutrition or other fields of clinical health care (including DC, DDS, APRN, ND, PA, PharmD, or OD) from an accredited institution; an MD or DO are also acceptable
  • Coursework: specific coursework must be completed in topics such as nutrition, biochemistry, behavioral science, and anatomy and physiology; alternatively, a candidate can earn a degree from an ACNPE-accredited program
  • Experience: this can include a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised practice experience with a Board of Certified Nutrition Specialists-approved supervisor as well as internships and personalized nutrition case studies, depending on the individual’s background

Once these prerequisites are fulfilled, hopeful recipients can sit for the CNS exam offered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists℠ (BCNS℠). Recertification is also required, which currently includes 75 continuing education credits every 5 years. MUIH also offers Professional and Continuing Education courses to fulfill continuing education requirements.

And did you know? We’ve taken steps at MUIH to facilitate these supervised practice hours by offering our students an optional six-month supervised internship program, which we call the Nutrition Post-Graduate Practice Experience.

Can Anyone Take the Certified Nutrition Specialist Exam?

The Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists is held twice per year. Anyone who has successfully fulfilled the necessary prerequisites can sit for the exam. You’ll need to organize and provide additional materials in order to sit for your exam, including:

  • Official transcripts from all regionally accredited institutions where any qualifying courses were taken
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • The exam application and associated fees
  • A resume or CV

Are There Different Types of Exams?

Becoming credentialed as a certified nutrition specialist isn’t the only avenue for people who complete their Master of Science in Nutrition & Integrative Health at MUIH. Our successful graduates also become board-eligible for a number of other national board certifications related to nutrition, including:

  • Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN)
  • Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)
  • Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®
  • Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior

Depending on the type of exam you choose to sit for, you may be required to take certain courses or meet additional requirements. For example, our Master’s graduates interested in sitting for the Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® must take at least one herbal elective course. To sit for the CHES, Master’s graduates must successfully complete the Community Nutrition Education area of concentration. Our friendly staff at MUIH is always happy to help you navigate the rigorous board certification process and ensure you’re prepared.


A degree in Certified Nutrition Specialist/MSNIH opens up many doors to you in the health and wellness profession. Whether you want to work with individuals, families, local communities, charitable organizations, or other agencies, this degree can help you make a serious impact in your niche and establish yourself as a leader in the competitive and evolving field of nutrition.

Did you know that successful graduates of MUIH’s Clinical Nutrition and Herbal Medicine concentrations within our Master of Science in Nutrition & Integrative Health are eligible to sit for the CNS exam from the Certification Board of Nutritional Specialists? Prepare for your examination and accelerate your nutrition with confidence by applying for our Master’s program today.

Interested in learning more about becoming a CNS? Check out our webinars here, and register for our CNS Webinar.