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Insight for Eating Right

Q & A with Dr. Vince Sferra of Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Vince Sferra is the founder and Clinic Director of Natural Medicine and Rehabilitation (NMR) in Somerset. He is Board Certified in Chiropractic Medicine (1985) and Chiropractic Neurology (2015), a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (1997) and also a Strength and Conditioning Specialist certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (1986). Since 1986 he has been in practice and providing health and wellness lectures and screenings in corporate settings and in the community. Dr. Sferra proud to be the recipient of the “Spirit of Somerset” award for outstanding contribution to Health and Wellness in the community.

1) When did you develop an interest in nutrition?

I've been interested in nutrition since high school and as a weight lifter, I was always influencing my friends and family with what I had learned. I started practicing chiropractic medicine and after acquiring an autoimmune disease, I turned to natural medicine.

2) What is a clinical nutritionist?

A clinician or physician who uses nutrition and supplementation to help reduce toxicity and inflammation and optimizes a person’s physiology as it relates to their condition. Routine blood testing as well as specialized markers that check for hormone balance, inflammatory and metabolic markers, vitamin levels, food sensitivities, certain genetic markers as well as system and lifestyle review questionnaires and more all may be utilized to assist in diagnosis and identification of therapeutic choices. 

3) As a nutritionist, how do you ensure that each patient gets personalized plans for their lifestyle, such as vegan or vegetarian?

Regarding a vegan food-style, I first need to understand what vegan means to the individual. Elimination of animal products doesn’t tell me what actually goes into the body. The proper amount and combination of fibers, vegetation, nuts and seeds, legumes and other grains that are consumed as well as proper vitamins and minerals needed such as B12 and iron is what matters. I professionally frown upon meal plans. People need a strategy and framework in order to think for themselves. My patients know that this is not just me telling them what to do; this is a partnership. 

4) In your experience, what is the most common deficiency in vitamins and/or minerals?

Vitamin D hands down! Also, Magnesium and Zinc for minerals. 

5) What is your take on how much protein one should eat? 

A safe recommendation is 30%-40% of your body weight in grams of protein divided into three meals for the day. This can be a starting off point but it is very individual. Most people eat too many carbs, usually processed ones, and not enough quality protein. Some might need less protein and more complex carbs, less sugar, etc. Ultimately, it's individual.

6) There is a lot of contradicting information out there regarding how much water to drink and if other beverages count as water intake. What do you recommend?

Again, there is way too much diversity to make a general recommendation. I tell patients, if you sit at your desk and have coffee each day, why can’t you replace that with water? Water in between meals is ideal as drinking water with meals can dilute digestive enzymes. Tea and coffee can count as liquid but if there are chemicals, artificial sweeteners or sugar, then it’s counteractive. Alcoholic beverages are also dehydrating. 

7) Are you an advocate for intermittent fasting? 

Intermittent fasting and time restricted eating can both be very beneficial, particularly for the brain, for gastrointestinal dysbiosis and better motility of the gut. However, not everyone is a candidate for this.

8) When eating a lot of healthy foods/fiber, bloating can be very common. What do you recommend to combat this?

We first have to figure out why it is there. It can be due to anything from mild indigestion from a certain food to insufficiency of enzymes, infections, dysbiosis or even a brain-based problem among others. These should be diagnosed by a clinician competent in these areas. If it is none of these, then the first step would be to look at one’s habits, things such as mixing protein and sugar or eating too quickly. Then I may recommend using a plant based digestive enzyme. Also, as far as fiber, if people are not used to eating fiber, they have to build up to increasing the amount of fiber, not increasing it all at once. 

9) How can we learn to eat more mindfully?

Is this really accessible to all people? Mindfulness is a concept that can seem completely foreign in our culture unless we are really working at it. I believe it is common for many to not be fully conscious of what they are doing, eating or thinking. But mindful eating can be more accessible to people than they think. It takes a life shift though, with conversations about where these changes can be implemented and learning to understand that everything that we put into our body matters, it becomes us, our brains, to repair our body’s tissues, etc. Every bite is either working for us or against us.

10) What are your top three tips for a healthier lifestyle? 

They are very simple. 1. Sleep (adequate amount and restorative) 2. Exercise (daily and rigorous once in good condition/shape) 3. Nutrition (no sugar, artificial foodstuff, plenty of fibrous vegetation, adequate proteins, etc.) and 4. Tempering stress levels, although if 1-3 are taken care of, most likely stress levels will naturally decrease.

  • Dr. Vince Sferra, Founder & Clinic Director of NMR