Sunday, June 26, 2016

What foods fight inflammation?

Are there foods that can fight inflammation?  In the nutrition classes I teach, students often ask what foods are anti-inflammatory.  Livestrong has a great article on Inflammation-Fighting Foods to Eat Every Day.  Another great resource is WebMD at: 11 Food Do's and Don'ts to Tame Inflammation
Why fight inflammation?  Inflammation isn’t all bad as it is a way for our bodies to respond to an injury or infection.  But chronic inflammation can lead to more serious problems.  Inflamed arteries can make way for heart attacks or strokes.  Others try anti-inflammatory diets for help with arthritis pain. 
What foods cause inflammation?
Just as there are anti-inflammatory foods, there are foods that contribute to inflammation.  According to Livestrong, these foods include:
o   Fried foods, especially foods fried in lard or hydrogenated oils.
o   Foods high in added sugar such as candy, sugared soda.  Limit added sugar foods to lessen inflammation.
o   Processed meats such as bacon, sausage as they have a higher fat content. 
o   Excessive alcohol
What foods fight inflammation? 
  1. Turmeric – also known as Curcumin, is a spice often used in Indian dishes.  It can be added to juice or used in stews or soup.  There are turmeric pills available. Some people are using turmeric to help with arthritis symptoms.
  2. Ginger – another spice with anti-inflammatory properties.   Patients with arthritis have found ginger of help in reducing inflammation.  Can be used in stir-fry dishes, added to juice.
  3. Rosemary – I have the rosemary plant growing on my deck.  Easy to grow and many recipes use rosemary.  Since fresh is best, growing rosemary and always having a fresh supply is easy to do.  Can be added to roasted chicken, roasted vegetables and potatoes.
  4. Paprika – another spice that helps fight inflammation.  It contains, capasaicin, which is an inflammation fighter. Or add chili peppers, red peppers to your diet.
  5. Salmon – this fish is good for your heart but also fights inflammation.  It is a source of the good fat, omega-3.
  6. Olive Oil – a heart healthy oil.  This oil is part of the heart healthy Mediterranean Diet.  Livestrong notes:  “olive oil is considered a powerhouse food because of its ability to lower inflammatory markers in the blood”. When choosing olive oil, go for EVOO or extra virgin olive oil as it is even healthier. EVOO contains, oleocanthal, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  7. Walnuts – Dr. Oz often recommends a handful of nuts a day.  These can be walnuts because they have a heart healthy fat, omega-3’s.  Buy some chopped and add to your morning cereal, to some yogurt at lunch or to some make your own trail mix.
  8. Blueberries – so loaded with antioxidants and so good for your overall health.  They are anti-inflammatory and add some potassium to your diet.
  9. Kale – a dark green leafy vegetable loaded with antioxidants and many vitamins like A and C.  Add to a salad, to smoothies, when juicing.  Panera Bread offers a Romaine and Kale Caesar Salad.
  10. Garlic – When we had the roof replaced on our home, one of the roofers, took a break, pulled a whole garlic from his pocket, peeled it and ate the whole thing.   He said he did it for good health.  And he is right.  Garlic reduces inflammation and can boost one’s immune system. 

 So spice up your foods, buy leaner meats, use EVOO when cooking, enjoy some fresh blueberries and try to grow some rosemary this summer. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Who is taxing soda and iced tea?

What city is going to tax soft drinks and other beverages?  New York City tried and failed to do this.  This week, the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, decided to be not so friendly to soft drinks and other beverages.  The City Council passed a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on many beverages.   Doesn’t sound like much, but buy a 20 ounce soda and the tax would be 30 cents.  Want a 12 pack of sodas?  Then add $2.16 to your bill.  This doesn’t include the 8% sales tax that would be charged on that soda. 
What beverages are being taxed?
Sugary beverages including sugared sodas, sports drinks, Iced Tea like Snapple Iced Tea, lemonade, Gatorade, Energy Drinks like Monsters Energy Drink, Powerade Mountain Berry Blast would be taxed. Diet sodas like Diet Coke, Coke Zero are also taxed.  V8 Splash Carrot Orange Drink would be taxed as it is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and contains only 15% juice.  Vitamin Water such as Glaceau Vitamin water – Fruit Punch will be taxed because crystalline fructose and cane sugar are added.
Do these “sin” taxes work?
Since 2014, Mexico has a 10% tax on sodas.  The hope was to curb the intake of sodas among low income and those who are obese.  But that hasn’t happened.  They kept buying their sodas.  In fact, although sales of sodas dropped at first they are now growing by 0.5%.  (Philadelphia OKs Bloomberg-backed soda tax)
Cornell did a study that showed people at first cut back on sodas that are taxed but after a while revert back and buy the sodas like they always did.
What beverages aren’t taxed?
Fresh fruit, or vegetables, unsweetened drinks.  So beverages like V8 Veggie Blend would not be taxed.
How will Philadelphia use this new tax revenue?
They estimate taking in $91 million a year from this new tax in 2017.  Monies will be used to fund educational programs such as universal pre-kindergarten. But some of the funds are to go to city employee benefits and pet projects of city council members.
Is a Beverage Tax Coming to Your City?
Other cities are eyeing this experiment so such beverage taxes may come to a city near you.  However, Philadelphia is expected to be sued by the beverage bottling industry so time will tell if the tax takes effect and if it does, how long it will last.   

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Nutrition Update

Every month I get the Diabetes Forecast magazine.   It always has some interesting articles on nutrition.  The January/February and May/June 2016 issues have many interesting updates on nutrition and health.  Here are a few. 
  • Sit Less, Move More.  Can sitting increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes?  Apparently so.  To study this researchers gave 2,497 adults 24 hour activity monitors.  The 2,497 adults included 1,395 with normal glucose, 714 with type 2 diabetes, and 388 with prediabetes.  Study participants were tracked for 8 days.  The activity differences didn’t seem like much as those with Type 2 Diabetes sat 26 more minutes a day.   Every hour sitting and not moving can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%.  This doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon as study authors noted just standing up every hour helps.  Watching TV, then stand up and walk around during commercials.  Reading?  Stand up and move around every hour.  Have a sitting job?  Stand up when you talk on the phone.  Go to the water fountain for a drink of water.  Move more and sit less throughout your day.  CNN quoted the study’s author as saying, The participants in this study were already at risk for diabetes, so in a person who does not have a predetermined risk, "trying to move for 5 minutes every hour seems right," Henson said.   
  •  More Produce, Less Weight?  Are there foods that help you keep off the pounds?  Researchers studied 124,086 adults who kept a record of what they ate.  Adults that ate more fruits and vegetables that contain flavonoids gained less weight over a 25 year period than those that didn’t.  What produce did they eat more of?  Pears, apples, berries and peppers.  So add blueberries to your day, or maybe “an apple a day to keep the pounds away”.
  • Drink Water before Meals:  An easy way to drop some pounds may be to drink some water before a meal.  Researchers studied 84 adults trying to lose some weight.  Half drank about 2 cups of water 30 minutes before a meal and the other half did imaging and imagined full stomachs.  At the 12 week mark, the water drinkers lose more weight, 5.3 pounds versus 2.6 pounds for the imagination group.  So fill up the water bottle when you are walking to the water cooler and do so about 30 minutes before lunch.
  • Switch Your Fat – most people know they should avoid saturated fat as it has been linked to increased risk of heart disease.  But some people lower their saturated fat but then eat more added sugar foods.  Instead, researchers have found those who replace the saturated fat with unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil and nuts can reduce their risk of heart disease.  Rather than buying no fat salad dressing with all the added sugar, buy a lower fat salad dressing such as a vinaigrette made with olive oil. 

Make some small changes this week for a healthier you.

Sources:  Diabetes Forecast January/February 2016, Diabetes Forecast May/June 2016.  CNN,  Image Source:  Water

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What is a “Natural” Food?

Ever go to the grocery store and find “All Natural” written across the package front?   Doesn’t that sound healthy?   A good for you food?  As some of your friends what “natural” means and you will get a lot of different answers.  So what does a food labeled “natural” or “all natural” mean?  As noted in What Does "Natural" Mean to the FDA?,  Unlike “organic,” which is legally regulated, “natural,” when seen in the aisles of your local supermarket, can mean pretty much anything the processors like.
The federal government has yet to regulate the term “natural” or “all natural” so manufacturers use the terms to sell you on their product.  I was buying something once that said, “all natural ingredients”.  Then I looked at the ingredients and found “sucrose” or white table sugar listed. There is nothing “natural” about table sugar, it is highly processed food almost devoid of vitamins and minerals. 
What is FDA doing about regulating the definition of the term, “natural”?
The article Is Your Food "Natural"?  F.D.A. to Weigh In notes that since 2014 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been asking consumers what the term “natural” means to them and what it should mean.  They are also asking the public if FDA should be involved in regulating the term, “natural”.  Many people have commented and FDA is reviewing what you and others have to say.
 How much do we spend on “natural” products?
We spend big on items labelled “natural”, more than $40 billion a year.  This includes yogurt, cereals, breads, beverages and other foods bearing the “natural” label. 
What does “all natural” mean to many consumers?
Many consumers think that “all natural” means the food has no pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, artificial ingredients or any GMO’s.  Unfortunately, for consumers this isn’t true.  There are actually lawsuits against companies using the “all natural” label when their product contains artificially, genetically modified, or synthetic ingredients.  But some judges find it hard to rule on these cases as FDA has yet to define “natural” or “all natural”. 
How easy or hard is it to define “natural”?
As discussed in the article, Is Your Food "Natural"?  F.D.A. to Weigh In, there is a lot of disagreement.  An organic peach can be “natural” but is a canned peach in sugary syrup, “natural”?   What if the product contains high fructose corn syrup or even white table sugar and if these are from genetically modified crops?  Some companies have abandoned “natural” because of potential lawsuits.  So you probably won’t find “natural” or “all natural” on Campbell’s soups, Frito-Lay chips, or Pepsi products.  So the next time you are buying food or snacks, don’t reach for the “natural” product as the term is really meaningless.