Tag Archives for " fruits "

Is It Possible To Avoid Genetically Modified Food?

Genetically modified food has divided experts for years. Some say that it is necessary to feed a growing global population whilst others object to GM food on the grounds that it is unethical and poses health risks for both humans and for the natural environment.

Although many consumers are wary about eating GM products, food producers have continued to seek new ways to increase profits and reduce wastage. As a result many everyday products now contain GM ingredients. And GM food may be more prevalent than you expect. In fact, around 90% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified.

So what exactly does Genetically Modified mean?
Genetically modified foods are produced by making changes to the DNA structure of food crops to give specific benefits. Examples include apples that have been modified not to brown as quickly or potato crops that have been modified to be more resistant to viruses.

How to avoid GM ingredients
It can be difficult to spot which products have been genetically modified, particularly as a large amount of animal feed contains GM ingredients. Even though the eggs you eat might not have been modified themselves, the chicken that laid them may be eating genetically modified feed.

If you want to avoid GM ingredients, the best thing to do is look for labels that state that a product is ‘GM Free’. Alternatively, choose organic products that feature the Soil Association logo.

The Soil Association campaigns against the use of GM ingredients in both human food and animal feed. For more information about the Soil Association, visit: www.soilassociation.org

What You Eat Affects Your Productivity

Think back to your most productive workday in the past week. Now ask yourself: On that afternoon, what did you have for lunch?

When we think about the factors that contribute to workplace performance, we rarely give much consideration to food. For those of us battling to stay on top of emails, meetings, and deadlines, food is simply fuel.

But as it turns out, this analogy is misleading. The foods we eat affect us more than we realize. With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different. Imagine a world where filling up at Mobil meant avoiding all traffic and using BP meant driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas?

Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.

Here’s a brief rundown of why this happens. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.

So far, so obvious. Now here’s the part we rarely consider: Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta, bread, cereal and soda, release their glucose quickly, leading to a burst of energy followed by a slump. Others, like high fat meals (think cheeseburgers and BLTs) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.

Most of us know much of this intuitively, yet we don’t always make smart decisions about our diet. In part, it’s because we’re at our lowest point in both energy and self-control when deciding what to eat. French fries and mozzarella sticks are a lot more appetizing when you’re mentally drained.

Unhealthy lunch options also tend to be cheaper and faster than healthy alternatives, making them all the more alluring in the middle of a busy workday. They feel efficient. Which is where our lunchtime decisions lead us astray. We save 10 minutes now and pay for it with weaker performance the rest of the day.

So what are we to do? One thing we most certainly shouldn’t do is assume that better information will motivate us to change. Most of us are well aware that scarfing down a processed mixture of chicken bones and leftover carcasses is not a good life decision. But that doesn’t make chicken nuggets any less delicious.

No, it’s not awareness we need—it’s an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to accomplish. Here are some research-based strategies worth trying.

The first is to make your eating decisions before you get hungry. If you’re going out to lunch, choose where you’re eating in the morning, not at 12:30 PM. If you’re ordering in, decide what you’re having after a mid-morning snack. Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat in the future than we are in the present.

Another tip: Instead of letting your glucose bottom out around lunch time, you’ll perform better by grazing throughout the day. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are both bad for productivity and bad for the brain. Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level than relying on a midday feast.
Finally, make healthy snacking easier to achieve than unhealthy snacking. Place a container of almonds and a selection of protein bars by your computer, near your line of vision. Use an automated subscription service, like Amazon, to restock supplies. Bring a bag of fruit to the office on Mondays so that you have them available throughout the week.

Is carrying produce to the office ambitious? For many of us, the honest answer is yes. Yet there’s reason to believe the weekly effort is justified.

Research indicates that eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day isn’t simply good for the body—it’s also beneficial for the mind. A fascinating paper in this July’s British Journal of Health Psychology highlights the extent to which food affects our day-to-day experience.

Within the study, participants reported their food consumption, mood, and behaviors over a period of 13 days. Afterwards, researchers examined the way people’s food choices influenced their daily experiences. Here was their conclusion: The more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

Why? The authors offer several theories. Among them is an insight we routinely overlook when deciding what to eat for lunch: Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.

Which underscores an important point: If you’re serious about achieving top workplace performance, making intelligent decisions about food is essential.

The good news is that contrary to what many of us assume, the trick to eating right is not learning to resist temptation. It’s making healthy eating the easiest possible option.

 

SOURCE…hbr.org

How Much Meat versus Veggies?

 

Lets try to settle this debate. Meat or no Meat. With Ph.D   Sarah Ballantyne, . a.k.a. The Paleo Mom we’ll find out ….

In the first two parts of this series (here and here), I looked at the (hotly debated!) question of whether humans are innate herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores from a variety of scientific angles: evolutionary history, surveys of modern hunter-gatherers, clues from our primate relatives, comparative anatomy, and our unique genetic adaptations to starch and dairy.

Yes, Part 1 and Part 2 contained A LOT of information, but I promise the goal wasn’t to drown you in a geek-fest of facts and figures! I wanted to demonstrate that no matter which angle we approach it from, the answer is the same: humans are very clearly omnivores. Our need for (and adaptation to) both plants and animals is written all over our history, anatomy, and DNA. The rationale for claiming otherwise doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny, no matter what’s floating around on The Google and in Facebook memes!

But, that brings us to another important issue: we might be omnivores in a general sense, but what exactly does that mean? How much animal versus plant products should we be eating? How much meat do we really need in order to be healthy? How many vegetables does it take to cover our phytochemical bases? How far can we tilt in the direction of mostly plants or mostly animals before we start running into trouble? In other words, how do we do this omnivore thing the right way?

The short answer to all these questions is, “There’s no exact answer!” Your nutritional needs depend on a huge number of factors, ranging from your health status to your activity level to your age to your genetics (and that’s just scratching the surface of relevant variables). But, we can still estimate what to shoot for as an average based on the available evidence, both observational and clinical. And a good place to start is with hunter-gatherer populations, who’ve figured out how to feed generation after generation of healthy, chronic-disease-free humans. Let’s dive in!

More Clues from Hunter-Gatherers

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the exact menu of our early ancestors is impossible to piece together without a time machine. (And that’s totally okay! This isn’t an historical reenactment. Rather, understanding what our Paleolithic ancestors ate is a starting point for understanding what shaped our nutritional needs and how to best feed our bodies now.) We do, however, have plenty of evidence from more recent hunter-gatherer populations that showcase what kinds of plant and animal food combinations can deliver awesome health.

A widely cited paper by Loren Cordain, et al. analyzed data for 229 hunter-gatherer societies (as recorded in an ethnographic atlas), and found that the vast majority of tribes ate between 45 and 65% of their diet as animal foods (as a percent of total energy), with 35 to 55% of their diet coming from plants. (Tribes that fell outside those ranges were typically from polar regions (like the Inuit), where genetic mutations made it possible to thrive on an extremely high meat intake, or equatorial regions, where the greater bounty of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits skewed the ratio more towards plant foods.) Because many of those 229 tribes were from North America (where hunting dominated) and relatively fewer were from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America (where starchy or fatty plant foods were a frequent staple), the average proportion of plant foods might be a bit higher in reality than Cordain’s analysis reflected. (For instance, the !Kung bushmen of southern Africa ate about 33% of their diet as meat and 67% of their diet as plant foods, because they made use of the energy-dense mongongo nut in lieu of a higher animal food intake.)

So, as a ballpark figure, we could say that hunter-gatherers average about half of their diet (calorie-wise) as animal foods and about half as plant foods—with lots of wiggle room thrown in on either side! What’s for certain is that whenever both meat and vegetation is abundant, humans tend to gravitate towards a truly omnivorous diet that’s about equal parts plants and animal, rather than anything nearly herbivorous or nearly carnivorous. That ensures a broad micronutrient intake and plenty of fiber, phytochemicals, high-quality protein, and essential fats. For those of us who can only hunt and gather in the supermarket, 50-50 is still a pretty safe ratio to aim for!

But wait! Keep in mind that 50% of your dietary calories from one type of food isn’t the same as 50% of your dietary volume from that food (that is, how much space it takes up on your dinner plate). Meat and other animal products tend to be much more energy-dense relative to most plant foods (for an extreme example, one cup of beef steak has 338 calories, whereas one cup of raw spinach has only 7 calories!). That means that a meal containing an assortment of vegetables, plus a smaller portion of meat, fish, or eggs could easily come out to be a 50/50 ratio of calories from plants versus animals—even though it looks like more plant foods to the naked eye. Tricky, eh?

So, what does that mean for how you should plan your diet? Although both plants and animals can vary in their energy density (bone marrow is more dense than chicken breast, and a sweet potato is more dense than broccoli), it’s typically safe to say that if you aim for a diet of approximately 50% plants and 50% animals, the plants will take up more visual space in each meal and the animal foods will take up less—typically on the order of plant foods taking up 2/3 to 3/4 of your plate.

But, the last thing I want you to do is haul around a calculator every time you eat in order get the 50-50 ratio exactly right. Keep in mind, indigenous populations have stayed healthy on a wide spectrum of plant-to-animal-food ratios (as well as macronutrient ratios, which I wrote about here!). It’s only at the extremes that things get sketchy. Even if your ratio ends up being closer to 25/75 or 75/25 or if it varies fairly wildly between those two day by day, you’ll probably be just fine as long as you’re choosing from high-quality, nutrient-rich foods. Which brings us to…

Nutrients: Getting The Best of Both Kingdoms (Plant and Animal!)

When it comes to our omnivorous diet, keep in mind that we get different nutritional needs met through animal foods versus plants. It’s not a competition between these two kingdoms, where one is “better” or “worse” than the other; both play a distinct but equally valuable role! In fact, there’s a huge spectrum of micronutrients and other beneficial compounds found mostly or exclusively in either plant foods or animal foods, such as:

Plant Foods

  • Vitamin C
  • Carotenoids (lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin)
  • Diallyl sulfide (from the allium class of vegetables)
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, procyanidins, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, flavonones)
  • Dithiolethiones
  • Lignans
  • Plant sterols and stanols
  • Isothiocyanates and indoles
  • Prebiotic fibers (soluble and insoluble)

Animal Foods

  • Vitamin B12
  • Heme iron
  • Zinc
  • Pre-formed vitamin A (retinol)
  • High-quality protein
  • Creatine
  • Taurine
  • Carnitine
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)

The fact is that there’s nutrients we can only get from plants and nutrients we can only get from animal foods: we need both to get the full complement of nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. Instead of fighting about whether bacon rules and vegetables suck (or vice versa), we should be celebrating the fact that the plant and animal kingdoms are both totally awesome and necessary for health!

With that in mind, how can we choose a diet that gives us the best nutritional bang for the buck (and, y’know, helps protect us from chronic disease, maximizes our chances of having a long and healthy life, makes us feel awesome, and tastes delicious to boot)? We already know that the Western diet is abysmally low in micronutrients (especially compared to other primates and human populations eating wild foods instead of heavily processed storebought fare).

A good rule of thumb is to eat abundantly from the most micronutrient-rich foods of both plant and animal origin. While the idea of sticking with “whole foods” is a great guideline, there are definitely some standouts in the food world that can take an omnivorous diet to the next level:

  1. Shellfish and fish. Unless you have an allergy, seafood like oysters, mussels, salmon, mackerel, and fish eggs are amazing sources of minerals (especially oysters, which are the King of Zinc!), omega-3 fats in the form of DHA and EPA, selenium and iodine, and vitamin D. (Read more about why seafood rocks here, and what to make of the mercury issue here!)
  2. Organ meats. Have I mentioned lately how much I love organ meats?! While grass-fed muscle meats are totally delicious, organ meats are nutritional rockstars, serving as the most concentrated source of almost every nutrient (seriously). Liver, heart, kidney, and more are all great to try, and I promise they’re not as scary as they seem, even if they give you terrifying flashbacks to childhood. (If you want to read more about why I gush so hard on organ meats, click here!)
  3. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, and arugula. And, they offer some of the most consistently proven health benefits of any plant food, showing up in study after study as powerfully cancer-protective due to their array of phytochemicals (especially isothiocyanates and indoles). Load up and read more about why they are a non-issue for thyroid health concerns here.
  4. Leafy greens. Leafy greens are packed with a huge spectrum of micronutrients and beneficial compounds (like beta-carotene, folate, lutein, and vitamin K), especially relative to their calorie content. Basically, adding some leafy greens to any meal will instantly boost its vitamin and mineral content while also delivering fiber and flavor. Let’s take a hint from the chimps here and chow down on some leaves!
  5. Fermented foods. Delicious and absolutely nutritious; what’s not to love? Fermented foods are an amazing source of healthy bacteria, and not to mention, the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients naturally present in the food. There’s a reason nearly every traditional culture includes some form of fermented food in their cuisine. (Read more here!)

Add these to a menu already rich in nutrient-dense whole foods (quality meats, other colorful vegetables, glycine-rich foods like bone broth, fruit, quality fats, starchy roots and tubers), and you’ll have an omnivorous diet that gets the best of both the plant and animal kingdoms, supporting your health in the process. As long as you don’t veer too far towards all-plants or all-animals, your micronutrient and macronutrient bases should be easily covered!

Remember, being an omnivore means being able to benefit from everything nature provides—whether it came from a plant or an animal (er, or insect!). It’s all about making wise choices within the giant spectrum of foods that the “omnivore” umbrella allows.

Take-Away Message

So, although the “are we herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?” issue is obviously a hot topic, it should be clear by now that we can truly put the question to rest. Every scientific avenue leads to the conclusion that we’re omnivores—whether we approach it from an evolutionary angle, an ethnographic one, or comparative anatomy and physiology.

Perhaps the better label is the word “nutrivore”, meaning that we choose foods based on their nutritive value, the quantity and quality of micronutrients they provide, and aiming for diversity of nutrients in order to get the full complement of nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. And guess what? The Paleo Diet—especially one that embraces seafood, organ meat, and large portions of veggies—is a nutrients-first approach consistent with all of this evidence!

 

SOURCE…www.thepaleomom.com

 

 

www.thepaleomom.com/the-diet-were-meant-to-eat-part-3-how-much-meat-versus-veggies/ Sent from my iPhone

Scientific Proof Organic Foods Are More Nutritious !!!

Must everyone who has ever selected their fruits and vegetables from the “organic” section while grocery shopping probably thought they were doing something good for their bodies and the environment. Yet the question of whether organic foods are in fact more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts remains a topic of heated scientific debate.

On Monday, the British Journal of Nutrition published research that disputed the notion that organic foods are essentially no more healthful than conventional foods. After reviewing 343 studies on the topic, researchers in Europe and the United States concluded that organic crops and organic-crop-based foods contained higher concentrations of antioxidants on average than conventionally grown foods. At the same time, the researchers found that conventional foods contained greater concentrations of residual pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium. “This shows clearly that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains deliver tangible nutrition and food safety benefits,” said study coauthor Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s  Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

However, the study’s findings came with some caveats. “The first and foremost message is people need to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Benbrook said. “Buying organic is the surest way of limiting exposure if you have health issues, but by all means, people need to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables whether it’s organic or conventional.”To carry an organic label in the U.S., foods must be grown without synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering or chemical fertilizers.Scientists have hypothesized that organic plants produce more antioxidants and natural toxins to defend themselves against insects and other environmental threats.It’s not entirely clear to scientists whether the human body can absorb the extra antioxidants in organic foods and put them to use.Although Benbrook and his colleagues said they suspected the antioxidants could be used by the body to combat damaging free radicals, they could not say so conclusively.

“It is important to point out that there is still a lack of knowledge about the potential human health impacts of increasing antioxidant/polyphenolic intake levels and switching to organic food consumption,” the study authors wrote.Despite prohibitions on using synthetic pesticides, up to 25% of organic crops contain pesticide residues because of contamination during packaging or from trace amounts in drifting soils or tainted irrigation water, some researchers have said.When comparing organic and conventional crops, Benbrook and his colleagues found that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables were four times more likely to contain pesticide residues. That finding was based on 11 of the examined studies and did not evaluate the quantity of pesticides, Benbrook said.

Defenders of conventionally grown crops argue that any pesticide residues found are too small to pose a health risk.”Our typical exposures are at least 10,000 times lower than doses we can give to laboratory animals every day throughout their lifetimes and not cause any effects,” said Carl Winter, a pesticide and food toxin expert at UC Davis, who was not involved in the study. “If your concerns about pesticide residues are leading you to reduce your consumption of fruits and vegetables, then I think you’re doing yourself more harm than good.”

The findings about antioxidants and pesticide residues were not as surprising as the finding that organic foods were 48% less likely to contain cadmium.Study authors said it remained unclear why, and what the specific health consequences could be. More research was necessary, they wrote. Cadmium, which also is present in cigarette smoke, can cause damage to the liver and kidneys at certain levels.For that reason, the study authors said, people should try to minimize their cadmium intake. However, they wrote, “the exact health benefits associated with reducing cadmium intake levels via a switch to organic food consumption are difficult to estimate.”

 

SOURCE…www.latimes.com