Chewing Foods for Longer Periods may Help Curb Appetite

Christmas is normally one of those rare moments when you allow yourself to indulge whatever is on the dinner table. This means scarfing down that extra helping of turkey and following up with a large plate of pie with a scooping of ice cream. Now that Christmas is over and New Year’s is approaching, dieting may be a part of your resolution for 2013. If so, then you may want to consider chewing your food for longer periods as a way of reducing appetite.

New research suggests that chewing every mouthful of food for a minimum duration of 30 seconds can serve as a powerful appetite suppressant. This means less snacking after a meal, which means less calories consumed.

The experiment was conducted at the University of Birmingham and consisted of 43 student volunteers who were all given identical meals of the same type and portion. A third of the participants were simply instructed to eat as they usually would without any deviation. Another third was told to pause for 10 seconds between each swallowing of food and the final third told to chew for 30 seconds with each bite.

Two hours after the meal, they were given a plateful of sweets and were monitored on the amount they consumed. The results showed that those that ate the meal in their normal manner and those that paused between bites ate twice the amount of sweets on their plate as those that chewed their meals for 30 seconds.

However, further analysis showed that chewing foods for prolonged periods also came with a price. Those in the study that were instructed to chew their foods for 30 seconds also reported less enjoyment of the food as it felt more like a chore.

Nevertheless, chewing your foods for longer duration may be worth a try if you are trying to fit into a new dress of pair of jeans for 2013.

New App Acts as a Digital Fitness Coach

Practically everything has gone digital these days. Daily activities like work, corresponding with family and friends, paying bills and making purchases are increasingly being completed in a digital format. It looks like even our health, diet and fitness is taking a digital turn.

A new app is being released in conjunction with a wristband that will help one monitor his health and activity levels. The new app is called Larklife and acts as a digital personal coach that keeps tabs on your fitness level as well as your diet and the amount of sleep you are getting.

Larklife comes with a wristband, which gathers data about activities within your body and transmits the information to your mobile device. The app will let you know if you are not getting enough exercise, are not consuming enough fruits and veggies or if you are not getting in your eight hours of sleep each day.

The app will provide advice throughout the day depending on what you are doing with your body. If you wake up in the morning with minimal sleep, for example, then the app may recommend that you consume an extra helping of protein for breakfast to help improve focus, which is often lacking when someone is fatigued from a poor night’s rest. Likewise, if you complete an intense exercise session, it may advise you to consume extra H2O to stay hydrated. The wristband will even remind you to stand up and stretch if you have been sitting for an extended period of time.

For serious dieters, the app and wristband will record and log your meal times as well as keep track of the foods you consumed and provide advice on the foods you should prepare for your next meal.

Larklife was created with information gathered from a team of experts in the field of fitness, nutrition, sleep and neuroscience.

Aca-What?! Açaí!!

The sky was cloudless, only the bright sun was shining. A light breeze gently cooled my sun-burning skin while I was lying on a hammock strung between two palm trees. Local merchants yelled “Açaí” as they were searching for potential customers along the beach.

By the time I got to Brazil I had heard a lot about this local delight, so I had to try it (I consider myself as a culinary guinea pig). I was served with a plastic bowl of deep purple puree covered with slices of bananas and granola (to my request). This divine, cold mush surely stood to my high expectations. I didn’t really know what it was made of; I figured it was a sort of fruit, but at that time no one back home had heard of this berry.

Couple of years later it became the most intriguing and controversial berry around. Many products based on the acai’s juice came out to shelves. Apparently this antioxidants-rich berry can help you lose weight four times better than other diets or exercise, eliminate bad toxins, help diabetics, lower cholesterol level and blood pressure, clean colons, boost metabolism and increase energy levels, reduce constipation, gas, bloating & fatigue, and promote younger-looking skin. Is there anything this super-berry can’t heal???

The thing that amazes me the most is first, the blindness of the crowd. Without underestimating this wonderful fruit’s virtues, this is not a new invention; it is a very well known fruit in Latin America. Don’t you people find it a little bit peculiar that suddenly it’s the hippest trend, the perfect medicine? And if it was so, don’t you think we would have known by now???

The second is that people can be so cynical sometimes; the only thing that is truly sacred to us is the monetary profits. We take this beautiful creation, squeeze it, blend it, brand it, manufacture it in masses, advertise it everywhere and during the whole process drain every drop of nature and innocence of this poor berry. Shame on us!

Food Industry to Change Fast With New Health America

fast foodOne aspect of the health care bill taking immediate effect is that chain restaurants will now be required to display nutrition information. What we are witnessing could well make a seismic shift in the changing of the food landscape of America.

The Associated Press Reports:

More than 200,000 fast food and other chain restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and even drive-throughs.

The new law, which applies to any restaurant with 20 or more locations, directs the Food and Drug Administration to create a new national standard for menu labeling, superseding a growing number of state and city laws. President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation Tuesday.

The idea is to make sure that customers process the calorie information as they are ordering. Many restaurants currently post nutritional information in a hallway, on a hamburger wrapper or on their Web site. The new law will make calories immediately available for most items.

This rule will also apply to vending machines carrying convenience foods.

So how will this change be manifested to the American food system?

Americans’ appetite for cheap and processed foods and factory-farmed meat impacts everything from carbon emissions to water quality to pesticide and farms’ use of antibiotics.

The Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” had a huge effect on informing people about the problems in the industrial food system. Oprah brought author and food expert Michael Pollan on her show to discuss the documentary, which she called “thought-provoking” and “eye-opening”. Michael Pollan also made appearances on The Daily Show and told Jon Stewart in January that he thought the passage of health care reform would have a large impact on changing the way people eat, because health insurers would have a financial motive to keep people away from eating unhealthy foods that will cause long-term health problems.

Michelle Obama has also become a public spokeswoman of increasing access to real food, gardening and fighting childhood obesity with her Let’s Move campaign. Last week she spoke to the Grocery Manufacturers Association about completely reassessing the ‘junk’ food which they sell:

“We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children.”

Sour to Sweet

Miracle FruitHere’s a fruit that will turn sour to sweet. It’s called, appropriately I might add, miracle fruit. The fruit itself, a simple berry, is nothing special. But chew it up and let it sit on your tongue a bit, and for the next 30 minutes or so, everything will taste sweet.

No one is sure exactly how this works scientifically, but the theory is that the protein in the fruit binds to taste receptors and changes the shape of molecules that bind to taste buds, so sour receptors register sweetness instead.

As the video notes, aside from the fun in sucking on a lemon and tasting sugar, miracle fruit can also help chemo patients eat by making their food taste better to them, not to mention dieters who want to eat healthier but can’t stand macrobiotic foods.

Did Michael Jackson’s Diet Kill Him

Although Michael Jackson’s autopsy reports have not been fully disclosed, what is becoming very evident is that the King of Pop may have literally “popped off” by gross abuse of his body due to a constant use of dangerous prescription drugs, as well as adhering to a diet of too many sugars (i.e. sweets) and not enough elemental nutrients. Pathological reports that have been made public (either directly or indirectly), indicate that Jackson’s stomach contained undigested medications; and that traces of various medications in his bloodstream and body tissues indicate a history of various drugs that the pop star had taken to get relief from almost constant pain, as well as to be able to sleep (he suffered chronic insomnia).

Michael Jackason DeadThis need for medications became so intense that his nurse, Cheryl Lee (who was with him when he died) said he had literally begged her to acquire for him a powerful anesthesia-like sedative called Diprivan that is normally only available in hospitals. This combination of physical self-abuse is what most likely caused the 50 year old pop star to suffer the embolism that killed him. Regarding the loss of bone mass, the reports also indicate that he suffered several broken ribs due to attempts made to apply cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at both his residence and later at the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead at 2:34 pm PDT.

Jackson’s history of health self-abuse goes back a long way though, and his love for a variety of sweets were also a factor, although the sugar in them is probably what helped to give him the energy he needed to perform like he did; which not only involved all kinds of singing routines, but dance acts as well.

Had Jackson heeded advice from nutritionists and natural food experts (instead of all the medical “experts” he constantly consulted) he might still be alive to day – and much healthier than he was at time of death. By simply absorbing more vitamin D (available from sunlight) his bone mineral situation would have been significantly improved. He also would have benefited from a diet of whole grains and plants, as well as by ingesting Omega 3 rich foods, especially fish. Whole grain granola, especially containing buckwheat, royal jelly and bee pollen, and nuts such as raw almonds and walnuts would have helped to give him the energy he constantly needed and had to “supplement” with large intakes of sweets. Of course, turning his Neverland ranch into a virtual ice cream parlor and candy shop for the large number of children who visited him there didn’t help, as Jackson indulged in these items along with his guests. And by drinking natural juices instead of carbonated soft drinks, he would have subjected his body (and his liver) to much less caffeine, aspartame, and other harmful ingredients found in them.

All this is now purely speculation, but it could be words for the wise to other entertainers who might be headed in the same direction. Medication abuse has also recently taken the lives of other celebrities, including actor Heath Ledger, and model Anna Nicole Smith, whose lives might also have been saved with some sound nutritional advice; and by shopping at whole foods stores, instead of eating junk foods. The bottom line is: being rich and famous is worthless if you don’t maintain good health –it’s better than wealth!

Avoiding Soft Drink Monsters

The old saying “you are what you eat (and drink)” is certainly true in today’s modern society when diet drinks and junk food have become a large part of many people’s diets. Have you ever wondered why many carbonated beverages are simply not available in most “real” whole foods stores? And this also goes for all those “junk” snack foods like most potato and corn chips, candies, and “ding-dong” type cupcakes as well.

The reason is very simple: these foods not only put on plenty of excess weight, but also load up the body with excess sodium and sugars, plus a number of chemicals (including aspartame) that can cause cancer and other diseases. And drinking large amounts of cola, either regular of diet, can eventually result in kidney stones and other problems as well.

Scientific tests have proven that most soft drinks (except natural fruit drinks) not only clause obesity and kidney problems, but can cause a dangerous mineral imbalance in the body that can result in loss of bone mass and be miss-diagnosed as osteoporosis.

Diet drinks often contain aspartame, also used extensively in non-sugar sweetener in many homes and restaurants, the chemical causes a number of disorders, including a severe reaction to people suffering from a condition known as phenylketonuria or PKU. About one in every 20,000 people are inflicted with PKU in which their bodies are unable to metabolize an amino acid known as phenylalanine, one of two amino acids present in aspartame. If sufficient amounts of phenylalanine are ingested by PKU affected people, it can result in severe reactions, including mental retardation. Even in normal people, too much aspartame can result in physical symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis, dizziness, severe headaches, and menstrual problems. And excessive ingestion of aspartame is also said to be linked to early onset of Parkinson’s disease. And of course, many soft drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.

Soft DrinksThere are many natural flavored drinks, some of them carbonated; that do not contain ingredients such as caffeine and aspartame, and do not cause the body to lose calcium or are damaging to the kidneys. Best places to find these drinks are in quality organic and whole foods stores, which also offer healthier snack foods, including those made from bananas, beets, apples and other fruits and vegetables, and that are not fried in harmful oils.

All and all, you can still satisfy your desire for a cold beverage or snack without abusing you body. As the saying goes, you truly are what you eat.

Beyond RDA

Ein Hod StatueWe are all familiar with the RDA column on the side of our food packages. RDA means “Recommended Daily Allowance” and it is the daily amount of each nutritional element that the FDA recommends us to consume each and every day. Nowadays, RDA has changed its name to RDI (Reference Daily Intake).

But in recent years new research has dicovered that the RDI figures represent the very minimal amount of nutrients our body needs — if it is completely healty. However, almost no one is constantly in optimal health, and as we grow older, our body’s ability to absorb nutrients from within the digestive system decreases.

The outcome of these outdated RDI figures is that most of us don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals to keep our body fit and healthy. To be able to meet these minimal requirements, most of us would have to take supplements.

Therefore it is important to undertake regular blood checks to see if we have a good balance of nutrients in our bodies. Remember, having too much can also be dangerous, as especially is the case with minerals and certain vitamins (such as Vitamin A).

Last but not least, when we add vitamin supplements to our diet, it is important to pick those with a high bio-availability — i.e, those formulas that have been proven to be more easily digested and absorbed within the body.

Stay well and have a splendid weekend!

Guacamole salad and salsa are great health foods

Guacamole SaladMexican salads and sauces are not only very popular but also beneficial to your health. Take guacamole salad for example, which is made from avocados, lemon juice, garlic, red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a number of spices, including cumin. Avocados have long been considered as very healthy and contain lutein (a carotenoid antioxidant), vitamin E, magnesium, and monounsaturated fats. Avocados are also beneficial in preventing conditions such as prostate and breast cancer.

Lemon juice and virgin olive oil are also ingredients that provide vitamin C, alkalizes (good for keeping both kidneys free of kidney stones and the gall bladder free of gall stones), and helps against some forms of cancer. Olive oil is considered as one of the best salad and cooking oils due to having Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid.

Ingredients in salsa sauce, such as tomatoes, peppers, and garlic are all very beneficial to you health. Tomatoes are high in anti-oxidants as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Tomatoes help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and also help prevent cancer of the colon and prostate gland.

Garlic has many beneficial properties of a powerful antioxidant called Allicin, and helps clean the liver as well as lowering blood cholesterol.

Red and green peppers contain an antioxidant called Capsaicin, which helps to reduce cholesterol, prevents formation of blood clots and strokes, while increasing a person’s metabolic rate. Peppers are also high in vitamin C and help prevent and fight cancers of the stomach, thyroid and prostate.

Cumin is an oriental spice that is often found in both salsa and guacamole salads. Cumin in itself is an antioxidant that is helpful in digestion and against some forms of cancer, especially liver cancer.

Onion is also used in both preparations and it contains antioxidants and the flavonoid Quercetin, as well as vitamins C and E, along with the mineral potassium and dietary fibres. Onions have many health uses including relieving congestion and preventing heart attacks by clearing the bloodstream of arterial plaque.

Last but not least, use sea salt instead of regular table salt as it is tastier as well as purer.

So next time you prepare a dinner or some party snacks involving guacamole and salsa sauce, you’ll get more from them than just good taste. Go easy on the taco chips, though.

Picture by: Big Oven