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Nutrition and wellness is tasteful

  • Exercise

    Exercise is a benefit to every part of the body--mind included.

    Exercise makes you look better, lose weight, and lowers your risk of many chronic diseases, and slows down aging.

  • Healthy children, healthy life

    "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces--just good food from fresh ingredients."
    --Julia Child

    "If we're not willing to settle for 'junk living,' we shouldn't settle for junk food."
    --Sally Edwards

  • Food is medicine

    "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine."

    "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
    --Michael Pollen

Friday, October 28, 2016

Harvard Public Health Review: The Key to Changing Individual Health Behavior

What is health behavior and how are we influenced by it? According to Wikipedia, "health behavior refers to a person's beliefs and actions regarding their health and well-being". In knowing that our health behaviors are directly linked to how we lead our lives and what lifestyles we choose, how healthy are we anyway? It may matter to some -- but not everyone -- this is where education, motivation and social support come in to play.

Simply put, positive health behaviors assist with the promotion of disease prevention, and certainly that means the promotion of healthier lifestyle behavior choices. It has been found by further research into health behavior that additional influencers are right in front of us -- our physical and social environment. This research which can be found by reading the article, also suggests that by modifying our environment, a great determinant to making effective, healthy behavior change is more likely to happen. How can a promotion of "redesigning" our environment to better accommodate healthy behaviors in order to minimize unhealthy lifestyle behavior change not be a good thing?

Here is an example of how our environment can influence choice:

"A person's actions can be dramatically influenced by related contextual features. For instance, research show that kitchenware size significantly influences serving and eating behavior". There are a few other examples that can be found in the article".

Positive change can begin with having government food programs (like SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and school lunch programs begin to make healthier food selections more accessible to everyone. While it may not be easily accessible to many who struggle with affordability now, it can eventually become affordable for everyone with unified continued efforts and government support. 

Health behavior can be positively influenced by simplifying nutrition labels to make them more understandable to everyone also. To take the nutrition label reading one step further, there is a program called NuVal, which is an independently designed system that provides a score for a foods' particular nutrient value. Another model for further consideration is a traffic-light food rating system that identifies foods by green, yellow and red. All of these systems mentioned provide the consumer good awareness with regard to their food choices.

To learn more about ways to avoid further damage to our society's overall health (and beyond) by encouraging the prevention of chronic lifestyle diseases, our focus needs to encompass more than individual behaviors, but also our surrounding environment that actually enables unhealthy behaviors as seen through marketing, ubiquitous fast food and the media. Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Doctor says you have prediabetes? What to do....

The article posted here contains note-worthy information on ways to prevent getting that warning call from your doctor -- you have pre-diabetes! What can you do about it? Quite a bit actually. We already know that almost 90 million Americans may have prediabetes and don't even know it!

Some helpful things to do to keep you from getting to the point of prediabetes doesn't take a huge amount of effort either -- think of small baby steps that are "doable" as opposed to something insurmountable.

A few things to start with would be to not eliminate carbs all together, but switch from simple carbs to complex ones. Simple carbs are more of the processed, sugary foods that have little to no nutritional value. Think about when you go to the grocery store as well -- shopping the perimeter of the grocery store contains more of your healthy foods as opposed to the middle aisles. One can think of the middle aisles as being more processed foods generally. 

Complex carbs are a good tool to keep you fuller longer due to the fiber, vitamins and minerals (like beans, whole grains and vegetables).

Lastly, exercise is definitely a game changer. "One study showed that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise could reduce diabetes risk by 46 percent". Also, did you know that "because sugar is the No. 1 fuel that muscles use for movement, exercise helps lower blood sugar". 

By making simple lifestyle changes that include regular sleep, hydration, stressing less when possible and eating healthy portion-sized meals containing at least half vegetables and fruit, you are on your way to a better you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Wall Street Journal: Food Section Articles

I simply could not decide which article to choose from in this week's Wall Street Journal. There is a whole section of important topics with regard to food in yesterday's WSJ edition that is recommended reading. So, which should I choose? The rosemary potato salad with sliced bell peppers or the crumbly apple crisp? How about all of it!

All of the articles with attached links below are current hot topics that weigh heavily on the minds of many people, including myself. In "The Next Hot Trends in Food", learn more about Moringa Trees or Regenerative Grazing or Consumer-Friendly products or New Plant Waters. Check out the link above.

Other articles in this section include  The Supermarkets' Best Weapon: Produce or Big Bets on No Frills which describes a German deep-discount grocery chain that is reaching wealthier areas in the United States.

What's Behind the Commodities Glut describes how the boom-bust production cycle has encompassed areas throughout the globe.

A Buck for Broccoli? Similar to what many workplace wellness organizations attempt to do with incentivizing their employees to become healthier; this article is about how paying children to eat their fruits and veggies can create healthier, long-term habits.

The Battle Against Food Deserts has long been a question of finding better ways to reach the poor in America and providing them with healthier food.

Not Your Father's McNuggets is an article that has drawn the attention of many in the food industry with ties to famous food products. The goal: To make their products healthier.

As Crop Prices Fall, Farmers Focus on the Seeds. Farmers need to become better informed about which crops bring in profit and are also sustainable in the long term.

A Food Empire in a Changing World covers the reflections of Cargill's CEO on topics including GMO food, climate change and record harvests.

Lastly, there are other important issues discussed by many well-known names in the food world that include Monsanto's Mike FrankJim Perdue of Perdue Farms, and Randall K. Fields, CEO of ReposiTrak. This company assists retailers and food suppliers, pharmaceutical and supplement industries comply with federal requirements.

Friday, October 14, 2016

6 Bedtime Habits to Help You Lose Weight

So many times we may be doing all the right things in order to lose weight -- eating right, portion-sized meals, drinking water throughout the day and exercising at least **150 minutes per week. But, are we sleeping enough? A few good tweaks to what you are already doing could make all the difference! So get your zzzz's in and if its too difficult, ask your doctor for recommendations.
**(By the way, the Department of Health & Human Services recommends aerobic activity at least 150 minutes a week. That encompasses moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).

There are 6 Bedtime Habits that will help with weight loss...

(1) Have dairy before bed. Apparently, "dairy is chock-full of casein, a slow-to-digest form of protein that keeps exercisers' muscles fueled with amino acids, so they can build lean mass all night long".

(2) Great news on this front. According to Rebecca Scott, Ph.D., "We need our body temperature to drop in order to sleep through the night". 

(3) Try doing something relaxing -- like reading a book for 30 minutes -- that can assist with getting to sleep right away.

(4) Get the right sleep "lighting" to set the mood for sleep. In other words, no artificial lighting. Having a dark room facilitates sleep.

(5) A little yoga exercise before bed can help the body relax. Simply attempting to breath in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly helps a great deal!

(6) Nightcaps before bed are a no-no! This has actually back-fired on me as well. You may think you will sleep well, and initially you do; but the second stage of sleep can be affected negatively as the body attempts to metabolize the sugar from the alcohol which interferes with quality sleep.

To learn about the 6 bedtime habits in more detail, refer to the article.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

10 of the Best Nutrients to Help Boost Your Mood

It seems that depression has become quite commonplace in society. The sad thing is that depression can affect just about anybody --- kids included. There can be various causes from chronic illness to not getting enough sleep and even the foods that we eat. It really does take some effort to eat well by eating whole foods whenever possible, as well as proper water hydration.

Exercise is a given, but that is only part of the equation. So, some ways to combat depression could be as simple as including good foods in our diet -- nutrients that enable our bodies to function properly and efficiently.

Some of the 10 best nutrients to include in our diets to help boost our moods include:

(1) Tryptophan: Serotonin (a chemical neurotransitter found in the brain) which is a component part of the amino acid tryptophan is found in many foods. A lack of enough tryptophan in the diet can be associated with depression.

Foods containing tryptophan include: yogurt, milk, eggs, peanuts, bananas, poultry and fish.

(2) Magnesium: A lack of magnesium in the diet has been associated with mood disorders like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Additionally, it is good to note that some factors can affect the way the body synthesizes this mineral like excessive alcohol, chronic stress and age.

Foods containing Magnesium include: dark chocolate, yogurt, spinach, salmon, peanuts, black beans, cashews and more....

(3) Omega 3 Fatty Acids: These are indeed important for proper brain function and they certainly can affect mood swings and bring on bouts of depression. By adding more Omega's to the diet, depression and bipolar disorder can be greatly minimized.

There are 3 types of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahaxaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, halibut and tuna contain EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids; ALA Omega-3 fatty acids are found in such foods as flax seeds, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

(4) Zinc: The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for zinc is 8 mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men. Low levels of this mineral have been associated with serious depression and in fact, zinc treatment is used as an effective antidepressant.

Foods that contain Zinc include: Oysters, beef, pork, lamb, cashews, pumpkin seeds, lentils and more.

(5) Chromium: This mineral is important for the effectiveness of neurotransmitters which send messages between nerve cells and has been useful in the treatment of depression.

Foods that contain chromium: Broccoli, free range beef and pork, Brazil nuts, egg yolks and tomatoes.

(6) Iron: Iron is crucial for proper health function as it alleviates fatigue and mood fluctuations; lack of iron in early childhood has even been associated with learning issues.

Foods containing iron: Free range beef, pork and poultry, fish, lentils, spinach, Swiss chard and dark chocolate.

(7) Calcium: Calcium can certainly affect mood and can also alleviate symptoms of depression. Calcium can help with PMS associated depression too. The RDA for calcium is 1,000 mg/day for adults.

Foods containing calcium include: Cottage cheese, canned salmon, kale, black-eyed peas, baked beans, oranges and almonds.

(8) Vitamin D: There is no doubt that Vitamin D can improve mood and can be detected with inadequate intake of foods rich in vitamin-D and limited sun exposure.

Foods that contain Vitamin D: Wild Salmon, mushrooms, canned tuna, canned sardines, egg yolks and plenty of sunlight.

(9) Folate: Folate has been known to contribute to depression and irritability as well. The RDA for folate is 400 mcg/day for adults.

Foods that contain Folate include: Free range beef liver, Brussels sprouts, oranges, almonds and sunflower seeds.

(10) Lastly, Vitamin B6 assists in the production of neurotransmitters and is crucial for mood regulation. By not having enough of this vitamin, there is an increased risk of depression.

Foods that contain Vitamin B6 include Free range poultry, tuna, salmon, beans, spinach, carrots, brown rice.

The foods that are delineated in this article are not hard to find in the grocery store and can easily be part of a healthy diet.

Friday, October 7, 2016

9 Ways Technology is Improving Workplace Wellness

Obesity rates are definitely sky-high, along with diabetes, heart disease and other lifestyle-related chronic diseases; but, along with these statistics, there are some wellness issues being addressed. That is a really good thing, wouldn't you say?

The Wall Street Journal is covering a story on how McDonald's is losing the burger war, there is an upswing in healthier fast food take out and alas, we are even seeing how technology is improving workplace wellness. There is no doubt that technology is here to stay and it is rapidly growing in ways that can be a benefit to society. For starters, learn about the 9 Ways that Technology is making its mark on workplace health and wellness.

(1) Increased productivity: Many employees (12%) from a variety of companies are now wearing wearable technology like Fitbits, Jawbone and Apple Watch.

(2) By using wearables like Fitbit, employees have access to tracking their own health and can even be provided with a host of valuable biometric data (like blood pressure, heart rate). Of course, the employee would need to agree to the sharing of information with their organization.

(3) More employees are showing up to work! Things like work-life balance are becoming more and more important to people -- as it should be. Technology used in real time can help with determining employee stress levels and so much more.

(4) Speaking of Reducing stress levels, it can't be disputed that maintaining and improving the health of employees should be the focus. There are wearables like Pip which look at decreasing stress levels with the use of interactive games.

(5) Creating a supportive company culture is recognized as important for many who use the wearables. Now employees can share details if they like and can even increase motivation to work/play together.

(6) Cognitive skills are increased with the use of interactive games.

(7) More motivation is always a good thing. It certainly is helpful for employees to track their progress and naturally want to do more in order to keep up with their health needs.

(8) Business savings can be seen for employees as well since visits to the doctor can turn into annual checkups instead of frequent emergency visits. Healthcare costs are expensive no doubt.

(9) Managing expectations and Fostering Positive Team Results: Organizations that want to keep healthy and productive employees also must respect their privacy. Through the management of a good wellness program there can be a huge win for both the employer and the employee.

The proper care and acknowledgement of keeping a dynamic healthy workplace wellness program by the employer will keep employees productive and can make the workplace an overall happier and healthier place to spend time. After all, at least 50% of people's time is spent in the workplace. Click on the link above to get more details about the 9 ways technology can make a positive difference in the workplace.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WSJ: J&J: Insulin Pump Vulnerable to Hacking

As anyone can well imagine, the statistics of Diabetes in this country (let alone the world) is extremely high. There is now an "alert" or warning to insulin pump users -- mostly, Type 1 diabetes users -- regarding the potential consequences of using the J&J's OneTouch Ping Insulin Pump System. 

Hackers who apparently are close enough to these insulin pump users can some how use their own advanced technology to get the unencrypted radio signal that the device produces to program the pump.

While the Chief Medical Officer of J&J's diabetes-care business unit says that the warning to patient safety for these diabetes insulin pump users is quite low, a looming distrust from other medical companies has led to an increasing concern of potential medical pitfalls that can occur due to cyber hacking. 

Such concerns of cyber hacking has even drawn the attention of the Food and Drug Administration which has been working on addressing medical device vulnerabilities. 

It is so unfortunate and actually scandalizing to know that there is a population of people out there; namely, those hackers -- that are attempting to take advantage of a situation that can cause even more harm not only to those diabetes patients, but to the general population itself!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WSJ: For Hospitals, a Lot of Information Goes a Long Way

Unfortunately, now-a-days it is becoming pretty commonplace for hospitals to rush to develop ways to determine whether or not people will potentially develop diabetes, heart disease or other looming critical conditions. 

Interestingly enough, the true need for the development of complex algorithms which would pre-determine the patient's medical future is indeed on the rise. Such predictions would serve to learn more about the patient's behaviors, consumer and financial information for instance. In fact, upon further progress into learning how people live -- from personal interests to income levels -- much can be learned by doctors about how to intervene for patients and potentially assist patients to improve their medical outcomes. 

In fact, "So much of what determines a person's health and well-being is independent of medical care," says Rishi Sikka, senior vice president of clinical operations for a 12-hospital Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill.

There is even research to indicate that the confidence level of patient's to manage their own medical care can be a solid predictor of future health. It is so very important for patients in general to become more proactive when it comes to their health. To learn more about how a lot of information can go a long way when it comes to learning about patients and their health-care outcomes, go to the article here