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Diet & Health

Doctors Want to Ban these Healthy Foods…

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Bad health foods

Obesity and other health issues are on the rise, and cardiologists, gastroenterologists, OBGYNs and specialists in the fields of sports medicine want to curb the trend, recommending people to choose fresh produce, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats over everything else. Surprisingly, there are certain “health” foods that even they want banned from grocery stores.

Before we reveal them, do you have any ideas of what these ‘evil’ health foods are? We wouldn’t be surprised if you’re consuming some while reading this article…

Hot coffee smell

Coffee and Caffeinated Drinks

Dr. Mamta M. Mamik, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, believes that while coffee has its benefits (regular consumption reduces dementia), too much of it is not good for body and mind:

“I try to avoid excessive caffeine. An adult can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day-which is equivalent to four 8-ounce cups of coffee-but drinking any more than that can cause calcium excretion, which, over time, may lead to osteoporosis. Plus, avoiding excess caffeine also helps to ward off uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like lethargy, insomnia, headaches and irritability.”

If you’re a coffee fiend, you should consider switching over to a beverages with fewer drawbacks, such as black tea.

low fat nutrition bars

Energy Bars and “Low-Fat” Foods

Food marketed as “low-fat” can be deceiving and often do more harm than good, so much so that Rebekah Gross, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, says she keeps away from processed low-fat foods like reduced-fat peanut butter and chips because they are extensively processed and often times loaded with sugar, greasy oils and packed with harmful chemicals.

Energy bars are notoriously deceptive because they are generally perceived to aid in weight loss or help build muscle. What most people don’t know is that they are calorie bombs, with sugar being either their first (predominant) or second ingredient.

If ever you’re in the mood for something sweet, low-fat and/or crunchy, nothing beats whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

Vitamin Water

“Enhanced” Water

Sports drinks are just diluted soft drinks with salt, and soft drinks are very bad for you. While they can be useful during intense exercises that exceed one hour or that occurs in extreme heat, drinks such as Vitamin Water are essentially sugary drinks combined with a vitamin pill.

Just ask Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, who says:

“They are unequivocally harmful to health. Whether vitamins dissolved in water have any benefit will depend on who you are and whether you are already getting enough [vitamins] … Some people may be getting too much of some vitamins and minerals if they add vitamin water on top of fortified foods and other supplements.”

Vitaminwater is bad, but drinks like Red Bull, Sobe Life Water and Monster Drinks are worse for not only containing loads of sugar, but also stimulants that may be may be harmful, especially for people with high blood pressure and other health conditions.

Instead of gulping down “enhanced” water, stick with real, unadulterated water — preferably from the tab. Pure water is the best drink for hydrating your body — its calorie-free and even contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

Trans fat food

Health Foods Containing Trans-Fats

Like Eugenia Gianos, MD, cardiologist, Co-Clinical Director, Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at NYU Langone Medical Center, you should avoid that contain trans-fats, corn syrup and added sugars. These include low-fat butter/margarine, cookies and microwave popcorn, etc.

Apparently, such food are loaded with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, synthetically engineered trans-fats that increase your bad (LDL) cholesterol and decrease your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Integrative health expert and author of The 21-Day Belly Fix, Dr. Taz Bhatia, stated:

“Although I love them, I try to stay away from cream-based soups. They not only bother my stomach, but are also loaded with empty calories and often have concerning fillers like hydrolyzed proteins, food dyes and corn syrup that I find out about later!”

If you love food with creamy textures, considers those made from tropical oils, such as palm oil and coconut oil.

Be honest, did you know that all of aforementioned “health” foods were actually not healthy for you, and are you likely to change your diet now that you know? Let us know in the comments below. Remember, encouraging healthy eating for everyone in your family starts at home.

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Diet & Health

Eating Turmeric Could Boost Your Memory And Mood

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Turmeric powder

In the world of superfoods, turmeric is seemingly becoming more and more super by the day. A new study has found that the spice’s active ingredient could boost memory and mood.

The 18-month study — carried out by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry — was the first long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a bioavailable form of curcumin in non-demented adults. It found that taking a daily dose of curcumin, the compound in turmeric root that gives the spice its yellow color, may not only prevent memory problems from getting worse over time, but actually improve them.

Led by UCLA’s Gary Small, the research team took 40 random people between the ages of 50 and 90 suffering from mild memory problems but not Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, gave them a twice-daily 90-mg of bioavailable, easily absorbed curcumin supplement or a placebo for 18 months, conducted tests of memory and cognition that included questionnaires to measure mood and depression, and carried out brain scans to analyse the deposition of “brain gunk”—amyloid-beta plaques and tau “tangles,” the two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

Because the study was double-blind, even the researchers didn’t know what supplement the participants were given until after the study was over.

They found that those who took the curcumin saw their memory improve by 28% on average over the 18 month trial, while those who took the placebo (the control group) saw their scores rise slightly (possibly because they got more familiar with the tests) and then declined.

The depression scores of those taking curcumin also improved compared to the control group’s, which stayed the same, and brain scans revealed significantly less amyloid and tau accumulation in two of their brain regions — the amygdala and hypothalamus — that control anxiety, memory, decision-making, and emotion.

This lead Small’s team to conclude that taking a bioavailable curcumin supplement daily may lead to improved memory and attention in non-demented adults, which according to Forbes is an exciting discovery considering that it came from a true clinical study and earlier evidence regarding the therapeutic effects of curcumin has been mixed.

Curcuma longa root - Turmeric

It’s not exactly known how curcumin works, but researchers have long observed that people in India have lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, which they think is due in part to the higher intake of turmeric. Small said in a statement:

“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression.”

One shortcoming of the study is that it was quite small and the participants were generally healthy, educated, and motivated to complete the long trial, which may not necessarily be a complete reflection of the general population. The team’s next plans to look at whether the supplement may be effective in treating people with major depression rather than memory problems.

The growth of the “food as medicine” movement is evidence of consumers’s growing interest in natural ways to improve their health. And according to Food Dive, while medical foods are still a relatively new category in the food industry, manufacturers have been looking at ways to incorporate curcumin in the formulation of nutraceuticals, dietary supplements, herbals and functional foods and beverages, especially for those consumers who don’t want to cook with turmeric but want ready-to-eat options containing the ingredient.

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Diet & Health

Move Over Kale, It’s Time For Jicama The Superfood To Shine

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Jicama Vegetable

If you don’t know what Jicama is, it’s about time you got introduced to it. It’s probably the most exciting vegetable you’re not eating, one that could potentially challenge Kale as the next big shot superfood in the world of healthy eating.

Funny name aside, Jicama is very interesting for a number of reasons. It is originally from Mexico and has a bark-like, rough-looking exterior that almost betrays its crunchy yet juicy texture and mildly sweet flavor that’s reminiscent of a savory apple; nutrient-dense and rich in vitamin C, calcium, minerals, natural sugars and fiber; and considered a prebiotic since it helps establish a gut climate in which probiotics can thrive.

Most impressive all, especially for those looking to lose weight and improve their cardiovascular profile, Jicama contains no fat and no carbohydrates. It’s also rich in antioxidants and a good source of the soluble dietary fiber insulin, making it a very viable sweet snack for those with diabetes.

Now that you know what it is, you’re probably wondering how to incorporate it into your diet. Jicama is most commonly eaten raw, whether by itself or in a salad. It can also be cooked and lends itself very well to stir-fries, soups and stews.

Jicama Sticks

Replace French fries with Jicama fries and try Jicama sticks instead of carrot sticks

You know those unhealthy French fries you can’t stop munching on? Well, Jicama can be baked as a lower-calorie replacement. Bored of carrot sticks? Try Jicama sticks for a change — they might even be healthier.

As for where you can find this tasty, seemingly miraculous vegetable, supermarkets like Walmart should carry it. If not, head to your nearest specialty produce, Mexican, Latin American, or Asian grocer.

According David Sax, author of The Tastemakers, for a vegetable to enjoy the superfood status that kale long has, it needs to be versatile, available, and have cultural significance. Jicama scores high on all those criteria, and an increasing number of consumers seem to agree.

Nielsen Perishables, an industry expert in fresh food consulting, noted in a research article that Jicama led U.S. sales in the specialty vegetable category in 2016, accounting for $11.4 million of the total $25.3 million in sales.

Kale has been riding high in healthy eating circles for quite some time now, but other vegetables have been predicted to kick it off the pedestal. 2017 was suppose to be the year of the Jackfruit and some believe rutabaga will enjoy a meteoric rise in popularity in 2018. But it’s Jicama that could potentially unseat Kale as the darling of the produce isle.

In an interview with Fresh Plaza, Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s, noted that more and more retailers are offering fresh-cut jicama sticks and that it has only taken 45 years for Jicama to become a household name since Frieda’s introduced it to produce retailers in 1972. She was quoted as saying:

“With all the research and development in the field of the gut microbiome, I believe that produce like jicama and Sunchokes will continue to be in high demand for 2018 and beyond.”

It remains to be seen whether Jicama will become more popular than Kale, but one thing we’re certain of is that it can be a tasty, versatile and extremely healthy addition to just about anyone’s diet, especially those looking to lose weight but have a sweet tooth.

Have you had the opportunity to try Jicama? If so, how do you like to eat it? If not, do you plan on incorporating it into your diet and how? Let us know in the comments below.

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Diet & Health

Scientists Have Identified The Brain Cells That Control Appetite

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Beef Steak on table

Steak makes people feel fuller

Scientists have finally identified the cells in the brain that detect nutrients in food and help trigger feelings of satiety, effectively suppressing and controlling our appetite. It could revolutionize dieting as we know it and help curb the obesity crisis.

Discovered by Nicholas Dale, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Warwick, the cells are called tanycytes and are found in the part of the brain that controls energy levels.

Tanycytes respond to amino acids in foods through the same receptors on our taste buds that sense the flavor of amino acids (i.e. “umami” taste), detecting nutrients in the food and directly telling the brain what has just been have eaten.

Arginine and lysine are two amino acids that react most with tanycytes and are, therefore, likely to make you feel fuller. Foods high in arginine and lysine concentration include beef sirloin steak, pork shoulder, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocadoes, lentils and almonds — eating them will activate the tanycytes and make you feel less hungry quicker than other foods.

avocado cut in half

Avocados also trigger satiety quickly

The researchers made the discovery by adding concentrated amounts of arginine and lysine into brain cells. They observed that the tanycytes detected and responded to the amino acids within thirty seconds, releasing information to the part of the brain that controls appetite and body weight.

Even more, it was found that signals from amino acids are directly detected by the umami taste receptors responsible for one of the five basic tastes humans experience. When these receptors were removed or blocked, the amino acids no longer reacted with tanycytes.

Commenting on the research, which was published in Molecular Metabolism, Professor Dale stated:

“Amino acid levels in blood and brain following a meal are a very important signal that imparts the sensation of feeling full. Finding that tanycytes, located at the centre of the brain region that controls body weight, directly sense amino acids has very significant implications for coming up with new ways to help people to control their body weight within healthy bounds.”

He added that the ground-breaking discovery has opened up new possibilities for creating more effective diets and even future treatments to suppress a person’s appetite by directly activating the brain’s tanycytes. In other words, trick the mind and body into not wanting food, or at least less of it.

Obesity Crisis

More than 1.9 billion adults worldwide, 18 years and older, are considered overweight

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization, and it’s only getting worse. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were considered overweight, 650 million of whom were obese. Billions of dollars are spent every year on treatment for diabetes and other conditions — cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke etc. — related to being overweight or obese.

Researchers are confident that the discovery of tanycytes and new understanding of how appetite functions could curb the growing obesity crisis.

So now that you know, do you plan on changing up your diet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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