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Category: Nutrition (page 1 of 5)

Processed foods are a much bigger health problem than we thought

Julia Belluz writing for Vox:

In two new papers published in the BMJ, the more ultraprocessed — or industrially manufactured — foods a person ate, the more likely they were to get sick and even die. In one study, they were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems. The other linked an ultraprocessed diet to a higher risk of death from all causes.

Those studies followed a first-of-its-kind randomized controlled trial, out of the National Institutes of Health: Researchers found people following an ultraprocessed diet ate about 500 more calories per day than those consuming minimally processed, whole foods.

Sure, potato chips, cookies, and hot dogs are chock-full of salt, sugar, fat, and calories. They can cause us to gain weight and put us at a higher risk of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. But why? What if there’s something unique about ultraprocessed foods that primes us to overeat and leads to bad health?

And

Ultraprocessed foods are created in factories. They’re pumped full of chemicals and other additives for color, flavor, texture, and shelf life. This processing generally increases the flavor and caloric density of the foods, while stripping away the fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. So these foods are distinct from whole foods (like apples and cucumbers) and processed foods (like vegetables pickled in brine, or canned fish in oil) that rely on only salt, sugar, and oil — rather than a range of complicated additives — to preserve them or make them tastier.

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Eating Fruits and Vegetables Can Improve Your Mood and Mental Well-Being

You already know you should eat fruits and vegetables for the nutrients they provide the body. But a new British study has again shown that the health benefits of produce don’t end there. Researchers at the University of Leeds have shown that eating fruits and vegetables can also improve your mood and mental well-being.

Researchers found that people whose diets included more fruits and vegetables reported being happier. Those who ate even just one extra portion of produce a day reported better life satisfaction than those who ate less. Researchers estimated that the extra portion could have the same effect on your mood as walking an additional 10 continuous minutes or more eight days a month.

Previous research conducted in Australia and New Zealand, and published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, showed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables makes people feel happier.

The latest study, entitled Lettuce Be Happy was published in Social Science and Medicine. It is based on a larger group of people who were followed for a longer period of time.

The USA Allow Food Additives that Canada, Europe, China, and others Claim are Toxic

Chemical Structure of Potassium Bromate

Chemical Structure of Potassium Bromate

Potassium bromate, for example, is also illegal in Canada, China, the European Union, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere because it causes cancer. In the United States it has been legal to add to food since it was first patented for use in baking bread in 1914.

Troy Farah writing for The Guardian:

But despite petitions from several advocacy groups – some dating back decades – the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers these to be Gras or “generally recognized as safe” to eat, though plenty of experts disagree.

“The system for ensuring that ingredients added to food are safe is broken,” said Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist at the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Lefferts, who specializes in food additives, said that once a substance is in the food supply, the FDA rarely takes further action, even when there is evidence that it isn’t safe.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban potassium bromate two decades ago due to cancer concerns, but the FDA’s response, according to a letter from the agency, was that it couldn’t examine the issue due to “limited availability of resources and other agency priorities.”

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How much water should we drink every day?

It’s important to listen to what our bodies are telling us.

Jessica Brown, writing for the BBC:

Water is, of course, important. Making up around two-thirds of our body weight, water carries nutrients and waste products around our bodies, regulates our temperature, acts as a lubricant and shock absorber in our joints and plays a role in most chemical reactions happening inside us.

We’re constantly losing water through sweat, urination and breathing. Ensuring we have enough water is a fine balance, and crucial to avoiding dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration can become detectable when we lose between 1-2% of our body’s water and we continue to deteriorate until we top our fluids back up. In rare cases, such dehydration can be fatal.

And

“One of fallacies of the 8×8 rule is its stark over-simplification of how we as organisms respond to the environment we’re in,” says Rosenburg. “We ought to think of fluid requirement in the same way as energy requirement, where we talk about the temperature we’re in and level of physical activity were engaged in.”

Most experts tend to agree we don’t need to be concerned about drinking an arbitrary amount of water per day: our bodies signal to us when we’re thirsty, much like they do when we’re hungry or tired. The only health benefit of drinking more than you need, it seems, will be the extra calories you expend by running to the loo more often.

Read the whole article at BBC.

New study states bad diets kill more people than smoking

A balanced diet, with lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils,  is important for a long, healthy life. What we consume is what feeds every cell of our bodies.

Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, writes:

The problem, he said, is not only what people are eating, but it’s also what they’re not eating. The study estimated that globally, 3 million deaths were attributed to too much sodium — but another 3 million deaths were attributed to a lack of adequate whole grains, and another 2 million deaths were attributed to a lack of adequate fruit.

and

Afshin said countries where people eat a Mediterranean diet — high in heart-healthy fats and fiber — scored the best using the researchers’ model, with Israel ranking No. 1 in terms of the least number of diet-related deaths. France and Spain ranked second and third, respectively, according to the research. Afshin defined the Mediterranean diet as one with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils, such as olive oil.

The United States ranked No. 43.

Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic where refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta are staples, scored the worst, with a death rate of 891 per a population of 100,000.

Mystery Meat: Your “all-beef sausage” could have pork, sheep, or chicken in it

Do you really know what you are eating for dinner tonight?

A study by the University of Guelph looked at samples of sausage collected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) from 100 grocery stores across Canada. They found that 14 per cent of them contained meat from a source other than what was labeled.

Sausages labelled as beef were found to have sheep, pork, or chicken. Some chicken sausages were found to have turkey.

One concern is that the source of the mystery meat cannot be traced.

Read more at CBC

Doctors are saying gut health is as important as heart heath

Increasingly researchers are finding that your intestines not only digest food, but may also regulate mood, emotion, and play a central role in your body’s response to disease.

What you eat feeds every single cell in your body.

Sushrut Jangi, The Boston Globe:

Avoid processed deli meats and red meat while feeding the dense jungle of bacteria in the colon with fibers, fruits, and vegetables. Siegel says unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles rife with fast foods and processed meats are contributing to the rise in colon cancer among young people. A lot of people go to the deli and buy very expensive turkey breast and think they are eating healthy, Siegel says. Shifting away from the standard Western diet to the Mediterranean diet — composed primarily of plant-based foods, olive oil, fish, and mixed nuts — supports both gut health and a healthy heart. Sprinkling food with curcumin — the activated ingredient in turmeric — may dampen inflammation. Routine exercise staves off obesity, which does wonders for the gastrointestinal tract and reduces cancer risk. While particular diets are effective in treating specific gut conditions, consult with a gastroenterologist or nutritionist before pursuing anything radical.

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Superfoods are a marketing ploy

Regardless of who issues them, guidelines for health promotion and disease prevention universally recommend diets that are largely plant-based, meaning those that include plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts. The U.S. dietary guidelines also recommend foods in the “protein” category. Grains, beans, and nuts are good sources of protein, but the guidelines use “protein” to mean low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fish. Recommended eating patterns include all these foods, relatively unprocessed, but with minimal addition of salt and sugars. Such patterns provide nutrients and energy in proportions that meet physiological needs but also minimize the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. One more definition: “Patterns” refer to diets as a whole, not to single foods. No one food makes a diet healthful. The healthiest diets include a wide variety of foods in each of the recommended categories in amounts that balance calories.

In their largely unprocessed forms, foods from the earth, trees, or animals are healthful by definition. So why, you might ask, would the producers of foods such as cranberries, pears, avocados, or walnuts fund research aimed at proving that these particular foods—rather than fruits, vegetables, or nuts in general—have special health benefits? Marketing, of course. Every food producer wants to expand sales. Health claims sell.

More at The Atlantic

What’s for dinner? Lunch? Breakfast? The answer is fast food for many Americans

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third (37%) of adults in the U.S. will eat fast food on any given day. And it’s killing them.

What’s more, the higher their income, the more likely they were to consume fast food.

The percentage of adults who ate fast food rose with increasing income. About 32 percent of people who earn less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line — $32,630 a year for a family of four — ate fast food daily.

But 42 percent of people above 350 percent of the poverty line — $112,950 a year or more for that size family — were daily consumers.

More from the NY Times

 

New evidence suggests artificial sweeteners may be harmful to your health

A new study suggests that regular use of artificial sweeteners may impair blood-sugar control. The latest findings suggest consuming even less than half the amount approved by health authorities is not safe.

For the study, participants who don’t normally use the sweeteners were assigned to use 45 per-cent of the Health Canada acceptable daily intake (ADI). After only 14 days, these participants experienced an 18 per-cent reduction in insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for type-2 diabetes.

Sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, cyclamate and saccharin are zero-calorie sweeteners approved in Canada.

Cyclamate (brand names Sucaryl, Sugar Twin, Sweet’N Low) and saccharin are not allowed to be added to foods; they’re sold only as tabletop sweeteners.

Acesulfame potassium, aspartame and sucralose are allowed to be added to all sorts of foods including yogurt, baked goods, pancake syrup, ketchup, chewing gum, fruit juice and soft drinks. Sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal) are also available as tabletop sweeteners.

Health Canada considers these five artificial sweeteners safe when consumed in amounts up to the acceptable daily intake (ADI). The ADI is the maximum amount thought safe to consume each day over a lifetime.

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