Only 1 in 10 Americans Eats Enough Fruits and Veggies: CDC

THURSDAY, July 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, a new government report shows.

Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume one and a half to two cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The news on the vegetable front was even worse. Less than 9 percent of Americans eat two to three cups of vegetables every day as recommended, the report showed.

Even residents of California, the state with the best consumption rate for these nutritious foods, fell woefully behind. Only close to 18 percent of Californians ate enough fruit every day, and only 13 percent ate enough vegetables.

via Only 1 in 10 Americans Eats Enough Fruits and Veggies: CDC.

Foods that fight inflammation – Harvard Health

Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to quell inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.

Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. The process is called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

via Foods that fight inflammation – Harvard Health.

Blending Vs. Juicing? How To Get The Most Nutrition From Your Fruit : The Salt : NPR

…None of this is to say that blending your grapefruit will have a measurable impact on your health.

But, if you’re looking to boost nutrients, this study does show that how you process juice can have a big impact on the levels of flavonoids.

The authors of the paper tell The Salt they did not expect such a significant difference.

“Yes, I was indeed surprised and so was everyone in the lab,” Rammohan Uckoo, a researcher at the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at Texas A&M, tells us by email.

So, what explains the difference? “The blended juice had the highest pulp content, which corresponds to the maximum levels of naringin,” Uckoo says.

In addition, the blended juice contained more of the fruit’s segment membranes — those white layers of papery fiber that line the outside of each segments — which have higher concentrations of flavonoids.

via Blending Vs. Juicing? How To Get The Most Nutrition From Your Fruit : The Salt : NPR.

USDA ERS – Chart: Americans aren’t eating enough dark green, red, and orange vegetables

Expressing food consumption in terms of density—the amount of food eaten per 1,000 calories—allows a person’s intake to be compared with benchmark densities based on recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Such comparisons can reveal shortfalls and excesses in American diets. Analysis of intake data from the 2007-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey NHANES found that Americans under-consume whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables. In 2007-10, U.S. adults consumed 0.76 cups of total vegetables per 1,000 calories and 0.25 cups of dark green, red, and orange vegetables, while children consumed 0.49 cups and 0.17 cups, respectively. The Dietary Guidelines recommend 1.25 cups of total vegetables and 0.50 cups of dark green, red, and orange vegetables per 1,000 calories for a 2,000-calorie diet. Lower income individuals consumed a smaller amount of dark green, red, and orange vegetables than those with higher incomes. This chart appears in “Food Consumption and Nutrient Intake Data—Tools for Assessing Americans’ Diets” in the October 2014 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

via USDA ERS – Chart: Americans aren’t eating enough dark green, red, and orange vegetables.

Vertical ‘Pinkhouses:’ The Future Of Urban Farming? : The Salt : NPR

by MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF

May 21, 2013 3:16 PM

The idea of vertical farming is all the rage right now. Architects and engineers have come up with spectacular concepts for lofty buildings that could function as urban food centers of the future.

In Sweden, for example, they’re planning a 177-foot skyscraper to farm leafy greens at the edge of each floor. But so far, most vertical gardens that are up and running actually look more like large greenhouses than city towers. And many horticulturists don’t think sky-high farms in cities are practical.

“The idea of taking a skyscraper and turning it into a vertical farming complex is absolutely ridiculous from an energy perspective,” says horticulturist Cary Mitchell of Purdue University, who’s been working on ways to grow plants in space for more than 20 years.

The future of vertical farming, Mitchell thinks, lies not in city skyscrapers, but rather in large warehouses located in the suburbs, where real estate and electricity are cheaper.

And oh, yeah, instead of being traditional greenhouses lit by fluorescent lamps, he says these plant factories will probably be “pinkhouses,” glowing magenta from the mix of blue and red LEDs.

Light is a major problem with vertical farming. When you stack plants on top of each other, the ones at the top shade the ones at the bottom. The only way to get around it is to add artificial light — which is expensive both financially and environmentally.

Vertical farmers can lower the energy bill, Mitchell says, by giving plants only the wavelengths of light they need the most: the blue and red.

“Twenty years ago, research showed that you could grow lettuce in just red light,” Mitchell says. “If you add a little bit of blue, it grows better.”

Plant’s photosynthesis machinery is tuned to absorb red and blue light most efficiently. They have a handful of other pigments in their leaves that catch other wavelengths, but the red and blue wavelengths are the big ones, supplying the majority of the light needed to grow.

Cary Mitchell and Celina Gomez, of Purdue University, harvest tomatoes grown next to a tower of blue and red LEDs.

Courtesy of Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell

So why LEDs? They’re super energy efficient in general, but unlike traditional greenhouse lamps, they can be tuned to specific wavelengths. Why use all of ROYGBIV when just RB will do?

And there’s another advantage to using LEDs in greenhouses and vertical farming, Mitchell says: Because these lights are cooler, you can place them close to the plants — even stacked plants — and lose even less energy.

Recently, Mitchell and his graduate student designed a 9-foot-tall tower of lights and grew tomato plants right up against it. “As the plants get taller, we turn on the [light] panels higher up,” he explains. “It takes about two months before all the panels are on.”

The towers cut energy consumption by about 75 percent, Mitchell and his team reported earlier this year.

Right now, experiments are using these specialized LEDs to supplement natural light, not replace it.

But as LEDs get more and more efficient, could growers forgo the natural light altogether and grow crops completely in enclosed rooms, where they’re protected from temperature changes or damaging pests?

That’s exactly what Barry Holtz, at Caliber Biotherapeutics, is already doing.

His farms have never seen the light of day.

Plants at Caliber Biotherapeutics grow under blue and red LEDs, with wavelengths of light that match those that get absorbed by the photosynthetic machinery.

He and his company have built a 150,000-square-foot “plant factory” in Texas that is completely closed off from the outside world. They grow 2.2 million plants, stacked up 50 feet high, all underneath the magenta glow of blue and red LEDS.

“A photon is a terrible thing to waste,” Holtz tells The Salt. “So we developed these lights to correctly match the photosynthesis needs of our plants. We get almost 20 percent faster growth rate and save a lot energy.”

Holtz is growing a tobacco-like plant to make new drugs and vaccines. The indoor pinkhouse gives him tight control over the expensive crops, so his team can stop diseases and contamination.

Holtz says this type of indoor gardening isn’t going to replace traditional farms anytime soon. It’s still relatively expensive for growing food. “We couldn’t compete with iceberg lettuce farmers,” he says, “but for certain specialty crops, the economics wouldn’t be so bad.”

And, he says, the pinkhouse is actually quite efficient when it comes to water and electricity. “We’ve done some calculations, and we lose less water in one day than a KFC restaurant uses, because we recycle all of it.”

via Vertical ‘Pinkhouses:’ The Future Of Urban Farming? : The Salt : NPR.

One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time | Healthy Eats

One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time

by jmachowsky in Healthy TipsComments (3)

Ever wonder how some people can just eat  all day and never gain weight? While some are just born with a naturally high metabolism (thank your parents), the vast majority of us frequent eaters must choose foods that give us the nutrients and energy we need to function throughout the day for less calories.

Notice it’s not about less food, but less calories. “Nutrient density” represents a food’s nutrient bang for its calorie buck. Understanding nutrient density and learning how to choose nutrient dense foods is the key to eating better . . . and more.

An example: Let’s say you want a snack. Consider one of these three options:

A candy bar

A low-fat yogurt, medium peach and a few almonds

15 baby carrots, a whole 10 oz. package of cherry tomatoes, a full bunch of celery and a couple tablespoons of hummus or low-fat dressing

You could eat the first option very easily and possibly still be hungry (or crash) an hour later. You’d probably be satisfied with the second.  How about the third option, sound like a bit much? Sound like it’s impossible to eat at one sitting? That’s the point.

All three of these snacks have one thing in common: the calories; each has about 250-275.  But the second two options provide you with a lot more food to eat than the first. Which means you can eat a bunch more throughout the day and have the same or fewer calories. And when you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.

Furthermore, nutrient dense foods provide you with tons of nutrients (i.e. water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that help keep you full and prevent you from “crashing” during the day. And you get to eat more of them every few hours to boot. You can truly never go hungry again, as long as you choose the right foods.

So what are the most nutrient dense foods?  That’s right, fruits and veggies (maybe the example gave it away?).  For some of my clients, our initial goal is to eat more fruits and veggies, rather than eliminating any foods. By eating more produce, you will likely eat better anyways since they:

Displace other, higher-calorie foods from your diet.

Leave more food over at meals because you got full sooner.

Are less affected by temptations and cravings since the fruits and veggies help stabilize your blood sugars and reduce hunger pangs.

Even if you don’t want to eat fruits and vegetables all the time, ask yourself at every meal: “What can I get more nutrients in for fewer calories?” Sometimes it’s as simple as ordering a leaner cut of meat or getting a baked potato without as much butter, sour cream or bacon.

My challenge to you: For the next month, have at least one fruit- or vegetable-based snack every day. Some example would be celery and hummus, an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter, carrots and low-fat dressing or low-fat yogurt with some berries.

Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, author of Savor Fitness & Nutrition wellness blog and avid proponent of MyBodyTutor, a health coaching website dedicated to helping people stay consistent with their healthy eating and exercise goals.

via One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog.

Nutrition For Skin Collagen | LIVESTRONG.COM

Had a fun question about nutrition and skin collagen. While we haven’t learned about that yet in my classes, I thought this was an interesting article about it.

Nutrition For Skin Collagen | LIVESTRONG.COM

Photo Credit Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

Collagen is the elastic-like fibers that make up the dermis, the layer of skin underneath the topmost layer of skin. Certain factors, such as aging, smoking and lack of sleep, can cause the collagen to break down. This results in sagging skin and wrinkles. Fortunately, positive nutrition choices can help improve and rebuild collagen.

EAT MORE FISH

The Good Housekeeping website suggests eating more cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. These types of fish contain large amounts of protein, which makes up collagen. In addition, cold-water fish contain a fatty acid called omega-3. This fatty acid helps boost collagen production, helping it to stay plump and improving the texture of the skin. For maximum benefits, eat at least two servings of cold-water fish per week.

Best skin cream Clinically Tested And Reviewed By Dermatologists And Nutritionists. GarnierUSA.com/Skincare

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WATCH WHAT YOU DRINK

Dr. Albert Kligman in the book “Prevention’s Healing with Vitamins” explains that alcoholic beverages can actually dehydrate the skin, damaging collagen and causing skin irritation, wrinkles and puffiness. Instead, concentrate on drinking at least four glasses of water every day. If you are exercising or sweating heavily, drink more water. Staying hydrated can replenish the skin’s moisture, helping collagen to sustain any damage caused by poor dietary choices or daily environmental exposure.

EAT SOY

Add more soy to your diet. Soy can be found in a variety of products such as meat substitutes, cheese products, beverages, shakes, cereals and nutrition bars. Soy contains an isoflavone called genistein. Genistein can not only help boost collagen production, it can help block the enzymes that attack and break it down. In addition, soy products can help improve collagen that was damaged by aging or excessive sun exposure.

EAT VITAMIN-C RICH FOODS

Vitamin-C rich foods, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, red bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, oranges and other citrus fruits, are essential to collagen. These types of foods can help rebuild and maintain collagen, helping to reduce signs of aging. Vitamin C is especially important if you smoke. This is because cigarette smoke tends to deplete the body of vitamin C, break down collagen and promoting wrinkles and other skin problems.

via Nutrition For Skin Collagen | LIVESTRONG.COM.

7 Crazy Things Pesticides Are Doing to Your Body | Rodale News

This seemed kinda scary to read. I hope we learn more on this in grad school…

BY LEAH ZERBE Share on facebook_like Share on google_plusone

Pesticides aren’t just on the food, the chemicals are inside food, too.

Pesticides are designed to kill, although the mode of action they use to put the stranglehold on pests varies. Whether it’s nerve gas–like neurological disruption, the unbalancing of key hormones, or the stunting of a plant’s ability to absorb life-sustaining trace minerals from the soil, none of the chemical interventions seems all that appetizing, especially considering that chemical residues routinely wind up on and even inside of the food we eat everyday. Pesticides are also blamed for diminishing mineral levels in foods.

Agrochemical supporters tend to fall back on a “the dose makes the poison” theory, meaning tiny exposures aren’t really that harmful. Increasingly, though, independent scientists are debunking that belief, even proving that incredibly tiny doses could set a person up for health problems that might not crop up until decades down the line. Luckily, eating organic, less processed foods can cut back on your pesticide exposure.

Here are 7 health problems associated with pesticide-based agrochemicals.

Diabetes

Scientists have been noticing a link between pesticides and diabetes for years. The latest evidence comes out of the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting, where Robert Sargis, MD, PhD, released the results of a study that suggest tolyfluanid, a fungicide used on farm crops, creates insulin resistance in fat cells. A 2011 study published in Diabetes Care found that overweight people with higher levels of organochlorine pesticides in their bodies also faced a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Prevent it: To save money on organic fare raised without pesticides, cook with organic dried beans. In the home, avoid using chemical air fresheners and artificially scented products—these things are also blamed for inducing type 2 diabetes.

Read more: 11 Surprising Diabetes Triggers

Cancer

More than 260 studies link pesticides to various cancers, including lymphoma, leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma, and brain, breast, prostate, bone, bladder, thyroid, colon, liver, and lung cancers, among others.

Prevent it: The President’s Cancer Panel suggests eating organic and avoiding plastic to lower your risk of environmentally triggered cancers.

Autism & Other Developmental Diseases

How do you get autism? The world’s leading autism researchers believe the condition develops from a mix of genes and the pollutants encountered in the mother’s womb and early in life. Many insecticides effectively kill bugs by throwing off normal neurological functioning. That same thing appears to be happening in some children. A 2010 Harvard study found that children with organophosphate pesticide breakdown materials in their urine were far more likely to live with ADHD than kids without the trace pesticide residues.

Prevent it: Switching to an organic diet rapidly eliminates pesticide residues in the body.

Obesity

Some agrochemical pesticides act as hormone disruptors, meaning they act like a fake version of a naturally occurring hormone in your body, they block important hormone communication pathways in the body, or they interfere with your body’s ability to regulate the healthy release of hormones. More than 50 pesticides are classified as hormone disruptors, and some of them promote metabolic syndrome and obesity as they accumulate in your cells, according to 2012 study appearing in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Parkinson’s Disease

More than 60 studies show a connection between pesticides and the neurological disease Parkinson’s, a condition characterized by uncontrolled trembling. The association is strongest for weed- and bug-killing chemical exposures over a long period of time, meaning it’s important to keep these toxic compounds out of your household routine.

Prevent it: Don’t turn to chemical interventions to kill bugs in your home or garden. Instead, use natural pest control measures.

Infertility

Pesticides spell trouble in the baby-making department, thanks to their bad habit of not staying put. For instance, atrazine, a common chemical weed killer used heavily in the Midwest, on Southern sugar cane farms, and on golf courses, has been detected in tap water. Doctors and scientists point to published evidence tying atrazine to increased miscarriage and infertility rates. Other pesticides cause a plunge in male testosterone levels. A 2006 study found chlorpyrifos, a chemical used in nonorganic apple and sweet pepper farming, and carbaryl, a go-to pesticide in strawberry fields and peach orchards, caused abnormally low testosterone levels.

Prevent it: Avoid the worst summer fruit, the kinds most likely to be laced with toxic pesticides. Instead, choose organic grapes, strawberries, and imported plums.

Birth Defects

Babies conceived during the spring and summer months—a time of year when pesticide use is in full swing—face the highest risk of birth defects. During these months, higher pesticide levels turn up in surface waters, increasing a mother’s risk of exposure. Spina bifida, cleft lip, clubfoot, and Down syndrome rates are higher when moms become pregnant during high season for pesticides.

Prevent it: To protect yourself, use a water filter that is certified by NSF International to meet American National Standards Institute Standard 53 for VOC (volatile organic compound) reduction. This will significantly reduce levels of atrazine and other pesticides in your tap water.

via 7 Crazy Things Pesticides Are Doing to Your Body | Rodale News.

Free radicals and antioxidants – those terms everyone throws around…

So what are they?

Your body uses oxygen for numerous metabolic reactions, as well as part of your immune system. (Our bodies use them to attack bacteria and viruses. ) Sometimes when oxygen interacts with different compounds it can become a free radical.

A free radical is a molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons. So what? A molecule wants to have all of it’s orbitals filled – usually each atom in a molecule likes to have 8 electrons or it shares electrons with another atom in the molecule so it’s balanced. So if a molecule has only 7 electrons, it’s going to pull from somewhere else – from another molecule or atom that has a less strong hold on its electrons. Now the first one is stabilized, but the second one is out an electron or two and becomes a free radical. 

An antioxidant is a molecule that give up an electron but then reconfigures to a way that it’s still balanced and doesn’t become a free radical itself.

Free radicals attack fats in our cell membranes and damage our cell functioning. They can also alter DNA, RNA and proteins and increase inflammation. All of this has a big domino effect on the body.

Your body naturally defends against oxidants/free radicals by making enzymes out of the minerals selenium, copper, manganese and zinc. It also uses vitamins like E, beta-cartone and vitamin C. All of these are found in diets high in fruits and veggies.

Simple tips: how to reduce pesticides..

  • Do not select fruits and vegetables that have holes.
  • Trim fat from meat and remove skin (residues concentrates in animal fat)
  • Wash fresh produce in warm water and use a scrub brush
  • Use a knife to peel an orange. Do not bite/push into the peel as you’ll push dirt in
  • Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables
  • Peel waxed fruits and vegetables. Waxes trap pesticide residues
  • Peel vegetables when possible