The Mediterranean Diet? Olive Oil and Longevity

The Mediterranean Diet has gained fame and much has been written about it since its debut circa 1960. Actually, there is no one Mediterranean diet, the diets of southern France, Italy, Spain, and Greece share several characteristics that make this healthy diet what it is today.

What makes this diet so important for our health? Disease statistics and incidence rates show that countries eating the Mediterranean way for centuries have traditionally been on the good side. These countries have reported statistics that have significantly lower death rates from cardiovascular disease than does the United States. Each of these countries also shows only a fraction of the U.S. rates for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. Furthermore, on average, the people of the Mediterranean live about a year longer than U.S. citizens.

What is this diet all about?

CLICK HERE.

Blue Zones in America?

Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solution has revealed that the world’s longest living people have lived lifestyles over the past 100 years that help them and others lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

One of these lifestyles includes their diets.  Buettner’s teams have helped thousands of people lose weight and reverse disease by changing the way they live, eat, and connect with each other. Ultimately, these changes can transform your health and help you live longer.

The basis of this diet at a glance:

  • Rich in “healthy” fats including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vegetables abound; meat is minor.
  • Loads of beneficial herbs.
  • Moderate drinking.
  • Practice of a slower pace of life with a strong social connection.

FYI: There is a new book by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 recipes to live to 100. The information is priceless and the photographs are stunning (provided by David McLain and National Geographic).

CLICK HERE.

The First Thanksgiving?

First the thanks, then the giving

A Brief History of Thanksgiving Foods

“ The turkey is certainly one of the most delightful presents which the New World has made to the Old.”  Brillat Savarin.

Most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods we now eat on this holiday are foods that originated or were Native to the Americas. The word for turkey in French is dinde, short for poulet d’inde since they thought that the turkey came from the West Indies of Columbus days.  The turkey was popular in England before the Pilgrims came in 1620.

Turkeys don’t migrate so they were some of the first Native Americans and were available all year.  Turkeys are easy to hunt – when one is shot, the others freeze in place.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t encourage shooting turkeys – we have lots of wild turkeys here in Western North Carolina. Many times I’ve had to stop and wait until they cross the road.  I once encountered a few hens walking in the woods, followed by a male who wanted to impress them by making a racket and spreading his tail feathers – of course, the “girls” totally ignored him and went on without a nod – I kind of felt sorry for him

Potatoes had reached Europe early in the Columbian Exchange (thanks to Christopher Columbus).  Potatoes had an interesting history – they were native to Peru, a Spanish colony and enemy of England, and went from Peru to Europe and then returned to New Hampshire with Scottish-Irish settlers in 1723.  It is thought that the idea of mashing them with butter and milk also came form Scottish-Irish influence.

Cranberries were native to New England. Cranberries and blueberries were mashed with sour milk and used as paint as well as for food.  To this day, these colors or variations of these colors are used in New England colonial homes.

Many types of squash had reached Europe, but pumpkin was unknown at that time. Pumpkin was used in the early colonies, but did not appear in cookbooks until Amelia Simmons in 1796 wrote the first printed American cookbook.  She referred to it as “pomkin”.  You may prefer pecan pie – and these are also of American origin.  Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents.

Cornbread and sweet potatoes (both being native to the Americas) round out our traditional Thanksgiving fare. Archaeological studies indicate that corn was cultivated in the Americas at least 5600 years ago and American Indians were growing corn long before Europeans landed here. The probable center off origin is the Central American and Mexico region but since the plant is found only under cultivation, no one can be sure.

The sweet potato has a rich history and interesting origin. It is one of the oldest vegetables known to mankind. Scientists believe that the sweet potato was domesticated thousands of years ago in Central America. Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes back home to Europe after his first 1492 voyage. Sweet potatoes spread through Asia and Africa after being introduced in China in the late 16th century.

So as you enjoy your Thanksgiving this year, give thanks to the Americas for our traditional foods that are truly “made in America”.

BTW –Many of the foods we find on our Thanksgiving table today, weren’t  available back when the colonists celebrated the First Thanksgiving in Plymouth.  The first historical descriptions of the first Thanksgiving do not mention turkey – only “wild fowl” (not identified) and five deer.  The party was in 1621 with fifty-one Pilgrim men, women, and children hosting ninety men of the Wampanoag tribe and their chief, Massasoit.  It was in the fall to celebrate the good harvest of corn (wheat and barley weren’t as successful) and lasted three days.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day from Food, Facts & Fads.  SJF

 

The SAD diet: A global approach

When discussing the Standard American Diet, diet advice keep emphasizing what not to eat and ignores the more important aspects of a healthy diet, in other words, what to eat. This article addresses a more detail about how the SAD may be killing us, not only in our country but how it affects other countries when their populations adopt more Western ways of eating and often stray from their traditional diets.

CLICK HERE.

Calling Dr. Kellogg

When in the supermarket, have you noticed lately the extent of the cereal aisle?  How many choices do we need? A lot of people start the day with their favorite. For example, an all-time favorite of Frosted Flakes states on the box – “Sweetened Flakes of Corn Cereal.” but also contains wheat starch. But what else do we find?

First we see that primarily, 1/1/4 cup serving provides us with:

  • No fat or cholesterol (that’s fine)
  • Total Carbohydrate: 37 g. (eh)
  • Of that there are 0 grams of fiber and 15 grams of added  Sugars (not so good)
  • They also throw in a few milligrams of iron,  70% percent thiamine, and 10% each of niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid  and zinc – that’s about it.

They do provide some entertainment on the box with a fun game of FIND A PENGUIN FRIEND (sort of a take off of Where’s Waldo.) if you get bored eating the cereal.

How did all this begin? In other words, how did we get here?

CALLING DR. KELLOGG

By Sally J. Feltner, M.S, PhD.

John Harvey Kellogg was born in 1852 in Tyrone, Michigan and died at the age of 91 in Battle Creek, Michigan He was a medical doctor and graduated from New York University Medical College at Bellevue Hospital in 1875. He married Ella Ervilla Eaton in 1879 and had no biological children except for 42 foster children, legally adopting eight of them before Ella died in 1920. He had one brother, Will Keith Kellogg.

After medical school, he became the chief physician in 1866 at the Western Heath Reform Institute of Battle Creek, founded by the Seventh Day Adventist leader, Ellen G. White. This soon became the Battle Creek Sanitarium, aka “the San” and its health principles were based on the Church including vegetarianism. Through the years, the San had many notable patients/guests that included former President, William Howard Taft, arctic explorers Stefansson and Amundsen, writer and broadcaster, Lowell Thomas, aviator Amelia Earhart, playwright George Bernard Shaw, athlete Johnny Weissmuller, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and actress Sarah Bernhardt.

Dr. Kellogg believed that almost all disease began in the stomach and bowels and promoted daily yogurt enemas to clean the intestines. He also encouraged his guests to practice breathing exercises and mealtime marches to promote proper digestion during the day. He strongly believed in nuts which he thought would save mankind in the face of decreasing food supplies and developed a patent for making peanut butter. He also thought that coffee was unhealthy for the liver and that indigestion was the leading cause of death. Most spices were unhealthy and vinegar was a “poison, not a food.”

While a medical student in New York in 1874-75, Kellogg began to be aware of the need for ready-cooked foods, at least ready-to-eat cereals. As part of the “Sans” menu, Kellogg and brother Will made several grain products by forcing wheat grain through rollers to make sheets of dough. One time, the dough seemed overcooked and the dough when flattened emerged as a flake. After this, the sanitarium became famous for its wheat and corn flakes. Many guests had complained that the hard biscuits they served had played havoc with their teeth, so the invention of the flake alleviated this issue.

Kellogg believed that most disease is alleviated by a change in intestinal flora; that bacteria in the intestines can either help or hinder the body; that pathogenic bacteria produce toxins during the digestion of protein that poison the blood; that a poor diet favors harmful bacteria that can infect other tissues of the body; that the intestinal flora is changed by diet and is generally changed for the better by a well-balanced vegetarian diet favoring low-protein and high fiber foods. Ironically, the theory that intestinal bacteria influence some disease states is gaining favor recently – maybe Kellogg was correct to a point.

By 1905, the Kellogg brothers were selling their corn flakes under the name of the Sanitas Company and had competition from a number of other companies in Battle Creek. One of his former patients, C. W. Post had started his own cereal company and Kellogg accused Post of stealing his corn flake formula. Will Kellogg wanted to add sugar to their cereals, but Dr. Kellogg disagreed with him. C.W. Post added sugar to his cereal however. Will left the Sanitarium and started the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906. The brothers had a strained relationship over business dealings in which Will sued his older brother. The case lasted for most of the rest of their lives with Will eventually winning the suit.

John Harvey continued to run the San but due to the Depression, it was sold. He did establish another health institute in Florida.

So this is a brief history of the vast ready-to-eat cereal industry we presently enjoy. Lately there has been a recommendation to lower our sugar intake and cereals are often named as “culprits.” Even though Dr. Kellogg was often thought of as eccentric in his beliefs, his thoughts on adding sugar to his corn flakes may have been prudent and Tony the Tiger would not be in so much trouble today with its added sugar content.

I wonder what John Harvey would think now.