How much sugar?

We know in times like these, our sugar intake is the last concern on our minds. In fact, we may be eating more of it due  to stress and discontent of our current environment.   But when this horrible pandemic is over, we have to try to get back to improving our diets as much as possible to make up for lost time. Here is a good article about sugar intake that is in reality reasonable and informative in general about the glycemic index, fructose, and artificial sweeteners and processed foods.

CLICK HERE.

Dining Through the Decades: 1910’s

This is the second post of the ongoing Food History Dining Through the Decades series.  I hope to make them as factual as possible; sources are given when available.  Food is a fascinating topic when we can appreciate what came before us in many ways that sometimes reflects the origins of our food supply that exist currently. Enjoy!!

During  this decade, the world saw the beginnings of scientific discoveries that  evolved primarily due to dietary deficiencies that could be  cured by the consumption of unknown vitamins and minerals.

The 1910s also saw the beginning of the proliferation of processed foods. In just 10 years, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Oreo cookies, Crisco, Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice, Marshmallow Fluff Nathan’s hot dogs and Kellogg’s and C.W. Post made an entry into the food culture.

A death knell sounded in January 1919, when the Eighteenth Amendment — otherwise known as Prohibition — was ratified and scheduled to go into effect on January 16, 1920.

Pellagra: A Story from Medical History

In the early 1900’s, mental hospitals in the Southeastern U.S. treated many patients with dementia caused by a disease named pellagra. At that time, it was thought that an infectious agent or toxin caused the disease. Symptoms of a deficiency included skin rash, weakness, and mouth sores. When not treated, pellagra can lead to what is called the 4 D’s: depression, dementia, dermatitis, and death.

The disease was first noticed in Europe around 1720 and coincidentally during that time, corn or maize was beginning to be imported from the Americas to Europe where it was grown in many areas. Some physicians from Spain noticed that the disease may be associated with corn-based diets; others stuck to to the toxin theory and spent many years searching for its origin with no success.

A major epidemic occurred in the early decades of the 1900’s in the Southeast U.S. that prompted the government to begin a series of pellagra studies. By 1928, the epidemic peaked with the number of cases reaching 7,000 deaths. One of the investigators was Dr. Joseph Goldberger who believed that diet played a role.

To show that the disease was not caused by a toxin, Goldberger and 15 others including his wife, voluntarily drank or injected themselves with blood, urine, feces and skin cells from pellagra patients and no illness occurred. They later put these materials in capsules.

It was observed that the disease struck people who ate diets were mainly of corn meal, salt pork, lard and molasses. When given meat, eggs and milk, the disease rates became less prevalent.  Goldberger did just that in an experiment with volunteer prisoners. When most of the prisoners suffered from pellagra on the deficient diet, Goldberger concluded that the diet was the culprit and could be cured by what he called a “P-P factor.” More than 30 years later, an American biochemist, Conrad Elvehjem finally proved that the P-P factor was nicotinic acid, commonly known as the B vitamin,  niacin.

The B vitamins consist of eight distinct vitamins that help cells function optimally. Many Americans, especially the elderly, don’t meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for three of them: B6, B12, and folic acid. Years ago, these deficiencies were a common cause of death.

Have you ever wondered why they add B vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine) to flour, refined bread and pastas? Not until 1936, did the Council on Foods and Nutrition of the American Medical Association recommended the fortification of food. This led to the voluntary enrichment of flour with the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin) and iron. This resulted in a decrease in deaths from pellagra of over 3,000 in 1938 to only about 1500 in 1943. Then mandatory enrichment in most states further decreased the death rate to nearly zero by1954.

How quickly we forget how severe a nutritional deficiency disease can become. Other deficiency diseases from B vitamins alone in the early days of refining flour included beriberi from a thiamine deficit and ariboflavinosis from a lack of riboflavin. Thanks to early nutrition research, we now are free at least in developed countries of these highly preventable deficiency diseases.

Source: Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications, Third Edition. Pellagra: Infectious Disease or Dietary Deficiency? p 339.

Park, Y.K., Sampos, C. T., Barton, C.N. et al. Effectiveness of food fortification in the United States. The case of pellagra. Am. J. Public Health 90:727-738, 2000.

Food on The Titanic – The Last Dinner

The ship boasted elegant cafes and opulent dining saloons equal to the finest restaurants in the civilized world. “Its main galley prepared more than 6,000 meals a day.  Its other galleys included a butcher shop; a bakery; vegetable kitchens; specialized rooms for silver and china; rooms for wines, beer and oysters; and huge storage bins for the tons of coal needed to fuel the 19 ovens, cooking tops, ranges and roasters.

First class and second-class passengers were served delicious delicacies in up to 13 courses with different wines that could last four or five hours. The third-class meals featured items such as hearty stews, vegetable soup, roast pork with sage and onions, boiled potatoes, currant buns, biscuits and freshly baked bread with plum pudding and oranges which may also have been appealing, especially for those who worked as employees and staff.”

On April 10, 1912, RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage, headed for New York City. Four days into the journey, at about 11:40 p.m. on April 14, Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The force of the impact ruptured the hull, filling the ship’s interior with some 39,000 tons of icy seawater before it plunged under the surface. The ship sank in less than three hours at 2:20 a.m., April 15th. The Carpathia picked up the last of the 711 survivors by 8:00 p.m.; 1490 people died. “All the kitchen staff died except for a 17-year-old cook. He was helping a woman carry a child and was swept overboard when the ship went under. Later, he was picked up by a lifeboat.” (

So what did Titanic’s passengers eat hours before their “unsinkable” ship met its tragic end? From a recovered evening menu for the first-class passenger dated April 14, 1912:

Raw Oysters and assorted hors d’oeuvres

Consommé Olga (veal stock soup flavored with sturgeon marrow) or Cream of Barley soup

Poached Atlantic Salmon with Mousseline Sauce

A choice of:

Filet Mignon Lili or Saute of Chicken Lyonnaise

A choice of:

Lamb with Mint Sauce or Roast Duckling with Applesauce or Sirloin of Beef with Chateau Potatoes

A choice of:

Roast Duckling with Applesauce or Sirloin of Beef with Chateau Potatoes.

Side dishes included creamed carrots, boiled rice and green peas, and boiled new potatoes.

Midway through this epic meal, a palate cleanser known as “punch romaine” was served, made with wine, rum and champagne.

The sumptuous array then resumed with roast squab with cress, cold asparagus vinaigrette and pâté de foie gras.

Dessert choices included peaches in chartreuse jelly, chocolate and vanilla éclairs, Waldorf pudding and French ice cream. Next, an assortment of fruits, nuts and cheeses was presented, followed by coffee, port, cigars and cordials.

The first-class passengers, then congregated in the smoking room or in the elegant, horseshoe-shaped reception room, where the ship’s orchestra played a selection of light classical and popular music until 11 p.m. According to accounts – on the night of the tragedy, the band played on until the survivors had embarked on life boats.

Source:    Suzanne Evans – History Channel

Source:  Linda Civetllo Cuisine and Culture, 2nd Edition, p 291

World War 1, Rationing and Liberty Dogs

World War I had an interesting effect on American food. The United States joined World War 1 in 1917. The war wasn’t popular (what war is) and was a problem for immigrants. The war was complicated. According to food historian, Linda Civitello, “The Irish hated the British and the Jews objected to Russia, both allies of America. America had a large population of German-speaking citizens and those of German descent and Germany was the enemy, so Americans turned against hot dogs and sauerkraut but they would eat “Liberty hotdogs,” and Liberty cabbage. They bought Liberty bonds, and Liberty gardens. Italian immigrants were not favored either until Italy switched sides midway during the war. Then, Italian food became a popular food of an ally.”

Source: Linda Civitello, Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People, Second Edition, p. 293.

President Herbert Hoover encouraged voluntary cuts on beef and wheat needed by the U.S. and allied troops in Europe. Initially, there was no organized rationing at first, except for wholesale purchases of sugar. Rationing started in January 1918 and affected sugar, meat and butter.

Vegetable gardens encouraged home canning and drying, home baking; cooks used molasses instead of sugar. A new product called Crisco became a substitute for lard and peanut butter was used as a protein substitute for meat.

American began to learn about calories, proteins, carbohydrates and the importance of using fruits and vegetables. They were persuaded to eat less if it did not harm their health. Perhaps that is a lesson we should learn today.

Americans got their first taste of meatless meals and got used to bean loaf instead of meat loaf. Meatless days became the norm but as expected, this sometimes led to inflation, panic, hoarding and black-market sales.

“On November 11, 1918, World War I ended in an armistice. “Hunger does not breed reform; it breeds madness,” said President Wilson in his Armistice Day address to Congress. All food regulations were suspended in the United States but remained in effect in Britain and Europe for several months thereafter.”

Source: The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press, Edited by Andrew F. Smith. 2007.

The Supermarket

Self-serve supermarkets were introduced in 1912 in California. Instead of having to give a list to a grocery clerk who then proceeded to gather the items from the back of the store, customers could shop the aisles themselves. Stores such as A&P had a thousand items (now we have at least 30,000). The Alpha Beta Food Market and Ward’s Groceteria were soon followed by Mercantile’s Humpty Dumpty Stores. The A&P had at its base 500 stores and will open a new store every 3 days for the next 3 years as it stops providing charge accounts and free delivery and bases its growth on one-man “economy” stores that operate on a cash-and -carry basis.

Produce ads in the 1910s highlighted point of origin (California figs, Florida oranges, Jersey tomatoes, Baltimore beans, Maine Sugar Corn, Ceylon Tea). Today we hardly know where they come from. The processed food industry continued to greatly expand with Hellman’s mayonnaise, Oreo cookies, Crisco, Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice, Marshmallow Fluff and Nathan’s hot dogs.

Source: The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Oxford University Press. Edited by Andrew Smith, 2007.

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, Michael Ruhlman, Abrams Press, 2017

The Century in Food: America’s Fads and Favorites/Beverly Bundy

 

Expanding Waistlines/The First Diet Book

In spite of food rationing later in the decade, a new trend was beginning – expanded waistlines. Over-indulgence that began in the first part of the decade continued with the upper-class menus still abundant in meats, shellfish, pȃte and mousses. It was readily accepted that plumpness was chic before World War I. Even the president of that time, William H. Taft was a hefty 300 pounds. There was no doubt that his favorite meal, Lobster Newburg contributed to his waistline.

Needless to say, the first diet book was published in 1918, written by Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters entitled Diet and Health with a Key to the Calorie. Dr. Peters recommended that we all should count calories our entire life. Coincidentally, the Continental Scale Company produces the first bathroom scale name the “Health-O-Meter” in 1919. 

 

Mr. Peanut

George Washington Carver, born a slave right before the start of the Civil War was an American agricultural scientist and inventor. He actively promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion. He was the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.

While a professor at Tuskegee Institute in 1915, Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. He wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops such as as a source of their own food and to improve their quality of life. The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes using peanuts. Although he spent years developing and promoting numerous products made from peanuts, none became commercially successful. He received numerous honors for his work, including the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP. In an era of high racial polarization, his fame reached beyond the black community. He was widely recognized and praised in the white community for his many achievements and talents. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a “Black Leonardo”. Wikipedia.

Tidbits and Trivia Timeline

Mazola salad and cooking oil – the first corn oil available for home consumption-is introduced by the Corn Products Refining Co. This will open the door for the many vegetable oils we have today that dominate the market with promises of health benefits, i.e. reduced heart disease rates. 1911

Crisco introduced by Proctor and Gamble is the first solid hydrogenated shortening. The marketing described their product as a “Scientific Discovery Which Will Affect Every Kitchen in America.” What was not known was that this process could have far-reaching  anti-health effects that could affect every American’s health. 1911

Large-scale pasta production begins in the United States by an Italian-American pasta maker, Vincent La Rosa in Brooklyn, NY. Until then most pasta had been imported from Naples but ceased with the onset of World War I. 1914

70% of Americans are using lard for cooking and baking. Butter consumption is still high; and the mortality rate from heart disease is below 10%. 1914

The first electric refrigeration is introduced for commercial use, but it wasn’t until after World War I that they became more available for home use. Lettuce, asparagus, watermelons, cantaloupes, and tomatoes grown in California’s irrigated fields are transported 3,000 miles away in refrigerated rail cars bringing a lot more variety to the consumer. 1914 

Large-scale pasta production begins in the United States by an Italian-American pasta maker, Vincent La Rosa in Brooklyn, NY. Until then most pasta had been imported from Naples but ceased with the onset of World War I. 1914

U.S. per capita consumption of white granulated sugar reaches a level twice what it was in 1880 as Americans give up molasses and brown sugar in favor of white sugar. 1915

A mechanical home refrigerator is marketed for the first time in the U.S., but its $900 price tag discourages buyers, who can buy a good motorcar for the same money. 1916

Yale biochemists Lafayette Benedict Mendel and B. Cohen show that guinea pigs cannot develop vitamin C and fall prey to scurvy even more easily than do humans. 1918

U.S. ice cream sales reach 150 million gallons, up from 30 million in 1909.  1919

E.V. McCollum discovers a substance in cod-liver oil at Johns Hopkins that can cure rickets and xerophthalmia. Xerophthalmia is an abnormal dryness  of the eye membranes and cornea that can lead to blindness. The substance will later be called vitamin D. 1920

Bon Appetit!

 

Dining Through the Decades: 1900’s

Dining Through the Decades: 1900’s

No matter who we are or where we live, our lives revolve around food – a major part of our culture and traditions. This post is the first of a series that attempts to  briefly describe some of the major food-related events that occurred during each decade of 20th century America.

Just a sampling of some of the questions raised in future posts:

  • What was the first fast food restaurant?
  • What was  the first supermarket like?
  • Why is it  called a Caesar  Salad?
  • What was a victory garden?
  • Where was the first pizzaria?
  • How did the 1950’s change our food culture?

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

How Cereal Changed the American Breakfast

John Harvey Kellogg was born in 1852 in Tyrone, Michigan and died at the age of 91 in Battle Creek, Michigan He graduated from New York University Medical College at Bellevue Hospital in 1875. He had one brother, Will Keith Kellogg.

He eventually became the director of the  Battle Creek Sanitarium, aka “the San” and its health principles were based on the Seventh Adventist 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.

Where Did Corn Flakes Come From?

While a medical student, Kellogg began to be aware of the need for 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.

Patients at the “San” loved the new cereal flakes, which Dr. Kellogg called Granose (a combination of “grain” and the scientific suffix “ose,”or metabolism). Will Kellogg, meanwhile, saw the opportunity to market the flakes to ordinary people looking for a light, healthy breakfast.

After years of growing conflicts with his brother—Will bought the rights to the flake cereal recipe and struck out on his own, founding the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906. Adding malt, sugar and salt to the dough, he began manufacturing Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in mass quantities. The rooster mascot on Kellogg’s cereal boxes is used because Will liked that the Welsh word for “rooster” (ceiliog) that sounded like his last name, Kellogg.

By 1909 Will’s company was churning out 120,000 cases of Corn Flakes a day. John Kellogg, who resented his brother’s success, later fought him for the right to use the family name. The resulting legal battle ended in 1920, when the Michigan State Supreme Court ruled in Will’s favor, due to his success at popularizing his now-ubiquitous product.

How cereal changed breakfast forever

By the time Will Kellogg entered the market, others had already begun to capitalize on the general public’s appetite for cereal. Among the most successful was C. W. Post, a one-time patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium who adapted Kellogg’s cereal recipe into his own mass-produced version, Grape-Nuts, to tremendous success. A cut-throat competitor to Kellogg, Post even bought exclusive rights to manufacture the cereal-rolling machine needed in the cereal production process—equipment that Will Kellogg originally helped design.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad in the late 19th century created a mass market for Kellogg, Post and other newly recognizable packaged-food brands to ply their wares. Despite the sometimes outrageous claims made in their advertising (Post, for instance, claimed that Grape-Nuts cured everything from rickets to malaria), the growing variety of brand-name companies promised a certain level of quality and uniformity, especially as Americans began to consume processed foods in mass quantities for the first time.

With their irresistible combination of health claims and convenience, combined with the unique circumstances of the historical moment in which they emerged, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and other cereals would have a revolutionary impact on the American breakfast. “It was so easy compared to any other kind of breakfast,” you open a box, dump it in a bowl, pour some milk on it. You really can’t get much easier than that in the morning.” manufacturers said. Just look at the cereal aisle in the supermarket.

Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell

Before our more recent obesity epidemic occurred, weight gain did not seem to be on the minds of most people in 1900. Actually, increased body weight was associated with success, i.e., the plumper, the richer and more successful you were. In the 1900’s prosperity and wealth was envied, and America had an appetite for everything including food.

The phrase “Gilded Age” appears in the later 19th century and is often accompanied by pictures of obese men with bulging stomach over evening clothes draped with gold chains. Of them all, none was more flamboyant than the grand gourmand of his era, Diamond Jim Brady.  Diamond’s feeding bouts are the topic of legend, especially when he dined with his platonic friend, the incomparable American beauty and popular stage actress, Lillian Russell.

“Diamond Jim Brady”s  breakfast was eggs, breads, muffins, grits, pancakes, steaks, chops, fried potatoes, and a pitcher of orange juice.  For a snack midmorning, he ate two or three dozen oysters. His lunch (usually at New York’s Delmonicos was more oysters, clams, lobsters, a joint of meat, pie and more orange juice. Dinner was the main event with more oysters (three dozen), six or seven lobsters, terrapin soup, a steak, coffee, a tray of pastries, and two pounds of candy. Russell could and sometimes match him dish for dish, after shedding her corset . (The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink)

“The couple was not alone in their conspicuous display of caloric consumption. The New York Riding Club hosted a “horse dinner” in the fourth-floor ballroom of Louis Sherry’s restaurant. Horses were brought to the room in freight elevators, hitched to a large dining table, and fed oats while their riders ate fourteen-course dinners and sipped champagne out of bottles stashed in the saddle bags.”  The Century in Food: America’s Fads and Favorites, 2002, Beverly Bundy, pg 6.

Mr. Diamond died at age fifty-six, his stomach was said to be six times larger than the average man’s. Fittingly, he left the bulk of his estate to Johns Hopkins University.” Ms. Russell weighed 200 lbs. and died at age 61. By the way, it is said that she also smoked 500 cigars a month.

The Jungle

Upton Sinclair noticed all was not well with the meatpacking industry. He spent seven weeks in the largest meat center in Chicago listening to stories of the workers, touring several plants and seeing for himself what went on to describe what horrors went on behind closed doors.  He published his accounts in his famous book, The Jungle in 1906. Although his intent was to give a fictionalized account of a Lithuanian immigrant’s struggles for years to survive in this industry, it was his descriptions of meat that concerned most Americans. They were shocked to learn the details of how cattle and hogs were being sliced into beef and pork and by how much condemned meat was entering our food supply by describing meat filled storage rooms teeming with rats.

Condemned meat was doused with Borax and glycerin, recolored with other chemicals and sold. As for the workers., beef – boners suffered knife wounds, pluckers had to handle acid treated wool and had their fingers slowly burned off. Men would sometimes fall into vats of lard and “they will be overlooked for days until all but the bones of them had gone out as the product called Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard.” wrote Sinclair.

Four months after the jungle was published, Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act, establishing sanitary standards and the Pure Food and Drug Act, which required labeling of food and empowered federal inspectors to prosecute plant owners.  There the laws were not often enforced but were the beginning of a safer meat industry. However, there is still much work to be done to guarantee the safety of our food supply.

The Candy Man

Of course, we all love chocolate but the man behind it was Milton Hershey.  He observed the mass production of solid chocolate at the 1893 Worlds’ Colombian Exposition, and by 1902, the Hershey Chocolate Company was born. This brought to the general public a once-luxurious product only available to the wealthy classes.

Milton Hershey bought property in Pennsylvania and by 1904, chocolate production was in full force. His signature nickel chocolatle bar in spite of its gradually increased size, remained a nickel in price from its inception to 1969.  In 1907, chocolate kisses appeared wrapped in foil and tissue papers that emblazoned the company name and are still popular today. His original property was purchased for $1000 dollars in cash that included chocolate making equipment and he quickly went to work to build his own factory where his first sales netted $622,000 in profit.  In 1906, The property then expanded to become the town of Hershey, PA. Hershey helped to lay out the town to include streets named Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Ave. By 1906, he had several hundred workers on staff. Presently, the company has expanded to include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Twizzlers, Good & Plenty, and Milk Duds.

Bon Appetit, September 1999; The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink

The Automat

Horn and Hardart can be credited with starting the first fast food establishment in America.

At the turn of the century, a company called Horn and Hardart purchased a new Swiss invention called the “waiterless restaurant.” A newer more efficient model was designed that had glass doors opened by a knob. The customer would walk down a wall of these doors, select a hot or cold food item, insert a nickel, and turn the knob. Then a door would spring open for the customer to receive his/her selection.  In the back, a team of women kept the slots filled with food.

Horn and Hardart opened its first Automat in NYC in 1912. The atmosphere was elegant with two-story stained-glass windows and elaborate carvings on the ceilings. By 1932, 46 had opened in Philadelphia besides 42 operating in NYC.  In the 1980’s most of the automats were converted to Burger Kings and the last Automat closed in Philadelphia in 1990. One year later, the last one closed in NYC.

Before the automat disappeared completely, a 35-foot section of an ornate Automat wall with mirrors and marble was installed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

NEXT SERIES: DINING THROUGH THE DECADES: 1910’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutrition News in Brief

 

Drinking Tea and Healthy Brains

Tea has been a popular beverage since antiquity dating back to the dynasty of Shen Nong (2700 BC). Drinking tea has become increasingly popular in western countries today. It is assumed that the types of tea were both black and green teas; however, this was not designated in the abstract below.

A study from the journal Aging reported that drinking tea was associated with a healthy brain.

Method: The current study compared 15 tea drinkers aged 60 and older to 21 people in the same age group who did not regularly consume tea.

The researchers gave neuropsychological tests to the participants that evaluated cognitive function and used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess brain connectivity.

Results and Conclusion

The tea-drinking group had better organized brain regions and cognitive functions compared to those in the group who were not tea drinkers.

The authors stated: “Our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organization.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Blueberry Intake May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a lower risk of cardiovascular disease among men and women with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of a cup of blueberries daily for six months. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of health risks, including high blood pressure, altered blood lipids, high blood glucose and a large waist circumference, that increases the chance of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes type 2.

Method: A total of 138 individuals were randomized into groups that were given either 26 grams of powdered blueberries  (equivalent to a cup of fresh blueberries), 13 grams of powdered blueberries plus 1/2 cup of a mock blueberry placebo, or 26 grams of the placebo.

Insulin resistance, flow mediated dilatation (a measure of endothelial function), augmentation index (which measures artery stiffness), cholesterol and other factors were measured before and after the intervention. Endothelium refers to the cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels in the body as well as the lymphatic vessels

Results: The researchers observed an improvement in endothelial function and arterial stiffness in the group that received 26 grams of blueberry powder.

Conclusion: The authors stated: “The simple and attainable message to consume one cup of blueberries daily to consume one cup of blueberries daily should be given to those aiming to improve their cardiovascular health.”

 

 

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Processed Food: Are We Addicted?

The following post may explain in part the possibility of food addiction, a highly controversial topic especially when it comes to processed foods.

Perhaps it is best explained by this excerpt from Michael Moss, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

” The blood gets especially besieged when processed food is ingested, flooding the system with its heavy loads of salt, sugar, and fat…, there, narcotics and food…act much alike. Once ingested, they race along the same pathways, using the same neurological circuity to reach the brain’s pleasure zones, those areas that reward us with enjoyable feelings for doing the right thing by our bodies. Or, as the case may be, for doing what the brain has been led to believe is the right thing.”

The following link provides us with a video (suggested (13 min.) and the text of a recent TED talk. Interesting analysis.

CLICK HERE.

The Standard American Diet: SAD Realities

The American Plate

When the truth is addressed, we really do not know much about nutrition science,  especially its physiological influences on our health. This dilemma results in the ongoing debates about just what is a healthy diet. In reality, nutrition is an infant science that has been ignored by some who feel  it is relatively an unimportant  factor on our health issues.

Doctors do not help the situation – most will admit that they never received much education about how the diet can affect heath parameters. My own doctor never mentioned the fact that even though I had lost 20 pounds intentionally since my last visit, he never asked me any particulars about the diet that got me there. One would think that he might have inquired if  the weight loss was not intentional, therefore indicating a health problem. He also never mentioned the resulting  lab value changes, primarily total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglyceride, blood glucose, blood pressure values that had improved with the dietary changes I had made on my own.

But most people are not aware of how diet can affect our heath (the emphasis has been only on weight loss).  When doctors don’t  mention it, patients do not receive the        proper information on diet interventions. For example, if their total cholesterol is too high, they are told to eat a low cholesterol, low fat diet (outdated advice) and/or placed on a statin drug.  Nutrition science has come a long way since those days from a couple of decades ago. The prudent way would be to give diet a chance. Diet advice is abundant on the internet. However, you should be careful about some of it – look for help from certified nutritionists (Registered dietitians or others with certification from a health coach program, for example.)

The following article written by Reinoud Schuijers explains quite well the problems with the Standard American Diet (SAD)  as the three “assassins” – refined vegetable oils, sugar and grains. He seems to follow a keto-type diet; however, research has not yet fully investigated the long-term effects of this highly restrictive plan.

Take charge of your own heath and encourage your doctor to help you take the path to healthy lifestyles. The internet is teeming with diet advice, but use it wisely. In my opinion (contrary to the following article) it may help to consult with a certified dietitian or certified health coach). But you don’t need to follow complicated meal plans – the best diet is one you form based on your lifestyle and food preferences. Say away from highly restrictive plans, fads and detoxification schemes as well as diet pills.

CLICK HERE.

Processed Food: How Much Do We Really Eat?

 

According to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Sao Paolo, almost 60% of the calories Americans consume each day comes from ultra-processed food.

All foods are processed to some extent. The main problem in the Standard American Diet (SAD), is the high percentage of ultra-processed foods.

What is an ultra-processed food?  It’s foods that contain additives like food coloring, synthetic coloring, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, chemicals that give food texture, as well as taboo additives like partially hydrogenated oils. Ultra-processed foods are also typically high in sodium, sugar, and calories. Just  read the ingredient list on the food labels (if you have time) and you will soon realize many of these additives are currently in our food supply.

CLICK HERE.

The Simple Way to Eat?

Was a new diet part of your 2020 resolutions?  Great, but forget the new fads, diet pills, and starvation deprivation. There are many of the old diets still around- keto, paleo, Whole 30, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig to mention a few.  Just look at the magazine covers at the supermarket checkout – keto seems to have taken over all the others. The keto diet is quite restrictive, difficult to maintain and the long-term effects are not known. There is little evidence that  this type of restriction, although shown to be effective for weight loss, may not be a lifestyle choice for most people. Is there a better way? In my opinion, yes. The best diet is one you can live with and with a few adjustments compatible with the foods you choose. The best diet is one that with a little guidance and knowledge, is decided by you.

The following article is worth looking at if you want a simple approach.  All you need is a plate, a bottle of water, real food and of course, your commitment. And even better, this plan lets you be in control in following a reasonable and evidence-based plan that can fit easily into your lifestyle.

The article speaks for itself and provides a few links to add to the basics, i.e. some things you need to know like a guide to non-starchy vegetables. Oh, you may have to give up fast food and processed foods for a while. But, you may be glad when you realize that you will feel a lot better (and healthier) and the effort will be well worth it.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to say that weight loss itself is easy – it ‘s hard work but worth it when your goals are either weight loss or just changing to a healthier lifestyle.    That is why this plan is appealing. it is straightforward and makes sense.

So join the new “non-diet” approach that will help you lose some pounds but even better, eating for health. That is what eating should be about, not body image, eating disorders and food restriction. Learning how to eat rather than  just what to eat  is the answer (my opinion). ENJOY!!

One more thing – Always consult a registered dietitian, certified nutritionist, and your primary physician to discuss any dietary change to make sure it is nutrient dense. Also make sure you have no underlying medical problems like high cholesterol, hypertension, pre-diabetes, diabetes or digestive issues, for example.

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Weight Loss: What are the Realities?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

People have been dieting for centuries and the best advice from the so-called experts or fad diet enthusiasts still tell us to – “eat less and move more”.  This in itself is good advice but does not even begin to offer what is needed to keep that weight off and save you from the diet cycle of weight gain, loss, gain, loss cycles. There would not be billions of dollars spent trying to lose body weight over and over again for millions of people.  My own experience with weight loss has been limited fortunately most of my adult life due to not having to diet. But there was a price. More specifically, I was on a continuous reducing diet my whole life to prevent weight gain in the first place.  I remember weighing  94 pounds at a height of 5 ‘ 5 inches tall.  But as a nutrition student, I knew that was not a healthy weight by any account and being in a “starvation” mode for a lifetime is not the way to go.

Eventually as I got older and put on a few unwanted pounds, I finally did “go on my first formal diet” a few years ago. Specifically it was a low carbohydrate diet and it worked slowly but consistently. But it did take a lot of hard work. I have now kept that weight off for the past few years.

But every woman at any weight wants to lose those “last five pounds” and I am one of them. But did I ever learn a lot how our bodies fight against weight loss in order to prevent what it perceives as starvation. So now I know what hard work it is. So many diet programs try to make it seem easy and all it does for a lot of people is to make them feel guilty for not succeeding after each attempt. So here are some truths.

Some basics:

Only about 1/3 of dieters are successful at maintaining their loss. Chronic dieters know it takes vigilance and for some weight maintenance is harder to accomplish than the actual loss.

Weight maintenance requires continued modification of your lifestyle – you cannot let yourself go back into the old habits that caused the weight gain in  the first place.

Some people relax their vigilance too much after they lose the weight, then gain it right back. You can relax a little, but not too much.

You will be tempted by certain foods and certain situations – moderation is the best approach to keep in mind in those difficult situations. Diets are not just about the kinds of foods we eat, but how we eat.

Successful Losers/Maintainers (From The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) of people who have lost at least 60 pounds and kept it off for a minimum of five years). This is what they have found to be successful from their weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

  • Write your food intake down. Keep a journal or visit MyFitnessPal to help you track your typical food intake. This is a must – it is so easy to forget what you ate yesterday or how many snacks you mindlessly consumed.
  • Most losers follow low fat diets and more recently I would suspect low refined carbohydrates,  no gimmicks, special diet foods, or magic pills. Most simply do not work.
  • Exercise daily – walking is most popular and it should be scheduled into your day like brushing your teeth. About an hour a day is practiced by NWCR members.
  • Eat breakfast – all the research supports this, so intermittent fasting was not much of a factor.
  • Weigh in regularly. This advice goes against many experts who say “stay away from the scale”. However, in my opinion, this tool is necessary to see if you are gaining a few pounds, you can then make some adjustments to your diet to get back to your intended goal weight. You be the judge on scale use – if it helps you stay on track, use it.

The bottom line: The longer you keep the weight off, the easier it becomes to maintain the loss. It becomes more of a part of your lifestyle and not just considered a “diet”.  If you can make it for two years, you’re more than likely to become successful. The practice of intuitive eating (mindful) can help dieters keep their weight off – it  teaches you to think of food in an entirely different way. Why repeat the old habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Future posts will address intuitive eating more thoroughly. It’s worth it to know especially for maintaining your lost weight.

For now, the basic principles can be  thought of as:

MODIFICATION

 MODERATION

MINDFULNESS

MANAGEMENT

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