Monthly Archives: January 2018

Surfing the Wave of the Wellness Trend


So many new choices at the farmers market, the natural food store & even the grocery store. They have all joined in on what is referred to as the Wellness Trend. 

In this article from the BBC: What’s Really Driving the Boom in Wellness Foods By Elizabeth Hotson, “investigates what wellness devotees are buying into.” the author writes about the “buzz words” & the businesses that are catering to this trend. I agree with this article that Wellness is an umbrella term for many fads & that it isn’t going away. Are you surfing the wellness trend looking for the quick fix & longevity? Or are you looking for a healthier diet & lifestyle.

The new year always brings thoughts of a “new you”, a healthier lifestyle. Last week I discussed the diets from: U.S. News Reveals Best Diets Rankings for 2018  Once you decide on which diet works for you, you then shop accordingly; trying to choose the healthiest food options for that diet. Businesses have capitalized on the “new you” idea by bringing out a confusing array of new products to entice us. They are not always the healthiest choices. 

This article from Fortune is an example of what people are buying into. This Is the Controversial Ingredient Inside the New Diet Coke Flavors  Coke is coming up with more flavors & more ways to make it’s diet drinks taste like original coke. They are tapping into a part of the wellness trend for dieters who want an easy, quick fix for losing weight. We have already discussed the pitfalls of drinking diet coke, one of which is weight gain!

It isn’t just about the drink itself, it is the attitude that since you drank a zero calorie soda it negates the hamburger & fries you are eating with it. It is also about the sugar substitutes they are using. Are they safe or not. It depends on which study you look at. My thought is always to eat as close to the natural food source as possible. Aspartame & its friends are not natural food sources.

Kambucha was mentioned in the first article. It has been popular as a health drink in the U.S. since the 90’s. Kambucha has been around for over 2,000 years. It started in China & was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. It has been brewed in Russia, Japan & Eastern Europe for centuries. 

It got a bad rap in the U.S. when people were becoming ill & several deaths were attributed to it. These medical problems occurred with homemade kambucha. Kambucha is a fermented product made from yeast, sugar & black tea. If it is not fermented properly it can grow harmful bacteria. But when produced correctly it is a healthy drink. 

If you are a Kambucha aficionado then this article in Forbes is a must read. Kombucha 101: Demystifying The Past, Present And Future Of The Fermented Tea Drink by Christina Troitino , Feb. 1, 2017  It includes it’s history, how it is brewed, & recent studies on it’s health benefits.

New vegetarians, vegans & even flexatarians rely on soy products to help them adjust. Soy is in everything from supplements to nut milks. Tempeh, Miso & edamame beans are the best soy choices. Tofu is processed but there are brands that use sprouted soy beans & some that are not as processed as others. Soy is healthy but only in moderate amounts. 

Because of the wellness trend, there are now some really good healthy choices that are not soy based. 

EcoWatch: Soy Meat Is Soy Yesterday: 5 New and Better Options, By Katie O’Reilly  I have seen these in our local grocery store. I have only tried the Jackfruit & found it very tasty. I do like Litelife Tempeh, but haven’t tried these patties yet. Since I have never liked the taste of meat, I won’t be trying the Beyond Meat Burger or the shrimp 🙂 

OneGreenPlanet has a list of The Best Vegan Burgers on the Market This list includes soy, non-soy, & gluten-free options. We like Hilarys, Field Roast & Sunshine; all soy free. 

I use these products about once a month. We stay away from processed foods as much as possible but they are very convenient when in a hurry & I keep a package in the freezer for those times. 

Cheese is another product that vegans miss. It isn’t that difficult to come up with creamy sauces for pasta or other recipes: Cauli-power Fettuccine “Alfredo” (Vegan) ~love this recipe. It is nice though to have grated or sliced cheese to put on your pizza or sandwich. 

There are some new cheese products that are soy-free. Field Roast: Chao Creamery is one of them. It is my husbands favorite. I prefer Daiya Provolone. It melts really well & is just like provolone cheese on a sandwich. 

OneGreenPlanet: Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands The brand that I would like to try is Treeline.  For example their Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese “Flavored with fine herbs and garlic for a sophisticated and complex flavor.” Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, sea salt, lemon juice, dried scallions, garlic powder, white pepper, onion powder, L. Acidophilus, dried basil, dried oregano. They even have 2 aged nut cheeses.

VegNews: 18 Vegan Things We Can’t Wait to Try in 2018, By Anna Starostinetskaya | December 11, 2017 This list has everything from dairy-free Reddi Whip, CBD Gummy Bears to Starbucks food & vegan doughnuts! Browse the list & you will see how companies really are ridding the wellness trend wave.

Don’t get roped into the marketing; as with all new products read the labels to see what the ingredients are. The processed foods that we want to avoid are those with ingredients that you can’t pronounce, added sugar, fake sugar, salt & saturated fats. The burgers, cheese & kambucha that I have written about are processed but the ingredients are “clean”. I would consider them healthy additions to any diet but should not be eaten every day.

A reminder of how we should be eating. I subscribe to the Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard School of Medicine’s Newsletter. They sent me this wonderful article & the following links.

January 2018, The right plant-based diet for you, “Plant-based diets can help reduce your risk of heart disease, but they’re not all created equal. 

This Healthy Eating Plate is from the The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Health Publications

The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Healthy Eating Plate & Healthy Eating Pyramid“The Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications, was designed to address deficiencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s MyPlate. The Healthy Eating Plate provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices.” Lots of good information.

Another good article from The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health: Becoming a Vegetarian. “People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. Some people follow a largely vegetarian diet because they can’t afford to eat meat. Becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce, more vegetarian dining options, and the growing culinary influence of cultures with largely plant-based diets.” This is an excellent article about the different types of vegetarian diets, the scientific based health benefits of these diets & the health risks if you don’t pay attention to what you are eating. 

  • Vegans (total vegetarians): Do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do consume dairy products.
  • Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs.
  • Partial vegetarians: Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian).

The best part of the Wellness Trend for all of us is that mainstream/chain grocery stores, restaurants, cafes etc. are joining the wave. That means more products will be available at a lower price to the health conscious public. Just remember to read those labels!

Until next week…Mary 🙂

The “Raw Water” Trend & 2018’s Best Diets

North Fork Smith River by Don Hollander

I was surprised to see the headlines about a new trend, “raw water”. It piqued my interest. What the heck is “raw water” & why would I want to drink it? These were just a few questions that went through my mind. I researched it & will tell you what I know.

The second part of the post will be about the U.S.News, 2018, report on the 40 top diets in 2017. I always find this interesting. We will take a look at which diets made the top 3 in all 9 of the categories.

This new trend for “raw water” started in & around Silicon Valley, California. There are many start up companies bottling this water which has caused the price to jump to $60 for a 2.5-gallon jug! People around the country are buying it. It is flying off the shelves in a San Francisco Co-op at $16 a 12 ounce bottle! 

Basically it is unfiltered water from natural sources such as streams, creeks, groundwater & lakes. The reason people are interested in it is because it doesn’t go through any type of filtration system & there are no additives such as bleach or fluoride added. This may sound good to water purists but it does open the door for bacteria, viruses, & parasites that can be in these natural water sources. 

The CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch and other health officials are warning that the “raw water” can hold bacteria linked to cholera, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and giardia. As avid hikers & backpackers we are aware of these diseases & always carry a water purifier. Diarrhea is not our idea of a successful trip 🙂 Drinking from a pure, cold spring is magical & tastes wonderful. I won’t deny that. But care has to be taken when drinking from rivers, streams. creeks & lakes. 

As reported in the articles below, the sources used by some of the bottling companies are being monitored by local water companies. This is because the local water companies are using the same source for the community water supply & by law have to test the source for diseases & contaminants. This isn’t true for all sources of “raw water”.

If you are worried about your tap water here is a must have resource for you EWG’s Tap Water Database. “EWG’s drinking water quality report for California shows results of tests conducted by the water utilities in California and provided to EWG by the California State Water Resources Control Board.” Here is the link to California water safety; enter your zip code on the right. 

On this page you will also find the following useful guides:

  • EWG’s Updated Water Filter Buying Guide “Find the right filter for your water – and budget”
  • Top 5 Reasons to Choose Filters Over Bottled Water  “But if you want safer water for yourself and your family, bottled water isn’t the solution – not for your pocketbook, not for your health and certainly not for our planet. Your best option for cleaner, healthier drinking water on the go is filtered tap water and a reusable glass or stainless steel container. As we say here at EWG, know your water, pick the best filter and choose a BPA-free container.”

Before we look at the list of the best diets 2018, I want to share this article I saw this morning as I was editing my post. USNews: Why Eating Fewer Calories Won’t Help You Lose Weight  Conventional nutrition wisdom overlooks key biological processes. By Alissa Rumsey, Contributor, Jan. 8, 2018

The reasons the author, Alissa Rumsey, lists are not only for people who are trying to lose weight. These are good tips for everyone deciding on a lifelong way of eating. Read the article for the details . Here are the tips:

  1. Give yourself permission to eat all kinds of food. This will take away the bad food vs good food syndrome. It will also open up the idea of eating a balanced diet. 
  2. Learn to honor your hunger & fullness cues. Sometimes it isn’t about the foods we eat but the portions we serve ourselves. Do you really need an extra helping? Take a few minutes to see if you still feel hungry.
  3. don’t discount the importance of satisfaction. This one is really important. If you are on a diet that puts your favorite foods in the “bad food” category, you will not be satisfied with what you are eating. For example substituting an apple for that piece of chocolate or cookie that you crave. Yes, the apple is better for you, but if you had just eaten that one piece of chocolate you wouldn’t find yourself eating everything in the house after the apple & still not feeling satisfied! Now you just feel guilty.
  4. Get rid of the food police. I like this one. Read what she  wrote about them. The food police can also be a partner, spouse or friend. 

At the end of the article is a slide show of: 8 Food Trends Nutrition Experts Pray Will Never Return Check it out 🙂 

Now to the U.S. News: U.S. News Reveals Best Diets Rankings for 2018 U.S. News evaluated 40 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals. 

Once again the U.S. News has evaluated and ranked the most popular diets of the year. They do this yearly with a panel of health experts. Their criteria does not include cancer prevention specifically, but it does address all the other inflammatory diseases. This means that the top diets will indeed be preventative & lower the risk of cancer. It also means that they will boost your immune system & improve your overall health. As you well know, most people don’t just have cancer, they also are at risk or have been diagnosed with other chronic diseases such as pre-diabetes, high blood pressure or even heart disease. 

Who are the experts? Experts Who Reviewed the DietsA panel of health experts, including nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behavior and weight loss, reviewed detailed assessments prepared by U.S. News of 40 diets. The experts rated each diet in seven categories, including short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety and nutrition.”

The diets are then ranked in the following categories; click on the category to be taken to the full list & information about each diet. When you get to that list you can click on the diet you are interested in. Not only is each diet rated on it’s own page but it also has a tab for recipes & information about how to follow the diet.

Best Diets Overall 
1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet: I like this approach. Here is an excerpt from the diets page…The theory: Flexitarian is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago, and in her 2009 book, “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life,” registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.

Once again the DASH & Mediterranean Diets tie 🙂 The Paleo diet was #29 thru #35 out of 40 in all categories. Under “Health & Nutrition: Slapping the diet with multiple low scores, the experts couldn’t accept that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded, making it hard for dieters to get all the nutrients they need. It’s one of the few diets that experts actually considered somewhat unsafe and only somewhat complete nutritionally.”

Best Diets For Healthy Eating 
1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Mediterranean diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. TLC Diet (tie): I am not totally on board with this one…The theory: Created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is endorsed by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy regimen that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The key is cutting back sharply on fat, particularly saturated fat. Saturated fat (think fatty meat, whole-milk dairy and fried foods) bumps up bad cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. That, along with strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, can help people manage high cholesterol, often without medication. I will recommend it to people with extremely high cholesterol.

Easiest Diets to Follow 
1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
2. Weight Watchers (tie)

Easiest diet to follow; #1, my favorite!!! The Mediterranean is the most flexible diet for anyone trying to move towards a healthier lifestyle. You can make slow changes to become more plant based & still stay within the parameters of the diet.

The Flexitarian is easy to follow because it is so flexible for those who want to eat more plant based with the option to eat meat when they want it. Keeps the “good food, bad food” guilt under control.

Best Diets for Diabetes 
1. Mediterranean 
2. DASH Diet 
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)  This excellent diet plan from the Mayo Clinic Diet is the real thing. There have been many, many fad diets for decades claiming to be from the Mayo Clinic. All of them fraudulent & unhealthy.
3. Vegan Diet (tie)
3. Volumetrics (tie): I like this one. Makes you more mindful of what you are eating. The theory: People tend to eat the same weight, or amount, of food each day, regardless of how many calories they take in. Since some foods are less energy dense than others – that is, they have fewer calories per gram – filling your plate with more of those means you’ll be eating fewer calories without actually eating less food. Low-density foods, which are low in calories but high-volume, help you feel full and satisfied while dropping pounds. Fruits and veggies are ideal, since they’ll fill you up without breaking your calorie bank. (A pound of low-density carrots, for example, contains as many calories as an ounce of high-density peanuts.) Volumetrics is all about getting more mileage out of what you eat.
3. Weight Watchers (tie)

Best Heart-Healthy Diets No surprises here 🙂
1. DASH diet
2. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
2. Ornish Diet (tie)

Best Plant-Based Diets  Love it! 
1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet
3. Ornish Diet

Best Commercial Diets 
1. Weight Watchers
2. Jenny Craig 
3. Flat Belly Diet (tie)
3. Nutritarian Diet (tie)

Best Weight-Loss Diets
1. Weight Watchers
2. Volumetrics
3. Jenny Craig (tie)
3. Vegan Diet (tie)

Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets 
1. HMR Diet (tie)
1. Weight Watchers (tie)
3. Biggest Loser Diet (tie)
3. Medifast (tie)
3. SlimFast (tie)
3. Volumetrics (tie)

Weight Watchers has always been about eating a healthy, balanced diet. They have tried to make it simple using a point system rather than counting calories. The only thing I don’t like about it is the Weight Watcher Brand products; too processed. You are not asked to eat their products, they are there to help you stick to the program. That’s good when you work full-time. 

For those of us who are vegan, here is how it was ranked in all categories. This makes sense because not all vegans are eating a healthy, balanced diet. It takes some planning & commitment to make sure you are getting enough fat, protein, complex carbs, vitamins & minerals in your diet.

Vegan Diet is ranked:

  •  #19 (tie) in
    Best Diets Overall
  •  #3 (tie) in
    Best Weight-Loss Diets
  •  #3 (tie) in
    Best Diabetes Diets
  •  #27 (tie) in
    Best Diets for Healthy Eating
  •  #10 (tie) in
    Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets
  •  #5 (tie) in
    Best Heart-Healthy Diets
  •  #9 in
    Best Plant-Based Diets
  •  #36 (tie) in
    Easiest Diets to Follow

I hope this has been helpful. Until next week…Mary 🙂

Back to Basics to Enhance Your Immune System

 The New Year has arrived along with new fad diets, new exercise equipment, new research studies and a flu season that does not look good. Let’s set aside your New Year’s Resolutions regarding “diets” & exercise and look at how you can help your body be prepared for the flu & any other opportunistic diseases that come along. For those of you with a compromised immune system this is important.

The flu season is being reported as a bad one this year. Besides getting a flu shot, what is the best way to help your body be prepared for it? Building a strong immune system is the answer. Going back to basics is the key to keeping your immune system strong and at the same time reduce the risk factors for chronic diseases including cancer. It is also the safest way to lose or gain weight. 

Here is what you need to start with. The list is pretty simple:

  • No smoking.
  • Restrict/omit alcohol intake.
  • Get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep when possible. Sleep Review: Weekly Fish Consumption Linked to Better Sleep Works for adults too.
  • Exercise/walk 30 minutes a day. Does not need to be at one go. 3 ten minute walks during the day will give you the same benefits. Get up & move as much as you are able to. 
  • A balanced, plant based diet. Start by making small changes each month by adding more whole grains, vegetables & fruits to your meals.

I want to add a couple more ideas to my original list. Some of these ideas came from WebMD: Healthy Habits: Better Eating Resolutions  Check out their full list.

  • Cut back stopping for fast food. With all the fat, sugar & salt in these foods, even a healthy immune system will suffer.
  • Be mindful of what you are eating. Watching a program & eating at the same time is always a bad idea. You look down & the chip bag is empty; how did that happen?
  • Bring healthy snacks to share at work. Dark chocolate or fresh fruit.
  • Start your day with a healthy, high fiber, breakfast. This will keep you full until snack or lunch time & will keep your blood sugar stable.
  • Keep a food diary 🙂

Nearly all plant based foods, spices & herbs have the ability to strengthen your immune system. They are rich in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Some are even anti-viral. They each have their own health benefits & set of nutrients; when combined in a meal, they are super foods!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

Here is my edited version of a list of whole foods & their benefits from my issue of Mother Earth Living magazine, (November/December 2012 issue). I have included links to supportive research & information.

  • Berries, cherries & grapes: Very high in antioxidants & they are anti-inflammatory. Take a look at this from the HUB: Diet rich in apples, tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests  Brandon Howard ,Published Dec 21, 2017
  • Complex carbs: Whole grains, legumes and vegetables contain complex carbs, which digest more slowly and are high in fiber. Fiber supports healthy digestive gut buddies which in turn supports a healthy immune system. Oldways Whole Grains Council: WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. “Animal and population studies link increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables with reduced cancer risk.” Broccoli was the star in the study! Have you tried roasting these veggies? Tasty! NIH, National Cancer Institute: Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention
  • Dark green leafy vegetables: Kale, collard greens, bok choy, arugula, are “natural sources of calcium and magnesium which may protect against colon cancer. Women who eat more leafy greens have a reduced risk of breast cancer.” **see the article I posted under Topics: Calcium on this website for a more complete list. Check out this from the Economic Times: Eat spinach, lettuce and kale daily to keep your brain 11 years youngerDec 21, 2017, from CBS: Should you really be taking calcium and vitamin D supplements?  By DENNIS THOMPSON ,HEALTHDAY, December 27, 2017, This study is about bone health. Eat your calcium!
  • Seeds & nuts: These contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins & minerals. Great for a pick-me-up snack. Nuts are overlooked because they are high in calories. You can get the health benefits from just one serving a day! Choose unsalted & raw. NDTV: Fibre Rich Food May Help Maintain Weight Gain, Blood Sugar And Colon Health: Research  December 27, 2017 
  • Tomatoes: Great source of carotenoids. The red color is due to lycopene. Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, guava, and other fruits are rich in lycopene. The best source of lycopene is through your diet not supplements. USNews: How Does Getting Nutrients From Fortification Compare to Whole Food? Added nutrients can fill critical dietary gaps. But optimal balance requires going to the source. By Michael O. Schroeder, Staff Writer |May 11, 2017  
  • Orange fruits & vegetables: Rich in carotenoids. Along with the leafy green and cruciferous vegetables they are all protective against several types of cancer. Make your plate a rainbow of colors.
  •  Legumes: Fiber rich! **I must add here my opinion of soybeans. I believe that you can have a healthy diet without the consumption of controversial soy products. Because studies on the effect of soy on breast cancer, pre & post treatment, are not, in my opinion, very satisfactory, I would recommend eating small amounts of soy. Further, I would recommend fermented soy such as tempeh or miso and fresh edamame beans. The soy products in the USA are highly processed.  There are many other legumes to choose from. Choose sprouted tofu; less processed. GeneFood: What’s in a bean? Lots of health benefits  By Amber Krosel, December 22, 2017
  • Pomegranate: Mentioned in this article and is on their list. I would have left it off because I wasn’t convinced of its healing properties to inhibit cancer growth. MedicalNewsToday: 15 health benefits of pomegranate juice By Mandy Ferreira, July 2017

These herbs & spices are rich in antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory benefits and enhance immunity. Use liberally in your diet.

Make your own spice blends according to your tastes. I am still crazy about Bragg’s Organic Sprinkles with 24 herbs & spices. I put it on everything! Here is an idea for those of you who love curry…

Medicinal Curry Blend ~ by Rosemary Gladstar

  • 1 ounce Corriander seeds
  • 1 ounce Cummin seeds
  • 1 ounce Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 ounce black Mustard seed
  • 1/2 ounce Chili pepper (Cayenne)
  • 1/2 ounce Fennel seeds
  • 1/2 ounce Ginger powder

Combine by grinding together into a powder & use in curry dishes.

Rosemary Gladstar combines 2-3 teaspoons of the powder with 1/4 of oil, I use Olive oil, in a saucepan and warms it until the herbs are fragrant ~a few minutes~then stores it in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

Turmeric is just one of many spices that have health benefits. These resources are very thorough & informative.

I no longer make yearly New Years Resolutions. I always feel like a failure when I don’t follow through with them. Instead, I have a  lifelong intention/resolution. To make this work I must reaffirm my intention every morning during my meditation. It is made up from these two quotes. 

  • “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” I am a great believer in what Hippocrates wrote.
  • “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” One of my favorite quotes from Michael Pollen.

Here is to a Healthy 2018. Until next week…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources: