Ode to Cheez Whiz

My friend’s meals usually resemble grass, sawdust or livestock feed. She would rather have a rattlesnake than a preservative or additive in her cupboard, and she considers people who eat steak, french fries and hot-fudge sundaes only slightly less loathsome than serial killers. Her house overflows with obscure herbs and teas, and in her mason jars something is forever in some stage of sprouting. She is a Joan of Arc of the organic, a health-food zealot. I admire her purity, and yet…

I can’t help thinking of the scene in Sleeper when Woody Allen wakes up in the next century to find that scientists have discovered the only healthful food is a hot-fudge sundae. Sometimes, I admit, I hope something like this will happen and my friend will get her comeuppance – if only because then I won’t feel so guilty about my Fritos.

So I was secretly relieved to learn that the relationship between food and longevity is not as clear-cut as my friend imagines. A couple of decades ago, Bruce Ames, professor of chemistry and molecular biology at the University of California at Berkely, started wondering about the long list of synthetic chemicals in a bag of potato chips. Did these things cause cancer? At the time, tests for carcinogenicity were long and expensive, involving hundreds of laboratory rats and years of observation.

By the early ’70s, Ames developed a faster and cheaper test: He’d toss a substance into a test tube of bacteria and see whether it caused mutations. If it did, the substance was possibly carcinogenic. His now-famous Ames Test warned of the perils of thousands of man-made chemicals in such products as food, hair dyes and the flame retardant Tris. In some cases, the suspect chemicals were banned.

A decade later, Ames had cause to reconsider his angle. When he and other scientists began testing a host of Mother Nature’s products – including bananas, apples, Brussels sprouts, radishes, raspberries, grapefruit juice, honeydew melon, celery, parsley, cocoa, carrots, red wine, rhubarb, beets, fava beans, pineapples and black pepper – they found that these things, too, looked ominously carcinogenic. Now Ames, no longer the darling of environmentalists, estimates that 99.99 percent of the pesticides in our diets come from natural sources. Because 50 percent of both natural and synthetic chemicals are carcinogenic, we can’t ignore the danger natural chemicals in our food present.

Healthy Suspects

How much time can be spent worrying? Does every visit to the supermarket require a conference of experts waving sheaves of citations? After a while, everything seems to be bad for you, including what used to be good for you, like eggs and meat – and now vegetables. To add to the confusion, while exerts like Ames are noticing that everything natural isn’t necessarily benevolent, others are discovering unexpected virtues in some “junk” foods.

Consider a few “good” foods that might be bad:

Organic Food

My friend’s typical holier-than-thou salad is chock-full of vegetables from the organic food mart, which guarantees they are untouched by any agricultural technique developed by since Neolithic times. No pesticides, for sure. “Organic food may be more dangerous than Safeway food,” says Ames. “When plants get stressed [e.g., by attacks of critters] they make more of the natural pesticides.” These, he says, may be more toxic than any DDT residues that might creep into our diets. Furthermore, the salad contains:

Basil. This salad dressing ingredient contains estragole, another natural pesticide. The salad also contains…
Raw Mushrooms. They’re organic, of course – and “full of carcinogenic,” including natural pesticides called hydrazines, Ames says. Drinking apple juice with Alar is about one fiftieth as hazardous to health as eating one mushroom. By now her salad is looking quite carcinogenic, considering the…
Mold. That’s right, the mold on organic nuts, cheese wedges and apple slices harbors a variety of carcinogens, according to Ames’s studies. Last, but not least, behold the very symbol of small-planet, whole-earth eating…
Alfalfa sprouts. My friend tosses these liberally into every salad and sandwich, little suspecting they contain natural toxins that Ames says cause the disease lupus in monkeys. Of course, the monkey’s diets were 40 percent alfalfa sprouts, more than any human health nut could possibly eat, but let us stop worshipping sprouts.
Other staples of a virtuous regimen are also worrisome:

Cabbage and broccoli. These contain substances that, in the stomach, transform into a natural chemical related to dioxin, the deadly herbicide in Agent Orange, according to Ames. On the other hand, broccoli, like many vegetables, also contains anticarcinogens that may or may not cancel out the carcinogens.
Comfrey tea. God knows, no caffeine would ever touch my friend’s lips. She gets all her highs (as well as her tranquility) from herbal teas. Unfortunately, comfrey tea contains a carcinogenic natural pesticide, symphytine, according to Ames.
Corn, nuts, grain, fruit, bread, peanut butter and apple juice. All contain potentially carcinogenic molds, Ames says.
Margarine. Since the bad news broke about saturated fats and heart disease, no health fanatic would dream of slapping butter on her seven-grain toast. Now it seems polyunsaturated fats increase the oxidation rate of cells and thus create more “free radicals,” those unstable, stripped down molecules many scientists believe blur your DNA, hasten aging and cause cancer.
Yet there is no reason to post Surgeon General’s warnings on cabbage, basil or mushrooms. Consumed in normal quantities, none of these foods is likely to be harmful, says Ames. Nor should anyone panic about trace amounts of preservatives or pesticides that might make it to our mouths, he points out. If man-made chemicals were so deadly, how is it that life expectancy has risen and the cancer rate (except for lung cancer caused by smoking) has remained level? Hysteria about every new chemical, Ames believes, distracts the public from real documented risks like tobacco and saturated fats.

Reconsider the Hamburger

Now for the good news. Strange but true, some bad foods might be good (or at least not entirely evil):

Hamburgers. You don’t find many health-food nuts hanging around burger joints, but the specialties there do have merits that alfalfa sprouts, say, lack. About a decade ago, biologist Barry Commoner and others discovered that how you cook hamburger mattered. Frying, which produces carcinogens, was bad, but broiling was OK. Now, from University of Wisconsin food scientist Michael Pariza, comes news that cooked meats contain a cancer-fighting substance called CLA. A variation on the polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid, CLA reportedly guards against several forms of cancer. It achieves this healthful objective by preventing the normal buildup of free radicals from damaging healthy cells.

Cheez Whiz. Sure, dairy products create sludge in your arteries. On the other hand, Pariza reports that milk, butter and cheese are rich in cancer-fighting CLA. And the highest CLA content of all – six and a half times higher than plain cheddar cheese – is found in that snack-in-front-of-the-TV delight Cheez Whiz. (Imagine. Cheez Whiz a health food!) While Pariza doesn’t recommend a Cheez Whiz diet because of the heart-disease risk, his findings have not gone unnoticed by the dairy-products industry. “Kraft loves us,” he reports.

Carbohydrates. Health-conscious snackers eschew the empty carbohydrates in sweets like Hostess Twinkies and Snickers bars. But the sugar in a Snickers, for example, stimulates the brain to produce a vital chemical, serotonin, which “relaxes you so you can cope,” according to Judith Wurtman, a leading research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That may explain why people going through sturm und drang in their love life are famous for overindulging on chocolate. Serotonin is said to be nature’s remedy for the blues. However (you knew the prescription for Snickers was too good to be true), for best results try a potato, a bagel or a small bowl of rice.

Preservatives. If you want to clear out a health-food restaurant fast, just yell, “BHT!” The clientele there typically go to heroic lengths to avoid contamination by the alphabet soup of additives, preservatives and dyes in many packaged foods. However, when comedian Jay Leno joked that the expiration date on Wonder Bread id “You should live so long,” he unknowingly touched on an odd truth. What preservatives do for food is extent shelf life.
James Fleming, a research scientist at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in Palo Alto, California, thinks they can do something similar for human life. The best one, according to Fleming, is propyl gallate, which increased the longevity of fruit flies by about 30 percent. “Our assumption is that anything that preserves the flies is going to preserve any biological system,” he says.

Then there’s BHT, a preservative in everything from lard to cornflakes. An eminent gerontologist, University of Nebraska’s Denham Harman, found that it enhanced rodent life span by up to 20 percent and improve immune function. And the preservative BHA had an anticarcinogenic effect in animals. All are antioxidants, meaning they reduce free radicals, which spoil cells as well as food.

“The real question is how much,” says Harman. “To extend life span you need very high concentrations, much higher than anything you’d get in packaged food. In lower amounts you might see an effect on a specific disease.” Indeed, one leading cancer epidemiologist points out that stomach-cancer rates have been declining since 1974, the same year that BHA and BHT were added to breakfast cereals.

Perhaps by the upcoming years many food preservatives and additives will turn out to be longevity drugs. Perhaps, as Fleming predicts, we’ll all be swilling down “preservative cocktails” instead of carrot juice in the hope of hearing a latter-day Willard Scott wish us a happy 115th birthday.

Of course, behind every silver lining there’s cloud. BHT reportedly knocks out the functioning of the mitochondria in cells, according to Harman, and produces some kind of cancer while preventing others. Furthermore, ther’s evidence that some food additives and preservatives may cause subtle neurological damage. Most things are neither wholly good nor wholly evil. Because today’s elixir of life may be tomorrow’s poison and vice versa, it’s wise not to go to extremes and live exclusively on Wonder Bread, alfalfa sprouts or anything else. I know I now appreciate the importance of a diverse diet. Well, excuse me, I’m late for dinner. A Whopper smeared liberally with Cheez Whiz, a BHT shake and fudge-ripple ice cream!

We ‘humans’ have got the life a billion years ago. There have been five mass extinctions in earth’s history. We are living through the sixth. And now we too are running at a pace to end it all. This time it will be our fault.

The new discoveries and inventions have made our lifestyle full of convenience. But our bodies require work. Just like the sedentary water starts smelling, the sedentary lifestyle has given rise to many chronic diseases like the heart problems, diabetes and hypertension.

Today, the health researchers are suggesting that most of the chronic diseases that have appeared in man’s life are due to STRESS. From where it has come. It is the bi-product of our so-called modern lifestyle.

We are standing at the edge of cliff. Immediate actions are required to bring back the healthy days. We must incorporate exercise, balanced diet, sound sleep, and the most importantly happy and positive thoughts to our lifestyle to get rid of all health problems.

I believe “The opposite of great truth is also true.”

Day and Night, Work and Rest, Art and Science… they all looks opposite but my viewpoint is they compliment each other.

The more you relax, the more you active. Life is a balance between what we can and what we cannot. Learn to live between effort and surrender.

Diet In A Glass

Non-prescription liquid diets seem to be everywhere. In supermarkets, in pharmacies, in health-food stores and by mail order, powder and premixed liquid formulas can be purchase for far less than the cost of a formula available by prescription only. For instance, Slim-Fast costs less than $1 per serving compared with the typical $100-per-week cost of a medically supervised very-low-calorie liquid diet. And over-the-counter liquid diets are convenient: There are no appointments to keep, no counselling sessions to honor. You’re on your own from start to finish, armed only with manufacturer’s instructions on how to substitute the low-calorie, milk-shake-like formula for one or two meals a day, eat sparingly and exercise in order to lose weight.

If you’re disciplined and follow directions, an unsupervised formula diet can be helpful weight-loss tool, especially if you don’t want to take the time – or don’t know how – to plan and prepare low-calorie “real food” meals that meet basic nutritional requirements.

A Step in the Right Direction

Today’s formulas are a big improvement over those available decades ago. Dietitians and doctors agree that the liquid diets of the 1970’s were dangerous. Their major shortcomings were the ingredients: The protein was of poor quality, and essential minerals such as potassium, which enables the heart muscle to function properly, were missing, as were carbohydrates. A deficiency of the latter can force the body to rely on fat and protein for energy, which can lead to ketosis (an increase in ketones in the body characterized by dizziness and electrolyte imbalance). This promotes weight loss through the elimination of water, but puts stress on the heart and kidneys and in severe cases can lead to death. The fact that people did die while on these diets led to the products’ removal from stores.

Liquid diets now on the market are much more carefully formulated. They include complete proteins (with all the amino acids needed for good health), carbohydrates and fat, and they are supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Over-the-counter formulas are not meant to be total food substitutes, which distinguish them from the medically supervised prescription diets targeted to the severely overweight. The purchaser is instructed to eat at least one low-calorie, real-food meal daily and substitute the formula for the other meals, for a total daily intake of 1,000 to 1,200 calories. In some instances, dieters are also advised to eat fiber-rich foods or take multivitamins.

Just Follow Instructions

“There’s no magic to these formulas,” says Robyn Flipse, a registered dietitian who has a private nutrition-counselling practice in Ocean, New Jersey. “They don’t melt pounds away. You lose weight because of the low number of calories you are taking in.”

The plans can be convenient for people who want to lose a moderate amount of weight – five to 40 pounds, depending on overall weight and body fat – says Dr. Peter Wood, who helped formulate the California Diet, a drink available in department stores. Wood, a professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, believes “this kind of diet works because it tastes good, you don’t feel deprived because it includes plenty of carbohydrates [an important source of energy] and it has the recommended daily amounts of balanced nutrients for good health. It also contains fiber, which produces bulk in the stomach and provides a pleasant feeling of satiety.” Wood claims the formulas are a boon for busy people who can’t take time to see a dietitian or calculate nutrients and calories.

“These liquid diets are not only convenient, but because the dessert-like flavor and texture are so pleasurable, they make people feel more satisfied than an ordinary low-calorie diet does,” adds Dr. George Blackburn, an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of the nutrition/metabolism laboratory at the Cancer Research Institute at New England Deaconess Hospital.

Who’s Keeping Tabs?

Nonetheless, these diets are controversial. Lack of supervision is the first objection raised by dietitians. “People who need to lose 20 percent or more of body weight or who have a preexisting medical problem should have a physical exam before they go on one of these diets,” says Flipse. “It would probably include an electrocardiogram to ensure that the electrical workings of the heart muscle are normal and a complete blood count to check that there’s no mineral deficiency that can be worsened by dieting, harming the heart. People tend not to take these precautions on an unsupervised diet.”

Flipse also maintain that the lack of supervision makes it easy to abuse the diets. “Even people in closely monitored hospital programs sometimes have to stop dieting or modify their diets because of irregular heartbeat, kidney problems or gout,” she says. “Some bodies can’t tolerate a severe method of weight loss or a drastic change in eating habits.” In addition, the diets are off-limits to pregnant or nursing women and people with kidney, heart or liver problems. While the accompanying literature usually cautions such individuals to consult a physician before starting a weight-loss program, some experts feel the point is not made strongly enough – and, again, that the potential for abuse is high.

Blackburn emphasizes that the real value of the new liquid diets is weight maintenance; their use for weight loss requires monitoring. Caloric restriction may affect various bodily systems – blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and endocrine function are likely to change after losses of 10 percent or more of body weight. After each 10 percent drop, Blackburn advises that you visit your doctor for a checkup.

Finally, experts worry about the tendency to overdo formula diets. “People may feel that if a little calorie cutting is good, more is better,” says Marianne Gibbons, a registered dietitian with the Harvard Community Health Plan in Brookline, Massachusetts. “But going below a thousand calories a day for an adult – without medical supervision – can be dangerous. You can lose a significant amount of muscle tissue, not just fat. ”

What most consumers are interested in, however, is whether these pals keep pounds off over the long term. “Sure, you’ll lose weight. But as with any unsupervised, low-calorie diet, chances are you’ll regain as soon as you go off the formula and back to the eating habits that may have caused you to be overweight in the first place,” says Melanie R. Polk, a registered dietitian and consulting nutritionist in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Even those who recommend liquid formulas believe that for permanent weight loss, dieters must change bad habits. “Some people walk away when you tell them a liquid diet won’t work by itself,” says Wood. “But if you’re overweight, you have to change your behavior – eat less, exercise more. Nothing you can consume will take off pounds or offset other things you eat.”

We ‘humans’ have got the life a billion years ago. There have been five mass extinctions in earth’s history. We are living through the sixth. And now we too are running at a pace to end it all. This time it will be our fault.

The new discoveries and inventions have made our lifestyle full of convenience. But our bodies require work. Just like the sedentary water starts smelling, the sedentary lifestyle has given rise to many chronic diseases like the heart problems, diabetes and hypertension.

Today, the health researchers are suggesting that most of the chronic diseases that have appeared in man’s life are due to STRESS. From where it has come. It is the bi-product of our so-called modern lifestyle.

We are standing at the edge of cliff. Immediate actions are required to bring back the healthy days. We must incorporate exercise, balanced diet, sound sleep, and the most importantly happy and positive thoughts to our lifestyle to get rid of all health problems.

I believe “The opposite of great truth is also true.”

Day and Night, Work and Rest, Art and Science… they all looks opposite but my viewpoint is they compliment each other.

The more you relax, the more you active. Life is a balance between what we can and what we cannot. Learn to live between effort and surrender.

9 Switches for Better Nutrition

1. Dairy Milk for Nut Milk
There are so many alternatives to dairy milk today, that these alternatives are as available and accessible as the dairy options. If you switch from whole milk to, for example, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, you will get double the calcium and, depending on the brand, less than one quarter of the calories. Also, if you have an undiagnosed or undiscovered intolerance to dairy, this will offer you relief from that and make you feel fantastic.

2. Milk Chocolate for Dark
Swapping milk chocolate for dark, may be harder for some than others, but it will make a big difference if you are a regular chocolate eater like myself. Not only does dark chocolate have less sugar, more antioxidants and is less processed, but it is also richer in flavor and can satisfy your chocolate cravings faster.

3. Sugar for Xylitol
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener. It is not artificial and can be processed by your body. Many low or no calorie sweeteners are chemically formulated and cannot be processed by your body. These sweeteners can actually be worse for you than sugar itself. However, Xylitol is a natural and delicious sweetener that can be used as a direct substitute for sugar, it has less calories and is sweeter so you use less.

4. Sugary Soda for Herbal Tea or Infused Water
This is probably one of the most obvious and most talked about switch. However, it is one of the most difficult for people because they are conditioned to the convenience of pre-prepared sugary drinks. Yes, making herbal tea or infused water does take extra time and effort, however, you can make it ahead in large batches and keep it in your fridge so it is readily available. There are also several, delicious combinations that you can make and experiment with to keep things interesting.

5. White Rice for Black Rice
White rice is a simple carb that lacks nutrients. However, black rice is full of antioxidants and goodness to nourish your body. The color of black rice is also amazing and it has an awesome, natural nutty flavor.

6. Pasta for Vegetable Pasta
Weather it spaghetti, spirals or couscous, there is a vegetable substitute for it. The best substitute for spaghetti is zucchini or shitake noodles. For couscous, try finely chopping cauliflower. Other alternatives to pasta products can include black bean spaghetti, chick peas, quinoa, carrot and beetroot. These alternatives have more nutrients, less carbs and are less processed than the pasta you get out of a packet.

7. Flavored Yoghurt for Plain
Flavored yoghurt contains a lot of sugar and is highly processed. There are several plain yoghurts that have no added sweeteners and that are minimally processed. An easy way to get flavored yoghurt without all the nasties is to get the plain stuff and add a natural sweetener and/or whatever fruit you like to it. Not only will this make the flavors more delicious, it will also add freshness and texture.

8. Energy Drinks for Tea or Coffee
Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine and sugar. Many also contain other artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners. Energy drinks are one of the worst drinks available on the market and have several, proven, health consequences. If you need a pick-me-up, it is just as effective to have a cup of coffee or tea that has caffeine in it to keep you going. You could also opt for some fresh fruit or iced water to help you re-focus.

9. Packaged Condiments for Home-Made Versions
Packaged condiments often have many added, unnecessary ingredients and are highly refined. With thousands of recipes readily available online, it is now easier than ever to create your own condiments with less additives and more goodness. By making your own condiments, you should be able to get more flavor, more variety, less additives, less calories and know exactly what is in your food.

Eating Healthy When Others Don’t (or Won’t)

I posted earlier this month about the importance of preparation. With the holidays in full swing, I’ve been thinking a lot about the second part to success, which is community support and eating healthy when others don’t (or won’t).

Here are some tips to rally support at home (and avoid resistance):

The “DON’Ts”

Don’t use words like “nutrition” and “healthy.” You’ll notice I rarely use these words (with the exception of today to make a point). They come with a stigma that isn’t fair to vegetables. If you are moving away from packaged food items, start talking about the ingredients themselves or what you’re going to make with them. Organic vegetables and conventional vegetables are still vegetables. Grass fed steak and conventional steak is still steak. You can change your buying habits without using these words.
Don’t be overly vocal about the process. If you feel inspired to clean up your diet that’s great, feel empowered and take action; but also understand that people around you may not be in the same place and respect their food choices. There is no wrath like lecturing someone trying to enjoy a donut.
Don’t overhaul your whole house. If you start throwing away someone’s favorite foods, it’s going to cause a conflict. Make a slow transition – start by buying high-quality versions of the favorites then maybe try an alternative version and gauge the response. The pantry is the hardest spot so I have a pantry guide below to help you.
The “DO’S”
Pack your life with flavor. If you don’t call something “healthy,” no one will think twice if it’s delicious. Transitioning your life should be delicious and they’ll be begging for an encore.
Enjoy a meal together at home. Shop together, cook together, experiment with new ingredients, and get feedback on the meal. Getting people involved and having fun will open the door to finding good go-to options that everyone is happy with.
Start talking about your results. Live by example and reap the benefits. When you feel amazing and are outperforming yourself, talk about it! Be proud! Those around you will be happy for you and start asking questions which will open the door naturally.
Find a community of like-minded people. If you don’t have the support you need at home, find a meet up group, group of friends, people at the gym, etc. that can swap recipes, brainstorm ideas, and hold you accountable to your health goals.
The most important DON’T:
Don’t assume! Don’t assume that those around you aren’t interested in what you’re trying to accomplish. If the above steps are getting a good response, ask them for their support and to join you on the journey.

How To Keep Your Spine Happy And Healthy

Tips For Keeping Your Spine Healthy

Rest your spine while sleeping – Once you are lying down, all the structures in your spine that worked all day can finally relax and rejuvenate. It is very important for you to use pillows and mattress to let your spine rest in a comfortable and supported way. Your choice of pillow and mattress is often based on personal preference, your specific neck or back problem, or your preferred sleep positions.

Find time to exercise your core in order to strengthen your back muscles and abs – Your core muscles (abdominal and lower back muscles) must be strong and supple to support your spine. It must be capable of taking the pressure off your lower back. Be reminded that most of the core muscles are rarely used on a daily basis. Hence, they must be toned via targeted exercises. These exercises are very simple and can only be done in 20-30 minutes every day.

Choose shoes that will support your spine – The kind of shoes you wear will have a huge impact in supporting your lower back. Good shoes will provide a supportive base that will help the body and spine remain in alignment. For instance, you need to make sure that the shoe will snugly fit the back of your heels. A good fit will prevent supination/pronation or too much rolling of the foot to the inside or outside.

Always practice good ergonomics whilst sitting – The discs in your lower spine are loaded thrice as much as when you are sitting as compared to when you are standing. Long periods of sitting will aggravate or create a painful back condition. If sitting at a desk, people usually slouch and lean forward. Doing this will stress your lumbar discs. It is indeed very important for you to choose the right office chair as well as practice good posture whilst seated. Most importantly, always avoid sitting for long periods by getting up to stretch and walk around every 20-30 minutes. For your spine to stay healthy, you need to move frequently. Movement will fuel the spine with healthy nutrients.

Reap the benefits of massage – A good massage helps boost endorphins in your bloodstream. Also, it can encourage blood flow that helps bring healing nutrients to the affected area and boost healing. Chiropractic treatments can also help.