Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


2 Comments

Soda tax ‘more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen’

Study offers ‘substantial evidence that soda taxes work,’ nutrition professor says

As voters consider soda taxes in four U.S. cities, a new study finds that low-income Berkeley neighbourhoods slashed sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by more than one-fifth after the Northern California city enacted the first soda tax in the U.S.

Berkeley voters in 2014 levied a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks to try to curb consumption and stem the rising tide of diabetes and obesity. After the tax took effect in March 2015, residents of two low-income neighbourhoods reported drinking 21 per cent less of all sugar-sweetened beverages and 26 per cent less soda than they had the year before, according to the report in the October American Journal of Public Health.

From a public health perspective, that is a huge impact.

That is an intervention that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen aimed at changing someone’s dietary behaviour,” senior author Dr. Kristine Madsen said in a telephone interview.
Madsen, a professor of public health at the University of California at Berkeley, said the drop in sugary drink consumption surpassed her expectations, though it was consistent with consumption declines in low-income neighbourhoods in Mexico after it imposed a nationwide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Just like tobacco, these are commodities we can live without that are killing us– Malia Cohen

The Berkeley results also pleasantly surprised Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

“I hadn’t expected the effects to be so dramatic,” she said in an email. “This is substantial evidence that soda taxes work.”

coke-obesity
Public health experts believe soda
helped drive American obesity rates
to among the highest in the world.

The soda industry has spent millions of dollars defeating taxes on sugary drinks in dozens of U.S. cities. But the tax passed easily —  with 76 per cent of the vote — in Berkeley. In addition to soda, the measure covers sweetened fruit-flavoured drinks, energy drinks like Red Bull and caffeinated drinks like Frappuccino iced coffee. Diet beverages are exempt.

Weans residents off sweetened drinks

In June, the Philadelphia City Council enacted its own tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax is set to take effect in January, although soda trade groups have sued to try to block the measure.

Meanwhile, voters in Boulder, Colorado and the Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany will vote on whether to tax their sugary beverages on November 8.

San Francisco voters also considered a soda tax in 2014, but it failed to garner a two-thirds majority needed for approval.

Public health officials and politicians point to the Berkeley study as proof of the power of an excise tax to wean residents of low-income neighbourhoods off sweetened drinks.

“The study is another tool highlighting how effective a tax on sugary beverages will be on changing the consumption rate,” San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen told Reuters Health.

“Just like tobacco, these are commodities we can live without that are killing us,” she said. Cohen wrote the San Francisco ballot measure.

Researchers surveyed 873 adults in low-income commercial neighbourhoods in Berkeley and 1,806 adults in similar neighbourhoods in nearby San Francisco and Oakland before and a few months after imposition of the soda tax.

Sweetened beverage consumption increased slightly in San Francisco and Oakland at the same time it dropped in Berkeley, the study showed. In Berkeley, water consumption spiked 63 per cent, compared to 19 per cent in San Francisco and Oakland, after the tax took effect.

The researchers attributed the surge in water consumption to a heat wave. But the American Beverage Association saw it as example of the study’s flaws.

In a statement, Brad Williams, an economist working for the trade group, criticized the research for using “unreliable and imprecise methodology” and producing “implausible” results.

The association’s criticism may hold grains of truth, Nestle said. But she largely dismissed it. “Obviously, the ABA is going to attack the results. That’s rule number one in the playbook: cast doubt on the science,” she said.

Public health experts believe soda helped drive American obesity rates to among the highest in the world. The U.S. spent an estimated $190 billion US treating obesity-related conditions in 2012.
Diabetes rates have almost tripled over the past three decades, while sugary beverage consumption doubled.

source: www.cbc.ca      Thomson Reuters     Posted: Oct 28, 2016
Advertisements


Leave a comment

Health Minister Jane Philpott announces new food labelling, marketing regulations

Canada to follow World Health Organization recommendations released in 2010

The federal government is overhauling Canada’s healthy eating guidelines with a sweeping strategy that will include new rules for marketing and labelling certain foods aimed at children.

Health Minister Jane Philpott said the “iconic” Canada Food Guide has not kept up with the country’s changing demographics and lifestyles.

“The classic one-size-fits-all guide no longer meets the needs of Canadians,” she said in a Montreal speech.

Philpott said the guide must be “relevant and practical” and provide advice for Canadians whether they are shopping at the grocery store or looking at a restaurant menu. It must be individualized and adaptable for food preferences and sensitivities, she said.

Another change will eventually require labelling on the front of packages that will highlight if a product is high or low in certain nutrients such as sodium, sugar and saturated fats.

Protect children from marketing

In May 2010, the World Health Organization released recommendations on the marketing of food and beverages to children. It called on governments worldwide to reduce the exposure of children to advertising and to reduce the use of powerful marketing techniques employed by the manufacturers of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fat acids, free added sugars or sodium.

nutrition-facts-label
New regulations will eventually require front-of-package labelling,
which will highlight if a product is high or low in certain nutrients
such as sodium, sugar and saturated fats. (Kelly Crowe/CBC)

Today, Canada is acting on those recommendations, following the lead of Quebec, which already restricts marketing to children under the age of 13.

It will take anywhere from five to 10 years to implement the changes, after consultations with industry, stakeholders and the public.

The last food guide was criticized because it was based on much input from industry. Philpott said stakeholders will have a say in the process, but they will not dictate the results.

“I think it’s only fair for the people who are selling food to be able to have opportunity to comment in terms of what the impact might be on them,” she said.
“But they will not have impact on the advice given in the guide.”

All meetings and correspondence between stakeholders and officials in her office will be transparent and made public, she said.

Conservative Senator Kelvin Ogilvie, who chaired a committee that carried out a sweeping study on obesity in Canada, welcomed the initiatives as “very encouraging.”  He called the plan to ensure the food industry remains at arm’s length in the decision process “most heart-warming.”

“It’s a total conflict of interest,” he told CBC News. “You simply can’t have the people who make the greatest degree of money selling you any product, making a final recommendation to government as to how healthy that product is.”

Informed food choices

A group representing the sector said the industry is already taking steps to encourage Canadians to make more informed, healthy food choices, and said it is “keen” to ensure further steps are taken

“That said, this is an unprecedented amount of change that will require an unprecedented level of investment in an unprecedented time frame,” said Joslyn Higginson, vice-president of public and regulatory affairs for the Food and Consumer Products of Canada, in a statement.

“This will change what’s in our products, what’s on our product packaging and how those products are marketed.”

The food and beverage industry continues to face challenges with timely regulatory approvals and costs for reformulation and innovation. Outdated regulations mean it takes longer to bring new and reformulated products to market in Canada than in other countries.

“Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency must address lagging regulatory modernization quickly — before imposing new regulations,” she said.
“It’s the only way that food and beverage makers will be able to implement this scale and magnitude of change, and hope to remain competitive, much less grow and innovate.”

Food guide consultation continues

Health Canada just completed a scientific review of the Canada Food Guide. It found that most of the science behind its recommendations was sound.

However the department found there were not enough distinctions between age groups, sex, activity levels, or height.

Consultations will wrap up Dec. 8, 2016. The guide was last updated in 2007, but it remains the most requested document at Health Canada.

Philpott said the Healthy Canada strategy has three pillars:

  • Healthy eating, including the updated food guide and new labelling and marketing rules.
  • Healthy living, including promotion of physical activity and fitness and new rules to deter smoking and vaping.
  • Healthy minds, including new initiatives to improve mental health.

Elimination of trans fats to continue

The federal government asked industry to voluntarily eliminate trans fats in processed foods in 2007. No regulations were ever introduced by the previous Conservative government.

Many food manufacturers took them out of their products anyway, bowing to consumer demand. But some trans fats still exist in products, and Philpott said more action will be taken to eliminate them.

Sasha McNicoll, co-ordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, urged the federal government to fund a school food program in every school in the country as a way to ensure kids are eating nutritious food.

She said the program would cost about $1 billion a year, and suggested the federal government kick in 20 per cent of the costs shared by the provinces, municipalities and civil society groups.

“It can improve their health and it can improve their education outcomes,” she told CBC News. “An investment now can help children develop better eating habits into adulthood and that will hopefully save in health-care costs down the road.”

By Susan Lunn, Kathleen Harris, CBC News     Oct 26, 2016
source: www.cbc.ca


6 Comments

9 Reasons To Eat Honey Daily

 The possible health benefits of honey have been documented in early Greek, Roman, Vedic, and Islamic texts and healing qualities of honey were referred to by philosophers and scientists all the way back to ancient times, such as Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Aristoxenus (320 BC). – Joseph Nordqvist, Medical News Daily
For something that tastes so good, honey isn’t consumed all that often. Besides being delicious, honey is also densely packed with valuable nutrition, such as nutrients. Honey is also quite healthy: a tablespoon of raw, unadulterated honey contains 64 calories, and is free from cholesterol, fat, and sodium.
The ideal nutritional composition of honey almost assuredly helps give the natural sweeter its health-promoting properties. Here, we’re going to discuss nine such health benefits of this sweet nectar.

HERE ARE NINE AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS OF HONEY:

1. RELIEVES ALLERGIES
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that many believe can help with reducing allergic reactions. Honey itself contains traces of pollen that can initiate an immune response when exposed to it. Over time, the body will produce enough antibodies to the pollen, which effectively causes the body to release less histamine. Consequently, the body will exhibit a more limited immune response.
2. SUPPRESSES COUGH
The viscus texture of honey causes it to accumulate a sort-of coat around the throat area. This coating can help with throat irritation often experienced during a coughing episode. Honey also stimulates the nerve endings of the throat, which serves as a protection mechanism while coughing.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a comprehensive study pertaining to the cough suppression properties of honey. Using three different honey varieties – citrus, eucalyptus, and labiatae – researchers administered a 10-gram dose to 300 children aged 1 to 5 years. According to the study, “there was significant improvement from the night before treatment to the night of treatment.”
3. NATURALLY PROMOTES SLEEP
Honey can be a beneficial for a sleepless night. Consuming honey causes an increase in serotonin and insulin levels, while the body systematically converts them into melatonin – a compound that both promotes and regulates sleep. Consequently, consuming honey improves both the desired duration and quality of one’s sleep.
4. TREATS BURNS AND WOUNDS
It surprises many to learn that honey is a natural antibiotic. Medically, the antibiotic uses for honey span a multitude of both internal and external uses. It is a natural disinfectant against many bacteria, making it a powerful agent against wounds and sores.
Honey

In a study published by the British Journal of Medicine, honey was applied to 59 patients that had failed to heal using traditional medicine. Astonishingly, 58 of the 59 patients showed “remarkable improvement” after honey was applied to the wound.

5. IMPROVES MEMORY
Oxidation of the brain can lead to structural damage and cognitive decline. Honey products help in this regard, as the substance contains high levels of antioxidants that may reverse this adverse effect. Honey also helps to absorb calcium – a vital nutrient for brain nourishment. It is believed that these two mechanisms of honey can aid cognition, including memory.
6. PROVIDES ENERGY
Honey can also provide a much-needed energy spike. This all-natural sweetener contains fructose and glucose, which can quickly enter the bloodstream and produce a burst of energy. Even those seeking to gain muscle mass can benefit from the unique energy properties of honey. Honey which can actually help them build bulk via release of insulin-life growthfactor-1 (IGF-1).
7. TREATS DANDRUFF
Kind of an odd-one-out sort of deal here, but as already mentioned, honey is a potent natural healer for the skin. In a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, patients that applied diluted honey to areas of flaking scalp three hours before rinsing “responded markedly with application.” In the same study, scalp itching disappeared within one week; skin lesions in two weeks, and some patients even showed “subjective improvement in hair loss.”
8. HELPS ACID REFLUX
According to RefluxMD, honey supposedly reduces the symptoms of acid reflux. Honey coats the lining of the esophagus, which may lead to soothing of irritation. Consumption of honey is also thought to counteract any internal damage caused by acid reflux. Further, the heavy concentrations of enzymes within honey assists with digestion, which may help to prevent the occurrence of acid reflux. So, forget the Alka-Seltzer…reach for the honey!
9. STRENGTHENS THE GUT
Honey can be used as a prebiotic, which in turn provides sustenance to the healthy bacteria in our gut. Healthy bacteria are required to properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and equalize the immune system. It is also suggested that honey, because of its prebiotic properties, can deter problematic digestive conditions such as Celiac Disease, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and others.


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

  • Studies show that the walking through a doorway causes memory lapses, which is why we walk into another room, only to forget why we did.
  • A man named Walter Summerford was struck by lightning 3 times in his life.  After his death, his gravestone was also struck. 
  • Long distance relationships are as satisfying as normal relationships in terms of communication, intimacy, and commitment, studies show. 
overthinking
  • Emotional pain lasts for 10 to 20 minutes, anything longer is actually self inflicted by over thinking, making things worse.
  • Just 20 minutes of exercise three days a week will increase your happiness by around 10 to 20% .
  • A sunflower is actually a cluster of hundreds of flowers.
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth after oil.

 

Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


Leave a comment

What is Lecithin? And is it Good or Bad for Me?

What in the world is lecithin?

In 1845, French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Gobley isolated a fatty, yellowish substance from an egg yoke. He named it phosphatidylcholine lecithine and it’s been injected into our foods ever since.

Today, “lecithin” is a generic term applied to any yellowish, fatty substance that naturally occurs in plant and animal tissues – “a mixture of phospholipids and oil.” In the body, it supports cell membrane health after breaking down into choline; in food manufacturing settings, it’s used as a smoothing agent, as an emulsifier, to repel stickiness, and as a generally homogenizing liquid.

Most of the time, lecithin is chemically extracted from largely available, inexpensive sources like canola, eggs, milk, or sunflowers, and most commonly soy.

Lecithin is often added to animal feed as a fat and protein source. It also has applications in the pharmaceutical industry (it makes your pills swallowable) and in the paint industry (it makes a great protective coat). But most of the time, lecithin crosses our paths as an additive in commercially produced foods.

Check your grocery labels and you’ll find it doing all the hard work in your nonstick cooking spray, or as a dispersing agent in the mass produced breads you pick up in the baked goods aisle. Lecithin is responsible for making a lot of the commercially produced foods that we eat soft, tasty and long-lasting. It keeps our chocolate from separating and makes our salad dressings smooth.

Is it bad for me?

As a standalone, lecithin is essentially harmless. It’s very easy for the body to digest and metabolize and is often sold as an herbal supplement on its own. A number of clinical trials have found additional benefits of lecithin, ranging from being an effective aid in treating liver disease, managing high cholesterol or even preventing dementia by supporting neurotransmission in the brain.

However, many experts suggest that we need to further analyze the variables that surround it.

lecithin

Phytoestrogens

Soy is pretty commonly known to carry a number of phytoestrogens, a substance that can confuse natural hormonal processes and even lower sperm count. For this reason, it’s often recommended that we avoid soy products and keep those phytoestrogens very minimal. However, soy lecithin isn’t where the problem lies – at least as far as we know today; for generally healthy people the trace amounts of phytoestrogens shouldn’t be an issue.

GMOs

Most of the soy that is grown in the United States is genetically modified – a process that produces immunogenic proteins and can cause DNA disruptions. Lucky for us, soy lecithin contains very little soy protein (some sources include none at all), so this isn’t too desperate a concern.

Toxins

Because lecithin is extracted from raw material through a chemical solvent (usually hexane) there is some concern that chemicals may transfer to the final product. The FDA doesn’t regulate the amount of hexane residue left in commercial foods after-the-fact, so it’s possible concentrations are indeed leftover.

The Final Verdict

Most experts seem to agree that lecithin, consumed by a healthy person within reasonable amounts is perfectly harmless. Possible negatives are neutralized by the very fact that they show up in such small amounts that pale in comparison to the other toxins and chemicals we encounter every day.

However, in the end it just depends. If you have a soy allergy, are pregnant or are a breast cancer survivor you may want to steer clear, just to be on the safe side; or consider switching to clean eating principles and avoid processed foods all together!

By: Lauren Bowen    October 20, 2016

source: www.care2.com


1 Comment

Easily Digestible Foods

Human body is designed to complete the hardest processes with ease, but some functions are rather complicated and aren’t carried out by your body as smoothly as you may think. Your digestive system is quite complicated for instance. You will find it easy to chew and digest certain foods, such as bananas, but it will be difficult to digest other foods like sugarcane or dry fruits. Certain foods are easy for your digestive system to break down into smaller parts, and these are called easily digestible foods. Keep reading to find out more about differences about them and the reasons why they are good for you.

4 Easily Digestible Foods Categories

Whether you have a cranky digestive system or you have recently been diagnosed with a digestive disorder, it is always helpful to have some information about easily digestible foods. These foods are basically divided into four food categories as listed below.

1.  Low-Fiber Foods

Eating dietary fiber has its benefits. It helps control blood cholesterol levels and promotes regular bowel movements as well. However, if you don’t drink enough water, too much of dietary fiber may lead to constipation. Watermelon, bananas, honeydew melon, peach, white breads, dry cereals, zucchini, cucumber, tofu, fish are some of the examples of low-fiber foods.

2.  Low-Fat Foods

Saturated fat obtained from animal sources is quite dense. Your body needs lots of stomach acid as well as bile from your gallbladder to digest fat. You will face indigestion issues if you don’t produce enough stomach acid or have issues related to liver. So you should add low-fat foods to your diet. Water-packed albacore tuna, skinless chicken breast, and scrambled egg whites are some of the most common examples of low-fat foods.

3.  Steamed Vegetables

Most vegetables are rich in fiber, but steaming them until they become soft will reduce the amount of indigestible fiber in them. The good thing is that steaming will not affect the mineral and vitamin content of vegetables. You can even boil vegetables to make them more digestible, but the minerals and vitamins will leach out into the cooking water.

4.  Juicing

You can process vegetables and fruits in a juicing machine to get rid of fiber and feed your body with all the nutrients. Blended smoothies will make your vegetables and fruits even more digestible, but they may still contain fiber. Pineapple, berries, beets and carrots are some great fruits and vegetables used for juicing.

40 More Popular and Easily Digestible Foods

As what we have talked above, you can find a variety of foods that don’t put too much pressure on your digestive system.Here are some of the most popular easily digestible foods.

1.  Brown Rice

Even though it is a great source of carbohydrates and contains fiber too, brown rice is still a better choice as compared to white rice. You can eat brown rice without having to worry too much about constipation, gas and diarrhea.

2.  Bananas

Bananas are extremely beneficial for your digestive system because they contain potassium and are a good source of fiber as well. They also provide you with 17% of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Just peel it and eat to boost your digestive system.

Bananas

 

3.  Avocados

Avocados stimulate your digestive system and are quite light on your stomach. Due to its nice texture, you can chew it up easily and break it down to smaller pieces which in turn facilitate digestion. Avocados are quite beneficial because they contain potassium, health fat and moderate fiber as well.

4.  Leafy Vegetables

Leafy veggies like spinach, cabbage, etc. are extremely beneficial for your health because they help flush out toxins and any foodstuffs that your stomach cannot digest. These vegetables are also extremely helpful when you want to lose weight.

5.  Oatmeal

Enjoy oatmeal in the breakfast and you won’t have to face any digestive problems throughout the day. It has high fiber content and can lower a cholesterol level on your body. However, you may need to avoid the instant oatmeal that’s available in packets.

6.  Yogurt

Unlike other dairy products, yogurt is quite easy to digest. That’s mainly due to the presence of probiotics in yogurt. It also contains calcium and protein, and is good for your bones and overall health.

7.  Sauerkraut

This fermented cabbage is quite easy to digest and can even boost your body’s ability to digest other foods. This is because it has the lactic acid bacteria that help with digestion.

8.  Kimchi

Even though it is spicy, it still helps prevent indigestion mainly due to the fermentation process. It usually takes months to prepare Kimchi. There are even special refrigerators used to maintain proper temperature required for proper fermentation.

9.  Salmon

All varieties of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but salmon is among the most easily digestible fish. It contains protein and omega-3s with little fat and cholesterol. Opt for baked salmon that doesn’t upset your stomach and is also delicious.

10.  Chicken Breast

Lean meat like chicken breast, lean turkey, lean pork and lean beef is always easy on your stomach. Chicken breast is rich in minerals, vitamins and proteins. The only thing to remember is that it doesn’t have any fiber, so eat it with another fiber-rich food. Don’t eat fried chickenas it may be a bit uneasy for your digestive system.

11.  Eggs

Most people face no issues eating all varieties of eggs. Egg is a rich source of protein and minerals. Chicken eggs are probably the best for digestion, but you can also get similar benefits from duck eggs. Boiled or scrambled eggs are the best for your digestive system because they don’t contain oil.


Below are 30 foods that won’t disturb your stomach.

30 More Easily Digestible Foods

  • Pulses
  • Cereals
  • Onions
  • Porridge
  • Prunes
  • Toast
  • Soda crackers
  • Gelatin
  • Peas
  • Bread
  • Wheat sprouts
  • Baked turkey
  • Broth
  • Sourdough
  • Green beans
  • Peer
  • Papaya
  • Blue berries
  • Corns
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Buckwheat
  • Nuts
  • Raspberries
  • Millet
  • Soybeans
  • Asparagus
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes
  • Red beets
  • Cod liver oil


Leave a comment

The Best Mindset To Preserve Memory And Judgement

The best mindset to ward off cognitive decline can be cultivated using exercises such as visualising your best possible self.

Older adults with a more optimistic outlook experience fewer memory and judgement problems, new research finds.

Optimism has also been linked to desirable health behaviours like:

  • Eating more healthily.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Lower risk of heart conditions and stroke.

For the study, researchers followed around 500 older adults over four years to see if they experienced any cognitive impairments.

The results showed that the best mindset was optimism, which was linked to a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment.

Ms Katerina Gawronski, the study’s first author, said:

“We felt like this was an important topic to investigate and to our knowledge, it’s the first study to examine the link between optimism and cognitive impairment in older adults.
We found that optimism was indeed associated with better cognitive health over time.”

optimism

Best mindset can be learned

The good news is that optimism is not fixed in stone.

Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.

Here is how I’ve previously explained the exercise:

Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic. 

Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well. 

You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself. 

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper. 

This exercise draws on the proven benefits of expressive writing.

Dr Eric Kim, a study co-author, said:

“Therefore, optimism may be a novel and promising target for prevention and intervention strategies aimed at improving cognitive health.”

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (Gawronski et al., 2016).
source: PsyBlog