The majority of processed foods do contain food dye, also called artificial food coloring. What might seem harmless and decorative, might raise concerns about health risks. Of course our drinks, candies, and baked goods look bright and lovely, but looks can be deceiving. Children consume it the most and overall consumption has gone but my 500% in the last 50 years.
Oh the things we do for appearance. Food dyes are chemicals that originated in 1856 from coal tar. Only a handful are okay for consumption and the rest are considered toxic. The attraction to artificial food dyes versus natural ones are the bright colors it makes. Manufacturers want to draw our eyes in and make us envision the foods even when we aren’t having them.
- The FDA has approved food dyes as being safe, but controversy still surrounds this approval. These are the currently approved FDA food dyes and what they’re used for:
- Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue): popsicles, icings, ice cream, canned peas, packaged soups.
- Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine): ice cream, candy, cereals, snacks.
- Red No. 3 (Erythrosine): cake decorating gels, candy, popsicles.
- Red No. 40 (Allura Red): candy, condiments, sports drinks.
- Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine): chips, cereals, candy, soft drinks, popcorn.
- Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow): sauces, preserved fruits, baked goods.
The most commonly (90% of foods) used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. One might question when a dye like Green No. 3 is approved by the FDA but not in Europe. However, Quinoline Yellow, Carmoisine and Ponceau are approved in Europe but not the US. Seems risky.
There isn’t a lot of science to back up the claims regarding the harmfulness of artificial dyes, although studies have been done. There can be possible changes in children’s behavior which have been linked to hyperactivity. Some doctors recommend eliminating artificial dyes from children who may have ADHD. Questions have also been raised about the relationship between food dyes and cancer, particularly Blue 2 and Red 3. Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 might be contaminated with cancer causing substances. The best answer is to eat whole foods, not processed. This takes away the risks possibly associated with food dyes. Eat food in its natural color and form. Prepare your own food. It can be scary knowing what is put in our food to preserve it, but the best solution is to shop yourself, cook yourself, and to choose healthy options for your meals and snacks.
Mom always said to drink our milk so we can have strong bones. Our bones are constantly being broken down and then replaced. Osteoporosis is the condition that prevents this bone regeneration from happening in a timely matter, so new bone isn’t built in time to keep up with the removal of old bone. This causes what bone is left in existence to be weak and brittle. Bone loss silently prays on its victims, giving away no clues at first that this problem is occurring in the body.
In severe cases, even coughing can cause a bone to fracture. Falls become highly dangerous with the potential of bone fractures to the hips, spine, and/or wrist.
By about age 20, our bones have developed and grown to their peak. Youth works in one’s favor when it comes to bone health because the body is full speed ahead at making new bone even faster than the old bone is broken down. As we age, this process reverses and we lose bone mass faster than we can rebuild it. The teenage years are a period that bone is built and stored in the reserve. When we age, we make withdrawals from this reserve. The more we have in our storage container, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis in our older years.
The symptoms aren’t exactly smacking someone in the face. However, some indications that could warrant seeing a doctor include poor posture, loss of height, back pain, and bones that seem to break much easier than they ought to. Besides aging, other risks for osteoporosis include gender, as women are more susceptible, family history, being petite or having a small body frame, as well as being Caucasian or Asian. Certain medical conditions can also increase risk including cancer, lupus, arthritis, IBS (inflammatory bowl disease), and celiac disease. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to weak bones. Being sedentary also increases risk. Hormonal imbalances are related to osteoporosis. Menopause has a tremendous impact in women, due to lower levels of estrogen. Men also have a reduction in testosterone levels as they age but not as gaping as women do. Having low calcium levels is a threat to your bone health. Bone density decreases. Eating disorders can escalate this lack of nutrients.
Weight bearing exercises, i.e. resistance training, is a great preventative tool to improve bone health. This will help will better posture and balance. Exercise is medicine. Weight management is key as both being underweight and overweight increase risk. Protein is the building block for bone health, so meeting your body’s dietary needs is important. Adding to this, calcium and vitamin D are crucial. As we age, we need about 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day which can come from dairy, green vegetables, and fish (to name a few sources). Vitamin D helps us absorb this calcium. The sun the best resource for this.
Our body frame is the collection of our bones. Our skeletal system needs good bone health for muscle functioning and movement. We might not be able to go back in time and deposit more bone into the reserve, so moving forward we need to exercise, eat right, and be sure to get a little sunshine. Age doesn’t have to equate to a decline in your height and posture. Stand up tall, embrace the beauty of age and wisdom, and lift a few weights while you are at it.
Dietary fiber is a very important component of nutrition. There are a number of reasons why we need to consume this “roughage”. Fiber is the part of plant type foods that our body does not digest or absorb. The body doesn’t break it down once eaten, rather it passes through our digestive system. It is most commonly found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Generally, processed foods contain low amounts of fiber, explaining the high prevalence of inadequate dietary fiber intake.
There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Once the fiber reaches the colon, these types differ in their performances.
- Soluble fiber: Sources include apples, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, oats, barely, and psyllium. This type of fiber dissolves in water looking more like a gel. Its benefits include lowering cholesterol and glucose.
- Insoluble fiber: Sources include whole wheat, green beans, and cauliflower. This type of fiber assists the digestive tract to help food move through the system, making it beneficial for constipation and irregular bowels.
How much do you need per day??
Men: age 50 or younger need 38 grams, age 51 and older need 30 grams
Women: age 50 or younger need 25 grams, age 51 or older need 21 grams
In order to meet these daily needs, the best source of fiber comes from whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and beans are quality options. Supplements can also be an option. Some food does have added fiber like yogurts or granola bars. However, this substitute has been known to cause gas and stomach discomfort. There are also products like Metamucil on the market.
We need fiber for our digestive health, particularly our bowels. Fiber makes our stools easier to pass and decreases constipation. It is able to make the stools larger and bulkier which are easier to exit versus watery stool. It actually helps make the watery stool more solid. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and inflammation. For diabetics, fiber is critical for blood sugar levels because it can help absorb sugar. Fiber is also important for weight management because these foods help you feel fuller, with the potential to then eat less. Feeling full can help ward off overindulgence. It can also help prevent diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Anything in excess can be bad. Having too much fiber can lead to bloating, gas, and cramping. Too much help from fiber makes the stomach area crowded and backed up. Fiber is another reason to eat your fruits and vegetables. Your gut health is a primary concern considering we eat to live. What goes in must come out, and fiber is that conductor making sure the path is clear for easy exit.
Gout is a form of arthritis that typically effects the big toe area. Warning signs include pain, redness, swelling, and the area feels hot. A gout “attack” can strike swiftly, even waking someone up during the night. The joint becomes extremely tender to even the slightest touch. Although most commonly occurring in the big toe joint, gout can take its toll on any joint it decides. Then moving that joint become difficult. The first 12 hours are the worst feelings of pain reported by sufferers. The attach can last for a few days or for a few weeks.
This condition occurs when urate crystals start to accumulate in the joint. These crystals come from high levels of uric acid in the body. The body has to break down purines that are found both naturally in the body as well as in foods like steak and seafood and alcoholic beverages. A bi product of this breaking down process is uric acid. Typically, uric acid dissolves in the body, passes through the kidneys, and is excreted through urine. However, if the body is on uric acid overload and the kidneys aren’t passing the bi-product through, this uric acid builds up. Soon, sharp crystals start to form in a joint and pain sets in.
It is important to take note of what can cause uric acid to build up in the body. As mentioned, eating too much meat or seafood can cause accumulation. This is true for alcoholic beverage consumption as well in excess, especially beer. Obesity is also a cause due to this body type producing more uric acid for the kidneys to struggle to push through. High blood pressure and diabetes are also uric acid culprits. Gout is genetically related. Men tend to experience gout more than women. However, after menopause, women’s uric acid levels seem to rise.
There are medications to treat gout, especially if one experiences this condition repeatedly. It is important to treat gout at early onset in order to prevent kidney stones. Drinking plenty of water can help the kidneys do their work. A doctor might test the fluid of the affected joint for crytals. An ultrasound can also detect urate crystals. Luckily, there are medications to treat and prevent gout attacks. NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or Aleve that a doctor might prescribe in a higher dose. Corticosteriods, such as prednisone, can come in pill or shot form to help alleviate pain. Colchicine is a pain reliever that specifically reduces gout pain. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs) actually block uric acid production. Uricosurics help the kidneys remove uric acid.
Pain anywhere in the body should be addressed. This is certainly the case when any sign of gout arises. Pay attention to what triggers an attack. Your body and kidneys will thank you for taking care of your health. Uric crystals mean the near fortune is not good, so be sure to hydrate, watch your diet, and manage your weight.
Dried Fruit: The pros and cons to packaged sweetness
Part of a healthy, balanced diet includes the consumption of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Dried fruit might seem like a handy snack to meet this dietary recommendation. This snack consists of fruit in which the water has been removed by a dehydrator or naturally from the sun. Apricots, cranberries, raisons, dates…. are just a few on the list. Sometimes they’re coated in a spice or sugar for added taste, such as dried mangoes with chili pepper. There are pros and cons to this selection. You be the judge whether you decide to reach for fresh or dried next time you have some.
Fans of dried fruit love its sweet taste, the no mess, how convenient for on-the-go it is, and the long shelf life. Dried fruit outlives and fresh type. We find these snack packs in vending machines, at the airport, while we are checking out at the grocery store, and at gas stations. Seems like a good alternative to a candy bar when the options are limited. Dried fruit is nutritious in the sense that it is just compacted fruit. It actually contains close to 3 ½ times the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber compared to fresh fruit. It is a great source of antioxidants.
Sugar, sugar, sugar. Dried fruit can contain up to three times the amount of sugar compared to fresh fruit. No wonder it is so tasty. Ever heard the word “fructose”?? Well that is the very sugar hiding in dried fruit. When we have extra fructose in the body, the liver converts it to VLDL. This is the bad cholesterol that is high in triglycerides. The health consequences of high triglycerides include heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For example, let’s take a look at popular dried cranberries. Topped on a salad or part of your trail mix, it seems like an added healthy bonus. Wrong. One cup of fresh cranberries has 4 grams of sugar. One cup of dried cranberries has 70 grams. That equates to one bag of M&Ms. This raises the calorie content as well. In general, dried fruit has twice the calories and carbohydrates as fresh fruit. While all these no-no’s are added, calcium is subtracted as a result of the drying process.
The freedom of choice
What we perceive to be healthy doesn’t always equate to be true and this can be reflected by our fitness results. Clean eating involves fresh choices. Mother nature is the only additive. It’s probably a good idea to not eat anything with ingredients we are unable to pronounce. Real fruit doesn’t come with a label. We are also misled to believe that the bag of dried apricots was one serving, when really it was 2 or more which is another indication that we neglect labels and are not fully aware of what is being put in our bodies and how much. It is easy to justify once bad choice over the other by reaching for a package of dried fruit instead of the candy bar. The truth is that a fresh apple can fit in your purse or bag too. Such a tiny snack pack wrecks quite the damage on the waistline. We are told to always stay hydrated, and this seems like good advice for our fruit too.
Orange juice is a breakfast favorite and comes in different varieties. This liquid extract can come from blood oranges, Valencia oranges, navel oranges, tangerine, or clementines. Some types include more pulp than others. Drinking orange juice can be just a beneficial as eating an entire orange, provided it is not loaded with preservatives, sugar, and additives.
The trouble is that just one cup of this juice contains quite a bit of sugar and carbohydrates, which might be why it can jump start a person’s day. One cup of orange juice contains about 26 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of sugar. Quite a bit for a small amount and not everyone is sticking to one cup per serving. The flip side is that this juice is loaded with vitamin C, up to 120%. Some might argue that the health benefits of this beverage are worth a little added sugar. Orange juice can reduce signs of aging, boost immunity, detoxify the body, boost metabolism, boost cellular repair, improve circulation, improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. The key is how the juice is prepared.
Besides being packed with vitamin C, orange juice contains thiamin, vitamin A, fiber, folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, protein, thiamine, flavonoids. Vitamin C is a primary antioxidant in the body that destroys free radicals before they can do damage to the body. Vitamin A is another type of antioxidant that helps to detoxify the body. It increases the function of the kidneys and is also beneficial to eye health.
It is important to avoid frozen orange juice, canned orange juice, or concentrated orange juice, because they are all loaded with preservatives. The content of these juices is far different from the fresh squeezed type. Too much of any good thing can be harmful. Orange juice is high on the glycemic index which means drinking quite a bit at once can really raise blood sugar levels. This can cause complications for diabetics and pre-diabetics. The best way to reap the benefit of oranges is to eat a whole orange. Manufacturers often add chemicals to their juices in order to replenishes the loss of nutritive values from mass production.
The connotation of juice is healthy. It is assumed to be the same as eating the actual fruit. However, in today’s world of mass production and longer shelf life, we are ingesting and digesting more chemicals than ever. If what we ate was fresh, it should be consumed right away. Yet in a world of expiration dates and false advertising, we look for the best value for the largest amount, that will last the longest. Orange juice was never meant to be purchased under these considerations.
When we think of American food, the classic hamburger comes to mind. Certain chains have made this meat patty and bun extremely popular, especially with all the different versions that now exist. The patty can be fried, grilled, or flame boiled, and some of the traditional toppings include lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, cheese, pickles, mayonnaise, or different special sauces.
The first hamburger was sold by Louis Lassen in 1895. This information is according to the government of Connecticut who said that hamburgers originated from the Louis Lunch restaurant. This sandwich was actually nameless until a traveler from Hamburg, Germany, named it after where he lived. It wasn’t until about 1921 when White Castle in Kansas became the first chain to carry the product. About 19 years later, McDonalds soon followed suit. This chain was known for adding variety to the sandwich. Because McDonalds offered fast service, the hamburger soon became a hit. Today, Burger King follows McDonalds as the second largest hamburger chain.
A traditional single patty hamburger has about 230 calories, 9.5 grams of fat, 25 carbohydrates, and 13 grams of protein.
Americans consume approximately 50 billion burgers per year.
About 75% of all American restaurants are burger joints.
71% of beef consumed in American is in the form of a hamburger.
There are over 50,000 burger joints across the United States.
Of all sandwiches sold, burgers account for 60%.
McDonalds purchases over 1 billion pounds of hamburger meat per year.
Besides the major chains the list of burger joints that sell the most burgers are as follows: In-N-Out, Culver’s, Fuddruckers, Steak n Shake, Smashburger, Five Guys, Whataburger, Rally’s, Carl’s Jr., and Wendy’s.
A burger can be very basic or very unique these days. The portion distortion of a single patty has also become part of the more the merrier for the belly. Not to mention the French fries or onion rings that come on the side. A burger can pretty much satisfy anyone’s taste-buds and there are now vegetarian and non-red meat options. Those following dietary restrictions might ditch the bun and opt for a lettuce wrap. There are gigantic not able to fit in your mouth burgers, and then there are mini sliders. Depending on your preference, a burger can be detrimental to the waistline or a good addition of iron and nutrients. Going back to the basic hamburger Louis Lassen made might be a lost art, but there’s always room for simplicity in one’s life. At summer barbeques and parties, burgers are always an option on the menu. A hamburger is taste of American tradition well sought after.
Whey is one of the most popular protein products on the market. It is derived from the watery portion of milk, the same part that separates curds when making cheese. This product can help improve a person’s nutrient intake, may be linked to weight loss, and has also been used to assist athletic performance. It contains lactose, minerals, protein, vitamins, and fat. However, user be ware if you have a milk allergy. In fact, ricotta cheese contains the highest amount of whey. Whey can be concentrated or isolated and then used to make other products. It is commonly found in crackers, baked goods, and protein products like bars and shakes.
Whey protein is considered a complete protein, meaning is contains all the essential amino acids. It is also easily digestible for those who don’t have a milk allergy, so the body quickly absorbs the benefits. The most common form used and bought is concentrate. However, it also comes in isolate and hydrolysate. Whey contains branched chain amino acids, particularly leucine. This is worth noting since leucine can help prevent age related muscle loss and increase strength. Whey contains lactokinins, which are ACE-inhibitors. These enzymes help reduce blood pressure. Whey can increase insulin levels, which helps moderate blood sugar. This is great news for diabetics. For example, taking a whey product supplement before a high carbohydrate meal has been shown to moderate blood sugar. Type 2 diabetics should take note of this.
Adding to the list of benefits, whey contains C-reactive protein (CRP), which helps reduce inflammation in the body. It also contains cysteine which is an amino acid needed for glutathione production in the body. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help lower the risk for chronic diseases. For persons with irritable bowel syndrome, whey can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Whey is also satiating, meaning a person feels fuller longer. Protein is one of the most filling macronutrients. As a result, a person might use whey to help lower their weight.
Different packages have different size doses of whey. A typically serving of a protein shake power form contains 20-25 grams of protein. Taking more whey than this is not beneficial to the body, because we can only absorb so much protein at one time. This powder can be simply added to water, or it can be a great addition to a smoothie, yogurt, or baked good.
Whey is a convenient addition to one’s diet with so many benefits. It is readily available and not overly priced. Especially when on the go, whey is a great option. The body appreciates proper fueling, and whey is a great source of ammunition.
Milk has been a staple of the American diet for every generation. Children are told their bones will grow strong when they have a glass of milk. It is our first meal from our mother, but then becomes replaced by another form. For many years, the only type that existed was cow’s milk. Today, almond milk has become an alternative causing a debate questioning which is the better choice.
In the battle of cow’s vs almond milk, the winner might be a matter of personal preference. Here’s how they stack up:
One percent low fat milk contains about 110 calories, 2% contains 130 calories, and whole milk has about 150 calories per cup. 90% of the world’s milk comes from dairy farms. There has been questioning about the cleanliness and humanity of this process. Some even argue that cow’s milk is not actually meant for human consumption. Milk is made up of lactose, which is the most common food allergy in the world. Despite all this, cow’s milk does have quite a bit of nutritional value. In just one cup of milk, there contains 305 milligrams of calcium. This is needed for bone health, our teeth, and blood health. Cow’s milk also has choline which is a nutrient that helps with memory, sleep, and muscle development. It also contains potassium and Vitamin D. The major downfall is that this milk is high in saturated fat. This is an important consideration for person’s with diabetes or heart disease.
Almond milk generally contains fewer calories. Unsweetened almond milk has a mere 30 calories per one cup. The process of making almond milk is similar to brewing coffee. However, the final product does not contain the same amount of nutrients as whole raw almonds. Some of the calcium, fiber, and protein is lost in this process. Therefore, many almond milk products are fortified with nutrients to help make it look comparable to cow’s milk. Almond milk is naturally lactose free which can help those with digestive issues. It is also environmentally sustainable due to the major cultivation of almonds. Almond milk contains healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. This can help lower bad cholesterol levels.
When it comes down to the final winner, the decision is primarily based on a person’s dietary needs. For someone who is trying to lower their cholesterol and keep their blood sugar down, almond milk would be the winner. For someone who is active and still growing and developing, cow’s milk might be the winner. Again, this would all depend if a person is lactose intolerant. The world of milk has changed with many different varieties now available. A bowl of cereal just isn’t a bowl of cereal without milk, no matter what kind.
A new game changer has been the spark in attention for chocolate milk. Both traditional milk and almond milk can come in this tasty flavor too. At the outset, one might question chocolate anything being beneficial to our health, and this beverage is normally a mixture of the milk type with cocoa and other sweeteners (sometimes even high-fructose corn syrup). A little higher in sugar and carbs then most might desire, but the benefits might override these factors. 1 cup has about 200 calories and 30 carbohydrates as well as 28% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for calcium, 25% RDI for vitamin D, 24% for riboflavin, and 25% for phosphorus. All of these are great for bone health.
Avid exercisers and athletes have become fond of drinking chocolate milk because of its contribution to muscle recovery post-workouts. Here is where the carbs and sugar can actually be beneficially, and it is also important to remember that milk is considered a protein with all the essential amino acids. Studies have not proven the effects of chocolate milk are any better than any other type of recovery sports drink.
Including milk of any form in your diet can be great for you bones and hormones, but that is not the case for everyone. Some people have an intolerance to milk that can cause abdominal pain and bowel problems. A person that is lactose intolerant has a condition in which their small intestine doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase. Lactase is needed to break down and digest dairy, so if you aren’t able to do so then discomfort can result. For some people irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be triggered by dairy products. This can result in stomach cramping and chronic diarrhea. In this case, milk should certainly be avoided. Some people are also simply allergic to milk. Their body treats it like a foreign substance. Children usually outgrow milk allergies by the age of three. Symptoms include itchy skin and hives after drinking. There are supplements that can help a person break down and digest dairy if they desire to have it. This way they don’t have to completely eliminate them.
As adults, we don’t always drink milk like we used to as kids. Maybe a little with cereal, oats, or coffee here and there, but overall, we don’t have it with dinner anymore. Milk is a tricky portion distortion problem for some people. Have you ever added more milk because you have a little cereal left? Have you ever thought cookies and milk sounded good and then you keep eating the cookies, so you keep drinking the milk with them? Sticking to drinking just once cup is out of the question many times. For kids, milk is certainly the better option versus soda or sugary fruit juice. Families buy gallons for their kids. There’s a type for everyone’s taste buds depending on what type you buy. Skim or 2% are the most popular options, but then again, some people even like buttermilk. Milk is great for our bodies, and well, chocolate milk makes it case, but not too convincingly. Let’s face it any excuse to add some chocolate to anything can be attractive. Our society keeps the cows busy, but certainly not by those who are lactose intolerant.
Somedays you just feel a little nap could serve you well. A long night, less than usual sleep, a hard day, or just needing a little down time…..whatever the reason is, a nap typically feels restorative and rejuvenating to face the remainder of the day. Some people can take naps very easily, allowing themselves to shut their eyes and distractions out for a short period of time. Others struggle to just stop the day momentarily and pause their mind and body to allow themselves to take a nap. Sometimes you can be so exhausted that the nap just happens and you dozed off unintentionally.
There are actually different types of naps we take because they can serve a different purpose for you.
1. Recovery nap: This is a nap which functions to make up for sleep loss.
2. Appetitive nap: You might just enjoy taking a nap and it can serve a pleasurable purpose for you.
3. Prophylactic nap: This type of nap is common among nurses or people who work night shifts, as they prepare for the lack of sleep or different sleep period that will take place as a result.
4. Essential nap: The common cold often requires the body to use a little extra rest to recover. The immune system needs the nap to keep fighting for you.
5. Fulfillment nap: These types of naps are those that children take because their bodies actually require more sleep for growth and development.
The duration of a nap can very because your body might nap until it is ready, or you might only have an allotted period of time to nap. Typically, a nap can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, which have also coined the term “power naps”. Children are the most common longer nap takers because their body will have them sleep as long as it needs to.
Napping has many benefits with the most obvious being making you feel less tired and sleepy. Feeling more awake in turn helps you to be more alert and better perform tasks. Memory can also be heightened. Operating on a drowsy mind is not safe or even enjoyable. This is especially true when driving.
However, napping can have negative side effects such as making it harder for you to go to sleep when it is your regular bedtime. Napping later in the day can especially cause this. You have to really let your mind relax and not worry about what is going on during the day and sometimes setting an alarm can help you fall asleep because you know you won’t oversleep or miss out on what lies ahead.
It’s hard to believe as adults that we might have hated taking naps when we were younger. Now, we would love to have the ability to do so to break apart our day. Naps are nice and don’t always get to happen, and sometimes we are so caught up in the fast-paced lives we live that it takes removing ourselves from our environment (going on vacation) to actually allow a solid nap to take place. We need our sleep and naps communicate this to our bodies and minds.