Category Archives: healthy-cooking

What is BPA and Why is it Bad for You?

Woman Inspecting Oil Bottle With Magnifying GlassBPA is an industrial chemical that is added to many products.

These days, BPA-containing plastics are commonly used in food containers, baby bottles and other things.

BPA is also used to make epoxy resins, which are put on the inner lining of canned food containers to keep the metal from corroding and breaking.

 

Canned FoodsCommon products that may contain BPA include:

  • Items packaged in plastic containers.
  • Canned foods.
  • Toiletries.
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Thermal printer receipts.
  • CDs and DVDs.
  • Household electronics.
  • Eyeglass lenses.
  • Sports equipment.
  • Dental filling sealants.

Many manufacturers have now switched to BPA-free products, in which BPA has been replaced by bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF),but these may disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA. Thus, BPA-free bottles may not be the solution.

The main source of BPA exposure is through your diet.

Another study had participants eat one serving of either fresh or canned soup daily for 5 days. Urine levels of BPA were 1,221% higher in those who consumed the canned soup.

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that BPA levels in breastfed babies were up to 8 times lower than those measured in babies fed liquid formula from BPA-containing bottles.

Scientist Holding Plastic Water Bottle

BPA’s Biological Mechanisms

1. BPA has a similar structure as the hormone estrogen. It may bind to estrogen receptors and affect the function of your body.

2. Several studies have shown that BPA can negatively affect many aspects of both male and female fertility.

3. BPA exposure during early life may influence birth weight, hormonal development, behavior and cancer risk in later life.

4. Higher BPA levels seem to be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

5. BPA May Raise Your Risk of Obesity

6. BPA May Cause Other Health Problems

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Premature delivery
  • Asthma: Early childhood exposure to BPA was linked to wheezing in later childhood.
  • Liver function: Higher BPA levels were linked to a 29% higher risk of abnormal liver enzyme levels.
  • Immune function: BPA levels may be linked to worse immune function.
  • Thyroid function: Higher BPA levels were linked to abnormal levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Brain function: African green monkeys exposed to BPA levels judged safe by the EPA showed loss of connections between brain cells.
How to Minimize Your Exposure to BPA

Glass Bottles

  • Avoid packaged foods: Eat mostly fresh, whole foods. Stay away from canned foods or foods packaged in plastic containers, especially if labeled with recycling numbers 3, 7 or the letters “PC.”
  • Drink from glass  or metal bottles and use glass baby bottles instead of plastic ones.
  • Stay away from BPA products: As much as possible, limit your contact with receipts, and do not use plastic wrap to store or transport food.
  • Don’t microwave plastic: Microwave and store food in glass rather than plastic.
  • Be careful when washing plastics: Avoid using harsh detergents when washing plastic containers, and do not wash them in the dishwasher.
  • Don’t buy plastic baby toys: Opt for toys made from natural materials rather than plastic, especially for toys that your little one is likely to suck or chew on.
  • Buy powdered infant formula: Some recommend powders over liquids from BPA containers, as liquid is likely to absorb more BPA from the container.
  • Switch to organic toiletries: These include organic shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database is a good resource to help you find products free of BPA or other dangerous chemicals.
  • Purchase safe hygiene products: Replace conventional tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives, such as the organic ones from Natracare.

Adapted from Alina Petre, MS, RD

Be Informed, Stay Healthy.

Processed food – why we must avoid it

What is “processed” food anyway? We’re talking about foods that have changed form, and are therefore different from how they occur in nature.

The more processed foods you eat, the less nourished you become.

Why are foods processed? To protect them from bad bacteria and to make them more visually appealing, packageable, marketable, and shippable. It’s all a matter of convenience.

American “cheese” isn’t made from curds and whey – it’s a nightmarish mix of what was once milk, along with artificial flavors, colorants, preservatives, and gummy texturizers.

White bread is made from flour so processed that it is almost pure starch, and it is barely recognizable as a wheat product – but it’s fluffy and white, and that’s what everyone uses to make PB&J!

These products are so fake that classifying them as “food” is quite a stretch.

Even whole healthy foods are processed. Vegetables are sprayed so that they can be stored longer – potatoes may be six months old before you eat them!

They’ve been treated to stop them from sprouting “eyes.” Chicken is dipped in chlorine bleach to kill surface bacteria and make it turn white when cooked. Apples are waxed for storage and shine.

Read the ingredients list – how many things do you recognize? How many are “extracts,” “from concentrate,” or just scary scientific words?

Processed foods are bad for the body and mind in so many ways. For one thing, they contain all sorts of artificial ingredients like preservatives and colorants that cause reactions in the digestive, immune, and nervous systems.

Furthermore, processed foods lack many crucial nutrients found in whole foods.

Common Highly Processed Foods

Bleached and Highly-refined Flour

Refined grains are devoid of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, leaving nothing but starch and a small amount of protein in these products. White bread, pasta, and baked goods are the main culprits. It’s these refined, simple, high glycemic carbs that you need to avoid. They’re quickly digested and cause your blood sugar to spike, and your body immediately either uses or stores them (as glycogen and/or fat).

A better option is to opt for whole, complex, quality carbohydrates such as bajra, rajgira, buckwheat, or you can try minimally processed whole-grain breads and pastas.

Refined Sweeteners

Too much sugar stresses your body – your pancreas struggles to produce insulin, and your body stores excess glucose as fat. Artificial sweeteners exacerbate cravings, disrupt gut bacteria, and cause glucose intolerance.

Minimizing your sugar intake is the first step, but changing the way you choose to appease your sweet tooth can make a big difference in how you feel! Ditch the aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, and even agave nectar.

Refined, Trans-fat or Partially-hydrogenated Vegetable Oils

Many oils are hydrogenated, a process that makes them solid, but also creates trans-fats. These are the unhealthy fats that increase bad and decrease good cholesterols and cause heart disease and diabetes. They’re unsaturated, cheap, and processed, and they are used in most fast foods, take-out, and fried foods.

A better option is to toss the canola. Stick to extra virgin olive oil (which is extracted by machine only), animal fats like butter, lard, ghee, and unrefined coconut oil.

Processed Meat

The main culprits are salt and nitrates, which are used to preserve pinkness. These two items have been extensively linked to an increase in risk of colorectal cancer. Processed lunch meats have so many other bulking agents, additives, and preservatives that it’s better to avoid them altogether.

The Bottom Line

By focusing on consuming whole foods with little processing, you will minimize your intake of artificial additives and preservatives, some of which can be dangerous.

The best advice I can give you is to make time to read ingredient labels and make sure you understand what you’re eating.

If you don’t recognize something, don’t buy it! Go to the store more often and stick with the KISS method – minimally-processed, natural, whole foods. Your body will thank you for it.

Non-stick cookware – Are they safe to use?

 Dr. Mercola

Non-stick cookware – are they safe to use?

According to ‘The Intercept’:

“Concerns about the safety of Teflon, C8, and other long-chain perfluorinated chemicals first came to wide public attention more than a decade ago, but the story of DuPont’s long involvement with C8 has never been fully told…

[A] long trail of documents has emerged that casts new light on C8, DuPont, and the fitful attempts of the Environmental Protection Agency to deal with a threat to public health.

This story is based on many of those documents, which until they were entered into evidence for these trials had been hidden away in DuPont’s files.

Among them are write-ups of experiments on rats, dogs, and rabbits showing that C8 was associated with a wide range of health problems that sometimes killed the lab animals.”

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as C8), was an essential ingredient in DuPont’s non-stick cookware for decades.

The chemical is also used in hundreds of other non-stick and stain-resistant products, from microwave popcorn bags and fast-food wrappers to waterproof clothing and soil-repellant carpet and furniture treatments.

It’s also found in flame retardant chemicals, and hence items treated with flame retardants, which run the gamut from children’s items to furniture and electronics.

PFOA is a fluorinated chemical — it’s the fluorine atoms that provide that hallmark slipperiness.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR):

“Once in your body, perfluoroalkyls tend to remain unchanged for long periods of time. The most commonly used perfluoroalkyls (PFOA and PFOS) stay in the body for many years. It takes approximately four years for the level in the body to go down by half, even if no more is taken in.”

While there’s a dizzying array of chemical names in this group of chemicals, if an item is either non-stick, waterproof, or stain-resistant, it has some type of fluoride-impregnated coating that provides the slipperiness, and you can assume it can be problematic.

PFOA is now the subject of about 3,500 personal injury claims against DuPont, including 37 claims for wrongful death.

In 2005, a panel of three scientists was convened as part of a settlement to determine the chemical’s effects on people. After seven years of research, the results of which are detailed in more than three dozen peer-reviewed papers,5 the C8 Science Panel linked PFOA to:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • High cholesterol
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Thyroid disease
  • Testicular and kidney cancer

Its health effects were deemed to be widespread and occurred even at very low exposure levels. According to The Intercept, DuPont was aware of many of these risks, yet kept its knowledge secret — even from its own workers, who came into direct and prolonged contact with the chemical.

PFOA Pollution May Be Permanent

A man-made compound that didn’t exist a century ago, C8 is in the blood of 99.7 percent of Americans, according to a 2007 analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as in newborn human babies, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood.

Although DuPont no longer uses C8, fully removing the chemical from all the bodies of water and bloodstreams it pollutes is now impossible. And, because it is so chemically stable — in fact, as far as scientists can determine, it never breaks down — C8 is expected to remain on the planet well after humans are gone from it.”

According to the article, if DuPont and the seven other chemical companies (including 3M) responsible for the global C8/PFOA pollution were actually forced to clean up their mess, the costs would be “astronomical.”

PFOA Dubbed the ‘Tobacco of the Chemical Industry’

Like tobacco, C8 litigation may forever change how people view these chemicals. In fact, PFOA is now being called the “tobacco of the chemical industry” because of the decades-long corporate cover-up of its health effects, the lawsuits pending, and how difficult it is to make companies accountable for producing disease-causing products, even after the evidence is clear.

6 Charts That Show How The War On Fat Was A Gigantic Mistake

 

bacon-7.png

The war on fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.

As people have reduced their intake of animal fat and cholesterol, the incidence of many serious diseases has gone up. We are now in the midst of worldwide pandemics of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.

Studies conducted in the past few decades conclusively show that neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol cause harm in humans. Scientists are now beginning to realize that the entire low-fat dogma was based on flawed studies that have since been thoroughly debunked.

Here are six graphs that clearly show how incredibly damaging it has been to advise people to reduce their consumption of animal fat.
1. In Europe, the Countries that Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease

saturated-fat-heart-disease-in-europe
Saturated fat heart disease in europe – Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.

 

The reason for this is simple, actually … the truth is that saturated fat simply has NOTHING to do with cardiovascular disease. There is no paradox. It was a myth all along.

Thanks to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt for the enhanced graph.
2. The Obesity Epidemic in the USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time the Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published

low-fat-guidelines

Low fat guidelines – Kris Gunnars – Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

Although this graph doesn’t prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), this does make sense because people started giving up traditional foods like butter in place of processed “low-fat” foods high in sugar.

Since then, many massive studies have been conducted on the low-fat diet. These studies show clearly that the low-fat diet does not cause weight loss and has zero effect on cardiovascular disease in the long term.

Despite the poor results in the studies, this diet is still recommended by nutrition organizations all over the world.
3. Diets that Are High in Fat But Low in Carbohydrates Cause More Weight Loss than Diets that Are Low in Fat

weight-loss-graph-low-carb-vs-low-fat

weight loss graph low carb vs low fatKris GunnarsSource: Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.

If animal fat was as bad as they say, then diets that contain a lot of it should be both fattening and harmful to your health. However, the studies do NOT back this up.

In the study above, women eating a low-carb, high-fat diet until fullness lost more than twice as much weight as women eating a calorie restricted low-fat diet.

The truth is, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to much better results than low-fat, high carb diets.

Not only do they cause more weight loss, but they also lead to big improvements in pretty much all the major risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
4. The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced with Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

fat-consumption-in-usa

fat consumption in usa – Kris Gunnars – Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

In the 20th century, several serious diseases became common in humans.

The heart disease epidemic started around 1930, the obesity epidemic started in 1980 and the diabetes epidemic started around 1990.

Even though these diseases were almost unheard of before, they have now become the biggest health problems in the world, killing millions of people per year.

It is clear from the graph above, that these diseases have skyrocketed as animal fats have been replaced with shortening, margarine and processed vegetable oils.
5. The Obesity Epidemic Started as People Reduced Their Intake of Red Meat and High-Fat Dairy Products

fatty-food-consumption-from-1980-1990

fatty food consumption from 1980 to 1990 – Kris GunnarsSource: Hu FB, et al. Trends in the Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease and Changes in Diet and Lifestyle in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2000.

It amazes me that some people still blame traditional foods like meat and butter for the diseases of civilization. These foods have sustained humans in good health for a very long time and blaming new diseases on old foods just doesn’t make sense.

All the data shows that people actually reduced their consumption of these foods as these diseases went up.

The graph above, from the Nurses Health Study, shows that Americans were reducing their intake of red meat and full-fat dairy at the same time the obesity epidemic was starting.
6. In the Framingham Heart Study, Heart Disease Goes up as People Replace Heart-Healthy Butter with Toxic Margarine

butter-vs-margarine-stephan-guyenet-larger

butter vs margarine

Stephan Guyenet  Kris GunnarsSource: Gillman MW, et al. Margarine intake and subsequent coronary heart disease in men. Epidemiology, 1997. Photo source: Whole Health Source.

In the graph above, based on the Framingham Heart Study, you can see how heart disease risk goes up as people eat less butter and more margarine instead.

For some very strange reason, many health organizations are still recommending that we avoid heart-healthy butter and replace it with processed margarine.

It’s simple: eat the way grandpa and grandma used to. And you’ll enjoy the health quality they did.

From Kris Gunnars

Cooking with vegetable oil releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer

Robert Mendick

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Vegetable oil could be one of the most unhealthy cooking oils.

Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, according to leading scientists, who are now recommending food be fried in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard.

The results of a series of experiments threaten to turn on its head official advice that oils rich in polyunsaturated fats – such as corn oil and sunflower oil – are better for the health than the saturated fats in animal products.

Scientists found that heating up vegetable oils led to the release of high concentrations of chemicals called aldehydes, which have been linked to illnesses including cancer, heart disease and dementia.

Martin Grootveld, a professor of bioanalytical chemistry and chemical pathology, said that his research showed “a typical meal of fish and chips”, fried in vegetable oil, contained as much as 100 to 200 times more toxic aldehydes than the safe daily limit set by the World Health Organisation.

In contrast, heating up butter, olive oil and lard in tests produced much lower levels of aldehydes. Coconut oil produced the lowest levels of the harmful chemicals.

Professor John Stein, Oxford’s emeritus professor of neuroscience, said that partly as a result of corn and sunflower oils, “the human brain is changing in a way that is as serious as climate change threatens to be”.

Because the vegetable oil is rich in omega 6 acids, it is contributing to a reduction in critical omega 3 fatty acids in the brain by replacing them, he believes.

“If you eat too much corn oil or sunflower oil, the brain is absorbing too much omega 6, and that effectively forces out omega 3,” said Professor Stein. “I believe the lack of omega 3 is a powerful contributory factor to such problems as increasing mental health issues and other problems such as dyslexia.”

He said sunflower oil and corn oil were now banished from his own kitchen, replaced by olive oil and butter.

Professor Grootveld, of De Montfort University in Leicester, who carried out a series of experiments, said: “For decades, the authorities have been warning us how bad butter and lard was. But we have found butter is very, very good for frying purposes and so is lard.

“People have been telling us how healthy polyunsaturates are in corn oil and sunflower oil. But when you start messing around with them, subjecting them to high amounts of energy in the frying pan or the oven, they undergo a complex series of chemical reactions which results in the accumulation of large amounts of toxic compounds.”

Health concerns linked to the toxic by-products include heart disease; cancer; “malformations” during pregnancy; inflammation; risk of ulcers and a rise in blood pressure.

Saturated fats, including butter, ghee and coconut oil are a healthier option.

Stay Healthy.

Why This Common Cooking Oil is a Cancer Nightmare

Cancer-Nightmare-Oils

in Cancer 101, Cancer Causes, Foods, Nutrition

 

In 1956, a major cooking oil company published a series of magazine advertisements claiming that “fried foods become light foods” when vegetable oil is used in place of butter or lard. The clear message to health-savvy homemakers was that vegetable oil was a low-calorie solution to the more traditional fats they were cooking with. Millions of well-meaning cooks took the bait and made the switch, thinking their families would be better off as a result.

Fast-forward 60 years and this cooking oil marketing blitz was evidently an industry success. Vegetable oils continue to remain the go-to fat used in fried and processed foods. Marketers are still claiming that they’re better for human health than animal fats because they contain no cholesterol and aren’t saturated. But what does the latest science have to say about this vegetable oil madness?

French fries in a deep fryer closeupIn a nutshell: all that “golden goodness” being dumped into deep fryers, drizzled on salads, and poured into frying pans isn’t exactly the health boon that industrial processors have long claimed it is. So-called “heart healthy” cooking oils (i.e. soy, canola (rapeseed), cottonseed, sunflower, and corn) just so happen to be among the leading causes of heart disease and cancer in America today. Most consumers have no idea that they’re being duped.

History of this Cooking Oil Exposes it as Toxic Waste

The chemical industry and popular media have long hyped vegetable oil as the “healthy” choice for dietary fat. This is primarily because it’s cheap to produce and generates sizeable revenues for the corporations that make it. The alleged health benefits of vegetable oil as a cooking oil are minimal at best. And after more than 100 years of use in the food supply we are now seeing the dire consequences of this deception − rampant chronic disease.

The origins of vegetable oil and how it came to be the standard fat used in American food preparation are disturbing, to say the least. According to the critically acclaimed book The Happiness Diet, it all began with global consumer product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G). P&G convinced the American public to abandon the use of animal fats in favor of its own industrially-processed vegetable oil.

When William Procter and James Gamble teamed up and began manufacturing soap from cottonseeds during their company’s infancy, they realized that this process generated a lot of waste in the form of cottonseed oil. This oil would eventually be peddled off as a “nutritious food,” though it has virtually no nutritional value at all. In its raw form it’s actually a toxin that some countries use as a form of male birth control.

A crafty array of marketing tactics combined with aggressive sample distribution eventually landed this cooking oil into millions of homes and restaurants throughout America. Though this feat took considerable time and effort, the transformation of this industrial waste from filth to food was a success, and the rest is history.

A piece published in Science Monthly succinctly sums up how cottonseed oil, and vegetable oils

at large, went from noxious waste to common cooking oil:

What was garbage in 1860 was fertilizer in 1870, cattle feed in 1880, and table food and many things else in 1890.”

Vegetable Oil is Extremely Unhealthy, and Here’s Why

So what’s the big deal? If vegetable oil supposedly helps lower cholesterol and prevent artery hardening, does it really matter where it comes from or how it came to be standard fare in the American palate? Not so fast. Here are a few dirty facts about vegetable oil that you may not know:

You Should stop using vegetable oil.

1) Vegetable oils are often rancid due to heavy processing and oxidation
A combination of high heat, pressure, and chemical solvents is used to extract vegetable oils from plants, exposing them to an incredible amount of air and light. When this occurs, these oils oxidize and become rancid, as well as lose many or all of their healing antioxidants. This renders them toxic and inflammatory.

2) Many vegetable oils undergo hydrogenation, which turns them into trans fats
In order to create a desirable consistency and texture for use in baking and other forms of cooking, vegetable oils are often hydrogenated to make them “creamier” and solid at room temperature. Hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils are essentially trans fats that interfere with the body’s normal metabolism of nutrients, leading to health conditions such as:

  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Immune system damage
  • Liver disorders
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer

The hydrogenation process might make vegetable oils last longer on the shelf, but consuming them has repeatedly been shown in the scientific literature to induce many forms of cancer. One study out of Vanderbilt University found that trans fat consumption is associated with an increased risk of death. Not only from heart disease but from all causes, meaning these oils are generally toxic to human health.

3) Vegetable oils are associated with cancers of the colon, breast, and more
Researchers in Europe discovered several years back that trans fat intake can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly twofold. Similar case studies have demonstrated trans fat intake as a major risk factor for colon and other forms of cancer as well.

What Cooking Oils ARE Good for You?

So what’s the solution? Reverting back to the animal fats of old is a surefire way to avoid the pitfalls of vegetable oil consumption. If you don’t consume animal products, be sure to use healthy saturated fats such as palm and coconut oil. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats aren’t responsible for clogging your arteries and promoting heart disease − vegetable oils are!

“Unsaturated fat makes up 74% of the fat that is found in clogged arteries, and more than half of that is polyunsaturated fat,” explains Dr. Josh Axe, a leading expert in progressive health and nutrition.

The best oils you can use for cooking, as extensively corroborated by the renowned Weston A. Price Foundation, include:

  • Butter (preferably grass-fed butter that is darker yellow in color)
  • Tallow and suet from both beef and lamb (pastured with no hormones or antibiotics)
  • Lard from pigs (pastured with no hormones or antibiotics)
  • Chicken, goose, and duck fat (pastured with no hormones or antibiotics)
  • Coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils

The important point is, the oil you use should be COLD PRESSED or filtered, NOT refined.

Stay Healthy Always!

Is Your Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Real or an Imposter?

Stephen Sinatra, MD

Authentic extra-virgin olive oil is an anti-aging superfood loaded with healthy fats and antioxidants. It is one of nature’s greatest gifts – pure, healthy and alive. Unfortunately, finding real extra-virgin olive oil may be harder than you think. It has come to light that many olive oils labeled “extra-virgin” actually contain altered, imposter oils.

  • Olive oil purported to originate from Italy – often did not. A good deal of the oils sold as “Italian” were actually oils from Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia.
  • Some extra-virgin olive oils were diluted with oils of lesser quality, such as soybean oil.
  • Color and flavor of oils were manipulated with beta-carotene (affects taste) and chlorophyll (alters color).
  • Highly altered oils of multi-country origin were labeled “Extra-Virgin” or “Packed in Italy” or “Imported from Italy”.
  • 69% of imported “extra-virgin” oil did not meet the criteria in one study.
  • Authorities have made attempts at regulation; however, there are few legal repercussions for the producers of fraudulent oils.

Additionally, a 2010 Brazilian study (see Alves) described the situation thusly: “Extra-virgin (EV), the finest and most expensive among all the olive oil grades, is often adulterated by the cheapest and lowest quality ordinary (ON) olive oil.” In 2013, olive oil topped the list of foods most prone to fraudulent practices, according to a draft report of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (see Butler). The risk list was based on research findings, police records, and industry consultations.

What You Need to Know When Shopping for Real Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

After much olive oil research, I’d like to share some advice that can help make you a smarter consumer and find the authentic extra virgin olive oil you want. First and foremost, make sure you buy extra-virgin oil. I also suggest doing the following:

  • Look for a harvest date on the label and choose a product with a current year harvest.
  • The oil should be cloudy, not clear. This indicates the olives have been crushed and the oil still contains valuable phytonutrients.
  • Check the label for the source of the olives – country, state, and province – and for unique certification, such as DOP in Italy (DOP means all phases of production, processing, and preparation are traditionally conducted in the certified area) and COOC (California Olive Oil Council) certification.  
  • Be wary about imported products because of the shipping time and exposure to heat, and concern about quality control. Most products come to the U.S. by boat. Time and heat are critical factors that can affect freshness.
  • Always store in a dark bottle, a metal container, or other packaging that blocks light. Keep in a cool cabinet, away from light and heat. No need to refrigerate.
  • Use your olive oil smartly. In the kitchen I generally use extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling amply onto vegetables and salads – you can also use it for cooking at low temperatures for short periods of time, such as sautéing. For cooking in general, I recommend coconut oil, a saturated fat least vulnerable to oxidative deterioration from heat.

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Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

People often ask me, is extra virgin olive oil healthy? To which I reply, It’s a superfood! I’ve come to believe this after reading research study upon research study demonstrating the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.  Full of healthy compounds, olive oil plays a paramount nutritional and health role as an “All-star” of the Mediterranean diet. When you seek out authentic extra-virgin olive oil, you are getting the highest concentration of healthy compounds due to the careful production of this finest grade of olive oil. Real extra-virgin olive oil is produced by means of cold-pressing the olive fruit. This technique protects the fruits nutrients and antioxidants which can be destroyed if oil is extracted by means of heat or solvents – processes that may be used in the production of lesser grade oils. The resulting cold-pressed oil is rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Food for Thought – Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Is a Fruit Juice!

Ultimately, few people associate real extra-virgin olive oil with what it essentially is: a fruit juice. Chock-full of health compounds like polyphenols and antioxidants, there is no comparison for golden, rich, authentic extra-virgin olive oil. Remember, like all fruit products, the fresher the better and to obtain the highest quality, it is best to get it from a local source. Try to avoid oils that have taken long trips around the world, especially when you are unsure if the label claims are accurate. Try varieties produced right here in the U.S. such as those from Sonoma Valley and seek out brands that carry the trusted COOC certification. Last but not least – enjoy drizzling your way to health!

Image courtesy Dr Hyman

Chemicals can interfere with thyroid function

Dr Westin Childs

Here are several tips you can start doing today to ACTIVELY avoid the chemicals that are likely interfering with your thyroid function:

1. Stop touching receipts! Receipts have bisphenol-A (a known thyroid blocker) that is absorbed through the skin whenever you touch one.

2. Drink out of Glass containers: Avoid plastic containers, water bottles, and canned foods. These have BPA and aluminum in them.

3. Drink filtered water only: Get a reverse osmosis filter for your home. Remember that ANY filter is better than no filter, so just get something :)

4. Avoid plastic whenever possible: This mean plastic toys, food stored in plastic, food wrapped in plastic, etc. And never reheat or microwave food stored in plastic (this causes more chemicals to leach out).

5. Say no to hand me down plastic toys: Soft rubber manufactured before 2009 is made with Phthalates (another known thyroid blocker). This would be things like rubber duckies, not hard legos made of plastic.

6. Eat organic food and grass fed meats, if you have dairy make sure it is organic: Or better yet just ditch the dairy because it’s probably causing inflammation in your body :) But at least make sure to buy organic whenever you can.

7. Avoid fragrance: If you see the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label, run the other way! This is code word for Phthalates.

8. Check your cosmetics for chemicals: Use the resource “skin deep” by the environmental working group to grade your cosmetics based on how many hidden chemicals they have. The link is here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Start implementing these tips RIGHT away to avoid these chemicals. Your thyroid will thank you.

4 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Bone Broth Every Day

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci
bone-broth

Bone broth reportedly helps with weight loss, reducing wrinkles, and digestive function.
If you’re battling weight creep, fatigue, wrinkles, and other signs of aging, I know it’s tempting to reach for an artificial “fix”—a diet pill, an energy drink, or a shot of Botox. But I have a better prescription for you. It’s one of the world’s most powerful healing and anti-aging foods: bone broth.

Bone broth is trendy right now, with everyone from NBA stars to celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Gwyneth Paltrow raving about it. But that’s not why I tell my patients to drink this slow-simmered broth made from the bones of meat, chicken, turkey, or fish.

In fact, I was a fan of bone broth years before it became the “in thing.” More than a decade ago, I discovered the healing and fat-melting properties of this liquid gold and made it the core of my anti-aging and weight loss transformations. In addition, I drink it myself every day. Here’s why.

Bone broth heals your gut

Bone broth is packed with collagen, which turns into gelatin when you cook it — gelatin is one of the most potent gut healers on the planet. Gelatin is loaded with glycine, a powerful anti-inflammatory amino acid, and it’s rich in other healing nutrients including magnesium, proline, and arginine.

Gelatin’s gut-healing properties are important because in order to stay slim and healthy, you need to have a rock-solid gut. In fact, as a clinician who specializes in transforming sick and overweight patients into healthy, slender people, I can tell you that nothing is more important to your health than a strong gut. Here’s the story.

Your gut is home to the trillions of microbes that scientists call your microbiome. Think of this microbiome as an ecosystem — one that’s either in balance or out of balance. If it’s in balance, you have a wide diversity of good microbes and very few bad ones. If it’s out of balance, two very dangerous things can happen:

The bad microbes can multiply rapidly, churning out toxic chemicals.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can occur. In SIBO, microbes overpopulate your gut, overwhelming it.

There are many reasons why your gut can get out of balance. Here are some of the primary ones:

Antibiotic use, which kills trillions of good microbes.

A diet of the wrong foods, which starves them.

Stress, which poisons their environment.

Antacids, NSAIDS, and other gut-altering medications, which change the “chemistry” of their ecosystem in harmful ways.

When bad microbes gain too much control in your gut, or when good microbes multiply too rapidly, they produce chemicals that cause inflammation. This inflammation damages the wall of your intestine, causing intestinal permeability, or a “leaky gut.” This allows bacteria, toxins, and waste to escape into your bloodstream where your immune system identifies them as alien to your body, triggering a flood of inflammatory chemicals.

When your immune system keeps encountering these escaped gut toxins day after day, it eventually gets stuck in the “on” position. Your warrior cells keep releasing toxic chemicals, even though there’s no war to fight. This causes chronic inflammation — and we now know that this chronic inflammation underlies every disease of aging, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and cancer.

Gelatin helps transform a leaky gut into a strong barrier, healing chronic inflammation and making your entire body healthier. As a result, you’ll lose extra pounds more easily, feel more energetic, and even discover that skin problems like eczema start to clear up.

Bone broth erases your wrinkles

High-end wrinkle creams are packed with collagen, which firms and strengthens the cells in your skin. However, it’s far more effective to build collagen from the inside . When you drink bone broth, it’s like mainlining the components of collagen to your skin.

Bone broth also contains hyaluronic acid, which hydrates your skin, erasing fine wrinkles. (Babies’ skin is loaded with hyaluronic acid, which is why it’s so soft.) Again, you can pay big money for skin creams containing this wrinkle blaster — or you can feed it straight to your cells, the natural way.

Bone broth helps you lose weight fast

Unlike the watery broth you get in a can, bone broth is rich, hearty, and satisfying. When you drink a cup, you’ll feel like you’ve eaten a full meal, even though you’re only taking in around 50 to 60 calories. As a result, you won’t experience cravings, even if you cut down drastically on your food intake.

When my patients need to lose weight rapidly, I tell them to do two semi-fasts a week, eating nothing but bone broth on those days. Many of them initially aren’t sure they can do it. However, they quickly discover that the weight melts right off them, and they’re amazed at how effectively bone broth stops their cravings for sugar and junk food.

Bone broth protects your joints

Your joints contain cartilage, a slippery Teflon-like coating that allows the joints to slide over each other without grinding. Similarly, animal bones contain cartilage. In addition to being rich in collagen, cartilage is packed with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate — the same nutrients many doctors prescribe as supplements to keep joints young and healthy.

A randomized, double-blind clinical trial in 2015 found that oral chondroitin and glucosamine were as effective as the arthritis drug Celebrex in reducing pain, swelling, and functional limitations caused by knee osteoarthritis. And because they’re natural nutrients, glucosamine and chondroitin have a perfect safety profile — unlike Celebrex, which is a potentially dangerous drug.

You can make bone broth in your own kitchen

Here’s one of the best things about bone broth: You don’t need a prescription for it! All you need is a big pot or a slow cooker, several pounds of bones, some spices and vegetables, and a few hours to let your broth simmer.

Think about it: What other medicine can help you lose weight, make you look younger, give you more energy, heal your joints, and erase your wrinkles without a prescription, a trip to the drug store, or any side effects other than a warm, happy, satisfied feeling? That’s why bone broth is the core of my weight-loss and anti-aging transformations… and why it should be the core of your own health regimen as well.

It’s always simple to Stay Healthy.

Food Habits That Age You

Food-Habits-that-Age-You

These unhealthy eating patterns don’t just trigger weight gain and undermine your energy. They age you from the inside out.

If the only edible indiscretions you worry about are those that make you gain weight, you may have your priorities mixed up. The worst dietary demons — including many sugary, fatty, refined, and highly processed foods — do more than add unwanted pounds. They subtract years from your life.

Nutrition, not age, determines the body’s internal chemistry, which in turn affects the quality and resilience of virtually every organ, cell, and system in the body.

“Aging is not the passive process we once thought,” says Henry S. Lodge, MD, coauthor of Younger Next Year. “How gracefully you age is reflected by the food you eat.”

The condition of your skin and the quality of your bones, brain, and connective tissue are all influenced by diet. Your eating habits, therefore, play a big role in determining how quickly you see and feel the effects of aging.

The human body is a perpetual construction zone, replacing most of its cells every few months. The secret to aging well is to give your body the best tools for the job: whole, healthy food.

Of course, no one makes perfect choices all the time. But if weekly transgressions morph into daily habits, your body’s repair system will be undermined, says Lodge. “Bad food habits are like calling in the demolition team every day, but never calling the construction crew.”

Here’s how to identify and fix some age-accelerating food habits.

BODY-AGING HABIT NO. 1: A WEAKNESS FOR CONVENIENCE FOODS

Big Offender: Partially hydrogenated oils (a source of trans fats), which manufacturers manipulate to increase stability and shelf life.

How It Ages You: Lurking in many processed convenience foods, partially hydrogenated oils take their aging toll by promoting inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a low-grade, systemic irritation that smolders deep inside the body. Like rust that spreads through a car, inflammation erodes the body’s basic mechanics.

Specifically, chronic inflammation ages the body by nibbling away at telomeres — the caps on the ends of your chromosomes that are key to protecting your genes. Telomeres shorten naturally with each cell division, and eventually telomeres are used up and cells become inactive or die. Cell death is natural, but lifestyle factors — such as eating a lot of hydrogenated oils — can shorten telomeres prematurely and accelerate aging.

“Inflammation is the No. 1 enemy of telomeres,” says Shawn Talbott, PhD, CNS, a nutritional biochemist and author of The Secret of Vigor. He explains that prematurely shortened telomeres are linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Partially hydrogenated oils are full of trans fat. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently made moves to ban its use in human food products, a legal loophole allows small amounts of trans fats to go into processed foods while still permitting those foods to be labeled as trans-fat-free.

A new report by the consumer-advocate Environmental Working Group noted that while “trans fat” appears on only 2 percent of Nutrition Facts labels, the fat is used in an estimated 37 percent of all supermarket foods.

“People think the war on trans fat has been won, but sleeper cells were left behind,” says Lodge. “Remember, food labeling is not completely honest.”

Bottom line: If your go-to meals are processed or if you snack on packaged cookies or crackers without paying close attention to serving size, you may be ingesting several grams of trans fats each day.

The Fix
Eat fewer processed foods. Shop the perimeter of grocery stores, where produce and fresh foods are displayed.

Eat more high-quality fats and get the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, halibut, anchovies, grouper, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds. These fats boost brain and nervous-system health by nourishing cell membranes, says Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, cofounder of the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy and coauthor of The Swift Diet.

A diet high in phytonutrients and antioxidants is also linked to longer telomeres, so eat plenty of leafy greens, berries, cruciferous veggies, and other brightly colored produce, and drink lots of green tea.

BODY-AGING HABIT NO. 2: GIVING IN TO A SERIOUS SWEET TOOTH

Big Offender: Sugar, whether sucrose (the refined, highly processed and crystalized version of plant sugars), glucose, dextrose, fructose, or other types of added sweeteners.

How It Ages You: Excess sugar in your diet loiters in the blood and causes trouble by glomming on to protein molecules. This process, called glycation, causes cellular aging in several ways.

First, it slows the body’s repair mechanism. Although glycation’s effects are mostly internal, aging skin is a prime external sign. “Sugar molecules gum up the collagen in your skin,” says Talbott, making skin less elastic and causing it to wrinkle faster.

Glycation also ages the body by creating oxidative stress. Oxidation eventually leads to a buildup of toxins called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. The accumulation of some AGEs is normal, but eating poorly is like hitting the fast-forward button on aging.

That’s because AGEs build up in the body and damage our cellular engines:mitochondria. The loss of cellular energy gives rise to such age-related complaints as loss of memory, hearing, vision, and stamina.

Some findings show AGEs build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s (increasingly referred to as “type 3 diabetes”). AGEs are also linked to the more rapid development of arterial plaque in people with heart disease, and appear to be associated with Parkinson’s disease as well.

The Fix
If you can go cold turkey on processed sugar, great. If not, cut back as far as you can. For the sweets you do eat, choose foods made with less heavily processed natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup, instead of refined (white) sugar.

“Although natural sugars aren’t much better for your health, foods sweetened naturally tend to be less refined and contain other whole-food  ingredients, and that is beneficial for reducing sugar load,” says Talbott.

Cut back on the sugar you use in recipes at home, and try adding less sugar to your coffee, tea, and other frequently consumed beverages.

One more tip: Don’t swap your sugar for artificial sweeteners. There’s evidence that they can do as much or more damage to your health in other ways (see “Secret Ingredients“).

BODY-AGING HABIT NO. 3: WAITING TO EAT UNTIL YOU’RE FAMISHED

Big Offender: Crashing and spiking blood sugar, which wreaks hormonal havoc, promotes inflammation, and drives unhealthy food cravings.

How It Ages You: When the stomach is empty, its secretion of ghrelin, also called the “hunger hormone,” doubles. When the stomach is full, secretion of ghrelin slows and its hormonal opposite, leptin, signals that the body is satiated. But it can take 20 minutes for this process to unfold. During this time, it’s easy to overeat.

“Going for a long period without food and then gorging is the textbook way to gain weight,” says Talbott. “When you gorge, you eat more, your blood sugar spikes higher, and your body stores more calories for later because it’s in feast-or-famine mode.”

Significantly, frequent blood-sugar spikes are linked to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and to bodywide inflammation.

“As we get older, we get metabolically less flexible, meaning our bodies have difficulty using insulin to shift micronutrients from the bloodstream into cells,” says Deanna Minich, PhD, FACN, CNS, author of The Complete Handbook of Quantum Healing. “An inability to use insulin effectively hastens aging by zapping a person’s vitality, strength, and sex drive.”

The Fix
Don’t wait until you’re voracious to eat. Tune in to your body and get to know what it feels like to be moderately hungry, says Swift: “This is the sweet spot.”

To satisfy moderate hunger, eat a healthy mix of macronutrients — proteins, fats, and nonstarchy carbs. This trifecta offers high-quality, long-lasting energy. Swift recommends hummus and veggies, nut butter and apple slices, or nuts and seeds mixed with a little dried fruit.

BODY-AGING HABIT NO. 4: EATING TOO MANY REFINED CARBS

Big Offender: Refined, starchy carbohydrates (healthy carbs stripped of all the good stuff).

How It Ages You: Refined carbs are simply sugars in disguise. “Starch turns into sugar the minute it hits your bloodstream,” says Lodge. Beyond causing glycation (see Habit No. 2), refined carbs set the stage for insulin resistance.

Lodge notes that the human body evolved with a limited ability to break down sugars (and limited exposure to sugar in concentrated forms), so it hasn’t kept pace with the modern diet.

After a meal laden with refined carbohydrates, the body’s blood-sugar levels soar, and the pancreas sprays insulin into the bloodstream to help cells convert the food’s energy (glucose) into fuel. It often miscalculates and releases too much insulin.

As a result of this excess insulin, blood-sugar levels drop, and 30 minutes later you’re hungry again. “The body wasn’t designed for this yo-yo effect,” says Lodge. The technical term for this effect is “insulin resistance”; it’s a precursor to such age-related diseases as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

In addition, because simple carbohydrates burn quickly, they leave nothing to nourish the health-promoting microbes that reside in our large intestines.

“We’ve learned a lot lately about the importance of carbohydrates to our gut ecosystem,” says Swift, who explains that healthy gut flora feed on fermentable fibers and resistant starches found in many complex carbohydrates.

These so-called indigestible carbs produce short-chain fatty acids that in turn affect glucose regulation, blood-sugar regulation, and insulin resistance. “Eating the right type of carbs is critical to supporting this milieu,” she says.

The Fix

Stick to whole-food carbohydrates, such as vegetables, legumes, and whole-kernel grains. Because whole-kernel grains are left intact (versus being pulverized into flour or stripped of their germ and bran), they take longer for the body to digest, and the sugar is released in a slow, steady stream.

The resistant starches and fermentable fibers in complex carbs also feed your hungry gut flora and influence signaling molecules that help moderate insulin release.

“These foods provide critical information for your body,” says Swift. “They’re our primary currency for aging well — one of the best investments we can make.”

BODY-AGING HABIT NO. 5: EATING WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED

Big Offender: Cortisol, the stress hormone secreted by your adrenal glands.

How It Ages You: Stress hormones (automatically released by the body under all kinds of stressful circumstances) are antithetical to digestion in a couple of ways.

First, the release of adrenaline and cortisol — fight-or-flight chemicals — diverts blood toward your limbs and away from your stomach and intestines. As a result, food may ferment in the intestines, upsetting the balance of good and bad bacteria, says Lodge, and hindering the intestines’ ability to break down and absorb key nutrients like vitamin B12.

“Eating when you’re stressed damages your body and locks out the repair crew,” says Lodge.

Stressed or distracted eating can also lead to unconscious eating. You may eat more than you intended or eat foods you wouldn’t have chosen under better circumstances.

The Fix

If you are stressed and tempted to raid the cupboard, Lodge says, drink a glass of water and go for a five-minute walk instead.

Whenever possible, eat in places where you feel calm and happy. At home, create a relaxing atmosphere: Set the table and light a candle, suggests Kevin Spelman, PhD, an adjunct professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore. “Just as your senses assimilate that environment in a pleasant way, your body will assimilate food in a more efficient way.”

BODY-AGING HABIT NO. 6: YOU EAT A LOT OF ROASTED, GRILLED, OR DEEP-FRIED FOOD

Big Offender: Advanced glycation end products, known as AGEs.

How It Ages You: AGEs are toxins that speed aging by causing oxidative stress and inflammation. You make some AGEs naturally, but most enter your body via food. The biggest culprits are foods that are deep-fried, broiled, roasted, or grilled. Those sear marks on a grilled steak, the crispy skin on a piece of fried chicken, even the browned edges of roasted vegetables are all signs of AGEs in your food.

“Most people don’t realize aging well is not just about choosing healthy foods, but about preparing them in healthy ways,” says Deanna Minich, PhD, FACN, CNS, and author of The Complete Handbook of Quantum Healing.

Your skin is a good place to see AGEs at work. As you age, AGEs accumulate in the skin’s tissue and break down collagen proteins, resulting in wrinkles. But the skin is just the beginning.

High AGE levels in the body are linked to neurodegeneration, tendon dysfunction, and blood-vessel stiffness. Indeed, most age-related illnesses — including Alzheimer’s, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis — are connected to high amounts of AGEs.

The Fix: Reduce AGEs in your diet by eating more raw fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Cook meat and veggies at lower temperatures, utilizing techniques that rely on moisture, which keeps AGEs at bay. For example, steam or blanch vegetables, or sauté lightly with a little olive oil. Seafood can be steamed, chicken can be poached, and red meat can be stewed or braised. “Go low and go slow,” says Swift.

If loss of flavor is a concern, Swift recommends marinades: “Not only do marinades — particularly those made with vinegars or lemon juice — add flavor, they also help lower your body’s levels of AGEs.”