Health News
The Biology of Yogurt PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Friday, April 24, 2015

The bacterial cultures that are traditionally used to make yogurt are called probiotics, meaning "for life." Although they may have funny sounding names--Lactobacillus bulgarius, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Streptcoccus thermophilus--it is these "good bacteria" that are also responsible for many of yogurt's health benefits.

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How to Make a Great Green Smoothie PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

greensmoothGreen smoothies are not only one of the most healthy drinks around, they are also one of the most delicious!

 

Leafy green vegetables are rightly considered one of the world's best "superfoods" for their amazing nutritional qualities. Leafy greens are some of the most alkaline forming foods, and they are rich in calcium, dietary fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, many other vitamins and minerals, and even protein!  Unfortunately, many people don’t eat enough greens for optimum health.  

 

Green smoothies allow you to eat more leafy greens by combining them with another group of nutritional powerhouses: fresh or frozen fruits. Although it sounds strange to toss a handful of lettuce or spinach into a smoothie, the truth is that the taste of the fruit almost always overpowers the taste of the greens so that you can't even taste them. 

 

A basic green smoothie recipes calls for approximately 60% fruit and 40% greens.  Beginners may want to start out with 70% fruit and 30% greens.  You should use fruits like bananas, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, mango, apples, kiwi or pears.

Adding healthy fats, such avocado, or a small amount of coconut oil, flax oil, chia seeds, or ground flax seeds to your smoothie, will add a creamy texture and will also help to slow down the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream.

 

About the Greens:  Different greens have a different level of flavor. If you are new to making green smoothies then stick with the milder flavored greens like spinach or Romaine lettuce.  Moderately flavored greens include kale, swiss chard and collards. More strongly flavored greens include dandelion, mustard-greens, beet-greens, etc.

Add the following ingredients to your Blender:

1 cup fresh greens
1 banana, peeled, fresh or frozen
1 pear or apple, cored
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, mango, peaches, kiwi, cherries, etc.)
12 ounces water or to desired consistency
a few ice cubes, optional

Blend on high speed for 30 to 60 seconds or until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Makes about 4 cups (32 fluid ounces).

 
Fake Antioxidants - Don't Be Fooled! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Monday, March 16, 2015

We've known for years that foods containing special nutrients called antioxidants can help prevent degenerative diseases and cancer, reduce blood pressure and slow the effects of aging. These naturally occurring compounds protect the body from harmful toxic compounds called free radicals, stopping them in their tracks and sweeping them up before they can cause damage. The best way to ensure your body has a storehouse of antioxidants that will make it inhospitable to toxic free radicals is by eating a wide variety of whole foods.

Unfortunately, the processed-food industry has taken advantage of the good reputation the term "antioxidant" has earned in recent years. They're adding antioxidant food additives - namely man made chemicals such as BHT, BHA and TBHQ - to keep the oils in processed foods from going rancid and to prolong shelf life by protecting against deterioration and color changes.

It would be one thing to add chemicals into foods for the sole purpose of prolonging shelf life - but now processed food manufacturers are making "antioxidant" claims on their packaging, targeting and fooling unsuspecting consumers into thinking these foods actually contain "healthy" antioxidants. This is a prime example of how food manufacturers twist the definition of chemistry terms and present them to the public as sheep in wolve's clothing.

Fake Man-Made Antioxidants

BHA stands for Butylated hydroxyanisole and BHT stands for the related compound butylated hydroxytoluene. Both are synthetic (man-made) compounds that are often added to foods to preserve fats. They are called "antioxidants" because they are compounds that retard the chemical reaction that occurs when fats, oils, and oil-containing foods are exposed to air. That chemical reaction is called oxidation.

BHA and BHT are used in bacon, baked goods, breakfast bars, candy, canned fruits and vegetables, cream and creamers, fried foods, gelatin desserts, margarine, roasted nuts, peanut butter, powdered soups, salad dressings, shortening, spices, whipped topping, chewing gum, potato chips, the ubiquitous ingredient “vegetable oil, and foods containing artificial color or flavor. These fake antioxidant chemicals prevent the color, flavor, or texture changes that occur when foods are exposed to air. You may also find it disturbing (I know I did) that these same chemicals are also used for the same purposes in cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, rubber & petroleum products, jet fuels, and embalming fluids.

TBHQ stands for Tert-butylhydroquinone. It's a white, crystalline solid used as a general-purpose chemical to preserve various oils, fats and food items by retarding their oxidative deterioration. It is also used in formulating varnish, lacquer, resins and oil field additives, AND is used as a fixative in perfumes to reduce the evaporation rate and improve stability.

Wow, with so many uses, one must wonder how safe any of these substances are for human consumption!

What these food additives DO NOT do is act like the antioxidants that come from real whole plant foods. In fact, they do the exact opposite. The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers BHA and BHT carcinogenic (cancer causing). Repeated studies agree that BHA and BHT increase the risk of cancer, accumulate in body tissue, cause liver enlargement, and retard cell development. These chemical food additives may also cause hives and other skin reactions. TBHQ has not been adequately tested, yet has still been approved for food use.

Some experts believe that consumption of BHT can cause metabolism problems leading to behavior changes. Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a diet specialist in the 1970's stated from his studies that BHT could produce hyperactivity in children. In light of this, isn't it interesting that many of the foods that are mainly consumed by children, including breakfast cereals, convenient lunch box meals, and snack foods all contain BHA and BHT?

Author and doctor Christine Hoza Farlow states in her book Food Additives  -  A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe & What's Not - that BHA and BHT can cause liver and kidney damage, behavioral problems, infertility, weakened immune system, birth defects, and cancer. Infants, young children, pregnant women and those sensitive to aspirin should avoid them. My opinion is that everyone should avoid them.

BHT has been banned in England. It has also been banned in Romania, Sweden, Australia and nearly every other country except for the U.S. This makes one wonder why, if a substance is questionable enough to be banned in other countries, is it still used in most major cereal companies in America and why it also shows up in many other processed foods, especially those that are marketed to children?

The Real Antioxidants - Compounds in Whole Plant Foods

As the name implies, antioxidants are compounds that are the opposite of "oxidants". Otherwise known as "free radicals", oxidants are harmful molecules that can damage our body's cells, proteins, and DNA. This damaging process, called "oxidation", is largely responsible for speeding up the aging process and for the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts. A similar type of oxidative process is what causes oils to become rancid, peeled apples and avocadoes to turn brown, and iron to rust.

Free radicals arise from sources both inside and outside our bodies. Free radicals that develop from processes within our bodies form as a natural result of normal breathing, metabolism, and inflammation. Outside of our bodies, however, free radicals form from environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, X-rays, smoking and alcohol. One of the most prevalent sources of outside free radicals is from eating foods that have been cooked in oils that have been heated too high (fried foods and baked goods) or from foods that have processed oils added to them, such as salad dressings, ice creams, puddings, creamers, etc.

Free radicals are molecules that have lost one of their electrons due to their exposure to heat, light, or air. Their electron deficiency renders them highly reactive and unstable.  Free radicals want nothing more than to recoup their lost electron in order to become stable again, so they scavenge our bodies to steal electrons from healthy cells, thereby creating more free radicals. As a result, free radicals multiply to a point called oxidative stress, a point beyond the body's ability to neutralize them. When this occurs, premature aging and disease takes over.

Your only defense against free radicals are antioxidants. Antioxidants from plant foods are what you need because they are the only compounds capable of preventing or stopping the damaging effects of oxidation in your body. An antioxidant has an extra electron, and its sole purpose is to donate its extra electron to the free radical in order to stop it from doing further damage.

The man-made fake antioxidants cannot do this for you, because their extra electron has already been used to retard the rancidity of the oil in the processed foods. And, as I have already mentioned, they have harmful effects on human health as a result. There is nothing healthy about these types of "antioxidants". It is a complete misrepresentation of the compounds and their role in nature.
True Food Sources of Antioxidants

In nature, plant foods are loaded with compounds called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are the biologically active substances in plants that are responsible for giving them color and flavor, and they protect our cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Most phytochemicals are also antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, C, and E, and the mineral Selenium. The following is a list of some of nature's most powerful antioxidant foods:

  • Beans contain some of the highest amounts of antioxidant compounds of any other plant foods.  In fact, small red kidney beans rate the highest, just ahead of blueberries. In general, darker colored beans are associated with higher levels of flavonoids, and therefore higher antioxidant activity. A 100-gram serving of black beans contains 10 times the amount of antioxidants in an equivalent serving of oranges, and similar to the amount found in an equivalent serving size of grapes, apples, and cranberries.
  • Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are rich in proanthocyanidins, antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries contain ellagic acid, a plant compound that combats carcinogens
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, can help prevent cancer and ward off heart disease. Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C - a potent antioxidant that breaks down estrogen in the body) that reduces the risk of breast cancer and other estrogen-sensitive cancers, like cancer of the ovaries and cervix. Other studies have shown that broccoli can help fight cervical dysplasia, a precancerous condition. Broccoli also contains other protective constituents like beta-carotene, which can help prevent cancer and heart disease.
  • Carrots are loaded with a potent antioxidant called beta-carotene, a member of the healing family of carotenoids. Also found in beets, sweet potatoes and other yellow-orange vegetables, beta-carotene provides protection against: cancer, especially lung, bladder, breast, esophageal and stomach cancers; heart disease, and the progression of arthritis by as much as 70 percent.
  • Tomatoes can ward off certain kinds of cancer, prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, and help maintain mental function as we age. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a relatively rare member of the carotenoid family of antioxidants, also found in pink grapefruit and twice as powerful as the beta-carotene found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that men who eat more tomatoes or tomato sauce have significantly lower rates of prostate cancer. Other studies suggest lycopene can help prevent lung, colon and breast cancers. Tomatoes also contain the antioxidant glutathione, which helps boost immune function. Note: cooked tomatoes are preferable, since heat allows more desirable antioxidants in tomatoes to be made available to the body. And because lycopene is fat-soluble, eating tomatoes with healthy oils can improve absorption.
  • The skins of red grapes contain substances called resveratrol and quercetin. These potent antioxidants boost heart health by acting as free-radical scavengers, reducing platelet aggregation and helping blood vessels remain open and flexible. Resveratrol can also protect against cancer and reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, gastric ulcers, stroke and even osteoporosis.
  • Garlic is packed with antioxidants that can help fend off cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging. The sulfur compounds that give garlic its pungent odor are thought to be responsible for its healing benefits. Studies have shown that garlic keeps the heart healthy by lowering cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, fighting free radicals and keeping blood from clotting. Other studies suggest that eating garlic regularly can help prevent cancer.
  • Spinach contains an antioxidant called lutein which helps protect your vision. Studies have shown that people who eat spinach are less likely to develop cataracts and macular degeneration, the two most common causes of vision loss. Lutein appears to work by shielding the retina from sun damage and fighting free radicals that can harm the eyes. Some preliminary studies have suggested that lutein can also help prevent heart disease.
  • Both green tea and black tea are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. These wonder nutrients scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them.  They have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases.  Whether it's green or black, tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. Black and green tea both have flavonoids called thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins, which are different types of antioxidants than what are found fruits and vegetables. Both types of tea block DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals. In animal studies, tea-drinking rats have less cancer. Herbal teas may also contain antioxidants but less is known about them.
  • Vitamin E in whole grains like brown rice, oats, buckwheat and whole wheat is a potent antioxidant that plays a role in preventing cancer, especially prostate cancer. Other studies have found that it can boost immunity, slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, treat and possibly prevent arthritis, prevent sunburn and treat male infertility. Whole grains are also rich in phytic acid, known as IP-6, a potent antioxidant that can help protect against breast, colon and liver cancers.


Eating a wide variety of vegetables (4 cups per day) and fruit (three servings per day) can ensure you get a decent amount of antioxidants. But the bottom line comes down to this: eat foods in their most closest to natural form as possible. There are plenty of natural alternatives to BHA and BHT laced foods.  Many natural and organic companies produce delicious products without these toxic preservatives.

Become an avid ingredient list reader, because the ingredient list is what tells you whether a food is healthy or not.  When you avoid processed foods, you avoid all the dangers associated with food additives, and you avoid being fooled by clever marketing claims.

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How To Choose the Best Baby Formula PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Monday, March 02, 2015

 

 

 

Deciphering an ingredient list is one of the best skills to develop when switching to a processed-free eating style.  Many of you have become very good at this skill, as evidenced by the many questions I receive asking about ingredients that appear on even some of the organic foods found in natural food stores.

One question that keeps coming up is about ingredients in baby formulas.  Are there any safe baby formulas on the market?  If so, which ones are the best?  This is a very difficult question to answer because the truth is that most conventional baby formulas on the market contain sugar, soy, pesticides, preservatives and GMOs.  Even many of the organic baby formulas are not as healthy as they should be.

Because of this, I tell parents that the best solution is to make their own baby formula (I'll get to that in a minute), but if making your own formula is not an option, a canned or powdered formula may be necessary.  If you have to buy formula, there are some things every parent should know and understand about the ingredients baby formula manufacturers are using in their products.

baby with bottleFirst and foremost, you should definitely pass on any infant formula that is not organic. Because of the toxic effects of herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified foods (GMOs) in non-organic commercial formulas, they are not a healthy option for the delicate and still-developing immune system and organs of babies and infants. Several of the ingredients in conventional formulas derive from GMO’s such as milk, whey, lactose, soy oil, soy lecithin, corn syrup solids, sugar (from sugar beets), ascorbic acid (from corn), maltodextrin (from corn) and others.

GMO Concerns

Most conventional milk-based formulas are made with milk from cows injected with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone  rBGH (also called rBST) that is used by the U.S. dairy industry to increase milk production in cows. This controversial hormone, which is banned in Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan, and condemned by the American Public Health Association, produces high levels of the cancer-promoting hormone, IGF-1, in the milk. This hormone has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

Non-organic soy-based formulas are made from GMO soy, which may be just as harmful as GMO milk. Soy and other GMO’s have been linked to compromises in immune function which can take place prenatally and early in life.  They have led to an alarming increase in the rate of childhood disorders including allergies, autoimmunity, neurological disorders (Autism and ADHD), growth failure, and hormonal disruptions.

Laboratory tests found significant amounts of GMO soy in four popular non-organic soy-based infant formulas:

GMO Soy Percentage

Similac Soy 42%

Enfamil Pro Soybee 49%

Walmart Soy 66%

Gerber Good Start Soy 48%

Herbicide Concerns

 If danger from GMOs isn’t enough, the herbicide used on GMO corn and soy inhibits the activity of a group of enzymes in the liver that are important for detoxification. In a baby’s body, full maturity of the liver takes approximately two years, thus a baby’s body is not able to perform normal detoxification and other functions as well as an adult.  Exposing babies and newborns to substances that further impair liver and immune function leads to increased health risks.

Synthetics Not Effective

Since 2002, most manufacturers of baby formula, both organic and non-organic, have fortified their formulas with synthetic versions of DHA and ARA, two important nutrients for brain and eye development that are naturally found in human breast milk. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid and ARA (arachidonic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid.  The synthestic versions of DHA and ARA added to most brands of baby formula are extracted from factory-produced C. Cohnii and M. Alpina—specific strains of algae and fungus that have never been part of the human diet, let alone the diet of infants. The  chemical structure of laboratory-grown DHA/ARA isn’t the same as human DHA/ARA. They aren’t a perfect match for breast milk because breast milk contains hundreds of other components that can’t be replicated.

A Cornucopia Institute report has determined that these additives are not necessary and are primarily added as marketing tools.  Several comprehensive reviews all conclude that DHA and ARA “had no proven benefit regarding vision, cognition, or physical growth.”  However, they did have some negative effects.  When the C. Cohnii and M. Alpina oils first appeared in infant formula, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received dozens of reports from physicians and parents who noticed diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal distress in infants given formula with these oils—symptoms that disappeared when the infant was switched to the exact same formula without the synthetic additives.

Another concern with these additives is how they are produced: the oils are extracted from the algae and fungus with the use of hexane, a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent.  Unfortunately it’s tough to find an infant formula without added DHA/ARA, even if it’s organic.

The Best Organic Baby Formula

With all the problems associated with ingredients in conventional baby formulas, organic is definitely the way to go, but you still need to be careful!  Read ingredient lists!  Organic formulas can contain refined sugars, synthetic vitamins and synthetic antioxidants that may not be healthy for your baby.

Which one is the best?  According to the Cornucopia Institute’s online guide on formulas Baby’s Only Organic is the only brand that  is non-GMO and hormone-free and does not contain the DHA/ARA described above. Baby's Only Organic is intended for a toddler 1-year of age or older OR as directed by a healthcare professional.  According to its manufacturer (Nature’s One), Baby’s Only Organic formulas “provide the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to support normal growth and development of a young child."   Since the company encourages breastfeeding infants, it doesn’t typically promote Baby’s Only Organic as an infant formula, although many happy customers have used it as such with no adverse effects.

Babys Only Organic DairyBabys Only Organic Lactose FreeUnlike other organic baby formulas that use organic sugar or evaporated cane juice (which, by the way are still refined sugars), Baby’s OnlyOrganic uses brown rice syrup as its source of carbohydrates.  There were some concerns that the older version of its formula was found to contain elevated levels of arsenic due to environmental contamination of brown rice. In response, Nature’s One developed an organic-compliant technology to filter and remove arsenic from its organic brown rice syrup to undetectable levels. Consumer Reports has confirmed that Baby’s Only Organic formulas have undetectable levels of arsenic.

 So while organic baby formula is not perfect, it is still a far better choice than conventional formula.  And Baby’s Only Organic is the best one on the market.

Making Your Own Baby Formula

Now, I mentioned earlier that I think the best alternative is to make your own baby formula.  Two knowledgeable women from the Weston A. Price Foundation, Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, wrote a book called Nourishing Traditions, which teaches you how to prepare foods in the healthiest ways.  One of the recipes in their book is for homemade baby formula.  This recipe has been embraced by many bloggers who follow the Weston A. Price principles and the Nourishing Traditions book.  I have seen the exact recipe on dozens of blog sites. Mothers who cannot breastfeed for whatever reason rave about this recipe and are grateful to have found it.

One such blogger, known as The Healthy Home Economist has a great video that shows you how to make the formula.  Another blogger, known as Cheeseslave, has a wonderful picture tutorial on how to make the recipe, along with her helpful notes on how to make the formula.

One thing that Cheeseslave mentions that I think will be helpful to many parents, is that although the original recipe calls for raw milk, you can substitute whole organic milk or goat milk  if necessary.  I would add that you should look for an organic milk from grass-fed cows that is not ultra pasteurized.  Brands such as Organic Valley Grassmilk, or organic milk from regional dairies like MOO milk or Kalona Supernatural milk that use a low heat pasteurization are the best.

The other ingredients for the baby formula include coconut oil, cod liver oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, lactose powder, nutritional yeast, gelatin, infant probiotics, and acerola powder.  These ingredients may seem strange, but trust me they are wonderful and provide all the nourishment a developing baby needs.  Healthy Home Economist mentions on her webpage that these ingredients can be purchased as a kit from Radiant Life, an online store that sells foods and supplements that are in alignment with traditional foods.

I hope this information has given you a new way of looking at baby formulas. I wish there was an easier answer to the "which is the best baby formula" question, but there just isn't.  True heath is something that we have to spend time learning about and time making in our kitchens.  It doesn't come in ready-to-feed containers.

Baby Formula Kit

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Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dee McCaffrey, CDC   
Friday, February 27, 2015

NNM_Logo_2015

If you’ve been chewing on the thought of improving your food choices and starting your journey toward a healthy lifestyle, there is no better time to begin than now. March is National Nutrition Month—an annual campaign organized by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics aimed at educating and empowering Americans into healthier lifestyles.  The theme for this year’s nutrition month is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” which encourages everyone to make informed food choices, keep portion sizes in check and engage in fitness routines that are meaningful and enjoyable.

The word “bite” means to take a small piece of a bigger portion, chew it well, savor the flavor and then swallow before taking the next bite. This year’s theme can be interpreted to mean that healthy living is not about making grand changes all at once.  Rather, it is a steady continual process that allows for gradual improvement in many areas of your life.  The focus is on taking one “bite” at a time into new territory—savoring a small change and allowing it to become a new habit before taking the next “bite.”  The small changes you make each day or week will add up to big changes over time.

To help inspire you to make more meaningful food and fitness choices, the word “BITE” can be used as an acronym that encompasses key components of a healthy lifestyle. As you begin to make each of these a working part of your life, you will find that healthful eating and physical activity are realistic and enjoyable.

B – Balance. At its most profound level, health is not is not just the absence of pain, stress, or disease, but also an abundance of vitality, passion and purpose.  It is the daily experience of wholeness and balance—a state of being fully alive.   Getting to this state can begin with conscious, mindful food choices. Once your body is nourished properly, you will have more energy and motivation to exercise, and you will find that your are more willing to make other positive changes in your life.

It is best to begin by adding more healthful foods into your meals, and gradually eliminate the sugar and processed foods.  Balance your plate by filling it with plenty of vegetables and fruits, and lesser amounts of other plant foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and healthy fats. If you eat animal foods such as, eggs, dairy, meats, fish and poultry, save a small space, about one fourth of your plate, for smaller portions of these foods. Make it a practice to have at least three different colors on your plate at each meal. Balancing your meals this way is essential not only for ensuring that you get the proper amount of nutrients your body needs, but also the eye appeal and the emotional comfort that satisfies all of your senses.

The colors in plant foods represent certain vitamins and phytonutrients (beneficial compounds, including antioxidants, that give these foods their disease fighting properties.)  Eating an abundance of colorful foods can help protect against chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

To help you put together a nutrient-rich balanced plate, here’s a guide to the colors in foods and how they contribute to a healthy lifestyle:

RED plant foods contain vitamins A and C, and the phytonutrient lycopene, a powerful cancer fighter.   Examples are tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, cherries, raspberries, pink guavas, red grapes, strawberries, red apples and red grapefruit.

YELLOW/ORANGE plant foods also contain vitamins A and C, and the phytonutrient beta-carotene, known to prevent heart disease as well as lung and colon cancers.  Examples are apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, mangoes, papayas, peaches, persimmons, yellow squash, pumpkins, winter squashes and sweet potatoes.

BLUE/PURPLE plant foods also contain vitamins A and C, and a class of phytonutrients called anthocyanins, which have anti-aging and anti-cancer effects and help to promote circulatory function.  Examples are blackberries, black currants, blueberries, grapes, raisins, plums, red cabbages, eggplant, purple potatoes and red onions.

BROWN plant foods contain B vitamins, vitamin E, and classes of phytonutrients called isoflavones, lignans, and phytosterols which prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Examples are whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and mushrooms.

GREEN plant foods contain all the vitamins (except vitamin D), and the phytonutrient compounds known as chlorophyll, lutein, isoflavones, and glucosolinates which are highly detoxifying, and are known cancer fighters.  Green foods also help aid weight loss as they regulate blood sugar levels and stop cravings for sugary, fatty foods.  Examples are leafy vegetables like lettuces, spinach, kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, Swiss chard, asparagus, avocadoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chives, cucumbers, green peas, green beans, kiwis, leeks, zucchini, wheat grass, and the algae superfoods known as spirulina and chlorella.

WHITE plant foods contain vitamins A and C, and the phytonutrients allicin and quercitin. known cancer-fighting antioxidants, and are natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents.  Examples are garlic, leeks, onions, shallots, bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, and potatoes.

I – Invest.   A healthy lifestyle is an investment you make in yourself every day.  You have to make yourself a priority, spending time and money to make sure that you set yourself up for success.  Invest in healthy food, good cookware, time-saving kitchen appliances like a crockpot, food processor or powerful blender to make food prep fast and easy.  Take cooking classes or watch videos that will help you learn new techniques and recipes.  Invest in a good pair of shoes for taking walks or working out.  Invest in the right number of hours of sleep for your body—most people need 7 to 8 hours a night. Finally, invest is good clean water, such as reverse osmosis, spring water or alkaline water, and drink at least eight glass a day.

At first these may seem like big investments, but taking them one bite at a time makes it doable.  Hiring a nutritionist or a personal trainer can help you set goals and keep you accountable.  Start with the most achievable investments first, and make a list of the others you want to work toward. The time and money you spend on your health today will be time well spent to save yourself from having to spend more time and money later on doctor visits and medications.  Like any good investment, it’s a gift you give to yourself that gives back to you in return.

T – Transform. Once you’ve learned to balance your plate, the next “bite” is to take your food quality to the next level, to increase nutrients and reduce your exposure to harmful toxins that are found in produce sprayed with chemicals and foods from animals that have been fed an unnatural diet.  Opt for organically grown produce whenever possible.  A July 2014 study showed that the nutrient content in organically grown fruits, vegetables and whole grains contained 17 percent more antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts, and for some antioxidants the difference was as high as 69 percent more.  The main reason to opt for organic is to reduce your exposure to pesticides and herbicides, of which many are linked to obesity, cancer and diseases of the immune system, even in small doses.

When it comes to animal foods, choosing hormone-free, antibiotic-free and organic options as often as possible can also reduce your risk of chronic exposure to harmful toxins.  If you consume dairy and eggs, start with those first by switching to organic varieties.  Reduce your consumption of meats and poultry, and gradually transition to organic when possible.

E – Enjoy. With a personal commitment to live your best life, you must continue to find ways to make being healthy fun and enjoyable.  Let’s face it, if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.  When it comes to making healthy food choices, start with adding more of the vegetables, fruits and other plant foods that you like, before venturing into trying new ones that might be unappealing to you.  Make it a practice to try just one new fruit,  vegetable or whole grain each week to see if you like it.  Make a list of the ones you like, and make sure to always have a supply of those on hand for your meals and snacks.

The same concept applies to fitness—you should start with an activity that you enjoy.  Do you like to dance, swim, ride a bicycle, roller skate, walk or bounce on a trampoline?  Do you like team sports or group classes?  What was your favorite form of activity when you were a kid?  Start slowly by engaging in activities that make you feel good, not like a chore.

With both food and fitness choices, start with what you know and like, and don’t “bite” off more than you can chew.

Wholesome satisfying foods and a meaningful fitness routine are the best life and health insurance available. Let them be your foundation for a naturally healthy lifestyle that nourishes you in many ways.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month this March by making small gradual changes to improve your health, one bite at a time, one day at a time.

 
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    Jean D.,
    Toms River, NJ

  • "Humanity's inalienable right to the natural, unadulterated foods given by the Creator is more important than the greed of food, drug and chemical corporations."

    Chavah A.,
    Taos, NM

  • "TOO MANY UNNATURAL SUBSTANCES = TOO MANY CANCERS!!...Unless a change is made to the laws, food manufacturers will continue to poison us with WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAKE AS MUCH MONEY AS THEY CAN!! Time to stop the insanity."

    Karen G.,
    Henrietta, NY

  • "I find it a travesty that in what used to be one of the richest countries in the world we have such a poorly regulated food supply."

    Julie S.,
    Birch Run, MI

  • "Best of luck with this important petition!"

    Scott E.,
    Cheshire, CT

  • "Thanks for keeping us informed! We need a watch dog over our food supply!"

    Cindy M.,
    Raleigh, NC

  • "Every single person should take the time to prepare healthy, nutritious meals for their families every day! ... Drag those kids and your spouse into the kitchen and create together!!"

    Ellen F.H.,
    Colton, OR

  • "Obesity is an epidemic in this country. Let's mandate healthy eating and stop poisoning our citizens."

    Tim W.,
    Ventura, CA

  • "This processed food is the killer for all human beings."

    Hadassah E.,
    Florida City, FL

  • "Have been on the no preservatives diet for 3 months now and have lost 10 pounds! I feel great!"

    Sallie G.,
    Conway, SC

  • "I have a chronic illness so it is very important to me that our food does not have toxins in it."

    Susie H.,
    Monroe, WI

  • "I am just now learning (about) all the stuff that is being put in our food. I am so shocked."

    Verna W.,
    Las Vegas, NV

  • "The U.K. & other countries get it right because they care. It's a disgrace that the U.S. doesn't use safe ingredients."

    Janice E.,
    Glendale, AZ

  • "As someone who struggles with weight, I would like to be proactive, not only in my own life, but also in the lives of others, which is why I decided to be a part of this petition. Thank you for informing me."

    Tekoa S.,
    Fullerton, CA

  • "What a positive change it has made in my life!"

    Judy E.,
    Sun City, AZ

  • "Everyone has a right to clean, clear, un-adulterated foods. It is not a privilege but a RIGHT!!"

    Ramana and Neil K.,
    Plano, TX

  • "Awareness is the beginning of change...thank you for your diligence in keeping us informed!"

    Elizabeth D.,
    Ft Worth, TX

  • "Let us as individuals take charge of our own health by making our food supply safe."

    Deborah Y.,
    Phoenix, AZ

  • "Thank you for your devotion to this issue."

    Silvia S.,
    Riverside, CA

  • "I think the government has to start to have the health and welfare of the people at heart. Putting chemicals and dangerous preservatives in our food is not in anyone's best interest."

    Diane W.,
    West Lawn, PA

  • "It is criminal and outrageous what's being done to our food here in America....It is your job to protect us, and STOP this greed-driven abuse NOW! Take a stand for the health of your citizens and their families, or remove yourself from office.

    Douglas G.
    Goleta, CA

  • "Processed food has made me sick ... I feel better since I don't eat it anymore."

    Mary Ann B.,
    Oak View, CA

  • "We must take action to protect our health."

    Delores W.,
    Kansas City, MO

  • "Being a nutritionist with a PHD, it is my goal to assist as many individuals as possible to live a healthy lifestyle. As more and more issues with health arise, it is evident that the foods we are consuming has toxic effects on us."

    Brenda B.,
    Mesa, AZ

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