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Nine Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

Nine Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

We talk a lot about the importance of reaching a goal weight and how to stay motivated. Sometimes, though, it still seems like a laborious task. If you’re carrying extra weight, you probably already know there are a myriad of health-related reasons to slim down. While it may seem impossible, little steps will carry you bit by bit down your weight loss path to your ultimate goal.While keeping your eyes on the big prize, it may help you to realize that even small changes in your weight may improve blood sugar, blood pressure, heart health, reduce cholesterol, and decrease your chances of developing diabetes. We’ve shared many motivational tips, but did you know that when you lose 10% of your bodyweight, you are instantly healthier? There’s no doubt that dropping weight will make you look and feel better, but there are numerous other benefts that you can realize while on your weight loss journey, which have nothing to do with how you look in your skinny jeans. Read more: Strategies for successful maintenance after weight loss.

Fewer Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

The link may not be immediately obvious, but new research has found that for some people, being overweight can make their asthma and allergy symptoms worse. Carrying excess weight on your body puts a burden on the adrenal glands, and your adrenal glands help manage asthma and allergies. In addition, being overweight strains your respiratory system and can make allergy symptoms worse.

Arthritis Relief

Not only does losing weight help relieve arthritis pain, it can also help keep you from developing arthritis—the less you weigh, the less stress on the joints. In addition, recent studies have shown that when you have arthritis and you lose weight, your pain is reduced and your joint functionality significantly improves.

Less Foot Pain

You may not really think about it, but excess weight can put a lot of pressure on your feet, even if you don’t have arthritis. In a recent study, people who had lost an average of 90 pounds found that their incidence of foot pain lowered by 83%. This is understandable because your feet support your entire body, and therefore your entire body’s weight. Relief from foot pain is motivation enough for losing weight.

Glowing Skin

There are numerous ways being overweight may affect your skin, which is the body’s largest organ. Both skin elasticity and color can be altered by lack of proper nutrition, and a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar can cause pale skin and skin tags. Darkness around the eyes can also signal poor nutrition, such as iron defciency, diabetes, protein anemia, or stress.

Better Mood

When you are overweight, your entire system will be out of balance, including the hormones that affect your mood. Losing weight may increase your overall sense of well-being and decrease feelings of depression. Many overweight people suffer from extreme depression, and depression may increase a person’s chances of being overweight, setting up a cycle that is hard to break.

Improved Cognition and Memory

A recent study found that older adults who were overweight scored worse on cognitions tests than adults who were at a healthy weight. Past studies have linked excess weight in animals to cognitive decline, but little has been previously understood about the interaction between obesity and the brain. However, new research suggests that being overweight weakens the blood-brain barrier, and this allows substances manufactured by fat to flow to the brain. Researchers also discovered that 12 weeks after weight loss, memory significantly improves.

Sounder Sleep

If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you understand the benefits of a good night’s sleep. During sleep, your cells are repaired and your brain processes and remembers the day’s events. In fact, the most common prescription for sleep apnea is weight loss. In studies involving people with diabetes and sleep apnea, those who lost a greater amount of weight had the most significant drop in sleep apnea symptoms. It only takes a weight loss of 5% in obese people to start seeing results.

Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Almost everyone has either heard or read about the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes and its link to obesity. It may be a surprise for many to learn how effective losing weight can be at reversing the impact of type 2 diabetes. In fact, many people can avoid the disease altogether by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes patients on a restricted eating plan, such as the doctor-supervised ChiroThin Weight Loss Program, were able to lower their blood sugar and insulin levels to normal within seven days. If you have type 2 diabetes, reversing the condition and avoiding future complications could just be the best benefit of your weight-loss journey.

Economic Savings

Many complain that eating a healthy diet is costly, and sometimes it does seem like fast food, junk food, and convenience food is cheaper. However, in the long run, slimming your waist can plump up your wallet. When you calculate the cost of medical bills, missed days at work, short-term disability, low-productivity, workers’ compensation, and more, there is a real difference between the financial health of obese people and their peers who have healthier weights. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good in your clothes, but the harsh reality is that being overweight can take up to 20 years off your life. Reducing your weight by even 5% can have a positive effect on your health, and it is a great beginning for your transformation. If you are ready to start your weight loss journey, call our office at Oblander Chiropractic to find out more about the doctor-supervised ChiroThin Weight Loss Program.

 

The office phone number is 406-652-3553

 

 

 

Inspiring Weight Loss Story!

Inspiring Weight Loss Story!

Extreme Makeover features a celebrity trainer helping very overweight individuals reach their weight loss goals. Sometimes, their attitudes aren’t great, but other times, the people on the show are truly amazing, like Sara. Sara is a little person, standing at only 4’5″. She was a nutrition speaker on local television shows at the start of her journey, but ashamed of herself. Not only had she spent her life dealing with her short stature, but she had suffered greatly at the hands of her sister. She turned to eating and by the time she was 37 years old, weighed over 200 pounds.

When she began her time on Extreme Makeover, her first challenge was to climb the stairs of an amphitheater holding an 80 pound weight. The stairs came up past her knees. But she didn’t complain once. She kept going. Slowly, all the people in the theater started to watch her. By the time she reached the last step, the crowd cheered for her.

Her trainer gave her the goal to run a half marathon 6 months after starting her diet and exercise program. Sara said no. She wouldn’t run the half. Instead she would run a full marathon. Her trainer advised against it because it would be extra hard on her body. She’d have to take many extra strides due to her short stature. Sara didn’t care. She ran the whole marathon.

She succeeded in loosing more than half her body weight and becoming a runner, like she had always dreamed.

If you would like to follow Sara’s example and lose weight and begin your inspirational journey of change, be sure to contact our office to get the details on our ChiroThin diet. It is doctor supervised and is amazing in its ability to not only help you lose weight but also learn new and healthier eating habits! What a win/win! Office phone number: 406-652-3553.

Story is shared from the following website: https://www.livin3.com/5-motivational-and-inspiring-short-stories

Drug-Resistant Illnesses—What You Should Know

Drug-Resistant Illnesses—What You Should Know

With the huge rise in the use of antibiotics over the past 70 years, some pathogens are now becoming resistant to the drugs that once easily eradicated the illnesses these pathogens cause. People who become infected with one of these drug-resistant organisms are at increased risk for longer, more costly hospital stays and are more likely to die from their infection.

Medical researchers and public health experts believe there are a few different causes for the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. These include the widespread use of antibiotics in animals as well as and the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans.

Cattle, pigs and chickens are routinely given antibiotics to prevent illness and increase weight gain. However, 55 outbreaks of foodborne illness over the past 40 years have been caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. New York Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, a microbiologist, said “We have evidence that the practice of overusing antibiotics in food-animals is ruining these drugs’ effectiveness, and every day that the government stands idly by, we move closer to the nightmare scenario where routine infections can no longer be cured with antibiotic treatment.” Slaughter has proposed Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would ban the use of 8 major classes of antibiotics from use on healthy animals, with exceptions only for animals who are actually ill.

Doctors are often pressured to prescribe antibiotics for illnesses that antibiotics are ineffective at treating, such as viruses. Parents of sick children have been shown to be particularly bad about exerting pressure on their doctor to give their children an antibiotic, no matter what the illness actually is. In the case of viruses (such as the one that causes the common cold, most coughs and the flu), antibiotics are useless. Antibiotics work against bacteria such as streptococcal bacteria (strep throat) and staphylococcal bacteria (skin infections). The bacterial infections most in danger of becoming resistant to all antibiotics include anthrax, gonorrhea, group B Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Streptococcus pneumoniae, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and the antimicrobial-resistant staph bacteria VISA and VRSA.

The best way to help reduce the spread of drug-resistant illnesses is to refrain from pressuring your doctor to prescribe antibiotics when it is not appropriate, and when antibiotics are called for, to take them according to directions. Be sure to complete the full course of the antibiotic regimen prescribed, even if you are feeling well again. If you don’t, some bacteria may linger and develop a resistance to the drug you are taking, potentially making that antibiotic ineffective for you in the future. Do not skip any doses, share your antibiotics with anyone else, or use antibiotics that have been prescribed for someone else.

In general, the symptoms of a virus disappear in about a week or so. In contrast, bacterial infections tend to linger. So if you have been feeling ill for more than two weeks, consult with your physician to see if antibiotics may be appropriate for treating of your illness. If not, he or she can prescribe other effective ways to treat your condition.

Unhealthy Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens

Unhealthy Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens

Most teens experience headaches at some point and many will suffer the debilitating impact of persistent headaches or migraines. Chronic headaches can prevent teens from engaging fully in school, work, and extracurricular activities. Yet little was known about what triggers headaches in teens until now.

A recent study indicated several lifestyle habits associated with migraine and tension headaches in teens. Researchers asked 1, 260 adolescents to fill out a survey on whether they had headaches and if so, the duration and type of headaches they experienced. Participants also responded to questions about their diet and lifestyle including:  their physical activity, consumption of alcoholic, nonalcoholic, and coffee beverages, eating patterns, and whether they smoked.

Nearly half of the teen surveyed had tension headaches, 10% had migraines, and 20% had a combination of the two.  A considerable amount of participants had unhealthy lifestyle habits like drinking, alcohol and skipping meals. However, 75% had never smoked and 43% didn’t drink coffee.

Researchers found that teens were more likely have migraines if they also drank alcohol, coffee, and/or had low levels of activity. Low physical activity was also associated with tension headaches. Teens that smoked were more likely to have a combination of tension and migraine headaches.

While the study indicates correlation rather than causation, the results do suggest strong links between unhealthy lifestyle and the presence of persistent headaches in adolescents. Researches recommended that further research be done to asses whether educational programs could influence teens’ behavior and experience with headaches. If you’re a teen with persistent headaches or someone you love is, consider consulting with a doctor of chiropractic about healthy lifestyle and nutritional choices that can prevent further pain.

Special Note: One of the best things you can do for headaches is see your chiropractor. Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander if you or your child are having frequent headaches! You can call our office at 406-652-3553.

Fiore, Kristina. “Diet and Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens.” Medpage Today. June 7, 2010. Accessed October 26, 2011. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/Migraines/20521.

Milde-Busch A, et al “Associations of diet and lifestyle with headache in high-school students: results from a cross-sectional study” Headache 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2010.01706.x.

Article written by Michael Melton and shared from www.chironexus.net

Superfoods: Science or Marketing?

Superfoods: Science or Marketing?

There is no medical definition for a “superfood”. Food manufacturers are eager to use the word to promote sales of their products that contain traces of supposed superfoods such as blueberries, pomegranates and chocolate. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a superfood as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” However, there are no set criteria about what makes a food nutrient-rich. Most superfoods are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients relative to other foods. However, if you were to eat only one of these superfoods to the exclusion of all else, you would be seriously deficient in many of the nutrients your body needs in order to stay healthy. So what exactly is the science behind the idea of superfoods?

While we would like to believe that if we eat certain foods we can stave off illness and keep aging at bay, the truth is that it’s not so easy. Although there is no doubt that a diet consisting primarily of fruits and vegetables is one of the keys to healthy longevity, it is also what you don’t eat and do that is important. For instance, if you eat a breakfast of blueberries and pomegranates in a bowl of oatmeal, along with a cup of green tea, that does not mean that your health will improve overall if for lunch you have a bucket of fried chicken, French fries and a 64-ounce Coke, followed by a cigarette.

The majority of scientific studies indicating that there may be some positive health effects associated with the nutrients contained in certain foods were conducted in a laboratory. In general, high levels of nutrients are used in these studies—usually far more than what can be consumed in a normal diet. For instance, the compound resveratrol that studies have shown to be heart-healthy and to guard against prostate cancer is found in grape skins only in very small amounts. So although “the French paradox” (why the French have low rates of heart disease despite a rich diet) is often partially attributed to the regular consumption of red wine, in fact, you would have to drink 40 liters of wine a day to get the same amount that was shown to benefit the health of mice in these studies.

The positive results of studies performed in test tubes on a few human cells and studies performed on mice do not necessarily translate into health benefits for the wider population. The effect of a single nutrient on human health is difficult to pinpoint, as we all eat a combination of foods. Some nutritional benefits may only occur in the presence of other nutrients in the same food, or even in a different food eaten at the same time. Iron absorption, for example, is boosted when a food rich in vitamin C is eaten at the same time.

The best nutritional advice someone can follow if they’re interested in maintaining good health is to eat a wide range of whole foods, and (even more importantly) to avoid foods that are bad for you such as processed foods and hydrogenated oils. As the European Food Information Council advises, “A diet based on a variety of nutritious foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, remains the best way to ensure a balanced nutrient intake for optimal health.”

 

What Is Immunotherapy and How Can It Help with Food Allergies?

What Is Immunotherapy and How Can It Help with Food Allergies?

young-parents-feeding-child

Food allergies affect over 15 million Americans, including 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18. The symptoms of these allergic reactions can range from minor (e.g., itching, swelling of the lips, intestinal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting) to major or even life-threatening (e.g., development of hives and rashes, tightening of the throat to the point of being unable to breathe, significant drops in blood pressure).

Having such an allergy—or being the parent of a child with such an allergy—can impose unwelcome lifestyle limitations and cause a great deal of anxiety. At present, there is no known cure for serious food allergies that works for everyone. This means that the best approach for the time being is to completely avoid the food product to which you or your child has an allergic reaction. However, this is not always practical or possible to do. That’s why the majority of “treatments” currently available focus on managing the symptoms after an attack has taken place. For instance, individuals with serious food allergies may carry an auto-injector filled with epinephrine (adrenaline) with them at all times, just in case.

Naturally, because of the seriousness and the prevalence of food allergies, a great deal of research is being conducted on treatments to desensitize individuals to the foods they are allergic to. This may effectively “cure” the allergy for some sufferers. One of the fields that shows promise is the study of immunotherapy (more precisely, low-dose immunotherapy), in which extremely small amounts of the allergen are administered to allergy sufferers over time. The basic idea behind the experimental treatment is that the body will develop a tolerance to these low doses and that the allergic reaction will gradually cease.

The first work in immunotherapy was undertaken in the 1960s in England by Dr. S. Popper, who was trying to cure allergic reactions to pollen by injecting patients with low doses of the allergen in combination with the enzyme beta-glucuronidase in an approach called “enzyme potentiated desensitization” (EPD). While the then-experimental treatment showed early success, its use in the U.S. was suspended by the FDA for administrative reasons in 2001. However, follow-up work continued and an enhanced American version of the EPD injection called Low Dose Allergens (LDA) was later introduced.

The obvious drawback of this type of therapy is that the doses have to be injected by a physician. It is also necessary for patients to avoid outside exposure to larger doses of the allergens and to many medications while the treatment is underway. However, other researchers have continued to study desensitization via immunotherapy with the goal of finding other mechanisms of administering the low-dose allergens, such as oral medications, sublingual (under the tongue) medications, and others.

Some of the most promising work in this field is being performed at Stanford University School of Medicine by Kari Nadeau, Associate Professor of Allergies and Immunology. Nadeau is working with children afflicted with peanut allergies. Her approach is to give them minute doses of the peanut allergen and gradually escalate the doses over a period of months in the hope of them eventually developing immunity. Up to this point, Nadeau’s technique has produced positive results for many patients, but it does appear to have limitations. First, the therapy doesn’t seem to offer a permanent “cure”. Patients must continue to take low doses of the peanut allergens or risk losing their immunity. If they stop for more than a few days, the allergies can come back. Second, the treatment itself is time-consuming and often expensive.

While the jury is still out on immunotherapy, the concept shows promise. However, progressing from concept to proven treatment is clearly going to take much more work. As it stands today, some immunotherapy approaches work for some patients but don’t work for others. Plus, there are questions about how long immunity actually lasts and whether it must be maintained or periodically boosted. This is clearly a very important consideration since patients could run the risk of unknowingly losing immunity and coming into contact with the allergen, allowing it to trigger an unexpected—and potentially serious—attack.

So if you suffer from food allergies and are looking for a way to diminish them, the best advice we can offer at this time is to continue following the research and to consult with your own healthcare providers about the potential benefits and risks in your own case. If you do decide to pursue immunotherapy, be sure that it is being administered and overseen by well-trained medical professionals who can monitor progress and watch for side effects.

 

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

fruits in supermarket

Getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet is important for a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that it improves digestion and contributes to lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The FDA recommends that adults get at least 25 to 30 grams in their diet every day. However, our typical western diet, which is high in refined grains and processed food, provides the average person only about 15 grams of fiber per day.

There are two different types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble, each of which fulfill an important task. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and our stomach’s digestive juices), transforming into a gel-like substance that helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar. The primary purpose of insoluble fiber is to work as an indigestible bulking agent to keeps things moving along the digestive tract, which aids elimination and reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber may also help you to lose weight, and is important in maintaining general bowel health.

Among the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber are the following:

  • Beans and lentils – Make a three-bean salad, a bean burrito, some chili or soup. Hummus (chick pea puree) is another tasty option.
  • Bran cereal – You don’t have to endure Grape Nuts to meet your daily requirement. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is considered high in fiber.
  • Whole grains – Chuck the white bread for whole-grain bread and pasta. It tastes better, and it does not make your blood sugar spike so quickly due to its higher fiber content.
  • Brown rice – Has a great, nutty taste and is particularly nice with a little soy sauce added.
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery are among the vegetables with the highest fiber. Be sure not to overcook them though. They should remain crunchy.
  • Popcorn – A low-calorie snack (if you skip the added butter) and an easy source of fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds – Those highest in fiber are almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Baked potatoes – Be sure to eat the skin, as it’s the part with the good fiber.
  • Berries – There’s a lot of fiber contained in the seeds and skin of berries.
  • Oatmeal – Steel-cut oats are the best in providing good amounts of cholesterol-lowering fiber. If you’re in a rush, instant oatmeal provides fiber as well, if at a lower amount.

So be sure to add more from the above list to your weekly menu and enjoy the many benefits that increased fiber has to offer! If you have questions about your diet choices, always remember that you can call either of our Billings offices and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Oblander or a member of our staff!

Beating the Odds: How Some People Stick with Diet and Exercise Plans

Beating the Odds: How Some People Stick with Diet and Exercise Plans

Billings Chiropractic Diet Services
balance-scales

How long did your last diet or exercise plan last? If you’re like many people, your answer is “not that long.” In fact, one UK survey found that the average length of time a person stays on a nutrition plan is 19 days. A slightly more positive poll found that women tended to quit their diets after five weeks and two days. If these statistics sound distressingly familiar, it might be time to reassess how you approach your own diet plan.

How Do People Stick with Their Diet and Exercise Plans?

If you want to make sure your diet and exercise plan doesn’t become just another statistic, a change in attitude can make all the difference. In order to create a diet plan you can stick with, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what types of changes will fit into your lifestyle. Diet plans with long lists of “bad” foods might help you cut back on calories in the short term, but do you really plan to go the rest of your life without cake? People who stick with their diet plans take a more moderate approach, making small changes that they can live with in the long term.

Exercise plans can be just as difficult to carry out. People who stick with their exercise plans view physical activity as a regular part of life, not something they do only when they have the time, energy, and motivation. Of course, sticking with physical activity is much easier when it’s enjoyable. Rather than slogging it out on the treadmill, try yoga, martial arts, or another exercise program that stimulates your mind as well as your body. And variety helps too!

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Whether you’re building a diet plan or an exercise program (or are making changes in both areas), the people around you can make a huge difference in your level of success. If your spouse, children, or friends tend to turn to food in celebration or out of boredom, it’s easy to forget about your diet goals. Getting enough exercise is a lot more difficult if the people around you would rather watch TV than go on a walk.

Fortunately, when it comes to sticking with your diet and exercise plan, the people around you can also be a huge help. Making dietary changes as a family can help everyone involved lose weight and improve their health, while exercising with a friend can make the time go by much more quickly and pleasantly.

Having the support of a chiropractor who really understands the power (and challenges) of making healthy lifestyle changes (think nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management, for example) is another way to help you meet your goals. The staff here in Billings at Oblander Chiropractic can work with you to make targeted, realistic adjustments that you’ll be able to stick with in the long term. Sticking with a diet and exercise program isn’t always easy, but you might be surprised by just how easy it is to make the changes you’re looking for with the right type of advice and support!

Thinking About Food Labels: What the Future Might Bring

Thinking About Food Labels: What the Future Might Bring

woman-reading-food-label
woman-reading-food-label

In a move applauded by nutritionists and health experts (but criticized at the same time for not going far enough), the Obama administration has proposed sweeping changes to the regulations surrounding the labeling of packaged foods. The new proposal, announced and championed by first lady Michelle Obama, aims to make it easier for consumers to figure out whether a packaged food product is healthy or unhealthy, and whether it contains large amounts of ingredients that are potentially harmful to their health.

These proposed changes have been long in coming—the current standards were first introduced over 20 years ago, in 1993. Much has changed since then and Americans have become “supersized” in more ways than one. They are eating larger portions of foods than they did in 1993, and more is known now about the effects of harmful ingredients like hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and sugar than was known then. But today’s labels still hold to the old standards, which allow manufacturers to create “serving sizes” that are completely unrealistic, and to bury useful information like the actual amount of calories, fats, and sugars you’re likely to consume in the “fine print” of the label.

As an example, the current labeling standards allow manufacturers of soda to list its calories and sugar content based on a “serving size” of eight ounces, whereas the actual bottles of soda (which are almost always consumed in one sitting) contain 20 ounces, or 2-1/2 times more. Ice cream manufacturers currently use half a cup as the “serving size” used to calculate their products’ calorie and sugar counts, whereas most Americans consume an average of two cups when they eat ice cream.

The proposed standards would change this, and instead of listing calories “per serving size,” they would list them as “amount per 2/3 cup,” or using a similar easily recognized measure. Because of national and global concerns about obesity, calorie counts would no longer appear in small print, but be highlighted in a large font. Each packaged product would list the “number of servings per package” in a more prominent location and font. Also, for the first time, a new indicator called “Added Sugars” would be included on every label, which again relates to calories, because Americans consume over 16% of their total calories from sugar.

“Calories From Fat” would no longer be listed, because more recent science tells us that it’s the type of fat that is more important for consumers to know about. Therefore, labels will list amounts of “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat.” The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would also update their recommended “Percent Daily Values” (%DV) ratings for common nutrients to bring them into line with current science, and would finally add Vitamin D and potassium.

While all of these proposed changes are legitimate improvements, it’s (of course) impossible to please every special interest group that will be affected by new labeling regulations. Although consumers themselves will doubtlessly benefit, consumer advocates are disappointed because they were lobbying for changes like indicating added sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats in a bold, colored font to indicate that they are present in high amounts. On the other side of the argument are food manufacturers and retailers who worry about the cost of new labeling requirements and what the new information might mean for buying behavior.

The bad news is that these proposed food labeling requirements are not slated to take effect for at least two years. The good news is that the FDA has put in place a very robust process designed to allow stakeholders to “weigh in” and contribute their suggestions. You can learn more about that process at www.regulations.gov and searching for the term “food labeling”.

 

Why Eating with the Seasons Makes Good Sense

Why Eating with the Seasons Makes Good Sense

Basket of Fruits and Vegetables --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Basket of Fruits and Vegetables — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

It’s true.  The combination of industrial agriculture and efficient global logistics has made it possible for many American families to enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables year round.

But just because they’re available doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best choice for you or your family. In fact, there are several really good reasons that your diet—particularly your choice of fruits and vegetables—should change with the seasons. Now that fall is here and winter is just around the corner, this is a great time to talk about seasonal eating and how you can make the most of the cold-weather months.

The reasons for eating local produce in-season basically fall into four categories: nutrition, taste, cost and environmental sustainability.

Nutrition. Local fruits and vegetables picked seasonally at their ultimate ripeness are usually more nutritious than produce that is grown in a hot-house environment or that is raised in other parts of the world and transported over long distances.

Taste. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, flavors and textures tends to suffer when they’re grown out-of-season or spend lots of time in transit. This encourages farmers to do things they might not ordinarily do, including adding colors, sweeteners or preservatives. The fact that out-of-season produce needs to be marketable after shipping may also encourage farmers to grow varieties that are more durable but less flavorful. The net result is often a poorer product.

Cost. Growing produce out-of-season or transporting it over long distances involves expenses that just don’t exist when fruits and vegetables are grown and marketed locally. As anyone who has ever bought fresh strawberries or tomatoes in the middle of January has noticed, these expenses translate into higher prices at the grocery store.

Environmental Sustainability. The emergence of a global marketplace for fruits and vegetables has opened up lots of possibilities for growers and consumers alike but has also come with high environmental costs. The new economics of farming and distribution have changed how land, water, energy, and chemicals are used in producing food. In some cases, they’ve also tipped the scales against centuries-old patterns of sustainable crop rotation and conservation practices. Plus, moving and storing large amounts of fresh produce requires energy and increases our collective carbon footprint.

When you consider all of these factors together, it’s clear that out-of-season produce is really a pretty big compromise. So what’s the alternative? There are many winter fruits and vegetables that will soon be their peak. Knowing about these and adding them to your diet over the coming months can provide plenty of variety and may even help you get important nutrients that you wouldn’t normally get from produce at other times of the year.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of our winter favorites.

Winter Butternut Squash. Squash has relatively few calories (only 63 calories per cup) but contains lots of vitamin A and potassium. Plus, a single cup of squash also provides half your daily requirement of vitamin C!

Kale. Kale is another winter vegetable that’s packed with important nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C and K, and minerals such as calcium, copper and magnesium. Kale is also rich in cancer-fighting phytonutrients called flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol, among others) and has been shown in some research to lower cholesterol. Cooked kale can easily be added to mashed potatoes to make for a healthy side dish.

Leeks. Leeks too are abundant at this time of year. They are rich in vitamin K (good for bone health and vital for blood coagulation), and have a healthy amount of folate. A versatile member of the allium family (like onions and garlic), leeks can be added to soups and stews in pretty much the same way you might typically use onions. Leeks are also tasty on their own—just braise them a little liquid. If you’re willing to put just a bit more effort into preparation, creamed leeks is another tasty alternative. Just clean and slice 2-3 leeks thinly, then sauté them in a little butter, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cover for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Mix in a tablespoon of flour and about ½ cup of sour cream and you have an excellent side dish to serve along with fish or chicken.

Apples. Apples are a great seasonal complement to the vegetables on our list. Over 2,500 varieties of this fruit are grown in the U.S., with 100 varieties grown commercially.  A medium apple contains about 80 calories and is fat, sodium, and cholesterol free. If you’re interested in getting the most nutritional bang for the buck, be sure to eat the peels! Two-thirds of a typical apple’s fiber and lots of its antioxidants are concentrated in the peel. Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall and are ready for eating throughout the country all winter long!

Nuts. Many popular types of nuts (which are technically fruits containing a hard shell and a seed) are actively harvested in the fall and are available throughout much of the country year-round. Almonds, chestnuts and walnuts are a few winter favorites. It’s worth noting that while almonds and walnuts are not true nuts in the botanical sense, they are considered nuts in the culinary sense. Nuts like these are typically very high in protein and fat and naturally low in carbohydrates. They also contain several important vitamins and minerals. They are a particularly dense nutritional package and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.