Posts tagged obesity

Herbs for a younger you

A friend passed along the following from Dr. Eric Braverman on the Huffington Post:


New Year, Younger You: 20 anti-aging herbs and spices you must add to your diet now

Among other things, the holidays are a time of national dysnutrition: the disease of excess. Dysnutrition happens even in the most developed countries when food is plentiful but the overall diet is based on eating all the wrong balance of foods. Sound familiar? The typical American diet that is high in simple carbohydrates–white flour, white salt, and processed food–is aging us. We are getting all the bulk without the nutrients, plus adding to our propensity for developing real food cravings. So whether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore, you can start to reverse aging by simply choosing to eat the right foods to keep you full of vim, vigor, and vitality, especially over the holidays.

The easiest way to make sure you are getting more nutrients into every meal, even when you are grazing at the office cocktail party or the neighborhood potluck dinner is by choosing foods that are loaded with spices. Every time you flavor your meals with herbs or spices you are literally “upgrading” your food without adding a single calorie. You are taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary by adding color, flavor, vitamins, and often medicinal properties. Here’s why:

* Spices and herbs maximize nutrient density. Herbs and spices contain antioxidants, minerals and multivitamins. At the cocktail party, choose the Thai chicken satay stick over the tried and true fried chicken strip.
* Spices and herbs create a more thermogenic diet.
Because spices are nutrient dense, they are thermogenic, which means they naturally increase your metabolism. As your metabolism revs higher you will burn more of the food you have already eaten as fuel, and store less as body fat. At the dinner party, finish off the meal with coffee or tea sprinkled with cinnamon, which contains dozens of nutrients.
* Some spices and herbs increase your overall feeling of fullness and satiety, so you’ll eat less.
One study conducted at Maanstricht University in the Netherlands showed that when one consumes an appetizer with half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before each meal, it decreased their calorie intake by 10-16%. If you’re planning a holiday menu, think of starting with a tomato soup sprinkled with red pepper.
* You can eliminate salt.
When you flavor your foods with spices instead of salt you’ll immediately see health and physical benefits. Excessive salt intake keeps water inside your body. Once you kick the habit you will no long have excessive bloating and water retention. You’ll also lose the salt and salty snack craving. That’s because using salt begets using more salt: after a while it’s impossible to use just a pinch, because you’ve trained your brain to require a salty taste for everything you eat. Over time, using spices will also lessen your cravings for simple, nutrient poor carbohydrate snacks because you will not be yearning for a savory, salty taste. Stay clear of the chips and dips and you’re doing your brain and your body big favor.
* Spices and herbs have real medicinal properties. Study after study shows the benefits of distinct herbs and spices. One study at Malmà University Hospital in Sweden showed that up to two hours after eating, people who ate cinnamon-spiced rice pudding measured significantly lower blood-glucose levels than those who had eaten the unspiced version. Other studies suggest that cinnamon may improve blood-glucose levels by increasing a person’s insulin sensitivity. One 2003 trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes reported that consuming as little as two teaspoons of cinnamon daily for six weeks reduced blood-glucose levels significantly. It also improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, perhaps because insulin plays a key role in regulating fats in the body. So if you start adding spices to your diet now, you might be able to see real health benefits in the early months of the New Year.

Every little bit counts, so spice it up! Change your eating habits now, especially if your next meal is a pile of franks ‘n blanks or cheeseburger sliders. Choose flavor over blandness every time, and try to incorporate these specific herbs and spices into your diet if you have the following health concerns:

* rosemary and basil for their anti-inflammatory power
* cumin and sage for their dementia-fighting power
* cayenne and cinnamon for their obesity-fighting power
* coriander and cinnamon for their sugar regulating powers
* lemon grass, nutmeg, bay leaves and saffron for their calming effects on your mood
* turmeric for its cancer fighting power
* oregano for its fungus-beating power
* garlic, mustard seed and chicory for their heart-pumping power
* basil and thyme for their skin-saving power
* turmeric, basil, cinnamon, thyme, saffron, and ginger for their immune-boosting power
* coriander, rosemary, cayenne, allspice and black pepper for their depression-busting power



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Meet the King Corn guys

Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, filmmakers and stars of "King Corn"
Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, “King Corn” filmmakers

   All that corn being harvested this fall in Iowa, in one sense, isn’t even edible. In another sense, it’s ubiquitous in nearly everything we eat.

   That irony is the theme behind the documentary, “King Corn” which was screened Thursday night at Christ Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids as part of the Environmental Film Festival.

   Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, filmmakers and stars of the documentary, made an appearance at the church to discuss the film with the crowd of about 50 people.  The church’s Rev. Barbara Schlachter said seeing the two stars walk in after watching them on the big screen was like a scene out of “Field of Dreams.”

   Curt, now of Austin, Texas, and Ian, of Brooklyn, NY, both 28, also spent time at Coe College this week. The two are still making environmental films. Their next, “The Greening of Southie,” is about the making of the first large-scale “green” building in Boston.


   The two, best friends in college on the East Coast, discovered they both had great-grandparents from the same northern Iowa county while in the process of making King Corn. The documentary shows their efforts to grow an acre of corn in Greene, northwest of Waterloo, and their attempts to follow their corn in the food system. Along the way, they interview experts who describe government subsidies of the crop – “we subsidize the Happy Meals but we don’t subsidize the healthy ones,” one expert noted – and what has happened to corn, in a nutritional sense, since corn first came into the country hundreds of years ago from Mexico. Essentially, in exchange for higher yields, the high protein content of corn has given way to a higher starch content, with no nutritional value.

   The corn seen growing in most Iowa fields isn’t corn-on-the-cob for humans, but a variety used for cattle feed, ethanol and high-fructose corn syrup, which is in most of what we eat and drink. Soda is liquid candy, one health expert in the film said. The film pointed out that the higher consumption of pop and other processed foods has contributed to the nation’s obesity epidemic, which in turn, contributes to higher rates of Type 2 diabetes.


   Ian and Curt said they’ve changed their eating habits since making the film, with Curt noting that he no longer drinks soda. They plan to do an offshoot movie of “King Corn,” along with other projects in the works.


  The Environmental Film Festival runs through Oct. 26. See the gardening events tab on this blog for the full listing. If you’ve seen one of the films and have some insight to share, add a comment below.



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