Monthly Archives: June 2015

Why can eating healthy food be a gassy proposition?

“So you’ve been on a new, healthy diet and you have a little gas, do ya? What would you rather have, a little gas (healthy human function) or colon cancer?” These are the words of our friend and colleague in Juice Plus+, Dr. Mitra Ray (research biochemist and expert of nutrition disease prevention). She doesn’t pull her punches!

Reading this NPR article will help answer her question.

Not long ago, we heard about a catchy name or a cookbook: “Fart-free food for everybody.”

In theory, these recipes would be helpful for some people — and those in their vicinity.

But being a bit gassy may actually be a small price to pay for a lot of benefits to our health.

We know that air often comes after eating nutrient-packed vegetables, such as cabbage, kale and broccoli. And researchers have found that fiber-rich foods, like beans and lentils, boost the levels of beneficial gut bacteria after only a few days.

So all this got us wondering: Could passing gas, in some instances, be a sign that our gut microbes are busy keeping us healthy?

Absolutely, says , a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients,” he says. “If we didn’t feed them carbohydrates, it would be harder for them to live in our gut.”

healthy-gutAnd we need to keep these colon-dwelling critters content, Kashyap says. When they gobble up food — and create gas — they also make molecules that boost the immune system, protect the lining of the intestine and prevent infections.

“A healthy individual can have up to 18 flatulences per day and be perfectly normal,” he adds.

Gas gets into the digestive tract primarily through : Swallowing air (which we all do when we eat and chew gum) and your microbiome. That’s the collection of organisms in the GI tract that scientists and doctors are currently all fired up about. (Check our colleague Rob Stein’s recent on it.)

That microbiome includes hundreds of different bacteria. But there are also organisms from another kingdom shacking up with them: the .

All these microbes are gas-making fools. They eat up unused food in your large intestine, like fiber and other carbohydrates we don’t digest, and churn out a bunch of gases as waste.

But that’s not all they make. They also produce a slew of molecules (called short chain fatty acids) that may promote the growth of other beneficial bacteria and archaea.

And the more fiber you feed these friendly inhabitants, the more types of species appear, studies have found. This bump in microbial diversity has been linked to a .

“Undigested carbohydrates allow the whole ecosystem to thrive and flourish,” Kashyap says.

Most gas made by the microbiome is odorless. It’s simply carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. But sometimes a little sulfur slips in there.

“That’s when it gets smelly,” Kashyap says.

But here’s the hitch: Many of the smelly sulfur compounds in vegetables have healthful properties.

Take for instance, the broccoli, mustard and cabbage family. These vegetables are packed with a sulfur compound, called sulforaphane, that is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

Another possible benefit of a little smelly gas? “It may reduce the total volume of air in the gut,” Kashyap says.

Why? Because bacteria and archaea make the sulfur gas from other gases in the gut, like hydrogen.

“Bacteria that make sulfide gas are really important,” Kashyap says. “They can cause smelliness, but they can reduce the total amount of gas flow.”

Of course, having too much of anything can be bad. If gas and bloating start interfering with your quality of life, Kashayps recommends seeing a doctor.

“But don’t immediately blame your diet,” Kashyap says.

In many cases, people who complain about too much gas actually don’t generate more than others, he says. Instead, they perceive the passing more intensely. Or they pass it .

“Yes, a more fiber-rich diet will produce more gas,” Kashyap adds. “But completely eliminating fiber from the diet should not be the first option. You don’t want to starve your microbes.”

So go ahead. Enjoy those lentils. Chow down on the cabbage. Then if you stink a little, think of it as a thank you gesture from your microbiome.


We might say: “It too shall pass!”

But seriously, gut health and the microbiome are becoming a very big deal in the corridors of advanced biology, and Juice Plus+ is a significant player.  After more than 30 clinical studies of Juice Plus+ have been published, still more are underway, including one relevant to our topic today.

The University of Memphis is studying Juice Plus+ over 16 weeks in 80 stressed nurses, with a BMI >25. This is a gold standard, randomized, placebo controlled study, which will answer these questions:

1. Can Juice Plus+ consumption alter the microbiome?

2. Can Juice Plus+ improve intestinal permeability?

3. Is there a correlation between gut health modulation via Juice Plus+ and low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress?

Exciting times!

Getting fruits and vegetables to those who need them most

USDA logo

We all know we should eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But for various reasons, the vast majority of Americans don’t. If eating right is hard for people across the board, imagine how difficult it is for those who are struggling to get food, any kind of food, on the table. That’s why I was heartened to hear the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $31.5 million in grants to help people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase their purchases of fresh produce.

The grants, awarded to 31 separate organizations in 26 states, were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The programs will be administered by diverse organizations — city and state governments, networks of farmers’ markets, community foundations, and food banks — for periods of one to four years. At the end of the test period, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program will compare the efficacy of different programs in order to determine the best methods of promoting fruit and vegetable consumption by low-income families.

What are some of the methods being tested?

· Many programs offer dollar-for-dollar or other matches to increase participants’ purchasing power at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or CSAs. (Participants of CSA — or community-supported agriculture — buy a share of a farmers’ produce in advance and receive a weekly box of whatever’s in season.)

· Other programs support mobile markets that bring produce into food desserts, which are neighborhoods that lack convenient places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

· Some programs will distribute nutritional information, organize cooking demonstrations, or hold forums to determine the barriers to fresh food access in specific communities.

· Most programs will serve all SNAP participants, but the San Antonio Food Bank plans to target pregnant women and new moms, and the International Rescue Committee will work to increase access to locally grown foods to refugee and immigrant populations in New York City. Organizations in Maine and Florida plan to create incentives for SNAP participants to buy produce grown in those states.

The sheer diversity of these programs, and the fact that they will be evaluated so we can learn what really works, makes me hopeful about tackling the problem of improving nutrition for the most vulnerable among us. Over 60 percent of people who receive SNAP benefits are either children, elderly, or disabled.

But of course, no matter what your age or income, everyone needs to eat a diet rich in health-giving fruits and vegetables. There’s no substitute for that. However, there is a solution for the times we fall short, and that’s Juice Plus+. Together, the Orchard and Garden blends contain 20 different fruits, vegetables, and grains, providing another kind of safety net for getting the nutrition we need.

What if we could get Tower Gardens in every community center?

What is most harmful to your nutritional health?

Here’s an interesting survey conducted recently by Civic Science. Over 4300 adults were asked the following question:

“Which of these do you feel is most harmful to your nutritional health?”
– Added sugar
– Total amount of sugar
– Saturated fats
– Sodium
– Carbs
– Preservatives / chemicals
– GMOs
– I don’t see any of these as harmful to my health

The results appear in the pie chart. The top 5 fears are preservatives & chemicals, saturated fat, sugar (total & added), sodium, and GMOs.

Demographically, women are 44% more likely to be concerned about preservatives and chemicals compared to men. Affluent respondents are more likely to be concerned about added sugars.

The group most concerned with GMOs had the highest variation in lifestyle preferences compared to the general population. These folks actively seek out smaller grocery retailers,  are more likely to buy organic food, cook more often for multiple people.

This survey was conducted to inform food manufacturers and restaurants as to consumer sentiments, not to provide any clear scientific advice. Obviously there is not one element that is most harmful to someone’s diet. However, you will find that most junk food and restaurant food includes multiple elements from the list above, whereas most food cooked at home does not.

Eat more home cooked meals from whole foods, and you’re already doing lots for your nutritional health!

30 minute upper body workout

This is one even I could do (and need to!) – even though I much prefer being outdoors.

Some fitness fads come and go, but others, like yoga or Pilates, aren’t going away anytime soon. Another trend that’s definitely here to stay? High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, which involves short bouts of extreme effort alternated with periods of rest. “HIIT workouts are quick and dirty, never lasting more than 30 minutes including a warm-up and short cool-down,” explains Gina Harney, certified personal trainer and creator of Fitnessista.com. “You’re working as hard as possible for a short amount of time and then reaping the rewards throughout the day.”

Workout_Instructional_V2
Read the full article…

You Can Train Your Brain to Hate Junk Food

Could your brain ever want broccoli over brownies? If you’re done dishing out all explicit synonyms of “hell, no”, hear me out.  Sadly, and much to the contentment of your taste buds, junk food companies have cracked the perilous code of flavour science. They’ve taken this science to extraordinary levels, magically mixing in the exact ratio of sugars, salts, fats and other chemicals that appeal to your psychological and physical reactions. In other words, these carefully orchestrated flavors make you go “How is this soooo good, what sorcery is this? Must. Buy. More.”

Maybe it’s time to update your brain’s biological software, and yes, it’s all possible! Side note – let it not be known that I’m dreaming of cinnamon buns whilst writing this. Recent study at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School has given an additional push to this thought and it’s pretty exciting to think that long-standing preferences can be re-engineered.

“Food cravings are basically a habit,” explains study co-author Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts. Like smokers who grow accustomed to getting their fix after meals or with their morning coffee, many people train their brains to expect junk foods at certain times of the day, Roberts explains.

The reason you crave high-calorie foods in the first place is because they do such a good job at satisfying hunger pangs. “If you eat M&M’s, you’re going to get this huge rush of sugar and fat that’s easily digested and soothes your hunger now,” says Roberts. “Your brain gets used to the idea that this chocolate taste is really good at fixing hunger, so that the next time you get ravenous, you’ll want to go find it again.”

In a small study, participants weren’t allowed to become hungry, since hunger is the driving force behind most of our unhealthy cravings. They achieved this by prescribing a satiating, low-calorie diet to them, a diet that included healthy proteins, high-fibre foods and low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.

After six months, MRI scans of their brains showed increased reward activity in response to nutritious, low-cal foods. More interestingly, their brains’ reward responses were muffled in the presence of unhealthy treats. The study says you can weaken brain associations by mixing treats with foods that have high protein or fiber so your treat is still absorbed but not as quickly digested.

But Can You Really Be Happy Eating Vegetables?

For most people, the thought of eating vegetables is depressing. This is especially true for those caught in cozy arms of junk food. But research conducted by the University of Warwick’s Medical School might put these gloomy feelings to rest. The study, which involved 14,000 participants in England aged 16 or over, found that those who ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day were the happiest.

Remarkably, the reverse was also true, the lower a person’s fruit and vegetable intake, the higher their chance of having low mental well-being. Dr. Saverio Stranges, the research paper’s lead author, who was positively surprised, said: “These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”

So how exactly do you go on to beat your inner junk-demons and ensure your brain doesn’t rev up whenever someone as little as mentions the word ‘crunchy potato chips’ or ‘a crumbly pie’?

1. Practice the Five-Ingredient Rule

One simple rule that doesn’t require Sensei-like training. Whenever you’re about to purchase a product, flip it over to go over the ingredient list at the back. If there are more than five ingredients on the food label, don’t buy it. More than five ingredients should always sound the alarms and bring out the red flags in your brain, since it’s a sure-shot sign of food processing. If you do buy it, it’s best to consider it a treat and consume it occasionally.

2. It’s All About the Blood Sugar, Baby

Balancing your blood sugar is essential. Blood sugar highs and lows is what primitively drives you to reach out for that chocolate-laced muffin. When your blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything, you’ll hear potato chips calling out your name and you’ll be too frenzied to think better. To better balance your blood sugar, eat a small snack every three to four hours. Needless to say, this snack should include a healthy protein, seeds or nuts.

3. Gross Yourself Out

An amateurish but effective trick is find out what’s going on in that amazing cupcake of yours. The red and pink dye used in foods are extracted from the Cochineal insects that come from the beetle family. Lanolin – an oily, sweaty secretion found on the outside of sheep’s wool, is used to soften your chewing gum. Find out enough about what you’re really eating and the cringe factor will keep you away from processed food for a long, long time.

4. The Dull Sheen of Satisfaction

When you regularly consume sugar, salt and fats, it not only hooks you, it dulls your taste buds as well – making you eat more to reach the same level of satisfaction. But thankfully, the opposite it true too. The less of a food you eat, the less of it you need to score a rush, says David Katz, M.D., a nutrition expert at the Yale School of Medicine and author of ‘Disease Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well.’ The trick is to cut down in small steps. If you take three sugars in tea, add two sugars for a few weeks and then one for the next few. Over time, you’ll notice smaller amounts of these treats are enough to hit the spot.

5. Load Up on the Real Stuff

According to Mercola, when you load up on addictive junk foods, your metabolism is stimulated to burn carbs as its primary fuel. As long as you’re in the primary carb-burning mode, you’ll keep craving junk food. The solution? Replace carbs with healthy fats.  Easier said than done, yes – but once you replace processed junk with high-quality whole foods, the metabolic switchover will be well worth it.

Read full article… 

Diet can greatly affect cancer risk

“Chances are we all have cancer to some degree and don’t know it,” says Dr. Brian Lawenda from 21st Century Oncology.

So, how is the average American doing when it comes to staying away from foods that can cause cancers?

“We don’t do well,” Lawenda said. “Basically, if I could summarize what diets we think are best, they’re going to be plant-dominant diets with a little bit of fish and meats that are healthful versions, like organic, wild- or pasture-raised. And people are supposed to have five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and really, I think only about 15 percent of the American public gets that recommendation.”

Americans should strive to eat two cups of fruit daily and three cups of vegetables, he said.

The doctor suggested looking at one’s plate in fractions. About 50 percent should be non-starchy vegetables, a quarter can be whole grains and only one-quarter of one’s plate should be meat. It should be a lean meat and not one that has been charred, Lawenda said. For barbecue aficionados, he suggested half cooking the meat first in the microwave, then taking it to the grill to finish it. That would avoid the charred factor.

To help people get a handle on their diet, Lawenda suggested visiting the Environmental Working Group’s site, ewg.org, which rates more than 80,000 foods found on American supermarket shelves. Using its resources, one can scan the bar code of many grocery items to see how healthy they are. The group also has apps for food, beauty products and more.

“The science of nutrition is not all that strong and robust; not like, ‘If you eat this diet, you’re going to beat cancer,’ or, ‘If you take this vitamin, you’ll beat cancer.’ We just don’t have that,” Lawenda said. “But we have population-based studies that suggest that people who eat more omega-3 rich fish tend to have lower rates of a variety of cancers. People who tend to eat more anti-inflammatory foods also tend to do better in terms of less cancers. But we don’t do that. We have processed foods, foods high in trans fatty acids, things that cause inflammation in our diet.”

Organic is the way to go, Lawenda said, as big corporations flood the soil with insecticides and other chemicals that are then drawn up by the plant’s roots and become part of its makeup.

“Some of these documentaries — ‘Food, Inc’ and ‘Forks Over Knives’ — there are all sorts of decent ‘exposes’, if you will, that tell us that all these foods we’re eating are pro-inflammatory, too high in sugar, and addictive,” he said.

It used to be thought that heredity predicted one’s chances of getting cancer. Not so. Roughly 10 percent of one’s chances come from genes, Lawenda said, and the rest comes from lifestyle choices. About a third can be traced to diet.

“Chronic inflammation, the type that is smoldering for long periods of time, is at the heart of the problem,” the oncologist said, adding that the major causes of inflammation include poor diet made up of simple carbohydrates, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, being overweight and not getting enough exercise. A diet that is non-inflammatory, his presentation explained, is based on organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, with taste being added through herbs and spices. One spice being studied for its effects on cancer is turmeric.

“I don’t know of one cancer it doesn’t have an effect on,” Lawenda said.

Eating right may help prevent cancerous cells from duplicating, but does it help once one has been diagnosed?

Las Vegas resident Dave Hults has colon cancer and has been using the dietary protocol described by Lawenda since about the first of the year. He tried chemotherapy and ended with peripheral neuropathy in his hands, but it did nothing to stop his cancer. Now, he’s looking to dietary changes to affect the cancer and stop it. He and his wife, Pat, shop at farmers markets for organic or pesticide-free foods.

The hardest part is “giving up all the bad things,” he said, “because basically you have no meat, no chicken, no processed food. Like, for breakfast I have miso soup (a Japanese seaweed soup), or oatmeal, and I use some honey in the oatmeal with blueberries.”

Treatments for cancer are getting less invasive, less traumatic and more targeted. Some cancers can be treated with concentrated doses of radiation that spare other cells. Low-tech methods of treatments such as Reiki, acupuncture, vitamin supplements, herbal tonics and lifestyle counseling (aka exercising) are also being incorporated to complement medical science.

Though new to the program, has Hults seen any results?

“This is my third go-around with colon cancer, so I’m very strict on what I’m doing,” he said. “Like he talked about all these carbs; they’re all gone from my diet. I’ve dropped about 30 pounds in less than two months.”

He’s exercising regularly and has stopped consuming all dairy.

“I feel much better. No meat, all organic,” he said. “It’s tough to go out to eat or, when you’re out gambling, not to have a toddy, but I never was a heavy drinker. I was a heavy smoker at one time, but those (urges) have all subsided. What really blows my mind is that I’ve been to three of the top, I’d say 15, cancer centers in the world in the last four months, and none of them talked about diet.”

Read the full article… 

Small Changes Add Up

oscTrying to change your diet—or make other healthful changes, such as becoming more physically active—doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s much better to make One Simple Change at a time.

By taking Juice Plus+, you can join hundreds of thousands of other people in making One Simple Change.* What’s really powerful about Juice Plus+, though, is that it’s been proven to help jumpstart your physical journey to better health, and to help you gradually make other simple changes at your own pace.

Whether you’ve been taking Juice Plus+ for a month, a year, or (like us) two decades, we invite you to join new Juice Plus+ customers in making another One Simple Change every 30 days for the next four months. Think about choosing each simple change from one of these core areas: hydration, healthy eating, physical activity, or sleep and stress.

Pick something simple that you’ll actually do: drink one more glass of water every day, or add five minutes to your walk. Replace one or two fast-food meals each week with a healthier alternative, such as a tasty Juice Plus+ Complete smoothie. Or accept one thought fewer from your inner self-critic (boo!) and one more from your inner cheerleader (you can do it!).

Small shifts in your health habits can ripple outward to expand your sense of well-being. And that, in turn, can motivate you to make yet another One Simple Change.

“A Goal Is a Dream With an Action Plan” – That’s what Bill Sears, MD, has to say about change. Need some inspiration to find your One Simple Change? Watch “Jumpstart Your Journey With Juice Plus+.”

*See what more than 200,000 Juice Plus+ customers have reported in the Juice Plus+ Children’s Health Study.