Monthly Archives: October 2013

Doctors Write a New Prescription for Preventing Disease: Fruits and Veggies

Orlando Conference Overview-80In select communities across the United States, doctors are writing prescriptions for fruits and vegetables to help their patients achieve better health.

The innovative Fruits & Vegetable Prescription Program™ (FVRx™) is being piloted by Wholesome Wave, a national non-profit organization that works to improve access to fresh, local produce in historically under-served communities. It forges connections between community health providers and local farmers markets in order to promote healthier food choices among overweight children at risk of diet-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

“This program is really changing the way people think about food, without simply telling them to change,” explains Amanda Morgan, Pilot Manager of the FVRx program. “By prescribing, [doctors are] making a direct link between food and health. It also helps people who want to make that change afford it.”

Children participating in the program meet with a primary care provider and nutritionist once a month, for four to six months, to discuss healthy eating habits, set dietary goals, and track changes in their weight and body mass index (BMI). At the end of each meeting, they get a prescription for fresh fruits and veggies, which they can redeem at local farmers markets. The prescriptions are valued at $1 per day for each family member, helping participants and their families to afford healthier food options.

Participants eat more fruits and vegetables, shed pounds, and shift tastes

In 2012 alone, approximately 400 families benefited from Wholesome Wave’s program. More than half of participants increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables – and 37.8% of participating children lowered their BMI scores.

One patient, 14 year-old Johanna Terron, even credits the program for changing her food preferences.

Before she enrolled in the program, Terron was overweight, had severe asthma, and ate very few vegetables, preferring junk food and regular trips to Burger King instead. She has since lost twenty pounds and experienced significant improvements in her asthma. The program has also helped her to explore new foods – like pears and cantaloupes, which she had never tried before – and develop a taste for healthier options.

“’I don’t know how to explain it,” she says, in an inerview with NPR, “but [the fresh food] tastes better.”

Fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and biologically active phytochemicals, which may help to prevent disease and promote good health,  explains the Linus Pauling Institute.

In fact, research suggests that piling your plate with fruits and veggies may help to protect against many ailments, including:

  • Heart disease and stroke. Consuming eight or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables could slash your risk of coronary heart disease by 20%,according to research conducted among more than 126,000 participants from the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study and Nurses’ Health Study. Eating more fruits and veggies could also lower your risk of ischemic stroke by up to 30%.
  • Diabetes. If you are overweight, adding more leafy greens and yellow vegetables to your plate could help to lower your odds of developing type 2 diabetes, suggests a study conducted among nearly 40,000 American women.
  • Osteoporosis. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake may slow bone loss, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers found that boosting fruit and veggie intake from about three to nine servings per day lowered biochemical markers of bone turnover and significantly decreased urinary calcium loss.

Take simple steps to add more fruits and veggies to your diet

The evidence is clear – getting enough fruits and vegetables is essential to good health. Start meeting your daily needs by following these simple tips:

  • plateAt every meal, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables,recommends the United States Department of Agriculture. Exact serving recommendations vary, depending on your age, sex, and level of physical activity.
  • Explore the produce aisle and try something new,  suggests the Harvard Public School of Health. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in all different hues, in order to maximize the potential health benefits and enjoy a wide range of colors, textures, and flavors.
  • Consume plant-based foods in whole form, rather than as supplements. In most cases, explains the Linus Pauling Institute, studies have shown that supplemental doses of individual micronutrients or phytochemicals do not provide the same benefits of whole fruits and vegetables.

To read more:

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Your Daily Multivitamin May Be Hurting You

physiology supplelmets multivitamins research science health pills crushed science

The debate isn’t whether supplements are good or bad. It’s “are they useless, or are they worse than useless?”


At this year’s European College of Sport Science conference in Barcelona, Mari Carmen Gomez-Cabrera, a physiologist at the University of Valencia and one of the world’s leading experts on antioxidants, was debating the merits of supplements with two top researchers. For more than 90 minutes they went back and forth, parsing the accumulated evidence in front of a packed auditorium. Finally, Gomez-Cabrera landed on a provocative question that summarized her position.

The debate, she explained, isn’t whether supplements are good or bad for athletes. Rather, it’s “are they useless, or are they worse than useless?”

The question may come as a shock to the more than half of Americans who take some sort of dietary supplement—a vast catch-all term that includes everything from vitamins and minerals to herbal remedies to exotic performance boosters like deer-antler spray and glutamine. It’s no surprise that the purported muscle-building supplements make unproven claims and may come with hazardous side effects. But in the past few years, Gomez-Cabrera and a growing number of researchers have come to believe that even respectable mainstream supplements like vitamins C and E suffer from the same basic flaw: few apparent benefits and increasing evidence of negative effects.

For example, in July’s issue of the Journal of Physiology, researchers discovered that resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, actually limited the positive effects of cardiovascular exercise—like an increased VO2 max—when taken daily in high concentrations. In July, scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that men with high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA in their blood, often from fish-oil supplements, had a significantly greater risk of prostate cancer.

According to Pieter Cohen, a professor at Harvard Medical School, there are really only two types of sports supplements: those that are safe but don’t work, and those that might work but have side effects, especially at higher than normal levels. “If any supplement, no matter how beneficial, has a pharmaceutical effect, it’s also got a downside,” he says. “There’s no way to get around that basic principle.”

Most supplements stay firmly in the first category. Taking a daily multivitamin, Cohen emphasizes, won’t harm you, but it usually won’t help either, which is why major health organizations like the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine don’t recommend supplements to healthy people.

It’s not that vitamins and minerals aren’t important. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, you can get scurvy; without enough iron, you can become anemic; and if you live far enough north to see Russia from your backyard, you may need some extra vitamin D. But all three of these substances have also been linked to negative effects at high doses. Same goes for prolonged use of other common supplements like vitamin E and calcium. In short, unless tests have shown that you’re low in a particular vitamin or mineral, there’s no evidence to suggest that you should take a daily supplement.

That rule also applies if you’re an athlete who takes supplements because, say, you assume your training requires an anti-oxidant boost to speed recovery. Gomez-Cabrera and her colleagues at the University of Valencia have shown that antioxidant supplements suppress the oxidative stress that signals your body to adapt and get stronger. The result: regular use of something seemingly innocuous like vitamin C can actually block gains in endurance-boosting mitochondria.

The balance between risk and return also works in subtler ways, as Wen-Bin Chiou, a psychologist at National Sun Yatsen University in Taiwan, has shown in a series of experiments on a phenomenon called the licensing effect. As part of a battery of tests, subjects were asked to take a pill; half were told the pill was a multivitamin, while the other half were told it was a placebo. In truth, they were all placebos.

In subsequent tests, the subjects who thought they’d taken a vitamin consistently behaved in less healthy ways. When asked to try out a pedometer, they were more likely to choose a shorter walking route; at lunch, they chose less healthy food. In follow-up studies, Chiou has also discovered that smokers who think they’ve been given a vitamin smoke more, and people who are given a weight-loss supplement are less likely to stick to their diet. The same thing happens when you go to the gym or eat a plate of spinach. The difference is that exercise and vegetables have real benefits, so you’ve still got a chance to come out ahead. If you take a pill with no benefits, the best you can do is break even.

Which brings us back to Gomez-Cabrera in Barcelona. She, of all people, has enormous respect for the powers of micronutrients like antioxidants—she has devoted her life to studying them. “But if you eat enough fruits and vegetables, five servings a day,” she says, “I don’t think you need anything else.” And if you’re not eating like that, then taking a pill isn’t a solution. In fact, it may be part of the problem.


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Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life

Small Choices. Big Changes

20131022-171136.jpgIn his new book, Tom Rath guides readers to focus on and improve three of life’s ingredients: eating, moving and sleeping.

Tom Rath was 16 when he was diagnosed with von Hippel-Lindau disease, a rare genetic disorder that shuts off a powerful tumor-suppressing gene—so cancerous growths are likely to develop throughout the body.

Since then, Rath has battled cancer in his kidneys, adrenal glands, spine, brain and other organs, but he was, and is, determined to stay ahead of the disease. He knew he couldn’t prevent cancer from occurring, but he knew there were steps he could take to have the best chance at living a long and rewarding life.

Rath spent most of his career working for Gallup’s workplace consultancy business; he has become an expert on how organizations and the people in them can reach their potential, and through his work, he found that poor health is one of the biggest business challenges today.

With his personal health experience and business knowledge, the researcher and author wrote Eat Move Sleep. His basic premise: people “do not ‘inherit’ longevity. Instead, the sum of habits determines lifespan.”

“I hope people see how they can make some small adjustments to live better days and longer lives,” Rath says.


“Think about every bite you take as either being a net gain or a net loss,” he says. “If I grab lunch at noon and decided to get a cheeseburger and french fries, I need to realize as I make that choice I might have a high fat hangover and not have as much energy to get work done or take my kids to the park.”

He says we can make better decisions by thinking about those little things every time we order a drink or a meal.


“It’s not really about exercise. Exercise is the wrong goal,” he says. “If I sit on my rear-end for eight hours every day, exercise does not counteract the sitting. We have a responsibility to engineer activity back into our work.”

We have engineered convenience into our lives. His advice: to step back and move a little activity back in, with examples like taking breaks from the desk and parking a little further from the store entrance.


“It’s important to think about a good night’s sleep as more of an investment and not an expense,” he says.

Rath had previously lived by the conventional wisdom of a hardworking, farmer work ethic. “Five hours of sleep and getting work done was a badge of honor.”

But now he believes that’s not a helpful way to look at things. “There’s some research that says if you get a good night’s sleep, that’s what helps your brain encode and retain all the things you learn the day before.”

More work gets done with a solid night’s sleep.

You can learn more at There, you can create a personalized plan, use the Reference Explorer to find more research and download the First 30 Days Challenge.

When good daily choices outweigh poor ones, a better life is in order. “Our lives are the sum of those little decisions we make every day. Make them count,” says Tom Rath.

California Entrepreneur Leads Rooftop Tower Garden Farm To Extraordinary Success

Jake KellyJake Kelly is an extraordinary young woman; she has become an important part of the local food scene in Santa Barbara, Calif. If you live in Santa Barbara and want to buy local food, you can find Jake and her delicious, chemical-free local produce at the Sunday Farmer’s Market in Goleta from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Chapala Gardens is also open for shopping on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and on Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For Chapala Garden’s address and directions, visit

Chapala Gardens’ rooftop farm in Santa Barbara, CA. Almost a ton of produce can be harvested annually from this small rooftop.

Now in its second year of operation, Chapala Gardens has been extraordinarily successful in making local, healthy, chemical-free, low-carbon footprint food readily available to its friends and neighbors in Santa Barbara.

Behind every successful “green” business is a person with a passion, and that is certainly true for 25-year-old Jake Kelly, the head grower for Chapala Gardens. Jake has been passionate about growing healthy food since she was young girl.  Jake was recently nominated for Young Female Entrepreneur 2013 in Santa Barbara CA.

Chapala GardensNow, Jake’s rooftop farm is home to 40 commercial Tower Gardens® with 44 plants per tower.

Jake’s successful business has 3 main areas of focus:

  1. Providing food for the community through the local farmers market.
  2. Leading a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm.
  3. Educating and training people how to do the same thing right in their own back yard.

At a recent event, Jake shared, “We are simply running out of water in California and no one knows what to do! I do know what to do, and I have a solution. I can grow an enormous amount of plants vertically on my rooftop and patio with as little as five percent of the water as the farmers up the road. I don’t use contaminated water, herbicides, or harmful chemicals. My food is nutrient-dense, clean, and free of harmful pathogens. We can all do this; it is really simple and it’s the right thing to do!”

More on the Tower Garden.  #towergarden

Why are American women living five years LESS than their mothers?

Scientists are baffled by this shocking trend.

While the U.S. has always been a beacon of medical advancement for the world, American women today are expected to live shorter lives than their mothers.
Two recent studies found that life expectancy rates among women have been steadily falling in about half of U.S. counties over the last two decades.
According to a map by the University of Wisconsin, the states most affected are Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee. The Southwest and Northeast are the areas least impacted by the trend. The mortality rate is falling among white, high-school dropouts especially who are expected to die five years earlier than the previous generation.

Since these women are more likely to be unemployed or working low-wage jobs, researchers believe the new health care law may combat this backwards slide, but point out that it might not solve the underlying problem.

‘Health care is far from the whole story,’ David Kindig, co-author of one of the studies, told the Atlantic. ‘More and more people are beginning to realize that the non-health-care factors are at least as important.’

Backwards: Life expectancy rates among women have been worsening in about half of all U.S. counties. Above, red signifies the counties where the life expectancy rate for women is declining

Backwards: Life expectancy rates among women have been worsening in about half of all U.S. counties.

Above, red signifies the counties where the life expectancy rate for women is declining.

Kindig was the co-author of a University of Wisconsin study published in March which reported that for the last two decades, the mortality rate for women had increased in half of U.S. counties, while the male mortality rate only increased in 3 per cent.

Kindig said he was so shocked by it’s outcome, that he and his research partner went back and did the numbers again just to double check.

But their initial calculations were right and soon confirmed by a study by the University of Washington which found that female life expectancy either stagnated or declined in 45 per cent of U.S. counties between 1985 and 2010.

The studies agreed that women were living shorter lives, but researchers still don’t know what to blame.

‘Clearly something is going on,’ Kindig told the Atlantic. ‘It could be cultural, political, or environmental, but the truth is we don’t really know the answer.’

There is a noticeable connection between where women live and how long they live. Kindig discovered this by coloring each county on a map according to whether female life expectancy had substantial improvement, minimal improvement or was worsening (colored red).

The most troubled area for women seems to be in the Southeast, where there is the highest density of red – especially in the states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The red travels up to the Midwest states of Nebraska and North Dakota before tapering out in the Pacific Northwest. The Northeast and Southwest are the areas with the least amount of red.

Other researchers have pointed out the role that education plays in female mortality rates.

According to a Health Affairs study published in August 2012, life expectancy among white high-school dropouts has taken a dive in the last 18 years and now these women are expected to die five years earlier than the previous generation.

The only similar event in human life expectancy happened right after the fall of the Soviet Union among Russian men, which has since been attributed to alcohol consumption and a spike in accidental death rates.

Poor, uneducated women may well be facing similar hardships after the Recession as post-Soviet men.  Only one third of female high-school dropouts are employed, and working low income jobs or being unemployed all together can cause stress which manifests itself in smoking or obesity.

‘Life is different for women without a high-school degree than it was a few decades ago, and in most cases it’s a lot worse,’ said demographer Jennifer Karas Montez. ‘It’s really just a perfect storm.’

For a better life, start building good habits early

kids & veggiesHabits formed in childhood last a lifetime. Karyl Price, project coordinator for the Creating Healthy Communities Project at the Mansfield/Ontario/Richland County Health Department, said developing good exercise and eating habits is critical for young children.

“It’s a challenge for parents who are very busy to always have fresh and healthy foods available,” Price said. “We’re in a grab-and-go society. High-calorie drinks are plentiful and it takes some thoughtful consideration to make healthy habits.”

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. According to a press release from the White House, obesity affects millions of children and teenagers, raising their risks of developing serious health problems like diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart disease and high blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent of American children are obese. Certain groups of children are more affected to a greater degree.

The CDC reports children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are more likely than normal weight children to be overweight or obese as adults and they are more likely to suffer lifelong physical and mental health problems.

Price said schools and parents are doing better at providing more healthy options and have increased the amount of physical activity.

“But there is always room for improvement,” she said. “It’s everyone’s responsibility — schools, coaches, parents. Everyone needs to help kids to stay busy and active.”

Jill Fulk, outpatient director at MedCentral/Mansfield Hospital, said one of the best things a parent can do for a child is to be a good role model.

“You don’t want to ask a child to do something you’re not doing yourself,” she said. “Parents have to set the example. Get the kids involved, too. Have them help with meal preparation and planning. We’re getting better as a society, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Prevention is key.”

The CDC said there is no single — or simple — solution to childhood obesity.

The problem is influenced by many different factors, including for some children a lack of places to get adequate physical activity or a lack of access to healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.

Research shows fruits and vegetables are important in promoting good health and are helpful in losing or managing weight. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and contain plenty of filling water and fiber. Children can consume fewer calories and stay fuller by substituting fruits and vegetables for foods with higher-calorie ingredients such as added sugars and solid fats.

Helping healthy growth is not the only benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables. These foods also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect children against health conditions later in life. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for everyone and especially children because it contributes to their optimal growth and development.

Fulk said kids need a lot of support. “The responsibility shouldn’t just fall on the parents’ shoulders. Everyone needs to help. Schools are so important because kids spend so much of their day there,” she said. “Kids need 60 minutes a day of activity. Anywhere they can go to engage in a safe activity is great — even if it’s just going to their room, turning on music and dancing.”

Read more at and from Dr. Bill Sears.

Mom’s Meals Insights: Lessons learned from Popeye & Bugs Bunny validated in Swedish study

bugsThat lovable carrot munching bunny and the iconic spinach-guzzling sailor were on to something. Eating enough fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens like spinach, has been linked, time and time again, to a longer life and a higher quality of life.

Eating enough fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens like spinach, has been linked, time and time again, to a longer life and a higher quality of life.

In fact, a study recently conducted in Sweden showed that eating fewer than five servings of fruit and veggies each day is linked to a higher chance of early mortality. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed the five-a-day recommendations were optimal, according to a researcher on the project at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The results are based on data collected from more than 71,000 Swedes, aged 45 to 83, who were followed for 13 years.

popeye“Yes, Popeye had it right with the spinach,” said Rick Anderson, president of Mom’s Meals, a company that delivers fresh-made meals to the homes of those who can no longer shop or cook for themselves. “We design our meals to have an abundance of the freshest, healthiest ingredients we can find, and we get constant feedback from customers about how much they appreciate it.”

Does this mean eating fruits and veggies will prolong lives? Not necessarily. But a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is always healthier than one filled with processed foods.

Of course, other factors play a role, too, including gender, smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption, as well as weight, but with all that taken into account, those who reported eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily did live longer, according to the Swedish study.

While starting young with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables certainly has health benefits, it is never too late to improve your diet by incorporating more fruits and veggies into it. Registered dietitians suggest trying oranges, kiwis, apples, bananas and berries, or vegetables including radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, and of course, leafy greens like kale and spinach.

Mom’s Meals heart-healthy menu follows guidelines from the American Heart Association, with less than 600 mg of sodium per meal. Favorites include Grilled Chicken Breast with Herbed Potatoes and Broccoli and our Salmon Patty with Rice Pilaf, Seasoned Peas and Pearl Onions.

“For those who are home-bound, and for those taking care of them, making meals like this on a regular basis can often be impossible,” said Anderson.

“Many seniors struggle to get the needed fruits and vegetables in their diet. Irregular trips to the grocery store, dietary restrictions, and struggles with dental issues can make it a challenge for seniors to get the recommended five daily servings,” said Anderson. “Using a home delivery meal service like ours can insure regular delivery of fresh foods, and the adequate servings of fruits and vegetables to help prolong life and improve health.”

Mom’s Meals strives to be the leading expert and provider of senior and patient nutrition to help support health and recuperation and nourish independence at home for higher quality living. The company is dedicated to providing fresh-made, nutritious, home-delivered meals to customers nationwide and has specialized in senior and patient care for over 13 years.


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Losing weight: Lifestyle changes trump any diet


What’s the best diet for maintaining a healthy weight and warding off chronic diseases?

Is it a low-carb diet, a high-carb diet, an all-vegetable diet, a no-vegetable diet?

Researchers say you’d be better off just forgetting the word diet, according to an editorial published August 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Two researchers, Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, call for an end to the so-called diet wars, because they are all equally good, or bad, in helping people fight obesity.

In the end, patients only get confused thinking that one diet is superior to another, they said, when in fact changes in lifestyle, not diet types, are the true ways to prevent weight gain and the associated ills of diabetes and circulatory disease.

“The amount of resources that have gone into studying ‘what’ to eat is incredible, and years of research indicate that it doesn’t really matter, as long as overall calories are reduced,” Appelhans told LiveScience. “What does matter is ‘how’ to eat, as well as other things in lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity and supportive behaviors that help people stay on track long term.”

The researchers cite numerous studies that demonstrated only moderate success with various types of diet that focus on macronutrients: protein, fat or carbohydrates; but regardless of diet, without a lifestyle change, the weight comes back.

Conversely, several large and recent studies such as the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study and the China Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study found lower weight and lower incidence of diabetes among study participants many years after the study’s initial completion because the subjects were taught how to lose weight through lifestyle interventions.

Lifestyle trumps diet

Pagoto described lifestyle interventions as three-prong: dietary counseling (how to control portions, reduce high-calorie foods and navigate restaurants), exercise counseling (how to set goals, target heart rate and exercise safely), and behavioral modification (how to self-monitor, problem solve, stay motivated and understand hunger).

“The ‘diet’ used within a lifestyle intervention can be low-fat, low-carb, etc. It doesn’t matter,” Pagoto said. “In fact, at least one study compared a low-fat lifestyle intervention with a low-carb lifestyle intervention, and it made no difference. The diet itself [is not] instrumental to the lifestyle interventions success; it is the behavioral piece that is key.”

Pagoto agreed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of weight gain and heart disease. A massive study involving more than 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, published in JAMA in June, found that dedicated vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians (who eat fish) live longer than meat eaters. But that doesn’t mean a vegetarian diet is all it takes to help you stay healthy.

“Adherence is key, and the way to destroy adherence is forcing foods on someone they do not like, do not know how to prepare, or can’t afford,” Pagoto said.

Why diets go wrong

Indeed, the authors wrote that the only consistent fact in all the diet studies is that adherence is the element most strongly associated with weight loss and disease risk reduction.

Pagoto described five challenges to any diet that she sees with her patients: having no time to cook or exercise; being too stressed out, having family members bring junk food home; not having anyone to exercise with, or feeling awkward exercising; and feel hungry all the time. The ratio of fat to carb to protein doesn’t come into play.

Most her of obese patients understand which foods are healthful and unhealthful, she said. So she works with her patients to find ways to make healthy behaviors more routine, regardless of the patient’s type of diet.

Pagoto and Appelhans call for more research on diet adherence. The authors described the amount of adherence research as miniscule compared to that on studying the large fad diets.

Similarly, the general population knows more about nuances of these diets Atkins, South Beach, the Zone and such than they do about the basics of adherence; and that, the authors said, is central to the obesity epidemic.

Related articles:

To learn more please watch the Webinar below by Jan Roberto, MD on the role of Juice Plus+ and Juice Plus+ Complete in your health, fitness and nutrition program.