Monthly Archives: May 2015

Get your family into gardening

Kids with Veggies-86493692
Studies show that children who are involved with growing their own food are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, and a larger variety of each, than kids who do not garden at home.

“Whether a food is homegrown makes a difference,” according to Debra Haire-Joshu, director of Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Obesity Prevention Center. “Garden produce creates what we call a “positive food environment.”

In fact, Haire-Joshu’s SLU study found preschoolers were more than twice as likely to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily than their non-gardening peers.

Good nutrition is only one of the many benefits of gardening as a family. Gardening offers many lessons.

There’s the science of working with plants, soil and water and seeing firsthand how the seasons, weather, pests and beneficial insects play a role in plant development.

Kids learn responsibility by caring for living plants, and patience waiting for seeds, flowers, and produce to develop.

A successful garden creates confidence, while unsatisfactory results can provide a lesson in coping with disappointment and then problem-solving to search for better gardening techniques.

Getting the family into the garden also provides a healthy dose of exercise by working the major muscle groups. For example, 30 minutes of raking leaves typically burns 162 calories, weeding or mowing with a power mower burns 182 calories, turning a compost pile burns 250 calories, and double-digging your garden soil burns 344 calories.

If you want to expend less energy – saving it for other activities – and use much less water, space and nutrients, try Tower Gardening!

Stephen Ritz – Global Teacher Prize Top 10 Finalist – knows ALL about this:

Antioxidant supplements or fruits and vegetables? 

Antioxidants have been touted as one of the central components of fruits and vegetables that make them healthy for humans and extend their life span. But it may not be that simple.

People who get a lot of antioxidants in their diets, or who take them in supplement form, don’t live any longer than those who just eat well overall, according to a long term study of retirees in California, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

While many studies have shown that eating lots of fruits and vegetables lengthens your life, it was never clear if antioxidants or some other compound was responsible. The authors looked at antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.

“There was no association between the amount of vitamins A or C in the diet or vitamin E supplements and the risk of death. Vitamin users may have different lifestyles or underlying disease states that are related to their risk of death.”

The researchers say their findings emphasize that the benefits of vitamin supplements are still unclear and that they should not be used to replace a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

“There is good scientific evidence that eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthful and lowers risks of certain diseases. However, it is unclear whether this is because of the antioxidants, something else in these foods, other foods in people’s diet, or other lifestyle choices.” said lead author Annlia Paganini-Hill of the Clinic for Aging Research and Education at the University of California, Irvine.

The researchers used mailed surveys from the 1980’s in which almost 14,000 older residents of the Leisure World Laguna Hills retirement community detailed their intake of 56 foods or food groups rich in vitamins A and C as well as their vitamin supplement intake.

Two-thirds of the original group took vitamin supplements, most often vitamin C. The authors note, though, that the participants’ diets alone were generally more than adequate to meet minimum dietary requirements for vitamin intake.

With periodic check-ins and repeated surveys, the researchers followed the group for the next 32 years, during which time 13,104 residents died.

When Paganini-Hill’s team accounted for smoking, alcohol intake, caffeine consumption, exercise, body mass index, and histories of hypertension, angina, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, there was no association between the amount of vitamins A or C in the diet or vitamin E supplements and the risk of death.

“In the general population, health-promoting habits often cluster; e.g. those who take vitamin supplements often exercise, do not smoke, and are not obese,” Paganini-Hill said. “Thus, these factors may explain the observed association between longevity and vitamin supplements.”

On the other hand, the authors note, people with unhealthy habits might be more likely to take supplements. For instance, they found that men who were current smokers were about twice as likely to take in high or medium amounts of vitamin C compared to men who had never smoked. A similar pattern held for men’s vitamin A intake and women’s intake of both A and C.

Some large studies have found a connection between vitamin intake and risk of death, but most have not, the study team points out.

“We know quite a lot about how antioxidants act and what they, theoretically, can prevent,” said Sabine Rohrmann of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich.

“One of the critical issues is that we don’t know very much about how antioxidants act at different concentrations and how they act in humans who have, or who do not have, sufficient vitamin/antioxidant intake,” said Rohrmann

Participants in the new study were largely white, educated and well-nourished.

“We know that the most important factors that influence mortality are smoking and excess body weight,” Rohrmann said. Many studies support the notion that vitamin supplements are usually not necessary because our nutrient intake via a healthy diet is usually sufficient, she said.

Antioxidants can have risks as well. According to the National Institutes of Health, high doses of beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers, high doses of vitamin E may increase risks of prostate cancer and one type of stroke, and antioxidant supplements may also interact with some medicines.

Since they can interact with medicines, you should discuss your supplement intake with your doctor, Paganini-Hill said.

“Antioxidant supplements should not be used to replace a nutritionally adequate diet,” she added.

We agree. However, it should be noted that Juice Plus+ clinical research (more than 30 published studies) has very effectively connected the dots between the increase in phytonutrients (including antioxidants) and results which clearly indicate a reduction in the risk of disease. These results include improvements in immune function, cardiovascular wellness and DNA protection. Ongoing research, once published during the next year or so, will conclusively document the disease prevention power of Juice Plus+.

Just one more reason we will ALWAYS take Juice Plus+ every day.


Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?

protein-sourcesThe average American consumes about 100 grams of protein a day, which is much higher than actually required by the body – 55-65 grams per day if you weigh 150 lbs. Could excess consumption of protein be deleterious to one’s health?

Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles. Having 10-15 grams of protein per meal or snack can help maintain satiety. In recent years, protein has emerged as the only nutrient people feel good about consuming. Fat has been vilified for decades, and is high in calories, while carbs are considered fattening as well.

The risks of excess protein intake can be divided into 2 areas: kidney disease and cancer.

Protein metabolism requires work by the kidneys. Excess protein means a strain on kidneys. For most people, this is not an issue; folks with kidney disease need to reduce their protein intake. Another problem with too much protein is calcium depletion which can lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones.

Some studies have shown that a very high protein diet is correlated with an increased risk of some types of cancer. However, a distinction needs to be made between the sources of protein. Apparently, plant based proteins are not harmful at all, while intake that is based mostly on meat and dairy protein may be harmful.

New research presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity points to a risk of weight gain and death when people with a potential for heart disease consume a high protein diet.

If you are dieting, you may be confused right now. On the one hand protein helps with satiety, yet on the other hand you should not eat too much. The answer is to distribute your protein consumption evenly throughout the day. Don’t wait till dinnertime for a huge steak with 50 grams of protein. Have some protein as a part of every meal and snack.

Read the full article… 

Avocados help lower levels of bad cholesterol

avIn spite of their strange appearance, avocados pack a serious health punch and are full of healthy fats, vitamins and other nutrients.

New research has found they may also help with your cholesterol. The study, conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed the effect avocados had on cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.

Researchers found that compared to the baseline average American diet, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as ‘bad cholesterol’ was 13.5 mg/dL lower after consuming the moderate fat diet that included avocado – a significantly lower level than those consuming less fat without a daily avocado in their diet.

“Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals, and potential health benefits. They are rich in monounsaturated fat, which helps reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol within the blood,” says Cara Sloss, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association. “They contain more potassium than bananas and are rich in vitamins B, C, and K.”

“Research has suggested benefits including a reduced risk of stroke, cancer, and coronary artery disease, along with improved diabetes control. Although there are many benefits, they should be consumed as part of a balanced diet,” she says.

The results held regardless of the weight of the participant on the diet.

Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

Because of soil depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today.

It would be overkill to say that the carrot you eat today has very little nutrition in it—especially compared to some of the other less healthy foods you likely also eat—but it is true that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today.

The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before. A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

“Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” There have likely been declines in other nutrients, too, he said, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals. The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings:

A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent.

Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.

What can be done? The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers.

Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

UT’s Davis warns that just because fruits and vegetables aren’t as healthy as they used to be doesn’t mean we should avoid them. “Vegetables are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals,” he reported. “They are still there, and vegetables and fruits are our best sources for these.”

Read full article… 

In contrast we are proud of the nutritional quality of Juice Plus+ produce: