British Schools Overhaul Food Offerings

What we feed our children can have a huge impact on lifelong health, so it's important to make good choices. In the United Kingdom, the government has looked into what children are eating in schools, and have decided it's time for a major overhaul. Whole categories of sugary, salty, and fatty foods will not be allowed.

Joe Harvey is director of the Health Education Trust, and applauds the move. In BBC's coverage of the "School Foods Ban" he points out that there have been a lot of profits from schools for purveyors of unhealthy foods:

"They're not there to make a profit for the confectionery and soft drink industry. They're there to care for children."

Making the decision not to eat certain unhealthy things is undoubtedly smart, but it hardly guarantees good nutrition. Avoiding sugar and fat is just one step (and from a child's point of view, not a very fun one). Getting kids to love leafy greens, beans, raw nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy foods is another important step, and one that takes some sustained nurturing, explaining, and role-modeling.

Pomegranates for Your Prostate

The Daily Mail mentions a small study involving cancer in mice that has been conducted at the University of Wisconsin.

A total of 24 mice were divided into three groups. One was given normal water to drink, while the others had their water supplemented with 0.1% or 0.2% of pomegranate juice.

The doses were chosen to mirror how much juice a typically healthy person might be willing to consume daily.

The results were dramatic, the scientists said. Cancer progression was significantly slowed in mice receiving the higher pomegranate dose.

The study was mentioned on VegSource, which also links to a study from March showing pomegranates may help prevent heart disease, too.

When I first went to Dr. Fuhrman he told me to put a little bit of pomegranate juice--as well as ground flax, nuts, and fresh fruit--on my morning oatmeal. Especially if that fruit is blueberries, that makes for a delicious breakfast.

Store Wars

It has been around for a while, but there must still be people out there who have yet to see this incredible animated video which spoofs Star Wars while waging war against processed food. One of the characters is called Obi Wan Cannoli. You get the idea.

Nutrient Density: the Key to Health

Your diet is the cornestone of your health. At the end of the day all that matters is the number of calories and the amount of nutrients that you have ingested. The combination of lowering calories and increasing nutrition is a combination punch that will prevent disease, dramatically slow the aging process and help us to live longer, more youthful lives! That's why I developed this simple Health Equation. The Health Equation describes Nutrient Density. Forget calories and start analyzing the nutrient density of the foods that you eat.

Macronutrients the Source of all Calories

Macronutrients are the nutrients that contain calories, thereby supplying us with energy.

Micronutrients- the Basis for Superior Nutrition
Micronutrients are those nutrients that don't contain calories, but have other essential roles to play. Examples of some micronutrients are vitamins, minerals and fiber. There are thousands of them.

My health equation simply states that in order to maintain superior health and a youthful vigor into later years we must maximize micronutrients as we minimize macronutrients. In other words eat as many micronutrients as you can for each calorie of macronutrient. To do this we must eat less fat, less protein and less carbohydrate as we increase our consumption of high nutrient foods.

The foundation of nutritional science is this simple formula:

Health = Nutrients / Calories (H = N / C)

This concept describes the nutrient density of your diet. The key to both longevity and maintaining a healthy weight is to eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutrients (non-caloric food factors) compared to calories.

We do not want to be deficient in any macronutrient. However, consuming more of any one of these three macronutrients than we need can have detrimental effects on our long term health. Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate are the only macronutrients that exist. All calories consist of one of these three macronutrients. If you are overweight, you have consumed more calories than you have utilized. Micromanaging the percent of fat, protein or carbohydrate isn't going to change the amount of calories much. You need to consume fewer calories.

Therefore, almost all overweight individuals need to consume less protein, less fat and less carbohydrates; the source of calories. Don't worry about not consuming enough. Unless you are anorexic, it is very rare to find an American deficient in fat, protein or carbohydrates. Inhabitants of modern western societies generally consume more macronutrients than needed.

Are micronutrients in our diet really that important?
Could we just take a vitamin pill and eat a low nutrient diet and do almost just as well? The answer that you will come to understand is that micronutrient intake is the most crucial factor that determines our health and that optimal micronutrient intake can only be achieved if we eat a relatively large quantity of non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables contain the most nutrients per calorie of any other food. They also contain large amounts of not yet named compounds (phytochemicals) essential for maximizing health and preventing disease. Keep in mind that micronutrients include many that have not yet been discovered. New nutrients are being discovered all of the time. The incredible nutrient density of non-starchy vegetables and their ability to promote health and reduce our caloric drive is one of the secrets to Eat To Live and a long, healthy life.

Calories - Less is More
There are very few things in science that are proven. By "proven" I mean that every study performed on the subject, has always shown the same thing, and shown it convincingly. There is only one proven way to extend lifespan and retard aging.

Here it is:
When you feed an animal (and that can be an animal of any species) less food in a high or at least adequate micronutrient environment it will live considerably longer. The thinnest animals always out live the ones that are heavier. This has also been confirmed with studies on humans, the thinnest of us, live the longest.

Scientists have known for over sixty (60) years that if you reduce caloric intake below a certain set point while maintaining adequate nutrition you can extend life. This experiment has been performed on numerous species, including primates (we are primates too). In each case, the average animal lifespan was increased 25 - 50 percent. Reducing calories not only extends life it delays the onset of old age. You literally live younger longer. In all clinical studies published to date, animals fed reduced calorie diets were also more disease resistant. Evidence for increased lifespan by caloric restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Calorically-restricted animals are not only more cancer resistant, but oxidative stress is inhibited and youthful features of young tissue are retained with aging.

What is clear is that health and longevity are inversely proportional to caloric intake. Calorie reduction is the closest thing that science has to a fountain of youth. Typical studies suggest that you would have to reduce calories by about 30% to achieve significant life-extending benefits. This means that someone who would normally require 2200 Calories would need to reduce intake to 1800 calories in order to achieve life-extending benefits.

However, it must be noted that if one eats less food that is low or deficient in nutrients and as a result consumes less calories in a low nutrient environment, diseases will appear that will destroy the dramatic effects of caloric restriction.
Dr. Fuhrman talks about these issues in more detail in his books, and in the member center of DrFuhrman.com.

Eat Your Greens

Yet another medical study shows health benefits of leafy greens. This time researchers at Tufts are finding that folate, a B vitamin prevalant in greens, helps to protect against cognitive decline in older adults. (Thanks to VegSource for the heads up.)

FatFreeVegan.com

The website FatFreeVegan.com was created by a group of people who are inspired by Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live, and involves a collection of hundreds of healthy recipes.

But there is an important point to make about the name of the website: the diet Dr. Fuhrman recommends for his patients is not fat free, and is not necessarily vegetarian.

"One thing that makes my diet different from other diets is that I encourage the intake of nuts, seeds, or avocados, except for people who are overweight," explains Dr. Fuhrman. "People who eat nuts and seeds have better blood profiles, better cholesterol, more antioxidants, and other health benefits´┐Żeven though they are getting more 15% or more of their calories from fat. In fact, for some athletes I recommend a diet that has 40-50% of calories from fat. Also, I don't think children should be on very low-fat diets, and I'm not a fan of different diets for children and adults because they should be encouraged to eat together. If the children need adequate fat for proper development, parents should have some too and the scientific literature supports that it is the quality and nutrient density of the fat source, not the amount of fat that is critical here."

In his various books, Dr. Fuhrman also expresses that a healthy diet can have room for occasional servings of animal products.

(Also worth examining: FatFreeVegan.com has a cursory summary of the six-week plan Dr. Fuhrman advocates in Eat To Live. It makes a lot more sense after you read the book.)

Prince Charles: No McMeals, Please

We learn from the food blog Slashfood that the man who would be king addressed a group of food executives at his estate, and urged them to consider a much heavier emphasis on "slow food."

New Vegan Baby Food

There seem to be more and more healthy baby food options all the time. At just about any grocery store you can get organic, vegetarian baby food, which is very convenient especially when travelling.

Thanks to BloggingBaby and TreeHugger we now have word of a new line of baby food which takes things a step further. Not only is this baby food line organic, but it also has options that are biodynamic, vegan, and "allergy aware."

Toxic Chemicals in Seafood

Keep in mind, there is a significantly larger exposure to toxic chemicals in animal products compared to plant foods. By eating lower on the food chain and reducing our intake of animal products, one automatically reduces exposure to toxic chemicals. Plants have the least fat-soluble pollutants, animals that eat plants have more, and animals that eat animals have the hightest levels of these toxic compounds. Fish that eat smaller fish will store the toxic compounds from every fish it ever ate, including all the fish eaten by the fish it just made a meal of. It is important to avoid lobster, shellfish, catfish, and predator fish such as tuna, bluefish, striped bass, shark, and swordfish, where toxins such as PCB, DDT, dioxin, and mercury are likely to build up due to the compounding effects of eating lots of smaller fish. One gets larger doses of more toxic compounds from these contaminated animal products than would be possible to take in from produce.

This passage is from the chapter entitled "Understanding the Causes of Cancer and Other Illnesses" from Joel Fuhrman M.D.'s new book Disease-Proof Your Child.

Kids Eat Well at Harlem's Promise Academy

As part of their excellent series on school lunches, The New York Times today profiles Harlem's Promise Academy.

Schools across the country are experimenting with healthier food, but as one expert quoted by the Times points out, this may be the most aggressive effort anywhere. At the Promise Academy, kids who had never had a fresh peach or raspberry are suddenly being offered lunch that is thick with local zucchini and swiss chard. There is no soda, and snacks consist of fresh local fruit.

One child, named Ebony, is quoted saying this: "I was like, 'I don't want to eat that.' But I had to, because there was nothing else. Then it was like, 'This is good.'"

Thanks to an aggressive stance from school developer Geoffrey Canada, the culinary talents of chef Andrew Benson, and a food budget that is slightly inflated thanks to grants and donations, the effort seems to be paying off. The article includes anecdotes about children who didn't know what swiss chard was a year ago asking their parents to buy some to eat at home. There are even cooking classes for the whole family. One school parent, who is a diabetic, says she is thrilled her children are learning a new way to eat.

Picking Blackberries

Dr. Fuhrman considers blackberries one of the healthiest foods on the planet. He's also a big fan of finding pleasure in food. On the NPR website, there is a transcription (and a live recording by the author) of Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney's poem "Blackberry Picking."

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot among others, red, green, hard as a knot. You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking.

It's worth hearing the whole thing. Anyone who has ever picked blackberries will know what he's talking about.

Healthy Eating Tips for an Unhealthy World

In the member section of his website, Dr. Fuhrman often answers questions from patients. Occasionally, we share highlights of those question and answer sessions on Followhealthlife. Here Dr. Fuhrman addresses a question from someone who hopes to follow the diet advice from his books Disease-Proof Your Child and Eat to Live, but finds it can be hard in certain social situations.

QUESTION: Any tips on staying away from sweets and treats that are constantly around us? Healthy eating is often considered a fringe pain in the pallet. Do you have any ideas for maintaining healthy eating in America's culture?

DR. FUHRMAN: Absolutely. This is exactly why I've developed this blog and my website, DrFuhrman.com. Because you're right, we are in a society where a person who eats sanely so they maintain an ideal weight or so they do not have a heart attack is seen as being odd, where the people who are essentially killing themselves with food are in the majority. And it does help to get the emotional support of a community of like-minded people.

There are also a lot of simple tricks and things we've learned from experience that help -- little things like making a big pot of vegetable bean soup once a week, taking plenty of extra food with you to work, or making great tasting healthy desserts -- in other words not putting yourself in a position where you're hungry when the only foods around you are unhealthy ones.

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The Basics of a Healthy Diet

In the member section of his website, Dr. Fuhrman often answers questions from patients. Occasionally, we share highlights of those question and answer sessions on Followhealthlife. For instance, the following exchange occured this past spring, which is about the kind of diet Dr. Fuhrman recommends in his books Disease-Proof Your Child and Eat to Live. This question addresses Dr. Fuhrman's idea of getting the maximum nutrition from the minimum number of calories.

QUESTION: It seems hard to disagree with the formula Health = Nutrients/Calories. Can you flesh out your approach a bit, with a quick summary of what you advocate in Eat to Live?

DR. FUHRMAN: There are a few points that together make the H = N/C approach unique. One is the concept of nutrient density; that is, as you start to meet the body's nutrient needs, it desires less food. This mean we're not going to crave food as much or want to eat as often.

Another is that when you eat foods that have toxic properties or that aren't healthy for you, they create addictive withdrawal symptoms once you stop eating them. Since those addictive withdrawal symptoms are relieved by frequent eating, they drive people to eat more frequently than is necessary. For example, if you stop drinking coffee you get headaches. You can get rid of the headaches by breaking the caffeine habit or by drinking more coffee. Likewise, when you eat a diet that contains processed foods and trans fats, lots of saturated fats and lots of salt, your diet is relatively toxic and when you stop eating for a few hours, you start to feel lousy. Feeling weak, achy, abdominal spasms, and headachy, are not how one feels true hunger.

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