Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Monday, October 5, 2015

The unpalatable additives lurking in our food... but are they really bad for you?

Titanium in chewing gum, antifreeze in salad dressing and jet fuel in cereal: are they really THAT bad for you?
Food researcher Dr Stuart Farrimond says certain additives can be good
Avoiding ready-made and processed foods is the best way to eat healthily
Steer clear of chewing too much gum as it may not be entirely harmless 

There are lots of scary stories about the unusual ingredients added to foods to preserve them. From sand in sugar to flavour enhancers in chicken breasts and even jet fuel in cereal, there seems to be a whole host of unsavoury additives lurking in our food. However these ingredients are not always obvious from the additives, preservatives and extracts listed on the back of the packaging - couched in scientific terms too difficult to understand.
But according to science communicator and food researcher Dr Stuart Farrimond, some of these additions are not all that bad. He told: 'The truth is rarely as scary as the headline. 
'At the end of the day, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and cooking with simple ingredients, while avoiding too many pre-made meals and processed foods is the best way to eat healthily. 'I think it's important to not cut out all treats - where would we be without chocolate and ice cream? Moderation is key.' Here Dr Farrimond explains what each one of those ingredients mean. 

Titanium dioxide in chewing gum
Listed as:  E171
Dr Farrimond explained:
'Titanium dioxide is a rather unexciting white powder that is used as a pigment to in foods, paints and sun creams to make them look whiter.  'You find it in tablets and capsules, cottage and Mozzarella cheeses, horseradish sauce, lemon curd and toothpaste. ">It is highly purified and used in small amounts in foods; it doesn't contain lead, as some website claim. On an ingredients list you will find it hiding as E171 and, although the European Union considers it safe, there has been some research that it may not be entirely harmless. 'It's been in foods for a long time and in the low concentrations found in foods it's almost certainly fine.  'The European powers-that-be are nevertheless going over all the latest evidence and reviewing whether it should still be allowed in food products at its present levels.  'If you're concerned, I suggest skipping anything that has E171 on the ingredients list - and go easy on the chewing gum, remembering to spit and not swallow.

Carcinogens BHA and BHT in frying oil. Can also contain TBHQ, used to make varnishes and resins
Listed as: BHA is E320, BHT is E321 and TBHQ is E319.
Dr Farrimond said: 'BHA probably is a carcinogen but only if you consume it at very high doses. In the levels it is found in food it is not something to worry about and some experts think it could even be good for us in small doses.  'BHA and its sister substance BHT are antioxidants- similar to some vitamins - and are added to some fatty foods to stop them going off so quickly.
Antifreeze in salad dressing Listed as: Propylene glycol or E1520
Dr Farrimond said:
 'Propylene glycol is not antifreeze. The similar sounding ethylene glycol is usually one of the main ingredients in antifreeze - and that is highly poisonous. That said, propylene glycol is an ingredient in some 'non-toxic' antifreezes because it is much safer than ethylene glycol. 'Propylene glycol is a clear liquid that tastes slightly sweet and it goes under the codename E1520 in Europe.  'It has been added to foods and medicines for about fifty years as it helps to keep them moist and long lasting.

Jet fuel in cereals with added vitamins 
Listed as: E321
Dr Farrimond said: 'This is a very useful antioxidant that is added to everything from cosmetics and fuel to some fatty foods.  'You'll see it listed as E321 on some foods. It is an anti-oxidant - like many vitamins and supplements 0 some experts think that in the low doses found in food it could be good for us and actually help fight cancer. Lots of helpful substances come from some strange places. Insulin for diabetics, for example, is grown in bacteria.  'Quorn meat substitute is a product of fungi and - yes - some vitamins and additives are produced from a petroleum base. It might sound scary, but it's exactly the same vitamin E molecule that is produced in plants – you are not consuming petrol.'

Sand in sugar
Listed as: Silicon Dioxide, silica or E551
Dr Farrimond said: Sand is mostly silicon dioxide but, then again, silicon dioxide is pretty much everywhere - in the earth, in water, in plants and in us.  'It is completely harmless and the silicon dioxide in food is refined and powdered. It's not the sort of thing you would normally add to your cooking, so the idea may put you off eating anything with it in even though no one ever died when sand got in their sarnie on the beach.

Wood pulp in various processed foods
Listed as:  Cellulose
Dr Farrimond said: Cellulose is the 'fibre' that you find in fruit and vegetables - helping to give it bulk. Cellulose isn't digested, it passes straight through us and helps to 'keep us regular'. Most of us don't get enough fibre in our diet because we don't eat enough greenery. Of all the food additives, this is one of the least worrying.

Chemical fillers in chicken breast
Listed as: Flavour enhancers and added protein
Dr Farrimond said: 'The amount of added water in supermarket meat is truly scandalous. It is quite normal for chicken breasts to have been 'plumped' with 10 to 20 per cent extra water, sometimes more.  'It's been done for years and while food manufacturers argue that it makes for a more succulent meat, it is really a crafty way to make cuts of meat seem bigger than they actually are. All the water comes off in cooking, and the meat will ultimately shrink back down to its real size. 'Plumped meats sometimes have some added extras, including added protein and flavour enhancers to make them taste a bit better - but it is the water that you really should be shedding tears over.  'Whole chickens aren't allowed to be plumped in the same way that cuts are, so buying a whole bird makes more economical sense. Check the label before you buy to see how much meat is really in your meat.' 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Calorie Control Versus Exercise: Two Scientists’ Findings on Weight Loss

Going to the gym WON'T help you lose weight – you need to eat less: Study finds exercise alone is not enough to shed the pounds 
  • Two experts have studied the link between exercise and obesity for years
  • Trials show exercising and dieting is no more effective than dieting alone
  • When people exercise, their appetite increases and they eat more food 
  • The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories, they concluded

Most people hoping to shed a few pounds head straight for the gym.
But the miles they clock up on the treadmill may not actually help them lose any weight, scientists now claim.
Doing more exercise increases a person's appetite, and they tend to eat more food as a result, the researchers said.
Therefore controlling calories – with or without increasing physical activity - is the key to maintaining or losing weight, they concluded.

Dr Richard Cooper and Dr Amy Luke, both from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, have been studying the link between exercise and obesity for years. Writing in the International Journal of Epidemiology, they said: 'Physical activity is crucially important for improving overall health and fitness levels. But there is limited evidence to suggest that it can blunt the surge in obesity. '

This crucial part of the public health message is not appreciated in recommendations to be more active, walk up stairs and eat more fruits and vegetables.

'The prescription needs to be precise: There is only one effective way to lose weight - eat fewer calories.'

Numerous clinical trials have found that exercising as well as restricting calories achieves virtually the same weight loss calorie-restriction alone, they said.

And other studies show no link between the energy someone expends (through exercise) and subsequent changes to their weight. They added that only 'extremely small' proportions of the US population do enough physical activity to affect their long term balance of energy.

Therefore, they argue that that physical activity does not influence obesity, they said.

They concluded: 'While physical activity has many benefits, multiple lines of evidence lead to the conclusion that an increase in physical activity is offset by an increase in calorie intake, unless conscious effort is made to limit that compensatory response.'

Last year, Dr Michael Mosley, the brains behind the popular 5:2 diet, warned that exercise can actually cause us to gain weight. 'A lot of people think that when you exercise, you can eat what you want - and that the gym will make you happy,' he said.
But this is wrong.

He added: 'The key problem is that we reward ourselves with 'treats' after exercise - or have the "I've been to the gym, so I can eat what I want mentality". 'Exercise is a good way to keep weight off - but it's not a good way to lose it'.

'Going to the gym will burn calories - but way less than we think. '1lb of fat is 3,500 calories - and fat is more energy-dense than dynamite' - so to burn 1lb of fat you'd need to run about 38 miles.'

He cites the example of a muffin and latte - which many of us underestimate the calorie content of. 'If you run one mile, you burn roughly 100 calories,' he told presenters Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes. 'A muffin contains around 500 calories - so you would have to run for five miles or walk for 10 miles to burn it off.' And when it comes to a latte - which has around 150 calories - it would be 1.5 miles of running or a three-mile (hour long) walk. 'That is why people never lose weight going to the gym in the long-run.

Sources: http://www.sciencedaily.com/, http://www.newswise.com/, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Monday, August 24, 2015

What's lurking in YOUR salad? Experts warn prewashed spinach still contains 90% of its bacteria and can cause food poisoning

Health experts have warned against eating pre-washed spinach.
They say commercial washing techniques fails to remove 90% of the bacteria.
Small peaks and valleys in baby spinach leaves could be a key reason why there have been numerous bacterial outbreaks involving leafy green vegetables, they say.

Greens are washed by commercial processes before they head to the grocery store. 
But these methods, which can include water and bleach rinses or irradiation, are not completely effective, says Nichola Kinsinger of the University of California.
She says scientists have estimated that 99 percent of food-borne illnesses from leafy greens can be traced back to disinfection issues. 
'In a sense the leaf is protecting the bacteria and allowing it to spread,' said Nichola Kinsinger, a post-doctoral researcher working with Sharon Walker, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering. 
'It was surprising to discover how the leaf surface formed micro-environments that reduce the bleach concentration and in this case the very disinfection processes intended to clean, remove, and prevent contamination was found to be the potential pathway to amplifying foodborne outbreaks.' 
As a result, as the leaves move through the processing facility after being rinsed the bacteria may continue to live, grow, spread, and contaminate other leaves and surfaces within the facility.
The researchers in the Bourns College of Engineering found that because of the varied topography of the spinach leaf nearly 15 percent of the leaf surface may reach concentrations as low as 1000 times that of the bleach disinfectant being used to rinse it.
'Despite current disinfection rinsing, bacteria are surviving on the leaf and causing cross contamination, resulting in the numerous outbreaks we hear about in the media,' Kinsinger said.

'Pathogens can come from irrigation waters or from water used during processing, and they can adhere to spinach leaves. 
'If these bacteria are not all killed in the disinfection process, they can continue to live, grow, spread and contaminate other surfaces within the facility and other leaves.'
Using a parallel-plate flow chamber system that Walker developed, the researchers tested the real-time attachment and detachment of bacteria to the outer layer of spinach leaves. 
At low bleach concentrations, the bacteria fell off the leaves, but remained alive. At the higher concentrations used commercially, however, all of the bacteria were killed. 
'This result was perplexing,' Walker says. 

 'Our experiments were telling us that commercial bleach rinses should be much more effective than they are. But then we studied the leaf itself in more detail.' 

Currently, the industry standard is to add 50 to 200 parts per million of bleach to the water used to rinse leafy green vegetables. 
But that is just a recommendation, not a requirement or regulation, Kinsinger said.
For the research, Kinsinger and Walker designed a parallel plate flow chamber system to evaluate in real time the attachment and detachment of pathogens to the spinach in realistic water chemistries and flow conditions.
Their work focused exclusively on baby spinach, however the issue of reduced bleach concentration across the leaf surface and other surfaces within the processing facility translates beyond the specific scenarios tested and demonstrates the limitation of bleach disinfection causing significant concern over public health.
Future research will focus on a broader range of foods, surfaces in processing facilities and pathogen types, Kinsinger said.
Despite their findings, Kinsinger notes that the United States has one of safest food supply system. Still, she says, 'I recommend rinsing those leaves.'

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Five muscle groups that are too often ignored at the gym

Having a training plan is crucial. A plan keeps you focused, allows you to track your progress and gives you objective data to understand why you are, or are not, reaching your goals.
However developing a strength routine can be stressful, intimidating and confusing.

Too often people’s default program is cardio followed by a few push-ups and crunches. Alternatively, those who spend time in the weight room prioritize exercises such as bench press and shoulder press.
Any activity at all is commendable, but the above exercises primarily train the front of the body and can contribute to a rounded posture and back and shoulder injuries.
So, whether you’re a gym newbie, or have been training for years, make sure your plan is balanced. The five muscle groups below are a critical part of any plan, but are typically overlooked. Don’t be typical; train smart.

1. The posterior chain.
This is also known as the back of your body, running from the back of your head to the back of your heels. Prioritize strengthening your posterior chain, specifically your back and glutes (bum).
Do one upper-back exercise for every chest exercise. If you have been overtraining your chest for years, for the next two months do two upper-back exercises for every one chest exercise.
Chest exercises include push-ups, the bench press and flys. Upper-back exercises include any type of row, lat pull downs, pull-ups and reverse flys.
Do at least one lower-back exercise such as the bird dog, back extensions or supermans.
Strengthen your glutes with multijoint exercises such as deadlifts, squats and bridges.

2. Balance and feet exercises.
Balance and feet strengthening exercises require proprioception – the body’s mind/body loop, which allows the brain to register where the body is in space, and then to tell the body which muscles to “turn on.”
Decreased proprioceptive abilities, and/or weak feet, can contribute to a plethora of injuries including plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains and knee and hip pain.
When you run, your feet and brain need to communicate so your feet can safely negotiate the terrain. Otherwise, you trip and fall. And when your proprioception is poor, your body compensates by using vision; you look down to know where your feet are. Over time, looking down will round your spine.
Incorporate unstable equipment such as a bosu, resistance ball or balance board into your routine. Try some squats or push-ups on the bosu. Do some balance work barefoot to strengthen your feet. Try standing on one leg with your eyes closed.

3. Rotator cuff exercises.
Your rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles that originate on your shoulder blade. Together, they help stabilize your arm bone in your shoulder socket and help maintain proper posture.
Try band external rotations. Stand against the edge of a door frame, shoulder blades on either side of the frame. Hold a resistance band, palms up and arms at 90 degrees. Draw your arm bones back in your shoulder sockets.
Then use the muscles around the back of your shoulders to rotate your hands out to the side. As your arms move, squeeze your shoulder blades slightly around the door frame. Repeat 15 times.

4. Wrist exercises.
Weak wrists are often the limiting factor when people are trying to improve their pull-ups, push-ups and deadlifts. Strengthen your wrists by changing your hand position or the width of your grip when you use free weights or barbells. For example, use a thicker bar when doing bench press or bent-over rows; do biceps curls with your palms down; triceps cable presses with your palms up; or put Fat Gripz around dumbbells to increase the diameter of what your hands have to hold.

5. Mindfully do functional multijoint exercises.
Done correctly, functional multijoint exercises such as planks, deadlifts, squats, wood chops and bird dogs are an integral part of any program. They work the entire core, integrate the trunk into the rest of the body and prepare the body for real life.
Unfortunately, most people just go through the motions. To get the most out of any exercise, to improve your biomechanics and to properly train your core, you have to pay attention to how your body is positioned.
For example, when you are doing exercises such as squats and deadlifts, think of them as a core challenge, a moving plank. Focus on stabilizing your spine, don’t let your back arch or round as you move.
Regardless of your exercise selection, always progress appropriately, ask a gym employee for instructions when needed and listen to your body.

Monday, August 10, 2015

How to keep your diet and fitness goals on track through summer

Making healthy choices during the summer can be a challenge. I get it – it just feels “right” to indulge while relaxing at the cottage or sitting on a patio. But it is possible to enjoy your summer and maintain a healthy lifestyle; it just takes mindfulness and advance planning.

First, analyze where you are most likely to veer off track.
Do you stop exercising any time your routine changes? Are you a social eater, or do you snack when you are alone? Do you use unhealthy food as an instant energy boost when you are tired or bored on road trips?
Tailor your game plan to your individual needs; prepare for your trigger situations in advance.

If you indulge while traveling when you’re unprepared and tend to grab something (anything!)
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of “having to” buy unhealthy snacks.
Research healthier restaurants en route, or, better yet, pack a cooler full of nutritious snacks.
For longer road trips, locate in advance the grocery stores you will pass. Stop and buy fresh fruit, vegetables and prepared deli food. Or purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from roadside stands. Always have a water bottle so you don’t get dehydrated, and use that water to wash any produce.
If you tend to snack when bored
Download an audio book or podcasts to keep you entertained.
If you are a social eater
Live by my “love it” rule. Don’t deprive yourself – life is worth living – but don’t mindlessly eat. Treat yourself to a reasonable portion of something that you love. Pick one treat. Don’t have chips, beer and wings. If you love beer, have one with a healthier meal. If you don’t love beer but you love wings, drink a low-calorie alcoholic beverage or water and indulge in a few wings.
Stay hydrated. That way you won’t mistake dehydration for hunger.
If you are attending an event at someone’s home, offer to bring something. That way you have at least one healthy option.
Before going to a restaurant, preview the menu online and decide what you will eat. On arrival, don’t look at a menu. Order your predetermined choice.
Place your cutlery down between bites so that your brain has time to register that you are full.
If you tend to slouch on vacation
Don’t let a change to your routine be an excuse not to exercise. You don’t need a gym to get a good workout; you can move and be active anywhere!
To fit in cardio while travelling, try fartlek intervals. Warm up for 10 minutes, then pick a random landmark to sprint towards. If you are swimming, sprint for a certain number of strokes. Once you hit your landmark or your stroke count, slow down and recover. Repeat for 10 to 30 minutes. Finish with a cool-down and then stretch.
Or explore your vacation destination on foot or on a bike. Use the pedometer on your phone, or buy a tracking device and aim to get 10,000 steps per day.
Fit in strength training. Most hotels have a gym, but if yours doesn’t, or if you’re staying with family, pack a resistance band. Train in your bedroom. Bands are light, inexpensive, highly portable and offer a full body workout. Try attaching the band to the bedpost to do standing rows, or standing on it to do biceps curls. If you don’t like the band, use your body weight to do squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and V holds.
The main take-away is that it is always possible to make healthier choices; it just takes mindfulness and some advance planning. If you make a choice you are not proud of, don’t feel guilty. Instead, use it as learning experience so you can make a more informed choice next time. Also, remember that just because you make one indulgent choice doesn’t mean you have to indulge constantly. Try to keep in mind that your future self will be happier – and have fewer bad habits to break after vacation – if you follow the “love it” rule and remember that moderation is key.

Monday, August 3, 2015

7 guilt-free, cool ways to treat yourself during the Summer

Need a cold snack on a hot day? These treats are perfect ways to cool off, without the extra calories.

Strawberries with Orange-Ricotta Cream

Prepare the orange-ricotta cream early in the day; it is best served very cold over ripe strawberries. You'll have a half cup of the cheese mixture left over. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

76 calories


Watermelon-feta skewers

Ingredients: 5 watermelon balls, 5 (one-half inch) feta cheese cubes, and 5 mint leaves on 5 skewers

46 calories


Cranberry slushy

Ingredients: One-half cup cranberry juice cocktail and 1 tsp fresh lime juice blended with 1 cup ice cubes 

70 calories


Chilled cucumber soup

Ingredients: 1 cup peeled, chopped cucumber, one-half cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1 TBSP chopped fresh mint, and a pinch of salt, blended with 3 ice cubes

79 calories

Double mint infused water

Recipe for a 46 oz carafe: 10 hand-torn, fresh mint leaves + 2 bags of mint tea, preferably peppermint. Pour room temperature water over the ingredients and let steep for 1 hour. There is no need to use hot water; the tea will release its flavor in room temperature water. After steeping for an hour, strain and serve over ice.

2 calories


Frosty Cappuccino 

Ready in 5 minutes: an "energy" drink perfect for the hot days (and not only!)

105 calories





Fruit pops

Forget artificial fruit flavoring, and go for the real thing. Fruits that are red, blue and purple contain high levels of essential antioxidants and vitamins. Even though it does contain sugar, fruit takes time to digest and hits the liver slowly; you don't get the same sugar crash. Try this 4-ingredient recipe for strawberry yogurt pops containing blended berries.
73 calories

Monday, July 27, 2015

How To Trick Yourself Into Working Out Harder Without Even Realizing It

Since the invention of the Walkman, active people have shown that staying entertained is a big key to fitness success. Now there's evidence to suggest interactive entertainment actually can help you exercise harder and boost your mind.
University of Florida researchers recently reported that brain games while cycling can improve thinking ability and boost speed by 25 percent. So you get to have more fun, pump up your brain and enjoy significantly more physical benefits.
The researchers asked a group of older adults to use stationary bicycles while performing mental tasks that ranged from saying "go" whenever a blue star appeared on a screen to solving math problems. They discovered a sweet spot of difficulty that was just challenging enough to keep brains occupied but just simple enough to not interrupt the workout.
Imagine your brain as an engine. Certain physical activities (walking, running, dancing) ask for a lot of your brain's power to calculate stride, balance, limb coordination and more. Other activities (cycling, squats, push-ups) require less brain power because they're simple to do. The trick is to multitask by pairing a simple physical activity with a more challenging brain task or pairing a complicated physical activity with an easier brain task. You want the engine running at full power but not overheating.
Finding that balance might seem tough, but you don't have to do it alone. Here are four easy ways you can work your brain and body together for more fitness firepower.

Group fitness classes

Providing a variety of exercises that keep participants' minds humming is part of a group fitness instructor's job. Classes like yoga, BOOM and Zumba all are designed to improve strength and cardiovascular health while engaging participants' minds with instructions and coordinated movements.
Working with an instructor and classmates, your brain is treated to social interaction, changing paces, different physical poses and new exercises that keep things interesting.


If you prefer to exercise on your own, try pairing stationary cycling or a treadmill workout with a podcast.
Podcasts are pre-recorded audio shows you can download on portable devices, such as smartphones or tablets. Whether you're interested in sports, history, music, movies, trivia or news, there's a podcast for you.
You'll be amazed how quickly a 30-minute walk passes when you're being entertained and informed by your favorite podcast. To find podcasts, use an online service such as iTunes or SoundCloud.


The changing landscapes of hikes are a natural way to keep your mind busy. Wildlife and plant life provide an interesting backdrop for your eyes, and adjusting to terrain keeps your muscles guessing and your brain focused on balance.
To make things more interesting, incorporate a camera for snapping photos on your hikes. Or bring binoculars along for bird-watching. Linking the names and characteristics of the world around you is a terrific way to busy your mind while you're working your body.


Are you competitive person? Do you enjoy teamwork? Playing a sport could be the perfect fit for you. Sports like softball, pickleball and golf improve your muscle tone, endurance and motor skills while also engaging your mind in strategy, calculation and positioning.
If you've played a sport before and enjoyed it, why not start again in an adult league or organize friends to play?
Or, if you're looking to try a sport you haven't played, ask friends who may have played. Some key factors to consider when choosing a sport include:
  • What sort of experience, skills, or fitness are needed to start?
  • Do you need to purchase any special equipment?
  • Where is the sport played? Can you play locally?
  • What time are practices or games scheduled? Are there evening or weekend options that work with your schedule?
  • Are there fees associated with participation in teams or leagues?
  • What is the best way for a beginner to get involved?
No matter which multitasking workouts you choose, the key is to have fun. If you're feeling bored, it might be time to change up your fitness routine. Remember that fitness is a lifelong journey. What interested you before might not interest you now, and your tastes forever will evolve.

Source: http://www.msn.com/en-us/health, https://www.healthwaysfit.com/