Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy 2010!

Don't diet this year... and you won't have to beat yourself up... Eat healthy, stay active, and have a wonderful New Year!

"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!"
-Joey Adams

Friday, 18 December 2009

How to choose a good cereal

A better cereal choice will have

At least 4 g Total Fibre per 30 g serving.

Less than 1-3 g fat per serving - some granola-type cereals* can have up to 5 g per serving!

Less than 10g sugar per serving.


The first ingredient should NOT be sugar.

The first ingredient should be a "whole grain"- the word "whole" should be present.

*A better granola-type cereal will have fruit and nuts listed on the ingredient list before sugar and oil.

Let's look at a few examples:



Rice, wheat gluten, sugar/glucose-fructose,defatted wheat germ, salt, malt (corn flour, malted barley), vitamins (thiamine hydrochloride, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, d-calcium pantothenate), iron. BHT added to package material to maintain product freshness.

Ok... Special K's Ingredient list: sugar is not the first ingredient which is good, but the first ingredient is not a whole grain, not so good.

A look at the label, and although there is no fat, there is also no fibre... no good.

All in all, not the best choice- not horrible, since there are only has 2g sugar per serving, but definitely not the best.


Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, BHT is added to packaging material to preserve product freshness.

Shredded Wheat:
Whole grain is the first (and only!) ingredient on the ingredient list- great!!

The label shows that, per serving, there is only 1g fat, 0g sugar and a great 6g total fibre!!

Excellent choice.

CASCADIAN FARM- Organic Oats & Honey Granola

Ingredients (all organic): Whole grain oats, sugar, crisp rice (rice, sugar, sea salt, malt), sunflower oil, whole grain oat flour, molasses, maltodextrin, honey, sea salt, vanilla extract.

So... First ingredient is a whole grain, which is good. However, a look at the label and there are 6g fat and 14 grams sugar per sugar- too much- and only 3 g fibre- not enough.

Not a good choice!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Drinking yourself fat

Augh... disgusting, eh?
But yeah for the NY Health Department for being pioneers in health promotion!

New Yorkers will all start seeing these ads in the next year as well.

Remember that milk can fatten you up too though...

If you currently drink 2 cups 2% milk a day, did you know that if you switched to 1%, you would lose 4 lbs a year?

And that if you switched to skim milk, you would lose just under 8lbs a year?

Don't drink yourself fat...

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Keep eating to keep the economy afloat

According to this obesity economist (since when is this a profession?!), Americans' expanding waistlines are helping boost the economy- in the short-term anyway.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Learning to love my gums

I did this for a health behaviour challenge (class work). I'm presenting it today and am paranoid I won't be able to load this video... so I'm putting it here just in case!

This doesn't have anything to do with food or nutrition but...
Did you know that flossing could help prevent heart disease? I learned something new!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Fun Theory

This is great!

A pilot study in Sweden found that when sedentary people took the stairs for 12 weeks,

  • VO2 max (used to measure aerobic capacity) increased by 8.6%,
  • Mortality risk decreased by 15%,
  • Body fat decreased by 1.7%,
  • Waist circumference decreased by 1.8%,
  • Diastolic blood pressure decreased by 2.3%, and
  • LDL (lousy) cholesterol decreased by 3.9%!

Visit for some more fun.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sacré Bleu! McDonald's in the Louvre?

Yup. It's True.
The home of the Mona Lisa will become home to France's 1142nd McDonald's chain.
George Stroumboulopoulos of CBC's The Hour brought up a good point:
Isn't anybody worried about having the Hamburglar inside the Louvre?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Preventing a second, or a first, heart attack: Part 3

Eating the right type of fat.

Our dietary fat intake has actually decreased over the years... but heart attack and strokes have increased.

Obviously, fat isn't the enemy and, in fact, including the right type of fat in your diet can help decrease your risk of having a first, or a second, heart attack or stroke.

Unsaturated fats include:

Monounsaturated fat-
Olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, nuts, seeds, natural peanut and seed butters and avocadoes.

Polyunsaturated- Fish and corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils.

Replace the Bad with the Good

Replacing saturated fats or carbs in your diet with unsaturated fats has been
shown to decrease the 'lousy' LDL cholesterol (the one that clogs up your arteries), prevent the increase in triglycerides (the fat that's in your blood) that has been linked to heart disease and that increases with high refined carb intake (sweets, desserts, white bread, white pasta, white rice etc.), reduces the risk of blood clot formation, and decreases erratic heartbeats- the main cause of sudden cardiac death.

Dr. Willett and his team at the Harvard School of Public Health calculated that replacing 5% of calories as saturated fat with unsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart attack by 40%!

Assuming you eat 2000 calories, that would means replacing 11g saturated fat with 11g unsaturated fat.

For example, eat 1 oz nuts (about 1/4 cup) instead of 1/2 cup ice cream or
eat 2 Tbsp peanut butter instead of 2Tbsp cream cheese or 1 oz hard cheese.

Speaking of nuts, the Nurses' Health Study, published in the British Medical Journal in 1998, looked at the health of more than 86,000 women. It found that those who ate 142 grams (five ounces) of nuts per week were 35% less likely to develop heart disease than women who ate less than one ounce per week.
The 2002 U.S Physicians Health Study found that men who ate nuts two or more times per week were 47% less likely to die of a heart attack and 30% less likely to die of heart disease than men who rarely ate nuts.

Bottom Line

Make sure that every day you replace some of the saturated fat in your diet- found in animal products like meat, milk products, eggs, lard, shortening and butter- and excess refined carbs with various sources of unsaturated fat, including fish, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocadoes, peanut butter, olives and non-hydrogenated margarine.

Want to read more?

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2

Monday, 28 September 2009


There are insanewhiches for all tastes so visit this great site next time you're wondering what to pack for lunch....

Some are for the more refined palates:

Nori-wrapped hot-dog sushi.

The Swine n' Cheese sandwich

Some (lots!) would not be recommended by dietitians


Others would be:

The Crummy Cakewich: extra-lean turkey breast, multigrain bread and sweet-potato frosting.

Some are just gross:

The knuckle sandwich is made with pig hoofs:

Some are just weird:

The All-Mint Patty Burger

But some actually seem good!

The Dark Night- melted dark chocolate drizzled over eggplant.

Thanks Diane!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Chew gum, snack less?

The study:

115 men and women who regularly chew gum visited a lab at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center on 2 occasions:

On the first, they were given a lunch and then stayed for 3 hours, chewing Extra® sugar-free gum for 15 minutes, once an hour.

Hunger and cravings were assessed with the help of questionnaires and at the end of the 3 hours, subjects were given a variety of snacks to choose from.

The next visit was exactly the same, but they weren't given chewing gum.

The result:

When subjects chewed gum, they reported significantly less feelings of hunger and cravings for sweet foods and felt significantly less sleepy.

Gum chewers also ate significantly less calories after the 3 hours: 40 calorie less but, more interesting to the researchers, 60 calories less from sweet snacks.

According to Paula Geiselman, Chief of women's health and eating behaviour and smoking cessation at Pennington, this is the first study to look at the nutrient composition of snack food choices following gum chewing.

What I think:

First of all, 40 or 60 calories doesn't sound like a lot. In fact, it's the equivalent of only 4-6 jelly beans. Nonetheless, that could lead to a 4-6 lbs weight loss a year if it was kept up daily.

However, I wonder if these study findings be the same if the subjects weren't regular gum chewers?

Maybe regular gum chewers that can't chew gum for 3 hours need to keep their mouths occupied and eat more (and have more cravings) whereas people that don't normally chew gum wouldn't have the same problem...
In that case, wouldn't it be better to tell people never to start chewing gum in the first place?!

Measuring this only on 2 controlled occasions i very limiting too. For example, the subjects obviously knew the difference between their 2 visits was the gum chewing.

Clearly this is something that needs to be studied way more before any recommendations can be made.

Oh. Did I mention that the study was funded by the Wrigley's Science Institute? Hm.

Want to lose weight? Don't rely on chewing gum!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Drain AND Rinse

Don't just drain your canned foods like vegetables, beans, tuna... rinse them... for at least 1 minute.

Studies have shown that rinsing your canned vegetables for a minute reduced sodium by 41%. Rinsing canned tuna for a minute reduced sodium by 76%!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Sodium Crisis: A Major Health Concern

A few years ago, there was a huge effort to enlighten the public on the health effects of trans fats.

The result: Mandatory labeling, the removal of trans fats from many products, and entire cities banning trans fats from restaurants.

Looks like sodium's next!

The CSPI has called sodium the “deadliest ingredient in the food supply” and the “forgotten killer”.

Why is Salt Bad?

High sodium intake has been linked with high blood pressure- 1 in 6 people worldwide have high blood pressure, as do 65 million Americans. 45 million more are considered “pre-hypertensive” (between normal and high blood pressure).

Don’t have high blood pressure? Chances are you will. 90% of Americans will. And, even if you don’t have high blood pressure, cutting back on sodium can reduce your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases by 25% and your risk of dying from it by 20%. Same goes for kids!

Eating less salt is also one of the most important ways in preventing heart disease. High sodium intake has also been linked to obesity, stomach cancer, kidney stones, kidney disease, osteoporosis and an increase in asthma symptom severity.

How Much is Too Much?

The WHO recommends we eat less than 2000mg sodium/day whereas US and Canadian guidelines, based on Institute of Medicine recommendations, recommend less than 2300 mg/day, less than 1500mg/day if you have high blood pressure.

In fact, we only need about 1200-1500mg/d. As a reference, 2.5 little pickles contain 1550 mg/day.

We’re eating about double the limit, 3500-4000mg sodium/day... and that’s too much!

Where’s All This Salt?

Believe it or not, the majority of salt isn’t coming from the salt shaker. About 80% of our sodium is coming from processed foods!

Between 1994-2004, sodium in food has increased by 6%.

Packaged foods and restaurant meals are huge sources of salt in the diet. For example, a slice of pizza has about 1770mg sodium. A Denny’s Meat Lover’s breakfast (2 eggs, bacon, 2 sausages, toast and hash browns) has 3460mg sodium!

Hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and subs are the main source of sodium in the Canadian diet.

Click here to find out what the saltiest restaurant meals in America are!

What’s Happening?

Although the food industry is slowly starting to develop lower sodium in some products- watch the commercial below for Knorr Sidekicks that have reduced sodium by 25% in 22 of their products- it’s not enough.

It’s estimated that 8.5 million worldwide deaths could be avoided over 10 years by adopting public strategies to reduce sodium intake.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking for sodium to be recognized as a food additive rather than GRAS (Genereally Recognized As Safe) in the States, so it could be regulated. They’re also suing the restaurant chain Denny’s for not disclosing the large amount of salt in their food which, according to them, is putting unknowing consumers at a huge health risk. They also want the restaurant chain to post warnings on their menus about the high sodium levels.

Canada’s Sodium Working Group was started in 2007 and is made up science/health professionals (including 2 dietitians!), food industry and NGO representatives as well as government officials. The group plans to come up with a plan to reduce Canadian’s sodium intake in 4 years, a bit too slow for some.

New York City, always a leader in health initiatives (first to ban trans fats in restaurants and implement mandatory menu calorie labelling) has started its own initiative and plan to cut sodium in restaurant foods by 25% in the next 5 years.

Strategies That Work!

Finland, and more recently the UK, should serve as models for Canadians and Americans. Both countries have partnered with the food industry to reduce sodium in products and educate the public through mass media campaigns.

Click here for another great British ad:

Finland started this in the 70s and they’ve seen a drop in sodium intake from 5600mg/d to 3200mg/d! They’ve also seen a huge 70% reduction in stroke and heart attack deaths!

Both countries have also adopted an easy labeling system: green label for low salt, amber for medium salt and red for high salt. The result in the UK: a reduction of 400mg sodium in just 4 years!

More to come on this topic for sure!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Deferred Gratification: The Marshmallow Test

In the 60s, psychologist Walter Mischel from Stanford University designed the Marshmallow Test: 650 4-year olds were individually given one marshmallow and were left alone in a room. The pre-schooler was told that he or she could either eat it right away BUT, if they waited 15 minutes and didn't eat the marshmallow, they'd receive a second.
This test was designed to measure willpower in delaying gratification.

It was found, based on questionnaires sent to the parents, teachers and academic advisers of the former pre-schoolers, now high schoolers, that those that were unable to delay gratification (that ate the marshmallow right away) had more behavioural problems, had trouble paying attention and maintaining friendships and had lower SAT scores.

The results are based on self-reported information therefore subject to error. However, Mischel, now at Columbia, is attempting to recruit the original subjects to get fMRIs done in an attempt to identify the brain regions responsible for self-control. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Watching the kids trying so very hard to delay gratification is hilarious! This is a re-enactment:

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I'm a bad blogger... I blame school!

I haven't blogged in forever and that's horrible... I'm sorry.

My excuse: 8 years after I finished my bachelor's degree, I've decided to go back to school!

I just started my Master's in Nutrition Communication in Toronto... so I'll be a better blogger!!

I moved last week and still unpacking and getting to know this city.... along with easing into this whole back-to-school thing.
I promise to blog very very soon.. hope you'll stick around for it!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Preventing a second, or a first, heart attack: Part 2

The obvious:

If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the single leading cause of heart disease: smokers are 2-3 times more likely to die from a coronary heart disease than non-smokers. Smoking disrupts your heart rhythm, decreases your "Healthy" HDL cholesterol (that gets rid of artery-clogging plaque) and damages your arteries. Smoking also doubles your risk of a second heart attack. Stay away from second-hand smoke too!

Lose weight, if you need to.
Lots of studies have shown that BMIs over 25 increase the risk of dying young, mainly from heart disease.
Click here to calculate your BMI. An alternative to the BMI is to measure your waist measurement. The more fat you have around your middle, the greater your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and heart disease. Men should keep their waists circumferences (measured at the belly button) to less than 37 inches or 94 cm, women to less than 31 inches or 80cm. What's your waist circumference?

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise will go a long way in preventing a second heart attack, even if you don't lose weight. Exercise strengthens your heart, increases your "Healthy" HDL cholesterol, decreases your "Lousy" LDL cholesterol (that clogs up your arteries) and also can help prevent depression often associated with a heart attack. A study found that people that have had a heart attack and that increased their physical activity levels were nearly twice as likely to be alive after 7 years compared to those that stayed inactive.

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of walking or other moderately vigorous exercise at least five times each week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times each week, along with activities to increase or maintain muscular strength twice a week as well as daily activities like gardening and housework.

Not everybody can tolerate exerise the same way after a heart attack. Talk to your doctor who will probably ask you to do a stress test- your heart is monitored while walking on a treadmill or riding a stationnary bike. Many people participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program after their first heart attack where the heart is monitred during exercise to ensure the intensity is safe.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

"La pâtisserie, c'est comme les gens"

"Pastry is like people... Some dough needs a lot of kneading, some requires much less. Some dough is satisfied to rise just a little, while other dough needs to double in size. All dough needs warmth to rise."

-Taken from Kathleen Flinn's wonderful memoir, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry , about her experience moving to and living in Paris and attending the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.
I just finished this book- an easy and enjoyable read about a women pursuing her passion for cooking...while living in a foreign city and trying to learn the language. The author offers her readers a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the grueling training that goes on at the Paris culinary school and, along the way, manages to inspire us to follow our own dreams.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Insects dye our food?!

Well... this is a shocker:

Turns out that it's legal, and common, for food manufacturers to use
insects as food dye, and they don't have to let us know!!

More specifically,
carminic acid is extracted from the cochineal beetle's body and eggs and used to make carmine dye, a red dye commonly used as food colouring as well as in cosmetics, fabrics, oil paints and watercolours.

Although many foods, including yogourt, ice cream, cheese, butter, fruit-flavoured and alcoholic drinks, meats, pie fillings, jams, baked goods, sauces and candies, use carmine and cochineal extracts as dye, they only have to indicate "artificial colour" or "artificial colour added" to their ingredient lists. Only man-made dyes have to be listed (ie. FD&C No. 40)). As such, we have no idea if we're eating insect extracts or not.

In 2006, the consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest called the FDA to
ban insect-based dyes and provided 32 adverse reation reports it had received. According to the CSPI, "Why tolerate food coloring that sends a couple hundred people to emergency rooms each year...?"

Symptoms reported after eating carmine-containing foods like Yoplait and Danone yogurt, Ocean Spay and Fruitopia juice and Good & Plenty candy included itching, swelling of the eyes and tongue, difficulty breathing, hives and headaches. Moreover, hidden beetle extracts are problematic for vegetarians and vegans, those with specific allergies and people who keep kosher.

In January 2009, the FDA finally ammended the colour additive regulation; foods containing cochineal extract or carmine must declare the presence of the colour additive with either "cochineal extract" or "carmine" in the ingredient list by January 5 2011.

At least it's a start but, according to the CSPI, why not require the ingredient to be listed as "insect-based colouring" rather than using words most people won't understand?
Why the sneakiness?

Thanks Heather for letting me know about this!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Coconut oil: Good fat or bad fat?

Saturated fat is a bad fat- it increases your "lousy" LDL cholesterol that transports cholesterol to the arteries, causing plaque to form on your artery walls, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

In general, foods from animals sources contain mostly saturated fat (ie. meat, milk, cheese, butter, lard) whereas foods from plant sources contain mostly unsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocadoes).

There is one main exception though: tropical oils. These so-called tropical oils, like palm oil and coconut oil, are mostly saturated.
In fact, coconut oil is 92% saturated! As such, it has generally been recommended to limit intake of coconut oil, along with animal fats, to reduce your risk of heart disease.

That said, recent
studies have indicated that coconut oil may not be as bad as we had thought.

In a 1995 study, 28 people with high cholesterol followed a diet providing 36% of total calories from fat, 50% of which came from either butter, coconut oil or safflower oil (only about 10% saturated). After 6 weeks, total cholesterol and the "lousy" LDL cholesterol were significantly higher in those on the butter diet compared to the coconut oil diet. The safflower oil diet was associated with significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels compared to the butter and coconut oil groups. The same researchers confirmed the above results on healthy subjects as well.

Although coconut oil is more saturated, the saturated fat in butter comes from palmitic acid whereas the one in coconut oil comes from lauric acid. Palmitic acid (also the main fat in palm oil) has been found to have a greater negative effect on cholesterol and is therefore more conducive to heart disease than lauric acid.

So... what does this mean?

It means that non-hydrogenated coconut oil can be an alternative to butter or hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils that are high in trans fats, but it shouldn't replace other more healthful, mainly unsaturted, oils such as olive, canola, soybean, corn, safflower or sunflower oils.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Starbucks un-brands itself: sneaky or smart?

July 24th, a new coffee shop called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea opened its doors in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle (on 15th Avenue).

This coffee house is the quintessential "little neighbourhood
coffee shop": reclaimed furniture, long wood tables, a stage where there will be live music and poetry readings, greek philosophy book pages wallpaper a back wall, the espresso' s made from a fancy manual LaMarzocco machines rather than regular auto-espresso machines, beer and wine is served, as well as cool "retro-hip" food including artisan baked breads and gelato.

The kicker? This is a Starbucks... in disguise!
A little sneaky, no?

Over a year ago, it was reported that Starbucks' sales were declining (more than 40% in a year). The problem? Starbucks became too popular! As the
BBC reported in 2008, Starbucks used to be the new, cool place to enjoy a 'venti' or a 'frappuccino', sitting in a comfy couch reading a book or working on your laptop. Now, there's a Starbucks on every corner, and even Starbucks' CEO admits that the brand has become a commodity, sending once loyal patrons to search out smaller, trendier coffee houses... like 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea.

Apparently, Seattle should expect
2 more Starbucks-in-disguise to appear, named after the neighbourhoods they're in rather than the chain. Clearly, Starbucks is responding to public awareness and interest in independent and local businesses versus large and international ones but what do you think of their strategy? Do you they're being sneaky by disguising themselves or that it's a smart initiative to re-invent themselves?

Click here for the new coffee shop's website.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Middle-age spread is dangerous

According to 2 long term studies - the Nurse's Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study- the more weight you gain after the age of 20, the greater your risk of developing certain diseases.

Middle-aged men and women that gained 11-22 lbs after the age of 20 were up to 3 times more likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and gallstones compared to those that gained 5 lbs or less, even if they were at a normal weight to begin with.

According to Dr. Walter Willett, the Nurse's Health Study's Principal Investigator and author of Eat, Drink, and be Healthy , adult weight gain or the so-called 'middle-age spread' is "neither inevitable nor innocuous".

Friday, 31 July 2009

Fresh Fish

"Fish that smells fishy isn't fresh."

- Food Network

I'm sorry, it has been such a long time since I've blogged properly... It was a busy summer but I have lots of blog ideas- stay tuned!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is NEVER putting it in a fruit salad."

- Anonymous

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Honey and Babies

Did you know that infants below the age of 1 shouldn't be fed honey, according to Health Canada?

The only food that has been linked to infant botulism in Canada is honey. The bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, is common in soil and dust but has also been found in samples of honey . When the spores of this bacterium are ingested, they grow and produce a poison in the baby's intestines.

Children over the age of one develop a good bacteria in their intestines that will protect them from the infant botulism-causing spores.

Symptoms of infant botulism include persistent constipation, general weakness, floppy arms, legs and/or neck, lack of head control, a weak cry, a poor sucking reflex, irritability, lacks of facial expression, lethargy and difficulty breathing. Infant botulism affects the baby's nervous system and therefore can also lead to death- but most will make a complete recovery if treated immediately.

Not all honey produced in Canada is contaminated- random sampling shows that less than 5% actually contain bacterial spores. However, the risk exists in both pasteurized and non-pasteurized honey. As a result, to minimize risk, infants below the age of 12 months should not be given honey, nor should it be added to baby food or used as a soother.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cranberries and Urinary Tract Infections

Most women, and some men, are familiar with the symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infections(UTI): the frequent urge to urinate, the small volume of urine, the painful, burning feeling during urination ... not fun.

UTIs account for about
8.3 million doctor visits a year and 1 in 4 women will experience a UTI (and once you've had one, recurrence rates are high) in her lifetime. Although not as common in men, when they occur they can be very serious.

A UTI is diagnosed by a urine test performed by your doctor and can only be treated with antibiotics. But what did they do before antibiotics? By the mid 1800s, folkloric medicine books were suggesting cranberry juice. A 1994 Harvard study found that women who drank 10 oz of cranberry juice for 6 months were 58% less likely to have levels of bacteria in their urine that would be expected to cause infections. Lots of more recent
studies have shown the same thing.

Turns out that compounds in cranberry juice, substances called
trimeric procyanidins (proanthocyanidins), prevented bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. Although all cranberry products (including cranberry sauce) can help prevent bacteria from adhering, alleviating your symptoms and preventing UTIs, your best bet is to drink 2 cups of cranbery juice- one in the morning and one before bed. Commercial varieties of cranberry juice have lots of sugar added and although you can buy pure cranberry juice, it's very sour. Diluting the pure stuff with diet (low calorie) cranberry juice cocktail (about 25% cranberry juice and 75% water) is best.
You can now buy cranberry pills but, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it's a "hit-or-miss". Remember that these products aren't regulated so you're not really sure what you're getting in those pills- the label should say something like "made with whole berries". It's important to know that only antibiotics can cure a UTI and avoiding treatment can aggravate the infection that can move to your kidneys and become very serious.

What else can you do to prevent a UTI and/or alleviate the painful symptoms of an infection?

- Drink plenty of water to flush out your system- aim for 8-10 cups a day.
- Some evidence is coming out indicating that blueberries also contain procyanidins and act similarly to cranberries (it's blueberry season now so visit your local farmer's market. You can buy pure blueberry juice).
- Urinate when you feel the need (don't hold it in) and empty your bladder completely when you do.

- Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and douches and wipe from fron to back to keep the urethra clean.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Food, Inc.

"If you knew, you might not want to eat it."
"Faster, Fatter, Bigger, Cheaper."
"So much of our industrial food turns out to be rearrangements of corn."
"We can get 2 hamburgers for the (price of a vegetable)."
"We've never had food companies this powerful in our history."
"They have managed to make it against the law to criticize their products."
"When we run an item past the supermarket scanner we're voting for local, or not, organic, or not."
"Imagine what it would be if, as a National Policy, the idea would be to have such nutritionally dense foods that people actually felt better, had more energy and weren't sick as much. See, now that's a noble goal."
"People have to start demanding good wholesome food of us and we'll deliver, i promise you."


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Every day should be National Running Day!

It was National Running Day in the States today!

According to, it's a day to "come together as a nation to take strides towards leading healthier, fitter lives".

As a runner, I think every day should be Running Day!

I posted previously that running has been found to slow the aging clock and it was found NOT to be associated with osteoarthritis or knee replacement surgeries, as commonly thought. Moreover, a recent study at the University of Missouri comparing bone densities of runners and cyclists found that regular cyclists were 7 times more likely to suffer from osteopenia of the spine than runners! People who engage in activities like biking, swimming, rowing, elliptical training need to incorporate bone-strengthening activities, like resistance training or running, to their exercise regimens.

Interestingly, the
same researchers also found that running may build stronger bones than even resistance training since lifting dumbells, for example, won't do much for the strength of your hip bone. Therefore, high-impact, dynamic, multi-directional activities, like running (as well as sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball and even structured jump-training such as in high-impact step aerobics) result in greater gains in bone strength.

So, if you didn't run today, why not lace up your running shoes tomorrow and go for a run... or incorporate some running bouts into your daily walk?

See you out there...!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Tomatoes: Lycopene, Cancer & Heart Attacks

Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene that's been linked to reduced rates of cancers, especially lung, stomach and prostate cancers.

study by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that men that ate 10 or more servings of tomato-based foods a week had a 45% reduced prostate cancer rate.

Lycopene is bound inside cell walls, making it difficult for the body to extract it from raw tomatoes. This explains why cooked tomatoes (ie tomato sauce) seem to be more protective than raw tomatoes or tomato juice- the heat seems to release the lycopene.

Lycopene is also fat-soluble so cooking tomatoes in oil (ie. tomato sauce!) enhances the absorption of the antioxidant.

What's causing some confusion is a study conducted at the Ohio State University on about 200 rats (a good model for human prostate cancer, supposedly). Some rats were fed diets containing whole tomato powder and others were fed rat food fortified with pure lycopene (and, consequently, received more lycopene than the tomato powder group). Reserachers caused prostate cancer in these rats.The rats fed the pure lycopene actually had more tumors and a significantly greater risk of death!

What this study suggests is that there seems to be other components in tomatoes that have a protective effect- the whole food is beneficial whereas isolated lycopene may not be.

It seems that tomatoes may also protect the heart. An Itailan study looked at the diets of 507 heart attack victims and of 478 controls- one of the items on the food frequency questionnaire was pizza. Surprisingly, regular pizza eaters (eating about 500g or just over 1/2lbs pizza a week) were 40% less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who never ate pizza!

Maybe the pizza eaters were eating less high saturated fat hamburgers.
Remember that real Italian pizzas are not like the North American meat-lovers-pepperoni-3 cheese- stuffed crust ones- they have a thin crust and are dressed with olive oil, a lot of tomato sauce and some cheese. Another possibility that Dr. Schwarcz proposes is that the tomatoes may be responsible: That yellow stuff around the seeds of tomatoes contain flavonoids that have anti-clotting properties... possibly reducing the risk of heart attacks!

Bottom line: Aim to treat yourself to tomatoes, processed tomatoes or tomato products cooked in oil every day. Stay away from lycopene supplements until more research is done.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Are you a Gastrosexual?

" I made grilled portobello burgers with homemade whole wheat buns, pesto, provolone and roasted red peppers. Hope you don't mind".

A Gastrosexual: A person that cooks as a hobby and uses his/her culinary skills to impress friends and potential love interests.
The British Daily Mail looked at a report, the 'Emergence of the Gastrosexual', published by the food company PurAsia. Here are the highlights:
  • Gastrosexuals are typically: Male, aged 25-44 and upwardly-mobile.
  • The tension between cooking and masculinity has been resolved- it is now perfectly acceptable for men to show a passion for food.
  • Key motivations for the Gastrosexual: Self-actualization (cooking as a passion), cooking for praise and cooking to impress and even seduce potential partners.
  • 23% of 18-24 year old men say they cook to potentially seduce a partner
  • 48% of people say being able to cook makes a person more attractive to them
  • In 1961, women spent 10 times as much time in the kitchen as men did. By 2005, although women remained the primary cooks, men started helping out a bit more- women spent only 2 times more time in the kitchen as men did.
  • The increase in the number of women working full time post-war has contributed to the rise of the Gastrosexual male.
  • 50% of the men surveyed prepared meals using separate ingredients everyday, spending an average of 41 minutes in the kitchen a day.
Looks like the Gastrosexual may be the next Foodie!