Category Archives: food

How to Protect Your Pet From Food Recalls

Once again we are reminded that we need to carefully look at what we are feeding our pets, what ingredients our pet food contains, where these ingredients are coming from and whether pet food supplies are operating under strict standards of hygiene and vendor agreements. To ensure the health and well being of your pet you should look for a pet food supplier who uses a manufacturing facility that is a USDA certified APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) plant. APHIS certification allows the sale of a finished product to the International market, including the European market, which has extremely high standards on ingredient sources. Under APHIS certification, the plant and ingredient facilities are routinely inspected.

Your pet’s foods should be fresh when it reaches you and the best pet food nutrition is void of chemical preservatives as these can be detrimental to your pet’s health. Choose pet foods that are sold exclusively through small specialty stores, small locally owned stores, veterinarian offices & or independent distributors Does this all make a difference? You bet it does. Remember, your pet eats the same food every day at every meal so what you give them is critical to their health and longevity. Serving your ‘best friend’ foods full of chemicals, by-products and preservatives would be like letting our children eat at a fast food restaurant 3 times a day 7 days a week. We all know that would be a recipe for nutritional disaster.

Why should you avoid serving your pet table scraps? Well a dog’s digestive system does not like it. A dog’s digestive system is designed to recognize and digest each particular type of food. It then produces a form of bacteria which helps it break down and digest that food. If you change your dog’s food constantly by giving it snacks and bits and pieces from your plate, then the digestive system will not have the bacteria necessary for proper digestion and your dog will have runny and/or smelly movements. If you feed your dog or your cat a superior quality food then you should not need to add bits and pieces from your plate.

Five Fitness Foods That Provide Healthy Fats

A healthy diet is vital to a great exercise program. What you eat will make or break what you are trying to accomplish with even the most thought-out and perfectly executed fitness program. But contrary to what many people believe, fats should not be avoided when you are putting together your list of fitness foods. But let’s be clear, only healthy fats.

Here are five that if prepared the right way will deliver the goods:

1. Wild Salmon. Salmon is an excellent source of animal-based omega-3 fats, protein and antioxidants, which are all important for nutritional fitness. Due to the environmental contamination of many of the feeding grounds of fish we have to take into account the possible toxic contamination of these fish. This is especially true with farm raised salmon. Much of this contamination is concentrated in the skin and fat of the fish, so I would recommend under no circumstances should you eat this part of the fish. Wild Alaskan salmon is your best bet, and it should be part of every fitness diet.

2. Avocado. This fruit is rich in monounsaturated fat and is easily burned as energy. Many people when exercising turn to carbohydrates, but turn to sugar, which is where we gain our excess body fat. People generally eat way too many carbohydrates, and biologically although they are necessary our needs are met with very small amounts. And today’s western diet is heavy in carbs. If we cut back on carbs as we should, they should be replaced with high quality fat such as avocado. Additionally they are high in potassium and low in fructose.

3. Eggs. Particularly if the eggs are free-range, eggs contain healthful saturated fats and cholesterol. This along with the fact that it is a great source of protein makes it an excellent workout food. Another factor for their yield of health benefits is the way you cook your eggs. It is found that the more they are cooked the more antioxidant loss they will have.

4. Chicken. Again, as with almost all healthy natural foods, the way they are prepared will determine if you lose that nutritional value. Chicken breast is the leanest, but is loaded with high-quality protein and essential amino acids for muscle growth and maintenance. But it can only be the breast meat alone. Comparing the chicken breast meat alone when it is roasted versus the meat and skin when batter-fried, fat content goes up about six times. And it goes without saying that this isn’t the healthy fat we are after.

5. Coconut oil. Simple carbohydrates are normally what we use for instant energy, with as stated earlier too many unwanted side effects. Coconut oil is the richest source of healthy fatty acids called MCFSs that nature has to offer. Half the fat content in coconut oil is lauric acid, which has unique health promoting properties. Coconut oil is a much better quick-energy option than carbs or sugar.

People have had the false impression that if you eat fat it will turn into fat on your body. This may be true of the wrong kinds of fats, or convenient processed foods that are not really food in the truest sense. Consuming foods that are as close to their natural state as possible will yield the optimum health and fitness benefits.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Are there really diets out there that can reduce inflammation? Do they work? Scientists have found that there is a relationship, in part, between what we eat and inflammation. They’ve even identified some compounds in food that can reduce inflammation and others that promote it. There is still a lot to learn about just how diet and inflammation interact, and research, as of yet, is not at that point where a specific foods or groups of foods can be singled out as being beneficial for people with arthritis. We are beginning to get a clearer picture of how eating the right way can reduce inflammation.

So why are we so concerned about inflammation? Inflammation is the body’s natural defense to infections and injuries. When something goes wrong the body’s immune system goes to work to inflame the area, which serves to get rid of the invader or to heal the wound. Inflammation can cause pain, swelling, redness, and warmth, but this goes away as soon as the problem is solved. This is good inflammation.

Then we have chronic inflammation, the type that’s familiar to people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and other types of “inflammatory” arthritis. Chronic inflammation is the type that will not go away. All the types of arthritis that are mentioned above are a disorder of the immune system creates inflammation and then doesn’t know when to shut off. Inflammatory arthritis, chronic inflammation can have serious consequences, permanent disability and tissue damage can be one if it isn’t treated properly. Inflammation has been linked to a full host of other medical conditions.

Inflammation has been found to contribute to atherosclerosis, which is when fat builds up on the lining of arteries, raising the risk of heart attacks. Also, high levels of inflammation proteins have been found in the blood of people with heart disease. Inflammation has also been linked to obesity, diabetes, asthma, depression, and even Alzheimer disease and cancer. Scientists think that a constant level of inflammation in the body, even if the level is low, can have a number of negative effects. Research shows that diet can reduce inflammation; in theory an inflammation-lowering diet should have an effect on a wide range of health conditions.

Researchers have looked for clues in the eating habits of our early ancestors to discover which foods might benefit us the most. They believe those habits are more in tune to our eating habits with how the body processes and uses what we eat and drink. Our ancestor’s diet consisted of wild lean meats (venison or boar) and wild plants (green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries). There were no cereal grains until the agriculture revolution (about 10,000 years ago). There was very little dairy, and there were no processed or refined foods. Our diets are usually are high in meat, saturated (or bad) fats, and processed foods, and there is very little exercise. Nearly everything we eat is available close by or as far away as our computer and the click of a mouse.

Our diet and lifestyles are way out of whack with how our bodies are made from the inside out. While our genetic make-up has changed very little from our early beginnings, our diet and lifestyles have changed a great deal and the changes have gotten worse over the last 50 to 100 years. Our genes haven’t had a chance to adapt. We aren’t giving our bodies the right kind of fuel, it’s as though we think of our bodies as engines in a jet plane when instead they are like the engine in the very first planes. There are some foods that we are putting into our bodies, especially because we are eating way too much of them, that are affecting our health in a bad way.

There are two nutrients in our diets that have attracted attention, are omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids have been part of our diets for thousands of years. They are components in just about all of our many cells and are important for normal growth and development. Both of these acids play a role in inflammation. In several studies it was found that certain sources of omega 3’s in particular, help to reduce the inflammation process and that omega 6’s will raise it.

Now this is the problem, the average American eats on average about 15 times more omega 6’s than omega 3’s. While our very early ancestor’s ate omega 6’s and omega 3’s in equal ratio, and it is believed that this is what helped to balance their ability to turn inflammation on and off. The imbalance of omega 3’s and omega 6’s in our diets is believed to contribute to the excess of inflammation in our bodies.

So why is it that we eat so many omega 6’s now? Vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and the products made from them, such as margarine, are loaded with omega 6’s. Even many of the processed snack foods that are so readily available today are full of these oils. Based on the best information of the time, was to use vegetable oils like those mentioned above instead of foods with saturated fats such as butter and lard. It looks like the consequences of that advice may have contributed to the increased consumption of omega 6’s and therefore causing an imbalance of omega 3’s and omega 6’s.

You can find omega 6’s in other common foods such as meats and egg yolks. The omega 6 found in meat is the fatty acids that come from grain-fed animals such as cows, lambs, pigs and chickens. Most of the meat sold in America is grain fed unlike their grass-fed cousins who contain less of those fatty acids. Wild game such as venison and boar are lower in omega 6’s and fat and higher in omega 3’s than the meat that comes from the supermarkets where we shop.

You can get omega 3s in both animal and plant food. Our bodies can convert omega 3s from animal sources into anti-inflammatory compounds more easily than the omega 3s from plant sources. Plant foods contain hundreds of other healthful compounds many of which that are anti-inflammatory, so don’t discount them all together.

There are many foods that are high in omega 3s and that include fatty fish, especially fish from cold waters. Of course everyone knows about salmon but did you know that you can also find omega 3s in mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, striped bass, and bluefish. It’s also widely known that wild fish are better sources of omega 3s than the farm raised ones. You can also buy eggs that have been enriched with omega 3 oils. There are several excellent sources of omega 3s in plants that are leafy greens (like kale, Swiss chard, and spinach) as well as flaxseed, wheat germ, walnuts, and their oils.

You can also get omega 3s in supplements (often as fish oil); this source has been shown to be beneficial in some instances. You should take with your doctor before you take a fish oil supplement because it can interact with some medications and under certain circumstances can increase the risk of bleeding. I take a prescribed omega 3 supplement because my doctor had told me that the ones you get in the supermarket or health food store are not pure, they have other additives that do absolutely nothing to help. There are other fats that are contributors to clogged arteries, the “bad” or saturated fats found in meats and high-fat dairy foods, these are called pro-inflammatory.

There are also the Trans fats that are relatively new to the cause of heart disease. These Trans fats can be found in processed convenience and snack foods and can be spotted by reading the labels. They can be identified as partially hydrogenated oils, often soybean oil or cottonseed oil. But, they can also occur naturally in small amounts in animal foods. The thought is that they contribute to the pro-inflammatory activities in our bodies and the amounts we eat today are staggering.

Antioxidants are substances that prevent inflammation causing “free radicals” from over taking our bodies. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables (including beans), nuts, and seeds carry high amounts of antioxidants. Extra-virgin olive oil and walnut oil are very good sources of antioxidants, also. These foods have long been considered the basics for good health, and can be found in fruits and vegetables with colorful and vibrant pigments. The more colorful the plant, the better they are for you, from green vegetables, especially leafy ones, to low-starch vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, to berries, tomatoes, and brightly colored orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

I bet you’re wondering what this has to do with Arthritis. Well, there has been some research on diet and arthritis, mostly focusing on RA. There was a study that looked into a bunch of other studies on diet and RA and found that diets high in omega 3’s had some effect on reducing the symptoms of RA. There was yet another study published in 2008, that found eating omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids in a ratio of 2 or 3 to 1 (a low ratio compared to the 15 to 1 ratio in most people’s diet) decreased the inflammation in people with RA. There was also another study that found taking omega 3 may also allow people to reduce their use of no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). But these and other studies don’t offer enough evidence to prove that there is any particular anti-inflammatory diet that can have a real impact on arthritis symptoms. It doesn’t mean that the diets are harmful; it just means that there may come a day when research may be able to prove their benefits. In the future, diet may be considered one of the many tools along with exercise and medicine that can be used to ease the symptoms of arthritis.

We don’t have to revert back completely to the caveman to eat the anti-inflammatory way to benefit from the anti-inflammatory diet. Just eating a healthful diet that is recommended today is right on track. Our chief strategy should be to balance the amount of modern day foods with the foods of long ago, which were rich in the inflammation reducing foods. Really, all we have to do is replace foods rich in omega 6 with foods rich in omega 3, cutting down on how much meat and poultry we eat while eating oily fish a couple of times a week and adding more varieties of colorful fruits and vegetables, and while whole grains were not a part of our early ancestor’s diet, it should be included in ours. Be sure that it is whole grains and not refined grains because they contain many beneficial nutrients and inflammation-tempering compounds. Researchers have found that eating a lot of foods high in sugar and white flour may promote inflammation, although there is more studying that needs to be done on the subject.

The amounts of knowledge we have on how the body works and how our ancestor’s ate is helping to confirm the old adage: “You are what you eat.” But, there is still more we need to learn before we can prescribe any one anti-inflammatory diet. Our genetic makeup and the severity of our health condition will determine the benefits we get from an anti-inflammatory diet and unfortunately there is doubt that there will be one diet that fits us all.

Also, what we eat or don’t eat is just a small part of the whole story. We are not as physically active as our ancestors and physical activity has its own anti-inflammatory effects. Our ancestors were also much leaner than we are and body fat is active tissue that can make inflammatory producing compounds.

Anti-inflammatory eating is a way of selecting foods that are more in tune with what the body actually needs. We can achieve a more balanced diet by going back to our roots. If you look at the diet of the people of the Bible, you will find that they, like our caveman ancestors, were more active and their diets consisted of much the same things as our caveman ancestors. They also had no choice but to walk everywhere they wanted to go, there was no such thing as cars or trucks. While we have it easier today, our health has suffered greatly from it.

Various Sources of Citric Acid

I bet many of us cannot do without a dash of tang to our food; be it seafood or roasted lamb, it is incomplete without a good squeeze of lemon. Even though lime has a relatively sour taste, it is consumed literally on a regular basis. What makes limes and sour fruits so irresistible? Most of the sour fruits contain varying amounts of citric acid, which makes the fruit more appealing, than those which are low in citric acid. Citric acid, as you might be acquainted, is a weak organic acid that works as a natural preservative and a popular flavor enhancer for most foods and beverages. Citric acid is one of the major compounds which deals with the production of energy in our body.

Citrus Fruits

As is known to most of us, the good old lime and the humble orange are excellent sources of citric acid. Limes and lemons lead the way with the highest concentration of citric acid and if you haven’t yet noticed, you can never have either of them without puckering your face. Besides these, fruits like tangerines, kumquats, pomelos, mandarins, grapefruits and uglis are rich sources of citric acid. However, sweet lime, has comparatively lesser amounts of the acid, as it tends to be more sweet than sour.

Berries

Who would think that berries would be good sources of citric acid? But the fact remains that berries which have a slight tangy taste contain citric acid; however, the concentration of acid in these fruits is lesser as compared to the citrus fruits. Among the berries that contain acid are: strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants, cherries, gooseberries and Indian gooseberry. As the name suggests, the Indian gooseberry is produced largely in the Indian subcontinent and is available in shopping malls.

Other Fruits

You would be surprised to find so many fruit sources of citric acid; however most of these fruits have traces of acid and not concentrated amounts. Tamarind and pineapple have relatively higher amounts of citric acid. Other than that, mangoes, star fruit, plum, grapes, varieties of peaches, pomegranate, apricots, etc., also have some amount of acid. The Asian variety of pear, which has a tangy taste, is also considered to be a citrus source.

Vegetables

You are reading right – vegetables also constitute as sources of citric acid. Tomatoes, known for their tangy taste, top the list of vegetables rich in citric acid. Other vegetables rich in citric acid are broccoli, varieties of carrots, varieties of cayenne peppers, artichokes, lettuce, persimmons and rhubarb. Basically, all you’ve got to remember is that anything with a sour taste is a source of acid.

Other Sources

Under this category you are sure to find lemonades and juices made from the fruits listed above. Besides, you will also find jams and marmalades, sauces, wine and canned food, and not to forget, soda and cola. Pickled olives and canned food have certain amounts of acid as a preservative. Wine, which is made from grapes or any other fruit, is fermented using citric acid crystals which make it a perfect source of the acid.

Enjoyable Sources

Isn’t it fun when you get the benefits of citric acid without having to pucker your face when eating a tangy fruit or vegetable? Kids enjoy biting into fruit candies, and as an adult, I bet even you can’t resist the taste of a tangy candy. Besides candies, you also have cheese which is a fermentation byproduct, as well as sour bread varieties like rye bread and pumpernickel bread. Other than that, you will find some amount of acid in lozenges and jellies.

Dry Fruits

Last but not the least, dry fruits like figs, prunes and raisins have a slight trace of acid. So if you are in the mood for some instant energy, turn to the jars of dry fruits and munch on some raisins or prunes. A word of caution though, go slow on citrus food if you are suffering from a heartburn, as it may have an adverse effect on your body.

The sources listed here may help your body produce energy; however, binging on too much of citrus fruits and vegetables could lead to tooth erosion. Besides, it is advisable that you check for symptoms of acid allergy, before you consume any of these fruits or vegetables. Excessive consumption of acid, especially lemons and limes can cause bones to erode, especially your knees making you wobbly in your later years. Precaution is always better than cure and you can always consume citrus foods in moderation.

Organic Food Or Genetically Engineered Food Anyone?

Organic food is increasingly in demand as discriminate consumers become more aware of just how much common food items are the product of genetic engineering. Did you know that over half of processed foods that the average shopper drops in a grocery cart has some engineered ingredients in the products such as corn that contains a small amount of pesticide in every cell? Or did you know that over 80% of all soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered to withstand heavy chemical exposure from agricultural weedkiller without dying itself? Even foods that claim to be “organic” are not always totally organic in nature. Usually the product may only have a portion of organic ingredients. Only food items that are labeled “certified organic” are truly organic.

Just about everywhere you turn, there are genetically modified foods in favorite drinks, fast foods, packaged frozen foods and even in some of the “organic” versions of the same. So what are health conscious consumers who want to avoid genetically engineered foods as much as possible to do? Other than grow your own organic food supply in your back yard, here are a few suggestions that will help you find safe replacements to the commonly produced food supply.

Choose Certified Organic Foods

When you shop at a grocery store or whole food store, be sure to look for food that carries a label reading “Certified Organic.” This is the best assurance that you are purchasing organically grown foods. Don’t be fooled by simply the word “organic” listed somewhere in a title or on a food label. Only a “Certified Organic” label is the real deal.

Check the Produce Codes

A handy bit of information to help you double check your produce as to whether or not it is organic is to simply check the PLU code that is printed on the small sticker attached to all produce. If the code begins with a 9, then it’s really organic produce. If the code starts with a 4, it is conventionally produced and if the code starts with an 8, it is genetically engineered. While there are only a few varieties of engineered produce sold, this knowledge is helpful in distinguishing between organic produce and the rest.

Patronize Local Farms in Your Area

One of the best places to find good produce is to pick it up from your local farmer’s market or produce stand on the corner. Some local farms also will allow you to pick your own fruits or vegetables straight from the plants. This type of produce generally has a better flavor, usually has less or no pesticide residue than its big store counterpart and is fresher because it has not traveled thousands of miles to end up on your dinner table.

You also get an added bonus of meeting some very fine, local farmers who may divulge some of their farming knowledge to you for free! You may also find unpasturized milk and cheese from area farmers that is delicious and healthy. Even though some of the local foods may not be “certified organic,” you can bet that they are healthier than just about anything you will find in a large grocery store chain.

While it may take a little time investigating your best food sources that are truly organic, it is well worth the effort given the huge rewards to gain in better health and better tasting foods for you and your family.

Finding The Best Muscle Protein Sources

All of the rough and tough bodybuilding training in the world won’t make a difference if you don’t give your body the tools for recovery that it needs to grow some muscle. Let’s examine some of the best muscle protein sources for bodybuilding muscle size and strength gain.

Chicken

The most commonly chewed protein by bodybuilders, all day long, is usually chicken. It can be prepared quickly in a number of ways, and plays well with just about every carb source. Low in fat and high in fairly quickly digestible protein, chicken has been and will continue to be the #1 choice among bodybuilders for delivering amino acids from protein to the muscle groups of the body.

Beef

The muscle quality protein delivered by beef is terrific – but its limitation arrives in terms of fat content. Some bodybuilders who spent years consuming 5 pounds of beef per day ended up with the best physiques on earth – and heart disease by their 40s. Beef can be used sparingly in lean cuts to deliver a very powerful muscle protein source. Stick with 1 to 2 servings per day, and opt for the lean steak cuts of hamburger every time The less fat in your beef serving, the better!

Protein Bars

In recent year, the taste and quality of protein bars has increased tremendously. They used to be dry, ashy bars that required a great deal of chewing to get down. Today’s flavors are of higher quality protein, and come in delicious flavors such as cookies n crème, or peanut butter pretzel. They can be eaten at any time, quietly and privately, delivering 30+ grams of protein when needed. Be careful not to let your protein bars melt if stored in your vehicle. Also, be sure to consume plenty of fiber and drink a lot of water when eating protein bars. They can certainly stop up digestion when consumed too frequently.

Eggs

It’s the king of breakfast foods for bodybuilders, and has been for many decades. A complete protein profile has made eggs probably the best muscle protein source. Preparing them and cleaning up the kitchen can certainly be a pain in the tail, however! When dining out, watch for restaurants that will stack up the price on a per-egg basis… nothing is worse than paying $25 for a 20 egg white omelet, right?

Protein Powder

Following a workout or a long night’s sleep, whey protein is very often your best bet for a fast protein fix which will hit your bloodstream in no time at all. The protein is absorbed into the bloodstream in less than 30 minutes, and allows for a slower digesting protein to be consumed less than 30 minutes later. Whey protein works best during the day, but casein protein should be used at night. It is slower digesting, and will allow your body to enjoy a steady stream of amino acid goodness for the next eight hours. That can’t be beat!

Other Sources

Just about any bean, meat or other food source containing a moderate to high amount of protein can fit the bill when it comes to nailing down your nutritional needs and keeping your muscle fibers fueled and growing.

Eat Raw Food and Improve Your Health

We have eaten uncooked food for millennia. It is only recently however that cooking food has become the norm. Look at all the animals in nature. Do they eat cooked food?No they do not and do they suffer for it?No.

The primary reason for the shift to cooked food was the belief that cooking killed off microbes. So people began cooking their apples, tomatoes, just about everything they ate.

The reality is however that microbes will only set up shop where there is an environment for them to thrive.If we eat cooked food then this toxic environment exists. Take it away with a raw food diet and the microbes will go too.

The process of cooking allows food to bypass the sensory safeguards we have. I challenge you to take a piece of raw meat and give it to a big meat eater and tell then to eat it. I bet you they won’t.

The body treats cooked food like a toxin to be destroyed as white blood cells are deployed to do the job. Heated food is nutritionally inferior so people eat more of it and this leads to obesity.

Cooking damages nutrients. Once food is cooked it can never go back to what it was.

Take protein for example.For it to absorbed into our body it must be broken down into each of it’s amino acids. Well cooking food with fuse all the protein together rendering the food almost useless.

Partially broken down protein is recognised by the body as a toxin to be eliminated. This is not easy for the kidney to do and can result it arthritis and other disorders.

Overheat your toast and look what happens? It turns an ugly black and becomes a toxin known as carcinogen. That’s what happens to any carbohydrate that is heated. The body can only use up to 70% of the energy potential of heated carbohydrates.

As for fats well we all know the problems there, saturated are the worst, clogging arteries and capillaries. Even unsaturated fats when heated turn in to “trans” fats another lethal toxin.

The best water in the world is that found in fruit and vegetables so much more pure than any expensive bottled water. So if you heat a fruit the water is lost. Eat raw fruit and you have the perfect water source.