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Archive for August, 2010

AKA: Ask FDA to vote NO on Genetically Altered fish: “one (genetically altered) fish, two (genetically altered) fish, green fish is now a blue fish…”

Is genetically altered fish OK? FDA to decide

By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. health officials are set to rule on whether a faster-growing, genetically engineered fish is safe to eat in a decision that could deliver the first altered animal food to consumers’ dinner plates.

The fish, made by Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc, is manipulated to grow twice as fast as traditional Atlantic salmon, something the company says could boost the nation’s fish sector and reduce pressure on the environment…
Click to read more.

AKA says a huge thank you to Susan and to Reuter’s for this story. That said, it makes me want to cry. As I sit here in beautiful Kununurra, Western Australia dining with five others on the barramundi that I caught earlier in the day (I must brag, its 15 pounds!), I think sadly “where is the US going with its food and food policy?” Why do we say we need more – when we eat too much already, and when the “more” not only can NOT guarantee the same nutritional benefits of a wild fish…but is almost unequivocally dangerous. Here in Australia yesterday we discussed how once you let GMO in at all – even for one crop, you can no longer guarantee that any animal, plant, or water source will be unaffected. Will our nursery rhyme soon be “one (genetically altered) fish, two (genetically altered fish), green fish is now a blue fish…” and what does that mean for our health?

What we know of pesticides and herbicides, the ones shown to have links to obesity, hormone disruption, attention disorders and more, is that the manner that many “kill” bugs or improve colors of plants and fruits is that, just like technology above they speed up the growth of the plant or they speed up the lifecycle of the pest so that it dies sooner. Where else in medicine do we encounter the rapid replication of cells…Cancer. What else does speeding up the growth of our cells mean…faster aging?

No matter what gets to you – faster aging, cancer prevention, prenatal health, inappropriate weight gain – if any of these get to you, you should be contacting the FDA to ensure a vote against GMO fish. I know I am..

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Today, at Good Morning America Health, I tackled the issue of back-to-school nutrition.

What’s important to consider is that a) you and your child(ren) “break the fast” to get the body in energy usage mode b) that you aim for a balance of nutrients – some carb+protein + healthy fat (+unlimited veggies) at each eating occasion …too often kids’ breakfasts, snacks are too carbohydrate dense thus setting them up for an energy spike…and crash – I provided some examples to add protein and healthy fat to help balance their eating occasions. And 3) eat organic as often as possible, and definitely avoid chemicals and preservatives in food – there are many great companies making organic options as well as those without added preservatives that are tasty and kid-friendly. And because despite even the best laid plans, life happens, I showed a favorite kids’ nutrient supplement that works as a safety net for ensuring their nutritional needs are met.

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Q: I love ice cream, frozen yogurt, and basically every frozen treat (especially in summer). Are some choices better than others, nutritionally speaking?

A: What do you love about ice cream or frozen yogurt or summer treats — the smoothness, the coldness, the sweetness? Whenever you pick a summer dessert or sweet eating occasion, think about what will satisfy you the most. I recently tasted a greens and avocado popsicle — yes, it had greens, green apple, and avocado puréed and made into a homemade popsicle — and it was so yummy that it blew me away. I’ve had coconut water granitas which I loved because they hydrated me and provided a mellow, not-too-sweet flavor. But I’ve also enjoyed peanut butter chocolate coconut ice cream and said, “there’s nothing better than this!”

So the first rule for making a good decision about a dessert or summer sweet is to figure out what you really want/need.

The second rule should be obvious: portion control. If you practice portion control, you really can have your favorite summer dessert and eat it, too.

And third, keep in mind that quality matters a lot in terms of how your body absorbs nutrients and how “bad” or “good” something is for you nutritionally. Your body knows what to do with food, but chemicals can confuse it — so stick with organic ingredients without GMOs, pesticides, artificial colorings, and no hormones or antibiotics used.

Q: I see grapefruit and celery featured in a lot of diet guides. Can they really help me burn fat and lose weight?

A: We can lose weight in a lot of ways — (more…)

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I was recently asked to comment on supplements for kids so here are my thoughts. I also liked this article from Vitamin Retailer (attached 2 MB PDF)

Today, I read a lot of articles about all of the threats to children’s health, the exponential increases in levels of disease, allergies, intolerances etc and they paint a very bleak picture. Parents send me emails or shoot their hands in the air at lectures all voicing their concerns about this food or that, this nutrient or that, this environmental toxin or that one, the threats of cyber predators or school safety, and so on. It all seems so scary …and yet, I don’t do “Debbie Downer” very well. So, I wanted to write this to say – it’s okay mom and dad (or mom and dad to-be, or mom and mom, or dad and dad, or grandma, or …you get the point) – it’s so okay, at least when it comes to nutrition and environmental toxins. We actually know the issues, we have the solutions, we can make it easy to be healthier, and we even have the tools to heal when health crises arise. So take a deep breath and read on, this should be music to your ears.

Key Principles for Optimal Health for Kids (and Adults):

  1. Give a body what it recognizes. Organic food is just food. The body understands that and it responds beautifully to it. The bonus here is that it means that any food – in its high quality, organic form – can be part of a nutrition plan for optimal health. Want something red, nature gives us apples, beets, cherry tomatoes, red meat – lots of options so you can choose. Want something smooth, nature offers avocado, creamy cheeses, natto, and beans we can puree into a small dip. The body recognizes, anticipates and desires different textures, colors, and tastes. And nature delivers. (more…)

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How does the state of our agriculture today compare to twenty years ago? How similar are our farming issues and healthcare ones? Can they even be separated? Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chuck Benbrook PhD, chief scientist at The Organic Center to discuss the findings in a new provocative report comparing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations in the 1989 NAS/NRC report “Alternative Agriculture” and the June 29, 2010 NAS/NRC report “Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century.” The later report assesses and updates the former, and since Benbrook served as the executive director on  NAS/NRC board that produced the “Alternative Agriculture” report, I find his perspective on the updates particularly insightful.  My interview follows:

AK: Since 1989 what do you see as the biggest changes that have occurred / are occurring in Agriculture?

CB: On the public health side, the dramatic upward trajectory in the rates of obesity and diabetes is triggering a long overdue awakening of interest in health promotion, as opposed to disease treatment.  We are finally beginning to take seriously the notion that what and how we grow food, and what we eat, impacts health outcomes.  The growing frequency and severity of reproductive and neurological problems – especially autism, ADHD, and other learning disabilities in children – have focused more science on the impacts of chemicals in food.  Pressure will continue to grow on farmers, the food industry, and government to clean up the food supply.  About time. (more…)

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Energy bars, Protein bars, Snack Bars – AKA Discusses Bar Mania with ABC LA’s Food Coach Lori Corbin (8/11/10 at 6:50 am and 11:50 am PST)

Last week, Lori asked me for my take on bars – specifically what people should look for, what do I look for (what’s AKA?) and what are some of the traps that we can encounter with bars. See my thoughts below as well as a blogpost for the Huffington Post Living section who also asked me for my thoughts – seems a lot of people are wondering how to sort through the bars.

  1. When is a bar good for a “snack” versus a “meal replacement”?
    AKA: In my practice, I actually don’t distinguish between a meal or snack but rather use the term ‘eating occasion.’ Why? Too often people get caught up in the thinking that a snack means small, fun, grab-n-go…and a “meal” means large and has to happen at set times.  Our body doesn’t think this way – our body is like a race car, it wants “pit stops” meaning that about every 3 hours we need a “pit stop” for refueling and choosing how large / small based on appetite, availability, and activity levels.
  2. What’s the right amount of nutrients for a bar? (more…)

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VIDEO: GMA Health for Huffington Post Living’s “Total Energy” Makeover

Despite a crazy work and life schedule, Marissa always managed to get her workouts in. She loves yoga and finds so much peace of mind and balancing energy from her home practice and classes at Strala with Tara Stiles. That said, when I talked to Marissa a few months ago, we realized that she’d cut back on her cardio (which she cites as a major stress reducer in her life) and she wasn’t “having any fun” with her workouts. A dancer as a kid, Marissa remarked “now get me dancing – I’d leave work for that!” and when I mentioned boxing her eyes lit up. So I took these remarks to heart and talked with my team at the Huffington Post Living section and they said – we need Pooja! Pooja Mottl of Mindful 21 has taken Marissa under her wing and is getting her to twist, punch, and dance all to work on toning the outside while getting Marissa to have fun, laugh and test her body as she tries new moves. Meeting Pooja is inspiring – she’s calm, funny, and knows her stuff! She’s not going to scream at you ’til you cry but rather takes a mindful approach – helping each person figure out what’s right for them – mentally and physically. She’s the perfect addition to Marissa’s energy makeover team. Now, Marissa isn’t leaving work early – but she’s fitting in her sessions with Pooja, doing her homework, and the results are the biggest smile, confidence that shows in the way she’s carrying herself (thanks to Pooja’s posture moves and Marissa’s continued yoga efforts), and sustained energy that helps her be present for her job, her son, her friends and her suitors!

What can we all learn from Marissa’s progress this month? Sometimes just going through the fitness motions isn’t enough – we need to add some fun, personalize it to what we like, but also test ourselves and our bodies with new activities. You can follow Pooja, Tara and the rest of Marissa’s energy makeover team on the Huffington Post Living section to find tips that you can try at home too.

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