Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ginger can treat stomach issues, boost immunity and more

(NaturalNews) Few herbs have received as much praise throughout history as ginger, the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale plant. Testimonials of ginger's significant medicinal properties have been recorded as far back as ancient Greece, though it was also mentioned in the ancient literature of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The ancient healing systems of China and India particularly venerated ginger, and often prescribed it to treat fatigue, poor blood circulation and nausea.(1)


Ginger remains the world's most widely cultivated herb, and a large number of studies confirm its numerous health benefits. Like most herbs, almost all of these benefits stem from ginger's many bioactive compounds; it contains few vitamins or minerals in significant amounts.

Research into ginger

Treatment for gastrointestinal complaints -- Ginger has been used for centuries as a home remedy for constipation, bloating, gastritis, gastric ulcerations, indigestion, morning sickness and countless other gastrointestinal issues. A study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology also found that ginger could help the muscles of the stomach contract, thereby boosting digestion.(2) According to a review published in Food & Function, ginger is effective at treating gastrointestinal conditions due to its high concentrations of antioxidants, whose free radical-scavenging abilities bestow the herb with gastroprotective effects.(3)

Rich in anti-inflammatory gingerols -- Ginger is rich in bioactive, anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols and shogaols. These substances are believed to be the reason why so many people with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis experience reductions in pain and improvements in movement after consuming ginger on a regular basis.(4) For example, a study published in the Journal of Natural Products found that crude ginger extracts and gingerol derivatives could prevent joint inflammation.(5) A later study, published in Phytotherapy Research, discovered that ginger could alleviate neuropathic pain in rats.(6)

Boosts immune function -- Ginger is a proven diaphoretic, meaning it can increase perspiration. Though most of us are aware that sweating can detoxify our bodies, German researchers have recently discovered that sweat contains a natural antibiotic named dermcidin that can ward off bacterial, fungal, viral and microbial infections. For this reason, eating more ginger can directly boost our body's immune system and protect us from common infections such as Staphylococcus aureus (a common cause of skin conditions) and Candida albicans.(7)

Natural aphrodisiac and antidepressant -- According to a study published in the African Journal of Biomedical Research, ginger extracts have a positive effect on the reproductive functions of male rats due to its "potent antioxidant properties and androgenic activities."(8) These results confirm the allegations of ancient Chinese and Indian medicine, which claimed for centuries that ginger is a potent aphrodisiac. Moreover, the aforementioned gingerols in ginger are known to possess sedative properties, which might help explain why ginger is also an effective antidepressant that can improve low moods.(9)

Consuming ginger

While ginger root can be eaten raw, it is far more pleasant to consume in tea or powdered form. Ginger tea is an especially popular way to consume ginger and is probably the most accessible way to treat a persistent stomach complaint. Some people like to add honey or lemon to the tea to boost its stomach-settling qualities.



About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.

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In Health,
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 Ways Families on Real Budgets Can Afford Organic Food

( Ed Yourdon, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
( Ed Yourdon, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
By Mike Adams, editor of Natural News
Everybody who cares about their health wants to eat organic, non-GMO foods, but the challenge is being able to afford it, right? Thanks to dwindling economic opportunities and job cuts almost everywhere, discretionary income is getting harder to come by for millions.
At the same time, eating foods laden with toxic pesticides or cancer-causing GMOs costs you a lot more in the long run due to hospital bills and severe health problems. Cancer treatments, after all, aren’t cheap. So what’s the real solution to eating healthy without spending a fortune?
Check out these five outstanding ways to save money on organic and non-GMO food right now:

#1) Buy Organic Food Ingredients in Bulk

It sounds simple but it really works: seek out organic food ingredients in bulk instead of in small packages.
You might be surprised to know that at least half the cost of small-quantity organic foods comes from the packaging and containers. By purchasing those same foods or ingredients in bulk quantities, you’ll find the cost per ounce (or cost per serving) can be drastically reduced, sometimes by as much as half.
This is especially true for organic grains like rice or quinoa, but it can also hold true on fresh produce such as carrots and apples, both of which stay well refrigerated for an extended period of time.

#2) Grow Some of Your Own

Growing some of your own food may be easier than you think. Sprouting, for example, costs almost nothing but provides you with a high-value fresh source of greens for salads, smoothies and more.
Using nothing more than small containers in a window sill or balcony, you can also very easily grow a nice selection of culinary herbs such as cilantro and rosemary, both of which can be very costly on a per-ounce basis at the store.
Full-scale gardening might be out of your reach, but check out container gardening and small-scale hydroponics for some really interesting approaches to growing abundant food on the cheap.

#3) Shop at More Affordable Food Retailers

Whole Foods is infamous for selling food products are shockingly high prices, but organics are available in a lot of regular grocery stores and retailers, too. Shopping there can often save you 30 – 40 percent on fresh produce compared to Whole Foods.
Even Wal-Mart is getting into the organics business and plans to put tremendous downward pressure on organic produce prices. Although the idea of shopping at Wal-Mart might be somewhat horrifying to many Natural News readers, it’s something to at least consider if they offer a nice selection of organics. In a way, “voting” for organics at Wal-Mart will encourage them to carry more organics, squeezing out the conventional, genetically modified food products there.

#4) Buy Local Organics from CSAs or Farmers’ Markets

Local CSA organizations (Community Supported Agriculture) make organics significantly more affordable by sharing farm production with “subscribers” who agree to purchase a box of produce each week (or so).
Farmers’ markets can also provide you with organic food choices that are significantly more affordable than buying the same produce at retail. That’s because farmers’ markets cut out the retail mark-up, allowing farmers to sell directly to customers at reduced prices that benefit both parties.

#5) Combine Your own Ingredients to Make Mixes and Snacks

It’s not very difficult to make your own granola or muesli mixes by combining bulk organic ingredients purchased at affordable prices.
Mixing your own trail mixes, cereals or snacks can save you a bundle while giving you more control over what you get.

Don’t forget the long-term cost savings of protecting your health!

As you ponder the economics of buying organic, non-GMO foods vs. buying cheaper conventional foods, always remember to factor in the long-term costs of cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases caused by pesticides, herbicides and GMOs.
Buying conventional produce may seem like it saves you money in the short run, but in the long run you’re going to spend far more money on hospital bills and medical procedures than it would have cost to buy organic in the first place. Buying organic is investing in your good health, and it’s an investment that pays huge dividends for the rest of your life.
Because remember:
• Organic foods have higher antioxidants
• Organic foods are higher in vitamins and minerals
• Organic foods are not GMO
• Organic foods are not grown with pesticides
• Organic foods support sustainable agriculture

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CONFIRMED! Lab tests show over 30+ popular food products contain GMOs. Are you eating them?


This week headlines about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) splashed all over major media outlets across the country. This media firestorm was in response to a new report released by Consumer Reports regarding GMOs in American food products. This report finally shared what I have thought all along: Non-labeled food products most likely contain GMOs if the ingredients include a corn or soy byproduct. 
Before I get into the shocking results of the report, I want to share with you why I personally try to avoid GMOs in my diet:
  1. There are no mandatory safety assessments required before GMOs are introduced into our food system. 
  2. GMOs have contributed to more toxic pesticide usage since their inception. I want the pollution of our earth to stop. The types of environmental chemicals we are being exposed to are what the President’s Cancer Panel says will destine 41% of us to get cancer in our lifetime.
  3. There are no long term human studies to prove GMOs are safe. 
  4. GMOs are responsible for killing bee colonies. Without bees, we are in big trouble.
  5. I could go on with more reasons, but one in particular is very personal. I used to suffer from some of the worst allergies. I have been hospitalized multiple times because of them. I used to be on several prescription drugs to control them too. When I removed GMOs from my diet, eating a majority of organic whole, unprocessed foods, my allergies vanished and was able to stop taking all my prescription medications. I feel like I have ten times more energy now and feel incredible. For this reason alone, I take avoiding GMOs very seriously.

GMOs are running rampant in our food supply  

Earlier this year, the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center sent out secret shoppers to purchase more than 80 processed food products in New York and Seattle, which included a wide range of products all containing corn or soy ingredients: breakfast cereals, bars, corn chips, corn tortillas, baking mixes and flours, baby formulas, meat substitutes, soy “dairy” products, and tofu/tempeh products. Then, they tested these products to see if they contained any GMO ingredients, and if so, how much. This is important because the overwhelming majority of processed food in America contains corn or soy ingredients, which are also the most prevalent genetically modified crops, yet most major food manufacturers are strongly against labeling GMO ingredients. We are being left in the dark in this country, and virtually the only way to know whether a product contains GMOs is to have it tested – and that’s exactly what Consumer Reports did.  
What I love about their report is that Consumer Reports essentially just slapped a big fat GMO label on a few dozen everyday food products here in America, including many that are considered “Natural” and healthy. The manufacturers of these foods do not want you to know that their products contain GMOs and have collectively spent millions of dollars to fight against labeling laws, depriving us of our right to know. This is outrageous considering that 92% of American consumers want GMO labels on food and are becoming increasingly aware of how prevalent GMOs have become in our food supply. 
Brands Guilty of GMOs

The “Natural” Label:  It’s a sham.

Consumer Reports tested several products that are labeled as “Natural” because they found that the majority of Americans still believe that the “Natural” label means that they are non-GMO. As I’ve written about in the past, the word “Natural” on a product means absolutely nothing in regards to GMOs  - the FDA has failed to define the use of this term which allows food manufacturers to deceptively label their products as “Natural” to trick us into thinking their product is better than the others on the shelf.  Consumer Reports notes that, “Consumers who want to avoid GE ingredients should not rely on products labeled “natural” to avoid GMOs. This label is highly confusing and generally misleading for consumers and Consumer Reports is asking the government to ban its use on food”.  They should - because GMOs are not natural.  As put by the Institute for Responsible Technology:  
“A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans… With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.”

Yet, GMOs remain in “Natural” foods all over the country.  

Consumer Reports found that some “Natural” products contained similar amounts of GMOs as their counterparts without a natural label. For instance, they found substantial quantities of GMO corn or GMO soy in popular “Natural” foods such as Kashi GoLean Honey & Cinnamon hot cereal (owned by Kellogg’s), Utz All Natural Multigrain Tortillas, and Nature Valley Crunchy Oats ‘N Honey Granola Bars (owned by General Mills).

From Consumer Reports – Products guilty of using GMOs (A-Z):

Betty Crocker Authentic Cornbread & Muffin Mix
Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers
Corn Tortillas/Tortilla Flour
Doritos Oven Baked Nacho Cheese
Enfamil ProSobee Soy Infant Formula
General Mills Cocoa Puffs
General Mills Corn Chex
General Mills Kix
General Mills Trix
Gerber Good Start Soy
Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Kashi GoLean (in the process of of getting Non-GMO project verified)
Kashi GoLean Hearty Honey & Cinnamon (Hot Cereal)
Kellogg’s Froot Loops
Kellogg’s Special K Protein Chocolatey Peanut Butter Granola Snack Bar
Krusteaz Natural Honey Cornbread & Muffin Mix
La Banderita Corn Tortillas
Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour
Mission White Corn Tortillas
Mission Yellow Corn Tortillas
MorningStar Farms Chik’n Nuggets
MorningStar Farms Grillers California Turk’y Burger
Nature Valley Crunchy Oats ‘N Honey Granola Bars
Nature Valley Protein Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chewy Bar
Nice! Oats & Honey Crunchy Granola Bar (Walgreens)
Old El Paso Crunchy Taco Shells
Ortega Yellow Corn Taco Shells
PowerBar Performance Energy Chocolate Peanut Butter
Quaker Life Original
Quaker Yellow Corn Meal
Similac Go & Grow Soy Infant Formula
Similac Soy Isomil
Snyder’s of Hanover Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Multigrain Tortilla Chips
Utz All Natural Multigrain Tortillas (some lots tested were non-GMO)
Xochitl Totopos de MaĆ­z (labeling claim “No GMO”) 

See the complete report here and the final results here.


Just because it seems healthy doesn’t make it non-GMO.

Several products that many people think of as healthy (even without a “Natural” label) tested positive for GMOs, like Quaker Life Original cereal, PowerBar Performance Energy Chocolate Peanut Butter bars, MorningStar Farms Grillers California Turk’y burgers, and Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers. Most disturbingly, all soy-based infant formulas they tested (that are not labeled organic) are made with GMO soy, which included Enfamil Prosobee, Gerber Good Start, Similac Go and Grow, and Similac Soy Isomil. If you are looking for the safest baby formula, be sure to check out this full investigation.

Unverified Non-GMO claims: Don’t fall for it.

One of the most shocking things that Consumer Reports uncovered is that Xochitl Totopos de Maiz original corn chips (the non-organic variety) contain on average more than 75% GMO corn, although they claim right on the front of the bag that they contain no GMOs. Consumer Reports tested 6 packages of non-organic Xochitl chips from different lots and found GMOs in every single one. These chips aren’t verified by the Non-GMO project, but they contain the misleading statements “All Natural” and “No GMO” on the package. This just goes to show that because there are no regulations in place to ensure that non-verified claims can be trusted, the only way to be certain that you’re avoiding GMOs is to look for the verified seal or 100% certified organic food. Most of the products that Consumer Reports tested without a Non-GMO Project Verified or Certified Organic label contained GMO ingredients - with few exceptions. Consumer Reports concluded that the “USDA Organic” and “Non-GMO Project” seal is reliable. This is why I do not purchase products that contain high-risk GMO ingredients without a 100% certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified label.  

Tips to use this information and avoid GMOs at the grocery store:

  • Never buy products purely based on “Natural” or “100% All Natural” label claims.  
  • Look for 100% Certified USDA Organic labels on food.
  • Don’t blindly trust a non-GMO ingredient label claim that is not verified with a Non-GMO project seal or verification of 3rd party testing or certified organic.  
  • Read ingredient labels and watch out for this list of common GMO ingredients, particularly anything derived from corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, papaya, zucchini and squash.
  • Do not buy any products that Consumer Reports verified contains GMOs (see the complete list from their report above). 

Consumer Reports supports mandatory GMO labeling

“Despite this consumer demand, there are no requirements for labeling genetically engineered ingredients in processed foods and there is extremely limited safety testing required. Without labeling, there is a lack of transparency in the marketplace and Consumers’ Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, is actively engaged in a campaign to have foods with GE ingredients (also known as Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs) labeled. In the meantime, consumers are unable to make informed purchasing decisions”.

Consumer Reports dispel many of the myths (and lies) circulating about GMOs, such as:

  • GMOs are necessary to feed the world (FALSE)
“it is interesting to note that the world already produces more than enough food to feed all its inhabitants. Hunger, whether in the US and or other parts of the world, is not caused by an insufficient quantity of food being grown. Rather it is caused by disparities in wealth, waste, wars, and market inefficiencies… Looking at the long term outlook, GE foods may actually threaten food availability and increase food costs”.
  • GMOs are required to undergo pre-market safety testing by the FDA (FALSE)
“FDA, which regulates food safety, does not require any safety assessment of the GE crops, but invites companies to provide data for a voluntary safety review. This is in contrast to other major economies such as European Union, Australia, Japan, and China, which all require that a premarket mandatory safety assessment of GE crops is conducted”
  • GMOs are safe for the environment (FALSE)
“GE crops can have a significant negative impact on the environment. Although the industry often claims that GE crops reduce pesticide use, in fact the opposite is true… The vast increase in herbicide use, especially glyphosate (trade name RoundUp), has caused weeds to become resistant to them, and this chemical is losing its effectiveness… In addition, studies suggest that glyphosate-tolerant crops and the use of glyphosate are likely more responsible for the large decline in monarch butterfly populations than are declines in the overwintering habitat in Mexico, since this herbicide use is wiping out most of the milkweed, which the Monarch butterfly depends on for food.”
  • GMOs have been proven safe to eat (FALSE)
“There is global scientific agreement that genetic engineering has the potential to introduce allergens and toxins in food crops, to change the nutritional value, and to create other unintended changes that may affect human health.”

The tide is beginning to turn in this country – I can feel it!  

The more knowledgeable we become about the use of GMOs in our food, the more quickly we will get transparency. When we voice our opinion to these companies, they have proven time and again that they are willing to change – and they have. Consumer Reports noted that, “between testing and publishing of this report, that there were manufacturers who were obtaining or obtained Non-GMO Project Verified certification. This demonstrates an actively changing market that seems to be responding to consumer demand.” There are few things you can do to help keep this moving in the right direction:
  • If you live in Oregon or Colorado, cast your vote in favor of GMO labeling this November. More information can be found on the Oregon Right to Know and the Colorado Right to Know websites.
  • If you know someone who lives in Oregon or Colorado, call them, facebook them, tweet them or go visit them and ask them to cast their vote in favor of GMO labeling.
  • If you live elsewhere, contact your state legislators and tell them you support mandatory labeling of GMO food.
  • Join the Food Babe Army here - it’s completely free and you’ll be the first to know about any new investigations. 
  • Spread the word by sharing this post with everyone you know.
Thank you for your commitment to a more transparent food system.
We have the right to know what we are eating!
(Food Babe)

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In Health,
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

22 Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

Article courtesy of Home Remedy Shop

Kidney stone is a result of collection of calcium oxalate in the kidney. The kidney stones are tiny in size initially, but they can increase to the size of a tennis ball. Sometimes, these stones get accumulated in the ureter, creating troubles in the flow of urine and agonizing pain. Kidney stones, if left not cured on time, may lead to kidney failure.


  • Lack of calcium supplements
  • High blood pressure (uncontrolled)
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Lack of water
  • Heredity
  • Kidney diseases
  • Gout
  • Bowel diseases


  • Unbearable pain in the back and side
  • Pain and inflammation while urinating
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Blood in urine
  • Urge of urinating more often
  • Feeling feverish or feel like puking
  • Unable to sit still
  • Foul smell in urine

Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

In comparison to women, men are at the more risk of developing kidney stones. In order to remove kidney stones naturally, here are some home remedies.
1. Water
In order to remove kidney stone, drink plenty of water. Drinking water will help to pass out the kidney stone.
2. Figs
Figs can be very helpful, when it comes to kidney stone. Take two figs and boil them in a cup of water. Drink boiled fig water in the morning for 1 month.
3. Basil
Take 1 table spoon of basil juice and mix it with 1 tbsp honey. Take this mixture daily in the morning for at least 3 to 4 months.
4. Apple
Apple helps a lot in removing almost all the diseases from our body. Therefore, eat apples twice a day.
5. Watermelon
Watermelon contains 91% of water. Eat it or drink the watermelon’s juice. It is very good in kidney stones.
6. Radish Leaves
Radish leaves are a very good source for providing vitamin B6. Drink 1 cup juice of fresh radish leaves, two times a day.
7. Kidney Beans
Boil 60 gm kidney beans in 4 litres of water for 4 to 5 hours. Now, strain the liquid and allow it cool, naturally. Drink one glass of kidney beans juice in every 2 hours. Do not use this liquid after 24 hours.
8. Horse Gram Powder
Boil half litre of water and add 1 cup horse gram in it. Boil till the mixture reduces to its 1/5 part. Strain the boiled mixture and add 2 tablespoon of crushed pomegranate. Drink this prepared soup, once a day.
9. Lemon Juice
Drink 2-3 glasses of water a day, with some lemon juice in it.
10. Celery Juice
Take raw celery and squeeze fresh juice from it. This fresh celery juice will help to reduce the level of pain and provide relief.
11. Pomegranate
Eat 1 whole pomegranate or drink juice of pomegranate, regularly.
12. Nettle Leaf
Nettle leaf is also known as kidney cleanser. Take 1 cup of hot water. Add 2 tablespoons of dried nettle leaf to it. Steep this water for like 10 minutes and strain it. Drink this nettle leaf tea, 2 to 3 times a day.
13. Apple Cider Vinegar
Consume 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar on the daily basis. You can drink it mixing in water.
14. Cranberry Juice
Consuming cranberry juice on a daily basis can help to dissolve the kidney stone.
15. Horsetail Tea
Horsetail tea is an herbal remedy for kidney stone. Consuming 3 to 4 cups of horsetail tea daily can be very beneficial.
16. Dandelion Root
Consuming 500 mg of dandelion root on the daily basis can be helpful. Take it twice a day.
17. Grapes
Grape is a natural home remedy for kidney stones. Grapes can be a big help in eliminating kidney stones.
18. Lemon and Olive Oil
Take 2 ounces of organic olive oil and mix it with 2 ounces of fresh lemon juice. Drink it right away. After drinking it, drink 12 oz of water (purified). After 30 minutes, consume water, containing juice of half lemon and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. This is a superb home remedy for kidney stone pain. This herbal remedy will dissolve the renal stone in a natural way.
19. Whole Wheat Bread
Consume 2-3 slices of whole wheat bread on the daily basis. It is rich in proteins, nutrients and fiber and reduces the risk of renal stones.
20. Uva Ursi Herb
Uva ursi, also known as bearberry, has been proven to be beneficial in kidney stones. Consume 500 mg of uva ursi herb on the daily basis, twice a day.
21. Magnesium
Consume 300 mg magnesium on the daily basis.
22. Tomato Juice
Add a dash of pepper and salt in a glass of tomato juice and drink it every morning to get rid of renal stones.

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In Health,
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brain 'can be trained to prefer healthy food'

BBC News Health | 2 September 2014 Last updated at 03:53 ET

The brain can be trained to prefer healthy food over unhealthy high-calorie foods, using a diet which does not leave people hungry, suggests a study from the US.

Scientists from Tufts University say food addictions can be changed in this way even if they are well-established.

They scanned the addiction centre in the brains of a small group of men and women.

The results showed increased cravings for healthy lower-calorie foods.

Prof Susan B Roberts, senior study author and behavioural nutrition scientist at the Boston university, said: "We don't start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, wholewheat pasta.

"This conditioning happens over time in response to eating - repeatedly - what is out there in the toxic food environment."

Scientists know that once people are addicted to unhealthy foods, it is usually very hard to change their eating habits and get them to lose weight.

But Prof Roberts' research, published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, suggests the brain can learn to like healthy foods.

They studied the part of the brain linked to reward and addiction in 13 overweight and obese men and women, eight of whom were taking part in a specially designed weight-loss programme.
We don't start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta.”
Prof Susan B Roberts
Tufts University
MRI scan of the brain
Scans of the brain's reward centre showed that food preferences had changed
This focused on changing food preferences by prescribing a diet high in fibre and protein, and low in carbohydrates, but which did not allow participants to become hungry because this is when food cravings take over and unhealthy food becomes attractive.

There is much more research to be done here, involving many more participants and long-term follow-up.”
Prof Susan Roberts

The other five adults were not part of the weight-loss programme.

When their brains were scanned using MRI at the start and end of a six-month period, those following the programme showed changes in the brain's reward centre.

When participants were shown pictures of different types of food, it was the healthy, low-calorie foods which produced an increased reaction.

The study said this indicated an increased reward and enjoyment of healthier food.

The brain's reward centre also showed decreased sensitivity to the unhealthy, higher-calorie foods.

The Boston researchers say that gastric bypass surgery, while solving the problem of weight loss, can take away food enjoyment rather than make healthier foods more appealing.

"There is much more research to be done here, involving many more participants, long-term follow-up and investigating more areas of the brain," Prof Roberts said.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

What does America have for breakfast?

man consuming a banana
Imagine an American breakfast and what comes to mind? Ham and eggs, with hash browns? Pancakes with maple syrup and bacon? The reality tends to be simpler. Cereal and fruit juice have been breakfast staples for generations - though that now seems to be changing.
The breakfast cereal behemoth, Kellogg, announced in July that quarterly global earnings had fallen by a sizable 16% over the year before. That same month, orange juice sales plummeted to the lowest in a decade, according to the Florida Department of Citrus.
Two pillars of the everyday American breakfast, seen for decades as part of a well-rounded morning meal, seem to be slowly losing their appeal to US consumers. But what foods are Americans turning to instead?
One telling sign was the departure last year of the head of Kellogg's US breakfast-foods division, who took up the helm of yogurt maker Chobani Inc. As Kellogg's sales have dropped, Chobani's have skyrocketed to nearly $1bn a year.
According to Harry Balzer, a food industry analyst for market research firm NPD Group, yogurt like Chobani's is a "perfect replacement" for cereal. It's a nourishing dairy product - and it's also portable.
Balzer has been studying changing food trends for more than 30 years. And one thing remains constant, he says: people are looking for products that save them time.
To break into the breakfast market, "you have to give me something new that makes my life easier", he says.

Start Quote

We're telling people you have to eat in the morning so you don't weigh as much”
Andrew BrownUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham
Balzer says the rise of easy, portable items like yogurt, breakfast sandwiches, toastable pastry items, fruit, and breakfast bars have all been responsible for stealing cereal's lunch, so to speak.
"Time-saving for my great grandmother was having eggs delivered to her house for the ham and eggs she was going to make for her family," he explains.
"And by the time it came to my mother, maybe it was about the cereal and whether the kids could make the cereal on their own. And by the time it came to me, maybe it was can we stop and get a breakfast sandwich, an Egg McMuffin," Balzer adds. "And when you get to my daughter… she may be looking at it as, 'Can I just give the kids some yogurt and fruit and a bar for breakfast.'"
Some 80% of Americans still eat breakfast inside the home, according to Balzer. An estimated 10% report they skip the meal entirely - people aged between 18 and 35 are most likely to do this - while another 10% get breakfast elsewhere.
And it's that last 10% that have restaurants in a feeding frenzy. In fact, the only area where the crowded restaurant industry has seen growth in the last decade has been on take-out breakfast, Balzer says.
Takeaway breakfast
McDonald's, which began selling the Egg McMuffin in 1971, is still king with more than 19% of all fast-food breakfast sales in the US - sales that are worth $40bn per year. Burger King gobbles up nearly 3%, according to the Wall Street Journal, but companies like Subway and Taco Bell are entering the fray with items such as the new "waffle taco".
Some consumers are looking for a low-fat, low-calorie breakfast, though, or one that matches their personal definition of what a "healthy" breakfast should be. One of the reasons cereal and orange juice have had the pulp beaten out of them is because of a shift away from sugar and carbohydrates toward yogurt and sandwiches with protein-rich fillings.
Breakfasters in Britain have also jumped on the higher-protein trend with eggs showing a 13.7% rise in consumption in the last year. Eggs' perfect partners, bacon and sausage, have also seen a rise in popularity as cereal sales declined, according to The Grocer.
In both countries, the link between weight loss and breakfast is constantly debated. Every year, conflicting studies are released touting breakfast as a must for fighting obesity, or skipping breakfast as the key to keep weight down.
Andrew Brown, a scientist at the The University of Alabama at Birmingham Nutrition and Obesity Research Center, investigated more than 100 different studies in this area and found there was no clear link.
boiled eggline
Breakfast in the UK
  • Cereal, tea and bread are the three most common breakfast items, though cereal and bread have been in long-term decline
  • Eggs are now being eaten 13.7% more often at breakfast than they were a year ago - they feature in about one in 13 breakfasts - partly because of reports that they help people feel full for longer
  • There has also been a 7.1% increase in bacon consumption at breakfast in the last six months
  • One in three people regularly skip breakfast
  • Consumption of on-the-go breakfast products - taken from home to be eaten elsewhere - was down 9% over the six months from December to May, compared with a year earlier
Source: The Grocer
"There's a halo around breakfast, that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat breakfast," Brown says. "[But] there wasn't a lot of good strong evidence to support it."
What he and his colleagues did find was that American attitudes about breakfast have changed significantly over the last century.
In historical literature from the early 1900s, "you've got these gigantic breakfasts with steak and eggs and oatmeal - so many calories - and it talks about that you must have this energy or you'll waste away, that you need to be able to be fuelled for your day," he says.
"And now we look at the narrative and we're telling people you have to eat in the morning so you don't weigh as much," he says. The theory just wasn't borne out in his study's data.
One thing experts do appear to agree on is the difficulty in determining just what, exactly, Americans do eat for breakfast on any given day. The reason? Most people, when surveyed, tend to lie about it to avoid negative judgement.
According to Balzer, what people say they eat says just as much about them as, say, their choice in fashion. They say "what they want you to hear," he says. "They want you to hear they're eating quinoa."

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In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team