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The Brown Fat Takeaway TIME Magazine Missed

scientist

Full confession: I love to read about brown fat, a relatively newly discovered form of fat that burns calories directly. Brown fat might be the key to weight loss, writes Alice Park, who covers breaking health news for TIME magazine. Last week, she published, Why Brown Fat May Be the Key to Weight Loss. Kudos to TIME for covering valuable research (when others did not.) But there’s a lot more to add. First, some words about brown fat.

The body makes two kinds of fat: white fat, familiar to all, the storage form of energy, and brown fat that is not stored but burned directly as fuel. When triggered by exposure to the cold, brown fat generates heat (white fat just sits there). Hibernating animals produce brown fat to stay warm during the winter. Newborn babies have lots of brown fat, their own little furnaces, to protect against the cold. We used to think that adults could not make brown fat, but now we know everyone can turn white fat into brown when there is need.
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Healthier Vending Machines are a Win-Win for All Hungry Consumers

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You’re running late and you haven’t eaten all day. You’re starving, your blood sugar is tanking, and you need a snack now. But wait! The vending machine is your only option.

Americans have busy schedules. They have less time available to plan and prepare a meal. According to government research, half of all Americans eats three or more snacks per day. Two generations ago, snacking was reserved for working men, growing adolescents, and toddlers with small stomachs. Most Americans ate three square meals a day. Now, meal skipping is common place, especially at breakfast. For teens, snack foods eaten outside of a sit-down meal provide one-fourth to one-third of daily calorie intake.

7 Wackiest Vending Machines: Automated Caviar, Lobster, and Burritos

Enter Healthy Vending Machines

At work, school, and in public places, vending machines are often the only source of food for sale. But food and beverages typically found in vending machines are a problem: high in calories, low in nutrients, and full of unwanted ingredients. Vending machines are seen as a major contributor to the poor food choices that lead to overweight and obesity. Improved access to healthy food is a key strategy in obesity prevention, a matter of great interest to anyone concerned about medical costs.
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Pick a Pocket Full of Pawpaws: Sure to be the Hottest New “it” Fruit

pawpaws

Now is the time for “pickin’ up pawpaws and puttin’ ‘em in your pockets” as the children’s chant goes. The best pawpaws are the fully ripe fruits that have fallen to the ground between mid-August and mid-October, perfect for stuffing your pockets or your face!

Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. and are an indigenous plant to 26 states east of Nebraska, reaching from Florida to New York. The fruit was an important food for Native Americans and early settlers. Pawpaws graced George Washington’s table in colonial days. And even animals aren’t missing out on this delicious treat — squirrels, raccoons, possums, and bears happily feast on aromatic pawpaw flesh.

Pawpaws are large fruits, similar to mangoes or papayas, ranging in color from yellow to green with skin often flecked. When over-ripe, the skin will turn brown like a banana. They have big black seeds that are easy-to-remove, a custard-like texture, and a flavor that is related to bananas, mangoes and melons. They are known commonly as a poor man’s banana.

“It has a sweet, yet rather cloying taste….a wee bit puckery” is the way their taste was described by a botanist of yore.   
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Bye Bye Bloomberg! What NYC Gained Before it Lost its Biggest Health Advocate

With the new year, New York City bid farewell to Mayor Mike Bloomberg after a twelve-year term. Love him or hate him, his achievements in public health were stunning. While others only talked, he managed to act on smoking, obesity, and hypertension—and he placed the burden of fixing them on the industries that profited at the cost of the public’s health.

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The Mayor showed that public health is a priority for local government, not just for the federal government to create health policies from on high. Bloomberg used New York City as a laboratory for public health innovation, spotlighting issues and testing solutions on a relatively small scale.

Here’s a reminder of Mayor Bloomberg’s most significant public health campaigns:


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Detox Diets and Fasts Do Not Work and May Increase Toxins in the Body

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To detox or not to detox? That is the question I had for Gerard Mullin, MD of Johns Hopkins University as he spoke about nutritional detoxification at the 2013 Food & Nutrition Conferences and Expo a few weeks ago.

Dr. Mullin said that toxins are everywhere – in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the things we touch.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a carcinogen, is in plastics, dental sealants, canned food linings, and cash register receipts.

Phthalates, other carcinogens, are found in fatty milk, butter and meats, along with personal care products, detergents, children’s toys, printing inks, and more.

Heavy metals, like arsenic, mercury and lead, are in food, batteries, paints, plastics, and fertilizers.

For the most part, toxins are “endocrine disruptors” that change the way our hormones regulate bodily functions. In animal studies, endocrine disruptors are linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes, and other diseases. What is worse is that, when they work together, the sum of their actions is greater than the whole, and they are stored practically forever in body fat. Whether or not an individual develops a problem depends on genetics, level of exposure, and the quality of nutrients in the diet.
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