Scientists link food additives to autoimmune diseases

fried chickenA study published in 2015 in Autoimmunity Reviews linking the highly processed “Western” diet to the increased rates of autoimmune diseases is suddenly gaining a lot of publicity, and this is unlikely the first or last time you’ll hear about this plausible connection.

Essentially, autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, and celiac disease, are on the rise and scientists from Israel and Germany hypothesize that modern food additives used in foods and beverages are to blame since they’ve been shown to weaken the integrity of the bowel and contribute to “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability. Examples of additives include gluten, sugars, emulsifiers, and organic solvents.

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Experts reach consensus on “Healthy Eating”

First_aid_sqEarlier this month leading nutrition scientists and medical experts from around the world assembled in Boston for the Oldways Finding Common Ground conference.

Oldways is a nonprofit nutrition education organization, and the experts’ mission was to come to an agreement on what Americans should be eating and to identify tools for disseminating these clear recommendations to the public.

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How you can reduce food waste

carrotAs I’m thinking about what I’m going to pack for my vacation next week, I’m also agonizing over how I can cook or preserve our perishable food before it spoils.

Food waste has been on my mind ever since I learned that 40% of all edible food in the U.S. is wasted with the average American tossing out roughly 20 pounds worth of food each month. Not only is this a waste of money, but the costs to the environment are startling. Plus, it’s almost criminal that this is occurring while half of all Americans don’t have access to healthy, affordable food.

Food waste is a national and global issue and it’s easy to feel helpless on a personal level, but fortunately there is a lot that individuals can do to reduce food waste.

The Natural Resources Defense Council put out some excellent tips we all can live by. From the NRDC:

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WHO declares meat causes cancer. What’s an eater to do?

baconRed meat is the focus of the media this week after the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that eating processed meat causes cancer in humans and that eating red meat likely does, too.

‘Processed meat’ includes meat, usually pork or beef but also poultry, organs, and by-products like blood, that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked or otherwise processed to improve flavor or preservation. Think hot dogs, ham, corned beef, sausages, jerky, and canned meat.

‘Red meat’ includes mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.

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Bittman: “Ignorance is no longer an excuse”

carrotBooks, magazines, the Internet, TV, all of them are full of inaccurate and misleading nutrition information that too often distracts us from what we already know about healthy eating.

Last week I attended the NY Times Food For Tomorrow Conference at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture where Mark Bittman, an American food journalist, spoke very eloquently on national and personal food policy.

You can catch the full 30-minute talk here.

The reason I bring it up in today’s post is because he echoed what many food and nutrition experts have repeatedly said about healthy eating.

“We know what a good diet is now. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. Overconsumption of animals, and especially junk food is the problem, along with our paltry consumption of plants. The evidence that plants promote health is overwhelming. You eat more plants, less other stuff, you live longer and healthier lives. Period.”

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Limit saturated fat, added sugar and refined carbs

First_aid_sqLike most things involving nutrition, there is a lot of confusion about saturated fat and how much of it is safe to eat.

Eating foods high in saturated fats has been shown to raise the level of lousy (LDL) cholesterol in the blood and high levels of LDL have been associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, recent studies have failed to support a connection between saturated fat and CHD, which has resulted in a blitz of eye-popping headlines extricating butter, meat and the like.

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High-fat diet during pregnancy linked to IBD

Dish Platter

Last week I came home to find the most recent copy of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (the official journal of the CCFA) with its shiny cover of an ulcerated organ sitting on my kitchen table. Perhaps not an ideal center piece, but I was glad to see it because I enjoy skimming the abstracts for studies that focus on nutrition and IBD.

The pickings were slim but I did find one original clinical article titled “Maternal High-fat Diet Accelerates Development of Crohn’s Disease-like Ileitis in TNF (mice subjects) Offspring.”

This study suggests that consuming a high-fat diet during pregnancy promotes the early onset of severe Crohn’s disease-like ileitis, at least in genetically susceptible mice.

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“Senza Gluten” has gluten-free Italian, but is it “healthier”?

pastaLast week I learned how to say “without” in Italian when I had dinner at Senza Gluten, a 100% gluten-free restaurant in Greenwich Village.  People on gluten-free diets can devour their fill of bread and pasta senza (“without”, in Italian) worrying about obvious sources of gluten or cross-contamination.

One reviewer described Senza Gluten as a “dream come true for people with celiac.”

You don’t need to ask if the broth contains gluten, if the meat is breaded, or if there are separate fryer baskets for gluten-free items.  Just dig in and enjoy.

I wholeheartedly agree that Senza Gluten is a gem for individuals who cannot eat a speck of gluten without putting themselves in harm’s way.  For everyone else, it’s average.

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Superiority Burger is worth the wait

Dish PlatterSuperiority Burger is a trendy vegetarian burger shack in the East Village and l reckon the only restaurant in NYC with a 30-minute wait for a veggie burger.

The brainchild of Brooks Headley, former pastry chef at a famous NYC restaurant, opened just a few weeks before Consumer Reports released their findings that most ground beef in the U.S. is contaminated with bacteria from feces.

Who can think of better marketing for a beef-less burger that kind of looks and feels like meat then suggesting the real thing contains poop?

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FDA proposes including “Added Sugar” on food labels


Congratulations to the Food and Drug Administration for last week’s proposal to include a percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on food labels of packaged foods.  The %DV is based on the recommendation that no more than 10% of total daily calories should come from added sugar.  Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet so 10% of calories means 200 calories (50 grams or 12 teaspoons).

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