Changing counts reveal inexact science of calorie labels by Candice Choi for APNews.com, 8 February 2020. 

Almonds used to have about 170 calories per serving. Then researchers said it was really more like 130. A little later, they said the nuts may have even less.  Calorie counting can be a simple way to help maintain a healthy weight — don’t eat and drink more than you burn. And the calorie labels on food packaging seem like an immutable guide to help you track what you eat. But the shifting numbers for almonds show how the figures printed on nutrition labels may not be as precise as they seem.

Conducted by government researchers with funding from nut producers, the studies show the inexact method of determining calorie counts established more than a century ago. The widely used system says a gram of carbohydrates and a gram of protein each have 4 calories, while a gram of fat has around 9. Companies can also subtract some calories based on past estimates of how much of different foods are not digested.

But based on anecdotal comments, researchers suspected more of the nutrients in nuts may be expelled in the bathroom than previously estimated.  “If they’re not digested, then maybe the calorie content is not correct,” said David Baer, a co-author of the nut studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funded the research along with nut producers like the Almond Board of California.

A few years later, in 2016, another study by Baer and colleagues also looked at the effects of food processing. They found cooking and grinding helped break down cell walls in almonds, freeing more calories for digestion. Roasted almonds had slightly more digestible calories than raw almonds. When the nuts were ground up into almond butter, nearly all the calories were digested.

The almond studies are among several Baer has co-authored on the digestibility of nuts. Another last year was funded by the Global Cashew Council and found cashews had fewer calories than estimated.

Despite his findings, Baer said he thinks the calorie counts used for most other foods are fairly accurate. And even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lets companies use different methods to determine calorie counts, the agency says products aren’t supposed to have more than 20% more calories than what’s stated on labels.

Read more:  Changing counts reveal inexact science of calorie labels


How Google Got Its Employees to Eat Their Vegetables by Jane Black for OneZero/Medium, 5 February 2020. The tech giant is engineering a way to encourage its employees to eat healthier — and it might just help the rest of the country

For some time now, Google has been quietly adding a (virtuous) new wrinkle to its food program: It’s no longer enough just to keep its employees happy; it’s trying to make them healthy, too. Over the past five years, the company has taken a typically Google-ish approach to the food it serves — methodical, iterative — to create the largest and most ambitious real-world test of how to nudge people to make healthier choices at mealtime. The campaign isn’t changing just the food itself, but how it’s presented. Google’s tactics include limiting portion sizes for meat and desserts and redesigning its premises to lead its “users” to choose water and fruit over soda and M&M’s. The goal, says Michiel Bakker, Google’s director of global workplace programs, is to make the healthy choice the easy choice and, as in the case of Tina Williams, the preferred one.

The results, though limited, are impressive. In the kitchens of Google’s New York offices alone, which feed more than 10,000 people daily, the company serves 2,300 breakfast salads every day, up from zero two years ago. Seafood consumption jumped 85% between 2017 and 2018, from 13 to 24 pounds per person, even though the company focuses on more sustainable but less popular species such as trout, octopus, fluke, and shellfish. While soda consumption has remained flat at an average of 20 cans per person per year, water consumption has jumped sharply. In 2018, New York Googlers drank nearly five times more bottled water than bottled sugary drinks — and that doesn’t include the water drunk in cups and free reusable water bottles that Google provides to cut back on its use of plastic.

Google’s strategy, in contrast, is simple, subtle, and replicable.The small changes make big differences. The plates on the buffet line are only eight to 10 inches wide, versus a standard 12 inches, which effectively limits serving sizes. Vegetables always come first on the line, so by the time you get to the meat or the snickerdoodles and chocolate tarts, there’s not much space on your plate. “Spa water,” bobbing with strawberries or cucumbers or lemons, is everywhere — and deliberately more accessible than sugary drinks or even bottled water. A burrito at Google weighed in at about 10 ounces — 60% smaller than the whopping one-pound nine-ounce log filled with similar ingredients that I picked up at a Chipotle near my home in Washington, D.C.

In other words, it’s a vision of what sensible eating could look like.

Read more:  How Google Got Its Employees to Eat Their Vegetables


Milk: These Options Are Better for You Than Cow’s Milk by Ginger Vieira for InsulinNation.com, 4 February 2020.

Regular milk makes glucose management harder and can result in weight gain while other great low-carb sources of calcium are available.  If you have any type of diabetes, there’s really no reason to be drinking cow’s milk on a daily basis. Simply put, cow’s milk contains about 10 more grams of sugar per 8 ounces than the best-unsweetened alternatives.

The highest-carb milk options: 12 to 25 grams per 8 oz

    • Cow milk (2%) — 12 grams carbohydrate
    • Goat milk (whole) — 11 grams carbohydrate
    • Rice milk (regular) — 23 grams carbohydrate
    • Oat milk (original) — 25 grams carbohydrate

The lowest-carb milk options: 1 to 2 grams per 8 oz

    • Almond milk (unsweetened, plain or vanilla) — 2 grams carbohydrate
    • Cashew/Almond milk (unsweetened, plain or vanilla) — 1 gram carbohydrate
    • Flax milk (unsweetened, vanilla) — 1 gram carbohydrate
    • Coconut milk (unsweetened, original or vanilla) — 1 gram carbohydrate

It’s not clear that we need as much calcium as is generally recommended, and it’s also not clear that dairy products are really the best source of calcium for most people,” explains the Harvard School of Public Health.  “While calcium and dairy can lower the risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer, high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer.”

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine echoed similar and additional concerns.  Research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit for bones. A 2005 review published in Pediatrics showed that drinking milk does not improve bone strength in children,” reported the PCRM. 

Read more:  Milk: These Options Are Better for You Than Cow’s Milk


Losing Weight by Eating More by Kaki Okumura for Medium/Lifestyle, 14 July 2019. 

Nutrient-dense, filling, delicious, and helped me lose weight — Edamame became my superfood.

I still add it to many of my dishes if I get the chance. It doesn’t matter if it’s in rice, noodles, or bread, Japanese or Western food, hot or cold. Here are a few ways I add edamame into my diet:

Edamame is an excellent source of soy protein, plant fiber, antioxidants, folate, and vitamin K. Its health benefits include the potential to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It can help to boost your metabolism, transform your skin, and improve your mood. On more practical terms, it’s also amazing because it fills me up, I feel good when I eat it, and it’s delicious.

Read more:  Add edamame to everything


I Tried the OMAD Diet, and I Loved It by Ross Wollen for ASweetLife.com, January 2020. 

What is OMAD?  One Meal a Day (OMAD). That’s right, I eat once a day. One large meal, and then no food for the next 23 hours.  I don’t know who coined “OMAD,” but the diet has clearly grown out of the larger trend of intermittent fasting, which asks its participants to skip meals to lose weight and otherwise improve health.

To put it briefly, many see intermittent fasting as a terrific way to restrict calories and lose weight that may also have a host of extra benefits, including autophagy, which is described as a self-cleaning function that that can reduce the likelihood of disease and help reset metabolic dysfunctions.

OMAD amplifies this simple diet by asking you to skip food for 23 hours.

How do you OMAD?  It couldn’t be simpler: you eat whatever you like for one hour per day. That’s just about it. You don’t really need any other rules, and part of the attraction of the diet is its simplicity.

I’ve added a bit of complexity to this by maintaining my very low carbohydrate diet, which I find is the very best way to maintain healthy and steady blood sugar levels.

Why Does it Work?  OMAD fundamentally works due to caloric restriction. It’s very difficult to eat an excess of calories if you’re only having one meal. Most people will naturally limit themselves because they’ll feel stuffed before they can put down an entire day’s worth of calories.

Blood Sugar Control  I didn’t choose OMAD because of its glycemic impact, but now that I’m on the diet, I don’t think I’ve ever had such exquisite blood sugar control.

The less often you eat (and the less often you take a bolus of rapid insulin), the fewer opportunities you have for blood sugar spikes or hypos. It’s true that one extremely large meal loaded with fat and protein can have a tricky blood sugar impact, but once that meal is over, I end up spending a huge percentage of my day with very stable glucose.

Is OMAD safe for Type 1 Diabetes?  As long as a person with Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes uses the correct amount of basal insulin, OMAD can be done safely. Please consult for health care professional with any questions you have before trying.

Read more:  I Tried the OMAD Diet, and I Loved It


Taking Zinc Can Shorten Your Cold. Thank A 91-Year-Old Scientist For The Discovery by Allison Aubrey for Shots Health News from NPR.org, 10 February 2020.

The common cold is a top reason for missed work and school days. Most of us have two or three colds per year, each lasting at least a week.  There’s no real cure, but studies from the last several years show that some supplement containing zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40% — depending on the amount of the mineral in each dose and what it’s combined with.

The back story dates to the 1960s from the work of Dr. Ananda Prasad, a 91 year-old doctor who, decades ago, had a hunch that led to a better understanding of zinc’s role in immunity.  Eventually, in the 1970’s, the National Academy of Sciences declared zinc an essential mineral, fundamental to many aspects of cell metabolism. NAS established a recommended daily allowance, which is the daily amount that’s sufficient for good nutrition. (Most of us today get plenty of zinc from foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains and fortified cereals.)

Most recently, a meta-analysis published in 2017 by Harri Hemilä at the University of Helsinki concludes that 80 to 92 milligrams per day of zinc, given at the onset of cold symptoms, reduced duration of the common cold by 33%.

The study finds that two different zinc compounds — zinc acetate and zinc gluconate — are both effective. And there’s no evidence, the researchers say, that increasing those doses of zinc (to 100 milligrams per day or more) leads to any greater efficacy.

“it’s quite difficult to instruct patients,” says Hemilä, the author of the meta-analysis. That’s because zinc cold formulations sold at drugstores often contain multiple ingredients that can undercut the zinc’s effectiveness. For instance, the lozenges “should not contain citric acid,” Hemilä says, because it binds with the zinc in a way that keeps the mineral from being released.

Read more:  Taking Zinc Can Shorten Your Cold


How Physically Active is Your State? New Data From the CDC by Jimmy McDermott and Ursula Biba for diaTribe.org, 10 February 2020.

Data from the CDC show that 17% of people in Colorado self-report an inactive lifestyle, up to 48% of people in Puerto Rico.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on adult physical activity by state, showing rates of physical inactivity across the US.

    • Colorado, Washington, Utah, Oregon, and DC showed the lowest rates of physical inactivity, between 15% and 20%.
    • States with the highest rates of inactivity (30% and over) included Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
    • Regionally, physical inactivity was the highest in the South at 28%, followed by the Northeast at 26%, the Midwest at 25%, and the West at 21%.
    • Racial and ethnic minorities show disproportionately higher levels of physical inactivity across the country. Frequency of physical inactivity was highest in Hispanics at 32%, followed by non-Hispanic blacks at 30%. Non-Hispanic whites showed a lower rate of 23%. This difference demonstrates inequalities in social determinants of health and the socioeconomic roots of physical inactivity (and subsequently, obesity and other related metabolic conditions).

Read more:  How Physically Active is Your State?

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