For The Love Of Food

by | Jul 30, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week, the science behind why different diets work for different people, how the nutritional value of our produce is declining and why Coca-Cola is being sued for breaking the Jelly Bean rule. Also, new research about the role of personal relationships in health and another benefit of drinking alcohol.

Oh, and the BS of the week was so bad I deleted it. Didn’t want to waste your time when there were so many good things to read.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love of Food

by | Mar 12, 2010
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Texas & Tea

Before I list off my favorite food and health articles of the week, I have a few announcements to make.

First, I’m leaving today for Austin, TX for the South By Southwest conference. If you’re going to be out there feel free to email or tweet me, I’d love to meet you. While I’m gone we’ll have a farmers market update from a good friend of mine in Portland, OR. I hope you enjoy it!

Also, I’m thrilled to announce that Samovar Tea Lounge is offering a special 20% discount for Summer Tomato readers on all online purchases from now until March 31. If you are familiar with Samovar, you know how awesome this is. If you don’t know about Samovar but love tea or are looking to explore it further, this is a great opportunity to indulge a little. They also have some great gift sets if you’re looking to get your Mother’s Day shopping out of the way early.

Discount is applied at checkout with coupon code: summertea

Links of the week

Enjoy and have a lovely weekend.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

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30 Ways To Slow and Prevent Aging

by | Nov 18, 2009

Darya PinoToday is my 30th birthday and a perfect time to reflect on life, the universe and everything.

Despite being female and thus held to tough and often unrealistic physical standards, hitting the end of my third decade doesn’t cause me anxiety about either my appearance or place in the world.

In my experience, age is not an amount of time but a state of mind. As a child I always wanted to be a grown up, so I acted like one. It freaked my parents out sometimes, but that’s just how I was. In my mind, I still feel pretty much the same in that regard. I love to work hard and I thrive in positions of responsibility. Since both these traits get more important with age, I have actually enjoyed stepping into the adult role I’ve always felt I belonged in.

But that’s only one part of me.

In many other ways I’m as juvenile as ever. If you spend much time with me on Twitter (@summertomato) you’ve probably noticed I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy. I blame my dad for that one. I’m also still shocked every time I hear that friends my age are getting married and having children. In my brain we’re not nearly old enough for that yet! But in reality, it is my friends who are normal and I’m the outlier.

Oh, and did I mention I’m still in school? Up until a couple years ago I carried a backpack with me everywhere, for better or for worse.

Darya's GunsAll these things give me a sense of agelessness, so it is hard to think of this birthday as anything but another day to do things I love. But part of my peace of mind certainly comes from the fact that I’m in pretty good shape physically–probably the best of my life. And at 30 this is definitely something to be proud of.

Summer Tomato readers know I attribute my good health almost entirely to my eating habits. I also spend a good amount of time in the gym, though I don’t workout nearly as much as I used to. But healthstyle extends to more than just diet and exercise.

Here I’ve compiled my favorite 30 habits to slow aging and keep you young in more than just your heart.

30 Healthstyle Tips To Keep You Young

  1. Be happy The physical damage caused to your body by stress has only recently become appreciated by the scientific community. Fill your life with things you love and get rid of almost everything else. Practice stress relieving activities like meditation and exercise, and learn to appreciate joy when you find it. Happiness does a body good.
  2. Eat vegetables There is good evidence that oxidative damage caused by toxins and metabolism contributes to the aging process at a cellular level. Foods (but not supplements) high in antioxidants seem to protect us from oxidative stress.
  3. Avoid sugar Sugar is a direct cause of aging and significantly reduces lifespan in organisms from yeast to primates. Not by a small amount either.
  4. Moisturize The appearance of your skin is largely dependent upon moisture. Help it out by using moisturizers to keep your skin soft and hydrated. Work with a professional to determine what type is best for you.
  5. Don’t raise your eyebrows Credit my mother for teaching me this one, it has been a lifesaver. As a kid she used to warn me about raising my eyebrows, saying it would give me wrinkles and I’d regret it. I thought she was crazy, but still learned to express myself without much forehead crinkling. As a result I have far fewer forehead lines than some people years younger than me.
  6. Sleep For me the most important determinant of how I look (and feel) on a given day is how much sleep I get. Seven hours is my ideal, but everyone is different.
  7. Eat fish Some evidence suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are particularly beneficial to the skin.
  8. Wear sunscreen I love the sun and spend as much time in it as possible, but I never walk out the door without sunscreen on my face. UV radiation from the sun damages your skin and promotes aging.
  9. Don’t smoke Smoking is one of the easiest ways to look older than you really are and shorten your life at the same time. Avoid both primary and secondary smoke like the plague.
  10. Step out of your comfort zone Mental exercise seems to be one of the key elements of quality aging, but this doesn’t mean you should sit around all day doing crossword puzzles. Neuroscientist and cognitive aging specialist Dr. Adam Gazzaley suggests going out of your way to challenge yourself mentally, doing things like traveling and learning new languages even over the age of 60.
  11. Take vitamin D Some research suggests that vitamin D may be particularly important in slowing the aging process. The jury is still out on the value of vitamin D supplements for aging, but they seem to have enough other benefits that it’s worth the investment.
  12. Eat fruit Like vegetables, fruits have an enormous amount of antioxidants and help with hydration. Vitamin C in particular is thought to benefit skin.
  13. No foundation or powder makeup Generally I avoid putting any makeup directly onto my skin. I realize I have a very flexible work environment and this is not possible for every woman, but skipping the makeup does help maintain your skin’s hydration and elasticity. I do wear makeup occasionally, maybe once or twice per week. But in general I find that mascara and lip gloss are enough for most situations.
  14. Hydrate Your skin is very sensitive to water levels. Stay hydrated by sipping water and eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
  15. Whiten teeth I know this isn’t something you can find at the farmers market, but when you drink as much coffee and red wine as I do, minor (and admittedly superficial) fixes like teeth whitening can go a long way. If you don’t believe me, try and remember the last time you saw a 20-year-old with yellow teeth….
  16. Wear sunglasses If you’re a happy person (and I know you are), your wrinkles will most likely be caused by smiling and show up predominantly around your eyes. Block out extra sun (and look super cool) by always wearing sunglasses when you go outside.
  17. Eat beans and lentils Legumes are a fabulous source of minerals that can help keep your skin hydrated and looking young.
  18. Tea Afternoon tea time is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve ever made. Not only is tea full of antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds, a midday break can be just what the doctor ordered to sip away stress.
  19. Cardio I’m not the biggest believer in cardio exercise for weight loss, but it is still important for vascular health. Not to mention how awesome you feel after a good session. Cardio doesn’t need to kill you, but you should do it regularly.
  20. Strength training Building strong, toned muscles is one of the most effective ways to look younger than your years. Ask anyone who looks fabulous and they’ll swear by strength training. A little goes a long way.
  21. Eat intact whole grains Intact grains (not fake “whole” grains that are ground into flour) are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber. They are also perfect fuel for those killer workouts.
  22. Olive oil It is hard to think of something more versatile, healthy and delicious than olive oil. It breaks my heart that dietary fat got such a bad rap the past few decades, since the benefits of healthy fats like olive oil are innumerable. Fat isn’t just “not bad” for you, it’s essential.
  23. Kill your television We all have things we enjoy watching (I’m partial to NBA championship teams), but if it takes up a significant amount of your time each week (>5 hrs) it may be time to reevaluate. How many years of your life do you really want to spend on your couch?
  24. Don’t stuff yourself Cutting back on calories is the single most effective way to slow aging and extend life. I don’t advise starving yourself, but it’s a good idea to avoid overeating in any situation.
  25. Eat nuts Nuts are the perfect snack food and are filled with anti-aging fats, vitamins and minerals. They are also great for suppressing appetite–just don’t eat more than a handful.
  26. Avoid dairy Studies of aging skin have shown that milk and milk products are associated with more aging and wrinkles.
  27. Avoid processed meats Processed meats are associated with many different health problems in humans. No need to get too hung up on this, but you may not want to eat deli meat every single day if you want to stay young.
  28. No processed carbohydrates Just like sugar, processed carbohydrates are a direct cause of aging and disease. I eat these things occasionally, but don’t let it happen too often.
  29. Coconut oil Fats come in all different shapes and sizes, and I try to incorporate a good mix of all of them. Medium-chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil are starting to be recognized as important by researchers, but the evidence is limited. Coconut oil is also a healthy source of saturated fat for vegetarians. I always use coconut oil when cooking Southeast Asian food.
  30. Red wine Red wine has a powerful anti-aging compound in it known as resveratrol. Though it is unlikely that the dosage of resveratrol in red wine is high enough to impact lifespan, drinking alcohol in moderation is also associated with decreased risk of heart disease and other vascular problems. Cheers!

Do you have any anti-aging secrets?

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7 Day Detox and Weight Loss Plan

by | Jul 6, 2009
Vegetables

Vegetables

I don’t know about you guys, but I had a crazy weekend. In a very uncharacteristic move (I usually work weekends) I found myself at 5 different parties over a 3 day period. Four of these parties involved food.

I did my best to stick with my plan to eat healthy, and mostly I did, but the sheer volume and frequency of eating and drinking was a bit too much and by Sunday night I felt pretty gross.

It is natural to occasionally let your healthstyle slip, and there’s no need to get upset about it, but it is important to get it under control as quickly as possible. This is the essence of weight maintenance–something we all need to master if we want to stay healthy.

I never follow strict schedules or diets, but there are a few rules I keep in mind when I want to get my health and weight back into my comfort zone. These things work best for me, but please let us know what works best for you in the comments section.

10 Weight Loss Rules

  1. Cook at home The most important thing for me when eating healthy is cooking for myself. Eating small portions of healthy food is nearly impossible at restaurants. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner this week will be made from scratch from the beautiful veggies and fruit I got at the farmers market on Saturday.
  2. Small portions I will be cooking and serving myself smaller portions of food this week, approximately 80% of the volume I would normally eat. I will cut down on everything in general, but most of the calorie reduction will come from starchy carbohydrates and protein. Basically, vegetables (and the olive oil I cook them in) are the only foods I will not restrict.
  3. No dessert I didn’t mention cutting out sugar in point #2 because I don’t consider sugar a regular part of my diet. However, normally I allow myself to indulge in dessert for special occasions and other events. This week I will politely turn down any offers of extra calories.
  4. No carbs Flour-based products, also not a staple of my diet, are off the table this week too. No bread at all in any form, no pasta, noodles, white rice, etc. I will still eat whole grains like my morning muesli and the occasional addition of brown rice or quinoa to salads and dinners, but these servings will be smaller than usual.
  5. Less protein Many self-proclaimed fitness gurus will disagree with me on this one, but I find that my optimal protein intake for weight loss is not as high as you might think. I have nothing against protein as a weight loss tool (especially when greater weight loss is necessary), but protein adds a lot of calories to your diet compared to vegetables. So really this rule is more about portion control than protein itself. For the next few days my protein will come from lentils, nuts, whole grains and fish. Servings will be about 3 oz. I will still be careful to get enough protein and fat in each meal so I don’t increase my appetite.
  6. No alcohol Alcohol can be healthy, but it can also impair your judgment about what and when to eat. It also has quite a few extra calories and can create hormone imbalances when consumed regularly. I’m going to skip the wine with dinner, at least until Friday.
  7. Daily workouts I always try to work out every weekday, but excuses come easier on some days than others. No excuses this week: weights and cardio Monday through Friday. I may even try to work in a hike or some other physical activities next weekend.
  8. Stay hydrated People will argue about how much or how little water is really necessary, but none of this changes the fact that water makes me feel better. Water helps me control my appetite, feel more awake and have better workouts. I always carry around my CamelBak, but this week I will try to fill it up a little more often.
  9. Enough sleep For me, the hardest healthy habit to maintain is getting enough sleep. I usually stay up too late and get up early, but this can really take its toll over time. For the next several days I will try to keep myself on something of a regular sleeping schedule.
  10. Be good next weekend I have found one of the more futile activities is eating right and being healthy all week then completely throwing all self-restraint out the window on weekends. To really recover from a bad weekend, I need a full 7 days of self-control and good behavior. In essence this will translate into two good weeks, since the inertia from one healthy week can sustain me until the following weekend. The only real barrier is that first weekend, filled with parties and dinner invitations. It’s fine to go out with friends, but skip the fried mac and cheese and hold it together for just a few more days.

What are your favorite tips for getting your health back on track after a wild weekend?

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For The Love of Food

by | Jun 26, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me for A Really Goode Job! I ended up with over 100 votes in just a couple days, which is very flattering. The top 50 were announced this morning and I was not among them. I guess my other two jobs will have to suffice for now. ;)

This week around the internet I found several reminders of why heart disease is not the only reason to worry about excess body weight and how industrial food is a threat to your health. I also discovered a fantastic article about how psychological barriers prevent us from being healthy.

B.S. of the week, once again, goes to Diets in Review for promoting a new “tomato pill.” Because eating real tomatoes for health is SO 1909!

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I am also experimenting with the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious, and would love to share articles with you there.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am currently accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any healthy eating and exercise tips.

For The Love of Food

What great articles did you read or write this week? Leave your links in the comments.

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Should Doctors Recommend Wine To Patients?

by | Jan 15, 2009

Today I have an article out in Synapse called “Wine May Increase Heart Healthy Fats in the Blood.” I am making an executive decision that it is too science-y for this blog, so instead I would like to open a discussion about how doctors should treat information like this.

For you uber-nerds (like me), here is the PubMed link to the original paper.

Let’s start with some excerpts from my article:

  • Moderate alcohol consumption has long been known to be protective against mortality from coronary heart disease, but the biological mechanism of this effect is unknown. A new analysis suggests that drinking wine may alter the composition of healthy fats in the blood, mimicking the beneficial effects of seafood consumption and conferring protection against heart disease.”
  • “The beauty of this finding is that the improvement in fatty acid profile from wine consumption seems to be clinically relevant. Based on the current consensus, small dietary changes in fatty acid consumption have a large clinical effect, so a 38% to 50% increase in EPA levels among moderate wine drinkers is noteworthy. Similar levels of improvement in lipid profiles from studies of fish consumption have shown considerable benefit for cardiovascular outcome.”
  • “Thus, the present finding may offer dietary intervention as a possible method of cardiovascular protection, particularly when combined with increased omega-3 consumption.”
  • “In the present study, the difference between participants in the low fatty acid group who did not drink and those in the high fatty acid group who drank the most was an 83% increase in blood EPA, a change associated with a 50% to 75% reduced risk of heart attack. Such a dramatic difference represents a useful alternative to fish consumption for those who may not have access to seafood for whatever reason.”
  • “Thus, increasing both dietary omega-3 fatty acids and wine consumption may be helpful to protect against cardiovascular events. Plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in walnuts, soy, flax and canola oils, and one gram per day is the current recommendation for heart protection. “Moderate” alcohol intake is one glass per day for women and two for men.”

From a clinical perspective, the evidence that alcohol provides a tremendous protection against mortality from heart disease is undeniable. It is thought to work by both raising good HDL cholesterol and reducing blood clotting.

This effect is not limited to red wine, all spirits elicit substantial protection.

Despite these benefits, there are also a number of obvious reasons to avoid alcohol, particularly excessive consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with addiction, liver disease, stroke and can cause accidents and other behavioral problems.

Notably, benefits similar to those seen with alcohol can be conferred by increasing exercise amount or intensity.

If you want to experience the benefits of alcohol you need to use it in moderation, which is 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men, or possibly slightly more. More than one drink per day for women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, however this effect is attenuated by sufficient folate intake.

Doctors have been recommending increasing exercise for decades, but only a small percentage of the population makes an effort to get enough to make it as valuable against heart disease as alcohol. Also, there is a large population of individuals that have physical ailments that prevent them from performing vigorous cardiovascular exercise.

But to this day the American Heart Association–the same agency that recommended the low-fat, high-carb diet that many argue actually promotes heart disease–refuses to recommend moderate alcohol consumption. The basic tenet of their argument is that alcohol is not necessary because heart protection can be achieved in other ways, and the risks outweigh the benefits.

Is this right? I’m not so convinced.

Do you think doctors should discuss the potential benefits of alcohol with their patients? Should the AHA change their recommendation?

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