All Posts By Sally Wadyka

Eat These Foods to Boost Your Brain Power

by in Cookbooks, Diets, Food and Nutrition Experts, February 4, 2017

We’ve all had those days when our brains feel foggy: when we can’t focus and our memory is less-than sharp. And chances are, you’ve resorted to extra caffeine and a sugary snack in an effort to jolt your brain back into full function. But what if you could consume something that’s actually healthy for your brain instead?

That’s the idea behind numerous supplements, foods and drinks that contain nootropics, substances purported to improve cognition. Nootropic cocktails may contain any number of things including B vitamins, L-theanine, niacin, as well as various herbs and amino acids. But despite the growing popularity of these brain boosters, there is little scientific evidence to back up most of their claims. “I love the idea of boosting brain power, but show me any science that a supplement is better than movement, meditation and nutrient-dense brain food when it comes to mental health,” says Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, Columbia University and author of Eat Complete (Harper Collins, 2016).

According to Ramsey, boosting brain power is actually pretty simple. He even made a little rhyme about the key brain foods to make it easy to remember: “Seafood, greens, nuts and beans.” Eating more of those core foods can go a long way toward keeping your brain healthy—and a healthy brain works better. Important nutrients for feeding your brain include omega-3 fats, monounsaturated fats, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, iron, choline, lycopene, vitamin E and carotenoids. It’s not about a specific food or magic bullet supplement, but rather categories of healthy foods that provide high levels of these proven brain-boosting nutrients. “Our brains consume 20 percent of everything we eat,” says Ramsey. “This nourishment provides energy and nutrients to create and sustain the quadrillions of connections that construct the brain, plus the electricity that courses between those connections.” In other words: if you want a better brain, feed it better food. Read more

Fitness Fundamentals: Building a Better Plank

by in Fitness and Wellness, January 15, 2017

I’ve never been one to make (and then feel bad about breaking) a bunch of New Year’s resolutions. But I am determined to make 2017 The Year of the Ab. My abs, specifically. Because even though I’m fit—I run several times a week, hike, ski, rock climb and do the occasional yoga class—my middle is still kind of mushy.

If you’re in a similar situation, feel free to join me in a year long plank-a-thon. Rumor has it not only will our abs be rock hard, but our posture will improve and our backs will be stronger too. “Done correctly, a plank is an isometric contraction of all the muscles that stabilize the spine, hips and shoulder girdle,” explains Christa Bache, MA, a personal trainer in New York City. “It is truly a whole body exercise.” The key words there are “done correctly.” The plank is all about form, so here, Bache shares some tips for getting the most out of every plank: Read more

How to Survive the Season of Overindulgence

by in Fitness and Wellness, Healthy Holidays, December 12, 2016

’Tis the season for overindulgence — holiday parties, family gatherings, piles of cookies and candy all over the office. And while it can be difficult (if not downright impossible) to avoid all those temptations, you can help offset some of the negative health effects of straying from your normal healthy diet. The secret weapon? Exercise.

A 2013 study found that just one week of eating 50 percent more calories than normal can impair insulin sensitivity. But that research was based on people who were sedentary. So researchers at the University of Michigan decided to test the same scenario — but this time using lean, active adults as subjects. “In conditions of excess food, there is more circulating fat interfering with the normal function of tissues that are not supposed to have fat (like muscles and the liver),” explains Alison C. Ludzki, first author on the study. But if you stay active, you may ameliorate some of that damage. Read more

Should You Sneak Veggies Into Your Kids’ Food?

by in Uncategorized, December 6, 2016

Every parent knows the pain of dealing with a picky eater — and the fear that the child will suffer malnutrition from a constant diet of pizza, grilled cheese and noodles. Hence, there’s a great temptation to take the stealth approach to your child’s health by slipping undetectable amounts of produce into those same favorite foods.

Employing this tactic is easier than ever now, thanks to companies like Oh Yes Foods, which markets frozen pizzas whose crusts are loaded with pulverized produce, and Kidfresh, whose frozen entrees of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and cheese quesadillas hide ample amounts of veggies like carrots, spinach and cauliflower. Considering that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 Americans kids fall short of the recommended intake of vegetables, this all seems like a brilliant idea. Yet some experts caution against relying on this technique. “Yes, it’s a good thing nutritionally,” admits Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., a psychologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “But if children are only exposed to vegetables in ways that mask their smell, texture and flavor, they may not learn to eat them.” Read more

Can’t Take More Steps Each Day? Then Take Faster Ones

by in Fitness and Wellness, November 27, 2016

An entire industry of fitness-tracking devices has sprung up to support the expert-recommended goal of taking 10,000 steps daily. And while that’s a great amount to shoot for, a new study has shown that if you can’t get in quite that many steps a day, there are other ways to reap the same health benefits. The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows that if you (like the average American) can get in only 5,000 to 7,000 steps daily, the trick is to pick up the pace for about half of them.

Walking at a brisk pace (which the researchers defined as 100 or more steps per minute) should be your goal for at least 30 minutes a day, in order to reduce a variety of cardiometabolic risk factors. The other key finding was that no matter how many steps you get in daily, it pays to try to reduce the amount of time you spend not moving at all.

Need help achieving those goals? Here are some tips from Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist, to get you moving. Read more

Are You Eating the Right Omegas? Most Americans Aren’t 

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, November 25, 2016

We hear a lot about the importance of getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids in our diets — and with good reason. They’re heart-healthy fats that help decrease inflammation, plus they’re important for brain development and function. The other Omega fatty acids — the Omega-6 oils — are also considered “essential fatty acids” that are needed for several body processes. But some of them can also cause inflammation when eaten in excess. So while we do need adequate amounts of both in our diets, most of us are getting way too much Omega-6 and way too little Omega-3.

“In the standard American diet, people are getting about a 20-to-one ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3,” says Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and public health, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Ideally, that ratio should be more like three-to-one.” The trouble is that Omega-6 fatty acids have become ubiquitous in our food supply in a way that they were not several decades ago. They are found in vegetable oils — like corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean — that are a staple ingredient in so many refined, processed and packaged foods. And when modern agricultural methods meant a shift from livestock that grazed on Omega-3-rich grasses to livestock that was fed Omega-6-packed grains, the balance in our diets shifted even more. Read more

A New Lawsuit Asks: Is Naked Juice As Healthy As It Seems?

by in Food News, November 12, 2016

It’s hard not to feel virtuous after downing a bottle of vegetable juice — like Naked Juice’s Kale Blazer. After all, it’s packed with nothing but leafy green goodness, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, the first ingredient in Kale Blazer is orange juice, and the third is apple juice. Which means that, even though neither of those fruits is pictured on the label, together, orange and apple juice make up a significant portion of the so-called green blend.

And that’s exactly why food industry watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has recently filed a class-action lawsuit against PepsiCo (which owns Naked Juice) claiming that the company is misrepresenting the products’ ingredient profiles. The lawsuit alleges that consumers are being duped into paying high prices for premium, nutrient-rich ingredients — like kale, acai berries, mango and blueberries — when they’re really getting mostly inexpensive and not-as-nutritious orange and apple juices. Read more

Adjusting Your Workout When Daylight Saving Time Ends

by in Fitness and Wellness, November 2, 2016

As soon as we “fall back” at 2AM this Sunday, November 6th, we lose an hour of daylight in the evening…which means it’s already dark by the time we head out of the office at the end of the day. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give up on outdoor exercise until we change the clocks again in the spring. There are plenty of ways to make your post-work walk or run safe and enjoyable — even after dark. Lisa Jhung, a veteran runner and author of Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running (VeloPress, 2015) has these tips:

Lose the Headphones
You need to be able to hear oncoming traffic and not be distracted by listening to music or a podcast. “If you absolutely can’t run without music, keep the volume very low and keep the earbud on the road side of your head out,” suggests Jhung.

Bring Your Phone
A good idea when it’s light out too — you never know when you might need to call for help. Read more

Being Mindful Helps Chocolate Boost Your Mood

by in Food News, October 15, 2016

There’s no denying that chocolate is a feel-good food — which is why so many of us reach for it at the first sign of stress or unhappiness. The problem is that by the time we’ve mindlessly munched down an entire candy bar or several handfuls of Hershey’s Kisses, we don’t necessarily feel any better. In fact, we’re more likely to feel overly full, plus a bit guilt-stricken for gorging on sweets.

But what if you could not only feel satisfied, but also actually boost your mood by eating just one small square of chocolate? According to a study recently published in the journal Appetite, it is possible. Researchers at Gettysburg College recruited 258 students and assigned them to one of four groups. In one group the participants each ate 75 calories’ worth of chocolate while being mindful; participants in another group each ate five crackers in the same manner; and participants in the other two groups each ate either the chocolate or the crackers without being mindful. The two groups assigned to be mindful were instructed to hold the food and think about the farmers who produced the ingredients necessary to make it. After that, they were told to focus on the sensations of the food in their mouths as they ate. Start to finish — eating either the chocolate or the crackers mindfully — took about four minutes. The non-mindful groups were instructed to eat half their food, then wait four minutes to eat the other half, in order to keep the time frames of consumption similar. Read more

Think Following the “5-Second Rule” Keeps Food Safe? Think Again!

by in Food Safety, September 24, 2016

When food falls on the floor, it’s always a judgment call as to whether that food goes into your mouth or into the trash. And many of us, when making that call, defer to the so-called “five-second rule” — that long-standing and widely accepted notion that if food spends five seconds or less on the floor it hasn’t had enough time to be contaminated by whatever bacteria is on the floor. But is the five-second rule based on any actual facts, or is it just a myth that we perpetuate every time we let our kids pick up and keep sucking on that lollipop they dropped?

Turns out, scientific research on the topic has been pretty limited … until now, that is. A team of researchers at Rutgers University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences put a variety of foods — watermelon, bread, bread with butter, and gummy candy — through their paces. They dropped them onto four different surfaces — carpet, stainless steel, ceramic tile and wood — and left them for less than one second, five seconds, 30 seconds and 300 seconds. All of the 128 possible scenarios were repeated 20 times; in the end, the researchers had a total of 2,560 data points to analyze. Read more

123...10...