Peachy Peaches. Why They’re Awesome. What To Do With Them.

Peaches in bowlOver 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan proclaimed August to be “Peach Month”, and Georgia rejoiced. He wanted to encourage all Americans to incorporate this fine fuzzy fruit into their mouths. Now that we’re closing out August, peaches are peaking at Farmer’s markets, with their little farmers markety baskets of these lovely fragrant cousins of the rose.

Like the rose, they are beautiful and fragrant. Unlike the rose, they’re not fussy difficult plants perched on what basically amounts to a sticker bush. Peaches were revered in China as a symbol of longevity, and now we have nutritional support that backs this up. The Chinese totally knew stuff.

For example. A single peach has contains 20% of all the Vitamin C you need in a day, along with Vitamin A, E, K, Niacin, and many other nutrients. Its carotenes help prevent cancers, it’s whopping 333mg of potassium can help control blood pressure, and it’s a great source of fiber. By the way, all this nutritional goodness weighs in at only 68 calories. 

Grilled peaches picPoom … there’s your One-A-Day right there. So eat a peach. Do it today. Put down your phone and go get one and incorporate it into your mouth.

And if you don’t know where a Farmers Market is and don’t understand the whole Google thing, here’s a link to all US Farmers Markets.

By the way, the pic to the left is basically just grilled peaches. Okay, there’s a grilled cod on the plate along with an awesome summer salad of greenery and goat cheese. But seriously split the peaches in half, take out the seed (duh), and smear a little sesame oil on the cut side if you have it. If you don’t, no worries. Then toss on the grill over a medium high flame. When the flesh gets sticky, it’s ready.  You don’t hear THAT phrase every day! 

Why English is “The Language of Obesity”

willclowergraphobesityItalian may be the language of romance, but English is the language of obesity.
Need proof?
If you line up all the countries around the world based on their obesity rates, you’ll see that English is the dominant language of six of the top nine most overweight countries.
These nations are located all over the globe, with different cultures, histories, and relative wealth. But what they all have in common is their language:
How do we explain this odd accumulation of obesity rates clustered around the calorie-free factor of language?
Hypothetically, it could be that the lexicon itself drives the problem. Maybe we just have more words for it, like Eskimos have 50 words for snow. Maybe we have so many terms and phrases for “swing through the drive-thru,” “supersize that,” and “pig out” that people are encouraged to do those things, like some kind of subliminal suggestion.
But of course, English is almost certainly reflecting the problem rather than driving it. American idioms around food are not the same as those in Ireland or New Zealand. We can definitely rule this explanation out.
A second interpretation is that countries like the United States, that are more business-friendly, are less likely to regulate additive sugars and artificial ingredients in food products. Choking grocery shelves with these unhealthy products might contribute to higher obesity rates, particularly among our children.
However, Ireland and England are both on the list, and these countries are in vastly more socialized political and economic systems. Scratch that explanation off the list.
A third thought is that there’s an educational gradient to obesity: more education is associated with less obesity. Although there’s some support for this idea within the U.S. anyway, it’s hard to say that this entire list of English-speaking countries is all less committed to education than the other thinner countries.
Socioeconomics also falls short. There is some idea that those with less money have a harder time finding good food. However, the U.S. has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
So much for all that.

So What Makes English the Language of Obesity?

It may all come down to the fact that the most obese country of all English-speaking countries—the United States—also has the biggest voice in the world. It’s like having someone with an oversize influence, who gets seen more and thus emulated more.
The same could be said across those countries that speak English, as the American image, mystique, and visibility can influence the cultural norms. One culture influencing another would be fine if it were only that the people in other countries were just wearing bluejeans, incorporating blues music, utilizing social media technology, and so.
But we have other cultural behaviors that contribute to the highest obesity rates on Earth. When those activities become incorporated right along with T-shirts, Elvis, and Facebook, language becomes the vector of that transmission. So English does not cause the effect you see, but it acts like a facilitator.
It’s the window through which the fume of our unhealthy habits escape to the world. It’s the convenient access point for all who speak it. And the outsize influence of American allure is what moves dietary norms in our direction rather than theirs.

In other words: the more other countries look to us, the more they look like us.

If you live in one of these other countries, remember the cultural habits you had when you were thinner and healthier: fewer processed food products, drive-thrus, and habits like eating on the run. Reincorporate more traditional habits before adopting the eating norms of a country in which two-thirds of the people are overweight, obese, and morbidly obese.
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Changing how we think about exercise

Heading to Raleigh to speak for a client (Red Hat, who are awesome). 

The topic is exercise and movement, but I’m not going to go full-on Jillian Michaels on them – because that exemplifies the core of what is wrong with our culture of health with regard to activity.

I want these wonderful people to think different about movement … from the reason why they’re active in the first place, to manage their expectations, and to take the pressure off so that it is more of a joy than a chore.

So. No grunting or yelling. No pain, all gain.

Time to change the culture of health.

Americans diets are improving a bit (sort of)

The good news is that our diets have improved steadily over the past decade. The bad news, however, is that there is a disparity in overall dietary quality between different socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups, which continues to grow.

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The study, conducted by a research team from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found a modest improvement in diet quality alongside a significant reduction in trans fat consumption between 1999 and 2010.

Diet and nutrition are key health matters. A poor diet is recognized as a cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers – the two leading causes of death in the US. Maintaining a healthful diet is an important part of optimizing long-term health.
Since the late 1990s, frequent changes have occurred to the economy, policies regarding food and nutrition, public health guidelines and food processing, all of which may have impacted upon the diets of the American public.
Prompted by these changes, the researchers utilized data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in order to assess what impact there was on the quality of the American public’s diets.
The researchers utilized data from a nationally representative sample of 29,124 adults from 1999-2010. The participants were aged 20-85 years and were evaluated for the duration of the study with two different dietary quality indexes: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 and the Healthy Eating Index 2010.
The Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010) rates overall dietary quality on a score of 0 to 110. A total of 11 components – consumption of whole grains or trans fat, for instance – are assigned scores out of 10, and the sum of these scores equals the overall dietary quality. The higher the score, the more healthful the diet.
In 1999-2000, the average AHEI-2010 of the participants was 39.9. This score increased to 46.8 in 2009-2010, indicating an overall improvement in dietary quality.
Over half of this gain was attributable to reduced consumption of trans fats – fat that raises levels of bad cholesterol and reduces levels of good cholesterol in the body. Trans fats are commonly found in baked goods, chips and fried foods.
Dietary quality was also improved by raised consumption of whole fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and polyunsaturated fats and lowered consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. In contrast, the consumption of vegetables, red and processed meat and alcohol remained consistent during the study period.
More worryingly, salt intake was found to have increased “despite efforts to reduce this by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as initiatives by the American Heart Association and other public health organizations,” say the authors.
The study also found a gap in diet quality between people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) and people with lower SES. This gap increased across the duration of the study.
Among ethnic and racial groups, non-Hispanic black people had the lowest quality of diet. The authors attributed this to lower rates of income and education within the group. Mexican Americans had the best dietary quality, which the authors say could be due to dietary traditions and culture.
Prof. Walter Willett, senior author of the study, believes that despite overall improvement in dietary quality, “the widening gap related to income and education presents a serious challenge to our society as a whole.”

Source = Medical News Today.

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What Happened To The 8×8 Dietary Dogma On Water?

Several years ago, I sat in the office of the woman who ran the weight management program for UPMC, the largest hospital/insurer in the Pittsburgh region. She sat down with me to talk about this new Mediterranean diet idea, and my perspective on it.

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She loved the emphasis on veggies, became a little iffy on their total embargo on low fat food products, and even queasier around the idea of wine every day with meals. So then she asked me THE question: how much water do you recommend people drink in a day.
She posed it like a rhetorical no-brainer question. Of course, everyone knows that you have to drink at least 8, 8-ounce glasses per day. It was a total gimmie putt. Drinking this amount of water was enshrined on our food pyramid itself, along with all mainstream health authorities, which means that it has been reviewed by our very best nutritional minds.
I said that this recommendation doesn’t exist anywhere but here, because no healthy culture does that – only us, the people with the health problems. And the Mediterranean diet is no exception, with no requirement to drink a minimum of that amount of fluid every single day.
At that point, she dismissed me and the entire Mediterranean diet with some sideways comment about her having to follow “evidence based medicine” — like her and the rest of the nation, I presume.
That was about 6 years ago. But today, you just don’t see any official advice to drink at least 8 swimming pools of water per day. The reason why this evidence-based pillar of dietary dogma has been silently removed is because there was never any science evidence to base it on in the first place. (read this wonderful review dissecting it all)
Once it was revealed that the science was baseless, and the advice on this from our health authorities held exactly zero weight after all, it poofed out of sight. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
That said, there is a kernel of truth. Let’s say you live in the Sahara, and eat nothing but powder (or work outside in Arizona, say). Under those conditions you can lose up to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. But if you live in normal conditions, and eat normal foods that have water in them, you’re just not in need of that much water every day.
The frustrating part of this is the pretentious nature of our health advice, hiding behind the veneer of authenticity called “evidence based medicine.” And yet no organization who supported the 8×8 advice has come forward to say that they were totally wrong in misleading people into believing that this was reasonable (or evidence based). They just moved on to the next recommendation like some form of drive-by nutrition advice. 
For you and me, we need reliable, common sense health advice. Do you need water? Of course you do. Do you need to stay hydrated? Yes! But do you need some external rule that is supposed to apply to everyone on earth (start with a whopping 8, 8-ounce glasses of water every single day, and then go from there)? Of course not.
You need to stay hydrated, but the amount of water you need to drink varies by geography, altitude, work conditions, sun/wind conditions, if you’re breast feeding, etc. Given that riot of variability, no one-size-fits-all answer could ever possibly make any sense. So a good rule of thumb is to simply check the color of your urine, and drink water until your pee runs clear.
Can we put an icon of that on a food pyramid?


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Sad, But True: Some Doctors Still Recommend Processed Food

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How Can They Justify Recommending These?

The American Society for Nutrition has a stated mission, which includes the following: “… to support the dissemination and application of nutrition science to improve public health.” Fair enough, but they recently released a position paper telling us that processed food products are an essential part of a healthy American diet.

Hearing this is as perplexing as reading some kids’ cereal labels plump with sugar, synthetic dyes, and preservatives, while the front side of the box assures us they are “an important part of a balanced diet.” On one hand, most adults realize that these kinds of questionable slogans are marketed simply to sell products. In this case, though, it’s an official position paper from a mainstream nutrition organization we trust, as they said themselves, to “improve public health.”

The concern begins with the impressive list of conflicts of interest of the authors themselves: owning stock in ConAgra, McCormick, Hershey; consulting for various food and beverage companies; being paid by them to speak; and taking grant money from agribusiness giant Tate & Lyle.

Beyond these relationships, the article itself makes some unusual claims. It states that to assess the quality of processed foods, we shouldn’t compare their nutritious nature to that of whole foods. This is because (per the authors) the range of nutrients to compare is so broad that such a comparison would be “not useful.” In other words, they want taken off the table a comparison of real food versus processed food products.

To evaluate the health of processed food products, then, what should be compared? Only the many kinds of processed foods themselves. In doing this, the ASN article creates a false equivalence by asserting that all processed food products — from bread, cheese, and frozen peas, to Pop Tarts and frozen corn dogs dipped in aerosol spray cheese — are all qualitatively the same.

They can only do this by focusing on the number of vitamins and minerals added to the product. They do not mention the synthetic ingredients, additive sugars, or sodium. In other words, if a collection of dyes, sugars, and preservatives (returning to the example of common breakfast cereals) has a multivitamin in it, it is on the same nutritional level as fresh frozen vegetables or cheese.

This cartoon absurdity of normalizing bizarre food inventions is dangerous because it avoids obvious issues. No matter how margarine made with hydrogenated oil is fortified, it’s still bad for your heart. The nutrient content of some prepackaged foods doesn’t make their sky-high levels of sodium and sugar suddenly good for you. Finally, eating the food preservatives they laud in this paper (including hydrogenated oil, nitrate/nitrite, salt, BHT, sodium benzoate) does not reverse the link they all have to some form of chronic disease.

And this is exactly what makes this position paper so antithetical to public health. Americans eat an estimated 150 pounds of sugar per person per year, and about 70 percent of that comes from processed food products. The CDC estimates that a mere 10 foods account for more than 40% of our sodium consumption. Defending the source of most sugar and sodium consumption, when a staggering two-thirds of our population ranges from overweight to morbidly obese, is anything but serving public health.

I do understand why agribusiness and the processed food product industry sugarcoat everything they say to the public about themselves and their products. But we all should expect that by now. What’s disheartening is being let down by an institution we trusted to give us straight advice. The American Society for Nutrition endorsed the views of processed food industry spokespeople, and allowed them to speak through the invisibility cloak of scientists writing for their organization.

The bottom line is that the position of this position paper is no better than the sugar-filled, neon-colored, processed food product breakfast cereals they defend. And, like these products, the ASN is in serious need of some fortification via one key ingredient our consumer public deserves: integrity.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower’s website.

The Dietary Equivalent of “Spending To Save”

Here’s the question posed in this recent article in The USA TODAY: 


“Is oversnacking becoming the norm in our nation?”


I don’t even consider this a real question. It’s rhetorical, because it’s obvious that we are snacking all the time. 


And while our chronic consumption takes us throughout any given day, people scratch their heads, open up a bag of gummy worms, and ponder how much our genes may be playing a role in the problem, or perhaps our blood type, or whatever.


It’s like we’re total in dietary denial about the problem. For example, check out the bizarre logic to this sentence from this article:
I have often advocated a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to prevent impulsive eating and energy slumps that result from dips in blood sugar.  


Wait. So … you are going to TELL PEOPLE to eat compulsively through the day … to prevent eating impulsively through the day? This is the dietary equivalent of “spending to save”? Who does that make sense to?


When we were healthy as a culture … when did we eat? We ate at meal times. Same genes, same blood type, same people. We just didn’t eat all the, all the, all the time. So close up the gummy worms and stop eating between meals … just like we did when we were healthy. Maybe that’s a start.

Is oversnacking becoming the norm in our nation? – USATODAY.com

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BREAST ironing? Really?

This is NOT done to smooth out wrinkles. It’s a cultural practice in Cameroon. I read this article in CNN Health and had to share what is a truly bizarre practice. 
This is so weird: mothers take a burning hot pestle straight out of a fire and use it to press the breasts of their young girls. 
Why, you ask? What are you, crazy, you scream? 
Mothers do this to their daughters to make their little girls less desirable to boys — as a route to prevent pregnancy. Riiight, it’s the old disfigurement strategy!! Genius, right? With just a little mutilation, if you make them horrid enough, then you can prevent SO many unwanted pregnancies. 
Plus, that way you don’t have to talk to them about being responsible, you don’t have to teach the boys about being respectful to women. Whew!! Glad we didn’t have to go through THAT. 
The US State Department, in its 2010 human rights report on Cameroon, cited news reports and said breast ironing affects an amazing one in every four girls in Cameroon.
But Wouldn’t This Work For Boys Too?
Rather than making the girls less attractive so those poor boys just can’t help themselves, why not just make the boys … blind? Hey, problem solved?
Or, or, or, you could make them lame so the girls could outrun them … or maybe we just apply testicle ironing to prevent those boys from having the desire in the first place. Gosh, there are SO many options here.



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There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Breast ironing tradition targeted in Cameroon – CNN.com

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