Teal Pumpkin Project

Halloween is less than a week away!  Let the trick-or-treating commence!  Speaking of trick-or-treating has anybody ever heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project?  This is a fairly new initiative led by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) in order to protect the health of children on Halloween who have severe food allergies.  It proves challenging for families of children with severe food allergies to determine whether or not the candy their children are collecting is safe for one main reason: Often the candies, particularly the fun-size candies, do not have ingredient labels, which makes it almost impossible to determine the exact allergens that the product contains.  This is where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes into play.  Supporters of the initiative help to preserve the safety of all trick-or-treaters by:  1.  Offering non-food items.  2.  Designating their home as one that supports and abides by the Teal Pumpkin Project initiative by placing a pumpkin decorated with the color teal (signifying alertness and recognition of food allergies) and adorning a FARE sign which articulates the organization’s mission on their front door or patio (Frequently).

Are you familiar with the Teal Pumpkin Project?  If this is the first time that you’ve heard of the project, what do you think about its mission?

I hope that you and your family enjoy a safe and happy Halloween!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

“Frequently Asked Questions.” Food Allergy. Food Allergy Research and Education, Incorporated. 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. <http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project/FAQ#Q1>

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Ingredient Profile #6: Potassium Bromate

The flour you’re eating just may have more than flour inside of it.  Say hello to potassium bromate, the ingredient being profiled this week.  The processed food industry and the bakery aisle of your local supermarket have long been incorporating this food additive into the flour that they bake with for three main reasons (Aguayo):

  1.  Flour enriched with potassium bromate enables the actual baked good or bread product to expand more in the oven, and thus rise to its full potential (Aguayo).
  2. This additive alters the physical appearance of bread and baked goods by giving these foods a more appealing and appetizing coloration (Aguayo).
  3. When potassium bromate is coupled with flour, the dough of bread and baked goods become less fragile and delicate.  This results in a more consistent, well built dough for manufacturers to then bake (Aguayo).

Over a decade and a half ago, the International Agency for Research on cancer publicly announced it is likely and probable that potassium bromate leads to the acquisition of cancer.  Unfortunately, the usage of potassium bromate is still perfectly legal in the United States, unlike numerous places across the globe.  Interestingly, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Brazil do not permit potassium bromate to be incorporated in their food products.  Research demonstrates that animals who consume potassium bromate are more likely to develop malignant tumors, particularly in their thyroid and kidneys (Aguayo).

The American processed food industry stands strong in their conviction that potassium bromate is altered and changes to potassium bromide (which does not lead to the acquisition of cancer) through exposure to heat during the baking process.  Nevertheless, the United Kingdom conducted extensive research in order to test this hypothesis, and they discovered that a food product’s exposure to heat during the baking process does not eliminate potassium bromate in totality.  For instance, all six of the unwrapped breads that the United Kingdom experimented with and approximately one third of the wrapped breads still contained a substantial amount of potassium bromate following the baking process.  Although no mandatory labeling laws have been enacted in the United States concerning potassium bromate, the state of California has taken it upon itself to create its own legislation surrounding this food additive.  The Californian Proposition 65 list includes potassium bromate, and as a result, all goods that are made with potassium bromate are required to have a cautionary message on the product, detailing information about its link to cancer.  For all of those that do not hail from the Golden State, the fastest and most foolproof way to determine whether or not the bread and baked goods you consume are created using potassium bromate is to check the ingredient label (Aguayo).

Time and time again, it appears as though the United States is far behind other countries in enacting legislation to promote and protect the health of its citizens and also appears somewhat unwilling to educate the public about the food that it consumes.  Why do you think that this is?  Who is responsible for the current lack of food legislation and food education in the USA: the government, the food industry, or the citizens who either don’t want to know or don’t do anything about it?  I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Aguayo, Jose and Leiba, Nneka. “Potassium Bromate.” ewg. Environmental Working Group, 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015. <http://www.ewg.org/research/potassium-bromate>

Food… an Equation or a Celebration?

There is what some may refer to as a scarcity of food tradition in this country.  It initially sounds like somewhat of a paradox, especially with the metaphor of the melting pot and the United States, because this comparison implies that a variety of foods and subsequent culinary customs were brought to America.  However, as time went on, it seems as though these food traditions were weakened and watered-down.  As a result of this, government subsidies, major food corporations, federal nutritional guidelines, the processed food industry, and many other associations and organizations have become the masterminds that instruct us, both consciously and unconsciously to eat the food that we eat.  In this sense, food has become an equation, rather than a celebration.  But what happens when this equation doesn’t quite add up?  What happens if… it’s wrong?

Take whole milk for instance.  It has been admonished for decades by the public and private sectors alike for its saturated fat content.  Due to the purported fact that these saturated fats raise bad cholesterol levels inside of the body, the general public was advised to avoid whole milk.  Unfortunately, this recommendation lost sight of the fact that saturated fats have the capacity to raise good cholesterol levels inside of the body, which in turn shields the body from the acquisition of heart disease.  Moreover, it has been proven time and time again that when an individual eliminates saturated fats from their diets, they start increasing their consumption of carbohydrates in order to account for the absence of these fats.  And really when the word carbohydrates is tossed around it actually means processed foods.  Therefore, studies have demonstrated that those who consume skim milk and low-fat milk have a greater chance of acquiring heart disease than their whole milk consuming counterparts (Achenbach).

Below is an excerpt from The Washington Post which asks Michael Pollan to weigh in on the evidence linking the consumption of whole milk to a decreased risk of heart disease.  Here is what Michael Pollan had to say on the matter (Achenbach):

“I’ve long felt that skim milk was silly. Think about what it means to remove fat from milk: you end up with a more sugary beverage, since the amount of lactose per ounce rises. And we’re learning that sugar is probably a more serious nutritional problem than fat. Then think about what happens to the fat that was removed from all that skim milk.  It is turned into cheese and sold back to us as pizza. As we consumed less butterfat in milk, we consume more of it as cheese, so in addition to fooling ourselves in thinking we were cutting down on fat, in the end we paid twice for the same fat! It’s a bit like refined white flour. So I’ve been drinking whole milk for a long time and, if you haven’t tasted it in a few decades, it is delicious. You also drink less of it since it is more filling. Last point to consider: some kinds of skim milk add powdered milk to improve the body of that watery, tasteless swill, and whatever you think of milk powder — some people think it’s not good for you — you’re ending up with a processed food, rather than the sort of simple food your grandmother would recognize.”

Circling back to the beginning of this post, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on whether food has become an equation or has remained a celebration?  On a less subjective note, is anybody surprised by the findings concerning whole milk and heart disease?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Achenbach, Joel. “Whole milk is okay.  Butter and eggs too.  What’s next – bacon?” The Washington Post. Oct. 2015: The Washington Post. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/rweb/politics/whole-milk-is-okay-butter-and-eggs-too-whats-next–bacon/2015/10/07/ee418a19cc827ce5e6775e6bdb1b2514_story.html>

Can You Eat Your Brain Away?

A groundbreaking study and its accompanying research from the journal BMC Medicine certainly supports the hypothesis that you can eat your brain away.  This disturbing correlation between the consumption of foods belonging to the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the subsequent reduction of the left hippocampus in the brain is the first human study that associates brain reduction with diet.  There was a three-pronged approach to this study.  First, researchers evaluated 2,551 Australians ranging in age from 60 through 64 years old, and each individual participating in the study completed a series of evaluations that considered dietary, cognitive, and physical health.  Secondly, after four years went by, 2,222 out of the original pool of 2,551 participants completed another series of evaluations, that once again considered their dietary, cognitive, and physical health.  Furthermore, 622 out to of the pool of 2.551 participants underwent a brain MRI.  The participants who underwent the brain MRI were selected by chance.  Interestingly, after analyzing the experimental results, researchers discovered that the left hippocampus of participants who consumed a Standard American Diet (which included consumption of sausages, roasted meats, cheese, hamburgers, steaks, French fries, chips, soda, and processed foods loaded with sugar) was notably smaller than those who refrained from consuming the SAD.  Hence, participants who did not consume a traditional Western diet, and instead opted for foods such as whole grains, dark leafy greens, fish, vegetables, and fruits had a larger sized left hippocampus than their SAD consuming counterparts.  To preface, recollection, remembrance, reminiscence, impression, the acquisition of knowledge, scholarship, balance in state of mind, and the intensity of feelings of depression are all functions that the left hippocampus regulates.  Additionally, as a relevant aside, upon the acquisition of Alzheimer’s disease, the left hippocampus is the first structure of the brain to decline, and this degeneration is then followed by the decline of other areas in the brain.  Therefore, the results of this study have also demonstrated the negative implication that the Standard American Diet has upon the contraction of Alzheimer’s disease.  Although prior studies have illustrated the effects that stress, inflammation, and other factors have upon the acquisition of disease, this is the first that has illustrated how food choices have the potential to reduce brain size.  This suggests that not only physical health, but also mental health, is either promoted or demoted depending upon the food we eat (Cook).

As long time readers of this blog know, I firmly believe that we physically, mentally, and metaphorically become what we eat.  However, with this belief also comes an unsettled feeling about the manner in which health and disease is typically dealt with.  Rather than advocating for preventative measures and educating the public about the ways in which they can promote their own health, nearly the entire healthcare emphasis focuses on fixing problems after they have already occurred.  The solution to a more healthful society is not one that can be compartmentalized.  Instead, it is imperative that a holistic approach is taken that addresses not only symptoms of disease but also causes, quells quick-fixes that more often than not result in a whole host of other health complications, and ensures life-long healing.  Who’s with me?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Cook, Michelle. Care 2. Care2.com Incorporated, 2015. Web. 4 October 2015. <http://www.care2.com/greenliving/how-your-diet-may-be-shrinking-your-brain.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+c2greenliving+%28Care2+Healthy+Living%29>