Monthly Archives: February 2017

Foodservice and Restaurant Merchandising 101

Visual food merchandising is one of the hottest trends in the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry today, which is the fine art of presenting your products in a way that gets your customers to buy, as well as bringing your products to life with eye-catching displays of freshness, color, quality and abundance.

A great food merchandising program paired with cross-merchandising strategies will help to increase your restaurant or foodservice operations’ sales significantly, as well as boost customer satisfaction and return business.

The benefits of eye-catching food merchandising displays and cross- merchandising techniques are immediate. Sales will increase between 15 percent to 300 percent if you have done a proper job with your merchandising program Your staff’s morale will also be raised from the improved surroundings and satisfied customers.

Running a foodservice operation takes much more than just displaying the usual information like the “daily special”. As an operator, you must consider what will lure your customers into your operation in the first place. Here are some basic merchandising rules and tips to follow:

1. Make it look appetizing

You should build your food displays so that customers can see them from all angles of your facility. Use nothing but the freshest ingredients and colorful food items to catch their attention. Display your food items using uniquely shaped plates and dishes with different textures. Use terra cotta and other environmentally conscious colors, and incorporate natural wood and bamboo to create a more modern, clean and sleek image.

For example, the addition of a simple, thick, wooden board placed inside a standard glass display unit for sandwiches emphasizes to customers that the sandwiches have just been freshly made. Without the board, the sandwiches look start and naked, and allows customers to wonder how long they have been sitting there, since a glass and steel display unit tends to evoke a sense of coldness and emptiness. The cutting board helps to add warmth and life to the display unit.

2. Place products on a slant and use color

Food is always displayed better when placed on a slant and not lying flat. Show your customers your products! Tilted European-style wooden racks are a great merchandising tool to display breads, pies, pastries, and other products, creating an inviting display to tempt your customers to buy.

Color is one of the most important factors when dealing with food displays. Many food products tend to come from the brown and beige palettes, so is necessary to brighten up your operation with greens, reds, oranges and yellows, to also create a fresh and healthy look. Consider looking at what items you might already have on hand in your kitchen, pantry and stockrooms that might add mouthwatering color and substance to your display.

3. Use cross-merchandising techniques to use higher sales

For cafeterias and market-style operations, cross-merchandising is an excellent opportunity to upsell by placing the right foods together. Soups, sandwiches and potato chips should be placed in the same area, while coffee and tea should be served right next to desserts. Side orders and salads could be split. For example, small containers of salad could be packaged and placed on ice next to the grill, as well as stationed next to the sandwiches. Also try different varieties of cream cheese next to bagels, or fresh fruit and whipped cream next to cake and ice cream. Coffee and tea is a great partner to bakery items. Sales of beautifully packaged coffee will soar when placed next to bakery items.

4. Use the cash-wrap area

The cash-wrap area is prime real estate for merchandising. Proper merchandising of additional retail products at the cash-wrap area will help you increase average checks. Use your cash-wrap area for last minute sales of coffee, soda, desserts, candies and chocolate bars, and create an irresistible display of goods that customers cannot refuse.

5. Proper signage points the way to increased revenues

Proper signage can help you tell customers what you need to tell them when you are unable to offer them personal attention. It is very important to be clean, concise and to the point when designing the signage for your operation. Make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase food items by providing proper signage that inform your customers about your products so they will buy them. Signage can be displayed in all shapes and sizes, and should be used accordingly. Use branded mini cards to label and price your products, and write short descriptions of the item detailing the ingredients you used or your cooking method. If you insist on handwriting your signs, be sure to make them legible and graphically appealing.

The Diet of Prehistoric Humans

Even though there was a complete lack of scientific evidence to support Mr. Key’s saturated fat/cholesterol theory of heart disease, the government and professional medical associations eventually agreed that Americans should eat less red meat, whole dairy products, eggs and all other foods high in saturated fat. And although since then, 50 years and millions of dollars have been spent on scientific studies trying to link consumption of animal fat with increased rates of heart disease, all studies show there is no such link.

Perhaps it was the failure of scientists to demonstrate a link between consumption of animal fat and heart disease that many other arguments have been made in favor of diets that limit the amount of meat in the diet. Many go far beyond health and nutrition and include a wide range of topics such as the environmental impact of feeding a population on meat, or the suffering of animals.

One of the most obviously flawed of these arguments is the claim that our early ancestors ate very little meat.

If you’re of European descent, your early ancestors were almost entirely dependent upon the consumption of animal flesh for about half of the year.

Before the advent of agriculture, human beings were hunter-gatherers. They depended on gathering food from their wild habitat.

For the ancient hunter-gatherers of Europe, the first frosts of autumn brought an end to the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds would have been plentiful in the autumn season. However, these foods are soon depleted by rodents, birds and other mammals in stiff competition for food when cold weather causes foods of plant and insect origin to disappear from the landscape.

Not only is it nearly impossible to obtain foods of plant origin during cold winter months when the snow covered ground is frozen solid and streams are covered by a thick layer of ice, but also, early spring is the most difficult time of year to obtain food from plants because all nuts and seeds have been thoroughly depleted and sporadic freezes delay the onset of the growing season. After the ground thaws, roots can be dug and some edible sprouts grow rapidly in mid spring, but most fruits aren’t available until at least early summer.

The importance of the hunt for large mammals by our early ancestors is clearly supported in the archaeological evidence they left behind. One of the most common images left on the walls inside caves of prehistoric man is that of the hunt of deer, bison, mammoth and other large mammals.

The hunt for large mammals took on a religious tone. This is the natural result of a people who depend heavily upon animals for their own lives. They depended upon these large animals for food, depended upon their hides for warm clothing, used the bones of animals for tools, and even used animal parts as ornaments to grace their bodies.

The same religious tones surrounding the hunt for mammals is evident in the aboriginal peoples of Northern Asia, Australia, Africa, the Americas and other prehistoric peoples around the globe.

Meat and the flesh of other animals was one of the primary, and for some prehistoric cultures, the only plentiful source of food. So the claim that the diet of our prehistoric ancestors consisted of little meat and saturated fat is simply ridiculous. For thousands of years humans depended upon meat for nourishment, often eating nothing else for months at a time.

The next claim grain pushers make is that the meat of wild animals eaten by prehistoric people was very lean, and did not provide large amounts of fat, like modern cows.

But the truth is that among prehistoric human cultures, both the fat and high cholesterol liver were highly prized parts of animals they hunted. They ate the liver raw soon after the kill. And they removed every last bit of fat from the animal and rationed it, adding it to all meals, even meals of vegetable origin. Unlike most people in modern America, they knew the value of animal fat and the important role it played in human nutrition. The leanest cuts of meat became food for their dogs.

As an example of the extra effort they put into getting plenty of animal fat in the diet, the Inuit of North America made pemmican. They dried and crushed the lean meat and added fat in a fifty-fifty mix so that every mouth-full included as much fat as it did lean meat.

Every one of the thousands of large animal bones I ever found while digging on sites occupied by prehistoric humans, had been cracked open to remove the fat in the bone marrow. This fat was part of the ingredients of pemmican.

We are the first culture of people that ever intentionally avoided animal fat, the first people to trim fat off meat and discard it. Ancient people and those living traditional cultures would have thought you had gone mad if they saw you cut the fat off meat and throw it away.

Throughout history and around the world, all previous cultures prized animal fat as a vital part of the diet. To improve the nutritional value of food, they added animal fat to many foods that didn’t have animal fat to begin with.

Furthermore, the tradition of adding animal fat to foods continued right up until the 1980’s when they put the final touches on the process of replacing expensive animal fat with cheaply produced vegetable oil, a process that began in the beginning of the 1900’s, a process that is directly correlated with increasing rates of heart disease.

Not only did our hunter-gatherer prehistoric ancestors know more about which natural foods provide optimum health than we do today, even wild animals know more about which natural foods are most healthful to their bodies.

We’re out-of-touch with nature and out-of-touch with our bodies. And we’re causing misery to both.

Modern medicine has increased the average life expectancy by heroics that enable most babies, no matter how weak and sickly, and no matter how badly deformed at birth, to live at least into middle age. Using antibiotics, it has eliminated millions of deaths caused by virus and bacteria. Moreover, using modern techniques, they can keep the sick and dying alive for decades, even if they have to hook them up to tubes and machines. But heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and even tooth decay were practically nonexistent in ancient humans, largely because the diet of prehistoric humans was far more nutritious than the diet of most people today.

The truth is that the unnatural high carbohydrate(sugar) diet was born with the invention of agriculture and the development of grain. And the reason grain became the primary source of food for the masses is that grain madepossible the formation of large and powerful centers of human population called civilization.

Civilization was impossible when humans were hunter-gatherers because local wild plants and animals were soon depleted. Once depleted, the group had to move to a new location for food. The larger the group of

people, the more often they were forced to move to new lands in search of food. Therefore, large and powerful groups of people living the hunter-gatherer life style were impossible.

But grain not only made it possible for the development of large powerful centers of human population, grain also ushered in obesity, osteoporosis, cancer, and the other “Diseases of Civilization”. (And ushered out freedom of the individual and family group)

This isn’t theory and conjecture. Introduction of these diseases to remote traditional cultures around the globe was well documented by Dr. David Livingston, Dr. Weston Price, and many other doctors in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Before grain became a large part of the diet, even though these remote traditional cultures had never even seen a tooth brush, most people never had a single dental cavity.

One by one, remote disease-free healthy peoples living traditional cultures on every continent and the islands were introduced to the high carbohydrate(sugar) grain based diet. And within a decade, obesity, osteoporosis, cancer, tooth decay and the other “Diseases of Civilization” became part of the culture.

4 Tips On Creating Your Healthy Eating Plan

To be healthy, the first and most important steps are to accept that you need to make changes to your present lifestyle and eating habits. Once you understand that, the next step is to come out with an action plan to follow.

This action plan should be based upon your personal fitness goals.

Implementing this plan is an important step in your journey towards fitness and health.

By making your goals concrete will help you to be more motivated and sticking to your plan.

Create your personal healthy eating plan by following the 4 tips given below;

1. Be realistic in setting your goals

Do not make the common mistake of setting unreasonable and difficult goals for yourself. Once you are unable to reach your goals, you will feel discouraged and might even give up on your diet plan.

Be more realistic when setting up your goals but that does not mean making it easy for yourself.

Example:

If you work long hours, you cannot expect to cook healthy meals all the time.

When creating your goals, think about all this details. Decide exactly how much weight and amount of fat you want to lose. Make them reasonable, neither too easy to achieve nor too difficult to attain.

It is difficult to accurately determine your body fat percentage without using expensive medical equipment, it is better to monitor your change in body fat or muscle with measurements.

Before you start your healthy eating and exercising plan, record the measurements of your waist, hips, thigh and upper arm. And check them again every two weeks or so to monitor your progress.

It is also difficult to accurately determine your caloric needs without using medical equipment. To be sure how much you should be consuming, consult a professional or your personal trainer.

2. Proceed gradually

After you have developed your goals, implement the changes gradually.

Example:

Your goal is to stop your habit of eating chocolate with munching on carrots or bananas. But do not cut off your chocolate completely from the first day of your diet plan.

Think on how to gradually reduce the amount of chocolates you eat. This will prevent you from your irresistible cravings.

Eating foods that are both healthy and yummy, encourage you to follow through with your plan. Prevents mindless eating by taking your time when eating and enjoy every bite of the food you eat, helps you realize when you are full.

3. Be honest to yourself

Whenever you concede to your cravings, be honest about it.

Admit that you have eaten things you were trying to avoid and make the effort to make up for it in your next meal. Your integrity helps to cover up for times when you conceded to your craving in foods you had decided not to eat.

It can help you to monitor what you eat everyday and be accountable to your diet plan can also help you to stay on course with your diet.

4. Snacking on healthy foods

Munching on snack between meals help to increase your metabolism but ensures that the snacks you eat are healthy. They help you burn more calories and keep you from overeating.

Snacking on healthy foods also gives you a constant supply of energy throughout the day.

Coming out with an eating plan can take time.

Follow the 4 tips given above to reduce your planning time and by using the ideas to help you create and stick to this plan.

After you have perfected it and vigorously sticking to your healthy diet plan, you will reap the benefits that come with eating a healthy diet.

The Importance of Physical Fitness

In its most general meaning, physical fitness is a general state of good physical health. Obtaining and maintaining physical fitness is a result of physical activity, proper diet and nutrition and of course proper rest for physical recovery. In its simplest terms, physical fitness is to the human body what fine-tuning is to an engine. It enables people to perform up to their potential. Regardless of age, fitness can be described as a condition that helps individuals look, feel and do their best. Thus, physical fitness trainers, describe it as the ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with left over energy to enjoy leisure-time activities and meet emergency demands. Specifically true for senior citizens, physical fitness is the ability to endure, bear up, withstand stress and carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue.

In order for one to be considered physically fit, the heart, lungs, and muscles have to perform at a certain level for the individual to continue feeling capable of performing an activity. At the same time, since what humans do with their bodies directly affects the state of mind, fitness influences to some degree qualities such as mental alertness and emotional expression.

Physical fitness is often divided into the following categories in order for people to be able examine its components or parts. Particularly, physical fitness is judged by:

1. Cardiovascular endurance: This is the ability of the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes over sustained periods of time.

2. Muscular strength & endurance: Strength deals with the ability of the muscle to exert force for a brief time period, while endurance is the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue to apply force against an inert object.

3. Flexibility: This denotes the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion.

4. Body composition: Considered as one of the components of fitness, composition refers to the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue, and organs) and fat mass. Actually, the optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness. Performing the right set of exercises can help people get rid off body fat and increase or maintain muscle mass.

Heart Disease – What Is The Difference Between Organic Heart Disease And Degenerative Heart Disease?

Although Heart Disease is the main cause of death in the Western World it is amazing how little the general public actually know about it.

For example very few people realize that there isn’t just one type of Heart Disease. In fact there are at least ten different types and these fall into two distinct categories – Organic and Degenerative.

The major difference between Organic and Degenerative Heart Disease is their causes.

Organic refers to a situation where the organ (the heart) is damaged by a specific event. This can also be referred to as “acute”, which simply means that it happened suddenly or over a short period of time. Degenerative Heart Disease (sometimes referred to as “chronic”) is caused by gradual deterioration over a long period of time.

There are two types of Organic H.D. – Congenital and Rheumatic .

Defects that occur at birth are classed as Congenital Heart Disease. These may affect the heart itself : it may not have developed normally during pregnancy, the wall of the heart may be damaged (hole in the heart), or the blood vessels may be underdeveloped. These defects may be hereditary or more likely have been caused by external factors such as drugs or infection during pregnancy. They are normally diagnosed at birth or in early childhood but it is not uncommon for the symptoms to occur for the first time in adulthood..

Rheumatic Heart Disease can be the result of a bout of rheumatic fever. Occurrences have decreased considerably due to the use of antibiotics to treat rheumatic fever.

There are at least eight specific diseases, which fall into the category of Degenerative Heart Disease. The common factors within this category are that the disease has progressed gradually and that there is no specific event that has caused it.

The vast majority of people who are diagnosed with Heart Disease have some form of degenerative heart disease. This is the form of disease that is the target of the awareness campaigns and is the type that we can help to prevent by our lifestyles choices.

Bariatric Athlete Fuel Guide Without Carb Loading

We often hear that in order to fuel workouts and races an athlete needs to carb load. And for good reason, carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source. However, this practice could be a threefold problem for bariathletes. For one, the word ‘load’ alone is not recommended for a small pouch. And when looking at the post-op macronutrient breakdown, protein is in the lead. Lastly, for those who have had the gastric bypass often can not tolerate carbohydrates because they induce dumping syndrome. So what is a bariathlete to do?

Although the body does prefer carbohydrates, loading per se may not be needed. More and more athletes are beginning follow a more balanced diet and continue to perform competitively. We recommend eating well throughout the day with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat at each meal.

First, take a look at the micronutrient density of your foods. Are you eating nutrient rich foods or are they many processed and stripped of its vitamins and minerals? Athletes often look past this because they tend to focus on calories and carbohydrates. Bariathletes also tend to forget about this but more due to thinking all their needs are covered in their vitamin and mineral supplements. The supplements cover your bariatric needs, but your nutrient needs increase when you start exercising. And no, we don’t recommend taking more supplements to cover this, we recommend whole foods because your body is able to absorb and utilize these nutrients so much more efficiently from its natural sources.

Because a bariathlete can only eat so much at a given time it is important that meals and snacks do not have more than 4 hours between them. Eating frequently assures your fuel takes are full and can eliminate the need to ‘load’. The key a again is a mix of carbohydrates and protein to meet both your bariatric and athletic needs.

So remember, you are now an athlete and food is the fuel that allows you to live the new and exciting lifestyle you choose. Opt for more mixed meals while still maintaining adequate protein intake. Select more whole, fresh, nutrient rich foods to provide you with the vitamin and minerals you body needs to perform optimally. Good luck and have fun!

*For more specific details for your individual needs, contact us today for a personalized meal plan. LeaCrosetti@BariAthletes.com

Pregnancy In The Stone Age – Can We Learn Something?

The woman who became pregnant during the Stone Age faced huge risks compared with today’s mother-to-be. There was no way to control bleeding or infection; Caesarean section was not an option. That we survived as a species seems remarkable – until you dig a little deeper.

The outcome of pregnancy depends on the underlying health of the mother, nutrition before and during pregnancy and the threat of infection. In all those areas the woman of 50,000 years ago was better off than her counterpart today. How is that possible in an age when there was no plumbing, no medical care and no protection from infectious diseases?

Better diet, better pregnancy

The primitive woman’s diet was less likely to be deficient in important nutrients than that of today’s young girls. (Ref 1) A study from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center has confirmed earlier reports that adolescent and adult pregnant women take in too little iron, zinc, folate and vitamin E.

A woman who begins pregnancy without sufficient calcium, vitamin D and other bone-building nutrients increases her risk of developing osteoporosis in middle age. But that’s not the end of the story. Her infant may also be at greater risk of fracture in the future. Osteoporosis of middle age is at least partly programmed before birth, especially if the mother smokes and has little physical activity. (Ref 2, 3, 4)

Most laypersons believe that Stone Agers were hearty meat-eaters. Anthropologists know that isn’t so. They lived on a predominantly meat diet for only about 100,000 years, from the time that Homo sapiens developed keen hunting skills until the advent of farming. Before that time meat came from carrion and small game. The bulk of their calories came from vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts.

Plant foods contain everything that a pregnant woman needs, including vitamins, antioxidants, protein and minerals. Modern vegetarians often become deficient in vitamin B12 but small game, birds’ eggs and the deliberate or accidental inclusion of insects in the Stone Age diet provided more than enough of that critical nutrient.

Folic acid deficiency in early pregnancy leads to defective formation of the infant’s brain and spinal cord. Those abnormalities are much less likely among the babies of mothers who receive an adequate amount of folate, at least 400 micrograms per day. So few women eat enough green leafy vegetables to boost their folate levels, the U.S. government requires that manufacturers of baked goods add it to their products.

Obstetricians have been prescribing multivitamins for their pregnant patients for decades but it is only in recent years that studies confirmed the wisdom of that practice. In 2002 the American Medical Association reversed a position of long standing and recommended that everyone, with no exceptions, needs a multivitamin/multimineral preparation every day in order to avoid subtle but health-damaging inadequacies of these nutrients. Taking a multivitamin reduces the risk of congenital defects of the newborn, especially those that involve the heart. Preeclampsia is a serious, sometimes fatal complication of pregnancy. Women whose intake of vitamins C and E is low have a threefold greater risk of that condition. (Ref. 5, 6)

Would these mostly vegetarian early Stone Agers have become iron-deficient? Not likely. Their diet was rich in iron as well as in Vitamin C that facilitates iron absorption. Under those conditions iron deficiency would have been rare. Cereal grains interfere with iron absorption, which explains why iron-deficiency is common in societies that subsist primarily on grains. However, one of the main reasons why Stone Age women were unlikely to be iron deficient is that they didn’t have nearly as many menstrual cycles as modern women do.

In a primitive society the onset of menses is about 5 years later than that of American young women. Modern hunter-gatherers, like the oldest Stone Agers, are either pregnant or nursing during most of their childbearing years and they only menstruate a few times between weaning one child and conceiving another. In those groups breastfeeding does suppress ovulation because it is literally on demand, i.e., every few minutes, even throughout the night. For a modern breastfeeding mother, on demand often means no more frequently than every couple of hours and perhaps once or twice a night after the third or fourth month. Thus menses return in spite of nursing and monthly blood loss continues.

The fish-brain connection

Beginning about 150,000 years ago our ancestors discovered seafood. The increased intake of fatty acids in fish and shellfish initiated the great advance in brain size and complexity that allowed humans to progress more quickly in the next 100,000 years than they had in the preceding million. Enormous gains in toolmaking and the development of language and group communication followed.

The human brain is composed mostly of water but the solid portion is mostly fat. The body can’t manufacture the omega-3 and omega-6 fats that make up so much of the structure of the brain and eye so we need them in our diet. Maternal deficiency of these nutrients, especially omega-3s, prevents the newborn brain and eyes from reaching their full potential. The best source of omega-3 fats is fish; nuts and leafy green vegetables are also good sources.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are found in every cell of the body. They allow efficient flow of nutrients, regulate nerve impulses and keep inflammation in the right balance. In a proper diet there is an equal amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. That allows the immune system to fight infection, a real threat that humans faced from the Stone Age until the age of antibiotics, a mere 70 years ago.

The advantage to the baby of a diet that is rich in omega-3 fats is obvious but mothers need it, too. Nature protects the unborn infant by tapping into the mother’s stores of omega-3 fats. A woman whose intake of omega-3 fatty acids is low during the months and years preceding pregnancy will develop a deficiency of her own. This becomes worse with succeeding pregnancies if her intake of omega-3s remains low. Postpartum depression affects about 10 percent of women following delivery and it is associated with a deficiency of omega-3 fats. (Ref 7, 8)

The newest epidemic

There is one complication of pregnancy that never occurred in the Stone Age: type 2 diabetes. No disease in modern times has risen so fast. It has increased several-fold since the 1950s; between 1990 and 2001 it rose by 61 percent. Gestational diabetics (Ref. 9) are those who do not yet have the full-blown disease but they cannot process blood sugar (glucose) properly during pregnancy. About half of them will develop frank diabetes in the years following delivery of their infant.

Most of us know type 2 diabetes, which was once referred to as adult-onset diabetes, as the disease that our grandparents developed in their later years. It’s no longer uncommon to find it in adolescents, even in grade-schoolers. As it has dipped into the younger generation it has alarmed – but not surprised – physicians to find that it is no longer a rarity in obstetric practice.

How can we be so certain that the pregnant Stone Ager didn’t have diabetes? This is a lifestyle disease that has three major associations: a low level of physical activity, a diet that is high in refined grains and sugars, and obesity. Those conditions simply didn’t occur during the Stone Age. Their lifestyle demanded strenuous effort. Grains of any sort were not part of their diet because they require tools and controlled heat. Sugar as we know it simply didn’t exist and honey was an occasional lucky find. Obesity would have been non-existent, as it is today among the planet’s dwindling populations of hunter-gatherers.

Diabetic mothers have more complications of pregnancy than normal women do. Their babies are 5 times as likely to die and are 3 times as likely to be born with abnormalities of various organs.

They kept germs at bay

Common wisdom states that Stone Age people were an infection-ridden lot but that simply isn’t true. They had powerful immune systems because of high levels of physical activity and a remarkably varied diet. Between the protective antibodies that a mother passed across the placenta and those that she conferred on her newborn via breastmilk, Stone Age babies had more protection against the germs of the day than modern infants do.

Sexually transmitted diseases don’t spread very far or very fast when people live in small isolated bands as they did during the Stone Age. The likelihood that today’s pregnant female will have at least one of these infections is more than 50 percent (Ref. 10). The impact on babies can be severe; some die, some will be brain-damaged.

Choice and consequences

Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs have produced a generation of infants with problems that Stone Age babies never faced. Mothers who smoke have infants that are smaller than the norm and whose brain development may be compromised. Alcohol or cocaine use by the mother during pregnancy results in stunted growth, congenital defects and other severe problems.

Given a choice, none of us would want to live in a Stone Age world but we have neutralized the almost miraculous medical advances of the last century. We have allowed our daughters to be less physically active and to subsist on a marginal diet. If we could reverse those two factors alone there would be a dramatic decline in prematurity and other complications of pregnancy.

The lessons that we can learn from the Stone Age are not subtle, obscure or beyond our capacity to imitate them. We can produce the healthiest generation ever by making better choices for our children and for ourselves.

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is the author of Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Better Life Publishers 2005. Contact him via his web site at http://www.stoneagedoc.com.

References

1. Giddens JB et al., Pregnant adolescent and adult women have similarly low intakes of selected nutrients, J Am Diet Assoc 2000;100:1334-1340

2 Cooper C et al., Review: developmental origins of osteoporotic fracture, Osteoporosis Int 2006; 17(3):337-47

3 Prentice A et al., Nutrition and bone growth and development, Proc Nutr Soc 2006 Nov;65(4):348-60

4 Lanham SA et al., Intrauterine programming of bone. Part I: alteration of the osteogenic environment, Osteoporos Int 2008 Feb;19(2):147-56

5 Keen CL et al., The Plausibility of Micronutrient Deficiencies Being a Significant Contributing Factor to the Occurrence of Pregnancy Complications, Am Soc Nutr Sciences J Nutr 2003 May;133:1597S-1605S

6 Bodnar LM et al., Periconceptional multivitamin use reduces the risk of preeclampsia, Am J Epidemiol 2006 Sep 1;164(5):470-7

7 Freeman MP, Omega-3 fatty acids and perinatal depression: a review of the literature and recommendations for future research, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2006 Oct-Nov;75(4-5):291-7

8 Kendall-Tackett K, A new paradigm for depression in new mothers: the central role of inflammation and how breastfeeding and anti-inflammatory treatments protect maternal mental health, Int Breastfeed J 2007;2:6

9 Greene MF and Solomon CG, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus – Time to Treat, N Engl J Med 2005 June 16; 352(24):2544-46

10 Baseman JG and Koutsky LA, The epidemiology of human papillomavirus infections, J Clin Virol 2005 Mar;32 Supple 1:S16-24

French Ice Cream Sundae Desserts

French ice cream sundaes might include any combination of flavors, sorbets, syrups, nuts and even alcohols. There really is no limit. However, there are some popular combinations that you are quite likely to find on the menu if you visit an ice cream parlor (glacier) in France. These classic sundaes are easy enough to reproduce at home. Add on a fancy French name, and you will have an elegant dessert ready in no time.

If you do decide to serve your dessert with a French touch, do not forget to top it with one or two rolled “cigarette” or fan shaped cookies. Their slightly sweet, crispy crunch is the perfect accompaniment to a cold and rich French sundae.

Chocolate Liegeois – Chocolate and vanilla ice creams, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and shaved chocolate.

Coffee Liegois – This is the same as a chocolate liegeois, except coffee substitutes for the chocolate.

Coupe Antillaise – Here the flavors are supposed to be Caribbean. Many times this means vanilla and rum raisin ice cream, topped with pineapple and whipped cream, but other combinations of rum and fruit are possible.

Coupe Tutti Frutti – A combination of different sorbets (for example, pear, peach, or pineapple) with different fresh fruits (for example, strawberries, grapes, melon, or pineapple), topped with whipped cream and fruit syrup.

Coupe Colonel – Watch out – the colonel has a bite! Lemon sorbet topped with vodka.

Dame Blanche – Just a simple vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The elegance is all in the name.

Peche Melba – This was invented by the renowned French culinary authority, Auguste Escoffier, in testament to his admiration for Nelly Melba, who was a popular turn of the 20th century Australian opera singer. Vanilla ice cream, poached peaches, and raspberry sauce. These days you are likely to find your peche Melba topped with whipped cream as well.

Poire Belle Helene – Another cold dessert inspired by the opera – this one commemorates the presentation in 1864 of La Belle Helene, an operetta by Jacques Offenbach. Vanilla ice cream, poached pears, and chocolate sauce.

Profiteroles – This is not a sundae, but you will find it frequently offered on the menu in a French glacier. Cream puffs are typically filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Homemade Frozen Fruit Sorbets – A Healthy Alternative to Ice Cream

“Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream”. Then we look in the mirror and scream again when we see that the ice cream has taken up permanent residence on our belly, hips, and thighs.

Are you a fan of the cool concoction but tired of paying the price for indulging in the dairy delight? Or are you lactose intolerant and a simple scoop of your favorite flavor will cause you to scream with anything but delight? For whatever reasons you regret craving the cold, creamy stuff, don’t despair. There is a solution to your predicament. Meet the popular dessert’s culinary cousin: fruit sorbet.

Homemade fresh fruit sorbets are the healthy equivalent of their evil relative. They don’t contain dairy products, unpronounceable chemicals, high-fructose corn syrup, refined and processed sugar, animal fat, or high amounts of calories and guilt. They do contain fresh fruit and nothing else. Oh, yes there is one other ingredient: the ability to kick cravings for that other substance right out of your head.

What you will need to make this frozen treat is a masticating style juice extractor and a variety of fruit in any combination you desire. Adding banana to any assortment will give extra creaminess. Cut your fruit into chunks, place them in a container or plastic bag, and freeze. Once the fruit is frozen you can run the chunks through the masticating style juicer using the “blank” screen. This allows the entire fruit to pass through the masticating process and out the juicer nozzle. What you will have is something resembling soft-serve ice cream without its sinful qualities. Instead you will have a delicious, angelic wonderfulness with some truly good things to recommend it, like all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes,and natural fiber of fresh fruit.

So if you have been mourning the thought of having to give up your favorite dessert indulgence, think again. Get into the kitchen and whip up some homemade fruit sorbet. It’s cold, it’s creamy, it’s sweet, it’s satisfying, it’s good for you and it’s oh so good. It may even cause you to scream with delight.

Iodine for Hypothyroidism: Friend or Foe?

Iodine for hypothyroidism is a controversial topic, with experts on both ends of the spectrum arguing for and against its use. But if you have hypothyroidism, or know someone who does, it’s important to understand that iodine is often not a preferred form of treatment, and in many cases can make your condition worse.

Before we delve into why that is, you’re probably wondering about all of the good things you’ve heard about iodine, so allow us to explain…

Your Thyroid Needs Iodine to Function

Your body does not make iodine on its own, which means you must get it through your food. If you don’t get enough, you will be unable to make sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.

Your thyroid depends on iodine to produce two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The numbers in these hormone names are actually a marker of how many iodine atoms are attached, with T4 containing 4 atom molecules, then releasing one to convert into T3, the hormone’s active form.

It’s estimated that 2 billion people worldwide — including 266 million school-age children — have insufficient iodine intake,[1] and the resulting iodine deficiency is, in fact, the most common cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) worldwide.

If you have an iodine-deficient diet then eating iodine-rich foods like seaweed and even supplementing with iodine can quickly help to remedy the problem… but it’s important to realize that in the United States iodine deficiency is not a major cause of hypothyroidism, and in many cases treating the condition with iodine is a major health disaster.

Iodine Deficiency is NOT a Major Cause of U.S. Hypothyroidism Cases

Iodine levels in food vary greatly depending on soil and seawater concentration of iodine. Because of this it can be difficult to get sufficient iodine from diet alone, especially if you live in an area with iodine-deficient soil. To remedy this, the United States adds iodine to most table salt, which means you’re not only getting extra iodine when you salt your food, but also when you eat processed foods, which are typically heavily salted with iodized salt.

Many animal feeds in the United States are also supplemented with iodine and as a result dairy products are also good food sources of this nutrient.

There have, however, been signs that iodine intakes in the United States have been dropping, possibly due to increased numbers of people cutting back on their salt intake, but data from the latest study available, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004, suggests that most Americans are still getting enough.[2]

So, in the United States, iodine deficiency is not considered to be a major cause of hypothyroidism, except in specific at-risk groups, such as those who do not consume iodized salt (including that in processed foods), fish or seaweed, or women who are pregnant.

That said, cases of hypothyroidism are widespread in the United States, impacting nearly 4 percent of the population, [3] including 13 million who have not been diagnosed and are unaware they have the condition. [4]

If iodine deficiency is not the problem, then what is?

The Most Common Cause of Hypothyroidism in the United States

Hypothyroidism in the United States is most often the result of an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease, which causes your immune system to mistakenly attack, and destroy, the thyroid.

The disease typically begins with inflammation of your thyroid gland (thyroiditis) that over time impairs the ability of your thyroid to produce enough hormones, and eventually leads to underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.

The exact causes of Hashimoto’s are unknown, but it’s likely the result of a combination of factors including:

  • A virus or bacteria that triggers the response
  • Genetics/family history
  • Gender (women are more likely to have Hashimoto’s)
  • Other environmental factors

However, and this is an important point, excess iodine may also worsen the condition.

Increasing Iodine May Worsen Hypothyroidism

There’s no arguing that iodine is a crucial nutrient for your body… but in the case of hypothyroidism, more is not always better.

Studies show that giving iodine to people who had adequate or excessive iodine intake could actually trigger hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis.

Research also suggests that iodine actually increases the activity of the thyroid peroxidase (TPO) enzyme, and increased antibodies to this enzyme are common in Hashimoto’s patients. It is the interaction between the TPO enzyme and the antibodies that leads to inflammation and destruction of the thyroid. In other words, too much iodine can actually make Hashimoto’s worse.

Remember, since most hypothyroidism cases in the United States are due to Hashimoto’s disease, NOT iodine deficiency, this study could apply to you…

Be Very Careful if Your Health Care Practitioner Automatically Recommends Iodine for Hypothyroidism

Many health care practitioners in the United States do not understand the complexities of thyroid function and will routinely recommend iodine supplements for people with hypothyroidism. This approach will, unfortunately, be detrimental for some.

If you are truly deficient in iodine, then supplementation or increased dietary intake is necessary. But if not, additional iodine will most likely only trigger or worsen your thyroid troubles.

So if your health care practitioner recommends iodine supplementation without any real evidence that you’re deficient, it’s a red flag to take note of. A second opinion from a practitioner who understands the complex role of iodine in hypothyroidism — and can discuss with you its benefits versus risks — is likely warranted.

References

1. Food and Nutrition Bulletin 2008 Sep;29(3):195-202.

2. Thyroid. 2008 Nov;18(11):1207-14.

3. Thyroid. 2007 Dec;17(12):1211-23.

4. Archives of Internal Medicine 2000;160:526-534.