Is the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax Improving our Health or Just Taking Our Money?

The government has a lot of power in the obesity epidemic, unfortunately based on their current and past actions, I do not see much dedication to a solution.  They have the ability to regulate different fillers, hormones, and antibiotic use that is present in our current “industrial” farming techniques.  They also have the ability to control the products available to the consumers.  For example, currently in my hometown of Chicago, there is a huge controversy over the sugar-sweetened beverage tax that was just passed.  Although they are using this to increase state money, they are claiming this will decrease the consumption of these beverages and in turn improve the health of the people.

But why sugar sweetened beverages?  It has been proven in study after study that there is a very positive correlation between consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and body weight in children as well as adults.  With the government knowing this for as long as we have known this correlation, it is time they finally do something about it.

I feel, it is not the consumers who should have to pay more money for the things they enjoy, so I do not support the taxing whether it is by ounce, how much sugar is added or just a set percentage per purchase as being talked a lot about in the Chicagoland area currently.  Some consumers may only purchase and consume them in moderation so should not be “punished” for that through increased taxes.  I believe we should be going after the companies producing these products.

There are several ways that can be executed.  The government can increase the taxes the companies need to pay based off the nutritional value of what they are producing.  Referring to an article by Brownell, I thought it was a very ingenious idea to use extra tax money on nutrition education and nutrition supplemental programs.  I firmly believe many Americans simply do not understand juice is bad for you since they think it is fruit!  However, when making juice, you removing the fiber from the fruit.  Removing this makes a concentrated sugar beverage that is digested very quickly, spiking your blood glucose and leaving you with a crash.  Taxing companies who are making these products could generate extra funding for teaching Americans through advertisements or media what is actually in their foods or beverages.

Going along with that we can also use the money to improve packaging.  If consumers read the ingredient label that says “grape juice from concentrate” they have no idea what that means and having the explanation right there for them, may help them make a better decision to drink it or not.  Same goes for reading how many grams of sugar are in the beverage.  What does it mean when it says carbohydrate with sugars and fiber underneath?  For some it may be understood, but to the average American or a child, they may think something is nutritionally adequate when it is not at all.

I also really think advertisements are huge in this industry.  If the government regulated what kids are seeing, they may not want or even recognize these sugary drinks.  I wanted to see what current companies thought of their advertisements and see if they knew the harmful effects it brings on children specifically.  I looked at the Pepsi corporate website and found some very fascinating avenues they are beginning to make with their advertisement and marketing team.  In 2012, they chose to stop advertising to audiences that were made up of more than 35% children under 12.  To the audiences that contain a majority of children under 12, they follow the PepsiCo guidelines, which only advertises products that meet specific science based nutrition criteria, but unfortunately this criteria was not specified.  This was all implemented in 2013.  In 2014, they enhanced these advertising techniques to include outdoor activity, interactive games, and cinema and product placement.   This is an example of a company that understands the negative impact their product can have when consumed in excess and also can admit that advertising to children can be consequential.  They have a set plan in place to help improve this marketing to children and although it may be gradual, it is definitely a step in the right direction, and an example for similar companies to do the same.

So in conclusion, I believe the government’s role in this problem is to take responsibility and finally execute a plan to fix it.  Making laws that better regulate the food label so average people can understand it, would be a huge accomplishment.  I also think the advertisements in the stores should be regulated and should contain educational information so consumers can make informed decisions on their choices.  And lastly, the hundreds of food commercials on TV need to be decreased by the government, specifically on child networks and specifically of foods high in sugar and fat.

 

 

To All My Fellow Chocoholics

Chocolate is my favorite food group! It wasn’t until I became intrigued by health and nutrition that I was able to decrease my sugar intake and transition into the dark chocolate market instead of the candy bars loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and more chemicals than the periodic table! I think for people with a sweet tooth or 2, they have the capability to make this same transition.  Many people love a sweet treat at night.  By slowly increasing the amount of cocoa in your chocolate bar you will be able to learn to love dark chocolate and never look back! It will be especially easy for people who like the flavors of dark beers, coffee or dry wines as they hold similar pallet characteristics.

But why is it important to your health to make this change?

Dark chocolate holds fascinating health benefits.  Many people would be able to name that the antioxidant content of the cocoa makes it a health option.  This is true as the antioxidants present in dark chocolate help fight inflammation which is linked to nearly every disease as they fight oxidative stress creating disease.  However, the power of chocolate goes beyond this antioxidant property and becomes much more and today I plan to focus on its cardiovascular effects.

Chocolate comes from the cocoa tree and we actually consume the seeds after they have been fermented.  Fermentation in itself offers so many nutritional benefits to our GI tract.  When you consume dark chocolate, the processing of this plant is minimal and amount of cocoa is high.  You can find this amount as a percentage on the chocolate bar itself.  The higher content percentage, the more of the nutrients we are about to discuss are present, making it healthier.  When you pick up a Snickers, the cocoa is hardly present as it has been highly processed with sugar and dairy products to give it a sweeter more desirable flavor the American population is accustomed to.   Continue reading

Copper

Copper is the name of my furry friend, pictured above. Calling his name in the yard the other day had me thinking, not many people talk about the mineral copper. I wanted to shed light on how important this trace mineral is and bring awareness of its major rolls in our body. Copper is a trace mineral that plays many important functions within the body. Within the body, copper is an element of ceruloplasmin, which is the protein required for copper transport in the body. Therefore, if one were to measure their copper status, ceruloplasmin levels would be measured. Ceruloplasmin itself plays a key role in the oxidation of ferrous to ferric iron, showing a close relationship between both copper and iron transport. When ceruloplasmin is inadequate, transportation of iron for heme formation is actually impaired, increasing the risk for anemia. The iron builds up in the tissues due to lack of transportation and symptoms similar to those of hemochromatosis occurs (1).

In addition to copper’s essential role in iron transportation, new information in copper’s assistance in bone health is being researched. This role is still not fully understood, however the function of a copper‐containing enzyme called lysyl oxidase is being researched in relation to how copper aids in the formation of collagen for bone and connective tissue and contributes to the mechanical strength of bone collagen fibrils, which are the long thin strands of proteins that cross‐link to one another in the spaces around cells (2). Continue reading

Grilled Peach Salsa

Grilled Peach Salsa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This salsa is the definition of sweet and spicy while the grilled flavors add the perfect smokiness to give it a unique twist.

Ingredients

  •  1 peach
  • ½ ear of corn
  • ½ cup tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped
  • ½ Vidalia onion, diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Cut peach around the pit. Remove the pit. Place two halves flesh side down on the grill.
  2. Husk corn. Wrap in foil. Place on the grill.
  3. In large bowl mix the ½ cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped green onion,½ diced Vidalia onion, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 1 diced jalapeño, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 2 cloves minced garlic.
  4. Chop the peach and add to the bowl.
  5. Cut the corn kernels off and add to the bowl.

Healthy Hair, I Care

Have you gone to every extreme to get thick, long and HEALTHY hair?  I know I have very dry and coarse hair so it takes a little extra TLC to make sure it looks beautiful and shiny instead of dull and frizzy.  Especially now that summer is here, its time I up my efforts to keep that lion’s mane down!   I have tried several brands of hair, skin and nails pills.  However, I feel while when taking these, my nails in particular became more brittle.  I have also tried taking prenatal pills as a cosmetologist had recommended these to me.  I did not notice much of a difference after using them.  Obviously, knowing me I turned to food to help my hair get to where it is today, as there are several nutrients that are beneficial for our hair.

If you have tried a hair, skin and nail supplement, one nutrient you would for sure find is biotin.  Biotin is one of the B vitamins.  Within the body biotin plays a key role in protein synthesis, or the making of proteins within the body.  One protein it helps to synthesize is keratin.  Keratin is what our hair is made of.  You may see products in the hair care isle marked “keratin oil.”  Although, this topical treatment may help your hair increase in shine because it is an oil, it is not going to have the same impact as the keratin synthesis occurring in our bodies.  Because of this, another important nutrient to consume in adequate amounts to ensure healthy hair is protein.  Within the body we have something called an amino acid pool.  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.  Our body is continuously breaking down and building proteins from our food intake and the protein stored in our muscles.  For example, if our amino acid pool is low, protein from our muscles will be broken down into individual amino acids and sent into our blood or “pool”.  These amino acids can then bond to form new proteins, such as keratin as needed.  To avoid the breakdown of muscle protein, we need to make sure we are consuming adequate protein so we can use the amino acids from the metabolism of this not muscles.  Again, biotin and the other B vitamins play critical roles in both metabolism of protein we consume as well as the synthesis of new proteins within the body. Continue reading

Fish Tacos with Corn Salad

Fish Tacos with Corn Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, tangy, and delicious cod taco bursting with crunch and flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 mango
  • 4 Jalapenos
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 4 pieces of cod (16 oz total)
  • olive oil
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 avacados
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 6 Tbsp cilanto
  • 2 cups black beans (1 can)
  • Salt and pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

For Tacos:

  1. Slice the mango and cut the fruit into big chunks. Salt and pepper the mango and jalapeños, then grill the mango and two jalapeños until tender. Cut mango into cups and dice jalapeños. Add to a mixing bowl.
  2. Shred one cup of carrots and one cup of red cabbage. Add to mixing bowl with ¼ cup chopped green onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic.
  3. Add 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp. honey and the zest of one lime to mixing bowl.
  4. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix 2 tsp. paprika and ½ tsp chili powder. Salt and pepper both sides of the cod. Rub paprika and chili powder on both sides of cod.
  6. Cover bottom of pan with olive oil. Heat olive oil over low heat on stove. Raise to medium heat and put cod in hot oil.  Cook for 4 minutes on both sides.  Remove from heat and allow fish to rest.
  7. Preheat oven to 350. Put 8 corn tortillas on a cookie sheet and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove corn tortillas from oven. Cut fish in strips and put half a fish on each tortilla. Add slaw to each taco.  Top each taco with chopped cilantro.

For Corn Salad:

  1. Remove husk and clean the corn. Add salt and pepper to the corn, the 2 jalapeños and the red pepper. Wrap corn in foil and place on grill with the two jalapeños.
  2. Remove from grill and allow the corn to cool. Cut the corn off the cob and add to a mixing bowl. Dice the jalapeños and red pepper and add to the bowl.
  3. Dice two avocados and add to bowl.
  4. Chop 1/3 cup red onion and 4 Tbsp cilantro and add to bowl.
  5. Add 2 cups of black beans to the bowl with ¾ tsp chili powder and the juice of two limes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: When cutting the mango, slice a flat surface on the bottom of the mango.  Stand the mango up on the flat surface you created and slice the skin away as closely to the flesh as you can.  Feel for the pit with your knife to get the biggest pieces of fruit!

Citrus Is In Season, Y’all

What Are Citrus Fruits?

Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, limes, clementines, mandarins, tangerines, grapefruits and several other exotic fruits.  They are classified by their outer peel and segmented flesh.  Citrus fruits are also known for their acidic content.

What Are the Benefits of Adding Citrus Fruits to Your Diet?

Citrus fruits offer a variety of health benefits to our diets.  Citrus fruits contain several antioxidants including vitamin A, C and E.   Flavonoids are responsible for the vibrant colors of citrus fruits and also have antioxidant qualities.  Adding these nutrients to your diet can help prevent a range of health concerns including cardiovascular disease, cancer and inflammation.

Citrus fruits also contain many minerals including calcium, which plays a major role in maintaining bone mass that can decrease as we age.  Potassium is present in citrus fruits and also plays a very important role in bone health.  Additionally, potassium can help maintain normal blood pressure.  Folate, a B vitamin, plays an important role in our blood and is found in adequate amounts in citrus fruits.  This is an especially important vitamin for expecting mothers.

As with all fruits, fiber is another nutrient found in citrus fruits. More than half of the fiber found in citrus fruits is soluble fiber, which can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and lower cholesterol.  The insoluble fiber will help prevent constipation. Both are critical to our overall health.

How Can I Add Them to My Diet?

Because of all of these benefits, it is important to find ways to work these into your diet.  Some simple ways include adding a lemon wedge to your water or tea, or having a glass of orange juice each day.  Lime is great to cook with when preparing savory dishes and can also be added on top of chicken or rice after being cooked for an extra punch of flavor.  Mandarin oranges and almonds are great toppings to salads.  Citrus fruits are also healthy substitutes for those salty or sugary snacks we often crave throughout the day.