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Author: Laura Pawlak

The Holidays: A Time for Comfort Food

The Holidays: A Time for Comfort Food

The term comfort food can be traced back to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used the term in a story:  “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort foods.’  These foods are associated with the security of childhood, the relief of stress, and euphoric feelings.” Although the identification of particular items as comfort foods may be unique to an individual, patterns are detectable.  In a study of American food choices, males preferred warm, hearty,…

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Is There an Anti-Arthritis Diet?

Is There an Anti-Arthritis Diet?

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a bone disease damaging the spongy tissue called cartilage that covers a joint.  As cartilage wears away, bones in a joint rub against one another causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness.  This degenerative disease impacts nearly 30 million people across the U.S. When searching for an Anti-arthritis Diet, pseudo-science abounds:  avoid nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers; stay away from dairy foods; avoid acidic foods and beverages, but drink apple cider vinegar—which…

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More Healthy Bread, Maybe Not

More Healthy Bread, Maybe Not

The vast variety of breads available in supermarkets and bakeries reflects the unquenchable appetite of Americans for this grain-based food.  Breads labeled as “whole grain” appear to be a smart way to add fiber to your diet. Whole grains improve regularity, slow digestion, reduce appetite, improve cholesterol, and prevent spikes in blood sugar — a major driver of obesity, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes. A whole grain bread uses the entire grain seed:  the bran (an outer layer…

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Chocolate: A Smart Food?

Chocolate: A Smart Food?

There is universal agreement that chocolate is a feel good food.  Chocolate melts in your mouth, releasing its sweet, creamy, cocoa flavor, and the brain follows with a burst of “happy” chemicals.   Beyond the sensory joy of eating chocolate, there are claims that chocolate is a healthy food for the brain.  Most of us would gladly eat more chocolate if proven to benefit the brain.  Several ingredients in cocoa have been proposed to explain the possible cognitive benefits of…

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Water: The Fountain of Youth?

Water: The Fountain of Youth?

Based on the fact that about two-thirds of the body is composed of water, it seems obvious that consuming water is important for health.  Water requirements have been studied for decades.  Recommendations are narrowed to two alternatives:  Consume a minimum of eight cups of liquid per day or drink to quench thirst.  Research now reveals that drinking water when feeling thirsty boosts the brain’s performance in mental tests.  Dr. Caroline Edmonds, the author of a lead study, found that reaction…

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The Party’s Over

The Party’s Over

Holiday food and spirits may have disappeared, but those extra calories can stubbornly remain as body fat.  With each new year, an array of diets emerges, promising to restore your former shape. My suggestion?  This year, follow a new plan called Intermittent Fasting, that has captured the interest of both dieters and researchers.  Intermittent Fasting is a structured program without the drudgery of daily calorie deprivation. Although traditional reduced-calorie diets are certainly science-based, intermittent fasting is a sensible alternative.  Studies…

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Drink Coffee, Live Longer?

Drink Coffee, Live Longer?

A coffee plant can live 100 years.  Could humans extend their lives closer to a century by enjoying a cup — or more — of the brew each day? Coffee beans are seeds of a red fruit called the coffee cherry.  Like all plant foods, coffee beans contain more than a thousand healthful chemicals. The benefits of drinking coffee are pretty impressive.  The roasted bean has been shown to enhance brain function, increase metabolic rate, and improve exercise performance.  Used…

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Nourish Your Friendly Bacteria

Nourish Your Friendly Bacteria

By Dr. Laura Pawlak In a society of anti-bacterial warfare, who would imagine scientists touting the benefits of consuming foods fermented by living microorganisms? The organisms are called probiotics, which means “for life.”  Identified on the skin and within the body, these beneficial microbes are part of a community of healthful and harmful micro-organisms called the microbiota.  Most probiotics are located in your gut, particularly the large intestine (colon).  Probiotics aid the digestion and absorption of food, improve immune function,…

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More Sugar Please

More Sugar Please

Love sugar?  This innate desire for sweets can be traced to an ancient part of the brain — the reward circuit.  The sweet, sensory experience is recorded as a rewarding one as endorphin molecules (natural opioids) bathe the brain.  A long-lasting memory of the tasty experience is stored deep inside the brain.  There is purpose to the “feel good” experience resulting from sweetness.  You will search for, and continue to consume, the ideal fuel for your mind — the simple…

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MOOD AND FOOD

MOOD AND FOOD

What you eat can affect your risk of the most common mood disorder in the United States:  depression. Mental health begins with lifestyle:  nutritious food; regular exercise; sufficient sleep; and coping skills. The chemical components of food impact one’s state of mind throughout the day — that is, after every meal and snack.  A long period of time without nourishment (fasting) activates survival emotions throughout the brain.  Food, or the lack of it, thus alters both feelings and thoughts. A…

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