Going Green: How to Make Your Plate Sustainable

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There are a lot of reasons why we eat, only one of which is hunger. We eat for pleasure, flavor, we break bread with friends and family, we eat for comfort as well as nutrition and health.

But lately, there’s been a new reason we eat what we eat. A lot of people are “going green” with their menus, buying food that is sustainable, local or organic.

People who are “eating greener” include those who grow their own food and compost all their waste, to those who simply take a re-usable bag to the grocery store. We’re all interested in making decisions that are better for the environment. If you want to step up your efforts toward environmental food decisions, here are a few tips to consider.

Eat Fresh Produce in Season

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state with lots of farms like we are in California, then you have access to fresh fruits and vegetables all year-round. Eating in-season, local produce ensures that your food has traveled fewer miles to get to you, which means it’s fresher, too. One way to ensure you’re getting in-season produce is to visit your nearest Farmers’ Market; you’ll also feel good about supporting local farmers. With almost 800 farmers’ markets in California, there’s likely one near you. Don’t live in California, or there isn’t a nearby Farmer’s Market? Here is a list of seasonal fruits and vegetables you can buy from your local grocery store.

Cook at Home

Eating at home will save you gas to get to a restaurant and money on the tab. You’ll also be doing yourself some good. Cooking your own foods allows you to have more control over the ingredients, likely reducing the calories and salt you eat and ensuring that you’re eating a more nutritious meal1.

Reduce Food Waste

The EPA reports that in 2010, Americans generated 34 million tons of food waste, that is 40 percent of our food mostly in our homes2. Reducing your own food waste will save you money and help out the local landfill. Plan your meals so you cook the food you purchased. To do this, make sure you rotate the oldest food to the front of the refrigerator, or you may want to use some frozen foods to minimize waste. Keep your refrigerator and freezer set at the proper temperature. Cleaning refrigerator coils based on the manufacturer’s recommendations reduces energy costs. If you want to be even “greener”, try composting in your back yard. Don’t have a back yard? There are plenty of in-home composting options available.

Ditch Overly-Packaged Food

You know what an apple doesn’t have? A wrapper. An easy way to go green with your food is to ditch packaged products, which will reduce the packaging waste. You’ll likely find yourself eating better, too.

Grow Your Own Food

A little vegetable plot in your back yard can provide a lot of vegetables and fruits. With a backyard garden, you can hit all the high points of personal environmentalism: your veggies will be organic, unprocessed and they’ll have traveled zero miles to get to you. You can even compost any waste and turn it back into the soil.

Eat a Balanced Diet in the Right Amounts

Remember to eat for your health by eating right-sized, balanced meals from all five food groups. Your waist and your wallet will thank you, and if we all pitched in, we’d consume less food overall, leaving more resources for the planet.

Should I Buy Organic?

Organic farming doesn’t include the use of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Since organic food has become more popular, much of it is grown by large scale producers and may have similar food miles and water/soil conservation practices as conventional agriculture. Organic foods can be more expensive, and it really comes down to a personal choice whether to buy them or not.

Both conventional and organic milk, fruits and vegetables provide the same nutrient value. If organic is a little too pricey, don’t skip healthy foods altogether; feel confident that the conventional option is just as nourishing. Also, an organic label does not necessarily make the food healthy.

Ultimately, how green you go is up to you. There are a lot of easy things you can do to help the planet by adjusting your plate. The best part? Most of the changes you make will benefit your own health immediately.

Accentuate the Positive in Eating

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“You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative!”

That’s a lyric in a very old Bing Crosby song from the 1940’s. He wasn’t talking about food – but the advice could apply to healthy eating. For too long, we’ve been focusing on what not to eat, what to cut out of the diet, what to avoid. The trend has become extreme as diet after popular diet encourages people to cut out entire food groups to lose weight. But perhaps it’s time to “eliminate the negative” and forget about cutting foods out. Focus instead on letting healthy foods in!

In the past decade, we’ve seen the focus of nutrition recommendations and policy guidelines move more toward the negative — what “sinful” foods should be eliminated, restricted or taxed because of their fat, sugar, calorie or sodium content. But, making villains of an ever-expanding list of foods isn’t working for us (much like prohibition of alcohol didn’t work almost a century ago). Instead of viewing food as the enemy, let’s look at what we can “do” to eat healthfully and spend less time on the “don’ts.” A positive approach to eating also takes into account family cultural traditions as well as cost and convenience, allowing people to eat with joy and flexibility.

Respecting an individual’s food tastes and cooking preferences is part of a positive, balanced — and realistic — approach to eating. Restricting foods or advising people to eliminate their favorite things will only make those foods more attractive. The resulting guilt is not an emotion that should be connected to food. Eating should be enjoyable and free of negative emotions!

In a study cited by Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto” Americans and French people were asked what emotions they associated with chocolate cake. Americans said guilt. The French said celebration. Which camp would you rather be in? Enjoy your celebrations. Enjoy your food. Take time to savor every bite.

5 Reasons to Eat a Protein-Packed Breakfast

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Eating breakfast isn’t just for kids. Although you’ve probably stopped growing, your body is constantly renewing itself, replenishing your skin, hair and nails, replacing old tissues with new, breaking down and rebuilding bone and generally keeping your body in the best shape possible.

How does your body do it? With the nutrients food delivers. Breakfast is especially important because after a long night’s sleep, the body is low on energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.

So that’s one really good reason to eat breakfast. How about five more?

1. Breakfast-skipping is linked with being overweight

Although a direct effect of skipping breakfast on weight has yet to be determined, studies indicate that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight or obese. One large study found that breakfast skippers were 4.5 times more likely to be heavy than those who ate breakfast1. Obesity was also related to how many meals were eaten out1, so when you get the chance, make your breakfast (and pack your lunch) at home!

2. Breakfast helps you balance out your protein

Americans get plenty of protein, but we tend to eat most of it at the dinner meal. Protein is essential for developing and maintaining lean muscle, but if we’re not getting enough protein throughout the day, muscle maintenance is not at the maximal level2. And when we finally get some protein at dinner, it’s largely wasted because the body can only use so much at one time. Use breakfast to pump up your protein. Include eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese and lean meats in your morning meal.

Another benefit of protein in the morning is that it’s likely to keep you full longer, as another study found. Those who ate protein at breakfast said they felt satisfied longer than those who at the same amount of protein at other meals3.

3. Breakfast is packed with the nutrients most of us don’t get enough of

Pastries and fatty breakfast meats don’t count, but if you stick to breakfast foods like whole-grain cereal and milk, fruit and yogurt or eggs and whole grain toast, you’re much more likely to meet your daily dose of necessary nutrition. Those who skip breakfast tend to have lower levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, vitamins A, E, B6, C and folate4.

4. Eating breakfast benefits blood sugar and cholesterol levels

A small study found that when lean, healthy women skipped breakfast, their fasting blood sugar was higher, along with their cholesterol, upping their risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Skipping breakfast caused the women to eat more throughout the day than when they ate breakfast, too5.

5. Skipping breakfast won’t save you calories

It may seem like eliminating a whole meal must lead to weight loss, but the opposite appears to be true. Many studies have found that those who skip breakfast tend to eat more during the day and are more likely to be overweight or obese (see Number 1 above). One study found that skipping breakfast is associated with higher risks of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure. Whether those diseases resulted from the extra weight non-breakfast eaters tend to carry or from skipping breakfast itself needs further research6.

Sweets for your sweet

Sweets for your sweet
I can honestly say that children have far more hectic social lives than adults do. From birthday parties and festivals to school events, they are out of the door as soon as they come in. The little ones now have big lives and with their ‘big little’ lives, come big problems. From cakes, pastries, ice-creams to popsicles served at various events and birthday parties that they attend, kids now have far more access to sweets.

Sugar is bad for children’s teeth, metabolism, concentration, weight maintenance, energy and fitness levels… the list goes on. So how does a parent tackle the festival season? By being inventive. Here’s how you can regulate sweets for your sweet.

Teach, Don’t Tell
Instead of stating sweets are bad, tell them exactly why. I find kids today are far more inquisitive than ever before, and it may be good to inform them of the very real consequences of eating excess sugar. You can simply tell them or use the internet to explain it through short videos. You can check the content before traumatising them too much – you’d be surprised at how much they imbibe.

Prepare, Don’t Expect
Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping your host puts something healthy on the table, you could make-and-take. Instead of taking a bottle of wine or a candle set as a gift for the next adult-and-kids soiree, you could consider taking a dessert brimming with healthy ingredients.

Savour, Don’t Sweeten
You don’t always have to take something sweet. Hot snacks like baked samosas, home fries, poha, upma or even healthy toasted sandwiches could satiate even the fussiest appetites. Figure out how you can pull kids towards the healthy food by using fun shapes and food colours at the next party you host.

Pack, Don’t Attack
You could also halve your child’s intake of unhealthy foods by packing half a dessert in the lunch box. A nice little treat in the school dabba gives them bragging rights and will never fail to delight.
Another trick to ensure that your kid gets adequate nutrition is to feed your child before they land up at their event so that the delicacies on display have limited appeal. A glass of milk could fill up their little stomachs before their 4 pm party at the neighbour’s. This trick works beautifully for adults too, who want to maintain their weight. Just saying.


8 good carbs for weight loss

8 good carbs for weight loss (TongRo Images/Getty Images)
8 good carbs for weight loss (TongRo Images/Getty Images)
Obesity epidemic is upon us and we are helplessly watching it grow. Carbohydrates (along with fats) are one grey area for everyone trying to eat healthy. And adding to the brouhaha is the recent study by some medics who claim that while your body can still do without cutting down on fats but it is when you severely slash down carbohydrates from your diet that you will see weight loss results. Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading British cardiologist reiterates the fact. He says, low carbohydrate diet with healthy fats is the answer to maintaining or attaining a healthy weight.

Regardless of how much we think we know about carbs, there is always something that falls short. First up, carbohydrates are not only present in breads, pasta and rice that are generally considered high carb. There are a whole lot of food items out there that have carbs. So cutting down on breads, pasta and rice alone doesn’t ensure a no-carb diet.

Firstly, what exactly happens when you consume carbohydrates? You have to understand that it is your body’s source of energy. When you eat carbs, the body converts most of it into glucose (sugar), which is then utilized to fuel brain and muscles cells. But there are hardly any food items that are ‘only carbs’. It is such a broad category and not all carbs are the same. Broadly, there are three types of carbs – sugar, starch and fibre and it is about the type and quantity of carbs you eat that matter. We should definitely cut down sugar in our diet but a good mix of starch and fibre is the way to go.

So instead of harping about foods that are loaded with carbs, we bring you healthy carb options. Many of them we bet you didn’t know nestled carbs.


If you are struggling to lose weight, chickpeas should be your go-to choice. It is low on glycemic index and also help curb your hunger. It can be taken in salads or turned into a healthy filling curry. It is also believed to lower bad cholesterol.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes have simple starches and complex carbohydrates. This is not it. It is high in fiber, beta-carotene, and much sought after vitamins. They are also considered to be great source of recovery food.


A lot of people swear by oats when it comes to fixing up a healthy breakfast. These versatile oats consist of beta-glucan super fiber and helps lower cholesterol. The best part is that they are digested slowly in the body, making you feel fuller for longer.


It is not a very popular food item among weight watchers but they are unaware of its goodness. It’s the best mid meal snack and loaded with fast-acting carbohydrates. It is an amazing source of Vitamin B6, potassium, fiber and manganese. In fact, a ripe banana is also believed to prevent cancer. Not only that, it is the perfect pre and post workout snack.


A lot of people avoid peas because it is higher in carbs and sugar as compared to other vegetables but do not forget that it is a brilliant source of phytonutrients and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Some studies also show that it helps prevent stomach cancer.


Talk about carbohydrates present in fruits and blueberry is your most nutritious source. We all know they are rich in vitamins, essential minerals and also helps in burning fat. What’s more? They are also not the post concentrated source of carbs.

Greek yogurt

Nutritionists across the globe are talking about the goodness of greek yogurt. Opt for the non-sugary greek yogurts to keep your carbohydrate content low and you will get the goodness of both protein as well as carbs.


Corn (popcorn)

Popcorn is indeed a whole grain and is high on antioxidants.

New hope for patients with deadly brain tumour

Non-invasive gene therapy could treat brain tumour (Fatine El Hassani/Getty Images)
Non-invasive gene therapy could treat brain tumour (Fatine El Hassani/Getty Images)
Researchers have found a potential new way of stopping one of the most aggressive types of brain tumour from spreading, which could also lead the way to better patient survival.

Glioblastoma, which is one of the most common types of malignant brain tumours in adults, grow fast as well as spread easily.

The tumour has threadlike tendrils that extend into other parts of the brain making it difficult to remove it all, the study from the University of Southampton in Britain said.

The findings suggest that by blocking specific enzymes called ADAM10 and ADAM17, the tumour can be stopped from growing and spreading.

It also moves the cancer cells away from the place where they were growing which could allow them to be removed through traditional cancer treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery, the researchers noted.

“Glioblastoma is a devastating disease which is often untreatable. We have found that blocking ADAMs may lead to reduced tumour growth and less recurrence following conventional treatments, improving the chance of complete surgical removal and improving survival rates,” said Sandrine Willaime-Morawek, Lecturer at the University of Southampton in Britain.

The current treatment regimens are ineffective against the small population of cancer stem cells residing in the tumourigenic niche.

These tumours are highly proliferative and infiltrative resulting in a median patient survival of only 14 months from diagnosis.

However, the new therapeutic approach could involve the removal of these cells from the microenvironment that maintains the cancer stem cell phenotype, the researchers concluded in the paper published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology.


Gestational diabetes: Urban K’taka beats national average

Gestational diabetes: Urban K'taka beats national average (Getty Images)
Gestational diabetes: Urban K’taka beats national average (Getty Images)
The prevalence of gestational diabetes, which strikes during pregnancy, in urban Karnataka is higher than the national average, reveal studies. Doctors say the statistics are a grim reminder of the threat of diabetes being transmitted from one generation to another.

A study by Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group of India (DIPSI) puts the incidence of pregnancy-induced diabetes in urban India at 15%. Records with the Asian Research and Training Institute for Skill Transfer (ARTIST) show the figure for urban Karnataka stands at 15.8%. The prevalence in rural Karantaka is 9% as against 10% in rural India. The DIPSI findings were released at the first Asia Pacific Congress on diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome in pregnancy, held in Sri Lanka last week.

“India sees a staggering 3 million cases of gestational diabetes every year. Genetic factors have a role to play. An imprint is left on the pregnant woman when she is in her mother’s womb. A similar imprint will be left by her on her child, if her sugar level is not detected and controlled during the pregnancy,” said Dr Hema Divakar, cochair, Federation of International Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) and medical director, Divakars Specialty Hospital, who was one of the symposium presidents at the Congress.

India worst in South Asia

Experts say pregnant women in India are more vulnerable, given that the ethnic population here is at a very high risk. Of the 85 million adult diabetic patients in south Asian countries, 70 million are from India, a World Diabetes Foundation study presented at the Congress said.

“A starch and sugar-rich diet, high glycaemic index and lack of exercise are the most important causes of gestational diabetes. Stress and pregnancy hormones are additional factors,” Dr Divakar said.

Doctors say lifestyle disorders, stress and irregular medical check-ups are responsible for increasing the risk of pregnancy-induced diabetes among urban women. “The solution lies in making lifestyle changes before pregnancy, conducting tests to detect high blood sugar during pregnancy and being able to control the sugar level during and after pregnancy. This will not only keep expectant mothers, even those over 40, healthy but also ensure the foetus develops in the normal sugar environment of the mother,” she explained.


Hearing loss setting in early, caution doctors

Hearing loss setting in early, caution doctors (Mehmed Zelkovic/Getty Images)
Hearing loss setting in early, caution doctors (Mehmed Zelkovic/Getty Images)
Modern-day living contributes immensely to hearing impairment, said doctors on the eve of International Week of the Deaf. Overuse of mobiles and earpods to medications to construction site noise, could all be contributing to the growing incidence of hearing loss.

“One would expect hearing loss to set in after 45 years of age, but nowadays we get people in their early thirties with hearing loss,” said Dr Neelam Sathe from the ENT department of civic-run KEM Hospital, Parel.

Presbycusis is hearing loss that occurs with aging. World medical literature says about 30-35% of adults aged 65-75 years have hearing loss. “Of late, people are coming with presbycusis in their fifties. While no one reason can be attributed for this, it could be due to better awareness and/or worsening noise pollution,” said Dr Samir Bhargava, who with the BMCrun Cooper Hospital, Juhu.

Dr Hetal Marfatia-Patel, who heads the ENT department of KEM Hospital, Parel, said, “Hearing impairment doesn’t come with alarming pain. In fact, people rarely notice one-sided loss. There are subtle signs like holding the phone to one ear, talking less or getting depressed.” She also pointed out to patterns of viral infections affecting a patient’s hearing. “Some fevers last for days and could affect hearing. Some medicines, especially multi-drug resistant TB, are known to cause hearing loss as a side-effect. People suffer hearing loss also because of cancer treatment,” Dr Marfatia-Patel added.

As part of the International Week of the Deaf, the Mumbai branch of the Association of Otolaryngologists of India will offer free hearing checks. “It is believed 83 out of 1,000 children have hearing loss that affects their education. Yet, not enough come for treatment,” said Dr Marfatia-Patel, whose KEM team has done 250 cochlear or bionic ear implants.


Is Kombucha the new super tea?

Is Kombucha the new super tea? (Shutterstock Images)
It’s an age-old ferment, but a new-age fancy. Kombucha, a fermented yeast tea, which dates back 2,000 years, has become quite the ‘it’ drink with fitness buffs in the city – being sold in flavours across several stores. But while most nutritionists and home brewers believe it to be filled with goodness from detoxifying to immunity boosting – doctors advise caution before consumption, citing reasons from acidity to toxicity.

But whether one chooses to drink or think, the fact is that bottles of the fizzy-sour kombucha – made by adding a culture of beneficial bacteria and yeast to tea, sugar, and fruit juice – have begun lining the shelves of departmental stores.

In February, Pune-based market research firm Markets and Markets had estimated that the global market for kombucha is poised to grow from the half a billion dollars it was in 2015 to $1.8 billion in 2020.

Srikant Ram of Econut, one of the oldest organic food stores in Chennai, has been brewing the yeast tea for more than a decade, having found a market of regulars. “Every food culture has its set of fermented foods,” says Ram. “India has the ragi porridge as well as palmyra sap, which when fermented is a health drink but when over-fermented becomes toddy.”

In Chromepet, Udhaya Raja is all set to move the manufacturing unit of his brand of kombucha, Ka, from his home to a more professional set-up. “The demand has increased since we launched in 2014. People are more aware of the health trends and are trying it out,” says Raja, who now manufactures more than 3,000 bottles a month.

Bhavani ILG, retired professor of plant biology and biotechnology, says she believes in the goodness of kombucha, because “it’s a natural ferment and a probiotic.” Kombucha is a Chinese probiotic, just like curd, says Bhavani. “A lot of Indian foods such as idlis too are ferments,” she adds.

“According to traditional knowledge, kombucha is supposed to help relieve pain, improve hair growth, aid digestion, and restore gut flora,” says Bhavani, but cautions that it needs to be prepared with care or can cause side effects such as acidosis. “Over fermentation or unsanitary preparation of the drink poses a food safety threat,” she says. “It can be toxic too when taken in large doses and is not recommended for children, people with low immunity and pregnant women.”

But cardiologist Dr Sai Satish of Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, says whether or not kombucha is great for the gut, he prefers to go with his gut. “In medical literature, the documented claims of harm far outweigh the numerous unsubstantiated claims of the drink’s health benefits. There has been no study showing evidence of it being beneficial to humans,” he says. “In fact, there are more studies regarding its harmful nature. There have been documented cases of hepatic toxicity and metabolic acidosis among those who consumed kombucha. When it comes to health, there’s no better brew than a brisk 45-minute walk.”


5 secrets of people who stay effortlessly slim

5 secrets of people who stay effortlessly slim (Yuri Arcurs/Getty Images)
There are people out there who seem to look and feel good effortlessly. If you’ve ever wondered what their secrets are, a new study may have uncovered a couple of clues. “Most slim people don’t employ restrictive diets or intense health regimes to stay at a healthy weight,” Dr Brian Wansink, the study’s coauthor, said in a statement. “Instead, they practise easy habits like not skipping breakfast, and listening to inner cues.” It appears maintaining simple, healthy routines may be one overarching rule to easily maintaining good health.Researchers analysed the habits of 147 adults who participated in the study. Registered users responded to questions about exercise, diet and daily lifestyle habits. The participants’ responses highlighted one major takeaway for healthy living -routine is key. For many, routines are a necessity to success. When healthy habits are built-in to a person’s schedule, they become second nature, and feel less chore like.

While adding new habits to your lifestyle won’t exactly feel natural or necessarily simple at first, the more you continue to include them, the easier they’ll be able to do. Here are five simple and healthy habits thin people enforce in their daily routines…

THEY EAT BREAKFAST: A whopping 96 per cent of study participants reported eating breakfast nearly every day. While it’s up for debate whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there’s no denying it’s significant. Research finds that those who forgo a morning meal tend to consume more calories at lunchtime. Skipping breakfast is also associated with increased weight and increased weight gain over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that pushing past those scrambled eggs causes people to gain; eating breakfast could, instead, really be a sign of living healthfully. It’s routine, people.

THEY EXERCISE: Forty-two per cent of study participants reported exercising five or more times a week. Exercise does so much for our bodies and brains, including reducing stress and depression symptoms as well as the risk of diabetes and a host of other conditions. One more really cool side effect of habitual exercise is that it’ll make you crave a healthier diet. That’s a win-win for weight loss . The endorphin rush you get from a sprint around the neighbourhood might help you resist temptation, whether that’s alcohol or a big slice of chocolate cake.

THEY HAVE A SCALE: The people of the slim group check in with them selves, including the use of weekly weigh-ins. About 50 per cent said they weighed themselves at least once a week. New research finds that weighing yourself daily is a good practice for losing weight and maintaining a healthy size. “Stepping on the scales should be like brushing your teeth,” David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology said

While the number on a scale is only one measure, it can be indicative of progress toward a healthier lifestyle. That said, weighing habits can be problematic for certain individuals. For some, what they see on the scale can trigger feelings of depression and stress and even counterproductive behaviour like emotional eating. The feeling of defeat when reading a number may also override successes. If you sense that the scale does you more harm than good, trust your gut and skip this tip.

THEY DON’T RESTRICT WHAT THEY EAT: According to the research, 44 per cent of participants reported at least one ‘non-restrictive strategy’ to their eating, such as listening to inner cues, eating high quality and low-processed foods and cooking at home. All three of these practices are proven to lead to healthier lives. If you’re on the job and hungry after lunch, consider cutting out vending machine snacks for more nutritious ones you bring from home. Eating at home is a smart way to cut calories and spending.

THEY EAT MINDFULLY: People who look and feel good generally don’t put themselves on restrictive diets. Instead, they think about what they’re putting in their bodies. While 74 per cent said they never or rarely diet, 92 per cent reported being conscious of what they ate. This number suggests that effortlessly slim people don’t engage in mindless eating -eating out of boredom or with a purpose beyond addressing hunger.

 So, there you have it.
As it seems, naturally thin people are naturally thin in part because they don’t make thinness their main priority. They take a ‘be’ not ‘do’ approach, incorporating healthy habits into their routines. If you want to follow suit, a lifestyle shift may be in order.