Good nutrition is the foundation of health, but dividing food to healthy vs. unhealthy doesn’t make much sense

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When we head out we figure if the weather’s rainy or dry, and then decide on the umbrella.

Assigning things into binary categories is useful for fast decisions. When it comes to food, something we choose constantly, we’d like to do the same thing, especially since there’s such variety and abundance around us — a quick shortcut is tempting.

And while most of us can see that the people we know are neither saints nor devils, most days are neither incredible nor horrible, and that the movie we just watched is neither a masterpiece nor a flop, food is all…


Chocolate contains varying amounts of plant-based nutrients, new research examines its health benefits

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When it comes to chocolate, I’m well aware that confirmation bias may be playing tricks on many of us — on me specifically. New evidence of chocolate’s benefits is searched for, interpreted favorably and given space in the busy brains of all of those who wish it to be true.

The evidence, if somewhat tenuous, is adding up though. Many of the better studies about the health benefits study cocoa, not chocolate as such.

Many of the better studies about the health benefits study cocoa, not chocolate as such

But a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


Does the microbiome help explain the Covid-19 symptom disparity?

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This has been the year of the germ. At no point in our lifetime have we been as preoccupied with microbial life as we’ve been in the last too-many months, plenty of us playing germ detective as we suspiciously follow people’s hands and coughs.

As we enter our second year of dealing with Covid-19 one mystery remains largely unsolved: We have a few clues, but still don’t understand the disparities in outcome between countries and people, and why some people experience a life threatening, even deadly disease, while others experience few or no symptoms.

This year of turmoil has taught…


Why good food and overall health are the most effective aphrodisiacs

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Every day’s a good day to celebrate love, and a holiday that prompts us to pay attention to our loved ones and to the magic they bring to our lives is very welcome indeed, every year and this one especially.

A favorite way to say I love you is through food, now why’s that?

Food is love

“The people who give you their food give you their heart” ~Cezar Chaves

Love is as yet impossible to completely define . The physiologic manifestations of falling in love and the early days of infatuation have been characterized as a kind of obsessive madness; other types…


Understanding our transformed food environment can help avoid and treat food allergies

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Food allergies are on a steady rise, especially in the last two decades — an alarming 8 percent of kids in the US report such reactions, a third of these are severe allergic reactions.

Why would the immune system react in nasty (rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain) and life threatening (anaphylaxis: blood pressure drop, tightening of the airways) ways to something as peaceful and necessary as food? Why would the immune system mistake food proteins, such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, shellfish and soy as enemies?

8 percent of kids in the US report allergic reactions, a third of these…


Let’s not delude ourselves about what moderation actually means

Image by Adriano Gadini from Pixabay

The pandemic has brought two conflicting realizations to the fore. We’re ever more aware that our general health is key to the way our body deals with a medical challenge — such as an infection with a virus. On the other hand, it’s been hard not to double down on the very things that undermine our wellbeing, which is understandable, given the stress and isolation of the recent year, and how hard it is to change our habits.

The Covid cocktail

As pubs and restaurants closed, people stocked up on alcohol at home. According to Neilsen, alcohol sales from stores grew 21 percent…


There’s a healthy way to make the same raw ingredients more exciting

Image by Damir Kadric from Pixabay

We’re cooking at home more — a positive development health-wise, despite its sad cause. Months of homemade meals day in and day out make us yearn for something new, different, better.

How do you make the same raw ingredients rich and exciting?

Julia Child taught us an easy trick: “With enough butter, anything is good.” Likewise, some more salt, and added sweetness make food taste better. Alas, these easy fixes, if repeated often, make food less healthy, adding extra calories, extra salt and too much sugar to a diet already excessive in all of these.

There’s a better way: the…


The dental diet isn’t just about candy and soda

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Beware of sticky candy and starchy foods that get trapped between your teeth, brush and floss. You must have heard this annoying advice endless times.

It’s good advice though. That much of the advice is targeted at sugar and carbs makes sense. Sugars have long been established as a major contributor to the formation of cavities. Bacteria in tooth plaque ferment sugars and produce acids that lead to tooth damage.

But diet advice goes well beyond just sugar control when it comes to dental health.

Because beyond cavities, there’s a more serious dental disorder: periodontitis. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory…


This very different Thanksgiving our blessings are more obvious

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

This Thanksgiving will be different. As Covid-19 cases climb, many have cancelled their traditional Thanksgiving to protect the health of family members. When we celebrate this Thursday our joy will be shadowed by the collective pain and loss of this roller coaster year. But no matter how unusual this coming holiday will be, some parts of it should never be cancelled: The Thanks and the Giving.

Our blessings aren’t always obvious — hardship and bad luck are more apparent — but this year they’re perhaps easier to notice.

And food can be a constant reminder of how lucky we are…


The metabolic outcomes of our widespread use of low-calorie sweeteners aren’t fully known

Image by Martin Büdenbender from Pixabay

There’s a long standing debate over artificial sweeteners and weight loss.

Non-caloric sweeteners came to the scene decades ago, offering the intense sweetness we naturally prefer, without the caloric price tag. Sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low) acesulfame K (Sweet One) and neotame are practically calorie free, so replacing added sugar with them should cut calories from our daily intake, and fewer calories should translate to weight loss, right?

Short-term clinical trials were promising: Artificially sweetened beverages may lead to short-term weight loss when they replace sugary drinks. However, there are very few long-term studies…

Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.

Physician (pediatrics and medical genetics), entrepreneur, artist, innovative plant-based cook and mother of three

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