Knowing what to do with leaves, roots & fruit is a crucial life skill

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Healthy eating is mostly about habits. It’s the recurring actions that are repeated mindlessly day in and day out, month after month, year after year, that matter the most. What you eat on vacation or at a wedding party isn’t going to change things that much, but overeating just a bit each day makes for significant weight gain over the years, and poor diets take a toll on health if sustained.

So habits really matter — establish a healthy routine and you’re on autopilot towards a healthy destination. …


Improving diet quality is a proven anti-aging tool

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Diet quality affects health, and eating well is associated with lower incidence and later-in-life emergence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and with longer lifespans. There are several mechanisms — diet influences lipid profiles, sugar metabolism, inflammation and obesity rates for example, which are all culprits — that can account for the life extending traits of food.

Could food also change how our genes are expressed?

Food doesn’t change our coded DNA sequence — it isn’t gene therapy. But food and other lifestyle habits as well as our environment can modify how our genes are expressed…


Even if powerful drugs can help, lifestyle interventions are key

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A new weight loss drug was recently approved by the FDA. The new drug joins a family of new-ish drugs that act like naturally occurring hormones that besides regulating glucose and insulin also help control appetite.

Previous weight loss drugs brought about high hopes for an easy (or at least easier) fix to what’s a very difficult problem plaguing the majority of people in the US. Each promising drug came tumbling down with either disappointing weight loss results — especially in the long-term — or unreasonable risks and side effects.

Each promising weight loss drug came tumbling down with either…


There’s growing evidence that certain foods bring about better moods

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If you mention that grey skies make you sad you won’t get much pushback — many believe that rainy days bring about miserable moods and know at least one person who’s predictably affected — yet there’s genuine skepticism about food’s effect on our mental wellbeing.

Nutritional psychiatry is still an emerging field.

There’s growing evidence, however, that certain foods bring about better moods, and that other foods can bring you down.

Several studies have shown that a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, may impact mental health and is associated with lower rates of depression. Besides numerous studies that…


Poor diet contributing to the worrying rise in colorectal cancer among Millennials and Gen Xers

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Chadwick Boseman’s death from colon cancer at the shockingly young age of 43 was a wake up call. Colon cancer, like most cancers, is more common in older people, and early detection has been focused on the over-50 population. Rates of colon cancer have indeed been declining in the older population — the development of cancer in the gut can be prevented when polyps are removed during colonoscopy, before they have a chance to turn into a cancerous tumor — but the rates have risen sharply in younger adults. …


Timed eating may actually be more than just a trick for reducing caloric intake

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Most nutrition research is about what you eat. People, however, are complex biochemically and psychologically, we aren’t a simple engine using fuel, so what we eat is just part of the equation. We’re learning that the when and the how of food make a difference.

Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity as a wellness regimen. People seeking weight loss, better sugar metabolism and heart health opt to limit their eating window to much less than their waking hours — 6 hours of eating and 18 with no food is one common regimen.

There’s some evidence that it works.

Most diets work…


After a year of painful sacrifices for health this should be easy — and even fun

A milestone birthday, a forehead wrinkle and a temporary bout of morning stiffness lead many to seek all kinds of creams, supplements and regimens in search of lasting youth. Less hopeful individuals sigh and accept these as a sign of inevitable decline.

There’s no sound scientific support for those youth-in-a-bottle miracles.

There is, however, plenty of evidence that the decline and disease associated with age can be dramatically altered.

Several metabolic risk factors are known to lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profile, insulin resistance and high blood sugar…


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…

Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.

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

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