GI Health

USDA Sets Goal to Reduce Food Waste

The US Department of Agriculture is declaring war on food waste, likening the effort to the anti-littering campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a goal of cutting the amount of food Americans waste by 50% by 2030.

The Heart-Brain Blood Supply

Just like every other organ and tissue in the body, the brain needs oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to function properly. Because the brain is so crucial to the bodys survival, it receives a disproportionate amount of blood. Though it takes up only about 2 percent of the bodys weight, the brain receives 15 to 20 percent of the bodys entire blood supply, and 25 percent of its oxygen supply. The body will deprive other parts of the body of blood to ensure that the brain has what it needs.

The heart feeds the brain by sending blood through vessels both on the surface of the brain and deep inside it. Two pairs of arteries branching out from the aorta-the internal carotid arteries and vertebral arteries-supply the brain with blood. Carotid arteries send blood to the front of the brain, and vertebral arteries send blood to the back of the brain.

Blood flow into the brains tissues is a bit different than it is in other parts of the body. Elsewhere in the body, nutrients, oxygen and waste products can move freely in and out of the capillaries. This is not true in the brain. The brain has its own checkpoint, the blood-brain barrier, a semi-permeable system that lets only certain substances pass into the brain. This barrier protects the brain against viruses, toxins, hormones, and other substances in the blood that might harm the brains delicate tissues.

Considering how essential nutrient-rich blood is to the brains function, any disruption in blood flow can pose a serious risk. A blockage in the brains blood supply from a clot either in the brain or from elsewhere in the body is called a stroke. A stroke deprives the affected part of the brain of oxygen. Without oxygen, the brains cells will die. If too many brain cells die, thought and virtually every other function will come to a halt. Two primary risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure and heart disease, which illustrates the close relationship between heart and brain health.

For more information on the connection between the heart and brain, purchase Heart-Brain Diet: Essential Nutrition for Healthy Longevity by Tufts Medical Report.

Discover the Goodness of Cooked Greens

If you listen to advocates of the raw food movement, everything is better for you when its not cooked. But theres a whole group of leafy-green vegetables traditionally served cooked-mustard, collard and turnip greens-that, except in the South, most Americans simply skip as they concentrate on fresh salad greens. Cooking helps tame the flavors of some greens, like mustard, that might deter some diners. Cooking can also make chard more palatable, when its leaves and stems are too mature for salads. And of course cooking opens up a whole different menu for spinach and kale.

Whats So Great About Greek Yogurt?

Besides the Seahawks and Broncos, viewers of this years Super Bowl saw two other fierce competitors: Greek yogurt brands, slugging it out in commercials. That would have been unthinkable only a few years ago-in 2008, Greek yogurt accounted for only 4% of US yogurt sales. But today Greek yogurt makes up 44% of the multibillion-dollar US yogurt market and is responsible for almost all the growth in this part of the grocery aisle. More than half of US households bought Greek yogurt last year, according to retail research firm IRI.

The Truth About the War on Wheat

If you believe the bestseller lists, the biggest bad in the supermarket aisles is not fat or sodium or sugar but wheat. Its not just the booming popularity of gluten-free products, which are important for the small percentage of people diagnosed with celiac disease but whose benefits for the general population are questionable. (For a full discussion of the pros and cons of gluten-free products, see our October 2013 Special Report.) Bestselling books have warned that wheat consumption is a key contributor to abdominal fat (wheat belly), as well as triggering diseases ranging from diabetes to autism, and that eating wheat is linked to Alzheimers, depression, headaches, epilepsy and ADHD.

Discover the Digestive Benefits of Fermented Foods

Dating back millennia, fermented foods are among humanity's oldest attempts to preserve food. But today these foods are newly popular for their purported health benefits. Fermented foods, ranging from sauerkraut to yogurt, are increasingly being seen as a boon to the gut - and in turn to benefits not only for digestive health but possibly also for allergies and even weight loss.

Lowering the Glycemic Index of Your Diet Pays Health Dividends

If youve heard of the glycemic index (GI for short) but arent quite sure whether you need to pay attention to it-or exactly what it means-youre hardly alone. Scientists have been debating the merits of measuring the glycemic index since its introduction in 1981. The glycemic index uses a 100-point scale to measure how rapidly the carbohydrates in a food cause blood sugar to rise. Glycemic load (GL) adjusts this figure by taking into account serving sizes and the amount of carbohydrates per serving.

No Joke: Prunes Work Better vs. Constipation

Long the object of jokes, prunes may now have the last laugh. New research demonstrates that prunes (dried plums) are more effective than psyllium fiber in combating constipation

Legumes Improve Heart Risk, Glycemic Control

A new study suggests that legumes could also lower cardiovascular risk by reducing blood pressure, along with improving glycemic control.