Category Archives: health awareness

oranges-1117623_960_720

Foods you should eat to stay healthy this summer

Summer is officially here, and it is time to sit back and relax! Whether you’re off to epic outdoor adventures or just staying put for low-key backyard or poolside barbecues, there’s no doubt that the tranquility of the season makes eating, all the more, one of life’s simple pleasures.

Thankfully, summertime brings an abundance of fruits and vegetables available for us. So, while you’re gallivanting and gormandizing, FoodFacts.com lists foods that can help you stay in tip-top shape during the summer months.

Corn

Make corn your official side dish for those grilling sessions with family and friends! Corn contains two specific antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help form macular pigment that filter out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To put it simply, corn is a natural sunblock that can help protect your skin from damages caused by the sun.

Tomatoes

Tomato is rich in lycopene that help protect your skin from sunburn, making it another great produce that you can add to your line of defense against the blazing summer sun. Bear in mind that tomato increases its lycopene content when processed and/or cooked.

Berries

Berries make for a delicious and healthy snack whether you’re eating them off of a bowl at home or off of a container when you’re on the road. Munching on berries can significantly improve your diet as they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. These fibrous fruits can help you combat constipation, which is a common problem when traveling.

Green tea

Green tea is one of the most highly recommended foods for detoxing and hydrating. It should be a staple regardless of where you are. In her article, A Top Chef’s Tips for Keeping It Healthy While Traveling, celebrity chef Marisa Churchill recommends bringing your own supply so you’ll always have some on hand and consuming 20 ounces of green tea per day.

Water

Water still remains the best way to stay cool and hydrated during the scorching summer months. Drink 16-32 ounces, plus additional amounts when you’re being active to replenish the loss from perspiration. Be sure to always have water with you when you are traveling. You may also want to consider bringing a portable water filter so you can have access to clean, drinking water wherever you go.

dried-18607

It’s National Candy Month, too!

June is quite the contradictory month. It’s not only National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, it’s also National Candy Month! That’s right – the National Confectioners Association is celebrating chocolates, candies, gums, mints and all kinds of sweets this month!

FoodFacts.com absolutely advocates making better food choices through the awareness of healthy and unhealthy ingredients contained in our food. However, we also appreciate the men and women who create treats that play a special role in commemorating significant cultural and historical events in the United States. In fact, most American confectionery companies are family-owned, and directly contributes to the US economy in the agriculture, manufacturing, retail and shipping sectors.

That said, we are joining the millions of Americans celebrating in National Candy Month, but we are doing so in a healthy and equally-fun way! Here’s how you can get in the candy spirit without compromising your health goals.

Bite-sized portions

When trying to cut down calories, abstaining from sweets and salty foods is usually the first step. Nutrition experts believe, though, that the occasional treats can be a part of your balanced diet, as long as you pay attention (and have control) of the quantity. Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD says, “Everyone should allow themselves a daily treat because there is no reason why a 100- or 200-calorie snack can’t fit into a healthy diet.”

Get your sweets from “good” stores

Proponents of the organic food movement as well as veganism have helped launch more than just a handful of businesses that cater to their respective audiences. It should be of no surprise to find that there are now organic and vegan candy stores that give us relatively better options for sweet treats.

Keep it dark

When it comes to chocolates, the darker the better. Dark chocolates contain less sugar and are more filling than milk chocolates. This superfood can actually give your body plenty of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants and can aid in blood flow improvement, and lower blood pressure and the risk of heart diseases.

Make your own treats

Today’s top food influencers share plenty of hacks for making healthy versions of popular sweets like Butterfinger, Snickers and Twix. These foodies also constantly come up with brilliantly innovative health-conscious treats that allow you to succumb to your sweet tooth, guilt-free.

Make fruit candies

While we’re on the subject of making your own treats…

Take advantage of the abundant supply of fruits this season and grab some ripe, blemish-free fruits such as mangoes, cranberries and California apricots. The best and easy way to turn fruits into candies without the added sugar is to dry them. You can dry fruits on your burner, in the oven or under the sun!

Tip: Use the all my food facts app to find out how your favorite candies fare on our health score. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

vegetables-1403062

Safety tips for handling fresh produce

Eating fresh produce is integral in achieving a balanced, healthy diet. However, over 80% of the United States’ population do not meet the recommended daily consumption for both fruits and vegetables. This National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, our goal is definitely to get people to eat more fresh produce, but we should also send caution about food poisoning from the consumption of these foods.

Food becomes contaminated through a variety of ways. For fruits and vegetables, they may come in contact with harmful bacteria in the soil or water from which they are grown, or during storage and preparation after they are harvested. Eating contaminated produce may lead to foodborne illnesses; and they are especially more common in the warm summer months when foodborne bacteria multiply faster, and fruits and vegetables are often eaten raw.

FoodFacts.com shares some safety tips in handling fresh produce to avoid foodborne illnesses (also called “food poisoning”).

Choose Right

Whether it’s from a grocery store, farmers’ markets or roadside stands, be sure to inspect produce properly and avoid the ones that are damaged or have bruises. Whole, uncut produce is always preferable, but for pre-prepared fruits and vegetables like sliced cantaloupe or bagged lettuce, grab only those that are chilled in the refrigerator or on ice.

Note: Segregate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry and/or seafood in your cart, and place them in separate shopping bags.

Store Properly

Proper storage is important in maintaining the quality of fruits and vegetables. Perishable goods, especially pre-cut, peeled or packaged, must be refrigerated at a temperature of 40°F or below. Some produce, such as apples, potatoes, onions and garlic, are better stored at room temperature.

Preparation Tips

When dealing with produce, be sure to begin with clean hands. Wash hands with soap and warm water. Cut and discard any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and/or eating fruits and vegetables.

Washing

  • Do NOT use soap or detergent.
  • No matter where you got the produce – homegrown or from any merchant – it’s highly recommended that you wash them thoroughly with running water to rid them of as much chemicals as possible.
  • Even if you plan to take the peel off of fruits and vegetables, washing the outer layer is still necessary to remove dirt and bacteria. For firm produce such as watermelon and zucchini, use a produce brush.
  • Dry washed produce with a clean paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may still be present.

Putting together

  • Always keep raw meat, poultry and seafood (as well as cutting board, knives, utensils and dishes used to prepare them) separate from produce that will be eaten uncooked.
  • If possible, use different cutting boards and other kitchen tools for meat, poultry and seafood, and for fresh produce.
  • Or, wash cutting boards and other kitchen tools with soap and hot water between preparing raw goods and produce.

 

If you or a family member have contacted foodborne illnesses, call your healthcare provider immediately. For serious cases, take afflicted to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

vegetables-1386433

It’s National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month! It’s no surprise that FoodFacts.com would take every opportunity to encourage our readers to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. If we haven’t said it enough, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential in making your body work, feel and look its best. They provide the nutrients for vital health and aid in lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.

The dietary guidelines for the amount of fruits and vegetables intake basically depend on one’s gender, age, and activity level. Based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, two cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables are recommended, whether fresh, frozen or canned.

There are many easy ways you can get yourself eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Below are some of them:

Grow them yourselves

Vegetable and fruit gardens in people’s backyards are always a pleasant sight. Making use of space this way is a great way to utilize and maximize it. For those who don’t have the room and time for an edible garden, there are small and low-maintenance herbs that you can grow indoors, such as basil and parsley.

Buy locally grown

If homegrown is not an option, locally grown is the next best thing. The shorter the distance the fruits and vegetables have traveled, the fresher they are. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets are the best places for those! Be sure to find out if your farmers’ markets are selling goods that they have grown or made themselves or are carrying other farms’ goods. National, state and city laws require farmers’ markets to disclose if they are “producers only” or “carrying” products from others.

Buy in-season produce

Nature has its way of telling us what the best foods to eat are and when to eat them. Fruits and vegetables offer the most nutritional value and flavor when they are in season; plus, they cost less when supplies are aplenty.

Learn fast and easy ways to prepare them

While eating raw produce have many health benefits, there are certain fruits and vegetables that are better consumed cooked. For instance, cooked tomatoes contain increased lycopene, a phytochemical rich in antioxidant properties, than raw tomatoes.

Be sure to always wash produce before eating. It’s also a great idea to prepare ahead – wash, cut and store them safely for future use.

Go for the healthy snacks

When you’re craving snacks, you want something convenient and ready-to-eat. This is where the pre-prepared fruits and vegetables come to play. Go for the cut-up fruits and veggies when you have the urge to reach for some bag of chips!

Try something new

Keep things interesting by trying something new, not just for the enticing colors and flavors, but for the body’s nourishment. No fruit or vegetable contains all of the nutrients that your body needs. So, shake things up and keep a variety – the options are limitless!

alcohol-1238345

Clean-eating without going over your budget

There’s a question that lingers in the minds of people who want to make better food choices: How can I eat clean and not hurt my budget? At local grocery stores, a family-sized bag of chips is cheaper than a container of mixed greens; and fast food chains are perpetually coming up with value-meal promotions, which sell ready-to-eat food and convenience in their pitches.

The sad truth is, for many people, buying healthy foods means living above their means. It doesn’t take a genius to see why a parent would purchase a full meal that comes with plenty of sides and drinks for $20 for his or her family, instead of opting to spend more on ingredients as well as more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. Unfortunately, food choices among many households in the United States are dictated by income; and those resorting to unhealthy choices are more susceptible to developing serious health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

FoodFacts.com shares these money-saving tips that will, not only help you eat cleaner, but only allow you to have enough to live a quality life.

Apply supply-and-demand principle

When putting an effort in adding more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, be sure to consider the ones that are in-season. Merchants drop the prices of seasonal produce due to their abundance. Also, the flavor and nutrition of these fruits and vegetables are at their peak during their natural harvest season. This summer, the produce to buy are strawberries, cherries, peaches and plum!

Up-size your supplies

In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, you save on staples such as grains, nuts and spices when you buy them in large sizes and/or in bulk. Large sizes minimize packaging costs for the supplier, therefore there is less manufacturing expenditure passed on to the consumers. Bulk-buying does make you spend more upfront, but it saves you more money and time in the long run.

Freeze fruits and vegetables

Bought too much of the in-season produce? Put them in the freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables will make great ingredients for your next fruity smoothie or cleansing vegetable juice!

Skip the all-organic diet

While the growing awareness on the health benefits of organic food is undeniable, not many people can afford it. Sure, the gap between the prices of organic and non-organic foods is not as high as generally perceived, but it’s still the amount of money that many individuals and families can’t afford to shell out. The good news is, there are certain produce that minimally absorb chemicals when they are conventionally grown such as corn, cabbage, avocados, onions and pineapples.

Buy store brands

Don’t veer away from store brands! Whole Foods 365, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, for instance, have products that offer the same nutritional value as the brands they carry on their shelves at cheaper prices.

Make your own sauces and dressings

Forgo store-bought sauces and dressings. These not only cost more as compared to homemade concoctions, but they are full of added sugar, sodium and whatnot. Take some olive oil and spices and you’ve got yourself your own sauce and dressing, minus the preservatives.

Get creative with leftovers

Don’t throw food away! Cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, and eating them at a later time. You can also search up recipes that use the same or similar ingredients to repurpose them into new dishes.

The all my food facts app can help you identify ingredients that will aid in your clean-eating efforts. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

Celiac

The challenges of living with celiac disease

Living with celiac disease couldn’t possibly be a walk in the park. Despite having a month dedicated to its awareness, and the collective efforts of the medical community, advocates and celiacs themselves, many people are still in the dark as to what it really is. Or, quite simply, people just couldn’t comprehend the day-to-day struggles of those afflicted with the disease. FoodFacts.com shares a few of the the challenges that celiacs often face.

Cut-and-try testing

As previously mentioned, it takes six to eight years for celiac disease to be diagnosed correctly. Many people who manifest symptoms of the illness are, more often than not, diagnosed with other conditions, which may not at all be connected to celiac disease. For instance, a celiac could have vomiting symptoms whenever he or she ingests gluten, and then gets diagnosed with and treated for some form of eating disorder. In many cases, a person undergoes a number of other tests and gets misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly. The truth is, there are many people who do not have the resources to be passed on from specialist to specialist, let alone go through various expensive tests. Needless to say, this is an exhausting cycle for anyone to endure.

Being misunderstood

For unknowing celiacs, the scorn is on the “lapses” in their behavior. People who suffer with celiac disease may appear tired after having eaten a small piece of food that contains gluten. Others usually perceive the fatigue as laziness and lack of interest or commitment. And, in the example mentioned above, a celiac who throws up after his or her meal are frequently mistaken for being calorie-obsessed and figure-conscious.

Healing process

The suffering doesn’t end when celiacs are finally correctly diagnosed. It is never easy for anyone to give up their favorite foods, no matter how sick they get after eating them. Also, change doesn’t happen overnight. A newly diagnosed celiac may go gluten-free immediately, but it may take months or years for his or her body to fully heal.

Persistent challenges

There is a widely believed misconception that gluten-free diet actually means eating healthier. Unfortunately, the popularity of this food trend has inadvertently made celiac disease some sort of a joke. From late night shows to grocery stores and restaurants, many celiacs find themselves regarded as – and ridiculed for – being hypochondriacs riding on the gluten-free fad.

As with any health condition, celiac disease is not something one would hope to live with. However, it is a delight to see how many people who have this illness power through their everyday lives. As Celiac Disease Awareness Month comes to a close, bear in mind that gluten-free is not just a multi-million dollar trend with a 44-million-strong market. There’s actually a large number of that market who consume it as a health necessity.

Tip: It’s convenient to head over the grocery aisle that holds processed, ready-made gluten-free foods. However, these products may not necessarily be the healthy way to nourish your body, especially when it has suffered years of damage. It’s always best to seek out natural, gluten-free ingredients and prepare your meals yourself. Use the all my food facts app to find products that are safe for you to eat. 

IMG_2449

Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

oatmeal-287760

Recipe: Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Celiac disorder, like any other diseases that require dietary restrictions, can be challenging. However, this does not mean that people stricken with celiac disease are compelled to eat bland foods because of their sensitivity to gluten. FoodFacts.com is happy to dispel that perception and share this easy-to-make, healthy AND delicious gluten-free banana bread baked oatmeal muffins!

Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 over-ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add dry to wet and mix only until combined.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Spoon batter into lined or greased standard-sized muffin pans and silicone liners.
  7. Bake for about 11-14 minutes.
  8. Let muffins cool before drizzling Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup, if using.

Note: Be sure to store muffin in an airtight container.

Tip: Turn this recipe vegan by replacing the eggs with flaxseed eggs and forgoing the Hershey’s syrup.

wheat-809444

Facts about celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. It affects about one percent of the population of the United States, occurring more often in women than in men. People with celiac disease have sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein found in grains such as rye and barley. Ingestion of gluten triggers an abnormal immune system response, which damages the small intestines and prevents absorption of necessary nutrients such as iron, folic acid, vitamin D and calcium.

The media does extensive coverage on celiac disease, especially in May as it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. So much so that it has propelled the gluten-free foods trend, which somewhat deviated the focus from the disease itself. In fact, over a quarter of adults in the United States find gluten-free living appealing. The truth is, a large majority of that number do not require a gluten-free diet and should not be in it.

Since it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, FoodFacts.com aids the medical community and other proponents in educating people with these quick facts about the disease.

Genetic disorder

Celiac disease is not simply a food allergy and/or intolerance that can be countered by an antihistamine. It is a serious, lifelong, genetically-determined disease. If a blood relative is diagnosed with celiac disease, get yourself screened immediately.

Invisible illness

Celiac disease is considered an invisible illness because it is hard to diagnose. The average time for celiac to be diagnosed correctly is between 6 and 10 years. In many cases, celiac does not even manifest itself through the most common symptoms, leaving the sufferer unaware that the illness is already destroying the small intestine.

Common symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease are, but not limited to:

Other health problems

Because celiac disease is difficult to diagnose, it is often untreated. When left untreated, the disease may lead to a variety of other medical maladies such as infertility, miscarriage, osteoporosis, anemia and lymphoma.

Higher risk of pneumonia

As reported in a recent article, researchers found that people with celiac disease are more susceptible to pneumonia if they have never received the pneumococcal vaccine. Doctors, therefore, urge diagnosed celiac patients to get the vaccine.

If you think you have celiac disease, call your doctor immediately and discuss a health management plan before switching to a gluten-free diet.

The all my foodfacts app can help you manage celiac disease. By selecting the types of food that you want to avoid, all my foodfacts will show you which products contain them. In this case, when you add “gluten” to your avoid list and run a search on grains, the app includes the products that contain grains which celiac patients are sensitive to in the results and indicates that you should avoid them.

IMG_2449

celiac2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find out if the products you are using are really gluten-free with the all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

The organic food movement

MarketSuperstore Whole Foods may have had to answer to some controversies in the recent years, but their multi-billion increase in sales in the second quarter indicates that the company continues to thrive. As a matter of fact, Whole Foods is slated to open more stores in 2016, and to introduce 365 by Whole Foods. The 365 by Whole Foods brand will cater to the same market, but will sell most organic products at cheaper prices.

Foodfacts.com is pleased to say that the success of Whole Foods is attributed to the growing mindfulness of the public on the importance and benefits of healthy eating. Rainbow-colored bagels and vibrant vodka+grenadine aquarium bowls may be popular in the United States (and on social media), but there is no denying that the country has also seen an undeniably significant surge in the demand for healthy food.

American consumers seem to have developed both a general awareness on nutrition as well as an appetite for organic food that cannot be sated. Proprietors have no choice but to give in to the demand. Last year, TechSci Research reported that over 20,000 food stores across the U.S., and 3 out of 4 grocery stores have sections specifically dedicated to organic products. That number is only expected to grow even more in the coming years.

Organic products are no longer limited to traditional sources. The market has ballooned up so drastically that there has spawned a number of start-ups in the sector. Despite the hurdles that small, new companies face when competing with large corporations like Whole Foods, high consumer demand has propelled them to success. One such success story is Los Angeles-based, online retailer, Thrive Market. The start-up sells specialty organic foods and beauty products. Within 17 months of its launch, it has already seen $10 million in sales. There are new organic products businesses that come up by the day, and venture capitalists and angel investors sure have their eyes set to seal deals to back them.

The food industry has always been an industry that is continuously evolving. Right now, there is an undisputable organic food movement in existence.

Feeding the hungry for Christmas … ‘Social Bite’ funds holiday food effort backed by George Clooney

socialbitesHere at FoodFacts.com, we spend a lot of time talking about our food supply. We’re proud of the work we do and the role we play in educating consumers about what’s really in their food. At the holidays, though, we are reminded that not every person in the world enjoys the luxury of HAVING food to understand. Hunger is a huge problem across the globe … in first-world countries, as well as third. We think this effort by Social Bite is a tremendous reminder — not to mention an incredible cause — of just that.  Our thoughts turn today to feeding the hungry for Christmas.

Scottish social enterprise Social Bite’s crowdfunded Christmas meal scheme has had a high-profile first backer in the form of Hollywood star George Clooney.

A video promoting the company’s Christmas appeal includes a clip of Clooney putting in the first fiver when he visited their Edinburgh premises in November this year.

In the clip actor and activist Clooney said: “I’m giving £5 to pay it forward at Social Bite. I hope you do too.”

The innovative scheme allows people to purchase hot drinks and meals for people who are homeless, and last year the Christmas dinner appeal was a runaway success. Social Bite had hoped to sell 800 dinners in order to provide meals on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Collecting donations via Itison.com, they received money for 36,000 dinners, meaning meals could be available every single day of the year.

Social Bite, which has shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh, subsequently opened premises in Aberdeen and hired more staff, a quarter of whom were homeless themselves.

This year’s Christmas appeal is two-fold: as well as buying meals for the homeless in Scotland, people can also help refugees in Europe.

On Boxing Day the team will set off in a convoy of vans, heading for camps at Calais, Lesbos and the Croatia/Serbia border. They’ll distribute £5 food packs and warm clothing donated by outdoor clothing company Trespass.

“It’s about reaching out the hand of compassion, saying ‘We’re with you, not against you’ “, said Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn. “We’re asking people to join us this Christmas – to help the homeless on their own doorstep, and help refugees further afield.”

Other drives to help refugees in Scotland include charity Positive Action in Housing’s appeal to collect donations for destitute asylum-seekers currently living in Scotland.

Donations can be made to fund PAIH’s crisis grant scheme, and a list of urgently-needed food and toiletry items is available at Postive Action in Housing, where people can also sign up to the ‘Room for Refugees’ scheme to offer a spare room to a destitute individual or family.

This holiday season while we’re preparing to gather around our tables with our families, let’s all spend some time remembering those for whom there will be no feast. Charities are a wonderful way to express our gratitude for what we are blessed to have. As we look ahead to the new year, we here at FoodFacts.com look forward to another year of educating our community and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Today, though, our thoughts — and our charity — are with the hungry.

Happy holidays!

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/3116/social-bite-homeless-christmas-food-scheme-backed-by-george-clooney