Although six in 10 Americans say they eat a very healthy diet, 94 percent don’t eat at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, the minimum recommended amount. The reality gap was identified in a survey of 1,025 adults by ORC International, on behalf of MegaFood.
Weight-Loss Bets Pay Off
Once considered a long shot, a bet that you will achieve a weight-loss goal has become such a successful strategy that in the United Kingdom, a leading bookie has stopped accepting such bets. William Hill, a British company that takes sports bets, learned that putting real money at stake is a strong motivator for people to stick with weight-loss strategies. On this side of the pond, you can bet on your own weight loss through HealthyWage.com—not a bookie, but a site that enables dieters to win up to $10,000, depending on the size of the bet and amount of weight lost.
Plant Concentrate lowers cholesterol
Capsules containing concentrated fruit and vegetable juices can help reduce cholesterol and unhealthy levels of chronic inflammation, according to a study of 56 overweight people age 40 and older. Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia noted that phytochemicals in plants are known to counteract inflammation and can reduce health risks for chronic diseases among older adults who are overweight or obese. The study was published in the journal Nutrition. Many green powders and some multivitamins contain concentrated fruits and vegetables or juices.
Most Women Short on Folic Acid
A B vitamin necessary to prevent neural tube defects in babies, folic acid is still in short supply among women who may bear children. In the 15–44 age group, 75 percent of American women don’t get the recommended daily amount of 400–800 mcg, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts that recommends women take daily folic acid supplements. The critical period for supplementation starts at least one month before conception and continues through the first 2–3 months of pregnancy.
Just 4 mg of extra zinc daily can significantly improve the body’s ability to resist infections and disease, according to a study by the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Oakland, Calif. This amount of zinc can also help support healthy growth of children.
B12 Good for Friendly Gut Bugs
Vitamin B12 is known to be essential for a healthy brain and nervous system. It turns out, it’s also needed by beneficial gut bacteria that help the human body maintain overall good health. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have found that even though some gut microbes make B12, it’s a labor-intensive process, and short supplies can disrupt DNA and growth of vital microbial communities. Probiotics are normally viewed as the go-to supplement for healthy gut bacteria, but now we know that B12 also plays an important role.
How clean is your air?
Air quality generally doesn’t get much attention unless it’s unusually bad, but you can get a snapshot of pollution levels and types of pollutants, at any location in the United States, at airview.blueair.com. Just type in a street address, and results from the nearest air quality monitoring station will appear, including an overall air quality score. Pollutants measured include different industrial and vehicle emissions, bacteria, viruses, dust, and pollen.
Air pollution increases risk for respiratory and heart diseases, and may contribute to diabetes and dementia. But studies show that the following foods and nutrients can help protect against damage:
- Fruits and veggies reduce heart-related risk from air pollution.
- Vitamin E helps protect lungs against tiny particles called particulate matter.
- Olive oil—as little as two-thirds of a teaspoon daily (3 grams, which contains 40 calories)—reduces pollution-related inflammation and constriction of arteries.
Does the Type of Protein Matter?
While protein can be found in both plant and animal foods, other nutrients in these sources differ. However, both work equally well to maintain muscle mass, strength, and bone mineral density, according to a study of 2,986 men and women between the ages of 19 and 72 by Harvard University and other Boston-area
researchers. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found that higher intake of protein increases strength and lean muscle mass in arms and legs, and noted that vitamins, minerals, and acidity of the diet (animal-based foods are more acidic) affect how protein is utilized.
Among parents of children between the ages of 4 and 18, only one-third feel they are doing a good job shaping their child’s eating habits, according to a survey of 1,767 parents by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. About one in four parents say their child’s diet is somewhat or completely unhealthy, and one in six believes their child’s diet is very nutritious.