Month: April 2007

Quick Clicks

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Before you call it a day, check out these links:

It’s a Bad Day for the American Diet

Michael Pollan (of the best-selling Omnivore’s Dilemma) explains why cheap food makes us fat.

Getting on the Nerves

A new link is discovered between bowel disease and nerves.

Fast Food Isn’t Healthy?!

A new study finds that fast food causes high blood pressure. Study participants who ate low-fat, high-sugar meals (like Fruit Loops and Sunny D) didn’t see their blood pressure spike the way that participants who ate burgers and fries did. The study concludes that it must be the fat in the food causing the immediate dangerous spike in blood pressure. It’s “food for thought” (sorry), but we’d be very curious to know if the researchers also measured blood sugar levels immediately following the meals. We’re willing to bet that both groups, but especially the low-fat group, saw a big blood sugar roller coaster after tucking into the 800+ calorie meals.

You all know we are seriously pro-fat around here. We don’t espouse the popular 90s trend of low-fat everything, generally because low-fat foods are often very high in sugar, which is devastating to health. Fat is good for you. We’re not saying fat needs to be your BFF*, but without natural fats in your diet, you’re at risk for stress, depression, anxiety, unhealthy skin, Alzheimer’s, improper nutrient absorption…well, it goes on and on! However, there’s a world of difference between natural, essential fats and processed, refined greasy fast food, as this study shows.

Trans Fat Trickery! (Why you should avoid processed foods, period.)

*Best Friend Forever

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‘Seasoning’ Your Meals

April means the warmth of spring is upon us (well, any day now…). And that means new fruits and vegetables to enjoy! If you like to eat seasonally, be sure to check out this handy clickativity that provides a monthly guide to what’s in season. Though we can’t speak for cockles.

This is Anethelna’s Flickr Photo

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School of Athens

“Excess is oppressive.” – Aristotle Usually on a Sunday night, I like to relax with a movie or a lightweight nonfiction read, but the Nicomachean Ethics stared out at me from the bookshelf last night. (Guaranteed way to a great night’s sleep: just start reading your old philosophy textbooks from college.) The book fell open to a section on shame, excess and pleasure. I have long admired Aristotle’s views on shame, something many people secretly struggle with like so many weighted bags on the soul. Essentially (and philosophy experts please correct me – I’m a biology man) Aristotle argued that a virtuous, good person should never really feel shame. This gets to the big guy’s distinction between feelings and character. Aristotle felt that feelings were useful for children, who are ignorant and inexperienced, but adults are rational and ought to have sufficiently developed characters (doesn’t mean we repress our feelings; just that they are not always useful for growth). Shame is only a feeling, not a character trait. Your character is such that you would hopefully never do anything deserving of the feeling of shame, because you are steadfastly true to yourself. Shame comes from excess, which is really just dishonesty with yourself. This opens up a big can of philosophical worms, of course! Then came the quote: “Excess is oppressive.” And it’s really true. I think many times, it is excess that burdens the soul with shame. This means things like exaggerating a story, boasting in hopes of attention, or being too self-deprecating and humble (for this too is a form of excess). In essence, these excesses are dishonest representations of your true self – and that is why they can become oppressive and collect like heavy sandbags of shame on the heart. But, as Aristotle said, we are adults, with no useful need for a feeling like shame. We ought to be sufficiently developed to guide our actions so they are in line with our characters. Excess is a common way of life in Western culture. We are encouraged, through media, advertising and comparisons with others, to consume. Sometimes I think we’ve become a culture in pursuit of nothing more than “stuff”. When it comes to emotional, physical and mental health, I think part of what is so painful about being unwell in these areas is the underlying shame. That’s terribly unhealthy for a rational, virtuous adult, as I think most people are capable of being and work to be. I am not implying that any case of unwell is always one’s fault – there are all sorts of genetic and external factors that can affect your health, and may be out of your initial control. However, when it comes to issues like fitness, sleep, stress, weight and disease prevention, I think it’s important to avoid the trap of excess. Restaurants tempt us to overeat. There is always something more to do instead of exercise. Consumption breeds debt, which breeds stress and trouble sleeping peacefully. And so on. … Continue reading “School of Athens”

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Healthy Tastes Great!

Peas, Tuna and White Bean Salad with Lemon Dressing

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Genius Fuel!

It’s a great time of year to enjoy fresh peas. We always keep plenty of bags of frozen peas around the Sisson household (well, the freezer, anyway). Peas make a quick, easy snack for the kids after sports’ practice or a long day at school that is far more nutritious than processed snack bars but won’t have anyone groaning about eating their vegetables.

Fresh peas are perfect right now, and they are an excellent way to get extra vitamins, fiber and protein into your meals.

A nutritional snapshot:

– One cup of peas contains a third of your daily requirement of fiber (though I personally recommend getting two or three times the 25-35 grams daily that the U. S. government recommends).

– Peas are famous for containing generous amounts of B vitamins, but they’re also rich in vitamin C (a third of your DV) and vitamin K (half your DV).

– Peas are rich in serotonin-boosting tryptophan.

Toss fresh peas into:

– Salads: peas work well with many fruits, avocados, and tomatoes.
– Stir fries: replace rice with peas for a fiber-rich, veggie-intense variation.
– Plain yogurt: add the peas, some chopped walnuts or almonds, and a little balsamic vinegar. (Top notch protein, fiber and fatty acids for quick energy and stress relief.)

This is Ben’s Flickr Photo

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El Buzz

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Catch the clickativity!

Grease the Brain

Another study confirms it: “good fats” (also known as essential fatty acids and Omega-3’s) help stave off Alzheimer’s disease. We recommend eating a “good fat” at every meal. Some favorites:

– wild fish

– olive oil (or another unsaturated vegetable oil such as walnut, avocado or flaxseed)

– nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and filberts

– DHA-enhanced dairy and eggs

– Avocados

What’s your favorite way to work good fats into your diet?

HRT Stops, Breast Cancer Drops

It’s all over the news: the drop-off in hormone replacement therapy use after 2003 has been linked to the subsequent reduction in breast cancer cases. This news actually came out months ago (Mark blogged about it in December), but many mainstream docs panned it as a case of jumping to conclusions. Which means that tonight, they shall dine on humble pie.

Have you had an experience – positive or negative – with HRT that you’d like to share with others? What do you think is the best natural approach for women who don’t want to take hormone replacements?

Guess Which Nation Is Deficient in Basic Vitamins?

That would be us, as in US…of A. That’s right – in the land of plenty, where food is so plentiful we make it into furniture*, significant percentages of Americans are missing basic nutrients fundamental to life. Scoot yourself on over to WebMD’s helpful article detailing which additional nutrients many Americans are deficient in and which five simple switches can change this around.

Note: the article classifies three major missing vits – A, E, and C – as antioxidants. A is actually not an antioxidant, although this belief persists. All the same, you still need it.

Okay, one more note: the article recommends imbibing juice to get your vitamin C. We recommend whole fruit – this way, you get the added fiber, and you aren’t drinking pesticides. Yech.

And just one more note: remember that vegetables have plenty of fiber and far fewer calories than breads and pastas. Plus, veggies come packed with antioxidants and cancer-preventing compounds. Okay, we’re stopping with the notes. Seriously. Next item.

*By furniture, we mean bean bag chairs. (Something comedian Ted Alexandro has been taking issue with for several years now. Keep fighting the good fight, Ted.)

Cultural Oddity:

There is an actual product, produced by an actual grocery store chain, called Potted Meat Food. It’s for humans, we think. (Warning: this link is not for the faint of heart or sensitive viewers. But we found it so utterly bizarre that a store would actually sell this, we had to pass it on. If you think Spam is disturbing, well…)

Until tomorrow, Apples! The Bees are out.

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