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Wellness Chat

WellnessChat [4.11.2013 Transcript]


WellnessChat [4.11.2013 Transcript]


Every Thursday at 8pm EST thousands gather for #WellnessChat held on Twitter. The mission of #WellnessChat is to encourage, engage, educate (e3). The guest on April 11 was Laura Ingalls and we talked about the dangers of sugar. Here is the transcript of that chat in case you missed it live.

  • Humans naturally seek out sweet things. It is how our ancient ancestors identified what was safe to eat!
  • Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.
  • Natural sugar contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes & proteins that burn evenly, allowing your body to absorb the good stuff
  • In colonial times, when sugar was first popular in this country, the average person consumed up to 4 lbs of sugar per year.
  • Processed sugar lacks vitamins, minerals and fiber, and thus depletes the body's natural stores in order to digest it.
  • Processed sugar first pushes blood glucose levels sky-high—causing excitability, nervous tension & hyperactivity.
  • Processed sugar enters swiftly into the bloodstream & wreaks havoc on the blood sugar level.
  • Yes. Label reading is important. Sugar and salt are often added to sub-par cheap foods to make them taste better.
  • USDA recommends about 10 tsp per day–a liberal amount! Most Americans consume 30 tsp per day- 3 times the recommended amount!
  • We consume 130 POUNDS of sugar a year.
  • The 2nd reaction of sugar on blood glucose levels is to drop it extremely low causing fatigue, depression & exhaustion
  • Chocolate-glazed donut has 17g of sugar or 3 tsp. - A 16oz Starbucks Frap has 44g or 10 tsp. That’s like eating 2.5 donuts!
  • Cliff Builders Lemon Protein Bar has 23g of sugar, or 5 teaspoons.
  • Like all addictive substances, suddenly quitting sugar causes withdrawal symptoms: headaches, mood swings, cravings & fatigue
  • Added sugar accounts for 500 calories every day of the American diet. (This is why it is not calories in, calories out.)
  • I [Laura] met a brain surgeon who told me he could remove crystals of aspartame from peoples heads during surgery.
  • Ugh, aspartame. Don't get me [Laura] started. It makes people even more HUNGRY!!
  • Quitting sugar will not be easy, it won’t feel good, it may even feel really bad, but have faith those feelings won’t last.
  • Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance similar to caffeine & tobacco. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
  • Sugar is often labeled in fancy language corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose, fructose, “ose” & “syrup” are sugar giveaways.
  • It's no surprise to find sugar in sweets but it is also found in canned veggies, baby food, peanut butter, bread & pasta sauce.
  • Why does Big Food add sugar to products? To make you addicted to them = customer for life.
  • Cancer feeds on sugar.
  • The average child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar A DAY. And we wonder why they have problems?!
  • Artificial sugars & HFCS contribute to these stats. It's not like we're eating too many fruits/veggies.
  • Sugar is as addictive as cocaine. (Wonder why you can't kick the soda?)
  • Can everyone pledge to stop drinking soda? Please? It's the best eco-friendly choice you can make!


Photo credit: Logan Brumm


#WellnessChat [4.4.2013 Transcript]

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#WellnessChat [4.4.2013 Transcript]


Every Thursday at 8pm Eastern #wellnesschat takes place via Twitter. The goal of #wellnesschat is to engage, encourage, educate. The first Thursday of each month Andy Bellatti is guest. And tonight Cassie joined in as co-host.

We started the chat with Andy:

Our "gut flora" encompasses 1,000s of different species of fungi, bacteria, microbes.

Some gut flora functions: digestive assistance, vitamin K synthesis, immune support, & even lowering chronic disease risk.

Do artificial sweeteners alter gut health? In this rat study; yes.

To understand magnitude of our gut flora, consider that our body contains ten times more bacterial cells than human cells.

Nature journal: "Gut microflora crucially influences structural and functional development of mucosal immune system."

One of many benefits of breast-feeding: breast milk contains some probiotic strands; great for baby's digestive health.

And then Cassie joined in: 

The old saying holds true, “Health begins in the gut.” Gut health is the most critical and often overlooked, starting point.

Does it surprise you that probiotics aren’t just for those with digestive issues? Gut health DIRECTLY ties to metabolism!

Modifying gut bacteria plays a significant role in combating obesity. We do too many things that kill our good bacteria.

Antibiotics, sugar, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, preservatives, pesticides—All of these have killed your good bacteria.

If weight loss is a goal of yours, it’s VITAL that you start by HEALING your gut—The gut determines how well metabolism works.

When you're low in serotonin, you tend to crave carbohydrates (especially refined ones!) THESE carbs KILL good gut bacteria.

You can see how gut health clearly relates to metabolism! Producing essential brain chemicals needed for good decision making!

Back to Andy:

We've established that a healthy gut is key for overall health. Let's talk about foods that are important for a healthy gut.

Definition time! Probiotics are living microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.) that provide health benefits to host (humans).

These foods offer probiotics(some) yogurts, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, natto, apple cider vinegar. [SS note: make sure these foods don't contain additives, preservatives, toxins.]

FYI: Fermented foods are not the same as pickled foods. Most pickled foods do not contain probiotics.

A crucial part of this puzzle is *pre*biotics (this is food for gut flora). Gut flora need to be well-fed to work well.

Some prebiotics: oats, kidney beans, pears (high in soluble fiber). Also: onions, garlic (high in fructooligosaccharides).

When fed correctly, gut bacteria produce, among others, an important short chain fatty acid called butyric acid.

Higher levels of butyric acid help protect against bowel inflammation and IBS, also strengthen immune system.

Butyric acid has also been shown to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Healthy diet = healthy gut flora = healthy colon

Cool factoid: Butyric acid acidifies GI environment, makes it more difficult for foodborne pathogens to thrive.

All beans good; kidney have highest amount of soluble fiber.

When it comes to probiotic-rich foods: daily intake & high amount of colonies are key. Sometimes probiotic supplement is best.

FYI: Of the hundreds of thousands of probiotic strains, we only have well-documented scientific data on a small handful.

When it comes to probiotic-rich foods: daily intake & high amount of colonies are key. Sometimes probiotic supplement is best.

Research still determining which probiotic strands survive digestive process intact. Most studied: Acidophilus, Bifidus.

Colonies = amount of bacteria. The higher, the better.

And back to Cassie:

Diets high in sugar (and carbohydrates) decrease the amount of bifidobacteria in the gut (good bacteria that you want & need!)

The SAD (Standard American Diet) is high in carbohydrates (which break down to sugar in the blood stream) & unhealthy fats...

Eating high sugar=low in good gut bacteria (essential 4 overall health by promoting proper digestion,absorption & elimination)

When we are low in brain chemicals, we tend to crave more sugar—That's because sugar has the same addictive effect as cocaine!

The Cycle: Eating sugar causes U to crave more sugar—the more u eat=the less brain chemicals are made—causing you to crave sugar.

Nearly every chemical that controls the brain is also located in the stomach region (several hormones & neurotransmitters.)

The connection between stress and the gut may be the most visible brain-gut connection.

Chronic stress can result in ulcers, indigestion and a host of other uncomfortable symptoms. Start healing with gut health

When your gut is in balance, your brain is in balance. If gut health is out of whack, your brain health & emotions may be too.

Afterthought: Anyone have sick kids? Think of how LITTLE bacteria kids get these days, with all the “anti-bacterial” stuff.

Photo credit: Jasmic


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#WellnessChat [3.7.2013 Transcript]


#WellnessChat [3.7.2013 Transcript]


Each Thursday evening at 8pm EST/5pm PST people from all across the globe gather on Twitter for #wellnesschat. It's an educational, encouraging and engaging (e3) filled hour. The first Thursday of every month Andy Bellatti is the featured guest. He is interested in food politics and Big Food. We love his work! Below is the transcript from the evening with Andy's posts. We hope you find them insightful and helpful.


Let's begin with "healthwashing". Most common example is tacking on a nutrient to an otherwise unhealthy food

One example of healthwashing -- Subway fortifying highly processed breads w/calcium & vitamin D.

Diet Coke Plus (with B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium) is another case of classic, and utterly ridiculous, healthwashing.

More healthwashing: an "olive oil vinaigrette" with more soybean oil than olive oil.

Special K products are epitome of healthwashing. Advertised for weight loss, minimally nutritious, highly processed.

FYI -- here is a brief, but informative, intro to greenwashing .

Coca-Cola is a notorious greenwasher. A few years ago, they vaguely pledged to go "water neutral".

Coca-Cola's "green" efforts silly given atrocious record w/ water usage in developing nations.

Greenwashing often an attempt to distract from serious environmental and ecological abuses/scandals (BP is a master at it!).

Food companies have lately started implementing farmwashing. Let's break that down.

Farmwashing unconvincingly romanticizes an industrialized food system as a pastoral utopia

McDonald's employed farmwashing in several ads last year. I wrote about it for Grist.

Farmwashing reality check. Even the most processed products, like Pop-Tarts, contain some ingredient(s) grown on a farm.

More important question: what went on between the farm and your table? In the case of a Pop-Tart, lots of processing.

Also, ask: what happens *at* the farm? How are workers treated? Is sustainability given any thought? Are pesticides used?

In reality, McDonald's fries are farm *to lab* to table.

Kellogg's has even tried to farmwash Fruit Loops (see last section of in referenced link article). 

Here is Domino's example of farmwashing from 2010.

Causewashing has been on the rise lately. This is when food companies tie unhealthy products to charities/"good causes".

Big Food's reliance on breast cancer charities to peddle unhealthy products so ubiquitous it garnered own term: pinkwashing.

Diet Coke's Red Dress Heart Truth Campaign is perfect example of ridiculous causewashing. Coca-Cola & heart health?

Yes. KFC has had "pink buckets" of fried chicken to support breast cancer charities. The mind boggles, indeed.

Terrific post by former Big Food exec @AuthorBruce: "Why is Cause Marketing So Popular?"

Box Tops are classic causewashing. Purchase unhealthy processed foods (targeted to children) and help out your school.

Another good post by Author Bruce on "pinkwashing". Hamburger Helper even jumps on the bandwagon! 

Like healthwashing, causewashing is used to deflect attention from unhealthy ingredients & unethical corporate behavior.

Cookwashing is a term I invented after reading this post by Yoni Freedhoff

Cookwashing is how Big Food tries to pass off adding water or an egg to a box of processed ingredients as "cooking".

"Homestyle" Eggo waffles contain 2 artificial dyes and artificial flavoring. That's cookwashing! "Labstyle" more accurate.

Read excerpt in NYT. Excellent. Plan on reading book soon. "Pandora's Lunchbox" by melanie_warner also great.

Here is a terrific summary of localwashing practices from various companies. 

Walmart is a notorious "localwasher". Touting local produce, while obliterating local economies.

Here is an exhaustive analysis & thoughtful critique of Walmart's "fresh food makeover".

Despite attempts at health/local/green etc washing, Big Food largely undermines public health.

Market research has shown that health halos sell. Otherwise, food companies wouldn't bother.


Will you change your eating habits based upon this information? We hope so.



Photo credit: timsamoff



Andy Bellatti [Ethical & Sustainable Food Choices]


Andy Bellatti [Ethical & Sustainable Food Choices]


Every Thursday evening at 8pm EST is #WellnessChat held via Twitter. And the first Thursday of each month, Andy Bellatti always shares his wisdom on a variety food topics. Here is the transcript of the chat. There is some incredible info here, so please read and share with your friends, neighbors, strangers!


January 3, 2013

Topic: ethical & sustainable food choices

When talking about food systems, it's important to consider environmental and human impact of agriculture & food production. Unsustainable food systems take a toll on local communities, ecosystems, and farm workers. ‪ Over next hour, I'll focus quite a bit on issue of farmworkers' rights, which is too often left out of ethical eating conversations. Sustainable agriculture respects – rather than disturbs – existing ecological balances. ‪ I want to begin by going over some crops that have sketchy ethical issues. I'll help you make more ethical choices, too. Let's begin with chocolate/cacao. Options range from the very unethical to the very ethical, if you know how to shop for it. Child slavery rampant in cocoa-producing countries like Ghana & Ivory Coast. Great journal article: There aren’t “slave-free” certification seals on chocolate packaging, but I have two good resources for you. ‪ For ethical & slave-free chocolate, check out this list and this scorecard Ethical Eating FYI: As a general rule, chocolate derived from the Ivory Coast is produced with slave labor. ‪ Due to weak regulations in cocoa-producing countries, pesticides banned in US commonly used in cocoa farming. Choose organic.

PS: you can add Rain Republic to the list of ethical chocolate.

Now let's talk about another controversial crop when it comes to ethics -- palm oil. ‪ Palm oil is bad news from environmental standpoint (responsible for massive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia). ‪ As if environmental concerns not enough, human rights violations also common in palm oil plantations Palm oil used in many vegan products. This handy list from ‪@FoodIsPower helps you to avoid Before I move on, here are 2 great links to find ethical chocolate: one and ‪ two ‪

Now let's talk about coffee. A beloved beverage with many ethical & sustainability implications!‪ One eco-concern with many conventional coffees: Agricultural expansion has led to severe deforestation in rainforests. ‪ Shade-grown coffee does not destroy or disturb existing ecosystems; preserves crucial biodiversity. ‪ Find retailers in your state that sell bird-friendly coffee ‪ From economic/social justice standpoint, Fair Trade guarantees coffee farmers are at least paid fair wages. ‪ List of Fair Trade coffee brands FYI: Fair Trade certification isn’t absolutely perfect, and has its share of detractors. Read & decide. Also important to economic justice is direct trade coffee, purchased right from farmers ‪I know that Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and Counter Culture offer direct trade coffees. ‪ With so many coffee certifications, good to know which are important & which are “eco-washing”.

Let's now talk about issues that affect farmworkers (as well as current events & good organizations). ‪ @Barry_Estabrook's book, "Tomatoland" touches on issues of farmworkers in South Florida. A great read. ‪ In "Tomatoland", Estabrook explains environmental ills of South Florida tomatoes (most grown there during winter months). ‪ South Florida soil very nutrient deficient. Tomatoes need massive amounts of chemical fertilizers. Terrible for farm workers. And, as Estabrook points out, many South Florida farmworkers also live in virtual slavery. Heinous. ‪ Some food service companies taking steps. See BamCo’s agreement re: South Florida tomato workers Coalition of Immokalee Workers (‪@ciw) does terrific work on behalf of many farmworkers. Check them out ‪ Last year, Coalition of Immokalee Workers reached agreement with Chipotle. This was a HUGE victory. CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are unethical operations on many levels. ‪ As this article points out, CAFOs terrible for workers, the environment, animal welfare, communities: According to report, 25% of workers at confined animal feeding operations experience chronic bronchitis. ‪ Farmers have very important voices. I've met so many great ones at markets in many states. ‪ Workers in meat-packing plants suffer repeated trauma injuries at rates far higher than other industries. ‪

More info on how workers in CAFOs are in deplorable conditions & much more prone to injuries United Farm Workers is also a great organization. Check out their work & campaigns Sign of a broken food system: most farmworkers can barely afford the produce they pick. ‪ Many farmworkers are migrant and undocumented. This sets up a very unbalanced and unjust power dynamic. ‪ This ‪@grist article touches on what 2013 could bring for farmworkers ‪ "Farmworker rights" are, first and foremost, human rights. ‪ You know how today we found out Hormel (maker of Spam) bought Skippy? Behold their awful labor practices  "Cheap food leads to environmental degradation & social injustice, destroys social/ecological foundation of future." J. Ikerd ‪ Good read. ‪@FoodIsPower on why Coca-Cola, Nestle, Monsanto are some of most unethical food companies ‪

The folks at ‪@eatsustainable have great primers about various issues re: sustainable/ethical eating ‪ Some ethical issues have arisen now that quinoa's popularity has skyrocketed ‪ I think the best solution to alleviating issues in Bolivia due to "quinoa boom" would be to grow some here in US. ‪ If quinoa can be grown in other places, people in Bolivia won't have to export all of theirs & will be able to eat it. Oh! FYI: Hemp is one of most sustainable foods. Doesn't require pesticides; can grow in difficult climates. ‪

Greater awareness = better choices. Whenever possible, think “What's most ethical food choice I can make at this given time?” And, it goes without saying that GMOs are the antithesis of sustainability. They are also detrimental for food sovereignty. GMOs essentially keep developing countries trapped in a cycle of poverty, keep them hostage to Big Ag. ‪

What are top 3 pesticide offenders among vegetables? ‪See EWG guide

Here is some quinoa grown in Colorado


Cover photo courtesy of: Eden Hensley Silverstein