What’s Real and What’s Not

We live in a world of blurred lines—between real and faux, natural and artificial, original and altered—and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Whether we choose to or not, chances are high that we’ve all ingested GMOs at some time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as plants, animals or microorganisms with genetic material that has been altered in ways that are not natural (such as mating or natural recombination). The technology used in genetic modification is known as “modern biotechnology “ or “gene technology” and sometimes as “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering.”

The WHO cites that “one of the objectives for developing plants based on GMOs is to improve crop protection. The GM crops currently on the market are mainly aimed at an increased level of crop protection through the introduction of resistance against plant diseases caused by insects or viruses or through increased tolerance towards herbicides.”

GM foods also were developed to create food with greater nutritional value and durability as well as a lower price, thus enabling the world to feed the starving masses.

Unfortunately, this ideal has not become reality. There is some understanding of the purpose for creating GMOs but worries still run high, especially among consumers who conscientiously make healthy food choices when grocery shopping.

The three main issues concerning GMOs and human health are allergic reactions, gene transfer and outcrossing. Some questions remain unanswered.

  • What happens when genes from allergenic organisms are transferred to non-allergenic ones? According to the WHO, no known allergic reactions have been seen. Does that mean there will not be allergic reactions in the future?
  • What if the transferred genetic material adversely affects human health? What if antibiotic resistant genes, used as markers when creating GMOs were transferred? The probability of transfer is low, according to the WHO.
  • Outcrossing is the migration of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species in the wild. What are the direct and indirect effects on food safety? Cases have been reported where GM crops approved for animal feed or industrial use were detected at low levels in the products intended for human consumption.

Opponents of GM crops argue that sustainable agriculture and biodiversity benefit most from the use of a rich variety of crops. They fear that as a result of the interest of the chemical industry in seed markets, the strains used by farmers may be reduced mainly to GM crops. For example, with the development of crops that are resistant against insect pests and tolerant of certain herbicides, the exclusive use of herbicide-tolerant GM crops would make the farmer dependent on these chemicals, placing the control of agricultural development in the virtual hands of the chemical industry.

If you practice Active Wellness and want to stay away from GMOs, eat only fresh, whole, unprocessed foods marked “certified organic” or “USDA organic” and only consume organic nutritional supplements. There are no blurred lines with NikkenWellness™ products.

Go Mediterranean for Good Nutrition and Health

March is National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to remind people to return to the basics of healthy eating. Although the right diet depends on each individual’s personal needs and state of health, the Mediterranean diet is one that is often recommended.

Eating Mediterranean style is actually easy and best of all, delicious. Here are 10 basics:

  1. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. They have a lot of water content and help to provide a feeling of fullness. Preferably, eat locally grown fruits and vegetables that retain the highest nutrient content.
  2. Choose olive oil as your main source of added fat. It’s rich in vitamin E, beta-carotenes and monounsaturated fat.
  3. Incorporate healthful grains into your everyday diet. Carbohydrates have gotten a lot of bad press, but in the Mediterranean diet, moderate consumption of whole grains are a source of energy for a life of Active Wellness.
  4. Consume moderate amounts of dairy products, especially fermented ones such as yogurt, as it is known to contain live micro-organisms that can help improve the balance of good gut bacteria.
  5. Be sure to incorporate fish into your meal plans. Eat it at least once or twice a week. Cold water fish are known to contain omega fatty acids, beneficial for heart health.
  6. Eat eggs. They’re perfect alternatives to meat, high in quality proteins and fat. Once given a bad rap, eggs are now considered a complete food.
  7. Replace baked goods and other desserts with added sugar with fresh fruit. Eating fruit, such as dates, for dessert is common not only with Mediterranean cultures but also in Asian and African traditions.
  8. More than any other beverages, drink water. Water truly sustains healthy living. The Mediterranean diet also incorporates red wine as a healthful beverage, but only in moderation. Nutritionists recommend limiting consumption to no more than one portion daily for women and two for men.
  9. Eat red meat in moderation. If possible, use meat in combination with vegetables, such as in stews. Choose lean meats for their protein content and iron.
  10. Don’t eat processed foods. Processing removes valuable nutrients and enzymes, so you end up with empty calories.

With NikkenWellness™ organic nutritional supplements to fill in dietary gaps, it’s even easier to get back to the basics of healthy eating!

Sources: dietamediterranea.com, eatright.org

When do you eat your biggest meal of the day?

In North America, there’s a good chance you eat your biggest meal at dinner. This habit is based on tradition where the family convenes after school and work to enjoy a hearty meal together. Unfortunately, this is not the healthiest way to eat. Here’s why. 

Katherine Tallmade, Registered Dietician and author of Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations, comments that “more and more research is confirming the importance of eating lighter at night and heavier during the day — for health, not just weight.”1 She goes on to explain that various studies have shown that even when the same number of calories are consumed, weight loss (or gain) may vary according to the time food is eaten. When more food is eaten during breakfast or lunch rather than at dinner, more weight is lost or a healthy weight is maintained.

Ms. Tallmade’s opinion is congruent with studies being presented by researchers in the field of nutrition as well as weight management/obesity. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contends that a body at rest overnight doesn’t need as many calories. Therefore, eating a big meal in the evening will result in fat storage. The researchers recommend eating a big breakfast and a medium lunch when a person is most active during the day so calories eaten will be used for energy. They also found that eating a substantial breakfast helped minimize impulsive snacking, helping to sustain a weight reduction program.2

John De Castro, psychology professor and researcher of eating habits, suggests that “intake in the morning of low-density foods is satiating and can reduce the amount ingested over the rest of the day to such an extent that the total amount ingested for the day is less overall. It appears that people who eat at least two thirds of their calories before dinner will consume less calories for the whole day than people who eat the majority of their calories at night.” 3

At Nikken, we help you embrace Active Wellness with organic nutritional supplements that enable you to stay on a healthy eating regimen over the long term. Isn’t your health worth it?

  1. http://katherinetallmadge.com
  2. Schlundt DG, Hill JO, Sbrocco JP, et al. The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity: a randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992;55(3):645-651.
  3. De Castro JM. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. J Nutr. 2004;134(1):104-111.

 

The Healthiest Natural Sweetener

With obesity at an all-time high, finding healthier alternatives to sugar has become an increasingly important priority for many people. The main concern is that sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners tend to be filled with harmful chemicals and ingredients, and some still contain calories.

According to famed nutritionist and chiropractor Dr. Josh Axe, “Monk fruit has been celebrated as a revolutionary way to sweeten foods and drinks without the harmful effects of traditional sugar and sugar substitutes.” 1

Here’s why: Monk fruit contains powerful antioxidants called mogrosides, which are metabolized differently by the body than natural sugars. In effect, monk fruit extract provides the sweet taste people crave but none of the typical side effects. That means no spike in blood sugar levels and therefore, no crash. For this reason, monk fruit is considered a zero-calorie fruit. This unusual characteristic makes monk fruit an ideal sugar replacement, especially since its compounds, when extracted, are 300 to 400 times sweeter than cane sugar. It’s practically a no-brainer that using monk fruit as a sweetener can help those already suffering from obesity and/or diabetes.

So why isn’t this healthy natural sweetener more commonly used in weight-management and diabetic-friendly products? Extraction of mogrosides is complicated, making it an expensive ingredient. In addition, monk fruit spoils very quickly after harvesting and is grown primarily in southern China. You won’t find it in supermarkets any time soon; however, you can find dried monk fruit for purchase in ethnic markets. The western world only discovered monk fruit in the 20th century, and it has only been in the last 20 years that major international attention has been drawn to it.

Where you will find monk fruit as a main ingredient is in the newly formulated Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix in both vanilla and chocolate flavors. Nikken remains a pioneer in the industry and dedicated to using only the healthiest ingredients in our nutritional supplements designed for Active Wellness.

1          https://draxe.com/monk-fruit/

The Secret to Health and Longevity: “hara hachi bu”

According to recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 80,000 centenarians in the United States, which equates to about 25 persons who are 100 years or older per 100,000 population. On the small island of Okinawa, centenarian ratios are considered to be most likely the world’s highest with 50 plus per 100,000. So what’s their secret?

Longevity is complex, but in a nutshell, good genes and healthy living are the prerequisites. Researchers who participated in the Okinawa Centenarian Study were able to identify so called “human longevity genes” but also isolated non-genetic advantages for the ideal combination. Non-genetic advantages include the traditional Okinawan dietary habits, physical activity, psychological and social aspects. Their study was not widely translated but in recent years, an increasing number of western scientists have taken an interest in the phenomenal longevity of the islanders, most specifically Dr. Bradley Willcox and Dr. Craig Willcox, co-principal investigators. Led by Dr. Makoto Suzuki, principal investigator, the Okinawa Centenarian Study is now in its 28th year, one of the longest running centenarian studies in the world.

We can’t change our genes but we can certainly emulate the Okinawan diet and lifestyle. The traditional Okinawan diet emphasizes vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes (soy) and fish, with limited amounts of lean meats and monounsaturated fats and omega 3s. There is a notable lack of processed or fast food and desserts.

Okinawans take this healthy eating a step further with the cultural habit of “hara hachi bu.” This means “eat until you are 80 percent full.” When you think about it, it is another way of implementing portion control. Since it takes about 20-30 minutes for the stomach to register that it’s full, if we eat to 100 percent fullness, we’ve actually overdone it. Many of us are too familiar with that uncomfortable feeling of being stuffed. This is the result of eating until the stomach is stretched to capacity. If we practice “hara hachi bu,” we would be giving our stomachs time to feel full.

Most of us want to live long lives, but how many of us are willing to exercise not only our bodies but our will power as well? It seems such a small price to pay for a long and healthy life of Active Wellness.

The Battle Against High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from two sources: our bodies and what we eat. Our bodies, and especially its liver, make all the cholesterol we need and circulate it through the blood, but it cannot be dissolved. It must be transported through the bloodstream by carriers called lipoproteins, which are composed of fat (lipid) and proteins. Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. The liver produces more cholesterol when we eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats.

A tendency towards high cholesterol can be caused by a diet that is high in fat, but a person can also be genetically predisposed. In other words, high cholesterol can run in the family. Cholesterol is such a common topic of conversations these days because when it is too high, it is a proven risk for cardiac problems. As a result, cholesterol medication, commonly referred to as statins, are one of the highest sources of revenue for pharmaceutical companies.

Statins work by slowing the body’s production of cholesterol. The body produces all the cholesterol it needs by digesting food and producing new cells on its own. When this natural production is slowed, the body begins to draw the cholesterol it needs from the food you eat, lowering your total cholesterol.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), statins also lower your body’s levels of coenzyme Q10 (“CoQ10”). As your levels go down, the side effects of statins increase. Taking CoQ10 supplements might help increase the levels in the body and reduce side effects caused by statin usage.

The most common statin side effect is muscle pain. It can be mildly uncomfortable pain or bad enough to compromise daily activities. Statins can also adversely affect the liver and kidneys. Some people may develop nausea, gas, diarrhea or constipation after taking a statin, although these side effects are relatively rare. Taking statin medication in the evening with a meal can reduce digestive side effects.

The FDA warns on statin labels that some people have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. These side effects reverse once you stop taking the medication. Talk to your doctor if you experience memory loss or confusion. On the other hand, there has also been evidence that statins may help with brain function — in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and this continues to be studied.

If your diet is the cause of high cholesterol levels, it can be relatively easy to lower levels by making changes to daily consumption of red meat and dairy—and focusing on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. And, if you haven’t tried Kenzen Bergisterol®, you’re missing out on the powers of the bergamot fruit.  For help in maintaining levels of triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol that are within normal limits, clinical studies indicate that bergamot extract helps support cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels that are within the normal range.*

Cholesterol can be both good and bad, so it’s important to know what your cholesterol levels are in order to manage the health of your circulatory system. If you have high overall cholesterol and it’s not genetic, you have a good chance of controlling it via diet. For general maintenance of a healthy circulatory system, Kenzen Bergisterol® would be an excellent selection. Buy Now!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Eating Right, Made Easy

The truth of the matter is, eating right is not only easy to do, but many of the foods that are best for us, are simply delicious. It’s a win-win.

The easiest way to make sure we’re eating right is to cook the food ourselves. This automatically decreases the amount of “convenience” food, which is often processed—meaning the actual nutrients have long been “refined” out of it. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. No need for rich sauces and time-consuming baked goods. A quick sauté of fresh vegetables and grilling lean cuts of meat, fish and other sea food is delicious and satisfying, without adding “empty” calories.

Many real foods are actually very convenient and good for us, because they can be eaten raw, contain antioxidants and minerals, and are nutrient-dense. For example:

  • Kiwi is believed to contain properties that help to lower blood pressure as well as to prevent disease.
  • Green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, watercress, pea sprouts, yam leaves and chard are known to be low in calories, high in calcium and fiber—lending the benefits of cleaning the digestive system and promoting bone health.
  • Red and yellow fruits and vegetables are believed to be high in lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid known as an antioxidant with blue light absorption abilities. Blue light helps increase the growth rate of healbe high in lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid known as an antioxidant with blue light absorption abilities. Blue light helps increase the growth rate of healthy cells, prevent eye disease and clogging of the arteries. Choose delicious and colorful squash, carrots, bell peppers, and once again, green and leafy vegetables.
  • Apples and citrus fruits contain pectin, a type of fiber believed to help lower cholesterol as well as to stimulate digestion.
  • Onions are thought to fight cancer and bone loss.
  • Garlic is believed to boost the immune system.

Eating delicious food and being positive lifestyle role models go hand in hand. It’s great for our families and friends. NikkenWellness™ nutrition makes eating right, easy.