Monthly Archives: November 2015

Is Bone Broth Good for You? Here’s What Science Says

Bone broth is all the rage right now. This New York Times article praised bone broths’ “demonstrable nutrition benefits.” Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D. wrote an article on MindBodyGreen called The ONE Trick I Use To Stay Slim: A Nutritionist Explains. Her “one trick” is drinking bone broth. The list goes on.

I wanted to know if bone broth is actually good for you. It seems as if every blogger out there sings the praises of bone broth as a miracle cure for everything from digestive disorders to weight loss … but none of them ever seem to back it up with actual science.

That’s what we’ll do in this article: quickly sum up what actual research says about the pros and cons of bone broth.

Get your spoon ready, because we’re about to dig in …

The (Alleged) Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Here are some of the many health claims I found about the health benefits of bone broth:

is bone broth good for you

  • Heal leaky gut
  • Overcome foods intolerances and allergies
  • Improve joint health
  • Reduce cellulite
  • Boost immune system
  • Make your skin supple
  • Reduce cellulite

Unfortunately, there’s zero evidence to back up any of these claims. David Katz, M.D. Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, had this to say:

I recently published the third edition of my nutrition textbook for health care professionals. The book ran to over 750 pages, and roughly 10,000 references (and yes, it was every bit as painful as it sounds; writing textbooks is not for the faint of heart). Nowhere in the mix did I or my coauthors find, or cite, an article about the “demonstrable nutrition benefits” of bone broth.

One of the biggest benefits of bone broth that advocates tout is collagen, a protein found in the connective tissue of animals. Collagen, they say, can help strengthen your bones, protect your digestive tract, and improve your skin.

Again, there’s no clinical data to support any of these claims though. Most scientists will tell you it’s way overblown.

William Percy, an associate professor at the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine, said in this NPR article that:

Since we don’t absorb collagen whole, the idea that eating collagen somehow promotes bone growth is just wishful thinking.

In the same article, food scientist Kantha Shelke says if you want to build collagen, you need more than bone broth:

Eating a diet rich in leafy green vegetables is ideal. Plants offer richer sources in collagen building blocks and, in addition, provide nutrients not found in sufficient quantities in meats or broth.

The Actual Health Benefits of Bone Broth

There are two health claims about bone broth that do seem to hold up to scientific scrutiny.

One small study from the year 2000 found that chicken broth may help reduce inflammation and cold symptoms when you’re sick (personal anecdote: I always drink hot tea and broth when I’m sick, and it always helps).

Another small study found that bone broth or soups made with bone broth may help replace electrolytes after intense exercise and aid in post-workout recovery.

Other than that, there’s not much credible evidence that bone broth is actually good for you.

The Bottom Line

Like most health fads, take bone broth’s supposed magical elixir qualities with a grain of salt. Drinking salty animal broth may taste good, but it’s not a magic potion. I love making soups and stocks (here are some healthy soup recipes from my other website) but the evidence simply doesn’t justify all the hype they’re getting.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Dr. David Katz:

The most remarkable thing about the dietary component of lifestyle as stunningly effective medicine is how simple it is. Real food, not too much, mostly plants, to quote Michael Pollan.

How Organic Coconut Milk Powder Can Help You Burn More Belly Fat

In 2015, when I was in the process of creating Pure Food, I knew I wanted to include a whole food ingredient with medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) because of this special type of fat’s ability to help people burn belly fat.

I decided to use organic coconut milk powder.

This ingredient, which you can find in Pure Food Cacao Protein, has some pretty special health benefits.

Here’s why …

The Science of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)

You’re probably well aware of the heart healthy benefits of monounsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil. I highly recommend eating more of each of those.

But there’s a “new kid on the block” type of healthy fat not everyone knows about called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Scientists have discovered MCTs may help you:

That’s why I decided to put MCTs in Pure Food Protein

But the problem was, all of the “MCT powders” on the market are highly processed and loaded with GMO fillers and additives.

Not how we roll around these parts.

I found the best whole food source of MCTs on the planet: organic coconut milk powder.

Most coconut powders use soy or animal product fillers. Not ours.

It’s 100% organic, plant-based goodness.

How Our Organic Coconut Milk Powder is Made

organic coconut milk powderThe flesh from the coconut is dried and ground into a fine powder and combined with organic ground cassava plant roots to make it mixable (since coconuts are high in good fats, coconut powder on its own is clumpy and impossible to mix).

Nearly all other companies add artificial soy- and GMO corn-based fillers like maltodextrin.

The coconut milk powder adds a subtle, sweet, creamy flavor too that I absolutely love.

You can read more about all our ingredients, including our organic coconut milk powder, here on our Why Pure Food? page.

How to Find the Best Gluten Free Dairy Free Protein Powder

gluten free dairy free protein powderI know lots of peeps that don’t eat dairy or gluten, two of the most common allergens that can cause all types of health issues.

This (obviously) means they shop for protein powder brands that are gluten and dairy free too.

Today I want to dispel a common myth though:

Just because you’re buying something without dairy or gluten, doesn’t mean it’s “healthy.”

In this article, I’ll break down exactly why that is and show you five questions to ask to find a gluten and dairy free protein powder that’s actually good for you.

Here we go …

99% of Gluten Free Dairy Free Protein Powders Are Complete Junk (Even the Organic Ones)

That’s because most of the time, the bestselling protein powder brands are highly processed, pseudo-health foods that can actually do more harm than good.

Today, there are lots of companies vying for the title of healthiest protein powder. But how do you see through the marketing hype and objectively assess which powders are worthy contenders?

First, you consult the only two pieces of objective information on the food label: the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list.

A lot of times, gluten free and dairy free protein powder manufacturers will add a bunch of chemical fillers, sugar, and/or other unhealthy ingredients to make the product taste better. 

Here are the “Big Five” questions you should ask to find the healthiest dairy free and gluten free protein powder (or any high protein plant-based foods, for that matter):

5 Questions to Ask to Find the Healthiest Protein Powder WITHOUT Dairy and Gluten

  1. How much sugar is added? Sugar—no matter if it’s from cane honey, maple syrup, molasses, or coconuts—turns to fat in your body. Eating too much sugar increases your risk of dying from heart disease too. I recommend avoiding all protein powders with added sugar. If your protein is gluten-free and dairy-free yet contains a bunch of sugar, that pretty much defeats the purpose of taking a protein powder.
  2. Which artificial sweeteners do they use instead of real sugar? You don’t see a lot of fake sugars like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose in vegan protein powder blends. But look out for the supposedly “all-natural” sweeteners. Xylitol and erythritol are highly processed “sugar alcohols” that can cause gut imbalances. Whole stevia leaf powder in its natural state is a healthy, green, all-natural sweetener. But the stevia most food companies use is a chemically-altered, bleached, stripped down version that’s likely to contain GMO fillers (often with allergens like corn and soy).
  3. What types of protein do they use? Vegan protein powders made from organic pea, rice, hemp, sacha inchi, and pumpkin seed are generally healthy sources of protein. Whey and casein proteins are milk-based and have lots of side effects so obviously aren’t good choices for those looking for a dairy free option. And if your vegan protein powder isn’t organic, you’re drinking pesticides with your protein smoothie.
  4. How are their ingredients processed? This is a tricky one because protein manufacturers are hesitant to disclose this information (which is the first sign they’re hiding something). Most vegan protein powders—even the organic ones—are processed using high temperature methods that destroy vital nutrients in the plant and render much of the protein useless. If you have a severe allergy to gluten or dairy, you’ll want to avoid brands that are manufactured in a facility where other gluten- and/or dairy-containing products are produced. There are now several reputable organizations that “certify” protein powders as gluten-free. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker unless you have a disease like celiac though.
  5. What other ingredients do they add? This is where most protein powders—especially the ones you may have thought are healthy—fail miserably. Here are a few common unhealthy ingredients to look out for:
    • Natural flavors. Here’s all you need to know: up to 90 percent of natural flavors are made of allergens like dairy, soy, corn, and gluten … as well as chemical solvents and preservatives, says David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.
    • Many protein powders that claim to be all-natural have gums like carrageenan, guar, xanthan, locust bean. These cheap, processed fillers often have other additives and can lead to gut imbalances.
    • Lecithins. To make most lecithins, oil is extracted from soybeans or sunflowers using a toxic chemical called hexane.

The Bottom Line About Dairy Free and Gluten Free Protein Powders

There are lots of protein powders available these days without gluten and dairy. But a lack of those two allergens doesn’t make a product “healthy” or “clean,” like most of these brands claims to be.

Learn how to read and understand the ingredients list and nutrition facts label. It’s the only way to see through the marketing hype and know if your gluten and dairy free protein powder is healthy.

Check Out My Best Plant Protein Powder Comparison Chart to Compare 20 Plant-based, Gluten Free / Dairy Free Protein Powders

How to Live a Healthy, Happy, More Fulfilling Life

happy healthy lifeWhether you want to look great in a bathing suit, stop feeling so tired/stressed/anxious all the time, or live a more prosperous, happy, balanced, healthy and more fulfilling life, here’s “the secret” of the world’s healthiest, happiest, most successful people:

They choose to take action while others sit back and watch.

If you really want something to change in your life, just start. Not next week. Not tomorrow

Right freakinnow.

Because those tiny, seemingly insignificant steps every day will compound into great accomplishments over time.

For years I thought I had to wait until I was “ready.” To start working out … eat better … finally launch the business I dreamed about.

Then I said, “Screw it, I’m just gonna start.”

My life has changed in ways I couldn’t even imagine as a result.

Yours will too, if you stop waiting/wishing/hoping and just start.

Change is inevitable … so embrace it

Most people accept their fate and blame circumstance for their misfortunes. They live a life of fear disguised as comfort. They play it safe and never question the status quo.

Others make the time. They spend hours at the gym, in the yoga studio, on the trail, in the kitchen. They pay more for foods that are better for them because they know it’s an investment in themselves.

They create the life they want.

Look, we all feel “stuck” sometimes. When this happens, how often do we hold ourselves back by blaming our willpower, genes, lack of time, etc.?

I’m here to tell you I’m walking proof that all the adversity you will go through in life only makes you stronger and better prepared for this moment.

You have to get out of your comfort zone and take those first couple steps though.

They’re the hardest but also the most important.

Your life is a blank canvas

Study after study proves that your mindset can have a dramatic impact on whether or not you accomplish your goals in life.

Growth vs. fixed mindset

If you’re struggling with something, do these five things and I guarantee things will get better for you:

Step 1: Take a baby step

Take things one step at a time. If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, start with just a couple minutes of exercise every day. Small steps are what lead to big successes. Here are some small things you can do today:

  • Cook a healthy breakfast.
  • Do yoga for at least 10 minutes.
  • Take a 5-minute stretching or walking break every hour.
  • Read one inspirational article today.
  • Record what you eat in your food diary.
  • Look for healthy recipe for dinner.

Step 2: Write it down

If you don’t already have a journal or planner, drop what you’re doing and go get one. They’re that important. Use it to capture your thoughts, plan your day, and track your goals. Here’s what I do every day, as an example:

  • At the start of every day I write a positive quote at the top of my daily planner (today’s quote is “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it”).
  • Next, I write down everything I plan to do over the course of the day to accomplish my goals (for example, “Write new blog post, network with 3 people, lift weights for 45 minutes, find recipe for healthy dinner”).
  • Then, I evaluate what I accomplished at the end of each day in these four categories:
    • Mental: What did I learn today? How did I challenge my mind? What did you read, write, or listen to that expanded your mental capacity and got you closer to your goals today?
    • Emotional: Who did I choose to spend my time with and what did I do? Did I take time to mindfully engage in happy, positive experiences with friends and family?
    • Physical: Did I exercise and eat healthy today and take care of my body? How so?
    • Spiritual: Did I take time to breath, give thanks, and stop to connect with the world around me?

This strategy will help you manage your time better and increase your self-confidence and healthy habits over time.

Step 3: Get support

Friends and family can help encourage you, increase your accountability, and help you cope with setbacks. That’s why social support is so crucial to overcoming any obstacle in your life. Find a friend or family member who lives a healthy lifestyle, and have the courage to ask for their help. You’ll be happy you did.

Step 4: Visualize your results

Visualization is a powerful tool that can drastically enhance your level of self-efficacy. In the book The Social Animal, author David Brooks says your subconscious mind processes up to 200,000 times more information than your conscious mind. Spend 5 minutes each day visualizing both the journey and the end result you seek. Forming a mental picture of yourself taking the steps required to reach your goal creates a lasting image in your brain that your subconscious will bring to reality.

Step 5: Do things that make you laugh and smile every day

Create experiences every day that make you happy. Spend time with people you love. Keep an uplifting book by your bedside for words of encouragement before you go to sleep or when you first wake up. Take a walk outside with your significant other. Experiences are infinitely more valuable than things.

Dream big but start small. Focus on your mindset first and you will open doors to anything and everything you want to accomplish in life.

Can Clean Eating Actually Be Bad for You?

A couple days ago I came across an article published on Today called Blogger Jordan Younger reveals how extreme ‘clean eating’ almost killed her.

Before I share my thoughts on the article, please take a moment to read it … it’s a short read, I promise.

If you don’t want to read it, here’s a quick quote that sums it up:

[Jordan Younger] writes about suffering from a controversial disorder called “orthorexia.” What began as an attempt to get healthy, morphed into an unhealthy regimen of food restrictions, 800-calorie-a-day juice cleanses and exercise. After a year, Younger had wasted away to 101 pounds, her hair was falling out and she had stopped menstruation.

Younger has written a memoir called “Breaking Vegan” that chronicles her self-destructive fixation with “clean eating,” an obsessive focus on healthy, unprocessed foods.

K, now that you’ve witnessed this steaming pile of sensationalist, clickbait journalist, allow me to vent a few specific issues I have with this article:

Issue #1: The headline itself is incredibly misleading.

The woman in the article suffered issues because she adopted a vegan diet and didn’t get enough calories … not because she was a “clean eater.” While I fully advocate a plant-focused diet for many reasons and believe people can get more than enough calories eating this way, “clean eating” doesn’t necessarily mean vegan.

Issue #2: Her problems stemmed from an eating and/or compulsive disorder, NOT from eating clean eating.

From the article:

Orthorexia is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, and experts disagree on whether it’s an eating disorder or disordered eating with obsessive-compulsive features.

Ms. Younger even states that she “found the term online” and diagnosed herself. She states:

 

I developed obsessions and anxiety around food. It wasn’t about veganism. I had restrictions on top of veganism.

So here’s the takeaway from this, you guys: don’t believe everything you read. If you have an “obsessive focus on healthy, unprocessed foods” like I do, then you should be damn proud of yourself.

 

Is This “The Secret” to Optimal Health and Happiness?

You are only 10 percent human.

As crazy as it sounds, our bodies have only 10 percent human cells. The other 90 percent are bacterial.

Most of these bacterial organisms live in your gut, part of a stunningly complex network of 100 million neurons known as your “microbiome”.

Your gut—which includes the esophagus, stomach, and intestines—actually has its own nervous system that allows it to operate independently from the brain, which is why it’s often called the “second brain.”

Ever felt butterflies in your stomach before giving a speech? Or had a “gut feeling” about something that turned out to be right?

That’s the second brain at work.

The Health Benefits of Probiotics

probiotics health benefits

So how do you improve your gut health?

The best way to get more good bacteria in your body is to eat whole, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and miso.

The second best way is to take a supplement or eat foods with added “probiotics,” a term used to describe health-promoting bacterial species.

However, 94% of probiotics added to food products are completely ineffective.

That’s because they either:

  1. Have a short shelf life
  2. Get killed by your stomach acid, or
  3. Don’t stay in your digestive tract long enough to provide any health benefit

It doesn’t matter how many “billion CFUs” your probiotic has if none of those good bacteria survive through your digestive system!

How do you find a good probiotic that actually works?

Start by finding out the answers to these questions:

  1. Does your probiotic survive stomach acid? As mentioned, most don’t. Certain strains fare better than others (like Bacillus coagulans). And some manufacturers (like Hyperbiotics) have developed proprietary processes that time-release the delivery of the bacteria until it reaches your intestine.
  2. Is your probiotic lab tested for safety? The FDA doesn’t require probiotic companies to test their bacteria strains. So naturally, they don’t do it. Probiotic contamination is a big deal though. If your probiotic manufacturer doesn’t have strict quality control measures in place, your probiotic may be doing more harm than good. Make sure the company you buy from tests its probiotics and can prove it to you.
  3. Is your probiotic backed by peer-reviewed clinical studies? Don’t trust marketing claims on product labels and websites. Even most clinical data probiotic companies cite is funded by the companies themselves. Your probiotic should be backed by peer-reviewed clinical studies (the gold standard in scientific research) if the company makes any claims about its benefits.
  4. Does your probiotic contain fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients? The answer is usually yes, but manufacturers are very good at hiding this information. The only way to know is to ask.
  5. Is your probiotic dairy-free? Many probiotics use a milk-based medium to help the bacteria grow. However, the people who probiotics tend to benefit most are those with digestive or immune problems … and dairy can trigger a whole host of issues.

The bottom line

Like most industries, the market for probiotics is ripe with crappy products. The only way to know if your probiotic is legit is to find out the answers to the five questions above. If a manufacturer is hesitant to provide any information you ask for, that’s a big red flag for an inferior product that could do more harm than good.

10 minutes of research makes a world of difference when it comes to choosing a healthy probiotic supplement.

Don’t roll the dice with your health.

If you want to try a probiotic that actually works, grab a sample bag of Pure Food Probiotic Protein Powder for just 5 bucks (you just pay shipping).

Is Tom Brady the “Food Babe” of Professional Athletes?

tom brady healthy eater
Source: ESPN SportsNation on Twitter

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently responded to a scathing article written about his personal trainer by lashing out at two notorious junk food conglomerates, Kellogg and Coca Cola.

In an interview with Boston radio station WEEI-FM, Brady was asked about a recent Boston Magazine article that portrayed his personal trainer as a fake doctor who sold unproven miracle cures.

He went on the offensive, calling out the “hypocrites” who belittled his trainer while putting junk food into their own bodies.

“I think that’s quackery,” he said, describing the billions of dollars Coca-Cola has spent on marketing. “And the fact that they can sell that to kids? I mean, that’s poison for kids.”

He also took a jab at Tony the Tiger, saying cereals like Kellogg’s sugar-laden Frosted Flakes are why the U.S. has a major childhood obesity problem.

Kellogg had the audacity to respond and say that cereal breakfasts are “tied to lower body mass index readings in both children and adults” (wonder who funded that study?)

Props to Tom Brady for forgoing the opportunity for a large sponsorship deal (Take Part has some astonishing facts about this) to speak his mind and put these companies on the hot seat.

Tom: even though I’m a Michigan State grad and you’re a former Wolverine, you’re all right in my book.

What Are Natural Flavors?

what are natural flavorsOne of the most common questions I get from readers is:

What are natural flavors, and are they bad for me?

Natural flavors are the fourth most common ingredient on food labels today. The only ingredients you’ll see more often: salt, water and sugar.

In this article, I’ll tell you:

  1. What natural flavors are, and
  2. Four science-backed reasons you should avoid foods that have them

Away we go …

What are natural flavors?

The FDA allows food companies to use the term “natural flavors” to describe any food additive that originated in nature.

If they originated in nature, what’s the problem? you may be asking.

According to David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this:

[Natural flavors] will often have some solvent and preservatives—and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.

Natural flavor is now the fourth most common ingredient listed on food labels! Click To Tweet

This is a major issue for anyone who considers themself a clean, healthy eater.

Here are my top four reasons to avoid natural flavors

Reason #1: natural flavors are 90 percent chemical junk

As you learned above, 80 to 90 percent of the ingredients that make up natural flavors contain chemical solvents and preservatives. These include the cancer-causing chemical BHA, propylene glycol (found in antifreeze), and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Reason #2: natural flavors are basically perfumes for your mouth

Cleaning products, perfumes, and cosmetics contain a combination of chemicals called “fragrances.” In processed food, this chemical mixture is called a “flavor.” Because smell comprises 80 to 90 percent of the sense of taste, fragrances and flavors are often alarmingly similar in chemical composition.

Reason #3: natural flavors are designed by Big Food to be addictive

There are four huge corporations that control the $24 billion market for both flavors and fragrances: Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF and Symrise.

In a fascinating 2011 interview that aired on 60 Minutes, scientists from Givaudan, one of the aforementioned power players in the food flavoring world, admitted their number one goal when creating flavors was to make them addictive!

Scientists have admitted that natural flavors are designed to be addictive. Click To Tweet

Reason #4: The FDA lets flavor companies call the shots

Incredibly, the FDA frequently allows food companies to develop their own food additives without providing oversight or safety reviews of their chemical concentrations. These companies are smart: they hire expensive lawyers to ensure they’ve followed the archaic FDA processes when developing their flavors … and generally the FDA leaves them alone.

Scientist David Andrews sums it up once again:

The truth is that when you see the word “flavor” on a food label, you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this vague term. For people who have uncommon food allergies or are on restricted diets, this can be a serious concern.

What you can do about it

Natural flavors are not natural, no matter how much food companies try to convince you otherwise.

But they’re so prevalent in so many foods it’s really hard to avoid them.

The simple solution is to stop buying foods that contain natural flavors. You can also contact the FDA expressing your concern. Or reach out to your elected officials and tell them you think this is unacceptable and you’d like more oversight of these types of ingredients in the foods you eat.

At the end of the day, eating more fresh foods that come from nature and packaged foods with only ingredients you recognize as real food is the easiest way to avoid natural flavors.

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