FDA Joins Modern Nutrition Thinking With Updates

Which afternoon snack do you think is healthier: a handful of almonds or a handful of Frosted Flakes?

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s current definition of the word “healthy,” you should grab the Frosted Flakes.

The agency announced this month that it will be reevaluating its regulations on which foods can be labeled “healthy,” as well as other nutrient claims, after decades of evolution in the field.

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 “Just because a food contains certain ingredients that are considered good for you, such as nuts or fruit, it does not mean that food can bear a ‘healthy’ nutrient claim,” FDA spokeswoman Lauren Kotwicki wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

Current food regulations reflect the more simplistic views from the 1980s and 1990s. As such, food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets five criteria: fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients, such as Vitamin C or Calcium.

When the term “healthy” was first officially defined in 1994, low fat content was the primary focus for health professionals. Sugar content, processed chemicals and sodium levels were not yet on the FDA’s or most nutritionists’ radar.

For this reason, foods like Kellogg Co.’s Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts and Campbell’s SpaghettiOs can be marketed as healthy. Though they are all still high in sugar and processed chemicals, they meet all the current criteria, as they are low in fat and are fortified with vitamins.

Meanwhile, foods like salmon, avocado and almonds could not be marketed as healthy under the current regulations, because of their high content of fat per serving.

Kind, makers of the fruit and nut bars, discovered firsthand how outdated the FDA’s regulations are when they received a warning letter to stop using the word healthy on its packaging. As most of Kind’s bars are made with almonds and other nuts, they do not meet the requirement for low fat content.

Kind has since petitioned the FDA to change the requirements and has received support from doctors, dietitians and lawmakers around the country.

“We very much hope the FDA will change the definition of healthy, so that you don’t end up in a silly situation where a toaster pastry or sugary cereal can be considered healthy and a piece of salmon or a bunch of almonds cannot,” Kind Chief Executive Daniel Lubetzky said in an interview.

Related Post: Big Food Companies Evolve as American Taste Buds Change

Congress is pushing the FDA to make this issue a priority, as it affects how agricultural companies can market their products in the future. However, the process will still likely take several years.

If the FDA changes the definition, it will first propose updating the “healthy” definition, followed by a comment period for food makers and the public to submit their ideas and research what “healthy” means. Then the FDA will present its proposed rule change, followed by another comment period, the final rule and an implementation period to give food makers time to comply.

It would serve as a test case in a long list of necessary FDA regulation updates surrounding nutrition — changes many nutritionists agree are finally time to make.

New Cases Of Diabetes Finally Decline in the U.S.

The message was clear: obesity and the resulting cases of diabetes were harming millions of Americans. Changes in lifestyle and eating habits had to be made.

And it appears many citizens actually listened.

Finally, after decades of what appeared to be an insurmountable number of reported cases, rates of diabetes in the United States have declined.

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The number of new cases fell by about 20 percent from 2008 to 2014, according to research at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the first consistent drop since the disease started to explode in the country about 25 years ago.

The decline has been slow, so gradual over the years, in fact that the drop was not statistically meaningful until new data from 2014 was released. They showed there were 1.4 million new cases of diabetes in 2014, down from 1.7 million in 2008.

“It seems pretty clear that incidence rates have now actually started to drop,” Edward Gregg, a diabetes researcher for the CDC said to the New York Times. “Initially it was a little surprising because I had become so used to seeing increases everywhere we looked.”

Experts cannot yet confirm if the change can be attributed to the increased efforts to prevent diabetes or if the disease has peaked in the population. But the shift is consistent with recent progress reported in the overall health of Americans.

The amount of calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, has declined consistently for the first time since federal statistics began tracking the information more than 40 years ago. Children are also consuming on average about 9 percent less calories per day.

For the first time since the late 1990s, the amount of full-calorie soft drinks Americans are consuming has declined by about a quarter. All of this has likely contributed to the marked halt in the rise of obesity rates for adults and school-aged children.

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Americans will need to continue with these trends, as experts say the number of people with diabetes is still more than double what it was in the early 1990s.

“It’s not yet time to have a parade,” Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center and Clinical Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said to the New York Times. But he noted, “It has finally entered into the consciousness of our population that the sedentary lifestyle is a real problem, that increased body weight is a real problem.”

10 Tips For Staying Healthy During The Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving from ClaimLinx!

The upcoming holidays are a wonderful time to relax, enjoy family and indulge in the traditional tasty foods of the season: spicy pumpkin pie, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet honey ham and cold creamy eggnog.

But it’s important not to indulge too much. Although the average weight gain during the holiday season is only one pound, statistics show most people do not lose that pound during the year.  So that one pound can really add up year after year.

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Keep the extra holiday weight off this year with these 10 tips from dieticians and nutritionists.

  1. Make holiday treats year-round – Prevent some of the “last-chance” eating we all do during the holidays by setting dates to make holiday favorites during other parts of the year: green bean casserole in February, pumpkin pie in March.
  2. Don’t be fooled – Many holiday foods seem healthy on concept, with ingredients like sweet potatoes, green beans and Brussels sprouts. But if vegetables are covered in cheese, butter or sugar, they’re no longer the healthy options. It’s important to treat these dishes like the indulgences they really are.
  3. Break out the skinny jeans – Loose clothing, stretchy waistbands and relaxed fit sweaters encourage everyone to overeat. For your next party, squeeze into your skinniest jeans, from-fitting dress or slim-fit suit. You’ll look good and your outfit will be a subtle reminder not to indulge too much.
  4. Catch those Zzzs – Busy holidays schedules, travel and all that shopping sometimes keep people from their regular sleeping schedules, but getting a consistent six to nine hours of sleep helps the body regulate hormones, recover from workouts and prevent sickness.
  5. Detox after the season is done – Over time, our bodies adapt to “hyperpalatable” foods, those stuffed with fat, salt and sugar. By eating these foods, we erode the body’s ability to taste subtler flavors. When the holiday season is over this year, try going just seven days without these foods and your old taste buds will return.
  6. Arrive for the party, not the food – Remember that the holiday season is more about socializing than eating. Try eating a lean meal before a party so that you are full when you arrive and you can enjoy others’ company.
  7. Set down the fork – Next time you’re eating with friends or family, try setting your fork down after each bite. You will naturally slow down your eating and be more aware of when you are full.
  8. Chug, chug, chug water – Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. You may continue to snack without ever feeling satisfied. Try drinking half your body weight in water, so if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water.
  9. Splurge on your loves, not your likes – Don’t pile your plate high with foods that don’t make your taste buds soar. Choose only foods that you truly enjoy. Most often, you won’t miss munching on the foods you don’t adore.
  10. Set a treat day – The biggest mistake during the holidays is continuing the unhealthy habits. Be sure to keep your treats to only one day during the week.

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For even more tips, read the article this information was taken from.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Happy Halloween from ClaimLinx!

This time of year brings with it one of tastiest seasonal foods: Pumpkin. This year, chow down on those seeds or bite into that pie with a little less guilt. Pumpkin actually contains these 5 surprising health benefits:

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1. Skinny Food – In the perfect combination, pumpkin is rich in fiber and low in calories. That means it keeps you full without expanding your waistline.

2. Happy Heart – Nuts and seeds, including those from pumpkins, are packed with phytosterols, which studies show reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

3. Mood Booster – Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is a vital ingredient in the production of the serotonin, the body’s mood elevation chemical.

4. Stay Healthy – Your favorite fall treat, just like oranges, are a solid source of the essential nutrient Vitamin C, which helps to ward off sickness.

5. Power Up – Perfect for after a tough workout, pumpkin is full of the nutrient potassium, an important player when it comes to restoring the body’s electrolytes.

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Just remember when we’re talking about the benefits of the pumpkin, we’re talking about the seeds and pure pumpkin. Those sugary treats flavored with pumpkin won’t pack the same healthy wallop. But we won’t tell, if it’s just a taste …

Big Food Companies Evolve as American Taste Buds Change

There was a time when having a big name in food was everything: Kraft, Campbell’s, McDonald’s.

Now, it seems the American consumer has moved onto greener pastures … literally.

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In the past 10 years, taste buds in the U.S. have shifted and people have begun placing a higher value on clean, natural eating.

Words like preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified and growth hormones now cause many American shoppers to raise and eyebrow, and instead reach for foods that proclaim words like organic, natural and pesticide-free.

In fact, since 2009 the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in the market, according to an analysis by Moscow. It’s a shift that has many big food companies scrambling to make changes to their products.

For example, Wendy’s Co. spent the last three years on a search involving more than 30 growers in order to procure enough blackberries for one new salad to add its menu next summer.

McDonald’s Corp. has begun advertising that its Egg McMuffins are made with freshly cracked eggs and it has started testing breakfast bowls and salads made with kale.

The change isn’t limited to fast food, though. General Mills bought organic pasta, meals and snacks company Annie’s Homegrown last year, and Campbell’s launched an organic soup line in February as well as acquired an organic baby food company last year.

Many of these changes in the market come from a change the target demographic. By 2020, millenials over the age of 25 are expected to make up about 19% of the U.S. population, a significant rise from 2010 when they made up about 5% of this population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Studies have shown the millennial generation consistently prefers locally grown, healthy foods. At the same time, baby boomers have become more discriminating about their diet, opting for foods that increase brain, health and physical activity.

Both trends have now come together changing the demands and expectations of the typical American eater.

Consumers in general ranked the addition of more produce as the most important dietary change they were making last year, according to a survey of more than 1,000 people by consulting firm AlixPartners LLP. This change was ranked more important than consuming less sugar, salt or fat.

As big food companies battle for their place in the market once again, they are facing two great obstacles: consumer perception and supply chain issues.

For many consumers, it doesn’t matter if General Mills converts most of its products to organic; they are skeptical of larger food providers. Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison said this is a huge hurdle for companies like hers in her presentation earlier this year at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting in New York City.

“There is a mounting distrust of so-called ‘big food,’ the large food companies and legacy brands on which millions of consumers have relied on for so long,” she said.

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But even if perceptions changed, big packaged food companies would still have to overcome a larger problem: access to ingredients. Just as Wendy’s Co. discovered in its search for blackberries to add one salad to its menu, other big food companies have found there just may not be enough organic ingredients to go around.

When Campbell’s set out to procure enough ingredients for its line of organic soups, the company had to secure long-term contracts so as not to jeopardize the product in the future. It’s a big commitment for some farmers, as it means dedicating their entire crop only to one company.

As American priorities and taste buds evolve, big companies will continue to expand their product to accommodate a new demographic of eaters.