Slim fast? The truth about juice fasting

Published: Monday, August 28, 2017 @ 12:45 PM
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Interested in giving a juice fast a whirl? Juice fasting involves eating only juiced fresh fruits and vegetables for anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks On average, the amount of daily calories in a juice fast falls between 1,000 to 1,200 The Master Cleanse is a popular 10-day juice fast of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water Blueprint offers a 3, 5, or 10-day juice fast and includes 6 juices per day delivered to your door The Green Juice fast involves making green smoothies of

There's a popular way to approach dieting and resetting with whole fruits and vegetables - juice fasting. Interested in giving a juice fast a whirl? 

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Here's what you need to know, including the types of juice fasts, potential health benefits and potential health risks.

Basics of juice fasting

Juice fasting, often referred to as juice cleansing, involves eating only juiced fresh fruits and vegetables for a set amount of time. Juice fasts can last anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks.

On average, the amount of daily calories in a juice fast falls in the 1,000 to 1,200 range. For protein and fat, adding nut milks is sometimes recommended. 

Juicing is a way to get fruits and vegetables — and their nutrients — into your diet. (Jill Toyoshiba/Kansas City Star/MCT)(JILL TOYOSHIBA)

To make the juice, you'll need a juicer. There are Auger-style juicers (cold-press juicers) and juice extractors, which tend to remove the pulp from the juice.

Some of the most popular juice fasts and cleanses include:

  • Master cleanse: Often referred to as the Lemonade Diet, the Master Cleanse is a popular 10-day juice fast in which dieters drink a mix of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. Six to 12 glasses are recommended per day during the fast - or whenever hunger strikes. Taking a laxative before bed is also recommended.
  • Blueprint cleanse: For those interested in a juice fast, but with zero interest in the actual juicing, there's the Blueprint. Choose from a three-, five- or 10-day juice fast and have six cold-pressed juices per day delivered to your door. All Blueprint juices are organic. 
  • Green juice fast: More of a smoothie than a juice, this 10-day cleanse involves making green smoothies of kale, spinach, arugula and whatever other greens you like. You can also snack on crunchy fruits and vegetables.
  • Arden's Garden: For a more local fasting option, try the two-day cleanse from Atlanta's own Arden's Garden. Each day, you drink a gallon of the detox juice, along with as much distilled water as you want.

Potential health benefits 

Apart from weight loss, many people who try juice fasts report being more alert, with higher levels of mental acuity and increased energy. It can also serve as a sort of reset, helping people break bad eating habits.

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Potential health risks 

Juice fasting, to some, is a form of detox and detoxes carry with them inherent health risks. Potential side effects of detoxes include low energy, dizziness, headaches, nausea and other symptoms. According to Liz Applegate, director of sports and nutrition at University of California Davis, another unpleasant side effect of juice fasts is "a change in bowel movements and frequent bathroom visits." As with any diet, people with pre-existing health conditions should consult a doctor before beginning a juice fast.

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Don't ever eat raw cookie dough, FDA warns

Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 @ 10:53 AM

FDA Warning Says Never Eat Raw Cookie Dough

If you just can't resist eating the last bits of raw cookie dough from the bowl while baking, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a message for you: don't.

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As holiday bakers took to kitchens nationwide last week, the FDA reminded people to refrain from eating raw cookie dough or face the possibility of getting sick.

The warning comes after the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local and state officials investigated an E. coli outbreak linked to raw flour that in 2016 sickened 63 people in 24 states.

The outbreak started in December 2015. The CDC determined at least half of those who fell ill made something at home with flour. Subsequent tests linked the outbreak with General Mills flour produced in Missouri, and the company issued a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of flour.

<p>What is E. coli and how to avoid it</p>(Bryan Erdy/News | WSBTV)

Although many people know about the danger of getting salmonella poisoning from raw dough, fewer people may be aware that eating raw flour carries its own risks.

"Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria," Leslie Smoot, a senior advisor in the FDA's Office of Food Safety, said last year.

The bacteria is killed during cooking or processing through boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving or frying. However, raw dough does not go through any of those "kill steps," according to the FDA.

For anyone who still hopes to use raw cookie dough in something like homemade cookie dough ice cream, authorities suggest using commercially made dough.

"Manufacturers should use ingredients that include treated flour and pasteurized eggs," FDA officials said.

The FDA released the following food handling tips for handling raw flour:
  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
  • Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.

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Advice from dietitians on how to eat healthy at Panda Express, Chipotle and other fast food spots

Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 3:30 PM

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At the start of the new year, you probably promised yourself that you were going to eat healthy and exercise more. Your Pinterest board was filled with Buddha bowl recipes, and that pair of gym shoes was getting more action than it used to. But as January marches toward its end, you find yourself taking fewer Mason jar salads to work, and you can’t even remember the last time you went to the gym.

It’s those times that you have to lean on healthy habits you’ve developed when your willpower was stronger. In a sea of seemingly unhealthy fast-food options, there are still ways to approach a menu and fill up on nutritious items. To help with that, we asked two dietitians to give us some tips and tricks for choosing healthy options and then made them prove the tips would work by taking them to popular fast food and fast casual restaurants.

We accompanied Bethany Doerfler, a registered dietitian at the Digestive Health Center at Northwestern Medicine, and Lori Welstead, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at the University of Chicago, to some of Chicago’s favorite lunch spots to show us how to hack the menu for the healthiest options and give us tips on how to stay on track.

Their suggestions are geared toward people who want to maintain their weight or lose weight. For women, this means a 1,200- to 1,600-calorie daily diet, and for men, 1,600- to 2,000-calories a day. To accomplish those numbers, Doerfler recommends sticking to 400 calories for breakfast and lunch and 500 calories for dinner, which leaves some room for “two thoughtful snacks.”

Don’t despair. There’s still hope for your New Year’s resolutions.

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STUDY AHEAD

It’s easy to go into a restaurant, look at the menu and pick something on the spot, but Doerfler recommends studying ahead. See if you can check out the menu online, or pick one up when you’re there — some restaurants even have a calorie calculator to help you make better choices.

“Go in with a game plan,” Doerfler said. “Don’t show up and ask what looks good because everything looks good. You’re less likely to make an impulsive decision.”

Examine the calories, fat, sodium and sugars if there is a menu available with that information, Welstead said.

Once you get into the habit of checking nutrition information, it will be easier to modify your meal to make it lower in calories and healthier, Doerfler said.

FIND THE IN-BETWEEN

It’s all about finding a combination of foods that are not only healthy but will also satisfy whatever you’re craving, whether it’s something spicy, savory or sweet. You don’t want to fall into the trap of eating something nutritious but unsatisfying and then later grabbing a candy bar, Welstead said.

At Panda Express, Welstead chose the kung pao chicken bowl with steamed vegetables, garnished with peanuts and chile peppers, to bring the total calorie count to just under 400. She chose the kung pao chicken because it’s a savory and spicy option that is packed with protein.

“When it comes to making these healthy choices, and I think with regard to making a healthy lifestyle, it’s all about balance,” Welstead said. “If you know you want to eat something that is higher in calories, higher in fat, higher in sugar, enjoy it, have that meal, and the next time you have something to eat, make better decisions.”

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GO FOR PROTEIN

Choosing options high in protein helps keep you satiated, Welstead said. And while skipping the rice, bread or noodles is preferred — since carbohydrates cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop down — getting a half or partial portion is better than getting the entire serving. Also, skip the lunchmeat.

“Unfortunately when you get things like lunchmeat, there’s not going to be as much bang for your buck when it comes to protein, and it’s going to have more salt,” Welstead said.

When you eat something with as many carbohydrates as a sandwich, your blood sugar will go up and then inevitably crash only a few hours later. If you’re going to have a sandwich at a place like Potbelly’s, choose the skinny bread or the flat instead of the normal bread, Welstead said.

At Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Welstead opted for half a tuna salad, to cut down on red meat and avoid lunchmeat, on whole grain bread, which has fiber to help you stay full and satisfied.

“A pretzel bun or baguette might sound good, but they have no whole grains and so many more carbohydrates because of the dense nature of it,” Welstead said.

Because Corner Bakery Cafe offers the option of getting half a sandwich and a salad, Welstead ordered the Asian wonton salad with the wontons on the side.

GO EASY ON THE DRESSING AND CRUNCHY BITS

Crunchy toppings, like croutons and wontons, can add empty calories to a meal, so opt to have them on the side and have only one or two pieces to appease that hankering, Welstead said.

Dressings can add a lot of calories and sugar to your meal, so the best option is to get it on the side and use only a little bit, Welstead said. Avoid nonfat dressings because they typically have more sugar than normal ones, and opt for avocado, which has healthy fats to help you stay full longer.

Welstead chose the Powerhouse salad at Potbelly’s, made with grilled chicken breast, avocado, hummus, hard-boiled egg, cucumber and grape tomatoes on a bed of spinach. She ordered the Potbelly’s vinaigrette on the side.

“When you get salads with avocado, you won’t have to use as much dressing because it gives that creamy consistency when you start to toss your salad,” Welstead said.

If you’re craving more punch, hot sauces, rather than creamy or garlic oils, are a way to amp up flavor and avoid adding calories, Doerfler said. Another way is to choose chimichurri or salsas, which helps bump up your vegetable intake while making your meal more interesting.

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START LOW AND WORK THE SIDES

Building a bowl with salad as your base already gives you a good start toward clocking in fewer than 500 calories for a meal, Doerfler said. This way, you can layer in other healthy things without worrying about overdoing it.

When entrees are too high in calories, check out the sides or a la carte options to build a satisfying meal. At Portillo’s, Doerfler ordered an a la carte meatball, minestrone soup and a grilled chicken sandwich without mayo or cheese.

Sides like soups and salads can help keep calories down while giving you a variety of options that are filling. Studies have shown that starting a meal with a broth-based soup can help people cut back on calories by 30 percent, Doerfler said.

At Noodles & Company, Doerfler ordered a tomato basil bisque with her small penne rosa.

“Save some of the good carbs that you’re craving for times like this when you can do a small or half order. That way you’re getting portion control right out of the gates,” Doerfler said.

DRINK WATER, EAT COLORFULLY

Instead of reaching for a fountain drink or sweet iced teas, drink water. Other drinks can add unwanted sugar and don’t help keep you full. Instead of picking a sweet drink, save those calories for a healthy afternoon snack, Doerfler advised.

“Try to skip all the sodas and milkshakes that can add easily 1,000 calories when you otherwise weren’t planning on it,” Doerfler said.

A regular soda can be the caloric equivalent of four or five pieces of bread, Welstead said, so cutting those out saves you hours of exercising to burn off those extra sugars.

A quick rule that Doerfler and Welstead give their clients is to eat something green, something red or purple, and something yellow or orange every day to ensure they get the antioxidants they need.

“Get all the colors of the rainbow,” Welstead said.

SHARE WITH FRIENDS

People often fall into the trap of finishing their entire plate even if they’re already full. Instead, try to take home leftovers or share with friends, Doerfler said. And if that item wasn’t what you thought it would be or you just aren’t enjoying the taste anymore, don’t be afraid to get rid of it.

“When you feel like you are no longer enjoying the taste and you’re eating just to finish, it’s a great time to try to stop and pause,” Doerfler said. “Take the leftovers home with you, or give them to a friend, or throw them away. Save your heart and health in the long run.”

CASE STUDIES

Here are the restaurants and businesses that Welstead and Doerfler visited, what they ordered and their explanations for their picks.

Case study: Panda Express

Order: Kung pao chicken with steamed vegetables

Reasoning: The chicken is for protein, and the vegetables are for nutrition and as a substitute for rice or noodles.

Case study: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Order: Salad bowl with black beans, fajita vegetables, sofrito and pico de gallo, with the dressing on the side. Skip the sour cream and cheese, and if you’re trying to be conscientious of carbs, skip the rice and corn salsa.

Reasoning: Plant-based, protein packed and loaded with nutrients.

Case study: Potbelly’s

Order: Powerhouse Salad with Potbelly’s vinaigrette on the side

Reasoning: The whole chicken breast provides more protein than lunchmeat, avocado helps make the salad creamier and is a healthy fat, and vinaigrette on the side allows you to use less of it.

Case study: 7-Eleven

Order: Yogurt and hard-cooked eggs.

Reasoning: It’s hard to choose something that is healthy at 7-Eleven, so choose something with protein. Plain nuts are also a good choice. Avoid yogurt-covered nuts because they are just covered in sugar and aren’t made with real yogurt.

Case study: Corner Bakery

Order: Half a tuna sandwich with half an Asian Wonton Salad

Reasoning: Sometimes you want a little bit of each, so choose something with whole wheat for fiber. The tuna is better than lunchmeat. Getting the wontons on the side means you can still have a couple but not eat all of them. Choose carrots over chips as a side.

Case study: Naf Naf Grill

Order: Salad bowl with chicken, tahini and cucumber salad, with hot sauces on the side.

Reasoning: Choose something low-calorie as a base, then add vegetable options. Use hot sauces for more flavor. Avoid the falafel, which is deep-fried and can have as many calories as steak. That pita bread that comes with the meal? Share it with friends.

Case study: Whole Foods

Order: From the salad bar, a kale salad base topped with shrimp, chicken or hard-cooked eggs. Or a packaged salad.

Reasoning: The kale provides a good amount of fiber, and the shrimp provides protein. Add nuts, chia seeds or sunflower seeds for crunch, rather than croutons or wontons.

Case study: Noodles & Company

Order: Small penne rosa with a side of tomato bisque.

Reasoning: Sometimes you don’t want a salad, and this pasta is actually one of the lower-calorie options on the menu. Tomato bisque gives you antioxidants.

Case study: Portillo’s

Order: Grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo and no cheese, small side salad and ministrone soup.

Reasoning: Skipping the mayo and cheese helps shave off calories and saturated fat. The soup and salad help fill you up.

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4 bizarre ways people are trying to beat death and aging

Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 10:54 AM

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Death −it's an inevitable reality. Humans have been coming to terms with that fact for centuries.

There are various theories on living longer, religious beliefs and theories on the afterlife. However, no matter the belief system we ascribe to, we are still certain that death− whether it be an end or a transition − is coming for all of us.

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In spite of that, there are thousands of people finding unique ways to potentially beat death − or at least beat aging.

Some wealthy investors and renowned scientists are working very hard on trying to do just that.

Several startups and tech companies are actively working to help you beath death.

"I have the idea that aging is plastic, that it's encoded. If something is encoded, you can crack the code," said Joon Yun, a doctor who runs a health-care hedge fund and has given $2 million to fight aging and death, according to The New Yorker.

"If you can crack the code, you can hack the code!"

Although nobody has yet been scientifically proven to live forever, many scientists believe that it will someday be possible. Here's a look at some of the ways people are trying to become immortal. Some of it may sound a lot like “Black Mirror”, but this isn't science fiction.

Blood transfusions from teenagers

Harvesting the blood of teens in the hopes of achieving eternal youth may seem like something from “Twilight” or the plot of a horror film. But there's actually a startup doing this.

Ambrosia, based in Monterey, California, offers young blood transfusions to individuals 35 or older for $8,000 a pop, The Guardian reported in August 2017. Although the project is still dubbed "a study," Dr. Jesse Karmazin, who runs the project, suggests that it could combat aging.

The new research comes after a 2014 Harvard study showed that older mice injected with blood from younger mice had improved memory and ability to learn. Whether or not similar results will be shown in humans remains to be seen. But as of last year, about 100 older adults had signed on to pay the hefty price and receive the 1.5 liter injections of teenagers' blood, according to CNBC.

Head transplants to new bodies

In late 2017, Dr. Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, drew international outcry when he claimed that he would perform the first live human head transplant very soon.

»RELATED: Professor: Team has performed first successful human head transplant using cadavers

Essentially, Canavero aims to take a living patient whose body is physically disabled and transplant their head on a fully-functioning body. While the doctor and his team have been experimenting with the procedure using cadavers, many in the medical community have warned that the technique just isn't advanced enough to make this feasible.

"Attempting such a thing given the current state of the art would be nothing short of criminal, and as a neuroscientist, I would really quite like the general public to be reassured that neither I nor any of my colleagues think that beheading people for extremely long-shot experiments is acceptable," Dr. Jan Schnupp, professor of neuroscience at City University of Hong Kong, told The Independent.

But Canavero dismisses concerns, telling USA Today: "Bioethicists need to stop patronizing the world."

Uploading consciousness to the cloud

What if you could make a digital back-up of your consciousness and memories? Could you live forever in a digital world or perhaps one day be downloaded into a younger, healthier body?

Tristan Quinn, a Russian internet millionaire has bet a hefty portion of his fortune on doing just that.

"The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone's personality into a completely new body," Quinn said, explaining that he is attempting to unlock the secrets of the human brain and then upload an individual's mind to a computer, according to the BBC.

"Within the next 30 years, I am going to make sure that we can all live forever," he promised in 2016.

And Ray Kurzwell, director of engineering at Google, is on the same page as Quinn.

"We're going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not important any more," Kurzwell said, according to Express. He went on to suggest humans would have machine bodies by 2100.

Freezing corpses in hopes of future reanimation

In late 2016, news of a 14-year-old girl's decision to be cryogenically frozen after her death from cancer made headlines. The technology suggests that frozen individuals will one day be able to be reanimated when technology and science have developed further.

Scientifically, it's unclear whether this will actually work, but it hasn't stopped many individuals from deciding to take the gamble. 

Currently, three organizations in the world offer the cryogenic freezing: the Cryonics Institute in Michigan – where the teenage girl is now preserved, Alcor in Arizon and KrioRus in Russia, according to Express. The Cryonics Institute charges $28,000 plus a one-off membership fee of $1,250.

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Beware: Mixing herbal products with medication could be dangerous

Published: Friday, February 02, 2018 @ 1:44 PM

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If you're currently taking medications for depression, HIV, heart disease, cancer or epilepsy, you should avoid combining herbal remedies with your treatment, a new scientific review suggests.

The research, published last month in the "British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology", warns of major complications when common herbal supplements are taken in conjunction with cancer treatments, antidepressants, statins and other medications. St. John's Worts, cranberry, goji juice, green tea, sage, flaxseed, ginkgo biloba and ginseng could all lead to adverse effects.

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Led by Dr. Charles Awortwe, of the University of Stellenbosch in Tygerberg in South Africa, the research examined dozens of cases in which alternative treatments had diluted or increased the potency of medications— or caused other potentially harmful side effects.

"Intake of herbal medicines and prescribed medications is a common practice especially in patients with hypertension, diabetes, cancer, seizures and depression," Awortwe told The Telegraph, commenting on the real life implications of his research.

"Assessment and subsequent mechanistic studies of herbs with clinically relevant herbal drug interactions must be publicized to alert both clinicians and patients about the need to avoid co-usage of certain herbal medicines with specific prescribed medications," he said.

Overall, nearly 30 percent of patient cases reviewed by the study saw serious complications when combining herbal supplements with their medication treatments.

Among the concerning cases, some cancer patients saw their drugs stop working all together after using ginseng, individuals with HIV saw their bloods' virus levels rise dramatically after taking ginkgo supplements, and transplant patients rejected kidneys after taking chamomile. Taking St. John's Wart may also lead to internal bleeding among patients using blood-thinning medications.

The study authors warns that the risks are particularly serious for middle-aged and elderly patients. In general, combining herbal treatments with medication can lead to "life-threatening adverse drug events, prolonged hospitalization and loss of life," according to the researchers.

"If you are taking herbal remedies you should disclose it to your clinician," Awortwe said, according to The Guardian. "A potential interaction and its consequences can be very detrimental to the health of the patient."

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Dr. Sotiris Antoniou, of the United Kingdom's Royal Pharmaceutical Society, commented on the study, saying: "If you are taking herbal medicines, you should let your doctor or pharmacist know, so they can ensure that it is safe for you to take them with statins or warfarin and there are no interactions which could increase the risk of experiencing side effects," according to The Daily Mail.

Dr. Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, also commented on the study, saying it demonstrated that natural remedies could still have serious biological effects.

"They might cause harm to many patients who use herbal treatments," Ernst said. "It is therefore important that consumers are warned of the danger and think twice before self-medicating with herbal remedies."

Previous research has shown that natural supplements and multivitamins have little if any impact on slowing down the progress of cognitive decline of chronic diseases such as heart diseases or cancer. A 2013 review of 27 past clinical trials conducted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force led three prominent doctors to publish an editorial arguing that taking vitamins and minerals is a waste of money.

"The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified and they should be avoided," the physicians wrote at the time, according to Scientific America.

"Supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful," they warned.

Patients should be more aware of the potentially negative consequences of such supplements, particularly when combined with medication, scientists have warned.

"Prescription-only medicines are prescription-only for a reason – they are potent and their use should be supervised by a healthcare professional so your treatment can be monitored and any adverse reactions dealt with," a spokesperson for the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said.

"If you are taking medicines, and also taking herbal medicines, please read the patient information provided and if you have any further questions, speak to your healthcare professional."

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