By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/25/2013 6:43 PM
The phrase “GMO” gets tossed around a lot these days, usually in articles with scary titles like “Are you serving Frankensalmon to your kids for dinner?” A GMO (genetically modified organism) is a food, seed, plant or animal that has had its genetic material altered in a lab for some perceived benefit – typically to help it resist insects, viruses, or pesticides. That means a tomato can be tinkered with to flourish in harsh conditions: More pesticide can be used on that tomato during growth, or it may have toxic substances inserted into its cells to kill off pests when they nibble on it. And then…you eat it.
Despite the fact that a majority of Americans have claimed they would not buy food that had been genetically modified, more than 80% of the processed foods in American supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients. According to the World Health Organization, “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health.”Yet a number of studies have linked GM foods to fertility problems, organ damage and more. And labeling is not required, so even conscientious consumers will have difficulty distinguishing between, say, a cookie made with genetically modified sugar and one made without.
So we at Lifeway were thrilled to hear about the The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, introduced this week by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The bipartisan legislation would require food manufacturers to tell customers when packaged food contains genetically engineered (aka genetically modified) ingredients.
According to the Just Label It coalition, more than 1 million Americans have petitioned FDA to require labeling on packaged food containing GE ingredients. Lifeway is one of over 600 partner organizations who have joined together to support the FDA petition and the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Our entire lineup of probiotic Kefir, Frozen Kefir, Helios ™, ProBugs ™, and BioKefir ™ beverages has been enrolled in the nonprofit Non-GMO Project, honoring our rigorous avoidance of GMOs. Unfortunately, the majority of manufacturers and industries can make no such claim:
Eighty percent of American corn has been genetically engineered for resistance to pesticides and herbicides; with high fructose corn syrup, the number jumps to nearly 100%. Genetically modifying corn allows farmers to spray more pesticides, but that corn is then used to feed the cows and chickens that will one day wind up on your grill. Whether you are starting your day off with cereal, noshing on popcorn during Real Housewives, or dunking tortilla chips in salsa, look for non-GMO sources of corn with brands like Late July, Mary's Gone Crackers, and Nature's Path. Fun fact: Popcorn is non-GMO!
A staggering 90+% of global soy has been genetically modified. That includes soy milk, tofu, soy sauce and edamamae beans, not to mention soy lecithin, which is used as an emulsifier in everything from chocolate to salad dressings, chips to granolas. Since soy can be a valuable component in your diet -- it’s a complete vegetarian protein that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and cancer-reducing phytonutrients – you may want to consider purchasing non-GMO soy products, such as Silk soy milk,
Earth Balance, Eden Foods soy sauce.
Companies are seeking FDA approval for genetically modified salmon – salmon injected with genes from other types of salmons in an effort to speed growth and enable it to survive colder waters. Some experts fear that cancer and faster aging of cells could be side effects from these 'Frankenfish.” To avoid it, buy organic or wild caught fish, or seek out seafood from Henry & Lisa's Natural Seafood or Blue Horizon Seafood. For fish oil, try brand New Chapter’s Wholemega. Learn more about GM fish here or here.
To date, very few fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in the U.S. have been genetically modified. However, about half of Hawaiian papaya has been genetically modified. Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash have also likely been altered. If you choose to steer clear of GM foods, keep in mind that even if a fruit or vegetable is non-GMO, it may have been packaged, frozen, or canned using GM additives. The same goes for pasta sauce. Want non-GMO produce? Buy organic.
Your and your children’s milk may come from cows injected with genetically modified bovine growth hormone. Some U.S. dairy farms inject the genetically engineered hormone rbGH, also called rbST, into their cows to boost milk production. But due to consumer demand, many companies have changed their ways. Walmart, for instance, will no longer buy milk produced from cows injected with rbGH. Many dairy products are labeled to show they are rbGH- or rbST-free, but their cows may still be fed GM corn and soy. The best way to ensure hormone-free dairy? Buy organic dairy products, which are not allowed to intentionally use rbGH or GM grains as animal feed. Look no further…that’s Lifeway!!
For help shopping GMO-free, try this comprehensive guide from ResponsibleTechnology.org
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/3/2013 10:03 AM
Chances are, you know somebody with high blood pressure. Worldwide, a staggering 40% of adults over the age of 25 have it, putting them at risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and other dangerous conditions. In the US, one in every three adults is affected. Seven and half million people die every year worldwide as a result.
Unfortunately, about one in five American adults with high blood pressure don't even know that they have it. You may go for an annual checkup, but how many of us remember – or even ask about – the reading our doctor gets when she wraps the blood pressure cuff around our upper arm? Considering most of us are able to memorize our phone number, our Social Security number, how much we weigh, and plenty more, it shouldn’t be so difficult to remember five digits (ie 120/80.) We owe it to ourselves to take better care of ourselves, to know our blood pressure and, if it’s too high, to do something about it.
First, a little about the number. It’s actually comprised of two figures: Systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic is on top; diastolic, on the bottom. The top number, which is the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting and refilling with blood). In most people, systolic blood pressure creeps up as we age due to stiffening of the arteries, plaque build-up, and increased rates of heart disease.
On April 7, the World Health Organization celebrates World Health Day, and this year, the theme is high blood pressure. They encourage everyone to cut their risk of high blood pressure by:
-Reducing your intake of salt (Scour labels: Up to 75 percent of our sodium is hidden in processed foods like tomato sauce, soups, condiments and canned foods. Look for the words "soda" and "sodium" and the symbol "Na" on labels; these words indicate that sodium is present.)
-Eating a balanced diet
-Working out regularly
-Not abusing alcohol (If you drink, limit it to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.)
We found an intriguing 2009 study in the International Journal of Molecular Science which shows that probiotics may lower blood pressure, suggesting that “good bacteria” (like those founding kefir) may play a role in reducing hypertension. The research is preliminary, but promising. As always, check with your doctor – she may think it’s a good idea for you to drink kefir in addition to taking your prescribed blood pressure medication if you’ve already been diagnosed, or she might suggest you include kefir in your daily diet as a preventative measure.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/24/2013 12:42 PM
You know a new parent when you see one: Cavernous undereye circles; wild, unwashed hair; dried spit-up crusted on their sleeves. But parents of colicky babies are even more easily spotted: They’re the ones waving a white flag in the air. That’s because babies struggling with colic typically cry for more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks. Defined by the Mayo Clinic as “intense or inconsolable crying,” it’s miserable for the infant as well as the caregiver, and anyone living within a 100-yard radius.
No one knows for sure why some babies (about 25% of them) develop colic and others don’t, but theories include possible food intolerances (IE the mother is eating something and passing it through the breast milk) or that after nine months of in utero calm, the baby’s sensory development is simply overwhelmed by the world’s new environment. But a recent study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that the answer may lie in babies’ intestinal tracts. Researchers in the Netherlands found that, in the very first weeks of life, the intestinal flora of infants who would later develop colic was quite different than that of the babies who would be spared. Some of the bacteria that were rich in non-colicky babies are the same kinds found in kefir, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
Michael Hobaugh, MD, chief of medical staff at Chicago’s La Rabida Children's Hospital, called it “a very promising finding,” but told us that it’s too soon to tell whether adding probiotics – the good bacteria found in cultured dairy products like kefir and yogurt – to a nursing mother’s diet might help. “A nursing mother needs a diet rich in calcium, protein and fat, because that’s what the baby is taking from her,” Dr. Hobaugh said. “So in that sense, kefir and yogurt are helpful. And the higher levels of probiotics present in those foods could transfer over to that infant and provide some benefit, but studies have yet to show that. But there’s no harm.”
Dr. Hobaugh, who is also a general pediatrician, said the American Academy of Pediatrics advises waiting until babies are six months old to introduce food other than breast milk or formula. At that point, parents can feel free to try kefir and yogurt (many moms and dads prefer the full-fat varieties for their kids.) Stick with the plain versions: “The naturally occurring sugars in fruits or dairy are all a baby needs.”
The good news/bad news message? Colic goes away by around four to six months of age. When your little one starts acting fussy, Dr. Hobaugh suggests feeding him, changing him if he’s wet, and swaddling him – wrapping him up, burrito-style, with his arms snug up against his body. Loud “Shhing” noises may help, too. (He also noted that colic does not cause fever, bloody stool or vomit, and will not make your baby turn blue. If those symptoms are present, more serious health issues may be at play and it’s time to call your pediatrician or 911.) In the meantime, grab a bottle of Lifeway Cappuccino Kefir and hold on tight: It’s gonna be a long night.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/11/2013 11:03 AM
(our friend Kefird Brimley)
In junior high, we had a secret crush on Wilford Brimley, so it’s no surprise we’re psyched that January is National Oatmeal Month! Oh, oatmeal, why do we love thee?
Let us count the ways:
-On a cold winter day, you feel like a hug from the inside.
-Despite your dry appearance, you’re actually a very hydrating food, considering you have to be mixed with water.
-Many moms believe eating you boosts their milk production.
-You can be tossed into a batch of meatloaf, where you act as a binder, bumping up the fiber and increasing the overall amount of food, giving our recipe more bang for its buck.
Kefir & oatmeal just seem to go together, like Mork & Mindy or peanut butter & jelly. Plus, whole grains and low-fat dairy can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (or, as Wilford would say, “diabeetus.”)
Check out these fun and tasty ways to pair the two besties:
Try this kefir and oatmeal facial mask recipe:
Take ½ cup uncooked oatmeal, ¾ cup of Kefir and 2tbsp warm liquid honey. Mix kefir and oatmeal and refrigerate for ten hours. Strain, keeping the liquid and discarding the oatmeal. Add the honey and mix well. Apply the mask and leave on for twenty minutes. Rinse well and apply a moisturizer to the face. This is a great mask for oily skin.
PS If you’re reading this, call us, Wilford! We’re free all month and are single and ready to mingle…
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/17/2012 7:33 AM
Twenty years ago, a bagel was three inches in diameter and contained 140 calories. Today’s Frisbee-sized bagels are twice as big and pack in 350. And yet, we slather them with cream cheese and inhale them with ease. Portion distortion has paved the way towards obesity (in adults AND kids), Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and all sorts of other health problems.
We talked with Certified Holistic Health Coach Justine Fontinell, co-founder of Full Belly Sisters (www.fullbellysisters.com), a unique health venture for women before, during and after pregnancy, and well into parenthood. Justine works with clients on cutting out processed junk and introducing more whole foods in simple, delicious ways. She also shares nutrition tips and recipes (including a bunch of kefir recipes!) on her blog at http://fullbellysisters.blogspot.com
Do you think the average person realizes how distorted today's portions are?
I don’t think most people could possibly realize it. After all, it’s been this gradual shift over the years, which includes increasing the sizes of everything from dinner plates to juice glasses to an order of “small fries” at McDonald’s. Twenty years ago, a typical portion of movie theater popcorn had 270 calories; today, it’s 630 calories, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. And most of us will eat as much popcorn as we’re given, right? The more we’re exposed to these gigantic portions, the more they seem natural to us.
What's an example or two of a particularly egregious distorted portion you've encountered?
Even when you’re a pretty educated consumer, you can still be taken in by portion distortion. For example, my husband loves the Waldorf Salad at California Pizza Kitchen. It’s big, but he has it as his meal, so it almost seemed appropriate. When CPK added calorie counts to its menu, my husband learned that the salad is actually 1290 calories! It’s a staggering number: almost a whole day’s calories in one bowl! But it’s a very good reminder that portions, especially at restaurants, are out of control. It’s also a good reminder that when you make meals at home, you can control the quality—and the quantity—of the ingredients.
What are some of your favorite tips for reigning in portions?
There are a number of portion control tricks I teach my clients. The more you can practice these little tricks, the more you can make them just good habits!
- Since we tend to fill our bowls and plates, use smaller ones: try using your salad plate for your dinner (and use your dinner plate for your salad—greens are low in calories); use a coffee cup instead of a bowl for your cereal.
- Start lunch and dinner with a salad or a clear soup, as well as a glass of water; these will help to fill your belly so you’ll eat smaller portions of the rest of your dinner
- Fix your plate in the kitchen; if you serve your meals family-style (and heaping platters are right in front of you) you’re more likely to reach for a second helping.
- Add vegetables to everything you cook to bulk up your recipes without adding a lot of calories. In each portion, the calorie-dense foods will be “crowded out” by the low-calorie vegetables. For instance, if you add broccoli and cauliflower to your macaroni and cheese, a serving will have fewer calories than the same-size serving of mac-n-cheese without the veggies.
- Learn to stop eating when you’re satisfied, not full. If you’re at the point where you really feel full…you’ve already eaten too much.
What are some good tips for measuring portions when dining out?
One of the best ways to deal with portion distortion at restaurants (or a friend’s dinner party!) is to get acquainted with proper portion sizes when you’re still at home. Here are some quick visuals to keep in mind: A three-ounce serving of cooked meat is about the size of your palm; a cup of food is approximately the size of your fist; an ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb. Do you have a lot more food on your plate than what you should eat? Split it with a friend or have it packed up and save it for another meal!
Any other tasty tips?
Sometimes when we feel hungry, it’s really about something else: stress, boredom, or just a hankering for something salty or sweet. Often we eat our way through those feelings, munching until we feel like we’ve fulfilled that craving—or until we feel bad about overeating. This is a habit that should be broken: none of us should eat unless we’re hungry. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat an apple?” If your answer is “no,” you’re not feeling physical hunger; that “hunger“ is coming from somewhere else. Don’t just eat mindlessly: address the real issue.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 8/22/2012 1:58 PM
A funny list of senior citizen text codes recently made its way into our Inbox. Some examples:
ATD: At The Doctor's
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
FYI: Found Your Insulin
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
WAITT: Who Am I Talking To?
Read More »
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 8/8/2012 12:35 PM
If you’ve spent anytime inside the public bathroom stall of Morton Grove, Illinois’ grungiest, meanest local pub, you’ve seen the writing on the wall: There’s a serious Kefir VS Kiefer turf war going on. That is, the fight for world domination taking place between Kiefer Sutherland, esteemed actor, and Lifeway Kefir, tasty beverage. But what you might not know is that 7500 miles away from our kefir plant, in India, a similar battle wages on: Between our Lifeway Lassi
and everyone’s favorite Collie, Lassie. Here, we dissect the drink-doggie smackdown:
Read More »
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 7/31/2012 10:54 AM
It’s a banner year for women at the Olympics: Saudi Arabia sent two women to compete in London, making 2012 the first time ever that all 200+ participating nations have female athletes competing. Overall, more than 40% of this year’s 10,500 (give or take) Olympic athletes are women; 269 of Team USA’s athletes are female, versus 261 men, meaning the ladies quite literally rule the American playing field.
To help give all the girls a leg up, we’d like to suggest a few ways Lifeway kefir might help the thousands of stellar lady athletes as they pursue their gold, silver and bronze dreams:
Swimmers and divers: Hanging around in a wet swimsuit for hours on end is a surefire way to nab yourself a yeast infection. Our probiotics can help you fend off the bad bacteria and pave the way to gold medal vaginal health. Attention synchronized swimmers: Extra points will be awarded if you can execute a double underwater somersault without spilling a drop of kefir into the pool.
Beach volleyball players: While we can’t promise to keep sand out of your cracks, we can offer a little calming relief from sunburns. Whisk together one part kefir and four parts cold water in a large bowl. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool it down even more. Soak a washcloth in the mixture and allow the excess to drip off into the bowl, but do not wring it out. (You might want to do this while standing in the locker room shower.) Apply the wet washcloth to sunburned areas.
Trampolinists: All of those pikes and tucks can leave a girl with a queasy belly. Soothe it with a little Biokefir in vanilla, specifically designed to aid in digestion.
Archers: That bullseye you’ve got your sight trained on? It’s about the same diameter as the cap on a bottle of our kefir. Perfect for on-the-go target practice.
Weight lifters: Milk is a knockout muscle-building food; chocolate milk, in particular, has been shown to promote faster recovery from grueling workouts. Chug some lowfat Chocolate Truffle kefir between snatches.
Judo athletes: The last thing you want when you’re staring down an opponent on the mat is to let loose with a stadium-silencing fart. Probiotics can help reduce gassiness: Gulp a glass down a few hours before show time and conquer your opponent with a silent but deadly hip throw.
Cyclists: Our 32-ounce bottle fits perfectly into your water bottle holster so you can swig all along your 250 m time trials. You can also sit on a pint of frozen kefir to ease a sore tush after all that time in the saddle.
Rhythmic gymnasts: We love when you execute lovely Boomerang Throws – when you toss your ribbon stick in the air and the pretty material billows and sways, then you grab it mid-air and bring it back. May we suggest trying the same maneuver but with an open bottle of kefir? The crowd will be stunned when you launch a bottle into the atmosphere and cool kefir sprays out in gorgeous arcs and ripples.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 7/3/2012 2:37 PM
For any woman on a diet (which, sadly, is most women), holidays like the Fourth of July can get tricky. Everyone’s celebrating with food and drink, but it’s difficult to enjoy a red, white and blue sprinkle-dipped cupcake when there’s a mean, nagging voice in the back of your mind yelling, “You’re fat! Don’t eat that! You already look disgusting in your bathing suit!”
That’s why we were psyched to learn about the Declaration of Independence From Dieting, modeled after the original Declaration and co-authored by mindful eating expert Marsha Hudnall, MS, RD.
Read More »
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 5/15/2012 10:19 AM
Little Susie Applebaum sat down to eat lunch during fifth period at All American Middle School. She opened her lunchbox and discovered a bologna and cheddar sandwich on white bread with mayo, a few crackers, and a brownie for dessert.
Thousands of miles away, Little Giovanna di Cosimo took a seat at her lunch table at Bella Signora Middle School. Giovanna unwrapped her lunch and found a whole wheat pita spread with hummus and stuffed with roasted vegetables, a small spinach salad drizzled with citrus and olive oil vinaigrette, and a container of grapes.
Guess which lil lady is healthier, and which one is on the road to obesity, heart disease and cancer? (*Cue Debbie Downer music*)
In a typical year, the average American downs a whopping 40 pounds of white bread, 75 pounds of added fats and 32 gallons of soda. True, we’ve gotten better at eating our veggies, but two-thirds of the “vegetables” we consumer are from potatoes (fried or mashed) and iceberg lettuce. As a result, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and millions struggle with heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Compare that with the traditional eating patterns of the Mediterranean (Greece, South of France, Italy, Turkey). Those folks center their meals around whole grains, fruits and vegetables, heart-healthy olive oil, fish and lean meat and plenty of nuts, beans and seeds. They snack on walnuts and enjoy a glass of vino before dinner, whereas we munch on cheese curls and swig sugar-soaked energy drinks. As a result, Mediterraneans enjoy drastically reduced rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer and have a much higher life expectancy. One study found that eating Mediterranean as part of an overall healthful lifestyle was associated with a more than 50% lower rate of death from all causes.
May is National Mediterranean Diet Month and Oldways, creator of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid back in 1993,is featuring a host of top-notch Mediterranean-minded dietitians on their website, offering up recipes galore. We had the chance to chat with The Nutrition Twins– Lyssie Lakatos, RD, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD – who reminisced about growing up with a Thursday “pizza night” tradition. However, unlike most households where such a meal no doubt features artery-choking pepperoni and sausage, the twins’ mom was ahead of her time, whipping up a Mediterranean version featuring juicy plum tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta cheese with basil and tangy black olives. (Here’s the recipe.)
The twins also treated us to a yummy Mediterranean-minded recipe for Chilled Watermelon Soup, perfect for a summer BBQ:
Chilled Watermelon Soup with Kefir
Makes 4 cups
• 4 cups seeded watermelon cubes
• 1/3 cup apple juice
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
• 1/3 cup plain nonfat kefir
Process first 5 ingredients and honey, if desired, in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Cover and chill one hour. Serve in individual bowls and top with a generous swirl of kefir.
Join in the Mediterranean Month conversation on Twitter, sharing your recipes and thoughts, by using the hashtag #MedMonth.