Food News

I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life.
-William Gladstone




When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distractedworking, reading, talking and watching televisionand swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.

There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food.

  •   Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our

    food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets.

  •   Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum

    nutrition from each bite of food.

  •   More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings.

  •   It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full.

  •   In fact, chewing can promote increased circulation, enhanced immunity, increased energy and

    endurance, as well as improve skin health and stabilize weight.

  •   Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of

    eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It helps us to give thanks, to show appreciation for the abundance in our lives and to develop patience and self-control.

    The power of chewing is so great that there are stories of concentration camp survivors who, when others could not, made it through with very little food by chewing their meager rations up to 300 times per bite of food. For most of us 300 chews is a daunting and unrealistic goal. However, you can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel.

    Try eating without the TV, computer, Blackberry, newspaper or noisy company. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing.

    This kind of quiet can be disconcerting at first, since we are used to a steady stream of advertising, news, media, email and demands from others. But as you create a new

    habit, you will begin to appreciate eating without rushing. You have to eat every daywhy not learn to savor and enjoy it?

    Food Focus: Quinoa

    Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is a nutritional powerhouse with ancient origins. It was originally cultivated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago; they referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a great source of protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is also high in magnesium, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and zinc.

    While quinoa is widely considered a grain, it’s actually the seed of a plant called Chenopodium or Goosefoot, related to chard and spinach. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and has a similar effect as other whole grains in helping to stabilize blood sugar.

    It has a waxy protective coating called saponin which can leave a bitter taste. For best results, rinse quinoa before you cook it or even soak it for a few hours or overnight. When cooked, it has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. Try it in soups, salads, as a breakfast porridge or as its own side dish.

For quinoa, and whole grains in general, the majority of digestion occurs in the mouth through chewing and exposure to saliva. For optimal nutrition and assimilation, it is vital to chew your grains well and with awareness. A great meditation is to find a calm place, without distractions, to sit down for your meal. Make it a habit to chew each bite 20 times or more. See how this simple practice can help your digestion and overall focus for the rest of your day.

Recipe of the Month: Quinoa Pilaf

Prep Time: 3 minutes Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes Yield: 4 servings

1 cup quinoa
2 1/4 cups water or stock
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley pinch of salt


  1. Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.

  2. Boil the water and add quinoa and salt, cover and reduce heat.

  3. After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top; do not stir.

  4. Cook 5 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.

  5. Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes and serve.                                                                                                                                 By Integrative Nutrition 

Michael Pollan: Three Simple Rules for Eating

Is Michael Pollan America’s sweetheart? People love to talk about his pithy pronouncements on how we should eat. At least where I live, he’s the subject of many a conversation at parties, in bars, in restaurants, in book groups. People mention him with reverence. He’s like a 21st-century E.F. Hutton. When Michael Pollan speaks…people listen. When he gives lectures, it’s standing room only. Food and diet book writers quote him constantly, and some even admit that he’s their celebrity crush.

I’ve seen him speak, and while he’s articulate and intelligent, he’s no George Clooney. I wasn’t weak in the knees or anything. I suspect his wide appeal is probably an indication of how confused everybody is about food, and how much we love it when people make it very clear to us what we should and shouldn’t eat.

Then again, if this is true, why is it that, once we know how to eat, we don’t do it? One of Michael Pollan’s most famous quotes is a simple one, but it tells you everything you ever need to know about eating. Practicing it would render weight-loss diets irrelevant, positively impact the environment, champion local food producers, and bring the processed food industry to its knees. You’ve probably heard it before. You may have even quoted it to your friends. It’s just this:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

So simple, so clean, so memorable…and so hard to do! But why? What’s so difficult about embracing these three uncomplicated concepts, when they could have such a positive effect on personal and global health? Let’s break it down. Maybe we can find some answers.

Eat food.

When Michael Pollan says, “Eat food,” what he means is, “Eat real food,” as in food that is unprocessed and doesn’t come from a factory. It sounds so simple, and yet, when you look at the snack you’re about to eat, it can be difficult to decide whether or not Michael Pollan (should he suddenly burst into your kitchen) would sign off on it as food.

Is Greek yogurt mixed with bran cereal and raisins food? Although the components of this snack come in packages and could be considered processed, of course, it’s food. Arguably, an organic apple and a handful of raw walnuts might be more “real.” But in our current, complicated world, “food” exists on a spectrum, from just-out-of-the-garden to “is-that-actually-edible?” If you’re too strict with yourself about, say, packaging or processing, you probably won’t stick to your resolve when hunger hits and your fresh produce has rotted in your crisper and all you can find to eat is something that comes in a package.

So what to do? Eat the foods you want to eat that are, in general, closest to the way you might encounter them at their source. Instead of always making the best choice, just make the better choice. Greek yogurt looks a lot more like milk than bright orange chips look like an ear of corn. I think Michael Pollan would agree.

Not too much.

Wouldn’t it be funny if everybody decided to practice these three words and just stop eating too much?  The diet industry would collapse! (Wait, that wouldn’t be funny. I write diet books for a living, so I’d be out of a job!) Unfortunately eating “not too much” is a lot harder than it sounds.

We’re biochemically primed to eat, and to enjoy it. While this biochemistry undoubtedly led us to a more balanced diet when we were hunters and gatherers, it doesn’t necessarily lead us to great eating in today’s world. When we eat too many simple carbohydrates, we get a blood sugar spike, and then an insulin spike and a blood sugar crash, and the result is that we’re hungry again, even though we just ate. Many processed foods kick-start this reaction, making moderation and portion control goals seem insurmountable. So what’s an aspiring Pollan fan to do?

Two things. First, eat some protein with every meal and snack, especially if you’re also eating starchy or sugary foods like bread, pasta, or fruit. This won’t necessarily stop you from overeating ever again, but it will help slow the blood sugar roller coaster, dulling that frantic “gotta eat more” feeling. With breakfast, add an egg, some tofu, yogurt, or some protein powder (in a smoothie or your oatmeal). Add nuts, cheese, or a little bit of meat to your snacks. The same goes for lunch and dinner. Beans, lentils, peas, lean meats, low-fat dairy products…you don’t have to overdo it (but make sure it’s always there).

Second, switch most or all of your grain foods to whole grains. Whole grain breads, pastas, cereals, and snack foods contain more fiber and nutrients, so you’ll be satisfied with less. Protein + wholegrain = eating “not too much,” without feeling deprived. We can do that, right?

Mostly plants.

Don’t worry. Michael Pollan doesn’t want you to live on lettuce alone. He knows how much you love him, and he wants you to be happy. All he’s saying with his “mostly plants” advice is that we can benefit from eating more plant foods, aka vegetables and fruits and whole grains—you know, food (see item #1).

While some people take this all the way and eat only plants, (and that’s great too), Michael Pollan’s just saying that a plant-based diet is the best diet. Plant foods are the richest, most bountiful sources of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. They contain hundreds of thousands of phytochemicals, and many of these contain disease-fighting properties that a laboratory can’t duplicate. Just about anybody can add more plants to their plate. Add a fruit to breakfast, a leafy green and one other vegetable to lunch, and a leafy green and three other vegetables to dinner. Plus, whatever else you want to eat, because it’s your dinner, and you should enjoy it.

So why not jump in? Just do a little better than you did yesterday. It’s not so hard when you recognize that you don’t have to be perfect. Michael Pollan doesn’t expect you to be perfect, and he’s not judging you. He can’t even see you. I promise. Just try to eat as much real food as you can, and try not to eat too much of it, and try to eat mostly plants. It’s easier than you think and the more you do it, the easier it gets.

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The dangerous artificial sweetener, aspartame, used commonly under the label NutraSweet is now being re-branded as AminoSweet. Watch out! This sweetener has a dangerous history.

Many people believe that artificial sweeteners are more healthy than all natural sugars or honey, but doesn’t correlate to years of mounting evidence. Artificial sweeteners are created to taste sweeter with less calories, but over time this comes with a huge cost to the consumer’s health.

Raw, natural sugars like honey are better for the body than artificial sweeteners.


Experience has taught us that anything artificially made in a laboratory is probably going to be difficult for the body to process and remove. This often causes serious health issues as well as weight gain because toxins found in the sweeteners or their metabolic byproducts cannot be easily chelated or removed. This is especially true of foods labeled at diet or “sugar free”.

Anything labeled as diet or “sugar free” should typically be avoided at all costs.
These include:

  • Instant breakfasts
  • Pharmaceuticals, including over-the-counter medicines cheap supplements
  • Breath mints
  • Shake mixes
  • Cereals
  • Soft drinks
  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Tabletop sweeteners
  • Cocoa mixes
  • Tea beverages
  • Coffee beverages
  • Instant teas and coffees
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Topping mixes
  • Juice beverages
  • Wine coolers
  • Laxatives
  • Yogurt
  • Multivitamins
  • Milk drinks

List provided by Dr. Mercola

Although considered safe by the FDA, aspartame is banned in some European and Asian countries. The FDA has reviewed studies that relate aspartame use to serious health issues, but claim the studies are not complete and prove nothing.

According to Dr. Mercola, the effects of aspartame use include: birth defects, cancer (brain cancer, diabetes, emotional disorders, and/or epilepsy and seizures. Often times, these problems occur over a long period of aspartame use. For example, by drinking a diet soda each day over years of time. It is difficult to link aspartame consumption to these health issues, because many consumers do not connect artificial sweetener intake with health conditions that creep up over a long period of time.

However, aspartame consumption is toxic and very likely dangerous. Needless to say aspartame has a long interesting history.

The dangerous history of aspartame and why it is still considered safe is all explained in the video below!

It is not uncommon for the government to cover up something for the benefit of corporations. They may never do something about the dangers of aspartame, but we can.

Check the ingredients list of everything purchased for aspartame, NutraSweet, or AminoSweet. Better yet, just don’t buy anything that is artificially made or preserved. This is the best way to ensure only good, healthy stuff is getting into the body.


Chocolate: more healthy reasons to indulge

ABC News

Summary: A closer look at the collective results from seven previously done studies reveals that chocolate consumption is linked with about a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, cannot conclude that eating chocolate leads to better health. Dr. David Katz, a frequent speaker at IIN, was quoted, saying “this is a wonderful example of the opportunity to love food that loves us back.”

Jessica’s take: Remember, most studies point to the benefits of bioflavonoid antioxidants in chocolate that contains at least 60% cacao. Sorry, but that doesn’t include Butterfingers!

Related modules for current students: 2, 20, 21

Sugary drinks add 300 calories per day

USA Today

Summary: Recent data from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that approximately half of the U.S. population consumes sugary drinks on any given day. Teens and adults who drink soda and sugary beverages are consuming about 300 calories per day from them. The study also revealed that most sugary drinks are consumed at home.

Jessica’s Take: It’s frustrating that the American Heart Association allows up to three 12-oz cans of carbonated cola per week. Sugary drinks are linked to obesity and diabetes – both epidemics with exorbitant costs and devastating impacts on quality of life. We should all strive to avoid sugary drinks altogether. Period.

Related modules for current students: 18

Orthorexia: when too healthy isn’t healthy

Huffington Post

Summary: More often than not, we hear about Americans eating too much junk food and not enough healthy fruits and vegetables. But there’s a point where eating healthy becomes an obsession that’s not healthy at all. For some, the constant need to consume carefully calculated meals prevents them from enjoying food at parties and spontaneous occasions, and this can lead to an unhealthy social isolation.

Jessica’s Take: What I’ve always told my patients and what IIN teaches is that food is so much more than the nutrients it contains. Food is a part of our everyday lives – we eat according to cultures and traditions, and it’s an enormous source of enjoyment! If enjoying the warm, nutty flavor of homemade pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving is something that brings you great joy, indulging and feeling good about it is much healthier than restricting and feeling deprived. It’s not what you do every once in a while; it’s what you do every day that really matters in the long run. Strive to find your healthy balance.

Related modules for current students: 22

Nutrition FAQs

Nutrition FAQs by Jessica Ess, RD

Your top 5 nutrition FAQs answered by IIN’s registered dietitian, Jessica Ess!

Have a question? Email

You can find Jessica’s FAQ library here.

1. Why should you eat a protein with a carbohydrate?

Ans: While I don’t like to push the need to break food down into components, it’s helpful in understanding the way our body breaks down or metabolizes food. Protein helps keep you satiated longer. It slows down the rate at which your body digests carbohydrates, and since we know carbs break down to blood sugar or glucose, we want to avoid that blood sugar surge that comes after eating say a piece of fruit like an apple. When you combine the apple with a source of protein like nuts, your blood sugar rises more slowly and gently so you stay full longer.

2. I’ve read about oxalates in spinach and other foods and am curious to know if we should eat spinach and grains apart so that we can absorb the minerals?

Ans: Compounds called oxalates are present in many foods such as spinach, Swiss chard and rhubarb. Oxalate binds to minerals like iron, zinc and calcium and causes them to be excreted from the body in urine and stool. For someone eating a variety of foods each week, the risk of mineral deficiency from oxalates is quite low. Enjoy spinach and Swiss chard regardless of what you eat it with; but make sure to change it up. Eat a varied diet that also includes high-mineral, low-oxalate greens such as kale, broccoli and bok choy.

3. For someone with high cholesterol, is it better to reduce the intake of cholesterol rather than try to reduce the absorption?

Ans: First, it’s important to realize that “high cholesterol” is not enough information to cause alarm. There are other important factors including the ratio of cholesterol types, oxidative stress and inflammation that affect health risks.

While the research on cholesterol is still not conclusive, the latest science suggests that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol we eat as a result of consuming animal products) is not directly related to blood cholesterol (the lab results on a lipid panel). Your body makes cholesterol regardless of how much dietary cholesterol you consume. Some people make more cholesterol as a result of genetics.

Furthermore, there is still disagreement on the size of cholesterol particles that are harmful in terms of cardiovascular disease. The keep a long story short, many now believe that the small dense cholesterol molecules are the most harmful – and these are the result of consuming too many simple carbohydrates (sugar, white bread and other processed, refined grains). The larger, fluffier molecules that result from consuming saturated fat are not believed to be as dangerous.

Cholesterol absorption can be reduced through fiber intake, and more fiber is generally a good thing. However, this might not solve the problem if there are other risk factors like an unhealthy ratio of cholesterol types, oxidative stress and inflammation.

4. Would you recommend something like Metamucil to someone with high cholesterol or try to increase the fiber through dietary changes.

Ans: Dietary fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol which may help lower one’s risk of developing heart disease. Our bodies use cholesterol to make bile, which is needed to digest our food. Fiber prevents the recirculation of bile in the body, causing more bile to be excreted in the feces. In response, the liver must produce more bile which requires cholesterol. The use of cholesterol to make more bile causes a net lowering of cholesterol circulating in the blood stream.

Of course it’s always best to get your fiber from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. For some, fiber supplements are a relatively low risk option. The active ingredient in Metamucil is psyllium husk, which is a plant source of soluble fiber. Psyllium is known for being sprayed heavily with pesticides, so I would recommend trying to find an organic source of psyllium instead of Metamucil. I like to recommend sprinkling ground flax seed on oatmeal or yogurt. Chia seeds are another great source of fiber – and both chia and flax have heart-healthy omega-3s too.

5. I’ve heard fish and flax are the recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Is flax just as good as fish oil?

Ans: Fish is definitely better. It’s a source of DHA + EPA (both are essential omega-3 fatty acids).

Flax is a good source of ALA (also an essential amino acid), and while the body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, it’s a very inefficient process. Therefore, for DHA and EPA, which have numerous health benefits, fish oil is a far better source.

Disclaimer: The statements contained herein are made by a Registered Dietitian / Nutritionist and not a Health Coach. The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a qualified health care professional that can consider the unique characteristic of each person. The information in this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor have these statements been evaluated by the FDA. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition assumes no liability for any errors or omissions in the website content.

It Is The Food! And so much more... ®
Whole Food Prescriptions, a not-for-profit community for Healthy Weight Loss Education
Janie Heinrich, Health, Nutrition & Wellness Coach, AADP 
                            Pasadena, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Bay Area, Nevada City, California                  | (415) 326-4325 | (626) 607-4845
Copyright 09/2010 © Janie Heinrich