Hello Loyal Soup People! I think it is about time that I finally write about this election. Specifically – how it is impacting our health! No, I’m not endorsing anyone in my column! I’m more concerned about a report just released by the American Psychological Association (APA) that says that 52% of American adults say that this election cycle is a somewhat or significant source of stress.

Millennials, in particular, are reporting the highest levels of stress because they are the most actively engaged in social media.The reported stress is equal across party lines. Quite frankly, everyone is an anxious mess right now!

The APA recommends several tips to manage your stress until the election:

– Get off social media. Obviously! Stop scrolling through Facebook and Twitter – especially before bed. Anything that can be read late at night can also be read in the morning.
– If you do read something that upsets you, go for a walk. Exercise releases those wonderful endorphins which are natural mood boosters and stress relievers.
– Get involved and volunteer. A lot of anxiety is related to feeling helpless in this crazy election cycle. Get involved in a local campaign! And related to this topic – vote!
– Get focused on other things. Instead of a campaign, volunteer for a local charity. Local animal shelters always need dog walkers! Get outside with a furry friend!

And remember, whatever happens on November 8th – life will go on! I think!!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! After watching the devastation from Hurricane Matthew and seeing people have to evacuate their homes, I began to think about what we would do in such a situation. Fortunately, we live in an area that has minimal impact from violent storms. However, it is always a good idea to be prepared for an emergency. I recommend that families always have a “go-kit” on hand in case you need to leave in a hurry. Don’t leave important decisions about what to take and leave when in a crisis. Plan ahead. A well stocked “go-kit” should have:

– A first aid kit – In addition to having basics such as antiseptic, band aids, and gauze, have back up prescription medication (insulin, etc.).
– Keep copies of important documents in a waterproof container. You may want to include copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, bank information, and any other vital information you may need.
– Food and water – Keep a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water. Stock one gallon of water per person, per day. Non-perishable food ideas include canned beans, dried fruit, nut butters, crackers, etc.
– Tools and supplies – Have a Swiss-army type tool that can open cans and bottles, and can also act as a screwdriver etc. Have back up toilet paper, tissues, handy-wipes, and a crank radio in case you lose power or Internet.
– Clothing – Pack layers of clothing and undergarments. Always remember hats and gloves.
– Cash – have at least $200 or more of money on hand in case there is a power outage and you need to purchase anything. Those who lived in New York during the great black out of 2003 always remember the need for cash! Keep the cash in a waterproof container as well.

Of course, some items depend on your family’s needs. If you have a baby, have back up diapers and baby wipes. If you have a pet, keep spare food and a water dish handy.

Of course, always keep your gas tank at least half full. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use your “go-kit.” But knowing it is ready will give you peace of mind.

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! I come to you this week with even MORE good news about eating a plant based diet. According to research published by Harvard University, eating an overall plant-based diet resulted in a 20% decreased risk of diabetes. People who consume a health-focused plant-based diet (people who specifically focus on eating a LOT of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains) have a 34% decreased risk of diabetes.

It is important to note that those who followed an unhealthy plant-based diet had a 16% increased risk in developing diabetes! This means that if your diet consists of Twizzlers, potato chips, fries, and bagels, you are not eating healthfully. Yes, you are avoiding meat, but it takes a little more than that!

While this research isn’t groundbreaking (how many times have I written about eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains??), we can never hear it enough. And apparently researchers at Harvard agree!!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I want to share a very personal and, hopefully, inspiring story with you. We talk and talk about all the benefits of healthy living, but to share results – that’s really impactful.

This week I’d like to talk about my daughter, Soupergirl! Sara used to be “mostly” vegan, but definitely “cheated” here and there with cheese and dairy. She’s been vegetarian for over 15 years, but truly vegan for three. During her vegetarian years her cholesterol was extremely high – hovering between 220 and 230. We all shrugged it off (including her doctor) and attributed it to genetics. After all, everyone on BOTH sides of the family has very high cholesterol and most of us are on medication to lower it. Sara refused to go on medication – she’s a stubborn girl!!

Fast forward to today. She had her blood tested last week. Her new cholesterol number is 180. Her HDL’s (the good cholesterol) are up and her LDL’s are very, very low. No medication. Nothing intrusive. Just diet (purely plant based, heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts) and exercise resulted in a 30 point drop in her cholesterol.

There’s not much else to say – the story is incredible. Inspiring. And definitely has me examining my own little indulgences. I’ll take a natural cure over medication any day.

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! I’ve just read about another study that shows the powerful effects of exercise and all around healthy living. Harvard researchers published results of their study in JAMA Oncology. According to the study, nearly HALF of all cancer deaths could be prevented if Americans met four lifestyle goals:

– not smoking
– maintaining a healthy weight
– limiting or avoiding alcohol
Рexercising moderately  for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorously for at least 75 minutes a week.

In the study of 136,000 nurses and other health professionals, one-fifth met all four goals.The women in this low risk category were 25% less likely to develop cancer and 48% less likely to die from it than other women. Low risk men were 33% less likely to develop cancer and 44% less likely to die from it.

The researchers surmised that the general American population would see even greater results than the study participants because medical professionals tend to be health focused and lead healthier lifestyles. If the average American were to adhere to the four goals, their cancer risks could drop even more.

The researchers conducted a second study that primarily focused on exercise. They found that physically active people are at a lower risk for 13 of 26 major types of cancer.

It is important to note that exercise and healthy living is certainly not guaranteed to prevent you from getting cancer. In fact, a healthy lifestyle was not at all associated with a decreased likelihood of breast or prostate cancer. However, it was associated with a reduced chance of dying from these diseases.

There are so many factors that contribute to disease – environment, genetics, and reasons that we simply don’t know. However, the knowledge that we could, somehow, help protect ourselves against disease, certainly keeps me moving! Yet another reason to get exercising and eat healthfully!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! A lot of us are trying hard to lower our salt intake these days. Excess consumption of salt is linked to hypertension and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Many people’s palates are accustomed to a lot of salt, and when they reduce it in their diet, they find that food can taste bland. The key to successfully reducing salt while still enjoying food is to add as much natural flavor as possible to what we eat. The best way to do this is to cook with herbs and spices.

Not only do herbs and spices add wonderful natural flavor, but they have incredible health benefits! Fresh herbs are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and polyphenols (powerful antioxidants). Spices such as turmeric, cumin, and chili powder are getting noticed for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

When cooking, add spices in the beginning of the heating process to release their flavors into your food. For example, when making a stir-fry, add your spices with your garlic (just be sure not to burn them!). Add herbs at the end of the cooking process (right before serving!). Or, add them fresh to salads. Nothing is better than basil on ANYTHING in the summer! Add mint to your watermelon! The possibilities are endless. No matter how you add herbs and spices, you’ll find that when you cook with them, you’ll need less and less salt. Flavor AND health – the perfect combination!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to return to the topic of supplements. As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of getting your nutrition through pills. I strongly believe in eating a well balanced, healthy diet to fulfill your nutritional needs. Of course there are exceptions, but on the whole, relying on pills isn’t the best idea. I’m particularly wary because the food and supplement industry will always hop on the latest food trend and try to convince us that we need another pill to be healthy.

The latest supplement I’ve read about is green-tea extract. A lot of studies do indeed seem to point to the healthy benefits of green tea. Observational studies have shown that green tea drinkers have fewer obesity related illnesses and also have higher bone density. However, more research needs to be done to understand the connection between green tea and these benefits.

The supplement industry hopped on this research and now sells green tea extract pills. They boast all sorts of benefits – from promises of weight loss to keeping your bones strong. However, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, these pills had no impact on bone health or weight loss. There was no difference in body mass between participants who took placebos and those who took the green tea pills. Zero benefits. Yet, because of the lack of supplement regulation, these pills remain on the market, claiming unsubstantiated or completely false health claims.

If you are looking for vitamins, eat a salad. If you are looking for the potential health benefits of green tea, brew a pot. If you need more fiber in your diet, eat oatmeal and chia seeds! Health cannot be found in a pill!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This record breaking heat we’re experiencing has me thinking about the sun. To be blunt, stay out of it! While a sun tan may look nice for a day or two, it is terrible for you. A tan is simply your skin’s DNA responding to damage. A burn is even worse! This damage is the first step towards the development of skin cancer as well as aging skin.

People used to think that it was acceptable to spend time in the sun to absorb Vitamin D. We now know that a nutritious diet and supplements can take care of Vitamin D for you – no need to stand out in the sun in the middle of the day! The damage your skin will incur will far outweigh the bit of Vitamin D you’ll absorb.

If you’ve been tanning for a while, you can probably already see permanent damage to your skin. Compare the sun spots (aka permanent damage) on your arms or face to the skin under your arms or on your buttocks (areas rarely exposed to the sun).

You’ve heard me say this before, but I’m really trying to emphasize it as much as possible. Tanning is out! Pale is in! Apply sunscreen regularly, stay out of the sun, (especially between 10 AM and 2 PM), stay under umbrellas when at the beach and pool, and wear protective clothing.

Are three days of a “healthy glow” (I hate that phrase!) worth a lifetime of damage, or even worse, disease? I certainly don’t think so!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’m focusing again on sugar. More specifically, I’m writing about even more reasons to avoid it. This week I want to share information about new research linking sugary beverages to greater risks of heart failure and belly fat.

In a recent Swedish study, 42,400 adult men were followed for nearly 12 years. More than 4,000 were diagnosed with heart failure – a condition in which the heart can no longer keep up with the body’s demands on a day to day basis. Over five million Americans suffer from heart failure. As you can probably guess, those men who drank the most sugary beverages were 23% more likely to develop heart failure than those who avoided these types of drinks.

Another study published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that adults who consumed sugary beverages were highly likely to gain belly fat over several years. Participants who drank a sugary drink once a day showed a 27% gain in belly fat over six years. To be clear, fat around the belly is the most dangerous form of fat. It is more dangerous than any other type of fat. It is linked to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer.

You can guess my conclusion! Wean yourself off of sugary beverages. They are killing you! To be clear, this category doesn’t just include soda. You should also avoid energy drinks, fancy coffee drinks. flavored iced teas, fruit punch, and more – anything with added sugar.¬† Time to grab a reusable water bottle, fill it up, and drink old fashioned water! Or black coffee, green tea, water with a squeeze of lemon… so many healthy options!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Let’s talk, again, about salt. The truth is we all need a little salt in our lives! Most people should not be on complete salt-free diets unless prescribed by a doctor. Of course, as we know, most of us eat too much salt, mostly through processed food. I just learned of yet another reason why we should cut back on excess salt. It makes us eat more!

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition, salt makes us eat more and consume more calories throughout the day. In the study, researchers gave participants macaroni and cheese. They mixed up the amount of fat and salt. Some participants ate high salt and high fat macaroni, while others ate the opposite. Some had a mix of the two. The researchers found that the fat content didn’t impact the participants’ eating patterns. Rather, it was the salt content that has the biggest impact! Those participants that ate the higher salt macaroni and cheese consumed 14% more of their meals than those eating the lower salt meals. That’s quite a bit more mac and cheese!

They are still studying why the salt had such an impact on their eating choices. However, the conclusion is clear – salt makes us eat more. So, if you are focusing on portion size, cut the salt!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!