All NYC Public Schools To Serve Vegan Lunch Options

Lately, the New York public school system has been on a roll with its feeding programs. Since its city council decided to offer free cafeteria lunches, there are now also options for vegans.

The upcoming vegan food options range from Mexicali Chili to Lentil Stew, to Zesty BBQ Crunchy Tofu — all which sounds pretty like a big improvement from conventional school lunches which are often highly processed meats or fried food.

Behind the movement is the Coalition for Health School Food, which has also helped three NYC schools go completely vegetarian. The vegan choices will allow food autonomy to children as well as lower their carbon footprint. While many parents have expressed concern over vegan diets, research can put their minds at ease.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) have recently confirmed that “they believe a well-planned vegan diet ‘supports healthy living in people of all ages’ including ‘during pregnancy and breastfeeding.’”

Of course, students will be given the freedom to choose their own meals. Though a typical second-grader may be more privy to chicken nuggets, encouraging a side of vegetables may not be too difficult.

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Extreme Diet Reversed Diabetes in 86% of Patients

For many folks, a “plant-based” or “Mediterranean” diet has been proven by nutritionists as the healthiest. It is linked to many benefits including healthy aging, lower risk of heart disease, improved cognitive function, slower neurodegeneration, and many others. However, for some people who have specific conditions, other regimen — perhaps in some cases, a more extreme diet — may be necessary.

That was the finding of a clinical trial from last year which involved patients with type 2 diabetes. The disease is believed to be reversible even with those who have had it for years, and the trial which made patients engage in an extreme diet attests to this belief; about 86% of those who took part in the study arrived at remission.

“These findings are very exciting,” said diabetes researcher Roy Taylor from Newcastle University. “They could revolutionise the way type 2 diabetes is treated.”

298 adults (20-65 years old) who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous six years participated in the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT). The participants were randomly assigned to a control group who went under the usual diabetic care or to an experimental group who went under an intensive weight management program. The latter group had to limit their food consumption to 825-853 calories for about three to five months, taking only health shakes and soups.

After this extreme diet, they were slowly reintroduced to more food for a period of two to eight weeks. Alongside it, cognitive behavioral therapy was also provided so that the patients may continue their weight loss and improve their level of physical activity.

Almost 90 percent [or about 86 percent] of those who lost 15 kilograms (33 lbs) or more, successfully reversed their type 2 diabetes. More than half (57 percent) of those dropping 10 to 15 kilograms (22 to 33 lbs) achieved remission also . . .  the control group receiving standard diabetic care management only saw a 4 percent remission rate . . . the average weight loss in the weight management group was 10 kilograms — whereas the control group participants only lost 1 kilogram.

Of course, the remission might not be permanent if patients revert back to unhealthy eating. But the researchers were able to conclude this: dietary intervention can help develop treatment options for type 2 diabetes, a disease that is no longer lifelong or chronic, but ultimately reversible.

The DiRECT program will continue to monitor the groups’ weight loss success and diabetes status. Now here’s to hoping the participants are on the direct path to healthier lifestyles.

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Mediterranean Diet Prevents Heart and Brain Aging

Many people have different concepts of the best diet habits and what the best diet consists of. Here at our blog, I have written before about my personal stakes in maintaining a healthy diet and a co-worker has also said her piece on vegetarianism. Now, I consider myself far from a diet skeptic as I truly believe in having an eating regimen, but some fads just seem quite absurd, like surviving only on lemonade or grapefruit or baby food for weeks. A growing body of research agrees with me.

Scientists continue to affirm that this certain type of meal plan seems to be best: high consumption of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats; then low consumption of processed foods and refined carbs like white bread. This comes in various versions and labels as some people are completely vegetarian, while others choose to include eggs and dairy, or meat and fish, or all of the above, in their meals. But the base principle remains the same.

This Mediterranean diet or “plant-based” diet (or another label that you prefer) seems to be the healthiest.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Gerontology, scientists outline six recent studies of one version of the diet – the Mediterranean meal plan – and suggest that the eating regimen is closely linked to healthy aging, better mobility, a lower risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease, and improved cognitive function.

One study says that a “plant-based” diet may help slow cognitive decline among people who’ve had a stroke, and provide protection of the brain against neurodegeneration (seen in diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s). As for the more physical benefits, this Mediterranean diet provides protein for the muscles, fiber for the digestive system, and vitamins for tissues and bones.

This balance is also key to keeping you full after a meal and energized throughout the day so you don’t feel the need to overeat, Nichola Whitehead, a registered dietician in the UK, previously told Business Insider. “You need to have a balanced meal — things like whole grains, fibre, and vegetables — in order to sustain your blood sugar. Empty calories [like white bread or white rice] give a temporary fix,” she said.

Her use of the word temporary echoes with me as I think about other dieting plans. A “crash diet” doesn’t sound as good when you focus on the word crash, doesn’t it? For me, dieting is best when planned well and executed mindfully. Science can attest to that.

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NYC Public School Lunches Are Now Completely Free

When trapped Houston bakers baked bread for Harvey victims, it didn’t matter who they were. If someone needed a loaf of bread, regardless of status, it was going to be delivered to them. The selfless act is inspiring many, and now the Big Apple is offering public school lunches for free.

This move has been long sought by food-policy advocates and many members of the New York City Council, who said that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford to pay for lunch. Nationally, the practice of “lunch shaming” — holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — has garnered attention.

In the end, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña believes that all communities matter. The initiative will save families up to $300 a year — a vast amount for those under the poverty margin. New York City finances will remain unaffected.

City officials said the program was not expected to cost the city more money. The state recently changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits like Medicaid, matching them with the schools their children attend.

The program aspires to reach at least 200,000 more children. A lot of satisfied stomachs are to be expected.

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Goodbye Epipen: Probiotics May Cure Peanut Allergies

These days, thanks to science, impossible means nothing. Because of nanochip technology, we can repair damaged organs in a single touch. We can even remedy blindness by mimicking the functions of fish eyes. And much to the delight of millions, probiotics may be able to cure peanut allergies.

A course of probiotics combined with an oral immunotherapy treatment using peanuts in kids who are allergic to the nut cured them for at least four years.

After a number of carefully controlled peanut-munching sessions, study founder Mimi Tang requested a follow-up four years later. Out of 12 children who participated in the original study, 7 remained allergy-free.

“We had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanut in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying a lot of anxiety with that,” Tang said. “And at the end of treatment and even four years later, many of these children who had benefitted from our probiotic peanut therapy could now live like a child who didn’t have peanut allergy.”

Peanuts are the most common allergen in the world and can often be deadly. For the unfortunate ones who have never experienced the delight of a Snickers bar, the moment may come sooner rather than later.

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When You Diet You Lose More Than Just Weight

I am not a heavy set woman. Granted, I am nowhere near a size 2 either. I am a solid in-between, healthy, and yet social media tells me I am plus sized. By no means am I obliged to lose any weight. Yet, time and again, I opt for the occasional diet, whether by means of a detox or regulating my meals. The reason? Simple–I care what I look like, and I am allowed to.

Most my relatives are diet skeptics. “It’s dangerous.” “It’ll make you sick.” I’ve heard every possible concern. But just as my weight shouldn’t be anyone’s problem, neither should be my decision to lose it.

I have often been told that dieting will not make me feel better about myself–perhaps it is the case for some. Dieting is not all about weight, or rather the loss of it. Over the years, it has given me a sense of control. As a person who struggles with anxiety, being in control of something is empowering.

Calorie counters are notoriously pegged obsessive-compulsive. But working with the mathematics of food can be liberating. I am inarguably right-brained, so numbers come as a challenge. Being able to grasp something that is naturally foreign to me is nothing short of a success. Plus, I get to see food in an entirely different light–as something that is also calculated. After all, a lot of thought goes into preparing a meal.

When I am not dieting, I fall victim to overeating. There’s nothing like a hand-tossed pizza drowning in pepperoni and mozzarella, and unfortunately, it’s a trendy household meal. With the current accessibility of deliveries, people no longer turn to their kitchens for dinner. They simply don’t have the time. Being in shape demands effort, and with it, I’ve learned commitment. This isn’t to say I don’t reward myself with a cheat day at the end of every week.

Dieting doesn’t so much revolve around restraint, but also allowing yourself to enjoy when you know you’ve earned it. Knowing I’ve lasted six days without giving in to a single cookie brings just as much a sense of accomplishment as I do in my working and personal life.

I also realize much is lost when you diet–not just weight. I lose my toxicity, not only from grease and oil. I feel internally cleansed. I am ridding myself of parts of me I no longer want to hold on to. I am not always satisfied with how I look, and I think that’s okay.

I have heard whispers: “She could shed a few pounds.” “Her thighs are gigantic.” “She used to be so skinny.” I won’t say it doesn’t affect me. But it isn’t from where my motivation to eat healthy stems.

I am inspired by the fact that I am perfectly content with change. It will come around either way. I don’t diet out of shame, nor for anyone else, but out of love for myself and who I want to become.

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