Plant Pods Grow More Lettuce Than a 1/2 Acre Farm

I always encourage my friends to grow their own produce, not only to save up on their budget for grocery, but also to find healthier options and maybe even to develop a new hobby. I even wrote some tips for all of you who are interested in doing the same. Luckily, devices like this automated indoor system called OGarden are helping more people achieve their home gardening goals. And I’m happy to update your available choices with Aggressively Organic’s lettuce pods.

The Indiana-based company offers Micro Growth Chamber Systems that can grow more lettuce in a 10-by-10-foot room than an organic farm can grow on a half-acre. The systems use less water, too — a typical Aggressively Organic plant only requires watering once every few weeks.

The global situation of food production is currently not at its best form. In fact, it has to increase by 50% by the year 2050, so that all the people in the world may be sufficiently fed. Aggressively Organic’s answer to the world hunger problem is to inspire people to produce their own food, hence the innovation of the lettuce plant pods.

Whether you want to grow your own garden in your office or apartment, and whether you are an experienced or inexperienced gardener, their plant pods seek to make the process more convenient for you.

Aggressively Organic’s systems . . . [consist] of a foldable cardboard chamber, a liner, a coconut coir disc in which seeds are planted, reusable net cups to hold the plant, and a nutrient solution. There’s no electricity required . . . The system is extremely water efficient — it takes 25 gallons of water to grow a head of lettuce in the ground, but Aggressively Organic can produce the same amount of lettuce with 16 ounces of H2O.

I’m sure more home gardening innovations are in store for us in the next few years. While I wait for the next automated home gardening device or the next amazingly efficient lettuce plant pods, let me just enjoy this delish salad for dinner.

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Millennials are Intensely Changing the Food Industry — Here’s How

 

As the old saying goes, change is the only constant thing in the world. And with a politically engaged and environmentally concerned generation, that should ring very true. Say what you will about millennials — I’m sure opinions vary about the traits that characterize the generation — but they sure bring forth some important changes. Most succinctly, to the food industry.

Millennials are dramatically disrupting the way food is produced, packaged, marketed and served. As a highly vocal group, millennials have given food producers little option but to listen to their demands, resulting in changes to not only food choices, but farming techniques and restaurant services as well.

Though it seems obvious and simple that individual food choices are changing across generations, surely there are bound to be implications on the entire food industry. One of the significant changes on the food landscape is how the word healthy is understood.

While older generations may have contented themselves with vague “low-fat” or “healthy” labels, millennials have higher expectations, especially when it comes to GMOs.

Not only are they exploring healthy Mediterranean diets or looking for meat alternatives, people now have also been advocating for healthier food production techniques. A good nutritional breakdown isn’t enough anymore, this generation wants their food sources organic.

And because of this, healthy has also started to mean local.

[This] has led to a preference for local food brands over national ones, both at the level of production and consumption. Whether buying food at the grocery store or eating out, millennials seek out locally sourced food . . . Some millennials have taken this trend a step further and started to grow their own food in urban and rooftop farms.

True enough, these days, interesting options exist for people who want to try their own hand at producing their own food. Home gardening systems such as OGarden and TerraFarms are now available in the market. So, in addition to being healthy and locally sourced, alternative food sources that millennials encourage are also sustainable.

Another important change in the food industry is the increase popularity of eating out in restaurants.

Technology also plays a major role in making restaurants more popular with younger generations. With apps like the Humane Eating project that combine millennials’ love of technology with sustainable eating, it’s no wonder that more people are exploring new places to eat.

So, to recap, some preferences that millennials have shown the food industry are these: healthy, locally sourced, and sustainably grown. And with how technology and social media work nowadays, it’s no wonder that these choices became demands that the food industry have had to respond to. As a result, more and more huge companies such as Dunkin Donuts’, McDonald’s, and other food giants have been committing to efforts toward sustainability.

It’s only a matter of time before we see how these changes in the food industry will eventually affect other sectors like public health and even the global economy. But it’s amazing to see how individual food choices have led up to this moment. So millennials, don’t be afraid to be bold. Even with your choice of salad for brunch tomorrow.

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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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Helping Out: the Latest Lifestyle Trend

Every so often, I write about a current or emerging lifestyle trend that isn’t only able to influence our own personal choices but also to shape the culture we engage with. In fact, this is one of my favorite topics to write about. It’s certainly my life goal to stay trendy and support sustainability at the same time, and I love spreading the word about it. Here are some of the lifestyle trends that I’ve previously written about and remain beloved to me:

1. Sustainable fashion

Making your wardrobe eco-friendly isn’t really as difficult as it sounds. The key, as I often point out in other aspects of daily life, is to organize. From your old ones, pick your favorite and essential clothing items then decide on what you don’t need. Go on to sell or donate them. Whatever you do, don’t throw stuff away!

As for shopping for new items, be aware of your sources. Do your research in advance. Shopping local is usually a good way to support the community. Avoiding items that might have come from animal cruelty is a good principle. At the end, I guess it’s a matter of principle and knowing which fashion companies mirror yours.

2. Food choices — organic, local, and balanced

Sustainability, though it is also seen in other aspects of daily life like fashion, most often comes up in conversations about food choices. So it’s safe to say updating your lifestyle means supporting sustainable food production. Millennials, they say, are effecting some big changes in the food industry: they opt out of GMOs, go organic, and support local. And I believe those are very good choices. Now more than ever, people are encouraged to produce their own food by growing their own gardens and such.

However, in addition to sustainable, what should food choices be if not healthy? Research says that a Mediterranean or a plant-based meal plan can give us the most health benefits. So don’t go for those heavily advertised crash diets. Choose the most balanced — thus sustainable — one for your body as well.

3. All-around mindset

Here’s the thing. Doing healthy things and following lifestyle trends without reflecting on why you do them could suffice, but they cannot ensure  long-lasting effects on your well-being. What’s really important is how you think about your life and how you let that process manifest into actual decisions. Some things that really helped me be more conscious of my choices are lagom and mindfulness. Lagom has helped me achieve balance in my daily life — from arranging my apartment furniture to reducing my work-related stress. Mindfulness has helped me embrace my mental illness, commit to a self-care regimen, and even seek help when I need it.

Now you may ask, why am I listing all of these things? It’s because I want to reflect further on what makes a certain lifestyle trend so important to me. And I’ve been thinking, in the end, it’s all about kindness, isn’t it? Sustainable fashion is all about being kind to the earth. Sustainable food choices is about being kind not only to the environment, but to your own body as well. Certain mindsets like lagom and mindfulness are about being kind to yourself and the people that you love and that love you.

I realize, maybe the next thing that I want to commit to is being kind beyond my self and my inner circle. So here’s another lifestyle trend that I believe should go viral:

4. Kindness, kindness, kindness.

Maybe it’s not even simply the latest lifestyle trend, maybe kindness is a more timeless choice that we need to make chic now. After all, it even has some amazing health benefits. So go outside and volunteer. Help out a stranger in need — whether he is in a medical emergency or simply needs a ride home — because you don’t know what impact it will make on his life. And for the matter, you don’t know what impact it will make on the world. Maybe one little favor can push someone to pay it forward and eventually end up creating an entire culture of helping other people out.

Sustainable fashion or food choices make us feel good, but what can make us feel better than being compassionate to others? And in the way that choosing organic for your salad today can be great for the environment, helping someone out may end up making the world better. Now that’s chic.

Final tip: you can actually use technology to start on this kindness lifestyle. Use the BeepBeep Nation app in reaching out to those who need your help, and learn more about the EMINENT token to get started. And hey, honestly, helping out has never been this trendy.

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5 Amazing Health Benefits of Lending a Hand

I don’t know about you, but providing help to those who need it is an fulfilling experience for sure. Whether it’s helping an old lady reach a food item at the top of the grocery shelf, volunteering at a nearby animal shelter, or organizing my own fundraising event, acts of kindness make me feel super good. If you feel the same, have you ever asked yourself why?

Well, there are probably many reasons — social, cultural, philosophical, spiritual, and the like. But did you know lending a hand also has some amazing health benefits? Let me list some of them.

1. Kindness makes you happier (through your brain chemicals!)

There’s something called the helper’s high, which is typically identified as a state of euphoria after doing something good. Charitable acts usually raise your dopamine levels, which gives you the same feeling you have after an intense exercise. Kindness also boosts the production of serotonin, which calms you down and lifts your mood.

2. Kindness lowers the risk of heart disease.

This one can be credited to a hormone called oxytocin which, when transmitted to the brain, facilitates social bonding and emotion recognition.  This means that when you’re in love, for instance, you’re producing oxytocin. Now interesting research has found that oxytocin also has a huge role in the cardiovascular system; it is also produced in the heart. Once it travels through our blood vessels, it supposedly increases nitric oxide production which reduces your blood pressure.

So yeah. I suppose making a stranger smile today can keep the cardiologist away.

3. Kindness boosts your immune system.

Some experiments proved that even just thinking kind and loving thoughts towards people around you or watching other people show compassion have some great health benefits. It helps you have better heart rate variability and also raises your protective antibodies, both of which mean enhanced immune responses. Amazing, right?

4. Kindness makes you less anxious.

Doing good deeds have been proven to lower social anxiety. People who are socially anxious are not only shy, they tend to fear social interactions. But kindness helps them break these barriers. Some experiments have this cool conclusion: after trying to perform kind acts, anxious people tended to view social interactions in a new light.

5. Kindness can literally ease pain.

We already know that giving and receiving help makes us feel good because we realize that we are not alone when we suffer, that people are there for us. But medically speaking, kinder people also tend to have lessened physical suffering. People who volunteer tend to report less body aches and pains. And interestingly enough, those volunteers aged 55 and above have also been noted to have a 44% lower likelihood of death i.e. longer, healthier lives. I mean, wow.

I guess what’s surprising about researching all of it is this: contrary to popular belief, helping actually seems more beneficial to givers or helpers than to receivers. There might not be any obvious reward when you act kindly, but these health benefits far outweigh anything material and instant that you could get in return. So don’t worry, just keep doing kind things. It’s good for your heart. Literally.

If you’re looking for more ways to offer or receive help, check out the BeepBeep Nation App and this video on how to get started. You might not profit immediately, but these health benefits will surely be good for you in the long run.

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Let Swedish Concept “Lagom” Bring Balance to Your Life

Mindfulness is a pretty trendy lifestyle choice that truly appears to be effective, though of course different people have different takes on it. Some professionals say that living in a fast-paced world where everything is instant exhausts us, and therefore we must sometimes slow things down a bit. For a person with a mental health condition, acceptance and awareness are necessary tools in order to find ways to live with it—though again, what worked for me might not necessarily be as successful for someone else.

There are many opinions on how to find a healthy and functional lifestyle that is most suited to one’s well-being. But if there’s another word to describe this world other than “fast-paced,” I think it would be “excessive.” We work so hard to buy so much stuff, eat so much food to do so many things, take in so much information in order to survive and then so much media to keep ourselves entertained. We need so much and want so much. This is why I find myself rather invested in the balance of one’s life as described by the Swedish concept of “lagom”.

“Lagom” [celebrates] the idea of “just enough.” It’s the space between minimalism and living in excess . . . With lagom, less is more, and instead of buying things we do not need, it is about finding pleasure and fulfillment in moderation. It is the belief that extremes on the spectrum are bad. For instance, exercise is good, but none at all is just as detrimental as too much.

The idea seems exciting, though a bit lofty. So the question now would be: how does one embrace “lagom”? Well, to answer this, you would constantly have to ask another question: is this good enough? Because good enough is the way to go for “lagom”. When it comes to housekeeping, one should learn to keep what’s valuable — don’t hoard every single souvenir, but don’t toss everything out so quickly either.

[B]efore adding anything else to your space, ask yourself if things are good enough already. The point is to find a simpler life that still has room for the things that make you happy.

As for work, you have to know your limits. Decide when enough is enough. Don’t demand too much, but don’t let your employer demand too much from you either.

Accept that work is an important part of life, but find the balance between letting it be the main focus of your life and an unpleasant task you charge through as quickly as possible.

Another compartment of life that “lagom” works wonders with is your diet. This is because the idea of balance and moderation is best when it comes to nutrition.

[T]here is a time for indulging in all the delicious goodies that make a celebration great, but there is also a time to moderate. The first step to eating lagom-style is to eliminate waste.

Not every good meal has to be indulgent and expensive. Buy local. Grow your own produce. As long as it doesn’t take too big a space in your schedule, make time for things that will balance your life.

Like I said, you may read a lot of opinions about the real way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. You may hear from your momma or Aunt Carol about their own take. Then again, every person’s life is so specific, and what you end up doing with mindfulness, slowness, or even “lagom” depends entirely on how you want to live yours. “Lagom’s” only reminder is as simple as this: simple is best.

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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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