National Kale Day: Could Kale Be the Next Beef?

Today is our favorite day of the year: National Kale Day! First of all, how great that our country, despite all its health problems, has a designated day for the king of all leafy greens, right?

In Integrative Nutrition’s Health coach Training Program, kale holds an equally prominent place, with a special part of the curriculum devoted to it. One of the aspects we focus on is the surprising ways in which kale is actually a superb substitute for animal protein, something that most people don’t know.

So how does a bunch kale stack up against that slab of steak? Let’s take a look:

  • Sustainability: Livestock has an enormous carbon footprint, degrades land, and decreases biodiversity, while growing kale is cheaper and has none of these unintended consequences
  • Iron: Despite the old wives’ tale telling us otherwise, you don’t need to get iron from animal protein. Per calorie, kale actually has more iron than beef (for a 100-calorie serving, 3.2mg vs 0.9mg, respectively).
  • Healthy Fats: Though fish are often touted as the best source of omega fatty acids, a serving of kale contains 121 mg of omega-3’s and 92 mg of omega-6’s!
  • Other Nutrients: When it comes to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, animal proteins don’t stand a chance against this superfood. Kale brings all the star nutritional players to the table (literally): vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, zinc, potassium, selenium, folate, lutein, and more!

This great infographic gives you a clear breakdown of all that kale can do for you. Pin it to your healthy inspiration Pinterest board to share the kale love with your followers!

kale-graphic

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

Posted on October 8, 2014 by Integrative Nutrition

Did you know that October is the official Non-GMO Month? This month, retail stores nationwide will celebrate the consumer’s right to be informed of foods and products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

What exactly are GMOs again?

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are products of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE), which creates new combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes by combining DNA from one species with DNA from another. The result: new organisms that do not occur in nature.

GMOs are often not labeled as such. In many developed nations, GMO products are heavily restricted or banned altogether because they have yet to be proven safe for people’s health and the health of the environment. However, in the U.S. there is a dearth of public awareness of the potentially harmful repercussions of GMO products.

Here are four more reasons why you should celebrate Non-GMO Month this October and empower yourself to make the right decisions for you and your family.

1. Human Health

Currently, seed companies prohibit independent research with their products, leaving very little empirical data available.

2. Environmental and Animal Health

Genetically engineered crops can cause a variety of destructive problems on the surrounding environment. Farmers who use GMO crops can spray their fields to kill everything growing in the area except the specific GMO food crop. The increased use of pesticides and herbicides often leads to superweeds, which then become resistant to the same pesticides, creating the need for stronger, more toxic pesticides (that can leach into our food and water sources!).

3. Moral and Ethical Concerns

Some people question whether genetically altered crops and species threaten and violate the natural order of an environment. Also, genetic modification may involve the creation of foods that are prohibited by certain groups (e.g., the use of animal genes may conflict with some religions, as well as the diets of vegetarians and vegans).

4. Labeling Concerns

Whether you decide to limit or restrict your consumption of GMO products, the right to know what is in our food is important. Research has shown that many Americans would choose not to have GMO products if aware and given the choice.

When shopping for food, it’s a valuable practice to stop and ask yourself the basic question: Where does it all come from? It’s time for us to be food detectives.

Here are a few ways you may be able to consume fewer GMO products:

  • Buy produce and other food items from farmers’ markets.
  • Start conversations with the people selling your food to get more information.
  • Grow your own food in a garden at home or join a community garden.
  • Join a corporate garden or co-op to know where items are coming from.

How will you celebrate Non-GMO Month? Tell us in the comments section below!

 

What Role Can Corporations Play in Solving the Global Health Crisis?

Posted on October 7, 2014 by Integrative Nutrition

Yesterday, Walmart announced an initiative to improve the nutrition of the food they carry while lessening its environmental impact. This is just one more announcement in a series of big name brands waking up to the dual global crises of health and the environment, and responding with corporate action.

Walmart’s goal is to help the environment as well as the health of their consumers, and they’ve established four “pillars” to help them achieve that goal:

  • Reducing the true cost of food, both for the environment and for consumers
  • Increasing access to affordable, nutritious food for everyone
  • Make healthy eating easier by providing healthier options and committing to nutrition education
  • Increasing  transparency in the food supply system

That all sounds like good stuff to us! This type of program is especially important given that low-income Americans, who often shop at Walmart and similar stores, have higher rates of obesity than other groups. If Walmart and other stores can truly health-ify their foods and provide legitimate health education to consumers who need it, this could be an important first step toward combatting a grave issue.

Of course, this raises the question of what, exactly, “healthy” means to the company (they’ve already made great strides in reducing sodium and sugar in many products, which is promising) and how consumers will respond to these new products. Will they buy food items labeled with the new “Great for You” icon, or will they want to stick to the familiar products they’re used to buying?

This is where the health education aspect will be crucial. Their press release states that “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will provide nutrition education to 4 million U.S. households,” though it doesn’t specify who, precisely, will be providing that education and what it will entail.

I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a role for Health Coaches to us!

We want to know—do you think Walmart’s new health initiative will help fight the global health crisis? And do you think Health Coaches can play a role in helping them? Tell us in the comments section below!

 

Are GMOs Useful or Unsafe?

October is Non-GMO Month, which means it’s a perfect time to ask the perennial question: are genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) useful, or are they unsafe?

The parties on both sides feel strongly about the answer, and the complex science, politics, financial interests, and environmental implications of GMOs make it difficult to parse out who is correct.

Anti-GMO activists claim that these organisms are an environmental trigger for the growing health crisis, that genetic engineering is not natural, and that we don’t know the long-term health effects of eating GMOs. Scientists, on the other hand, point to thousands of studies that show the safety of GMOs, and say that labeling GMO products would cause people to avoid them out of unfounded fear.

This thorny issue involves the FDA, big corporations like Monsanto, farms small and huge, as well as everyone who eats fruits and vegetables.  In the video below, 2009 graduate Robyn Youkilis explores the two sides of this debate. Watch now, and then tell us what you think in the comments.