THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- MAY 21, 2022
I am not a graduate of the Google University of Medicine. I do not watch General Hospital. Still, I am always interested in news items pertaining to a person's overall health and well being.
For instance, everyone benefits from a good night's sleep. New information narrows the definition. “That long-held eight hours a night is okay if you're a Gen Xer. Scientists have found a new magic number for those in middle age or older. Seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep for people in their middle age and upwards, with too little or too much little sleep associated with poorer cognitive performance and mental health. The researchers say that insufficient or excessive sleep duration may be a risk factor for cognitive decline in aging.” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/04/220428125425.htm)
When morning does come, everyone has a morning routine. Registered dietitians around the country have come up with a list of eleven healthy morning habits. A couple of these are simple and would be easy to add to any routine.
One is to drink a ten to twelve ounce glass of water before touching coffee, tea or breakfast. “Water makes up sixty percent of our body. Organs, tissues and many bodily functions rely on water to function properly and optimally. Thus, it's obvious that hydration is important, so why not start first thing in the morning?"
A second suggestion could pay dividends later in the day. “Morning habits sometimes involve thinking ahead. Before the day starts, make sure you know what you're going to make for dinner that night. Double check that you have the ingredients. At the end of the day when you're tired and need to get dinner together for the family, the chances of having a healthy dinner are much greater if you have everything ready to go.” (https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthy/packages/healthy-every-week/healthy-tips/healthy-morning-habits-nutritionists-dietitians)
Many of us head for the coffee pot as soon as we wake up. “If you're like most people, there's a good chance caffeine is part of your daily routine. The energizing effects of caffeine can be a lifesaver. The benefits of caffeine aren't limited to energy, though. According to a 2021 review in the journal 'Nutrients,' low doses of caffeine can improve memory and cognitive performance.”
Research also indicates can add some zip to your day. “Caffeine activates neural circuits and, in turn, the release of adrenaline. This dilates blood vessels and air passages, which increases blood flow and oxygen to your brain and muscles. This effect, along with the energizing effects of caffeine, can help enhance overall athletic performance.” (https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/caffeine-guide-sources-benefits-side-effects-and-more)
As the day progresses, snacks and meals become important. There's a surprising tweak that could prove beneficial. Dietitians note: “Sometimes the smallest little changes in our diet can make a huge difference when it comes to our overall health—even as simple as sprinkling in some cinnamon.”
There's a lot of science behind this. “One review in 'Pharmacognosy Research' found cinnamon to be beneficial due to its "s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antilipemic, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and anticancer" effects. Cinnamon contains antioxidants like polyphenols. Antioxidants help buffer free radicals and by default, can help reduce inflammation."
Some studies suggest more benefits. “Naturally sweet cinnamon saves calories and prevents blood sugar swings and energy highs and lows that result from eating too much sugar. It's the perfect calorie-free, sugar replacement because it adds sweetness without creating the inflammation that sugar does that is linked to making weight loss more difficult and weight gain easier." (https://www.eatthis.com/surprising-effects-eating-cinnamon/ and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4466762/)
If you're like me, cheese is a major food group. According to HealthGrades, cheese is fine if you choose the right variety. “If you’ve been watching what you eat, you might be surprised to hear that you can incorporate cheese into a heart-healthy diet. The key lies in choosing the best cheeses for heart health.”
One of the best choices is reduced-sodium feta or goat cheese. “Fresh, unripened cheeses like feta and goat cheese contain less fat than their ripened counterparts, which make them an acceptable choice when consuming a heart-healthy diet.”
Another good choice is part-skim mozzarella. “Another lovely, heart-healthy cheese you can indulge in regularly is fresh, part-skim mozzarella. This mild cheese is perfect for snacking on because it’s generally lower in sodium and saturated fat than other cheese choices.”
Alas, there are some cheese we should avoid. One of the worst choices is American cheese slices. “Barely a cheese, American cheese slices are made from cheesemaking byproducts with added fats and colorants. American cheese is a highly processed product, often with a high sodium content. A single slice of American cheese can contain as much as twenty-five percent of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat.”
Another bad one is pasteurized process cheese spread. “If you’re seeking a heart-healthy cheese, the orange loaf that comes in a box and boasts superb meltability should not be on your list.” (https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/heart-health/best-and-worst-cheeses-for-your-heart-and-waistline)
A life without cheese slices may look pretty grim for some folks. Scientists known as “food futurologists,” weighed in on this topic in Bon Appetit magazine. According to these experts, here's what a dinner will look like in just ten years (2032).
The main entree is a cell-cultured hamburger, concocted in a lab. That's topped with animal-free American cheese made with cow-free whey protein. The bun is baked Kernza wheat, a hearty grain with long roots that retain water and rejuvenate the soil. On the side is hummus made with genetically edited chickpeas. A side salad could be added made with romaine lettuce (from an indoor vertical farm) enhanced with food-waste-eliminating upcycled barley croutons fortified with algae powder. Wash the whole thing down with a squeaky-clean glass of locally (hyper-) filtered, recycled, delicious sewage water.”
You can see more predictions at: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/plates-of-the-future. If you survive long enough, “Cricket tartare on a bed of Mariana Trench plankton” may be on your dinner plate some day. Don't despair, though. Crickets and plankton are more palatable if you cover them with several American cheese slices.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.