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Nutrition Pyramid

Healthy Diet & Lifestyle, Food Groups, Nutrition Before & During Pregnancy, Child (preschool) Nutrition, Physical Activity & more

Intro

“Good nutrition and vitamins do not directly cure disease, the body does. You provide the raw materials and the inborn wisdom of your body makes the repairs. Someday healthcare without megavitamin therapy will be seen as we today see childbirth without sanitation or surgery without anesthetic.” Andrew W. Saul, the “Megavitamin Man.

In 1912, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) celebrated 1911 as the healthiest year recorded till then. Noting that more people were living past the age of 100, the Journal accorded the triumph of American athletes at international sporting events like the Stockholm Olympics to their racial vigor. Racial vigor soon translated into the outcome of a healthy and energetic lifestyle. Herein lay the dawn of modern health practices, to provide the means for the common man to learn about and shift to a healthy and energetic lifestyle, which concept has grown into a global business in the trillions of dollars today.

Hark back even further to the nineteenth century and earlier. Our forefathers, the average people of that era, had really no means to go from Place ‘A’ to Place ‘B’, except on foot. Their financial situation warranted the requirement to travel to their place of work without mechanical aid. There were no cars, no motorcycles or any other forms of motorized, or, for that matter, horse drawn transportation for poor old great-great-granddad. While it increased the amount of time he spent away from home, he was unconsciously ‘working out’ and burning energy walking to work and back. His lifestyle was, willy-nilly, energetic and he gained and maintained good health as a direct outcome of his exertions.

In his era, there were no such maladies as Myocardial Infarction−the dreaded Heart Attack− or obesity, or deaths linked to lack of regular physical lifestyle. True, medical science was in its infancy and the leading causes of death were Tuberculosis, Diabetes, Angina, Malaria, Burns, Small Pox, Epilepsy, Apoplexy, Asthma, and Spontaneous Combustion (especially of alcoholics). These diseases were not related to physical activity, but to circumstance. Chart 1 gives a breakdown of the main causes of deaths in 1900. Nature, in her unfathomed and unstoppable manner, was balancing life and death.

Industrialization saw a gradual but inexorable shift from the lifestyle of the 19th century. While the rich and landed gentry did own horse-drawn carriages, very few lived a sedentary lifestyle. The bicycle, the dandy horse, also called Draisienne or laufmaschine, was the first human means of transport to use only two wheels in tandem and it took a Baron, the German Baron Karl von Drais, to invent it. It is regarded as the modern bicycle’s forerunner. It was not really affordable for the impecunious, but was the preferred means of transportation for its owners, mainly the middle class and higher. It still is, but has come down to an affordable price − in a motorized world − for the working class in China, India, Vietnam and many other countries.

Chart 1

Its greatest property was that it required a physical exercise. Today’s bicycles are sleek and expensive lightweight contraptions, fitted with various auxiliaries, but they still require physical effort. In fact, most advanced countries have built bicycle tracks wherever possible, except of course in congested business areas (like Wall Street or anywhere in Manhattan, admittedly two extreme examples). Most housing divisions are required to have one; smaller cities have dedicated cycle-tracks.

One strange and bizarre concept that was floated in the early 1900s was that eulogizing the survival of the fittest, or eugenics. This stemmed from the continuous increase in lifespan, where the weak, who had hitherto died young, were getting an extended lease of life. The NEJM carried a baseless but futuristic optimistic editorial in 1912 stating:

Perhaps in 1993, when all the preventable diseases have been eradicated, when the nature and cure of cancer have been discovered, and when eugenics has superseded evolution in the elimination of the unfit, our successors will look back at these pages with an even greater measure of superiority.

The medical establishment had mixed feelings about how modernization was impacting health. Longevity had increased but such paeans to progress did not diminish concern about changing lifestyle factors that were debilitating, such infirmities increasing with the passage of time. Chart 2 represents how fatality had diversified due to unknown ailments. One cause was the rise of “automobile knee”, indicating that cars were creating a sedentary section of humanity – an absolute change in routine that is visibly prevalent and, in all probability, increasing by the day. The contemporaneous manifestation is the couch potato we are dealing with now, owing to the rise of the television and computer culture . Physical inactivity led rapidly to heart disease, especially when coupled with diabetes.

Chart 2

Our conceptions of prevailing diseases are constantly changing, based on many factors. It’s a drifting and evolving snapshot of a specific era’s fears and foibles, frailties and cultural mores. Studying the multifold new maladies that have emerged in the past 200 odd years, statisticians have labeled how new diseases surface. New causes (bird flu, motorized vehicle accidents), new behaviors (smoking, injecting drugs), and even new therapies (radiation poisoning while fighting cancer) produce strange mutated diseases. Changes in environment along with societal conditions can swell the pervasiveness of once-vague disorders (myocardial infarction, Ebola, lung cancer, the neurodegenerative and fatal ‘mad cow syndrome’, etc.).

New diagnostic tools can reveal previously unrecognized conditions (hypertension, Alzheimer’s). Changing social mores and acceptance can decide what is or is not a disease. HIV–AIDS is a great example showing these modes of emergence. The emergence, recognition, and impact of disease cannot just be a bio-scientific process; the advent of a new malaise invariably involves social, economic and political processes that shape its epidemiology and sway our understanding and reaction.

Healthy Living

Simply put, healthy living is a completely balanced daily routine which you can undertake without fear of illness or symptoms of disease. This implies:

  • Sound sleep for around eight hours.
  • A proper unhurried breakfast.
  • A satisfactory day at work.
  • A light lunch preceded and followed by short tea or coffee breaks.
  • A social session of an hour or so, with a tot or two of mild alcohol. If you can avoid the alcohol, it would be beneficial, never mind the conjecture that a little red wine every day is good for you.
  • A filling dinner.

If there is a bout of viral fever going around, just take adequate precaution and if it still hits you, bad luck. There are so many kinds of viruses that you cannot really evade them-your immunity system should be able to handle them. This is an ongoing battle, as most viruses mutate to bypass your immunity system, and your immunity system gathers available inputs to combat such mutations. Interestingly, a ten second kiss can transfer up to eighty million bacteria!

If you were born a normal child, you are predestined for a normal healthy life. Ignorance about a few matters related to health does reduce your inner strength, but that ignorance is now becoming a short-lived flash in the pan. A happy and healthy existence is always within reach. Healthy living is a long-term commitment, not a ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ phenomenon. Nothing stops you from becoming a healthier person. There are steps you can take today that will make you healthier tomorrow than today and chalk the path for a healthier day after tomorrow, too. The physical aspects are easy to understand: workout every day, a slightly more brisk walk, dietary supplements, etc. But there is more to it, as we shall soon see, all pointing to the food you eat as the primary ingredient.

Circadian Cycles – Syncing with Earth Cycles

Circadian Rhythms, a term coined by French geophysicist and astronomer, Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan in 1719, supposedly imposes a 24-hour cycle on our bodies. Essentially, a body clock, the so called suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), part of the hypothalamus in the brain, governs your life-cycle on a daily basis. There are three phases, all depending upon sunlight.

The first starts at dawn and lasts up to noon (eight hours); the second continues from noon up to dusk (eight hours) and the third takes up the remaining eight hours. The first is the preparatory phase, where the only meal is breakfast. The second is the active phase and includes both lunch and dinner, while the last is the recovery phase, where you sleep in peace and allow your body to digest all food consumed, ingesting the good properties while eliminating the bad.

While circadian rhythm disruption may be common among some, research conducted by Rush University Medical Center, Chicago suggests that it may be contributing to a host of diseases that may be prevented by regulating things such as sleep/wake patterns and times of eating to help prevent circadian rhythm disruption. Including prebiotics or probiotics, microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi) that are host-friendly in the diet can also help normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota to reduce the presence of inflammation.

The importance of good and timely eating habits has been recorded thousands of years ago. Ayurvedic scholars and yogis knew the circadian rhythms long before de Mairan coined the term. The daily practices are the external observances ayurvedic practitioners engage in, in order to maintain the synchronicity of our circadian rhythms. As an ayurvedic practitioner, you follow cues observed in nature with your behavior, so that your circadian rhythm is in line with the earth’s rotation. Ayurveda has shown that when you are out of sync with this rhythm, disease and imbalance can develop, which is what we see or hear about every day.

The Ayurvedic theory divides your 24 hour circadian day into three cycles. Tanya Alekseeva, a Wellness Coach who specializes in Raw Food Nutrition and Detoxification options and the founder of Better Raw and Corporate Créme in London, explains these three segments:

  • Elimination (4 am-12 pm): Your digestive system never stops working. You can still eat or drink in this time. This is the period most important for cleansing and releasing toxins (‘Eliminating’), so you can make the correct food choices if you plan to eat. This is why professionals call breakfast ‘the most important meal of the day’, so you can make an informed decision on what’s light on digestion. From your side, give elimination a chance.
  • Appropriation (12 pm – 8 pm): During this period, we are most awake and active and busy digesting, metabolizing and burning most of our ingested food. This is why the majority of meals (lunch, dinner and snacks) also occur during this cycle. Remember, the older generations ate early, by today’s standards. Eat only when hungry and in small portions. This will give your body enough time and opportunities to break down the food with minimum effort, so it holds back some energy for everything else you need doing, not just spending it on digesting your food.
  • Assimilation (8 pm−4 am): At this time you are most likely to be relaxed or sleeping. This period is when all the ‘absorption of nutrients and minerals from your food occurs and is redirected to your organs, bones and cells via your blood. All the rebuilding, renewing and healing takes place now. It is prudent to eat dinner early, so that the food you eat is digested and moved out of the stomach, preparing in advance for this phase. Since all the benefit from the food you have eaten goes to strengthen you, the remains get ready for Elimination, starting the cycle afresh.

Start Your Healthy Living & Diet Regimen

1. Assess Yourself, Your Physical Condition, Your Social Life

The best person to help you assess yourself is your doctor. Get whichever test is required done and over with. Clarify all doubts with your doctor. Check your weight versus your BMI to see where you stand. Are you active enough? How much and what type of physical exercise are you averaging in a week? Do you find your physical activity boring or is it fun? Get in a good mix of aerobics and muscle-strengthening physical activities over a full week. This topic will be examined in great detail later in this guide.

Keep note of your food eaten. Be meticulous in your record maintenance. Don’t skip items that embarrass you. If you don’t know or acknowledge what you should be aware of, how can you change it? As stated earlier, healthy living takes account of emotional and mental wellness and includes adequate rest. What’s with your mood of late? Any tell tale warning signs of depression? Anxiety? Do you get eight hours sleep at night?

Now look at your social activity. How well connected are you with your with own family and circle of friends? Are you into group social or religious activity that you enjoy and find fulfilling or enriching your days? It is accepted that humans have an essential need for positive and long lasting relationships. If you are not happy with the overall results, try to assess where you stand today so that you can set your healthy living goals. Remember, it’s not about being “fine” or “awful,” “correct” or “wrong”.

2. Treat Illnesses, Conditions if any

If you have persistent disabilities, be it heart disease, depression, diabetes, or any other ailment, the first priority is treatment, a no brainer for a healthy life. The same applies to risky behavior, like smoking, or self-abusive addictions of any kind. Unless you have the will power, you will need to look ahead with a trained person, i.e., your doctor. The sooner you start the better. 

3. Increase Physical Activity

Kansas State University researchers found that office workers could be risking their health simply by sitting at their desk. People who spend more than four hours a day sitting down are at greater risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Escalating physical activity is no mean achievement. It can be painful or painfully boring. So, add an element of fun. Go hiking, backpacking, treks with pals, cycling, take up belly-dancing or kung fu, or whatever gives you enjoyment. Keep note of it. Record all physical activity you undertook in a book. Set a weekly goal for activity. To build your confidence, make the first goal easy so you feel, “I can do that blindfolded.” Set week by week goals; if you miss out one day, weekly goals provide you enough flexibility to recover lost time.

Put activity into your day. “Ten percent of something is better than 100% of nothing. So even if you have 10 minutes, it’s better than zero minutes,” says Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD, a nutritionist and wellness coach. Walk around your office, take a 10-minute walk prior to lunch or just go up and down the stairs.

Wear a pedometer to check how many steps you take per day (10,000 steps a day is what most experts recommend) or join up with a pal to chat through an ongoing exercise routine. If you want to know many calories you’re consuming, use an exercise-related calorie calculator.

4. Review Your Diet

Williams, a nutritionist for over a decade, says her advice on diet isn’t about what to eat and what not, but about awareness and choices. She suggests that you should stock your pantry with healthy food and take healthful snacks with you so you’re prepared when you get hungry. If you are a mother, follow the advice you gave your kids. Slow down and savor your food.

Eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This can cut heart attacks, strokes and death rates in people at high risk of heart disease by 33 percent, according to a Spanish study. Changing the balance of foods in a diet can lessen the risk even before heart-related illness strikes. Swedish researchers have agreed with the findings and calculated that the recommended regime could add an extra three years to your life. A Mediterranean-style diet is a rich source of chemicals called anti-oxidants that fight cancer, heart disease and can slow the ageing process. The diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grain cereals and low in meat and dairy, which contain large amounts of saturated fats. Olive oil is used in place of butter in cooking, as well as for dressing salads and moistening bread. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is considered a safeguard against heart disease.

Plan for five daily servings of varied fruits and vegetables. Get as many types of fruit and vegetable across the entire band of vivid colors to get a good mix of nutrients, so that your collection looks like the proverbial rainbow. And there is a pot of gold the other side, as you work and eat your way through your colorful collection.

The contrarian view: Eat throughout the day, a little at a time

Your body needs some foods to stay strong and healthy. As you work through the day, this food gives you the energy desired. Keep eating as you work for optimum gain.

  1. Eat 6-11 servings a day of breads or grains, like rice, pasta, tortillas, or cereal.
  2. Eat 3-5 servings a day of vegetables, like carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, or peas.
  3. Eat 2-4 servings a day of fruits, like apples, peaches, mangos, bananas, or fruit juice.
  4. Eat 2-3 servings a day of meat, fish, beans, eggs or nuts, for protein.
  5. Eat 2-3 servings a day of dairy products like yogurt, cheese, or milk.
  6. Cut down on alcohol, fatty foods such as butter, grease and oil, and “junk food” like chips, French fries, etc.

If in about 15 hours, you have to eat the meals supra, you will be munching something throughout the day.

5. Manage Stress

Work on two different schemes to cope with stress:

  • Routine maintenance: Williams suggests you develop positive coping skills, such as meditation and visualization, and look for activities, such as yoga or exercise, to keep your baseline stress level in check.
  • Breakthrough stress: Find ways to handle stressful situations that flare up without warning. For instance, after a stressful meeting at work, walk up and down the stairs a few times to burn off anger (and calories), or get into a bathroom stall to take a few deep breaths and refocus or climb the stairs all the way up to the terrace and scream into the wind.
  • Many experts advise you to try this specific breathing exercise: count your breaths for a minute, and then try to cut that number of breaths in half for the next minute. Back to normal, repeat this exercise five times.
  • Another known remedy is to lie down, close your eyes, push your fingers into the socket above your eyes and apply gentle pressure on the top of your eyeballs. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat five times whenever you lie down.
  • Inhale deeply through one nostril and exhale through the other in sets of five at least 50 times a day.

6. Sleep Better

If you have trouble sleeping, sleep medicine specialist Lisa Shives, MD, suggests:

  • Avoid watching TV or working on your computer starting two hours before bedtime.  This is because of their light. “We’re very sensitive to the cue that light gives you that it’s time to be up and about,” Shives says. She recommends light, calming reading lit by a lamp that doesn’t shine directly into your eyes.
  • Avoid heavy exercise close to bedtime. Vigorous activity heats up your body’s core temperature, which makes it harder to sleep.
  • Take a hot bath. It relaxes you mentally, but will heat up your core body temperature. When you get out of the bath, your core temperature will fall rapidly, which may help you get to sleep.
  • Don’t count on weekend catch-up sleep. If you have chronic sleep problems, you probably can’t make up for that on the weekends. But if you generally sleep well and have a rough week, go ahead and sleep in on the weekend.
  • Prioritize good sleep. This is as important as diet and exercise.

7. Quit Smoking

German researchers stated in November 2014 that giving up smoking even when middle aged or older is decidedly good for health. “It can never be too late to change. Making major changes like giving up smoking while refining your diet lowers the risk of heart disease and lung cancer,” they said. Lifelong smokers eschewing smoking rather late in life achieved a huge 40% drop in the hazard of cardiac problems and stroke in only five years.

What Does a Healthy Balanced Diet Mean?

A healthy balanced diet means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The key to a healthy balanced diet is:

  • Eating the right amount of food for how active you are.
  • Eating a range of foods – this is what balanced means.

It is accepted that the quantity and type of food you eat has a pronounced influence on your health. For a given body structure and primary vocation, there is an optimum energy gradient and range of food that you need to eat. Your lifestyle will dictate the quantity of food best suited to the way you live. If you eat a well-balanced diet, it can reduce your risk of various diseases as well as help you to maintain a healthy weight. There are certain times in one’s life cycle when it becomes principally important to make sure that you follow a healthy diet, for instance, if you want to lose excess weight to drop down in a boxing weight scale, or if you’re careful about what you eat because you’re pregnant. However, what is most important is that you eat a healthy diet throughout your life, no matter what age you are, while gracefully accepting the changes demanded by age – there can never be a bad time to make gradual changes to improve your eating habits.

The range of foods in your diet should include:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods (choosing whole grain varieties when possible).
  • Some milk and dairy foods (choosing lower-fat varieties when possible).
  • Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.
  • Just a small amount of foods high in fat and sugar.
Daily Amount of Food From Each Group
Calorie Level 1,000 1,200 1,400 1,600 1,800 2,000 2,200 2,400 2,600 2,800 3,000 3,200
Fruits 1 cup 1 cup 1,5 cup 1,5 cup 1,5 cup 2 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2,5 cups 2,5 cups 2,5 cups
Vegetables 1 cup 1,5 cup 1,5 cup 2 cups 2,5 cups 2,5 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3,5 cups 3,5 cups 4 cups 4 cups
Grains 3 oz-eq 4 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 8 oz-eq 9 oz-eq 10 oz-eq 10 oz-eq 10 oz-eq
Meat and Beans 2 oz-eq 3 oz-eq 4 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5,5 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6,5 oz-eq 6,5 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 7 oz-eq
Milk 2 cup 2 cup 2 cup 3 cup 3 cup 3 cups 3 cup 3 cup 3 cups 3 cup 3 cup 3 cups
Oils 3 tsp 4 tsp 4 tsp 5 tsp 5 tsp 6 tsp 6 tsp 7 tsp 8 tsp 8 tsp 10 tsp 11 tsp
Discretionary calorie allowance 165 171 171 132 195 267 290 362 410 426 512 648

Chart 3

Why is Healthy Eating Important?

It is proven that eating a healthy and wholesome diet reduces your risk of putting on weight to the point of obesity and concomitant illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cerebral-vascular disorder (stroke), osteoporosis (a progressive bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture) and even some types of cancer. The food you eat comprises several different types of nutrients, all of which are essential for the many vital processes in progress within your body. Key nutrients in your diet include the following:

  • Carbohydrates that provide you with energy.
  • Proteins that not only provide you with energy but are also essential for the growth and repair of all tissues in your body.
  • Fats are a very concentrated source of energy and also have a number of other roles, including helping to transport essential vitamins around your body.
  • Vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy and functional.
  • Another important element of your diet is fibre. Fibre isn’t classified as a nutrient, but it’s essential to keep your digestive system healthy and certain types of fibre can help to control your blood cholesterol levels.

Food Intake Patterns

Chart 4

 

THE FIVE-A-DAY NOURISHMENT PLAN

The National Health Service in the UK has launched their food program called the 5-A-Day Plan. Their aim is to provide a ready reckoner to their people/everybody about what should eat and why.

They state that we should be eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg daily.

5 A DAY tips: A few small changes can help you and your family get the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Why 5 A DAY? Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. That’s why it’s so important that we get enough of them. The 5 A DAY message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80 gm (3 oz) portions of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s five portions of fruit and vegetables in total, not five portions of each. 5 A DAY is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400 gm of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

5 A DAY: what counts? Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY, including frozen, canned and dried varieties.

5 A DAY on a budget: A diet full of fruit and vegetables doesn’t have to be expensive. The link will take you to a site that will advise you how to get your 5 A DAY and save some money.

Plan your 5 A DAY: This meal planner makes it easy to get your 5 A DAY. It’s packed with tasty recipes and compiles your weekly shopping list for you.

5 A DAY and your family: Cooking for a family, including a fussy eater or two? These tips will help your kids get their 5 A DAY.

Tips for growing your own fruit and vegetables: Find out how growing your own fruit and veg can help you get your 5 A DAY, and get tips from other gardeners.

5 A DAY on the go: Juggling a hectic work schedule and a busy social life? Here are some easy ways to fit in 5 A DAY.

5 A DAY portion sizes: One 5 A DAY portion of fruit or vegetables is about 80 gm (3 oz) or around one handful.

5 A DAY recipes: Try the 5 A DAY fajita recipe and download a 5 A DAY recipe leaflet, plus more healthy recipes for you and your family.

5 A DAY FAQs: We answer some frequently asked questions about the 5 A DAY program.

5 A DAY school scheme: The 5 A DAY school fruit and vegetable scheme entitles all children aged four to six to a free piece of fruit or vegetable.

How to wash fruit and vegetables: How to store, wash and prepare fruit and vegetables to prevent food poisoning, including E. coli.

Hearty vegetable soup: Packed with tomatoes, celery, carrots and beans, this is a great option to include more vegetables in your diet.

Although calories are part of the metric system, the International System of Units (SI System) uses the joule. One small calorie is approximately 4.2 joules (so one large calorie is about 4.2 kilojoules). In many countries, such as the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, it has become standard practice to include energy data in food labels in joules (kilojoules) instead of kilocalories (calories). In the United States, most food labeling is done in calories.

This can be confusing and irritating if you live in a country where the food labeling is done in joules but all exercise programs, diet regimes and health topics regarding energy consumption talk in calories. Fortunately, most food labels in the European Union also add calorie-equivalent information. This paper will deal with calories in depth at a later stage.

The Foods We Eat: Food Groups

Now that we have seen the same viewpoint on either side of the Atlantic, we can go ahead and scrutinize each segment in detail. To recap, the five segments are: Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk and Meat & Beans plus Oils.

Food Grains

Food Grains are small, hard, dry seeds, with or without attached hulls or fruit layers, harvested for human or animal consumption. The plants producing such seeds are called “grain crops”. The most common types of commercial grain crops are cereals such as wheat, rice and rye. All cereal crops are members of the grass family. Cereal grains contain a substantial amount of starch, a carbohydrate that provides dietary energy. Cereals are seasonal, either warm or cold season.

The warm season cereals are:

  • Maize (corn)
  • Fonio
  • Sorghum
  • Millets
  • finger millet
  • foxtail millet
  • Kodo millet
  • Japanese millet
  • pearl millet
  • proso millet

The cool-season cereals are:

  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Teff
  • Wheat

Of these, food is usually made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley and millets. ‘Whole grains’ include whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice.

“One of the reasons that grains have become such a central part of the human diet is that they have a long shelf-life. Unlike meat, dairy, and fresh produce, grains pack a whole lot of food energy (calories) into a small, lightweight package that can be stored indefinitely without refrigeration or other preservation,” says Monica Reinagel, a renowned Nutrition Diva. “The primary nutritional advantage of whole grains is that the fiber from the bran slows down the speed at which the starches in the endosperm are converted into blood sugar,” she adds.

Once harvested, dry grains are far more durable than other staple foods including starchy fruits like bananas & brinjals and tubers like sweet potatoes & cassava. Such innate durability has made grains well suited to industrial agriculture, since they can be mechanically harvested, transported across the globe, stored for long periods in environment controlled silos, milled for flour or pressed for oil.

Health Benefits of Grains

People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium). Each has its own clearly demarcated function, as elucidated below.

Dietary fiber is generally the natural outer skin of whole grains, and, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for healthy bowel function and helps reduce constipation. B vitamins help the body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium is important for a healthy immune system.

High-fiber foods such as whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Select whole grains to constitute at least half your daily meals; this may help maintain your weight. Integrate whole grains with other constituents into your healthy eating plan by adding a whole wheat toast to breakfast, a sandwich on whole-wheat bread at lunch or whole-wheat pasta with dinner. Apart from the basic benefits of grains, there is more to gain. They help you to maintain optimal health, a direct consequence of the phytochemicals contained – some of which are still waiting for certifiable identification.

100 to 300 gm of grains is recommended each day, depending on how many calories you need. About one-half of these should be whole grains. “Get a whole grain head start with oatmeal or whole grain cereal. Eat 100 percent whole-wheat bread or bagels instead of white bread or bagels. Use whole grains in mixed dishes such as barley in vegetable soup or stews, bulgur in casseroles or brown rice in stir fries,” USDA advocates. Add the unusual but highly effective flaxseed grain for additional benefits. Try adding oatmeal as well. You can also experiment a bit, by changing it up. For instance, you can try making your sandwich on 100 percent whole-wheat or oatmeal bread. Try new varieties of snacks on popcorn or whole grain crackers.

What is Whole Grain? Why is it Important?

Whole Grains: A whole grain is a cereal grain that contains the nutrient-rich germ, the starchy endosperm and the fibrous bran. This is in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm.

Whole grains comprise grains such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley, quinoa, rye, sorghum, popcorn, spelt, etc. You could already be into whole grains without knowing so. When munching popcorn, or feeding your toddler Toasty-O’s, or relishing a plate of warm oatmeal, you’re likely taken up by its delicious taste rather than the simple fact that these foodstuffs are whole grains. This definition can be confusing at times.

Breads, cereals, pasta, and other foods are labeled whole grain, but they’re made with mashed whole grain, i.e., flour. Once you’ve ground a kernel of wheat or rice into powder, it’s no longer whole in the sense of a single palpable unit. Some theorists term unbroken grain such as whole oats, brown rice, bulgur wheat and quinoa ‘Intact Grain’. Intact grains are digested and absorbed more slowly than milled grains, which is a significant plus.  

Antioxidants, minerals and vitamins: By now, we all know that vegetables, along with fruits include disease-fighting phytochemicals as well as antioxidants, but very few people know that whole grains could often be a better source of most of these major nutrients. Furthermore, whole grains contain important antioxidants that are not present in fruits and vegetables, apart from B vitamins, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and fiber.

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

Medical evidence has proved that whole grains cut down the risks of cardiac disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and obesity. Few foods offer such a diverse set of benefits. People who take whole grains on a regular basis have a lower threat of obesity, when admeasured by their individual body mass indices as well as waist-to-hip proportions. They also show lower levels of cholesterol.

Due to the health giving nature of phytochemicals and antioxidants, those who eat three servings of whole grains daily tend to show reduced hazards of heart disease by 25-36 percent, stroke 37 percent, Type II diabetes 21-27 percent, cancers of the digestive system 21-43 percent, and cancers that are hormone-related by 10-40 percent.

Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseeds have a warm, delicious nutty flavor that can complement and set off many foods like smoothies, roasted vegetables and baked goods. In size, flaxseeds are slightly bigger than sesame seeds and range in color from reddish brown to dark orange. Available in three forms, whole, crushed, and oil, flaxseeds are considered a super food because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber and lignins, all of which have salutary health effects. It is also accepted now that eating two to four tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day leads to reductions in total and low density lipoprotein LDL (bad) cholesterol, especially for people afflicted with dyslipidemia and high cholesterol levels.

Lignins are a group of plant chemicals called polyphenols, which have antioxidant components. These antioxidants play a large part in its cardiovascular health benefits (lowering total and LDL cholesterol). Soluble fiber also is capable of reducing LDL cholesterol. Flaxseeds contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an essential fatty acid because it cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from the diet.

High intakes of ALA are associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease. Doctors recommend that men consume at least 1.6 grams/day and women 1.1 grams/day of ALA. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed contains about 3 grams of ALA! Flaxseed oil has concentrated ALA but does not contain the lignins or soluble fiber of the seeds; it provides omega-3 fatty acids, but is not associated with lowering cholesterol. Since the nutrients in flaxseeds are more easily absorbed when the seeds are ground rather than whole, it’s best to eat fully ground flaxseeds to maximize health benefits.

Health Benefits of Oatmeal

Health benefits of oatmeal are generally known to most people, but in a sketchy fashion. What needs be remembered is that oatmeal:

  • Contains insoluble fibers which stay in the stomach longer and helps you feel full longer, thus preventing overeating, helping you in maintaining proper weight and shape, circumventing health problems related to being round and overweight. Just a half cup of oatmeal a day is enough to reap the many health benefits
  • Fiber adds bulk, increases the feeling of fullness and prevents constipation.
  • The soluble fiber in oatmeal reduces LDL cholesterol by 10-15 percent, particularly when consumed as part of a low-fat diet. It also reduces the danger of colon cancer.
  • The water soluble properties of oatmeal help control diabetes.
  • One cup of oatmeal contains about 150 calories, 4 gm of fiber (half soluble, half insoluble), plus 6 gm of protein. Apart from fiber, oatmeal provides thiamin, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and iron.

Starchy Foods

Polysaccharides are carbohydrate polymers consisting of thousands of monosaccharide units, all of which contain glucose. Plants store glucose as polysaccharide starch. Cereal grains (wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley) as well as tubers such as potatoes are rich in starch.

Since starchy foods are our main source of carbohydrate, they play an important role in a healthy diet. It must be reiterated that starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, cereals, rice and pasta should make up about a third of the food you eat. Whenever you can, choose wholegrain varieties, or eat potatoes with their skins on for more fiber. Starchy foods also contain fiber, calcium, iron and vitamin B.

Starchy foods and fiber: Wholegrain categories of starchy foods and potatoes – particularly when eaten with their skins on – are good sources of fiber. Fiber tends to prevent you from eating too much. Hence, wholegrain starchy foods and potatoes eaten with their skins make up a pretty good choice if you are on a diet and trying to shed weight.

Fibers are seen only in plant borne foods, and are of two families:

  • Insoluble fiber. This kind of fiber can’t be digested by the body, so it transits through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, pulling and pushing other food and treated products along as they move through the GI tract easily. Whole-wheat pasta, wholegrain bread as well as breakfast cereals are good sources of this kind of fiber, as is brown rice.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber cannot be digested in full and could well help cut down the quantity of cholesterol circulating in your blood. Some good sources are oats and pulses.
Tips on Starch-rich Foods
  • Whenever you select wholegrain varieties, you automatically augment the quantity of fiber you are planning to eat.
  • Porridge is just right as a warming winter breakfast.
  • Whole oats coupled with sliced fruit and yoghurt, not cream, make an ideal summer breakfast.
  • Always select wholegrain cereals or throw some in to augment your favorite cereal.
  • Focus on eating the rice or pasta and not so much the sauce.
  • Try different kinds of breads, like seeded, whole-meal and granary; cut the bread into thick slices.
  • Try brown rice for a rather tasty and inviting rice salad, apart from being a dish by itself.
  • For lunch, try a jacket potato; make sure to eat its skin for additional fiber.
  • If you’re on sausages with mash, eat more mash, more vegetables and clamp down on the number of würstchen you eat .
Types of Starchy Foods:

Potatoes: Starchy food can be found in good measure in Potatoes, which are also a great fount of energy, B vitamins, potassium and fiber. You get most of your vitamin C from potatoes; this is because, although there is only about 11–16 mg of vitamin C per 100 gm of potatoes, you generally help yourself to them liberally. They’re very cost effective and can definitely be a healthful menu option.

Potatoes are a healthy meal when boiled, roasted, baked (jacket potatoes) or mashed with only a little bit of fat and without too much salt added. French fries or other types of chips cooked in fat and served along with salt do not make for healthy food and is the least desirable option. The potato is a known root vegetable and it is mostly eaten as the starchy food section of a meal. To cook potatoes, use polyunsaturated spreads; otherwise switch to totally unsaturated oils like olive/ sunflower oil, rather than butter or lard.

Leave potato skins on when possible, to retain most of the fiber and vitamins. For instance, eat the skin when having a boiled or jacketed potato. It’s easy; try it once and you’ll find that next time, it just slips through. As a rule, only use enough water to cover the top of the potatoes if you’re boiling them, and only boil them for the correct length of time. Always use fresh potatoes, not ones that are raw and green or are sprouting. 

Rice and Grains

Rice and grains are a great choice in starchy food. All of them give you energy, have little fat and provide great value for money spent. There are a number of types to select from:

  • Couscous.
  • Bulgur wheat.
  • All kinds of rice, such as quick-cook, long grain, brown, basmati, short grain, parboiled and wild.

Apart from carbohydrates, rice− as well as grains− contains:

  • Protein, which the body requires to grow while also repairing itself.
  • Fiber, which helps the body discard or excrete waste products.
  • B vitamins, which assist in releasing the energy stored in the food eaten, and aid the body in tuning itself to work properly.
  • Rice and grains, like bulgur wheat as well as couscous can be had both hot and cold and also in salads.
  • There are a few safety measures that you must take if storing or reheating once-cooked rice or grains against food poisoning bugs that are known to survive cooking. Chances of food poisoning are present, even if negligible.
  • If cooked rice or grains are left at room temperature (>20°C) for more than four hours, poisonous spores can form. The bacteria thus generated multiply rapidly and may produce toxins which can cause nausea and diarrhea. Reheating food does not kill off toxins. Always serve rice or grains soon after they’re cooked.
  • Dump rice and grains left unrefrigerated overnight.
  • Put cooked rice and grains in the refrigerator and eat within 48 hours. Reheat rice and grains only once. Discard any remainders.
  • Follow the “use by” date and instructions on the label for storage of any cold rice or grain salads that you buy.

Bread

  • Bread –especially wholemeal, brown, seeded varieties and granary− is a healthy choice to eat as part of a balanced diet.
  • Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown breads give us energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber and a wide range of minerals. White bread also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but it has less fiber than wholegrain, wholemeal or brown breads. Always prefer brown bread to white.
  • Some people avoid bread because they think they’re allergic to wheat, or because they think bread is fattening. If it does cause an allergic reaction, tough luck; leave it out of your diet. Avoiding any type of food in totality might be bad for health, since you could forfeit a full range of nutrients needed to stay healthy.
  • Bread can be stored at room temperature. Follow the “best before” date to make sure you eat it fresh. It can also be stored in the side trays in your fridge.

Pasta

  • Pasta is a great healthy choice as the base of your meal. Its dough is a mix of durum wheat with water, contains vitamin B as well as iron and a minor quantity of sodium. Go for the whole wheat /wholegrain varieties as a preference over ordinary pasta since they hold more fiber. Moreover, wholegrain foods are digest slowly, making us feel a full stomach longer. Moreover, it is easy to cook.
  • Store dried pasta in a cupboard; it has a typically long shelf life; fresh pasta, which has a shorter lifespan, will need refrigerating. As always, check the food packaging for “best before” or “use by” dates and further storage instructions.

Cereal products

  • Cereal products are made from grains. Wholegrain cereals are a good choice as they contribute their mite to our daily needs of iron, protein, vitamins as well as fiber. They are programmed to release energy slowly and gradually, through the entire day.
  • Wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice are commonly available cereals that can be eaten as whole-grains. This means cereal products consisting of oats and oatmeal, like porridge, and whole-wheat products are healthy breakfast options.
  • Barley, corn, quinoa, couscous and tapioca are also healthful cereal products.
  • Many cereal products are refined, with minimal wholegrain content. They may have high quanta of salt/sugar. When buying cereals, always check the stamped food labels and compare their individual nutrition levels. Stay in the medium range.
  • Once again, check the food packaging for “best before” or “use by” dates and for storage instructions.

How Many Grain Foods Are Needed Daily?

Daily Recommendation Daily minimum amount of whole grains
Children 2-3 years old 3 ounce equivalent 1 ½ ounce equivalent
4-8 years old 5 ounce equivalents 2 ½ ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalent 3 ounce equivalent
14-18 years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent
Boys 9-13 years old 6 ounce equivalent 3 ounce equivalent
14-18 years old 8 ounce equivalents 4 ounce equivalent
Women 19-30 years old 6 ounce equivalent 3 ounce equivalent
31-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent
51+ years old 5 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent
Men 19-30 years old 8 ounce equivalent 4 ounce equivalent
31-50 years old 7 ounce equivalents 3 ½ ounce equivalents
51+ years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent

Chart 5

What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent of Grains?

Amount that counts as 1 ounce equivalent of grains Common portions and ounce equivalents
Bagels WG*: whole wheatRG*: plain, egg 1 “mini” bagel 1 large bagel = 4 ounce equivalents
Biscuits (baking powder/ buttermilk—RG*) 1 small (2″ diameter) 1 large (3″ diameter) = 2 ounce equivalents
Breads WG*: 100% Whole wheatRG*: white, wheat, French, sourdough 1 regular slice1 small slice French4 snack-size slices rye bread 2 regular slices = 2 ounce equivalents
Bulgur cracked wheat (WG*) ½ cup cooked
Cornbread (RG*) 1 small piece (2 ½” x 1 ¼” x 1 ¼”) 1 medium piece (2 ½” x 2 ½” x 1 ¼”) = 2 ounce equivalents
Crackers WG*: 100% whole wheat, rye 5 whole wheat crackers2 rye crispbreads
RG*: saltines, snack crackers 7 square or round crackers
English muffins WG*: whole wheatRG*: plain, raisin ½ muffin 1 muffin = 2 ounce equivalents
Muffins WG*: whole wheatRG*: bran, corn, plain 1 small (2 ½” diameter) 1 large (3 ½” diameter) = 3 ounce equivalents
Oatmeal (WG) ½ cup cooked1 packet instant1 ounce (1/3 cup) dry (regular or quick)
Pancakes WG*: Whole wheat, buckwheatRG*: buttermilk, plain 1 pancake (4 ½” diameter)2 small pancakes (3″ diameter) 3 pancakes (4 ½” diameter) = 3 ounce equivalents
Popcorn (WG*) 3 cups, popped 1 mini microwave bag or 100-calorie bag, popped =2 ounce equivalents
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal WG*: toasted oat, whole wheat flakesRG*: corn flakes, puffed rice 1 cup flakes or rounds1 ¼ cup puffed
Rice WG*: brown, wildRG*: enriched, white, polished ½ cup cooked1 ounce dry 1 cup cooked = 2 ounce equivalents
Pasta–spaghetti, macaroni, noodles WG*: whole wheatRG*: enriched, durum ½ cup cooked1 ounce dry 1 cup cooked = 2 ounce equivalents
Tortillas WG*: whole wheat, whole grain cornRG*: Flour, corn 1 small flour tortilla (6″ diameter)1 corn tortilla (6″ diameter) 1 large tortilla (12″ diameter) = 4 ounce equivalents

Chart 6

Vegetables

In culinary terms, a vegetable is an edible plant or its part, intended for cooking or eating raw. The standard definition of vegetables is arbitrary, based both on culinary as well as historical or cultural tradition. There are other types of plant food like fruits, nuts and even grains. Vegetables are by and large eaten as cooked complementary savory or salty meals and quite often as salads. What is considered a meal to be cooked could be the basis of a salad in another part of the globe, which is why the present division is somewhat arbitrary, based perhaps on cultural dogma. Mushrooms are not plants, biologically speaking. But many people think of them as vegetables, while other people put them into a separate food group. Some cultures label potatoes as cereal products and club them with noodles and rice, whereas the western world calls them vegetables.

Many vegetables may be eaten raw, while others, like cassava have to be cooked to remove natural innate toxins and microbes to make them edible. Quite a few items of processed food in the market include vegetable ingredients; they are usually referred to as “vegetable derived” foodstuff, even if they may not provide the nutritional value of the basic vegetable used to make them.

Many items that are usually called “vegetables” — like eggplants and tomatoes — are actually botanical fruits, while certain cereals like buckwheat are both a fruit and a vegetable.

Vegetable Groups

Any vegetable or 100 percent vegetable juice counts as a member of a vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, dried or dehydrated; they may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. Vegetables are categorized into five subgroups, on the basis of their nutrient content, color or properties. The most common subgroups are:

  • Dark green vegetables:
  • Orange vegetables:
  • Dry beans and peas:
  • Starchy vegetables:
  • Other vegetables:

Types of Vegetables

Dark green vegetables Orange vegetables    Dry beans and peas Other Vegetables
broccolicollard greensdark green-leafy lettuce

kale

mustard greens

romaine lettuce

spinach

turnip greens

watercress

mesclun

acorn squashbutternut squashcarrots

hubbard squash

pumpkins

sweet potatoes

Starchy vegetables

corn

green peas

lima beans

potatoes

black beansblack-eyed peaschickpeas

kidney beans

lentils

lima beans (mature)

navy beans

pinto beans

soy beans

split peas

white beans

artichokesasparagusbean sprouts

beets

Brussels sprouts

cauliflower

celery

cucumbers

eggplant

green beans

green peppers

okraonionsparsnips

tomatoes

cabbage

turnips

wax beans

zucchini

mushrooms

iceberg (head) lettuce

red peppers

Chart 7

How Many Vegetables Should be Eaten Daily or Weekly?

Select your vegetable choices from the subgroups of vegetables listed above. You need not eat vegetables listed in each subgroup every day. Balance your intake from all subgroups across a week to reach the quantity recommended as your intake every day as a whole. The amount of vegetables to be eaten is a function of your age, physical activity and gender. Recommended total daily amounts are shown in Chart 6. Recommended weekly amounts from each vegetable subgroup are shown in Chart 7.

DAILY RECOMMENDATION
Children 2-3 years old4-8 years old 1 cup#1.5 cups
Girls 9-13 years old14-18 years old 2 cups2.5 cups
Boys 9-13 years old14-18 years old 2.5 cups3 cups
Women 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 2.5 cups2.5 cups2 cups
Men 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 3 cups3 cups2.5 cups

Chart 8

*  For 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, over and above normal daily activities.

#   The equivalent of one cup.

The Importance of Eating Vegetables

Eating vegetables is important because of the health benefits they provide — Those who eat a larger share of vegetables and fruits in a planned comprehensive healthy diet tend to be less prone to the menace of certain chronic diseases. Eating vegetables supply nutrients essential for good health as well as safeguarding your body.

Dark Green Vegetables Orange Vegetables Dry Beans and Peas Starchy Vegetables Other Vegetables
AMOUNT PER WEEK
Children 2-3 years old4-8 years old 1 cup1.5 cups 0.5 cup1 cup 0.5 cup1 cup 1.5 cups2.5 cups 4 cups4.5 cups
Girls 9-13 years old14-18 years old 2 cups3 cups 1.5 cups2 cups 2.5 cups3 cups 2.5 cups3 cups 5.5 cups6.5 cups
Boys 9-13 years old14-18 years old 3 cups3 cups 2 cups2 cups 3 cups3 cups 3 cups6 cups 6.5 cups7 cups
Women 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 3 cups3 cups2 cups 2 cups2 cups1.5 cups 3 cups3 cups2.5 cups 3 cups3 cups2.5 cups 6.5 cups6.5 cups5.5 cups
Men 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 3 cups3 cups3 cups 2 cups2 cups2 cups 3 cups3 cups3 cups 6 cups6 cups3 cups 7 cups7 cups6.5 cups

Chart 9

 

Health benefits: Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of a diet charted for overall good health may reduce risks for the following:

  • Stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain cancers, like mouth, stomach, rectum and colon.
  • Coronary heart disease.
  • Developing kidney stones while also helping to diminish bone loss.

Eating foods like vegetables that are low in calories per cup may help lowering calorie intake. They help in avoiding heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Vegetable Nutrients

  • Most vegetables are intrinsically low in fat and calories and do not have cholesterol. Sauces or tasteful seasoning may well add fat, some calories, or LDL cholesterol.
  • Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Potassium rich diets help to sustain healthy values of blood pressure. Potassium is found in sweet potatoes, white beans, white potatoes, tomato products like paste, ketchup and juice, soybeans, lima beans, beet greens, split peas, winter squash, lentils, spinach and kidney beans.

In your healthful diet, dietary fiber from vegetables aids in reducing LDL cholesterol levels, thereby lowering the risk of cardiac disease. Fiber is central for healthy bowel function, by reducing constipation as well as diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods like vegetables generate a feeling of a full stomach using far less energy.

Folate (folic acid) aids the body in forming red blood cells. Pregnant women, especially those in the first three months of pregnancy should ensure proper intake of folate, which includes folic acid from supplements and fortified foods. This reduces all types of risks for both the mother-to-be and the fetus.

Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy, while protecting them against infection, while Vitamin E helps to protect vitamin A and necessary fatty acids from oxidation. Vitamin C aids in healing cuts, shallow wounds and keeps your teeth as well as gums healthy and also assists in the complete absorption of iron. Options such as broccoli, tomatoes, garlic and spinach provide additional benefits, adding to their overall potency.

Health Benefits of Garlic

A fairly pungent member from the lily genus, garlic not only flavors your favorite dishes, it also reduces the danger of your falling prey to heart disease. Studies show that garlic:

  • Can reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Consuming about 0.5 to one clove of garlic daily may decrease total cholesterol.
  • Garlic lowers triglycerides, albeit modestly.
  • Garlic might help prevent blood clots forming in your arteries, thereby reducing the hazard of a heart attack.
  • Garlic consumption is also associated with reduced threats of certain types of cancer.

Garlic generates these healthful effects through its phytonutrients, which are plant chemicals containing protective and disease-thwarting compounds. These same compounds are potent antioxidants which scavenge destructive free radicals that infest the body.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are fruits, botanically. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were vegetables in 1893. They are full of lycopene, which is a red color and phytonutrient also found in other red fruits like watermelon, pink guava, papaya and pink grapefruit. Besides making tomatoes red, lycopene protects the tomato plant from disproportionate light damage. Lycopene is also today’s most powerful antioxidant.

High ingestion of lycopene could protect against cancer and heart disease, as it is a strong antioxidant which eliminates destructive free radicals within the body, apart from catalyzing production of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Lycopene helps prevent prostate cancer in males. It also reduces damage due to atherosclerosis and the peril of a heart attack. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that “eating one-half to one cup of tomatoes and/or tomato sauce a week may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.”

Tomato Trivia:

  • Tomatoes can be many other colors besides red, including yellow, orange, green and purple.
  • Although they look quite different from the standard red tomatoes in the supermarket, people often say their taste is far superior.
  • Tomato sauce and ketchup have higher lycopene contents than raw tomatoes.
  • Lycopene must be eaten with 3-5 grams of fat to be absorbed in the GI tract.

Fruits

In botany, a fruit is a part of a flowering plant that derives from specific tissues of the flower, one or more ovaries, and in some cases accessory tissues. This definition includes certain edible structures that are not commonly called “fruits”, such as bean pods, corn kernels, wheat grains, tomatoes, cucurbits (squash, pumpkin, and cucumber), peas, allspice, chilies, eggplant and sweet pepper. In colloquial language, “fruit” normally means the fleshy and seedy structures of a plant that are sweet or sour and edible raw, such as apples, oranges, strawberries, bananas, grapes and lemons.

Fruits are the means by which these flowering plants distribute seeds. Many of them that bear edible fruits in particular, have moved along with the mass migration of humans as well as animals in an intertwined relationship leading to seed scattering and nutrition; today, humans and many animals have become dependent on fruits as a source of food. Fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the plantain, apple and the pomegranate) have cultural, religious and symbolic meanings. In some ways, the British populace, mainly their military and civil forces that looked after their vast empire are credited with the migration of fruits. The Mayflower carried many types of seeds across the Atlantic and hybrids soon appeared on what was then Native American soil.

The best reasons for eating fruit are:

  • Fruit is an ‘Upper’; as a rejuvenator, it tends to improve your mood, making you feel better.
  • Fruit is an absolutely natural food and the mainstay of the non-carnivorous animal kingdom as well as that of most birds.
  • Most fruits consist mainly of water, which is why it is most suited to humans, whose bodies are almost 70 percent water.
  • Fruit is a brain fuel and revitalizes memories.
  • Fruit has healing effects that are close to magical.
  • Fruits have plenty of fibers, which are excellent for digestion and fecal excretion.
  • Fruit doesn’t have to be slaughtered prior to cooking and eating; it is an ethical food.
  • Fruit is 100 percent LDL Cholesterol free.
  • The human diet can consist of a lot of fruit as a major constituent of every meal, apart from eating it by itself any time of the day. Try and have five pieces of fruit a day.

The Importance of Eating Fruit

Eating fruit gives you many health benefits and provides key nutrients. Fruits are vital for reasons of health as well as corporeal maintenance of your body.

Health Benefits of Fruits

  • Reduce the hazard of cardiac disease, including a heart attack as well as a stroke.
  • Provide protection against some categories of cancer.
  • Provide generous amounts of fiber, diminishing the menace of corpulence, apart from Type II diabetes.
  • Eating a fruit- rich diet provides potassium, which may reduce blood pressure, the menace of developing stones in your kidney, while helping to reduce bone loss.
  • Eating fruits that have negligible calories per gm than most other foods will help in cutting down calorie intake.

Fruits Nutrients

  • Fruits are by nature, low in fat, salt, sodium as well as calories, while none of them have cholesterol.
  • Fruits are a reservoir of very many indispensable nutrients that are usually under-eaten, including potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber, besides folate (folic acid).
  • Potassium-rich diets help maintain a sound blood pressure. Fruits that contain potassium include bananas, dried peaches prunes or prune juice, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apricots and oranges (orange juice).

Fruits provide dietary fiber which helps lower LDL cholesterol levels thus lowering the hazard of cardiac disease. Fiber helps proper bowel movement, reducing constipation as well as diverticulosis. The fiber in fruits aid in providing the feeling of a full stomach, with less calories ingested. Remember that it is the whole or sliced fruits that provide dietary fiber; there is little or no fiber in fruit juices.

Fruit Trivia

A strawberry is not an actual berry, but a banana is. In fact, the banana is a herb.

Apples float in water because they are 25% air.

Dark green vegetables include more vitamin C than light green color vegetables.

Bilberries are chock full of Vitamin A and are eaten to help improve night vision.

Mangoes are the no 1 fruit in the world.

Kiwis contains twice as much Vitamin C as oranges.

Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk miscarriage by almost half.

Watermelon contains 92 percent water, cabbage 90 and carrots 87 percent.

Jackfruit is the world’s largest fruit followed by the Coco de Mer palm fruit

Jackfruit is rich in potassium, calcium, and iron, and more nutritious than current starchy staples.

Avocados are the world’s most nutritious fruit.

Babaco, a torpedo shaped fruit, is also named as champagne fruit since it has fizzy flesh.

Eating an apple is a more reliable method of staying awake than consuming a cup of coffee.

Currant juice can be used to soothe sore throats and colds.

The jambul fruit leaves and bark are used for controlling blood pressure and gingivitis.

Lychees are delicious fleshy fruits but its seeds are poisonous and should not be eaten.

A cucumber is a fruit not a vegetable.

Strawberries and cashews are the only fruits that have their seeds on the outside.

Dry fruits contain more calories than fresh fruits per gram, as the drying process shrinks it.

In the U.S., the apples sold at stores can be up to a year old.

Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave.

Apples, peaches and raspberries are all members of the rose family.

Coffee beans aren’t beans. They are fruit pits.

Drinking grapefruit while taking medication can cause instant overdose and death.

Square Watermelons are grown by Japanese farmers for easier stacking and storage.

The Fruit Salad Tree sprouts 3 to 7 different fruits on the same tree.

The Concord grape is red in color.

Apricots are native to China.

The apple came from Afghanistan.

  • Folate aids the body in forming red blood corpuscles. Pregnant women should eat foods that provide adequate folate to supplement prescribed folic acid. This decreases the grave risk of fetal damage.
  • Vitamin C, found in all fruits, helps grow and restore body tissues, besides helping cuts and superficial wounds to heal while keeping your teeth and gums sound and healthy.

Fruits in Your Diet

Partaking of fruit is, without doubt key to our general health and soundness. Fruit is a healthy food, as we know, but eating fruit should general follow some guidelines for optimum benefit for our health. While you may put it into your mouth whenever you feel like, try and learn the best way of eating it and your body will reward you with minimum digestive problems apart from heaps of energy.

Integrating fruit into your diet in the best manner gives your digestive system far more potent benefits via vitamin intake as well as enhanced digestion. We’ve seen that most fruits can be considered as a great font of fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, etc. Their nutrients aid in preventing disease, reducing rates of cardiac problems, hypertension and strokes. Eating fruit aimlessly with zero nutritional information could well be wasteful.

The primary rule regarding eating fruit is: “Fruit should be eaten alone or with other fruit on an empty stomach.”

There is a reason to this rule. As and when you consume fruit, the digestive system works swiftly and your body uses various enzymes to help digest it. The sugars in the fruit have to be absorbed by the body and this needs time. When only fruits are consumed, your GI tract processes all nutrients, fibers and sugars in that fruit. This method gives you the best output from the fruit consumed. If you have a fruit just before a meal, you will not do justice to that meal. If eaten after dessert, particularly after a heavy meal, it’s held up in the belly for too long, alongside other foods; it will then decay and agitate in the stomach. This contributes to indigestion and heartburn, two types of digestive discomfort. You are creating health problems for yourself, stemming from the GI tract.

Application of this one rule is easy. We usually eat three large meals per day; space out these fruit intakes in between. Glance at your clock if you have to. Try to eat it an hour in advance of a meal when possible, or two hours post your meal. If your meal is heavy, like burgers or fried chicken with chips, let that meal digest for three-four hours and then add the fruit to what’s in your stomach. After a light salad as your lunch, wait for an hour and a half.

The ideal time for a bunch of fruit is either the first thing early morning when the stomach is empty, or mid-morning as a snack. Try and eat more fruit at any one time, a fruit salad, smoothie or an apple. Three-four such servings are a daily requirement (2 – 2.5 cups). If you still feel hungry after this fruit serving, check out your breakfast and adjust your meal plans. You should usually manage one-two hours with ease. If not, get yourself checked for worms!

Do not eat fruit around bed time as the sugar in the fruit will likely keep you awake when you want to sleep. The same advice holds good for dried fruit. Its fine to drink coconut milk along with a fruit in small measures only, and that too, sporadically.

If you eat your fruit as advised, you will maximize the nutrients that particular fruit – Mother Nature’s gift – offers your wellbeing and fitness. You will not suffer digestive problems, but feel strong and energetic, foster shedding weight, look great and feel great because you are treating your body right, absorbing all of the good things needed to display good health and your body is responding as it should.

Using the definition of fruit as “Any sweet, edible part of a plant that resembles fruit, even if it does not develop from a floral ovary; also used in a technically imprecise sense for some sweet or sweetish vegetables, some of which may resemble a true fruit or are used in cookery as if they were a fruit, for example rhubarb,” the number of fruits run into the thousands, some of which most of us would never have heard of, leave alone seen or eaten.

Categories of Some Popular Fruits

Acidic Fruit
Oranges – Pineapples – Sour Apples – Sour Plums – Lemons – Grapefruits – Sour Peaches – Limes – Tangerines – Sour Grapes – Tomatoes
Low-acid Fruit
Apricots – Blueberries – Huckleberries – Strawberries – Nectarines – Raspberries –  Blackberries – Gooseberries -Mangos – Elderberries – Olives – Fresh Figs – Sweet Apples – Cherries- Sweet Peaches – Sweet Plums – Persimmons
Sweet Fruit
Dates – Sweet Grapes – Pears – Prunes – Raisins – Dried Figs-Mangos-Bananas-Peaches-Plums-Sapodilla
Melons
Watermelons – Cantaloupes – Honey Dew – Galia
Starchy Fruit
Bananas – Peanuts – Pumpkins – Winter Squashes
Non-starchy Fruit
Cucumber – Sweet Pepper – Zucchini – Egg Plant – Yellow Squash
Protein containing Fruit
Olives – Avocados
Berries
Blackcurrant, Redcurrant, Gooseberry, Tomato, Eggplant, Guava, Pomegranate, Kiwifruit, Cranberry, Blueberry, Strawberry

Chart 10

How Much Fruit to Eat Per Day? And Which Type?

Fruits have indispensable fiber, vitamins, starch and minerals working overtime to safeguard you from a clutch of chronic diseases while maintaining your digestive strength. So how many fruits do you need each day for best health? The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now offer guidelines in cups as measures. In general, one cup of fruit or 100 percent fruit juice, or half a cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group. Specific amounts equivalent to one cup of fruit (in some cases half a cup) towards your daily recommended intake are listed by CDC.

Girls and Women
9 to 18 1.5 cups
19 through 30 2 cups
30 and over 1.5 cups
Boys and Men
9 to 13 1.5 cups
18 and over 2 cups

Chart 11

If you’re active for more than 30 minutes each day, you may need to eat more fruits and vegetables than indicated here and in charts 6 & 7, since you’ll be using up more energy. CDC has a fruits and vegetables calculator providing suitable recommendations based on your needs in respect of physical activity.

As stated earlier, when buying fruits and vegetables, pick yourself a rainbow. “Choosing a rainbow of colors helps to guarantee that you get various types of nutrients, since the various nutrients are what impart color to the fruits and veggies,” explains Susan Kraus, MS, RD, a registered dietitian. She provides a colorful example: “Eating green broccoli and grapes, yellow squash and pineapple, orange carrots and cantaloupe, red apples and strawberries, purple plums and eggplant, black or dark blue grapes and blueberries will get you the widest range of nutrients plus both soluble and insoluble fiber for better digestive health.”

She also offers some interesting tips:

  • Eat fiber-filled fruit with breakfast.
  • Make your own yoghurt toppers. Top low-fat or fat-free yoghurt with fresh berries and low-fat or fat-free granola for breakfast.
  • Dish up the dried fruit. Pack some dried fruit to eat on the run, perhaps mixed with a handful of seeds or nuts. Remember that 1/4 cup of dried fruit equals 1/2 cup of fresh fruit.
  • In a pinch, frozen is fine.

Proteins: Meat

Proteins are made up of large biological molecules (macromolecules) which are vital nourishing elements for the human body. They form a major building block of body tissue, and can also serve as a source of fuel. As fuel, proteins, like carbohydrates, contain 4 cal per gram, unlike lipids, which contain 9 cal per gram. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within the human body, like catalyzing metabolic reactions, responding to various stimuli, replicating DNA and carrying molecules from any location to a different site. 

From a nutritional perspective, the principal aspect and salient characteristic of protein is how its amino acid is composed. Proteins comprise a single or multiple lengthy chains of amino acid residues. They differ from each other mainly in their string of amino acids, a genetically dictated characteristic usually resulting in the molding of the protein into an explicit 3-D structure that decides its activity. Proteins are thus polymer chains of amino acids bonded by peptides. During digestion, these proteins are fractured in the gut to small polypeptide chains by stomach acids.

Amino acids help to sustain cell growth as well as restoration. They take more time to digest vis-a-vis carbohydrates, helping your stomach to feel fuller for a longer period and on less calories—this is a plus point for those trying to shed weight. Some sources of protein contain amino acids that are more or less structurally complete, requiring no further synthesis.

There are a total of nine indispensable amino acids that humans must extract from their food to preclude malnutrition caused by protein-energy deficiency; likewise, there are over a dozen amino acids required by the human body to prevent catabolic distress. The vital amino acids are required in defined ratios. Animal sources of protein include dairy products, meats, fish and eggs. Unfortunately, these sources have high saturated fat and LDL cholesterol content. Vegetarian sources include pulses, legumes, whole grains, soy, nuts, beans and quinoa. Vegetarians and vegans get enough essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins. Highly physically active people like athletes need a much higher level of protein to sustain optimum physical performance.

Non-vegetarian protein intake: Protein intake from the animal world should be from lean options. As the rule goes, with protein, go lean.

  • Lean Beef: Lean meats are meats containing less than three gm of fat per oz.
  • The leanest in beef cuts are round steaks/roasts (top round, round tip, bottom round, round eye), top sirloin, chuck shoulder, top loin as well as arm roasts.
  • Look for beef with USDA “Select” or “Choice” grading rather than “Prime,” which usually has more fat.
  • Lean Pork: The leanest in pork choices are ham, tenderloin, center loin and pork loin.
  • Ground Beef: Go for extra lean ground beef. Read the label on the can; it should specify 90 percent lean at the very least. You might locate 93 or 95 percent lean ground beef.
  • Look for poultry with USDA Select grading of A and B.
  • While many grocery stores carry both ground chicken and ground turkey, they may contain as much fat as ground beef because they often include dark meat and skin. For lower fat, choose ground breast meat or look for low-fat ground chicken or turkey.
  • When ordering lean meat in restaurants make sure that it has been prepared with either dry or moist heat methods; poached, steamed, grilled, baked or broiled are preferred.
  • Chicken: Buy skinless portions of chicken, or skin them prior to cooking.
  • Choose lean meat up to 3 times per week rather than daily.
  • To reduce saturated fat and calorie intake, avoid meat that has been battered and fried, slathered in butter, or blanketed in creamy sauces.
  • Experiment with leaner cuts of meat in your favorite recipes to replace higher fat choices
  • Use lean meat to flavor meals rather than as the main focus.
  • Be mindful of portion size for all meats – a 2-3 oz serving of lean meat is approximately the size of a deck of cards.
  • To reduce the amount of meat in a recipe, replace half with beans, mushrooms, vegetables, or whole soy products.
  • Choose animal products that are labeled “organic,” “hormone-free,” “antibiotic-free,” “free-range,” “grass-fed,” and / or “wild” whenever possible.
  • Buy local – local meat is often available at farmer’s markets and family-owned grocery stores where you can ask questions and find out how the animals were raised.
  • Consider organic, free-range, and grass-fed lean meat products because the animals are raised in more natural conditions and may be more nutritious than meat from conventionally raised animals.
  • Boneless Poultry: Skinned chicken breasts along with cutlets of turkey give you the leanest in poultry.
  • Lean Lamb: The leanest lamb choices are chops, leg roast and tenderloin shank.
  • Sandwiches: Use lean turkey, ham, low-fat luncheon meats or roast beef, for sandwiches in place of fatty luncheon meats like bologna and salami.

How to Keep Your Meats Lean

  • Snip off all fat that is visible from non-vegetarian stuff prior to cooking.
  • Broil, roast, poach, grill or go for boiling meat, fish or poultry, rather than frying.
  • Drain away fat that oozes out during cooking.
  • Limit your breading on non-vegetarian stuff, since breading will add fat & calories.
  • Breading also makes the food absorb more than normal fat while frying.
  • Cook foods sans high fat gravies and sauces.

Vary Protein Options

  • Eat more fish as main meals, i.e., lunch and dinner. Go for omega-3 rich fish like salmon, herring and trout.
  • Fillet of Salmon, Salmon steak, Salmon loaf.
  • Baked or grilled trout.

Proteins: Vegetarian (Vegan Safe)

Opt for either peas or dry beans as the main dish of your meal more often. Some alternatives are:

  • Split pea, minestrone, white bean soups or lentils.
  • Chili with kidney or pinto beans.
  • Stir- fried tofu.
  • Baked beans.
  • Kidney beans or Garbanzo on a salad.
  • Vegetarian or garden burgers.
  • Black bean enchiladas.
  • Rice and beans.
  • Hummus layered on soft pita bread.

Use nuts as snacks, in main dishes or on salads. The nuts should replace non-vegetarian food, not supplement them. Try the following ideas:

  • Use pine nuts in your pesto sauce to replace pasta.
  • Add slivered (finely sliced along the grain) almonds to steamed vegetables.
  • Add toasted peanuts or cashew nuts to a vegetable stir fry instead of meat.
  • Use walnuts or pecans on a green salad in place of cheese or meat.

Green Peas

Legumes like peas provide a lot of vegan protein. One cup holds 7.9 grams—equivalent to a cup of milk. Women need around 46 grams of protein a day; men require about 56.  If you dislike green peas on the side, blend them into a pesto for pasta.

Quinoa

As seen, most grains do contain small amounts of protein, but quinoa—actually a seed—has more than 8 gm per cup, while including all the nine vital amino acids the body requires for growth as well as restoration. It’s versatility is amazing: it may be added to a soup or a vegetarian chili in winter, served with jaggery along with fruit as a nice and hot cereal for breakfast, or tossed with a vinaigrette and vegetables to create an invigorating summer salad.

Nuts

Nuts are high in polyphenol antioxidants which by binding to lipoproteins would inhibit oxidative processes that lead to atherosclerosis in vivo. In human supplementation studies nuts have been shown to improve the lipid profile, increase endothelial function and reduce inflammation, all without causing weight gain.” Joe A. Vinson and Yuxing Cai, Nutrition Experts

All nuts provide healthy fats as well as protein, and, prima facie, are an excellent plant-based supplement. But they are very high in calories. For example cashews, pistachios and almonds have 160 calories and 5 or 6 gm of protein per ounce. Eat them raw or dry roasted. Among dry fruits, walnuts are reputedly the best, as research shows they may boost your health in a number of ways at very easy-to-achieve doses. They are a nearly perfect package of protein, healthy fats, fiber, plant sterols, antioxidants, and many vitamins and minerals.

Further, one-quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of plant-based omega-3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, biotin and molybdenum. Some exciting research about walnuts includes:

  • Cancer-Fighting Properties: Walnuts help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well.
  • Cardiac Health: Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors.
  • Walnuts also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat ALA (Refer Benefits of Flaxseeds).
  • Rare and Powerful Antioxidants-Walnut polyphenols had the best efficacy among the nuts tested & also the highest lipoprotein-bound antioxidant activity (Refer Para 1 Nuts).
  • Weight Control. Eating walnuts is associated with increased satiety after just three days.
  • Improved Reproductive Health in Men.
  • Check on Diabetes.

If three nuts were to be chosen for a diet, they would be raw macadamia, pecans and walnuts, as they provide the highest amount of healthy fat and other benefits, while being on the lower end of the scale in terms of carbohydrates and protein.

Comparison of Tree Nuts
Tree Nut Fat (gm per oz) Protein (gm per oz) Carbohydrates (gm per oz)
Macadamias 22 2 4
Pecans 20 3 4
Pine nuts 20 4 4
Brazil nuts 19 4 3
Walnuts 18 4 4
Hazelnuts 17 3 5
Cashews 13 4 9
Almonds 14 6 6
Pistachios 13 6 8

Chart 12

Beans

Bean is a common name for large plant seeds used for human food of the family Leguminosae. Currently, there are about 40,000 bean varieties, although only a fraction are mass-produced for regular consumption. Beans are a summer crop, maturing in 55–60 days from planting. As the bean pods mature, they turn yellow and dry up, and the beans inside change from green to their mature color.

Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot). Beans have something else that meat lacks, phytochemicals, compounds found only in plants. Beans are high in antioxidants, which is good for the human system.

Some kinds of raw beans, especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin that must be removed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.

More than just a meat substitute, beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week. Many people consider beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However, they are considered part of the Vegetable Group because they are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium.

Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to calories, but they really shine in terms of fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller, faster. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without feeling deprived. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc, similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients.

Two cups of kidney beans, for example, contain about 26 grams. Therefore, they are also considered part of the Protein Foods Group.

Our diets tend to be seriously skimpy when it comes to fiber (the average American consumes just 15 grams daily), to the detriment of both our hearts and our waistlines. One cup of cooked beans (or two-thirds of a can) provides about 12 grams of fiber − nearly half the recommended daily dose of 21 to 25 grams per day for adult women (30 to 38 grams for adult men). Meat, on the other hand, contains no fiber at all.

This difference in fiber content means that meat is digested fairly quickly, whereas beans are digested slowly, keeping you satisfied longer. Plus, beans are low in sugar, which prevents insulin in the bloodstream from spiking and causing hunger. When you substitute beans for meat in your diet, you get the added bonus of a decrease in saturated fat.

In a recent study, bean eaters weighed, on average, 7 pounds less and had slimmer waists than their bean-avoiding counterparts — yet they consumed 200 calories more per day if they were adults and an incredible 335 calories more if they were teenagers.

Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans, in a sauce. In Ireland and the UK, a tomato and sugar sauce is most commonly used, and they are commonly eaten on toast or as part of a full English breakfast.

American Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city being nicknamed “Beantown”. Beans in a tomato and brown sugar, sugar or corn syrup sauce are a widely available type throughout the U.S. Canada’s Quebec-style beans often use maple syrup. This style is also popular in states adjacent to Canada’s Eastern provinces.

Canned baked beans are used as a convenience food. They may be eaten hot or cold straight from the can as they are fully cooked. Baked beans are also sometimes served with chips, waffles, or the like. The dish of baked beans is commonly described as having a savory-sweet flavor and a brownish or reddish tinted white bean once baked, stewed, canned or otherwise cooked.

In the UK, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore the term baked beans usually refers to tinned beans in a tomato sauce. Today, baked beans are a staple convenience food in the UK, often eaten as part of the modern full English breakfast and particularly on toast (called simply ‘beans on toast’).

Baked beans are a staple side dish for various types of barbecue. They are easily handled, and can be served hot or cold, directly from the can, making them handy for outdoor eating. The tomato based, sweet sauce also complements many types of barbecue. The already done beans may also be baked in a casserole dish topped with slices of raw bacon, which is baked until the bacon is done. Spicy seasonings are often used to make the sauce more tangy.

Green beans are often called string beans because years ago a fibrous string ran along the seam of the bean. The string was noticeable when you snapped off the ends. The snapping noise is the reason for its other nickname.

1. Chickpeas

Also called garbanzo beans, these legumes can be tossed into salads, fried and salted as a crispy snack, or pureed into a hummus. They contain 7.3 gm of protein in just half a cup, and are also high in fiber and low in calories.

2. Tempeh and tofu

Foods made from soybeans are some of the highest vegetarian sources of protein: tofu and Tempeh, for example, contain about 15 and 20 gm per half cup, respectively.

3. Edamame

Get your servings of soy straight from the soybean, still in the pod. Boiled edamame, which contains 8.4 grams of protein per half cup, can be served hot or cold and sprinkled with salt. Try it as a snack, an appetizer before dinner, or added to salads or pastas (minus the shell).

4. Hemp

You can find hemp in some cereals and trail mixes, or you can buy hemp seeds (10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons) and add them to smoothies, pestos, or baked goods. Hemp milk is a dairy-free way to add protein to your diet, and it’s lower in calories than skimmed milk.

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an easy way to add protein (4.7 gm per oz) and fiber to almost any recipe: Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, stirred into yoghurt or oatmeal, blended into smoothies, or whipped into a gelatinous texture when soaked in a liquid, forming a rich and creamy pudding-like treat.

6. Seitan

A meat substitute popular with vegetarians, seitan is made from wheat gluten, seasoned with salt and savory flavors and loaded with protein—36 gm per half cup, more than either tofu or tempeh. It looks like duck meat, tastes like chicken, and can be used in any poultry recipe.

How Much Proteins to Eat Per Day?

Daily recommendation
Children 2-3 years old 3 – 4 ounce equivalents
4-8 years old 3 – 4 ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalents
14-18 years old 5 ounce equivalents
Boys 9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalents
14-18 years old 6 ounce equivalents
Women 19-30 years old 5 ½ ounce equivalents
31-50 years old 5 ounce equivalents
51+ years old 6 ½ ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old 6 ½ ounce equivalents
31-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents
51+ years old 5 ½ ounce equivalents

Chart 13

Milk And Other Dairy Products

All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. The governing factor is the presence of calcium. Foods constituted of milk that retains its calcium content thus form part of the group. So does Calcium-laced soymilk. Foods constituted of milk that does not have calcium, like cream, cheese and butter are excluded.

Natural milk is a fluid extracted mainly from the bovine family. Milk, whether buffalo, cow, goat or camel, is a popular fluidic drink in itself, the variety being geography-dependent. It forms an important part of tea and coffee, though there are plenty of people who like their tea green or with a slice of lemon and their coffee black. There are many subgroups in milk, like fat-free (skim), low fat (1%), reduced fat (2%) and whole milk. Other varieties of milk most commonly found include flavored milks like chocolate and strawberry, apart from milk-shakes like mango, sapodilla, nutty, etc. Yoghurt is also part of this group.

The USDA has many tips to offer on milk consumption, like:

  • Include milk or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) as a beverage at meals. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • If you usually drink whole milk, switch gradually to fat-free milk, to lower saturated fat and calories. Try reduced fat (2%), then low-fat (1%), and finally fat-free (skim).
  • If you drink cappuccinos or lattes — ask for them with fat-free (skim) milk.
  • Add fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water to oatmeal and hot cereals.
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk when making condensed cream soups (such as cream of tomato).
  • Have fat-free or low-fat yoghurt as a snack.
  • Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from yoghurt.
  • Make fruit-yoghurt smoothies in the blender.
  • For dessert, make chocolate or butterscotch pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Top cut-up fruit with flavored yoghurt for a quick dessert.
  • Top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables with shredded reduced-fat or low-fat cheese.
  • Top a baked potato with fat-free or low-fat yoghurt.

Milk tends to go sour very quickly, particularly in hot weather. It should always be pasteurized, which may not always be possible in the rural hinterlands of less developed countries. From your side, take all suggested precautions:

  • Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk.

Some people choose not to consume milk products for a variety of reasons:

  • If you avoid milk because of lactose intolerance, the most reliable way to get the health benefits of dairy products is to choose lactose-free alternatives within the Dairy Group, such as cheese, yoghurt, lactose-free milk, or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) or to consume the enzyme lactase before consuming milk.
  • Calcium choices for those who do not consume dairy products include: Calcium fortified juices, cereals, breads, rice milk, or almond milk.
  • Canned fish (sardines, salmon with bones) soybeans and other soy products (tofu made with calcium sulfate, soy yoghurt, tempeh), some other beans, and some leafy greens (collard and turnip greens, kale, etc.). The amount of calcium that can be absorbed from these foods varies.

 

Daily recommendation
Children 2-3 years old 2 cups Women 19-30 years old 3 cups
4-8 years old 2 ½ cups 31-50 years old 3 cups
Girls 9-13 years old 3 cups 51+ years old 3 cups
14-18 years old 3 cups Men 19-30 years old 3 cups
Boys 9-13 years old 3 cups 31-50 years old 3 cups
14-18 years old 3 cups 51+ years old 3 cups

Chart 14

Oils

Scientific definition of oil: An oil is any neutral, nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic (immiscible with water) and

lipophilic (miscible with other oils).

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from many different plants and from fish. Although oils are not a food group, they provide essential nutrients, which is why they are included in USDA food patterns. Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are usually flammable and slippery.

Fat is not something to avoid. It’s vital for normal growth and development. Dietary fat provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients and helps burn body fat. The catch: Most of the fat that you eat should come from unsaturated sources, monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA).

All fats and oils are a mixture of saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Fats that are solid at room temperature (e.g., butter) contain more saturated fats and/or trans fats than oils. Oils contain more MUFA and PUFA fats. Saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol tend to raise ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease. In some high-solid-fat foods such as cheese and whole milk, the fat remains invisible. To help lower risk of heart disease, you must cut back on oils containing saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

Several edible vegetable and animal oils, and also fats, are used for various purposes in cooking and food preparation. In particular, many foods are fried in oil much hotter than boiling water. Oils are also used for flavoring and for modifying the texture of foods. Cooking oils are derived either from animal fat, as butter, lard and other types, or plant oils from the olive, maize, sunflower, peanut and many other species.

The Importance of Oils in a Healthy Diet

In the USDA Guidance System, three to five daily servings of oils are illustrated as part of a healthy diet. The case is the same with many institutions, like Mayo Clinic. “Although oils make up a small segment of the pyramid, they play a key role,” says Katherine Gartner from the clinic. “Oils provide basic nutrients to help maintain body functions. Which oils you choose for your diet can make a big difference to your health,” she adds.

At 9 gm per calorie, oils are the most efficient energy nutrient you can consume. Oils help:

  • Store and provide energy, while building healthy cell membranes.
  • The nervous system in sending messages to the brain, which itself is 60 percent fat.
  • Your intestines absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, and store them in your body fat.
  • In regulating hormones, lubricating skin and cushioning organs.
  • Add taste and texture to the food you consume.
  • Maintain healthy skin and other tissues.
  • Creating essential fatty acids – Dietary fats that are essential for growth development and cell functions, but cannot be made by our body’s processes.
  • Forming steroid hormones needed to regulate many bodily processes.

Your body already has all the saturated oils and trans fat oils it needs. It needs only unsaturated oils like vegetable, olive, peanut, canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn and fish oils. Saturated oils, which are unhealthy, include shortening, margarine, coconut oil, palm oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, animal fats, and as just stated, butter.

Some oils are used mainly as flavorings, such as walnut oil and sesame oil. A number of foods are naturally high in oils, like nuts, olives, some fish and avocados. Foods that are mainly oil include mayonnaise, certain salad dressings, and soft margarine with no trans fats. Check the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find margarines with Zero grams (0 gm) of trans fat.

Most oils are high in MUFA or PUFA fats, and low in saturated fats. Oils from plant sources (vegetable and nut oils) do not contain any cholesterol. In fact, no plant foods contain cholesterol. That said, a few plant oils, however, including coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, are high in saturated fats and for nutritional purposes should be considered to be solid fats. A noteworthy aspect is that the latter do not produce oil from fruits till they become trees.

The standard American diet reportedly contains too much saturated oil and not enough unsaturated oil. Plants and fish oils, which contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are the unsaturated oils missing from many American diets. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the only two out of 20 fatty acids your body can’t produce by itself. Of these two essential fatty acids, omega-3 has been successful in treating several health conditions.

Dr. Edward L. Schneider, Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC writes that omega-3 in the form of fish oil helps treat depression, prevents heart disease or stroke, retards memory loss or Alzheimer’s and increases longevity.

Foods containing omega-3 include flaxseed, walnuts, salmon, sardines, soybeans, halibut, shrimp, tofu and scallops. Eat one to two servings of fatty fish a week, or take 1 gram daily of fish oil supplement. The fish oil will keep the heart and brain healthy and happy. If you are counting calories, stick to three servings of oils a day to stay within your limit. As always, get your doctor’s approval before using omega-3 fatty acids as alternative treatment .

Some oils are used mainly as flavorings, such as walnut oil and sesame oil.

Most oils are high in MUFA or PUFA fats, and low in saturated fats. Oils from plant sources (vegetable and nut oils) do not contain any cholesterol. In fact, no plant foods contain cholesterol. That said, a few plant oils, however, including coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, are high in saturated fats and for nutritional purposes should be considered to be solid fats. A noteworthy aspect is that the latter do not produce oil from fruits till they become trees.

Chart 15

Physical Activity

Our ancestors depended on their legs to walk to wherever they wanted to go, use their arms and hands to break and cut pieces of wood and light a fire and so on. They may not have realized it, but they were carrying out physical activity. Their physical activity through the day would tire them and they would need food to sustain themselves. This was a ceaseless cycle and as they kept growing, greater physical activity demanded increased needs for sustenance. After a certain age, physical activity would reduce and so would needs. The benefits of physical activity were a healthy life, good bowel movement and sound sleep.

Circumstances have changed over millennia; the types of physical activity have changed but the balancing of personal physical activity vis-à-vis has the same fulcrum and the same two arms, those of demand and those of necessity. A human being, right from childhood, has to be active, for the same reasons and more. The notion of physical activity remains unchanged; any movement of his muscles was some kind of activity.

Physical Activity for Children

Physical activity in infants and young children is, of course, necessary for healthy growth and development. Children younger than six should be physically active in ways appropriate for their age and stage of development.  Physical activity guidelines for children younger than 6 that are specific to the early care and education setting are slightly different.

Children below six start exercising from their moment of birth, first by screaming or wailing. Before you know it, they have started to crawl and then, one fine day, walk. For their age, they are doing enough physical activity. By the time they reach three, they walk, run, crawl, play, jump around for perhaps one minute at a time, but then they are doing it over 10-14 hours, reaching between 40-60 minutes a day.

Between the ages of three and six, they should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day, a task easily exceeded.

This may sound like a lot, but is not a cause for alarm! Your child may already be meeting, if not overshooting the activity norms for Americans. And, you’ll quickly find the easy and fun ways that your child enjoys and which meet recommendations. Encourage your kid to take part in age-related physical activity that is good fun and has options that aren’t boring.

Some physical activity is better-suited for children and some for older children crossing, say, twelve years of age. For example, children don’t usually need formal muscle-strengthening programs, such as lifting weights. Younger children usually strengthen their muscles when they do gymnastics, play on a jungle gym or climb trees. As children grow older and become adolescents, they may start structured weight programs. They may already be doing these types of programs, on a limited scale, along with their football or basketball team practice.

On your part, just ensure your child is doing three types of physical activity:

1. Aerobic Activity

What is aerobic activity? Aerobic activity or “cardio” is defined as any physical activity that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster; in effect, exercise that requires increased pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles. It stimulates the heart and respiration rate to increase in a manner sustainable for the active exercise session. General examples are pushing a lawn mower, dancing and cycling to the store – all such types of activity count, as long as you do them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a stretch. Intensity is a measure of how hard your body is working during aerobic activity. Moderate levels for a 45-year old male show heart rates of 110-130, whereas intense levels show heart rates of 140-160.

Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. This can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running. Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least 3 days per week. Cycling on a baby’s tricycle is a good starting point, moving to a push-scooter with handles as the pace picks up. Moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercises for children may be explained as follows:

  • On a 0 to 10 scale, where idling is a 0 and peak level of activity is a 10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6. At that age, his/her heart normally beats at close to 80-85 per minute. When your kid does moderate-intensity activity, his/her heart will beat faster than normal and he/she will breathe harder than normal, up to 120 beats per minute. Vigorous-intensity activity is a level 7 or 8. When your kid does vigorous-intensity activity, he/she will breathe much harder than normal and his/her heart will beat much faster than normal, touching 140 beats per minute.
  • Think about the activity your child is doing and compare it to the average child sitting in class. What amount of intensity would the average child use? Nil! So, when your kid walks to school with friends each morning, she/he probably doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity. But while she/he is at school, when she/he runs, or chases others playing tag during a recess, she/he is probably doing vigorous-intensity activity.

2. Muscle Strengthening

Include muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes. Limit each session to six minutes, doing three exercises for two minutes each. Do this three times a day on weekends, but not nearing meal times. The exercises are simple; sit-ups, pushups, pull ups, basic calisthenics, etc.

3. Bone Strengthening

Include bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope, playing hopscotch or just hopping around on one leg, running, jumping off three steps, etc., at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.

How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?

For every second that you live, your body expends a certain amount of energy to sustain the activities going on in tour body with and without your knowledge. For instance, to pump blood throughout the body, the heart normally beats at 64-72 times per minute. This rate is more than sufficient, and the heart’s energy requirement can be calculated. But there are numerous other organs also working, like your lungs which take in air, filter it and oxygenate your blood which goes to your brain and all parts of the body. Your liver, lungs, stomach and other organs are also at work. If you stop at the minimum, you are a prime candidate for diseases like cardiac malfunction, various cancers, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, etc.

There are numerous health benefits to be gained by being active, including reducing the risk of the diseases just mentioned. Being active can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Regular activity also makes you feel good and improves your mental health. You too need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

Adults need at least:

  • Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, back, hips, abdomen, chest, arms and shoulders). Alternatively,
  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running/ jogging) every week AND muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups. This video explains all.

Or

  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Or

  • An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

After 18, the level of activity can be stepped up. Between 18-40, adults should increase their activity to:

  • 5 hours (300 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

More time equals more health benefits. If you exceed 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you stand to gain even more health benefits.

Measuring Exercise Intensity

To maximize benefits from exercise, the intensity must normally be at a moderate or vigorous level. For weight loss, you have to move to the more intense levels to burn maximum calories. As always, prudence demands balance. Overdoing exercises increase your chances of strain, injury and burnout. If you’re doing exercise and physical activity ab initio, start light and slowly build up to moderate and then vigorous intensity.

Exercise intensity also is reflected in your breathing and heart rate, whether you’re sweating, and how tired your muscles feel. You can gauge exercise intensity by how you feel.

  • Moderate intensity: Moderate activity seems rather hard. Some clues are:
    • Your breathing quickens, but you’re not out of breath.
    • You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.
    • You can carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing.
  • Vigorous exercise intensity: Vigorous activity seems challenging. Some clues are:
    • Your breathing is deep and rapid.
    • You develop a sweat after a few minutes of activity.
    • You can’t say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

This short and interesting video elaborates aerobic activities and the distinctions.

Gauging intensity using your heart rate:

Subtract own age from 220, e.g., if you’re 45, subtract 45 from 220 to obtain your maximum heart rate, which is 175. This number is the maximum rate your heart should ever beat per minute during exercise. Now, calculate moderate and rigorous exercise intensity.

  • Moderate exercise intensity: 50 to 70 percent of 175 (88-124).
  • Vigorous exercise intensity: 70 to 85 percent of 175 (125-150).
Approximate calories used by a 154 pound man
Moderate physical activities: In 1 hour In 30 minutes
Hiking 370 185
Light gardening/yard work 330 165
Dancing 330 165
Golf (walking and carrying clubs) 330 165
Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour) 290 145
Walking (3 ½ miles per hour) 280 140
Weight training (general light workout) 220 110
Stretching 180 90
Vigorous physical activities: In 1 hour In 30 minutes
Running/jogging (5 miles per hour) 590 295
Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour) 590 295
Swimming (slow freestyle laps) 510 255
Aerobics 480 240
Walking (4 ½ miles per hour) 460 230
Heavy yard work (chopping wood) 440 220
Weight lifting (vigorous effort) 440 220
Basketball (vigorous) 440 220

Chart 16

How Much Food Should You Eat?

We have already defined what a calorie is in terms of energy content and seen how it is used in the matter of food. The number of calories that you should eat per day depends on several factors, like age, size, gender, height, lifestyle, general physical condition, job, leisure time activities, genetics, body size, body composition, what medications you may be on, etc. Serena Williams needs far more calories vis-a-vis a Julia Roberts. ‘How much’ is relative to your daily calorie needs – consume more each day than you burn and you will put on weight; consume less and you will lose weight. The former half of the earlier statement is a given; the latter half is not really another given. It is a very slow to show process, if just left to time and visible results need acceleration via physical exercise.

There are some other factors which may affect the amount you can eat, e.g., if your food has a lot of fiber, you can usually consume more calories than if you tuck away food with very low fiber content. The most recent calorie-related discovery is that the longer you masticate your food, the more the calories your body retains.

Recommended Calorie Intake Per Day

The recommended daily intake of calories varies globally. According to the NHS, “the average male adult needs approximately 2,500 calories per day to keep his weight constant, while the average adult female needs 2,000.” US authorities suggest 2,700 calories per day for men and 2,200 for women across a far greater and varied cross section of females in the country.

The NHS take a practical viewpoint that you cannot carry a calculator and chart with you to count exact numbers of calories. Instead, it advises people, exactly as CDC does, that they should concentrate on:

  • Eating a healthy and well balanced diet.
  • Being physically active.
  • Roughly balancing calories consumed with calories burnt off each day across a week.
  • Eating your five portions of fruit and vegetable per day as detailed in the 5-A-Day Plan. Apparently, this also extends longevity, as reported by Swedish researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2013 edition .

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the average person’s minimum calorie requirement per day globally is approximately 1,800 calories. This figure is not met in sub-Saharan and part of coastal Africa and many other countries.

Over the past two decades, sugar is being added to an increasing number of victuals we consume, which have crept in insidiously and are deleterious to health. Regrettably, food labels in the USA and the EU omit details on how much sugar has been added. It is therefore, not possible for consumers to establish how much sugar has been added to foods & beverages.

How much food you should consume also depends on your aim: to maintain body weight, shed or put on weight, e.g., step up one level in boxing categories or prepare for some upcoming sports event. That said, any focus on the amount of food intake is tightly coupled with calorie intake.

The Importance of Meal Timing

In a research carried out by specialists from Tel Aviv University in 2013, it was found that a large breakfast – one containing approximately 700 calories – helped bring one’s weight down and keep it down, ideal for losing weight and reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. The American Diabetes Association says that if you are not too keen on traditional breakfast, you can switch to soup, a sandwich or even a slice of pizza. It recommends some creative ideas for the most important meal of the day like the Breakfast Shake: 1 cup fat- free milk or plain non fat yoghurt blended with 1/2 cup fruit, 1 tsp. wheat germ; add 1 tsp. nuts or nut butter, ice and whirl. A Case Study on the Israeli experiment follows.

Case Study: A Big Breakfast Is Healthier Than a Big Dinner

Researchers have found that eating a big breakfast of 700 calories promotes weight loss and reduces risks for diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. The recently published study in the health magazine Obesity comes from Tel Aviv University, where Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz and colleagues studied the impact of different caloric intake at varying times of day. What they found is that the time of day we eat has a significant impact on how our bodies process food.

To study how this timing affects our bodies, the team put 93 obese women into two different groups:

  • “Big breakfast group” – consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 at dinner
  • “Big dinner group” – consumed 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 at dinner.

The women’s diets consisted of moderate fats and carbohydrates, totaling 1,400 calories, and they followed the diets for 12 weeks. The 700-calorie meals, whether eaten for breakfast or dinner, contained the exact same foods, and included a dessert item such as a piece of chocolate cake or a cookie.

  • The women in the big breakfast group lost, on average, 17.8 pounds and 3 inches from their waist.
  • The women in the big dinner group, on the other hand, only lost 7.3 pounds and 1.4 inches from their waist.

Additionally, the women from the big breakfast group had larger decreases in insulin, glucose and triglyceride levels than the women from the big dinner group. The researchers note that one of the most important findings is that the women from the big breakfast group did not experience high blood glucose level spikes that normally occur after a meal.

Although the big dinner group was eating a sensible diet and losing weight, the researchers actually found that their triglycerides – a type of fat found in the body – increased, putting them at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Victoria Taylor from the British Heart Foundation notes that the study from the University of Tel Aviv stresses how important the timing of our meals is for our health. Though she does say that this is a small, short-term study and therefore further research is needed to check long-term results and effects for men, she suggests eating in the morning to promote weight loss.

She adds: “Wholegrain toast or breakfast cereals with low-fat milk will make that mid-morning snack less tempting. If you’re going for a cooked breakfast, try poached eggs instead of fried and make sure you grill any bacon or sausages.” A 2012 study shows that eating egg proteins for breakfast may help you feel fuller for longer.

The Daily Requirement of Calories

Daily Calorie Requirement: Male Vs Female
Sedentary Level Low Active Level Active Level AGE Sedentary Level Low Active Level Active Level

1100

1350

1500

2-3 years

1100

1250

1400

1250

1450

1650

4-5 years

1200

1350

1500

1400

1600

1800

6-7 years

1300

1500

1700

1500

1750

2000

8-9 years

1400

1600

1850

1700

2000

2300

10-11 years

1500

1800

2050

1900

2250

2600

12-13 years

1700

2000

2250

2300

2700

3100

14-16 years

1750

2100

2350

2450

2900

3300

17-18 years

1750

2100

2400

2500

2700

3000

19-30 years

1900

2100

2350

2350

2600

2900

31-50 years

1800

2000

2250

2150

2350

2650

51-70 years

1650

1850

2100

2000

2200

2500

>71 years

1550

1750

2000

Chart 17

 

Another method of calculating the number of calories you need is the Harris Benedict Equation. This method estimates what your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and daily requirements are. Your BMR total is multiplied by another number which represents your level of physical activity. The resulting number is your recommended daily calorie intake in order to keep your body weight where it is. There are a number of BMR calculators on the web. Once you find out how many calories are required to retain your weight, the number of calories to be eaten to change your weight is easily calculated.

You can do it yourself if you are so inclined. Do make sure to apply the factor representing your level of physical activity to the first result.

How Much You Should Weigh For Your Age And Height

An exemplar body weight depends on several factors like age, height, gender, muscle-fat ratio, and bone density.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Some experts in health management swear by the Body Mass Index (BMI) method to determine if your weight is ideal. Others argue against using the BMI method, preferring the waist to hip ratio instead. They say that the BMI can be misleading, e.g., a muscleman like Hulk Hogan has a high BMI but almost no fat compared to a ‘Fatso Oliver Hardy’ whose BMI could well be lower. In general, the BMI may be considered a fair indicator for the ‘average human’.

Since there are so many variables in calculating BMI, the levels of being overweight and obese in a country like the USA, are far higher than those in other countries, e.g., France. A French individual will aim for a lesser ideal weight than an American if he just intended to compare himself with others. Again, there is no evidence that overweight person has a higher mortality risk when compared to people with normal weight. A recent study has stated the exact reverse, that overweight people have a lower all-cause mortality risk compared to those of normal weight.

Essentially, your BMI is a ratio of your weight to height. Your BMI in SI units: Your weight (Kg) divided by your height squared (m2).

The BMI Scale: People with a BMI that is:

  • Less than 18.5 are underweight.
  • Between 18.5 and 25 are ideal.
  • Between 25 and 30 are overweight.
  • Over 30 are obese.

Take two cases:

  • SI (Metric) Units: BMI for a 70 Kg man who is 1.7 meters tall. BMI=70/1.72 or 70/2.89 =24.22, ideal.
  • Imperial units: Your weight (pounds) times 703, divided by the square of your height in inches. Take a man weighing 200 pounds, height 6 ft 1 inch (73 inches). 732 = 5329 or 200 x 703 divided by 5329 = BMI 26.38, overweight.

The Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR)

The waist-hip ratio is that of the circumference of your waist to your hips. Measure the circumference of your waist just above the navel, and divide it by the circumference of your hip at its widest part. So, if a woman’s waist is 26 inches and hips 34, her WHR is 26/34 = 0.765. WHR is linked to the hazard of heart problems as follows.

Male WHR

  • Less than 0.9 – low risk of heart problems.
  • 0.9 to 0.99 – moderate risk.
  • 1 or over – high risk.

Female WHR

  • Less than 0.8 – low risk.
  • 0.8 to 0.89 – moderate risk.
  • 0.9 or over – high risk.

Experts argue that WHR is a far better indicator of ideal body weight and the perils of developing serious health conditions vis-a-vis BMI. Many studies have demonstrated that humans with apple-shaped bodies, having larger WHRs actually have higher health hazards compared to people with pear-shaped bodies, who have lower WHRs. The former have more fat on the waist, while the latter have fat around the hips.

Females with a WHR < 0.8 are usually healthier and more fertile than women who have higher WHRs. They are less prone to diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and most cancers. Similarly, men with a WHR < 0.9 are usually healthier and more fertile than men who have higher WHRs, and are less prone to serious health conditions or malaises. If WHR replaced BMI as a predictor of heart attack worldwide, many more people would feature as risks.

Waist-to-Height Ratio

A third scale has been mooted by Dr Margaret Ashwell, ex-science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and her team. They state that waist-to-height ratio is better at predicting future risk of cardiovascular health conditions and diabetes than BMI. She says, “Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height. Doing so can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.” Measure your waist mid-way between the lower rib and the iliac crest (the top of the pelvic bone at the hip).

Calories in Alcohol and Desserts

Alcohol is a major provider of unwanted calories:•    Scotch Whisky (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 78 cal.•    Bacardi and Diet Coke (275ml) = 52 cal.

•    Brandy (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 72 cal.

•    Gin (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 72 cal.

•    Jack Daniels (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 78 cal.

•    Vodka, 40% Volume (35 ml) = 78 cal.

•    Baileys, Irish Cream (35ml) = 115 cal.

•    Beer, Bitter, Canned, 330 ml = 106 cal.

•    Beer, Guinness, Stout, 33 ml = 100 cal.

•    Sherry, Sweet (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 48 cal.

•    Wine, White, Medium (125 ml) = 93 cal.

•    Wine, Red, Medium (125 ml) = 85 cal.

•    Champagne (125 ml) = 91 cal.

•    Port (100 ml) = 158 cal

Desserts provide a huge amount of calories:

  • Ice Cream 1 cup (125 gm)                     267
  • Apple Pie, 1 piece (1/8)                        411
  • Pecan Pie                                               503
  • Lotte Choco Pie                                     440
  • Chocolate Chip Biscuits (100gm)          458
  • Sugar Biscuits (Includes Vanilla)          478
  • Ice Cream Cone (100 gm)                      218
  • Ice Cream Sodas                                    210
  • Chocolate Cake (100 gm)                      358
  • Danish Pastry (100 gm)                         403
  • Plain Pancakes (100 gm)                       227
  • Chocolate Puddings                               157
  • Chocolate Mousse (100 gm)                  209
  • Crepe Suzette (100 gm)                         239

Chart 18

 

There are a number of websites which will give you data on all food items gratis. The food calories list is a table of everyday foods listing their calorie content per average portion. The food calories list also gives the calorie content in 100 grams so it can be compared with any other products not listed here. The table can be useful if you want to exchange a food with similar calorie content when following a weight loss low calorie program.

For the overweight American, an 1,800 calorie diet should be fine, coupled with half an hour of moderate physical exercise per day. A sample would look like:

GRAINS 6 oz VEGETABLES 2.5 Cups FRUITS 1.5 Cups MILK 3 Cups MEAT & BEANS 5 oz
Make half your grains whole Vary your veggies. Focus on fruits Get your calcium-rich foods. Go lean with protein. Aim for these amounts each week: Focus on fruits Get your calcium-rich foods Go lean with protein
Aim for at least 3 ounces of whole grains a day Dark green veggies= 3 cups Eat a variety of fruit Go low-fat or fat-free when you choose milk, yoghurt, or cheese Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry
Orange veggies= 2 cups Go easy on fruit juices Vary your protein routine–choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds
Dry beans and peas= 3 cups
Starchy veggies = 3 cups Know your limits on fats, sugars, and sodium.Your allowance for oils is 5 teaspoons a day.Limit extras–solid fats and sugars–to 195 calories a day.
Other veggies= 6.5 cups
Find your balance between food and physical activity; be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.To step up to a 2,000 calorie diet, add one cup of fruit, half a grilled chicken breast and one cup of non-fat yoghurt.

Chart 19

Track Your Body Weight Accurately

There’s no point going on a weight-reduction spree without keeping track of your progress in shedding weight. The ideal way of going about this process is by keeping track of weight lost and body fat lost concurrently. The first step is buying a decent body-scale.

Scales will provide diverse body weights at different times of the day, because your body weight changes throughout the day. Water, food, clothes, etc., have a say in your weight at any given time. You cannot keep track of these variations in your weight; focus on averages. Weigh yourself at least twice a day: when you wake up, at midday, if possible, and before you go to bed. Ideally speaking, you should weigh yourself naked. Average the weight measurement for the day, and then use these averages to get a weekly average.

Seeing how your weight fluctuates through the day, and a decline over time (if you are shedding weight), keeps you motivated. Women tend to retain water during their menstrual cycles, so that’s another thing that must be borne in mind. Muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space, so if you are adding muscle, your weight could increase, even though you’re cutting off fat and slimming down. It’s quite possible for your scale weight to remain the same.

Track Fat Loss Correctly

Knowing your body fat percentage can give you a better idea of how much fat you really need to lose and, even better, whether you’re making progress in your program, something your scale can’t tell you. Accurately tracking fat loss requires regularly body fat measurements with a reasonably low margin of error. While you have many options available to you— dual energy absorptiometry, ultrasound, water displacement, bioelectrical impedance scales and a number of others—they can cost a lot of money. If you can afford it, go ahead.

Certified personal trainer Mariana Abeid-McDougall explains, “For general health gains, usually a combination of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and sum of 5 skin folds is the best assessment, as it provides information on both the amount and distribution of body fat in order to gain a better assessment of body weight, adiposity, and fat distribution.” She adds a caveat that goals ought to focus on health first and appearance second, otherwise the results could be hazardous. “Many individuals (especially women) who want to lose weight often times do not need to do so—they just want to do so to fit society’s current beauty norms. This results in both an unhealthy body image and, in severe cases, eating disorders in both men and women,” she adds.

Set practical goals. If aiming for the ideal healthy fat percentage, women should stay around 25-26 percent and men around 20. Patience is important. Bodies change dramatically as you age; the difference between a 30 – 40 year old pair will be radically different from the characteristics of a 40-50 year old pair. Progress cannot take place overnight, and the early stages show the lowest change. And stay away from the mirror.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage

The ideal body fat percentage is 18-24 percent for males and 25-31 for females. Women need the extra fat due to constitutional and physiological differences such as hormones, breasts, and sexual organs. In addition, women need a higher amount of body fat for ovulation. Males who have more than 25 percent fat and females more than 32 are considered obese.

One other factor regarding fat is that you cannot drop below certain levels without seriously jeopardizing your wellbeing. These levels, called Essential Fat Levels are two to five percent for males and 10-13 percent for females. 

Discretionary Calories

The quantity of food a person must consume is determined by two factors, the requirement of eating mandated nutrient intakes and the requirement to consume calories sufficient to offset energy expenditure, thereby maintaining a steady weight. People can eat the recommended nutrients by carefully selecting and balancing foods that have higher and/or lower-energy densities, yet eating fewer calories than needed for their daily energy expenditure. This way, an individual will find some calories left the charted daily calorie allocation. These calories can now be used freely, since nutrient requirement have been met.

These remaining calories are called discretionary calories, and calculated as the difference between total energy needed and the energy consumed to match the desired nutrient intake. They can be spent on foods like milk, meat, butter, cheese, sauce or syrup. These calories can be spent on sodas or alcohol or some more of the healthy foods on offer.

Discretionary Calories and Sedentary Lifestyle

Discretionary calories are available only if the quantity of calories consumed to meet advocated nutrient intake is lower than total daily calories spent. The extent of this difference, whether positive or negative, is a function of the how many nutrients the foods eaten contained and the total requirement of energy. The total energy requirement depends entirely on the physical activity undertaken.

Because of minimal activity lifestyles and food that are usually relatively high in solid fats and added sugars, most Americans tend to use up discretionary calories well before meeting

the quota allocated for nutrient intake. Drinking low-fat milk rather than skim milk wastes discretionary calories, as does eating a medium-fat hamburger instead of a lean cut of meat. A person can increase his or her discretionary calories by increasing physical activity—burning more calories increases total calorie needs, and increases the maximum amount of calories a person can consume daily and by consuming nutrient-dense foods relatively lower in energy density (i.e., a healthy diet).

Key Points: Discretionary Calories

  • As just explained, the best method of increasing the number of discretionary calories is to increase physical activity. The more the physical activity, the more the discretionary calories that will be available.
  • Make nutrient-dense selections from the basic food groups, especially of foods that are very good sources of vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and fiber.
  • Obtain recommended nutrient intakes from the basic food groups and oils/trans-free soft margarines before consuming discretionary calories.
  • Even if many discretionary calories are available, keeping saturated and trans fat intake very low is advisable to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Avoid alcohol. If you must imbibe, limit intake to one serving of alcohol per day for women and two for men—even if surplus discretionary calories are available.

Most diet plans in the 1600 calorie range and higher tend to reserve a small amount of discretionary calories, of the order of 10-12 percent per day. For an 1800 calorie diet plan, you can expect a built in reserve of 200 calories, allowing you that one luxury that reduces the tedium of dieting. Such a luxury will not be available in stricter diets, like the 1200 calorie plan.

Age and sex Not physically active* Physically active**
Estimatedtotalcalorie

need

Estimateddiscretionarycalorie

allowance

Estimatedtotalcalorie

need

Estimateddiscretionarycalorie

allowance

Children 2-3 years old 1000 calories 165*** 1000-1400 calories 165 to 170
Children 4-8 years old 1200-1400 calories 170*** 1400-1800 calories 170 to 195
Girls 9-13 years old 1600 calories 130 1600-2200 calories 130 to 290
Boys 9-13 years old 1800 calories 195 1800-2600 calories 195 to 410
Girls 14-18 years old 1800 calories 195 2000-2400 calories 265 to 360
Boys 14-18 years old 2200 calories 290 2400-3200 calories 360 to 650
Females 19-30 years old 2000 calories 265 2000-2400 calories 265 to 360
Males 19-30 years old 2400 calories 360 2600-3000 calories 410 to 510
Females 31-50 years old 1800 calories 195 2000-2200 calories 265 to 290
Males 31-50 years old 2200 calories 290 2400-3000 calories 360 to 510
Females 51+ years old 1600 calories 130 1800-2200 calories 195 to 290
Males 51+ years old 2000 calories 265 2200-2800 calories 290 to 425

Chart 20

What Are Added Sugars?

Added sugars or extrinsic sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. Chemically speaking, they are the same as sugars that are naturally-occurring, and this term is now mostly used in nutrition and medicine to help identify foods characterized by added energy. Added sugars have no nutritional value but a lot of energy (calories), thus adding what are known as “empty calories”. Analysis has shown that added sugar is distinctively related to high calorie intake leading to putting on weight and even obesity.

This hazard was on the upswing in the last quarter of the 20th century, but is refreshingly showing a decline at the start of this millennium. This decline is reflected by the reduction in the intake of sweetened beverages, and attributed to government health awareness initiatives and other programs.

The names of added sugars on labels are legion, but may contain the words sugar and syrups, or chemical names ending in ‘oses’, like fructose, dextrose, etc. The main sources of added sugars for Americans are:

  • Donuts
  • regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts
  • Fruit drinks
  • Ice creams

What to Check on the Food Label

Check the label for the cholesterol, saturated fat, sodium and trans fat content of all packaged foods. All processed meats like sausages, frankfurters, hams, luncheon and deli meats add sodium. Check the quantity printed to limit intake of sodium. The same holds good for packaged poultry and pork which have a salted solution; look for the sodium added. Check the label for all facts and figures and statements like ‘self-basting’, telling you that salt has been added. Many types of processed meats have low fat versions available. The label can be used for comparison to select products with lower fat and saturated fat. Women likely to become pregnant, already pregnant women, nursing moms and toddlers must avoid eating certain varieties of fish; they should eat fish that have low levels of mercury.

What Is Obesity?

An obese human is one who has put on so much body fat that he/she could face serious detrimental effects on their wellbeing. If his body weight is 20 percent or higher than ideal, he is obese. A BMI of 30 or more renders you obese. The main causes of obesity are:

1. Consuming Excessive Calories

People are today eating far more than earlier, mainly in developed and developing nations. Public numerous and expensive awareness movements to encourage people to eat healthily have failed; we still overeat. In 1980 14 percent of the adult population of the USA was obese; by 2000 the figure reached 31 percent (The Obesity Society).

In the USA, the consumption of calories increased from 1,542 per day for women in 1971 to 1,877 per day in 2004 and 2,450 in 1971 & 2,618 in 2004 for men. Surprisingly, this jump in calories is due not to fat, but to carbohydrates (sugars). Increased intake of sweetened sodas has significantly raised the carbohydrate intake of young American adults across the last thirty years. Consumption of fast-foods has tripled over the same period.

2. A Sedentary Lifestyle

Automation, remote controls, televisions, computers, washing machines, dish washers, video games and a host of modern convenience gadgets have moved the majority of masses into an inactive lifestyle contrasting sharply with the active lifestyle of their progenitors. Four decades back, shopping meant walking to the high street to the grocers, bakers, appliance stores, banks, etc. As large supermarkets and shopping malls emerged, people stepped into their cars to buy their weekly provisions. In countries like the USA, the car has replaced the foot and people drive to their destination, even if a couple of hundred yards away.

The lesser your activities, the fewer the calories burnt. Calories apart, physical activity effects how your hormones work, which, in turn, effects how your body reacts to food. Physical activity keeps your insulin levels stable. Unstable levels of insulin are linked to gaining weight.

3. Not Sleeping Enough

If you don’t get your 40 winks, the danger of obesity doubles, according to research carried out at the University of Warwick. The hazard is applicable to adults and kids both. Production of Ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone increases, while production of Leptin, a hormone that restrains appetite, reduces.

4. Reduced Rates of Smoking

About 10 percent of smokers who quit gain a lot of weight − 30 pounds (13.5 Kg) or more. Others also put on weight, limited to six to eight lbs (3-3.5 Kg).

5. Obesity has Become Self-perpetuating

The longer you are overweight, the harder it is for you to shed weight. Researchers from the University of Michigan and the National Council of Science and Technology in Argentina state, “Obesity is in part a self-perpetuating disorder and the results further emphasize the importance of early intervention in childhood to try to prevent the condition whose effects can last a lifetime. We will now try to pinpoint the reasons why most adults find it exceedingly difficult to maintain meaningful weight loss from dieting and exercise alone.”

Most surveys across the USA and the UK reveal that a large number of people are either overweight or obese. They need to cut down on their daily intake of food. The simplest solution is to find out how much you need to eat based on data available and reduce your intake by twenty percent of the calorie count in the starchy food and desserts. If you need 2,300 calories, reduce your calorie count by 460 a day, the equivalent of skipping one glass of wine, dessert and a shot of Port or your two double whiskeys, a light dessert plus your Camembert or Brie. This will account for four lbs (1.8 Kg) per month, providing you maintain an active life style.

After marriage or the age of 30, adults gain between one and two pounds a year (0.3 to 0.8 Kg) on the average. The first aim should be to prevent this gain using some new strategies. The good news is that scientists have successfully developed an ingredient that can be added to foods to make people feel full and prevent weight gain. Note the wording-prevent weight gain and not induce loss of weight. Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow found that the ingredient was effective at preventing weight gain among overweight human volunteers. The ingredient contains propionate, which stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger.

Propionate is produced naturally when dietary fiber is fermented by microbes in the gut, but the new ingredient, called inulin-propionate ester, provides much larger quantities of propionate than people can acquire with a normal diet. Humans do not put on weight as propionate induces a feeling of fullness in the stomach, curbing your appetite effectively. Lapsing to a sedentary lifestyle will nullify the healthful effect of propionate.

The problem lies in cases where people are overweight and continuing to add weight because they are eating and drinking 500 calories extra every day. Such people will have to cut down calorie intake by 730-750 calories per day, i.e., go on a diet and increase physical activity. Foods and drinks that are high in fat or sugar can contain lots of calories, and eating or drinking these often or in large amounts can make it easy to have more calories than you need.

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood and the flesh of any other animal), and may also include abstention from by-products of animal slaughter. Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons. Many object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. Other causes for vegetarianism are health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic or economic. Some people, while not vegetarians, refuse to eat the flesh of certain animals due to cultural taboo, such as cats, dogs, or horses. Others support meat eating for scientific, nutritional, cultural and religious reasons.

Various ethical reasons have been suggested for choosing vegetarianism, usually based on the interests of non-human animals. Proponents of animal rights argue that if alternative means of survival exist, one ought to choose the option that does not cause unnecessary harm to animals. Most ethical vegetarians argue that the same reasons exist against killing animals to eat as against cannibalism. Interestingly, the number of people turning to vegetarianism is on the increase, though on a scaled fashion.

While animal products are the common sources of protein in the typical western diet, are burgers or steaks really needed to experience a healthy and nutritive vegetarian protein diet? One of the most vexing issues facing new vegetarians is the apprehension that they will not have enough protein in their diet. When animal products are removed from the diet, creativity with regards to food selection is necessary in order to consume healthy levels of protein.

Can’t do without hamburgers? Make a scrumptious veggie burger and have a go with a large side salad. Like pizza? Make it yourself with soy cheese and load up on the vegetables. Like chicken nuggets? Have soy nuggets instead. Stuff green peppers with a rice and veggie blend. Bake and enjoy. Like sweets? Baked apples drizzled in cinnamon and agave are superb.

There are a number of vegetarian diets, each with its own singularities:

  • Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
  • Veganism excludes all animal flesh and products, such as milk, honey, and eggs, as well as items refined or manufactured through any such product, such as bone-char refined white sugar or animal-tested baking soda.
  • Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.
  • Sattvic or Yogic diet, a plant based diet which may also include dairy (not eggs) and honey, but excludes anything from the onion or leek family, red lentils, durian fruit, mushrooms, blue cheeses, fermented foods or sauces, alcoholic drinks and often also excludes coffee, black or green tea, chocolate, nutmeg or any other type of stimulant such as sharp spices or condiments.
  • Buddhist vegetarianism. Different Buddhist traditions have differing teachings on diet, which may also vary for ordained monks and nuns compared to others. Many interpret the precept ‘not to kill’ to require abstinence from meat, but not all. In Taiwan, su vegetarianism excludes not only all animal products but also vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, or shallots.
  • Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables like onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, or shallots.

Health Characteristics of a Vegetarian Diet

A well planned vegetarian diet has been proved to provide nutritional adequacy as well as health benefits and preventing disease through all stages of life. Multiple studies have demonstrated that ischemic heart disease mortality was 30 percent lower among vegetarian men and 20 percent lower among vegetarian women than in non-vegetarians. This is because vegetarian diets offer lower levels of animal protein, saturated fat and cholesterol, and higher levels of carbohydrates, magnesium, potassium, fiber, folate, and crucial antioxidants like vitamins C and E as well as phytochemicals. The distinction between genders is not explained.

Vegetarians tend to have lower BMI, lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower incidence of cardiac diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, renal disease, metabolic failures, brain damage or dementias such as Alzheimer’s and other neuro disorders. They have fewer cases of cancers of the esophagus, lungs, colon and the liver. However, mortality rates from stomach cancer, cerebrovascular disease, colorectal cancer, prostate or breast cancer are the same for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Vegetarians went into depression at a lower rate and had better mood profiles. They were also less prone to osteoporosis, as they had greater bone mineral density and better bone formation.

Getting Adequate Nutrition As a Vegetarian or a Vegan

The more restrictive your diet, the more difficult it can be to get all the nutrients you need, since no single food can provide all the nutrients you need. With a little forethought, research and planning, you can ensure that your diet includes all that your body needs. Pay heed to these nutrients:

  • Calcium: Calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones, with milk and dairy foods very high in calcium. However, dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale and broccoli, are good plant sources when eaten in sufficient quantities. Calcium-enriched and fortified products, including juices, soy milk, soy yoghurt, cereals, and tofu, are other options.
  • Iodine: Iodine is a component in thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism, growth and function of key organs. Vegans are at risk here of iodine deficiency and goiter. Adding just 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt provides a significant amount of iodine.
  • Iron: Iron (the non- industrial metal) is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit are good sources of iron. But it is not easy to extract iron from vegetables, the intake of which doubles for vegetarians. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli can act like catalysts.
  • Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health. Diets without fish and eggs are generally low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and soybeans, soy, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, kiwifruit, hempseed, algae, chia seed, flaxseed, echium seed and leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage and purslane are good sources of essential fatty acids. Purslane contains more Omega 3 than any other known leafy green. Olives (and olive oil) are another important plant source of unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Protein: Proteins help maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are excellent sources of protein. Complete proteins are found primarily in animal products and contain all of the 20 amino acids needed by the body. Incomplete proteins which are found mostly in fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, contain some, but not all of the amino acids. Therefore, the amino acids missing from some foods must be eaten in other foods in order to enjoy a complete protein diet. You can get sufficient protein from plant-based foods like soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains, if you eat a lot of them throughout the day. Soy is a rich source of total and complete protein .
  • Vitamins: Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia and is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B-12 on a vegan diet. It is therefore important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.
    • Vitamin D has an important role in bone health and prevents rickets. Vitamin D is found in milk and dairy products. Increase sun exposure as its rays shine ultraviolet B light on the skin, promoting vitamin D generation and look for a vitamin D supplement derived from plants.
  • Zinc: Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and in formation of proteins. It is easily found in cheese, but difficult to absorb otherwise; plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ.

Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy And Breast Feeding

As a married woman, there comes a time when you want to become a mother. If you want a no-complications pregnancy and delivery, it’s a two way street. To optimize chances for a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery and a healthy baby, you have to contribute your mite. You need to do some important things in preparation for conception. 

Nutrition and Health Check Prior to Pregnancy

Visit your gynecologist: Get yourself thoroughly checked up. In your preconception checkup, your gynecologist will look through your individual and family medical history, your present health, and whether you are on any medications or supplements. This is essential as certain medications and supplements become unsafe for you or your fetus during pregnancy. You will have to switch before you conceive because they’re stored in your body’s fat and can linger there and need to fade away.

Your doctor will probably discuss the current ‘YOU’, i.e., your diet, weight, work schedule, exercise and detrimental habits you may have, like smoking and drinking and advise you accordingly. She’ll definitely prescribe folic acid for you. Intake of folic acid is crucial. Taking an adequate amount of folic acid (4-800 micrograms) a day for at least one month before you conceive and during your first trimester is essential. This amount varies with the structure of your body, i.e., height and BMI. It will cut your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by 50 to 70 percent, apart from other birth defects.

Your days of binge drinking and smoking are over. Numerous studies the world over have shown that smoking or taking drugs can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low-birth- weight babies or babies with congenital defects. Tobacco use can affect your fertility and lower your partner’s sperm count. Remember that traces of some drugs can stay within you even if there are no noticeable effects. Start now, before conception.

One drink a day is acceptable while you’re trying to conceive, but avoid binge drinking. Once pregnant, stop drinking altogether since no one is sure yet of potential harmful effects even small amounts of alcohol have on a developing baby. This is a test of will power-prove it. You can consult with counselors or join group programs to get rid of your bad habits.

You’re not ‘eating for two’ yet, but switch to nutritious food now so your body will be ready and fully stocked with the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Try and eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day, as well as plenty of whole grains and foods that are high in calcium – like milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and yoghurt. Eat a variety of protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, poultry, and meats. Try and avoid caffeine, as excessive caffeine has been tenuously linked to a risk of miscarriage.

You may have an easier time conceiving if you’re at a healthy weight. Having a low or high body mass index (BMI) makes it harder for some women to become pregnant. Their pregnancy and delivery will carry risks as well. A high BMI could entail pregnancy or delivery complications; a low BMI means underweight babies.

Pay more attention to the fish you eat. While fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are very important for your baby’s brain and eye development, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients, it also contains mercury, which can be injurious. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that women of childbearing age not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, and eat no more than 6 ounces (one serving) of solid white canned tuna per week. Once pregnant, eat up to 12 oz (two servings) a week of fish that are not high in mercury. Good choices include herring, farm-raised rainbow trout, salmon, and sardines.

Start and stick to a fitness plan now, and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy body that’s fit for pregnancy. If you haven’t been exercising, ease into an exercise routine. Start with something tame, like walking 10 to 20 minutes a day. Add more activity into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car a few blocks away from work. A healthy exercise program includes 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise, such as walking or cycling and weight training, on most days of the week. Try yoga. The gentle stretches can improve muscle tone and flexibility and help you to feel relaxed. Joining a class means you’ll meet other mums-to-be too! Once pregnant, avoid jogging, though it is not really harmful for the first four months. Walking for half an hour every day is fine.

Avoid infections when trying to get pregnant, especially those that could harm your baby-to-be. Desist from foods like unpasteurized soft cheeses and other dairy products, raw and under cooked poultry/fish and cold deli meats. These foods can harbor dangerous bacteria that cause listeriosis, a food-borne illness that can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. You should also avoid unpasteurized juices because they can contain bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli.

Wash your hands frequently when preparing meals, and set your fridge between 35 and 40° degrees F (2 – 4° C) and your freezer is at or below 0° F (-18° C) to keep cold foods from going bad.

Hazards of use of recreational drugs during pregnancy:

Intake Affects Safety Limits
Alcohol Fetal alcohol syndromeFetal alcohol spectrum disorder Not established
Tobacco Wide range of behavioral, neurological, and physical difficulties Twice the risk of premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption and placenta previa 30% higher odds of premature birth Nil
Cocaine Premature birth, birth defects and attention deficit disorder Nil
Methamphetamine Premature birth and congenital abnormalitiesSmall deficits in infant neurobehavioral function and growth restrictionLong-term effects in brain development Nil
Cannabis Growth restriction and lower birth weightAbnormal responses or behaviors in the newborn period Nil

Chart 21

Nutrition for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women need to eat a nutritious diet to keep themselves and the developing baby healthy. The need for some nutrients like folic acid, iron and iodine increases during pregnancy, and folic acid and iodine supplements are recommended before and after conception. A varied diet that includes the right amount of healthy foods from the five food groups generally provides our bodies with enough of each vitamin and mineral each day. However, pregnant women may need supplements of particular vitamins or minerals. Consult your doctor before taking supplements.

Weight gain during pregnancy: Steady weight gain during pregnancy is normal and important for the health of the mother and baby. However, it is also important not to gain too much weight. As a pregnant woman, a good approach would be to eat to satisfy your appetite and continue to monitor your weight. For women who are at a healthy weight, it is advised that you gain between 11.5 and 16 kg (25-35 lb). Underweight women may need to gain more weight, between 12.5 and 18 kg (27-40 lb). Overweight women should not start dieting or try to shed weight. It is, however, recommended for women who are overweight to gain less weight during pregnancy, between 6.5 and 11.5 kg (15-25 lb). Obese women should gain 4.5-9 kg (10-20 lb).

To maintain appropriate weight gain during pregnancy, it is important to choose healthy foods from the five food groups, and limit discretionary foods and drinks high in saturated fat, added sugars and added salt, such as cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks.

Healthy Eating: It is important to choose a wide variety of healthy foods to make sure that the nutritional needs of both mother and baby are met. You can eat well during pregnancy by:

  • Enjoying a variety of fruits and vegetables of different types and colors.
  • Increasing your intake of grain and cereal foods a day. Choose mostly wholegrain and high fiber options.
  • Choosing foods that are high in iron, such as lean red meat or tofu. Iron-rich foods are important for pregnant women.
  • Making a habit of drinking milk, and eating hard cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt, or calcium-enriched alternatives. Reduced-fat varieties are best.
  • Drinking plenty of water (fluid needs are about 750 to 1,000 ml extra per day).

Foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt are not a necessary part of a healthy diet and should be limited.

Focus On Essential Nutrients: Folic Acid and Iodine

Good sources of folic acid: Fortified cereals are great sources of folic acid. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas are good sources of naturally occurring folate.

            Food Serving size Folic acid content
Cereal 3/4 cup (15 to 60 g) ready-to-eat cereal 100 to 700 mcg — choose a cereal that’s 100 percent fortified
Spinach 1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach 115 mcg
Beans 1/2 cup (88 g) boiled Great Northern beans 90 mcg
Asparagus 4 boiled spears (60 g) 89 mcg
Oranges 1 orange (150 g) 52 mcg
Peanuts 1 ounce (28 g) dry roasted 41 mcg

Chart 22

 

Iodine is an important mineral needed for the production of thyroid hormone, which is important for growth and development. Inadequate iodine intake during pregnancy increases the risk of mental impairment and cretinism in the newborn baby. Foods that are good sources of iodine include seafood and seaweed (including nori and kelp), eggs, meat and dairy products. Check the salt to see that it is iodized salt, which includes iodine. Avoid all other salts.

Calcium: You and your baby need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run normally. You need 1,000 milligrams a day; pregnant teenagers need 1,300 milligrams a day and good sources are dairy products, the best absorbed sources of calcium. Non-dairy sources include Sesame seeds, broccoli and kale. Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals fortified with calcium are also available.

Food Serving size Calcium content
Cereal 1 cup (20 to 60 g) calcium-fortified ready-to-eat cereal 3 to 1,000 mg
Milk 1 cup (237 ml) skim milk 300 mg
Yogurt 6 oz. (170 g) low-fat fruit yogurt 235 mg
Cheese 1 oz. (28 g) part-skim mozzarella cheese 222 mg
Salmon 3 oz. (85 g) canned pink salmon with bones 181 mg
Spinach 1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach 145 mg
Juice 1 cup (237 mL) calcium-fortified orange juice 348 mg

Chart 23

 

Vitamin D: Vitamin D also helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. You need 600 international units (IU) a day and good sources are fatty fish, such as salmon, a great source of vitamin D. Other options include fortified milk and orange juice.

Food Serving size Vitamin D content
Fish 3 oz. (85 g) cooked sockeye salmon 447 IU
Juice 8 oz. (237 mL) calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice 100 IU
Milk 1 cup (237 mL) skim milk 115 IU
Eggs 1 large hard-boiled egg (50 g) 44 IU

Chart 24

 

Protein is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. You need 71 grams a day and good sources are lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Other options include dried beans and peas, tofu, dairy products, and peanut butter.

Food Serving size Protein content
Cottage cheese 1 cup (226 g) low-fat, 1% milk cottage cheese 28 g
Poultry 3 oz. (86 g) boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast 26 g
Fish 3 oz. (85 g) canned pink salmon with bones 16.8 g
Lentils 1/2 cup (99 g) boiled lentils 8.9 g
Milk 1 cup (237 ml) skim milk 8.3 g
Peanut butter 2 T (32 g) smooth, vitamin- and mineral-fortified peanut butter 8.2 g
Eggs 1 large hard-boiled egg (50 g) 6.3 g

Chart 25

 

Iron: Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy your blood volume expands to accommodate changes in your body and help your baby make his or her entire blood supply — doubling your need for iron. If you don’t get enough iron, you might become fatigued and more prone to infections. The risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight also might be higher. You need 27 milligrams a day and good sources are lean red meat, poultry and fish. Other options include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, beans and vegetables.

Food Serving size Iron content
Cereal 3/4 cup (15 to 60 g) 100 percent iron-fortified quick oats 29.7 mg
Beans 1/2 cup (88.5 g) boiled kidney beans 2.9 mg
Spinach 1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach 1.9 mg
Meat 3 oz. (85 g) roasted lean beef tenderloin 2.6 mg
Poultry 3 oz. (85 g) roasted dark turkey 0.9 mg

Chart 26

 

Prenatal vitamins typically contain iron. In some cases, your health care provider might recommend a separate iron supplement. The iron from animal products, such as meat, is most easily absorbed. To enhance the absorption of iron from plant sources and supplements, pair them with a food or drink high in vitamin C — such as orange juice, strawberries or tomato juice. If you take iron supplements with orange juice, avoid the calcium-fortified variety. Although calcium is essential during pregnancy, it can cause a decrease in iron absorption.

If you were to look for a diet supplementary pill in isolation, it should have the following:

  • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
  • 400 IU of vitamin D.
  • 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
  • 70 mg of vitamin C.
  • 3 mg of thiamine.
  • 2 mg of riboflavin.
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 10 mg of vitamin E.
  • 15 mg of zinc.
  • 17 mg of iron.
  • 150 micrograms of iodine

It must be cleared by your doctor.

No Need to Eat For Two When Pregnant

During pregnancy, both you and your growing baby need extra nutrients, so eating healthy foods from the five food groups is important. Your body becomes more efficient when you’re pregnant, and makes even better use of the energy you get from your food. During the first trimester, a woman’s energy intake should remain about the same as it was prior to the pregnancy, which means that extra food is not required.

During the second and third trimester, your energy needs of pregnant women will increase. It is recommended that you increase your intake of grain foods by 15 percent per day and lean meats and alternatives by 25 percent per day. You could try a wholegrain sandwich with fillings such as roast beef, hard-boiled egg, tinned fish, hummus, a small bowl of pasta with meat or bean sauce or a small bowl of stir-fried rice with tofu. Options are a slice of wholemeal toast with a small can of baked beans; a toasted pitta bread with two tablespoons of reduced-fat hummus; a slice of malt loaf or fruit scone with butter or spread one slice of cheese on toast.

Your appetite is your best guide of how much food you need to eat. You may find your appetite fluctuates throughout your pregnancy. In the first few weeks your appetite may fall away dramatically and you may not feel like eating proper meals, especially if you have nausea or sickness. During the middle part of your pregnancy your appetite may be the same as before you were pregnant or slightly increased. Towards the end of your pregnancy your appetite will probably increase. If you suffer from heartburn or a full feeling after eating you may find it helpful to have small, frequent meals. The best rule to remember is to eat when you are hungry. Have a good balance of foods every day and you will gain weight steadily as your baby grows.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

There are some foods that you must avoid during pregnancy, because they could be unsafe for your baby:

  • Cheese with a white, mouldy rind, such as brie and camembert, and blue-veined cheeses such as roquefort. All these could contain listeria, a bacteria that could harm your baby.
  • Pate, and raw or under cooked meat and eggs. All are possible sources of bacteria that can harm your unborn baby. When cooking meat and eggs, make sure they are cooked properly.
  • Raw seafood, such as oysters and sushi.
  • Shark, swordfish or marlin. These fish contain unsafe levels of naturally occurring mercury. Tuna contains some mercury too, so it’s best you don’t eat more than four medium-sized cans, or two fresh tuna steaks per week.
  • Don’t eat liver and liver products (such as pate or liver sausage), because they may contain large amounts of the retinol form of vitamin A. Too much of this could be harmful to your developing baby.
  • Give alcohol a miss, if only for your baby.

Trimester-wise Pregnancy Meal Plans

A list of 12 meal plans has been prepared to help you have a healthy pregnancy. There are four planners for each trimester, giving you lots of choice. Each planner features a variety of delicious dishes and handy tips that are just right for you at your stage of pregnancy. You can get a fair idea of what is required of you.

Diet for a Healthy Breast Feeding Mother

As a mother, breast feeding is a normal stage in your reproductive life, where all your diet needs to be is healthy, balanced, and adequate. Breast feeding usually gives you a big appetite. The best diet for a breast feeding mother is a healthy diet as described all along, with a small rider. You do need extra calories and the quantity depends on your constitution, how much body fat you have and how active you are. If you were in good shape before pregnancy, you should eat about 200 calories more than what you ate during pregnancy and these calories, as always, should come from nutritious foods.

You would have probably gained 11.5 and 16 kg (25-35 lb) during the term and lost about 6-7 kg during delivery and the immediate post-partum days. The extra weight you retain is partly consumed in creating milk. You will usually lose 0.5-1 kg per week (1 to 2 pounds) which is a good rate, counterbalanced partly by your increased calorie intake. You should start moderate exercise about six weeks after delivery and get your figure to perhaps a couple of kg heavier than where it was. These extra kg will disappear naturally as you continue breast feeding. If you want and get your hourglass figure back at the earliest, you will join the cohorts of those mothers who do not breast feed their babies beyond a month or so.

Protein

Calcium

Iron

Vitamin C

Eat two to three servings of protein each day. A serving is equal to 3 to 4 oz of meat, fish or poultry. Your best sources are: A good daily intake of calcium for breast-feeding mothers is 1,300 mg per day. One cup of milk or yogurt contains 300 milligrams of calcium. Your attending doctor will advise you best, looking at you regularly. If you are 18 or younger, you should get 10 mg of iron per day. 19 year olds or older need 9 mg. Your limitation on mercury tainted fish stays. You need slightly more vitamin C than during pregnancy. If you are 18 or younger, you need 115 mg of vitamin C per day. If over 19, you need 120 mg per day.
Lean meat Milk Lean meat Citrus fruits
Poultry Yogurt Poultry Broccoli
Seafood Hard cheese Seafood Cantaloupe
Eggs Calcium-fortified orange juice Dried beans Potato
Cheese Calcium-fortified tofu Dried fruit Bell pepper
Milk and yogurt Tomato
Cottage cheese Kiwi
Tofu Cauliflower
Dried beans Cabbage

Chart 27

 

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Breast-feeding mothers need to take some sort of daily multivitamin that contains 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance. You can continue with your prenatal vitamin or mineral supplement, but reduce iron by half. Ensure that it contains 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D, since breastfed babies get vitamin D from breast milk. However, if you didn’t take a vitamin D supplement in pregnancy and are breastfeeding, your baby may need to have daily vitamin D drops from when he’s a month old.
  • Liquids: While breast-feeding you should have a glass of water each time you nurse your baby. That should bring your total water intake to 8 cups of water each day. In addition to water, other good liquids are juice, milk, broths, herbal teas and soups. Exercise and high temperatures will increase your need for liquids. Therefore, drink even more water if you are active or it is hot. Limit caffeinated foods and beverages, such as coffee and tea to two cups a day.
  • Vegetarian mothers: If you are a vegetarian mother, you need to include vitamin B12 in your diet in some way. Many vegetarians use a supplement for their vitamin B12 intake. Research has shown that milk produced by vegetarian women has lower levels of environmental contaminants than that of other women. These substances are stored principally in the fatty tissues of the body, and vegetarian diets tend to contain less fats than diets with more animal products. Check with your doctor first.
  • Weaning your baby: It’s best to give your baby nothing but breast milk for the first six months of her life. After that, you can start to give her different foods, as well as breast milk, gradually reducing her dependency on your milk. In another 4-6 months, she’ll be getting all the nutrients she needs from food. So this is when you can stop breastfeeding altogether. This is called weaning your baby from your breast. You can phase out breastfeeding before your baby is a year old, but you’ll need to give her formula milk instead. You can combine breast milk and formula as you ease your baby through the transition.
  • Others: It is difficult to overfeed your baby with breast milk as they stop sucking when full. The linked video gives some tips. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. Alcohol passes through your breast milk to your baby. Drinking more than 125 ml a day while you are breastfeeding may reduce your milk supply, and even affect your baby’s development.

Safe Practices for Formula Feeding

Baby formula is available in three forms: ready-to-feed, concentrated liquid and powder. Ready-to-feed is used “as is.” Concentrated liquid and powder must be mixed with water according to instructions on the label. Ready-to-feed and concentrated liquid baby formulas are commercially sterile; powdered formulas are not. When your baby starts eating solid foods, neither breastfeeding nor infant formula should be discontinued during the first year of life.

Since many types of formula are available in the market, so get advice. First, ask your Doctor for a recommendation and discuss it. Read and follow the instructions on the label. Infants have a higher rate of many foodborne illnesses than adults. It takes less bacteria (germs) to make an infant, with a low immunity system, sick than it does for an adult.

Making Powdered Formula

  1. Wash your hands with water and soap.
  2. Measure the amount of water needed to mix formula properly.
  3. If using tap water, heat water to 65°C/149°F for at least one minute.
  4. Otherwise, use sterile bottled water. Not all bottled water is sterile. It will be stated the label.
  5. Let water cool; you do not want to scald your baby. Also, formula can clump together if added to hot water.
  6. Measure and mix powder with water. Always follow measurement instructions on formula label.
  7. Make sure the milk is cool. Burns are very painful and stressful for your baby.
  8. Transfer mixed formula to a clean, sanitized bottle.
  9. You are ready to feed your infant!
  10. Discard any formula left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Note 1: Do NOT store leftover formula from a feeding—always discard formula left in the bottle after two hours.

2. Wash baby bottles with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water or wash baby bottles in a dishwasher. Bottles and nipples can also be boiled to sterilize them before use. Bottles should always be clean before you reuse them.

Nutrition for the Preschool Years

Ages 2 through 5, or the early childhood years, are your baby’s preschool years. Preschoolers grow quickly—both physically and cognitively. Your short chubby toddler who could barely talk quickly becomes a taller, leaner child who talks seventeen to the dozen. During early childhood, development is integrated, with social, biological and psychological changes occurring in this period being interrelated.

  • Physical changes: In these years, a child becomes stronger and starts to look longer and leaner. As the child’s trunk and limbs grow longer, the abdominal muscles form, tightening the appearance of the stomach. Even at this early stage of life, boys tend to have more muscle mass than girls.
  • Cognitive development: At this stage, children become able to think and reason. They learn their letters, numbers and colors. Development of the brain and nervous system is dramatic. Most of a child’s neurons, or cells that make up nerves, form prenatally. Other cells nourish and insulate the neurons develop very rapidly, starting during infancy and continuing through these years, increasing the efficiency of your child’s neurons rapidly.Encourage safe exploration and offer a variety of things to play with, read, create, and build, ensuring that basic measures are in place to minimize risks. Children who are curious enough to explore learn to master new skills and solve problems. It is crucial at this juncture to instill a sense of security, laying the foundation for learning, social skills, adaptability, and emotional development. Your child is more likely to feel safe and secure if you are dependable, consistent and responsive and will respond by showing strong attachment to you.
  • Motor skills: Motor skills are physical abilities. Gross motor skills, like running, jumping, skipping, hopping, throwing, balancing, turning, dressing /undressing themselves and dancing require large bodily movements. Fine motor skills, like tying shoelaces, writing, drawing and holding a pencil correctly call for small body movements.
  • Emotional and social development: In this period, children slowly learn how to manage their feelings. Provide peer contact. Playing with other children gives your child opportunities to practice and develop important social, emotional, and language skills. Be patient during this phase of behavioral and emotional struggles of your child who is confused by external inputs from new associations. Guide your child by modeling and teaching proper behavior. Encourage your child to think about the feelings of other people to develop empathy. Help your child build self-esteem using positive strokes. He will display these characteristics:
    • Seek out same-sex friends
    • Prefer children over adults
    • Enjoy performing for others
    • Whisper and has secrets
    • Respond to blame and praise
    • Can be bossy
    • Becomes competitive
    • Enjoy helping at home, with tasks such as watering plants, picking up toys.
  • Language: By age 2, most children can say at least 50 words. By 5, a child may know 3-400 hundred words and carry on conversations or tell stories. Read to your child at every age, exposing your child to the sounds and rhythm of language. Help your child talk with others. Listening to and talking with other children and adults helps a child to understand and use language.
  • Kindergarten: Most children start kindergarten at 4½-5 years. If your child is normal, can interact with other children, follow directions, recite the alphabet and the numbers 0 to 20, recognize errors in their order, write his/her first and last name with uppercase and lowercase letters, etc., he/she is ready for Kindergarten.

Parents definitely have only the best plans in mind when feeding their children. But today’s lifestyles are so busy that they don’t find enough time for buying groceries, planning a meal or cooking it. They are probably unaware of what healthy food is, its ingredients and how to cook them. They might rely on pre-cooked off the shelf foods as the datum for meals. For children, this is a learning curve and they tend to be choosy. Small wonder that our children aren’t eating the foods that are best for them.

Younger children tend to shy away from many foods. Children could be finicky about how their food tastes, its temperature and consistency. Getting kids to down their vegetables could really test your patience. Most kids love tasty foods that tend to be high calorie; these foods are inexpensive, freely available and most convenient to devour- ‘junk foods’.

You must demonstrate to your kids what healthy eating means, and eat at fixed mealtimes. If at all possible, take your kids along when shopping for food and preparing it. Children tend to accept healthy foods if offered regularly. Lead them to vegetables through fruits. Keep fresh fruit readily available and or place crunchy vegetables in your fridge. Recurring exposure to fresh crunchy vegetables may encourage your kids to try these new foods, particularly if they have been with you when you bought them. Ensure that you eat some new food and say you relish it a couple of times. As your child realizes you were eating something new and giving it a thumbs-up rating, she will relax and learn that eating something that is new and if it can happen to her mother, it’s obviously part of everyday life.

You could try a different approach to increase vegetables intake. Add the vegetables to familiar food. Add cooked or pureed vegetables to pasta sauce, boosting nutrition while decreasing overall calorie count. Add cooked vegetables to soups, stews, meat loaves and casseroles, increasing nutrition and overall flavor.

Proper snacking is okay for growing children, so add well-chosen snacks to keep up with nutritional needs. If snacking turns into sugary or salt laden empty-calorie foods, change to fruits, nuts, yogurt, vegetables or a low-fat pudding.

Beware of the “just one bite” syndrome. This approach may work with more open and compliant children; on the other hand, it may worsen the frame of mind of those who have an intense fear of new foods and textural sensitivities. With no pressure to eat or try new foods, children usually relax and start exploring more. When you see these signs of innate curiously in foods, gently encourage your child to try a tiny bit of everything you have on your plate. Be prepared to take “no” for an answer and back off immediately if the food is refused. Pressuring, bribing and threatening your child to try a new food will rebound on you.

Some other methods are listed below:

  • Remain calm. Even if you’re worried about a finicky eater, try to at least fake a carefree front. Make the dinner table one of your family’s happiest places.
  • Don’t allow snacks closer than two hours before dinner. A hungrier kid is more willing to try something new.
  • Don’t insist that they eat an entire serving.
  • A huge list of foods for kids and other related innovations are listed here.
  • Spin off proven favorites. Any time you have success with one item, replicate it somewhere else, e.g., turn pumpkin spice muffins into carrot spice muffins.

Healthy Snack Foods for Preschoolers

Snack Vegetable Fruit Grains Dairy Protein
Banana and yogurt banana low fat yogurt
Whole grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and apple slices apple slices whole grain pita pocket low fat ricotta cheese
Trail mix dried fruit cereal nuts
Frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana sliced banana graham crackers low fat frozen yogurt
Low fat vanilla yogurt with crunchy granola and blueberries. blueberries crunchy granola low fat vanilla yogurt
Snack kebabs of low fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks. grapes low fat cheese
Waffle cone with cut-up fruit and low fat vanilla yogurt cut-up fruit waffle cone low fat vanilla yogurt Waffle cone with cut-up fruit and low fat vanilla yogurt
Flour tortilla with a slice of turkey or ham, low fat cheese and lettuce. lettuce flour tortilla low fat cheese turkey or ham
Dried cranberries and chopped walnuts in instant oatmeal. dried cranberries instant oatmeal chopped walnuts

Chart 28

 

Healthy foods to serve as mix and match: Mix and match to easily make a snack made up of at least two food groups.

Vegetable Group Fruit Group Grains Group Dairy Group Protein Group
Cucumbers sliced Sliced mango whole wheat bread low fat or skim milk edamame (soybean)
Celery sticks kiwi whole oats bread
Vanilla low fat yogurt sugar snap peas vanilla low fat yogurt sugar snap peas vanilla low fat yogurt
Carrots apples whole grain bagel mozzarella cheese leftover chicken
Lettuce handful of raisins stick pretzels low fat sliced cheese handful of nuts
Corn and peas strawberries crackers ricotta cheese cup soy butter
Cauliflower trees blackberries whole wheat pita string cheese tuna
Zucchini sticks cherries   rice cakes ham slices

Chart 29

Feeding Your Preschooler – Age 4 to 5 Years

Nutrition during preschool years is important for kids’ growth and learning and to provide energy for high activity levels. Your preschooler is now able to feed him/herself and can try a wide variety of foods. Always offer different choices for your child to eat. Offer new textures, colors, and tastes. Make food appealing and fun for your child. Your child should be eating from each of the FIVE food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat.

Grain Group Fruit and Vegetable Group Milk Group Meat Group Fat Group
6 servings each day or more 5 servings each day or more 3 servings each day or more 2 servings each day 3-4 servings each day
1 slice of bread ½ cup cooked, canned, or chopped raw ¾ cup milk or yogurt 1-3 tablespoons lean meat, chicken, fish 1 teaspoon margarine, butter, oils
4-6 crackers ½ – 1 small fruit/ vegetable ¾ ounce of cheese 4-5 tablespoons dry beans and peas
 ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal ½ cup juice 1 egg
½ bun, muffin, or bagel

Chart 30

What You Shouldn’t Feed Your Preschooler

  • Be careful with foods that may cause choking:

    • Slippery foods such as whole grapes; large pieces of meats, poultry, and hot dogs; candy and cough drops.
    • Small, hard foods such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, chips, pretzels, raw carrots, and raisins, dry flake cereal, raw celery, whole olives, cherries with pits, raw peas, raw peeled apple and pear slices, cherry tomatoes, hot dogs and whole kernel corn.
    • Sticky foods such as peanut butter and marshmallows.

Cut up foods into small pieces and watch your child while he or she is eating. Moreover, your child may have some food allergies, the most common being milk, eggs, peanuts and other nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Many children grow out of food allergies. If you think your child might have a food allergy, talk with your doctor to be sure.

How to Cope With Feeding a Fussy Eater

Fussy eating is a normal phase in your toddler’s development. It will get better with time. The first thing to remember is that you should not get anxious about mealtimes. Leave him/her be, your toddler will take in just enough calories for his own needs. Just ensure that your toddler’s diet is healthy, as it should be. And try not to fret too much about what your toddler eats at a single meal, or in a single day. Instead, think about what your toddler eats over a week. Moreover, if he feels hungry, he will let you know.

Many toddlers experience a fear of new foods, which makes them reluctant to try what looks like new foods to them. Most children experience this phobia around the age of two. Rest assured that it’s a phase that will pass. Your child needs time to understand that those strange foods on his plate are safe and good fun to eat. Watching you and others eating those foods will give him confidence. You should see to it that your toddler plays a lot and gets plenty of exercise. That will increase his appetite for food.

Make Mealtime a Family Time

Family meals allow your preschooler to focus on his food and give you a chance to display good eating behavior. Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young.  This way, it becomes a habit to get together over a meal. Focus on the meal and each other.  Turn off the television and ban phone calls or texts for that period. Talk about fun and happy things.  Try to make meals a stress-free time. Encourage your child to try foods. But, don’t lecture or force your child to eat. Let your difficult toddler see the fun and laughter at the table.

Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions not related to food, but to games and exercise. Have your child help you get ready to eat. Depending on age, your child may be able to help by turning off the TV and removing books and other irrelevant items away. He can later hand out napkins. Make him comfortable and ask if there is anything special he would like for say, dinner the next day. Offer new foods one at a time, and remember that children may need to try a new food 10-17 times before they accept it! Also, offer new foods at the start of meals when your child is more hungry. Give small portions. Toddlers can be overwhelmed by big platefuls and lose their appetite. If your toddler finishes his small portion, praise him and offer him more.

Offer finger foods as often as possible. Allow your toddler to touch his food, play with it if he wants to, and make a mess at mealtimes. Toddlers enjoy having the control of feeding themselves with finger foods. Work out a daily routine of meals and two or three snacks around your child’s daytime sleep pattern. Toddlers thrive on routine and knowing what to expect. Limit mealtimes to 30 minutes and wait for the next snack or meal and offer some nutritious foods then. Most toddlers eat whatever they are going to eat within the first 30 minutes.

Make food simple, plain, and recognizable. Enlist the support of your entire family and ask them to lay off your difficult toddler about his phobia but encourage him by example. Tell your elder child or husband to gasp when they see a dish that the picky kid is eyeing a dish disdainfully and go, “Oooh, my favorite. Thanks mom-hey please pass the bowl.” This video may help.

Food Safety Tips For Young Children

Out of every six Americans, one is sickened by food poisoning each year. What is not revealed is that out of these Americans who fall prey to food poisoning, less than five percent are first generation immigrants, particularly Asians and that less than 10 percent are second generation immigrants’ children. That simply shows that such immigrants have a higher immunity level.

Anyone can get food poisoning, but babies, toddlers and even preschoolers are at especially high risk and once they become infected, recovery can take time and give the sick children a hard time getting well. Infants and young children are most prone to food poisoning because their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight foodborne infections. According to the CDC, very young children experience a higher rate of hospitalization due to foodborne infection than that of children over age 3. The solution is simple− handle and prepare food when feeding young children safely.

When feeding young children, always avoid:

  • Unpasteurized milk or any unpasteurized dairy products
  • Raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or shellfish
  • Unpasteurized juices
  • Raw sprouts
  • Honey

Start solids at 4 to 6 months. Up until then, your baby’s digestive system can’t handle anything besides breast milk or formula. But don’t wait too much to start, or your baby may get addicted to her liquid diet and lose interest in learning how to chew and swallow solid foods. Avoid cereals in the bottle; your baby doesn’t need the extra calories that it adds to formula − unless your pediatrician advises it.

Don’t:

  • Always start with rice cereal; it’s unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, but there’s no reason you can’t begin with other foods like pureed meat or applesauce.
  • Offer veggies before fruit. If you want to, offer fruit first. There’s no evidence that babies won’t like veggies if they’ve already had fruit.
  • Shy away from meat. Research shows that babies who eat meat earlier have a higher intake of zinc and iron, two nutrients important for growth. Start with pureed chicken.
  • Serve bland food. Babies should learn to enjoy plain fruits and veggies, but running mildly spicy ravioli through the baby food mill is okay too.

Never feed a baby food out of the jar because this method causes self-induced poisoning. Mild and safe bacteria from your baby’s spoon go into the jar, grow in the jar to poisonous strength and your baby is poisoned. Always decant baby food from the jar into a separate feeding dish and spoon feed from the clean dish.

Throw away all uneaten food from the dish. Cap and refrigerate (to 4°C/40°F or lower) open jars of baby food that you haven’t tainted with your child’s saliva. You can save opened strained fruits for two to three days, strained meats for one day and vegetable and meat combinations for two days.

Handling Child’s Foods During A Power Outage

During power outages, foods that are kept in the refrigerator or freezer can begin to spoil. If the food has begun to thaw but still has ice crystals (food temperature is at 4°C/40°F or below) than you can still refreeze it. In a long outage, foods may begin to spoil. Your nose and taste buds may not help you detect bad food and if there is a baby in the house, start discarding that food. The chart below is a handy aid.

Food Categories Specific Foods Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated Thawed and held above 40 °F for over 2 hours
MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meats Refreeze Discard
Poultry and ground poultry Refreeze Discard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings) Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews, soups Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze. Expect some texture and flavor loss. Discard
DAIRY Milk Refreeze. May lose some texture. Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) Refreeze Discard
Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Discard Discard
Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard
FRUITS Juices Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze. Will change texture and flavor Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops
VEGETABLES Juices Refreeze Discard after held above      40° F for 6 hours.
Home or commercially packaged or blanched Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss Discard after held above      40° F for 6 hours
BREADS, PASTRIES Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling Refreeze Discard
Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze. Some quality loss may occur Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable
OTHERS Casseroles – pasta, rice based Refreeze Discard
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Discard
Breakfast items –waffles, pancakes, bagels Refreeze Discard
Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods) Refreeze Discard

Chart 31

Holiday Diet – Have Fun During the Holidays

Keep the focus on fun, not food. Most holidays are associated with certain foods. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s mixed bean casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus. Instead, enjoy the rituals a holiday brings, whether it’s caroling or tree trimming.

Modify your meal times to match with your relatives’. Do your in-laws’ meal schedules fly in the face of yours? Let’s say they are late risers and have breakfast at 10:30. Then they skip lunch and start Christmas ‘dinner’ at 5 pm. To keep yourself going, have an early-morning snack (such as a piece of whole-grain toast) before your relatives rise and shine. Their late breakfast then becomes your ‘real’ breakfast, plus some of your lunch. Enjoy the late meal in moderation and have a small snack around 8 pm.

Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. Skip the cookies at Christmas, but do sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your wife’s special. Just don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually snap, and you’ll end up overeating.

Stay physically active during the holidays. You will gain less weight over the years. A study conducted by the U.S. government found adults gained, on average, more than a pound of body weight during the winter holidays – and that they could not shed that weight the following year. People who reported the most physical activity through the holiday season showed the least weight gain. Some even managed to lose weight.

Stock the freezer with healthy meals. You’re going to be overly busy during the holidays, and you want to spend time shopping, decorating, or seeing friends and family, which leaves less time to cook healthy meals. Cooking those meals well ahead of time and stow them in the freezer. You’ll be thankful later when you suddenly find time.

If you and your kids are going out for a holiday party, then:

  • Feed your children – and yourself – a light meal or snack before going to a holiday party. It’s harder to avoid overeating when you’re overly hungry.
  • Set a good example for children by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with meals or as snacks.
  • Offer to bring a healthy, low-calorie dish to holiday parties so you’ll know that at least one healthy item will be available.
  • Teach your children to eat smaller portions of food, especially at a buffet, where they may want to try everything. Help them choose the items they want to try the most, and eat a small portion of each.
  • Sodas and other sweet drinks contain a lot of calories and many contain caffeine. For a healthier version of “soda” mix 100% fruit juice with club soda or seltzer.

Stay Safe While Preparing the Holiday Meals

The holiday season will be here before you know it, which means fancy foods and feasts, the mob of friends and family and shopping for all the food. Turkeys, hams, homemade salads and fruity desserts are all waiting to be whipped up and consumed. What you can least afford is food poisoning. It’s not only your kids that need safeguarding- it’s also you and the mob.

Practice safe food-handling habits every day and also during the holidays ensures a healthier celebration. The Institute of Food Technologists suggests:

  • When purchasing your holiday meal at the store, pick up your frozen turkey or ham last before checking out and driving home. As soon as you get home, put it in the freezer.
  • To thaw, never leave a frozen turkey on the counter, which leads to higher bacterial growth. Instead, place the covered turkey in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator, or if time is limited, place the plastic-wrapped turkey in a pan of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the bird thaws.
  • Never place the meat directly on the counter to avoid cross contamination. Clean and sanitize the counter, cutting boards and your hands while handling raw foods. Keep clean dishes and utensils on hand and do not reuse plates that were used for raw meats.
  • Use a separate thermometer to check the meat temperature, versus the pop-up thermometer included with the product. Thermometers are inexpensive and easy to use. When the temperature reaches a minimum of 74° C/165° F, the turkey should be done – or 63°C/145° F for beef veal and lamb, or 71° C/ 160° F for pork and ground meat. Make sure you sanitize and clean the end of the thermometer between uses.
  • Before serving, keep hot foods in the oven (set at 93°C/200° F to 121°C/ 250° F) or cold foods in the refrigerator until serving time to keep them at a safe temperature for a longer period of time.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal is finished. Any food sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. Separate leftovers into smaller containers, which allow the food to cool down more quickly and lessen the chance for bacteria to multiply.

If you have got so far, do you still think you’re leading a healthy lifestyle, apart from the occasional step across the line? Actually, very few adults actually meet the criteria for a healthy lifestyle according to an American study. Less than 10 percent of males made it to the tape and females scored slightly better than men.

Remember is that you and only you can change or make a difference in your physical and mental health and well-being. Take control of your life, and be mindful of small behavior changes that can make your lifestyle healthier.

References

This entry was posted in: Blog.

Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Challenge of Studying the Brain, ASD expained, Newborn Brain Development, Causes of Autism, Scientific Research, Types of Autism, Vaccines, When to See A Doctor, ASD Treatment and more.

Introduction

The human brain is the most complex organism, even in today’s world of extremely advanced computers. Neurologists and scientists in human development have been studying the brain for hundreds of years, but we can safely put to side the work of physicians before the 1980s, no matter how celebrated, since they lacked access to current day devices that facilitate observation and analysis of this unbelievably intricate organism.

Whatever little we have learned about the brain− the process of its development from the day a child is born, and its progressive growth into adulthood− has clarified a few of the myriad issues of its development under normal conditions.

The yawning gap between the understanding of how genetics and environmental factors affected its development has narrowed somewhat. In a wider perspective, it has been seen that genes inherited from parents definitely shape the development process, governing how our predilections are expressed. At the same time, our experiences, mostly the outcome of how we interact with others, have a major effect on how these very predispositions are expressed.

Recent research has revealed that many abilities considered to be imbued at birth are, in fact, a function of the integration of a series of experiences brought forward with heredity. Both these factors govern the optimal development of that staggering masterpiece of design, the human brain. Why then does the brain malfunction, in certain cases from birth itself? We hear that some people are autistic; what is autism?

Challenge of Studying the Brain

Before we define anything related to the brain, it is essential to understand why the brain has apparently not been studied as exhaustively as other human organs. In order to study any organ, it is often required to distort or destroy a part of it and record what the outcome is, as is done with laboratory born and bred mice and rabbits. This is indirectly possible with every organ a human being has, in that progressive degradation can be monitored over time, as can recoveries post treatment, without damaging the person.

Hearts can be removed and examined while their owners are on a ventilator. A deceased person’s healthy organs can be removed and used to replace defective organs in others, with prior permission. But the brain cannot be fully studied, except in participatory exercises, nor can it be removed, since it governs itself and its innermost recesses cannot be reached, unlike the other organs of the human body.

Invasive techniques, like positioning electrodes in the brain, or disabling a part of this organ to observe and evaluate end effects on behavior may be used with non-human species, but ethical reasons forbid extensive experimentation with humans. But then, human beings are the sole subjects who can provide a rational response to multifarious verbal instructions.

The only recourse left is to use low output non-invasive techniques like electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings or functional neuroimaging on humans vis-á-vis non-humans.

Source

Important topics, like language, cannot be studied at all, other than in humans. It is possible that human and non-human studies complement each other: Individual brain cells can only be studied in non-humans; complex cognitive tasks can only be studied in humans.

Tissue samples for biopsy for suspected brain tumors are a separate issue. Today’s gauntlet for neuroscience is the combination of these two sources of information, which, when put together, yield a comprehensive functional insight of the human brain.

The Make-up of The Human Brain (need correction here)

The brain is the most powerful organ in the body, yet weighs only around 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Its texture is that of a firm jelly. Its volume is close to 1130 cubic centimetres (cm3) in women and 1260 cm3 in men, though variations can be substantial. Neurological differences in volume between the genders do not correlate with IQ or cognitive performance. The main components of human brain are neurons, glial cells and blood vessels. The neurons number about 86 billion, with an almost equal number of cells called glia.

The brain has 3 main parts:

  • The cerebrum, which, along with its cortex fills up most of the skull. It controls memory, deduction, thought processes, feeling and movement.
  • The cerebellum, which lies beneath the cerebrum, at the rear of the head. It looks after balance and overall coordination.
  • The brain stem, which lies under the cerebrum and ahead of the cerebellum. It joins the brain and the spinal cord and controls life-related functions like breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and digestion (ibid).   

The human head is rather small, but the size of the brain fitted inside is large. The cerebral cortex, a layer of neural tissue that covers most of the brain, is folded in such a manner that it increases the surface area of the brain fitted in the space available. This folding pattern is common between individuals, with small variations. The cortex is split into four lobes, the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe respectively.

The human brain is prone to both damage and disease. It is protected by the skull with its thick bones and cerebrospinal fluid, and segregated from the bloodstream by the blood–brain barrier. The most common type of physical damage is head injuries caused by a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by neurotoxins. A blow to the head causes contusions and concussion.

The most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury is called a concussion. CDC statistics show as many as 3.8 million sports, recreation and accident-related concussions occur each year in the U.S.

A concussion is most often caused by a sudden direct blow or bump to the head. The brain is cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain. Your brain then doesn’t function normally. If you’ve suffered a concussion, vision may be disturbed, you may lose equilibrium and fall. In short, the brain is confused. If the after effects last longer than one day, it is called Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD). Concussions often occur in young children because their heads are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their body. As kids enter adolescence, they experience rapid height and weight gain, factors that make them more prone to accidents than adults. According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 1 million children each year suffer concussions. More than 30,000 incur long-term disabilities as a result of the traumatic brain injury. Source: http://www.webmd.com

Strokes

The cells that make up the brain survive on the oxygen and nutrients brought to it in the blood pumped from the heart. If this supply is denied to the cells or reduced, they first suffer damage and then die. Such a condition is called a stroke.

A stroke may thus be caused by a blockage in an artery (ischemic stroke) or by a leak in blood vessel or even a burst (hemorrhagic stroke). People often experience a short term interruption of blood coursing through their brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA).

Ischemic Stroke

Almost 85% of strokes suffered are ischemic strokes. An ischemic strokes takes place when the arteries from your heart to your brain narrow down or get blocked, resulting in a major reduction of blood flow (ischemia). The most common ischemic strokes include:

  • Thrombotic stroke. A thrombus is a blood clot that is formed in one of the many arteries that provide blood to your brain. If this thrombus leads to a stroke−as it certainly will− you would have undergone a thrombotic stroke. The clot is exactly the same as those that cause a myocardial infarction or heart attack and is caused by the same reasons, i.e., fat deposit (plaque) in arteries that narrow it and reduce blood flow (atherosclerosis) or by other specific artery conditions.
  • Embolic stroke. An embolus is a loose blood clot travelling through arteries and when it gets lodged in an artery in the brain, it causes a stroke. The lodging of an embolus is called an embolism and if this happens in an artery in the brain, it is called a pulmonary embolism.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

If a blood vessel in your brain ruptures, leaks or bursts, you will suffer a hemorrhagic stroke. Brain hemorrhages may be caused by one of many conditions that affect your blood vessels, like hypertension (high blood pressure) and aneurysms, weak spots caused by thinning of the walls of a blood vessel. A brain hemorrhage is labeled according to precisely where it occurs in the brain. Bleeding anywhere inside the skull is called an intracranial hemorrhage. Bleeding within the brain itself is known as an intracerebral hemorrhage. Bleeding can also occur between the covering of the brain and the brain tissue itself, called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a mini stroke is a short period of time when you exhibit symptoms similar to those in a stroke. The TIA is caused by a short term decrease in blood supply to a part of your brain and could last less than five minutes. A TIA doesn’t leave lasting symptoms because the blockage is temporary. You must seek emergency care even if your symptoms seem to clear up. If you’ve had a TIA, it means there’s likely a partially blocked or narrowed artery leading to your brain, or a clot source in the heart. A TIA should be construed as a serious warning that a major stroke is round the corner.

None of the above cause Autism Spectrum Disorders.

So what is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a serious neurological disorder in a child’s development that restricts or even prevents its ability to communicate and interact with others.

Earlier, five disorders were classified under a blanket category officially termed Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or PDD. These five disorders were:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS)

ASD is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Rett syndrome has been left out. Asperger’s syndrome was to be removed this year from this spectrum or range.

Though overall birth rate is on the decline, the number of children afflicted by autism spectrum disorder is on the rise. This could be due to improved detection technology, facilitating better detection and reporting, or a genuine increase in the disease, or both. 25 years ago, the stated rate was pegged at 2-6 per 1,000. Today, it is 1 in 88. Even though there is no known allopathic cure for autism spectrum disorder, focused early treatment could make a serious positive difference in the day to day lives of many unfortunate children.

Symptoms of Autism

As mentioned earlier, autism spectrum disorder affects how a child perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in crucial areas of development — social interaction, communication and behavior. ASD can manifest itself at any stage of childhood. Some children exhibit symptoms soon after birth. Others could grow normally for the first couple of months, even years of life, but then, out of nowhere, start displaying symptoms such as becoming withdrawn or cantankerous or lose the ability to use already demonstrated language skills.

Each child is different from another, and, with ASD, may show individual behavior patterns at varying levels of severity. The level of severity is decided by others, on the basis of cognitive impairment, reduction of social communications, classic restrictive behavior repetition along with effects of such disabilities. The Mayo Clinic has done a lot of work in this field.

The standard symptoms are (ibid):

A: Social Communication and Interaction

  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
  • Resists cuddling and holding and seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her own world
  • Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech, or may lose previous ability to say words or sentences
  • Can’t start a conversation or keep one going, or may only start a conversation to make requests or label items
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
  • May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them
  • Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others’ feelings
  • Doesn’t point at or bring objects to share interest
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive

B: Patterns of Behavior

  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping, or may perform activities that could cause harm, such as head-banging
  • Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
  • Moves constantly
  • May be uncooperative or resistant to change
  • Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff or exaggerated body language
  • May be fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn’t understand the "big picture" of the subject
  • May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch, and yet oblivious to pain
  • Does not engage in imitative or make-believe play
  • May become fixated on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus
  • May have odd food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or eating only foods with a certain texture

Most children afflicted by ASD are slow learners, with IQ below par. Others with ASD are normal or better than par in the IQ department — they pick up things quickly, but fall foul when it comes to communication and application of what they seem to know in routine life and adapting to social situations.

A minor percentage of children with ASD are savants — they display extraordinary skills in a defined arena, such as abstract math, number crunching or music. There is no fairy tale ending here. Some may grow up and become social, exhibiting rational behavior. Those with the least problems as kids could well lead close to normal lives. But most will, unfortunately, remain aggressive and regressive.

How The Newborn Brain Develops

The basic matter of a brain is a nerve cell, the neuron. Interestingly, when kids are born, they already have almost all the neurons they will require in their life-span, totaling more than 85 billion. Yes, some neurons do develop well after birth, in adulthood; the neurons kids are born with are those they will utilize as they grow, from childhood to adulthood.

While still a fetus, neurons are created and join up into an infantile brain. As neurons move, they begin to respond to chemical signals. This is a unique bottom up process, with migration from the less developed segments of the brain to the more elaborate. The first areas of the brain that must develop in totality are the areas called the brainstem and the midbrain, because these areas govern all bodily functions needed to live, called the autonomic functions. At birth, these portions of the nervous system have to be and, indeed, are well developed because they will be required instantaneously after delivery, whereas the higher zones, like emotions, thought processes, etc., are still at a primitive stage.

Immediately after birth, a new born baby has many new things to do to live, like breathe, eat, sleep, see, hear, smell, make noise, feel sensations, etc. It has to be ready to react at T0, as delivery reaches its final phase. The 85 billion neurons help them do just that. The newborns’ brains are on the go from moment T1, when they are exposed to the atmosphere as they move down, head first in normal deliveries, to the exit of the birth canal. With the passage of time, the brain cells will have much development work at hand.

Most of brain growth and subsequent development starts to take place soon after birth, especially in the higher brain regions involved as just explained. Each region knows and manages the functions that will be assigned to it using a complex progression, mainly using chemical messengers, also known as the vital force (such as neurotransmitters and hormones) to help forward information to other sections of both the brain and the body.

Brain development, manifested as learning, is actually a micro-electric process of grouping neurons, at times a trial and error procedure.

When required, a new neuron will be created; existing neurons will be strengthened by reinforcement, and misplaced neurons will be isolated from the connection highway, to be restored to its correct place at the appropriate moment.

This connection is called a synapse, a structure that allows a neuron to transmit an electrical or chemical message to another cell. Synapses reorganize the floating structure of a brain under formation by creating pathways connecting the required parts of the brain that govern all that we do—from breathing and sleeping to thinking and feeling, all set like a sprinter on his starting blocks at T0 and activated at T1. This is how the brain develops after birth, because at birth, only the critical synapses have been formed, those vital for living outside the comfort of the womb.

The synaptic growth rate after birth is astronomical, to govern bodily functions other than heart rate, breathing, eating, and sleeping. Virtually every occurrence is a new experience for extremely young children, and synapses react thereto by multiplying in response. At its zenith, a healthy kid’s cerebral cortex may generate up to two million synapses per second. By the time a child reaches an age of 3, its brain could well have close to 1012 (1,000 trillion) synapses, way in excess of the amount they might ever need. The brain itself decides which synapses it will need and these synapses are retained and strengthened; many others are gradually weeded out.

This pruning of synapses is a perfectly normal process of child development. In fact, as the children reach the adolescence stage, close to 50 percent of their synapses would have been disposed of, retaining only those they will need to live out their lives. Brain development is a continuous procedure and will carry on throughout their lives. In other words, the brain continues to learn, memorize, and adapt to changed circumstances (ibid).

The brain is self adaptive. It adopts another new and important process in its development, viz, myelination. Myelin is a white fatty tissue encapsulating fully grown brain cells in a sheath, to ensure unambiguous transmission between synapses. This is why young children take time to process information; their brain cells are deficient in the myelin needed for rapid, unambiguous transmission of nerve impulses. Myelination starts in the areas of the brain stem and cortex, which are the main areas for the growth of motor and sensory response, before migrating to the higher-order zones that have developed by now to manage thought processes, memories, and emotions. Moreover, the tempo of growth of myelination is affected by the experiences the child undergoes, continuing into adolescence.

By the time a baby is three years old, its brain would have reached close to 90 percent of the size it will carry through into adulthood. Strangely, the brain is an excellent example of Newton’s laws: The more the stimulation each region of the brain receives, the more the activity incited in that region. It is this stimulation that provides the baseline for education.

Plasticity—The Influence of Environment

Plasticity is, in effect, a researcher’s term for brain elasticity. It describes the ability of the brain to adapt to changed circumstances as a response to continuous stimulation. The degree of plasticity depends on what stage the development process is in and the specific brain system affected. For example, the lower segment of the brain, which we know controls primary yet essential functions like breathing and pulse rate, is more rigid than the higher level of functioning cortex, which regulates thoughts and feelings. Cortex plasticity reduces with age, although plasticity remains, but to a lesser degree. It is this plasticity of the brain that permits us to learn progressively into adulthood and thereafter (ibid).

The continuous adaptation of a brain still developing is the outcome of a combination of genetics and experience. Our brains get us ready to anticipate specific experiences by creating the synapses needed to react to those experiences. For instance, our brains are trained to respond to speech; when infants hear speech, their neural systems responsible to react to speech/language are stimulated to function as organized. The more infants are exposed to speech, the better their language-related synapses become. If such an exposure does not take place, the synapses developed in expectation could be discarded, i.e., "use it or lose it." It is via these intertwined procedures of forming, strengthening and abandoning synapses that our brains readapt to changing environment.

The capability to adapt to changing environment forms part of normal development. For instance, kids growing up in freezing Iceland, on farms, or in large groups quickly learn how to adapt to those environments. That said, all children require stimulation and sustenance to stay healthy. If these are deficient—if a child’s custodians are indifferent or antagonistic—that child’s development of the brain could be damaged. Since the brain becomes accustomed to that environment, it will get used to a negative environment as easily as it would to a positive one. Even so, a slightly underformed brain, which would become normal in a positive environment in time, is at a risk of autism (ibid).

It is believed that there are windows of time for developing certain abilities, i.e., when specific components of the brain are most vulnerable to exacting experiences. Animals artificially blinded in their sensitive period when they develop vision might lose the ability to see, even if the artificial blinding device is removed at a later stage. Such an experiment cannot be carried out on a human being.

Why such an experiment cannot be done on humans needs no explanation. It is infinitely more complicated to assess periods of human sensitivity. But then, if certain synapses are not frequently activated, they may be abandoned, and the associated abilities diminished. For instance, babies have a genetic predilection to bond strongly with their primary caretakers. But if this caregiver is indifferent or hostile, the attachment procedure is impaired and the infant’s ability to shape any meaningful relationships during his or her life could be destroyed.

Even so, the plasticity of the child’s brain often permits them to recover to normal despite missing gainful experiences. Recovery of missed experiences become more difficult in the later stages in life, but hope should never be lost. This is particularly true in the case of young children deprived of specific stimuli, resulting in improper pruning of synapses pertinent to those stimuli and the ensuing deprivation of neuronal pathways. All the same, normal children have the resilience to bounce back from impaired progress past the developmental stage, to learn and regulate each step in concordance with the capability of their brains to build an efficient synaptic network.

The organizing scaffold for kids’ development is based on re-creation of memories. If repetitive experiences fortify a specific neuronal pathway, that pathway first becomes encoded, eventually becoming a memory. For instance, tiny tots quickly learn to put one foot in front of the other to walk, words to convey their sentiments, a smile is usually reciprocated. At a point in time, these evolve from processes to memories using a pathway created to facilitate a smooth and effective transmission of information. Creating memories is essential in adapting to our environment. Our brains try to fathom our world and regulate interactions with our world to enhance productive survival and growth. If the initial environment is offensive or negligent, our brains might generate memories of such negative experiences that could color our impression of our world throughout our existence adversely (ibid).
Babies are known to be born with the ability of implicit memory, meaning that they perceive the prevailing environment and can recall it in subconscious ways. They recognize their mother’s voice from some subconscious memory. Such implicit memories could well have a noteworthy impact on a kid’s attachment relationships later in life. Very young children who have been maltreated or suffered other ordeals may not be able to access memories for their adverse experiences. These implicit memories can have serious deleterious repercussions in the form of flashbacks, nightmares and other unmanageable reactions.

What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The number of ASD cases diagnosed has been rising at a steady pace over the past decade.

At the turn of the millennium it was 2-6 in 1,000, increasing to 1 in 110 and currently estimated at 1 in 88.

We know that ASD is a mental condition in which children struggle with social interaction and communication, usually coupled with a narrow range of interests and a proclivity for a fixed routine.

One of the leading questions psychiatrists specializing in child psychiatry are regularly asked is, "What causes autism?" Unfortunately, the candid answer is that so far, nobody really knows. The individual asking the question very likely has a reason behind it and he is left dissatisfied. Thus the answer moves into the sphere of generalization, with a blanket reply that it is possibly due to a wide variety of factors, the important causes being ‘genetic’ and ‘environmental’ influences. If the reason is not known, the answer must remain general.

The causes of ASD can be described in two ways:

  • Primary ASD (also known as idiopathic ASD) – where no underlying factors can be identified to explain why ASD has developed.
  • Secondary ASD – where an underlying medical condition or environmental factor thought to increase the risk of ASD is identified.

About 90% of cases of ASD are primary, and about 10% are secondary.

Factors Thought to Increase the Risk of Developing ASD

Factors thought to increase the risk of developing ASD, known as ‘risk factors’, can usually be divided into five main categories (ibid):

  • Genetic factors – certain genetic mutations may make a child more likely to develop ASD.
  • Environmental factors – during pregnancy, a child may be exposed to certain environmental factors that could increase the risk of developing ASD.
  • Psychological factors – people with ASD may think in certain ways that tend to heighten their symptoms.
  • Neurological factors –problems with the development of the brain and nervous system may contribute to the symptoms of ASD. Pruning is inefficient, leading to a block in storage space.
  • Other health conditions.

Note the use of the word ‘may’.

The media is perhaps spreading wrong information, given the current thrust of recent reports that claim to have evidence of yet another "risk factor" to autism. The scope of links found vary from air pollution to maternal antibodies, leaving the father blameless; gluten sensitivity, genetic mutations and a folic acid deficiency have all been touted as probable causes of this disorder. This naturally begs the question: why is it almost impossibly difficult for doctors and scientists to isolate the cause for this serious condition, especially because it seems to be waxing large.

What the general public must know is that there is no "typical" autistic person. ASD encompasses such a wide and sundry group of patients with multiple combinations of exhibited symptoms and an equally wide diversity in functional severity that diagnosis has remained general. This has some doctors now saying, "When you have seen one person with autism, you have seen one person with autism." It also helps to explain why the term spectrum in ASD has become a better method of discussing this woeful condition. This is antithetic to the perspective of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

There is no definitive CAT/PET or brain MRI scans for ASD. It is believed that some innovative technologies are in the research studies/ being developed phase to pinpoint the malaise earlier. That said, diagnosis of ASD in clinical practice is still based on child behavior, along with observations about his psychomotor response and brain processing, i.e., how he thinks, relates, communicates and responds. Child behavior devolves from diverse causes. For the moment, consider a child who can’t walk. There could be any number of reasons why that child can’t walk — some obvious, some more complex to determine. It could be a painful toe, a broken ankle, some infection, a pulled muscle or a predicament with the child’s nervous system. Diagnose that child simply on behavior (the child is unable to walk) and we may end up with a conclusion of "immobility spectrum disorder." Figuring out immobility is far easier than comprehending ASD, a "brain disorder." After all, there are less than 100 bony joints plus muscles in our leg, with the nerves employed by the muscular system hardly as complex as the 100 billion neurons, and trillions of synapses in the brain (ibid).  

So what are we left with? Innumerable variations in brain development, the enduring combination of environmental exposures or genetic disturbances that could lead to ASD, with detrimental concomitant effects on social communication, language and behavior. Autism is best seen as a spectrum, a brood of "autisms." If indeed so, news about yet another link to or cause of ASD should not surprise us. This challenge, in itself, is not unique. We regularly diagnose so many other brain disarrays, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, bipolar disorder and virtually every other mental imbalance on the basis of clinical appraisal — patient history, family observation, the patient himself when communicative, teachers, other dependable sources, as well as comprehensive examination of the patient. To complicate matters, other conditions have been observed to exist alongside ASD, like ADHD, which is thought to be present in a third of children with autism.

Scientific Research

So far, we have believed that ASD is genetically biased. Now, scientists stress the fact that escalating cases of autism can’t be elucidated only by genetic change, as our genes are just not changing as rapidly. Thus far, large-scale genetic research can explain only about 20 percent of ASD cases. We also know that there is more than one gene responsible. Who knows, there could well be several hundred genes interrelating to bring about ASD. Autism genetic research is increasingly relying on experts in computing and statistics to be able to separate and decipher the "signal" to "noise" ratio, to determine what is actually noteworthy in larger genetic research.

Progress has been made in understanding ASD and ADHD. Researchers are developing specialized eye-tracking technologies aimed at diagnosing ASD earlier than ever before (and early detection and intervention are crucial to long-term functioning in youth affected by this condition). By detecting subtle changes in eye gaze, researchers have been able to identify ASD in children as young as 18 months of age. These eye tracking technologies, however, remain experimental and are not currently in routine clinical use. However, the FDA has just approved the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) system as an aid to making a diagnosis of ADHD. This NEBA system measures different formats of brain waves, thereby enhancing ADHD diagnosis accuracy when conducted alongside clinical appraisal. With luck, similar technologies might be approved for analyzing ASD in the years ahead permitting us to build more specific interventions to cater for the multifarious "autisms." Till such time as the cause for ASD is established, we will perforce have to stay with generalization.

Types of Autism

Two of the five listed types of Autism have been/will be removed from that list of five. These are:

  • Rett Syndrome: Primarily affecting females, Rett syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. Its symptoms begin after a period of normal development that lasts between 6 and 18 months, after which the child’s mental and social development regresses. Scientists have discovered that a mutation in the sequence of a single gene can cause Rett syndrome. This discovery may also lead to methods of screening for the disorder.
  • Asperger syndrome: Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, is mostly a ‘hidden disability’. This means that you can’t tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:
  • social communication
  • social interaction
  • social imagination

All autistic patients have these three disabilities as well. People with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy. With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives (ibid).

As of now, there is no ‘cure’ or specialized treatment for Asperger syndrome. Children with Asperger syndrome will grow into adults with Asperger syndrome. However, as general understanding of the debility improves and medical services continue to develop, afflicted people will have excellent opportunities to reach their potential to the full. 

Is ASD Caused by Vaccines?

There are two schools of thought, one believing that the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine was causing stomach disorders in some children and autism in others. The counter to this is that if MMR was the cause of Autism, then the number of victims should have been in the hundreds of millions, not in the 1 in 88 category.

MMR Causes Autism

At the outset, it is worth remembering that it’s worth remembering that the exact same people who own the free world’s drug companies also own America’s news outlets. Finding unbiased information has been and will still be difficult.

In 1996, Dr. Andrew Wakefield of Austin, Texas noticed the link between stomach disorders and autism, and taking his research one step further, the link between stomach disorders, autism and the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine. His research was published in 1998, and the good doctor became the hit man of a world-wide smear campaign by drug corporations, governments and media companies, losing his license to legally practice medicine. He became a best-selling author instead.

But in recent months, courts, governments and vaccine manufacturers have quietly conceded the fact that the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine most likely does cause autism and stomach diseases. Pharmaceutical companies have paid out massive monetary awards, totaling in the millions, to the victims in an attempt to compensate them for damages and to buy their silence. The news that vaccines cause autism has now spread across the US despite a coordinated media black-out.

In December 2012, two landmark decisions were announced that confirmed Dr. Wakefield’s original concern that there was a link between the MMR vaccine, autism and stomach disorders. The news went unreported, but independent outlets like The Liberty Beacon finally published the pathbreaking news. The news was published online, “In a recently published vaccine court ruling, (December 13, 2012) hundreds of thousands of dollars were awarded to Ryan Mojabi, whose parents described how MMR vaccinations caused a “severe and debilitating injury to his brain, diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (‘ASD’).

The Liberty Beacon described the second court ruling that month, as well as similar previous verdicts, “The government suffered a second major defeat when young Emily Moller from Houston won compensation following vaccine-related brain injury that, once again, involved MMR and resulted in autism. The cases follow similar successful petitions in the Italian and US courts (including Hannah Poling, Bailey Banks, Misty Hyatt, Kienan Freeman, Valentino Bocca, and Julia Grimes) in which the governments conceded or the court ruled that vaccines had caused brain injury. In turn, this injury led to an ASD diagnosis. MMR vaccine was the common denominator in these cases.”

The ant-vaccine groups say that thimerosal, a preservative used in vaccines, is toxic to the central nervous system and responsible for an alarming rise in rates of autism among children in the United States and around the world. Since the world has slowly become aware of the dangers of the MMR vaccine, parents around the globe have refused to get their children vaccinated. Further investigations revealed the callous attitude and antipathy of the manufacturers and governments alike.

The Counter Argument to the MMR Causes of Autism

One of the key pillars of the “vaccines cause autism” argument is that with the increase in the number of childhood vaccines on the schedule over the years, autism prevalence has increased, as well. The immune system doesn’t count the number of shots. It counts what’s in those shots, the molecules known as antigens, which trigger the immune response. And the number of antigens children encounter by way of today’s vaccine schedule is thousands fewer than it once was.

Now that key pillar has been eroded. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics on 06 March 2013 added up the antigen number in the vaccines administered to 1008 children, 25% with autism, and found no correlation whatsover between autism and increasing antigen number through completion of the vaccine schedule up to age 2. The study was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These children were born from 1994 to 1999, during a time when a single DTP shot could contain more than 3000 of the molecules that fire up the immune system. Today’s vaccine-related antigen exposure is considerably less. The authors say: “Thus, even though the routine childhood schedule in 2012 contains several more vaccines than the schedule in the late 1990s, the maximum number of antigens to which a child could be exposed by age 2 years was 315 in 2012 …”

From 3000 in a single shot to 315 total today.

Researchers also examined both autistic disorder and autism associated with regression. In neither case did they find a link to increasing vaccine-related antigen exposure through infancy. Their work had some limitations. For example, not all antigens are created equal. Some have more immune triggering areas on them than others. The study did not incorporate the relative intensity of the immune response to each antigen. Yet, the authors note that the 314 antigens infants encounter via vaccines in their first two years of life is a drop in an ocean of antigen exposures: Beginning at birth, an infant is exposed to hundreds of viruses and other antigens, and it has been estimated that an infant theoretically could respond to thousands of vaccines at once.

The major argument is that if the MMR vaccine was indeed the culprit, then there should have been millions of more children/youths afflicted with ASD. "There is no evidence whatsoever linking the development of autism to childhood vaccines," The Guardian of May 20, 2014, reported. A new study involving more than a million children found no evidence of a link between childhood vaccines and autism or autism spectrum disorder. Researchers pooled the results of studies that have assessed the relationship between vaccine administration and the subsequent development of autism spectrum disorder. No significant associations were found between vaccinations and the development of the condition. The researchers included five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9,920 children.

Many respected medical institutions have scrutinized the evidence from the United States and abroad, and have come to the conclusion that there is no link between autism and exposure to thimerosal. What’s more, the preservative has been removed from most childhood vaccines in the United States and the storage system changed at greater cost to manufacturers.

When to See A Doctor

The symptoms listed earlier should alarm parents. It is essential for a child’s future that it be checked for ASD and preventive treatment started, if only to limit the malaise.
This is a guide to what your child should be doing at 11/2-2 years of age:

  • Shows interest in his / her siblings or peers
  • Brings you items to show you
  • Follows your gaze to locate an object when you point
  • Engages in “pretend play” (e.g. feeding a doll or making a toy dog bark)
  • Uses many spontaneous single words and some-two word phrases

Some of the following may be early indicators of ASD. It has been observed that no single symptom necessarily signals autism – generally, a child would exhibit several indicators from the list below:

Behaviour

  • Has inexplicable tantrums
  • Has unusual interests or attachments
  • Has unusual motor movements such as flapping hands or spinning
  • Has extreme difficulty coping with change

Sensory

  • Afraid of some everyday sounds
  • Uses peripheral vision to look at objects
  • Fascination with moving objects
  • High tolerance of temperature and pain

Communication

  • Not responding to his/her name by 12 months
  • Not pointing or waving by 12 months
  • Loss of words previously used
  • Speech absent at 18 months
  • No spontaneous phrases by 24 months

Play

  • Prefers to play alone
  • Very limited social play (e.g. “Peek-a-boo”)
  • Play is limited to certain toys
  • Plays with objects in unusual ways such as repetitive spinning or lining up

Early diagnosis and intervention are very important for children with ASD. The USA caters for such children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Children with ASD may be eligible for early intervention services (birth to 3) and an educational program that has been designed appropriate to their individual needs. Apart from pure academics, special education programs for students with ASD (ages 3 to 22) have also been made with its focus on improving communication, social, academic, behavioral, and daily living skills. Idiopathic problems that obstruct learning are left to professionals particularly knowledgeable about ASD to develop and implement a syllabus for both home and school.

The classroom should be so structured that training programs are consistent and logical. It has been noted that students with ASD learn best and without confusion when information is presented audio-visually. Interaction with understanding nondisabled peers is significant, as these students become models of language, social, and behavioral skills. Since consistency and continuity are critical for children with ASD, parents should be part of the overall development plan for their child, so that school activities and experiences are carried into the home and community. It is possible that children undergoing such programs coordinated with specialized adult support services will grow to live, work, and participate fully in their communities.

Tips for Teachers

  • Learn more about ASD (ibid).
  • Check out research on effective instructional interventions and behavior.
  • Ensure directions are given step-by-step, verbally, visually, and by providing any support or prompts, as needed by the student. Be as explicit as possible in your instructions and feedback to the student.
  • Find out what the student’s strengths and interests are and emphasize them. Give positive feedback and lots of opportunities for practice.
  • Build opportunities for the student to have social/collaborative interactions throughout the regular school day.
  • If behavior becomes an issue, call in the experts (including parents) to understand the behavior pattern and develop a unified, positive approach to resolving them.
  • Have consistent routines and schedules.
  • Reward students for each small success.
  • Work alongside the student’s parents to implement the educational plan devised.

Tips for Parents

  • Learn about ASD. The more you learn, the better you can help your child (ibid).
  • Interact with your child in ways most likely to adduce positive response.
  • Know what may trigger a breakdown for your child and minimize them. The earliest years are the toughest, but it does get better!
  • Learn from professionals and other parents how to meet your child’s special needs.
  • Stick to structured, consistent schedules and routines.
  • Behavior, communication, and social skills are areas of concern for a child with ASD. Maintaining a loving and structured approach in caring for your child helps greatly.
  • Learn about assistive technology that can help your child, from simple picture boards to sophisticated communication devices, consistent with age.
  • Work with professionals in early intervention. Include related services, supplementary aids and services and a positive behavioral support plan, if needed.
  • Be patient, and stay optimistic. Your child, like every child, has a whole lifetime to learn and grow. 

ASD Treatment

There is no medication that can cure ASD or treat the core symptoms, though there is medication that can aid some people afflicted with ASD function better. Treatment already exists for inability to focus, hyperactivity, depression, seizures, etc. These can be used as advised by a specialist in ASD. Medications may affect different children differently, which is why it is important to work with a professional who is a specialist in ASD. Watch for negative side effects. At the same time, remember your child has to undergo routine medical checks along with all other kids.

Many types of treatments are available, under the following categories:

  • Behavior and Communication Approaches
  • Dietary Approaches
  • Medication
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Behavior And Communication Approaches to aid children afflicted by ASD are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation. A noteworthy approach for treating people with ASD is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is widely accepted by specialists and used both in schools and clinics. ABA is a variation of Different Strokes, encouraging positive behavior while disparaging negative behavior to progress a skill set. The child’s development is tracked and plotted.

Dietary Approach

Some dietary approaches have been built up by known therapists, but lack scientific support desired for extensive recommendation. An unproven treatment might help one child, but may not help another. Grandma’s potions will not work here.

Medication

As already stated, medication may help control hyperactivity, inability to focus, depression, or seizures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of antipsychotic drugs (like risperidone and aripripazole in the USA) to treat, at stipulated ages, children with ASD who suffer from violent tantrums, aggression, and even injure themselves.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

At times, parents and doctors use treatments normally not recommended by a pediatrician to assuage ASD. Such treatments are called complementary / alternative treatments (CAM). They might include chelation (removal of heavy metals from the body), biologicals (e.g., secretin), or body-based systems (like deep pressure). Some might go in for Homeopathy, Acupuncture, etc.

Organizations That may be of Assistance

Achieve Beyond

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

Autism Treatment Center

AUTCOM – The Autism National Committee

Autism Research Institute

Geneva Centre for Autism

Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC)

Autism Consortium

Autism Ontario

Autism Society

Autistica – Funding Pioneering Autism Research

Center for Autism and Related Disorders

The Dan Marino Foundation

Autism Center – University of Washington – Seattle, Tacoma

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation – A National Autism Organization: Granting a Future to Adolescents and Adults

Families for Early Autism Treatment

Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism

National Fragile X Foundation

Jenny McCarthy’ Autism Organization

The Golden Fund for Autism

Hollyrod Foundation

Illinois Center for Autism

IMHRO (One Mind Institute) – Global Innovation for Brain Health

Lakeside Center for Autism

The Mifne Swiss House

NARPAA | National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism

National Autism Association | Help and Hope for Families Affected by Autism

New England Center for Children

Organization for Autism Research

Rocky Mountain Autism Center – Colorado

South Carolina Autism Society

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)

The Color of Autism Foundation African American Support

The Help Group

Train 4 Autism

References

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How to Keep Food Safe During an Emergency Caused by Nature

How to Keep Food Safe During an Emergency Caused by Nature

REPORT SUMMARY: Survival Without Food And Water, Likely Disaster In Your Area, Hurricane Strikes Since 1950, Measures Against Hurricanes, Assembling An Emergency Food Supply, The Aftermath Of The Disaster, Prepare Food Without Power & More.

An emergency caused by nature may be defined as a set of circumstances created by nature that poses a serious and immediate threat to your life, well being, possessions or environment. Almost all such emergencies call for urgent intervention and assistance to prevent the situation getting out of hand. Regrettably, there will be situations when mitigation is not possible; all that can be offered in such a situation will be palliative care to forestall the ill effects that ensue as the aftermath.

In the USA, common emergencies caused by nature are violent hurricanes that leave a trail of death and destruction behind them, tornados which have similar consequences but are much smaller in scale when compared to hurricanes, and the unpredictable earthquakes in California caused by the San Andreas Fault.

A flood, fire, national disaster, prolonged heat wave, tsunami, volcano or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice can put the safety of your food in jeopardy. Knowing how to establish if the food available is safe to eat and how to keep that food safe for the longest possible period will help reduce the potential loss of food while reducing the risk of disease carried by the food you’re likely to eat.

This article will help you make the right decisions for keeping your family safe during an emergency.

How Long Can You Survive Without Food and Water

The length of time a human can survive without food and water is totally dependent on the conditions obtaining and therefore, is a function of one or a combination of more than one factor. The most important is your will to survive. Going without water or food are two different stories, so they can be examined separately.

Caloric Intake Facts

The average man is 1.75 m (5’9”) tall, weighs 65 kg (156 lbs) and eats 2,400-2600 Kcal (calories) per day. You require about 1,600 residual calories distributed around your body as carbohydrates, fats and proteins when asleep before you wake up next morning to retain your figure. So, when you eat, you are adding to your residual calories, which is fine because your body needs 1,600 base calories for your internal systems to function. You need to shed those 2,400-2,600 calories you ate to stay trim. If you’ve gained 4-500 calories extra after a sumptuous meal, these are very easily shed so you can become trim again. One friendly jog for five minutes will knock off 50 cal. Or, walk up stairs for 10 minutes a day for five days. One full day without food will take 1,500 calories off you. It is a good habit to fast for one day a fortnight and give your digestive system a rest.

A calorie is a calorie, whether it comes from fat or carbohydrate. Any calories eaten in excess can lead to weight gain. You can lose weight by eating fewer calories and by increasing your physical activity. Your brain will adapt to the changed system and reduce your base calorie count to, say, 1,400. An impoverished man has a base value programmed from his early days at, say, 750 calories. His working, eating and drinking revolves around this figure of 750 calories.

Reducing the amount of total fat and saturated fat that you eat is one way to limit your overall calorie intake. In fact, 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, whereas 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate equals less than half the number of calories (4 calories each). By reducing total fat intake, you help reduce your calorie intake.

Survival Without Food (with water)

Humans have far more stamina than they know and can manage a long period of hunger, provided they are well hydrated. The self-evident factors are your physical fitness, total body weight and type of body mass and the prevailing weather. The answer to this question cannot be derived easily since no two persons are alike. For that matter, prevailing conditions may not be the same either. The factors at play are many in number.

  • Among the factors that determine how long you can go without food, will power, mental health and determination play a definite part. A number of people have gone on hunger strikes for political and religious reasons for a month! There are many cases of people getting lost in the wilderness and given up for dead by rescue teams suddenly reappearing, having survived for a long time without food. Perhaps the best documented example is that of the crash of the Uruguayan Air Force aircraft in the Andes on 13 Oct. 1972 when a passenger aircraft with 45 souls on board crashed and 16 survivors were rescued on 23 Dec. 1972, seventy two days after the accident. The 16 were pushed so hard to survive that they ultimately ate the flesh of their dead co-passengers, friends and colleagues.
  • There is a consensus of opinion that healthy human beings can manage without food for 50-60 days so long as water is available. Exceptions exist and people have survived longer, whereas people have died of starvation in much less time. A healthy body and good physical condition generally helps you to survive longer, as does that extra adipose tissue or body fat. We all know that food eaten is converted into energy required to live. This energy is stored as fat, proteins and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are used up first when more food is not coming in. The fat goes next, which explains why people with more of it can survive longer. Next go the proteins. This is when the threat factor sets in. If your body is consuming proteins, it is becoming a ‘cannibal’ in that it is eating your core structure, the nucleus of your body.
  • Your metabolism is also involved. Metabolism is the process of converting food ingested into energy. If you can slow down your metabolism, you’ll consume the food you ate at a matching slow rate and be able to go longer without replacing the food energy. If you do not eat food, your metabolism (brain) senses that intake was low and outgo must be adjusted, unless there is a requirement to produce a high performance, much like amateur boxers who need to shed half a kilo just before weigh-in time. The brain is supracomplex and will adjust your metabolism to slow it down – pitching in for survival.
  • Climate is yet another major factor. Both cold and hot weather are detrimental if you lack food to eat, in their own unique ways. Hot weather dehydrates you, cold weather requires more energy to be burned so that your body temperature stays normal at 37° C (98.6° F). In fact, you won’t have the time to starve to death before the solitary reaper claims you as victim. If you’re stranded in mild temperatures, you’ll survive a couple of hours extra without food.

The basic symptoms you will see if you start a starvation diet for an extended period of time are:

  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Irritability and poor decision making
  • Deficiency in immunity

Advanced starvation has serious repercussions. It will force your organs to shut down one after another. People experiencing severe starvation fall prey to the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions and muscle spasms
  • Irregular heartbeat

Survival Without Water

You can survive 2-5 days without water, depending on your build, your location and how much you sweat, urinate, or shed as tears. At any given time, a human is 70 percent water. Your blood is mainly water; your brain is 75 percent water, your muscles are also almost 75 percent water and all joints use water as lubricants. Every single system in your body functions on water. If the body were to lose water and you had the option, just lie down and stop any exertion of any kind, till some person finds you and gives you water to rehydrate.

As a spectator at highly physical matches like hockey, football and tennis, you must have players rehydrating regularly. Even in what is considered a slow game, cricket players start to cramp on a warm day. The standard solution is a 250 cc bottle of water with a spoonful of glucose and salt added.

Survival With Food, but no Water

Returning to the situation when you have food but no water− that food is dangerous. The moment you take a bite, the brain will release fluids (water) to digest it, starting with saliva, gastric fluids (even though they are acids) as well as fluids in the intestines, kidneys, liver, you name it. There have been miracles, no doubt, but that’s what they were, miracles. A 97 year old woman survived 8 days without drinking or eating anything under the rubble of her home after an earthquake occurred in Iran in January 2004. Nearly all newborn babies, later became known as Miracle Babies, were found and rescued after being 7 days under the wreckage of Hospital Juarez in Mexico City earthquake in 1985.

Foods with High Water Content

In addition to the water we drink, approximately a fifth of our fluid intake is acquired through food and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables contain as much as 90 percent or more water, making them the ideal choice for a meal or even a snack to keep your water intake high. Fruits like coconuts are over 97 percent water; fruits like watermelons, grapefruit, cantaloupes, peaches, other melons, grapes, strawberries, cranberries, orange and raspberries all have 90 percent water or more, though their energy content, except for coconuts, is somewhat low.

The list of vegetables with high water content has cucumber and lettuce, consisting of 96 percent water. Zucchini, radish and celery are comprised of 95 percent water. Ninety-four percent of a tomato’s weight is water, and green cabbage is 93 percent water. Vegetables that contain 92 percent water include cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage and spinach. Broccoli is 91 percent water by weight.

In a study carried out by the University of Aberdeen Medical School in 2009, it was reported that after completing an intense workout, eating a watermelon or cucumber rehydrated your body twice as effectually as a glass of water. This is because such types of high water content fruits and vegetables replace the natural sugars, vitamins, amino acids and mineral salts lost in the workout and is far more effective than plain water or a sports drinks. Sports drinks combine the hydrating and energy replacing components of most of the fruits and vegetables listed above as high in water content and also have artificial colors and flavors which are, by and large, harmless. The difference lies in the fact that their combination is arbitrary, or generic, designed for the average person. But then, you are you-a discrete human with specific requirements as dictated by the constitution of your body and brain. The consumption of high water content foods is highly advantageous in that they provide a feeling of fullness while transferring minimal calories to your physique.

Preparing for the Likely Disaster in Your Area

You now know how long you can survive:

  • Without food but with water
  • With food but without water
  • Without anything

You are now in a situation where you have a solution. So what is the question? That one question is: Can you and your family survive in an emergency? There are follow up queries too. We know what an emergency means, but are you living in an area prone to emergencies? What is the average American’s chance of facing an emergency? Are reactions to all emergencies the same?

Napa Valley gets struck by the largest earthquake in 25 years. Hurricanes churn through the Atlantic. Floods claim four lives as they sweep through parts of the Northeast. Every region in America faces its own dangers, but when you account for all kinds of natural disasters–from earthquakes to winter storms to tornados–what place is safest of them all? The honor goes to Sweet Grass County, Montana, according to an analysis of more than a half century of weather patterns and destructive natural events across the USA. Sweet Grass is home to 3,000 people who are fortunate enough to live far from wildfires to the west and twister country to the east, not to mention 900 miles from any trouble caused by the sea. Ocean County, New Jersey, is the country’s most dangerous county, when it comes to frequency of natural disasters. Jersey Shore communities in Ocean County are vulnerable to tidal surges and storms like Sandy. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration USA

Figure 2: Safe/Unsafe Counties in the USA

Use the map above to see where your county ranks.  This link will take you to a page on Time Magazine, and you can check out how safe you are on their interactive map.

The Disaster Index

Researchers at Time Magazine have calculated what they call the disaster index. All records were taken from the database maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on earthquakes and tornados from 1950 and 42 other disaster since 1996. Based on their findings, they have listed the Counties listed in Chart 2 as the 15 Most Dangerous Counties in the USA.

RANK

COUNTY

STATE

DISASTER INDEX

POPULATION IN 2010

1

Ocean County

NJ

223.7

576,567

2

Orange County

CA

180.8

3,010,232

3

Cape May County

NJ

174.3

97,265

4

Monmouth County

NJ

173.8

630,380

5

Los Angeles County

CA

171.0

9,818,605

6

Clinton County

NY

156.8

82,128

7

Burlington County

NJ

156.5

448,734

8

San Diego County

CA

155.8

3,095,313

9

Franklin County

NY

152.6

51,599

10

Riverside County

CA

145.7

2,189,641

11

San Bernardino County

CA

145.4

2,035,210

12

Atlantic County

NJ

143.5

274,549

13

Chittenden County

VT

143.3

156,545

14

Grand Isle County

VT

142.3

6,970

15

Camden County

NJ

139.3

513,657

Chart 2: The 15 Most Dangerous Counties in the USA
Source: Time Magazine

Using the same criteria, the following Counties are the safest in the USA

RANK

COUNTY

STATE

DISASTER INDEX

POPULATION IN 2010

1

Sweet Grass County

MT

1.7

3,651

2

Washington County

ID

1.7

10,198

3

Wheatland County

MT

1.8

2,168

4

Sherman County

OR

2.0

1,765

5

Emporia city

VA

2.0

5,927

6

Fergus County

MT

2.3

11,586

7

Luna County

NM

2.4

25,095

8

Liberty County

MT

2.4

2,339

9

Grant County

NM

2.5

29,514

10

Malheur County

OR

2.7

31,313

11

Potter County

SD

2.7

2,329

12

Hill County

MT

2.8

16,096

13

Silver Bow County

MT

2.8

34,200

14

Canyon County

ID

2.8

188,923

15

Golden Valley County

MT

2.9

884

Chart 3: The 15 Safest Counties in the USA
Source: Time Magazine

What is striking is that the safest counties have virtually no population to speak of. Evidently, there is some unwelcome factor prevalent in these counties that people are avoiding living in them en masse.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Events measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA, research include earthquake, hurricane (typhoon), cold wind chill, astronomical low tide, coastal flood, avalanche, dense fog, drought, dust devil, dust storm, excessive heat, extreme cold/wind chill, flash flood, flood, freezing fog, funnel cloud, hail, heat, heavy rain, heavy snow, high surf, high wind, ice storm, lakeshore flood, landslide, lightning, rip current, sleet, storm surge/tide, strong wind, thunderstorm wind, tornado, tropical depression, tropical storm, tsunami, waterspout, wildfire, winter storm and winter weather (ibid).

Figure 3: Hurricane Strikes since 1950
Source: NOAA

Hurricane Strikes Since 1950

Since 1851, 290 North Atlantic hurricanes have produced hurricane-strength winds in 19 states on the Atlantic coast. Some may have remained offshore, yet producing hurricane- strength winds on land; some may have weakened to a tropical storm before landfall yet produced hurricane conditions on land while still a hurricane and some of them made landfall in an adjacent state but produced hurricane conditions over multiple states.

All categories of disasters listed are not equally dangerous. The most disastrous have been hurricanes, as three to four of different scales may strike in one year; some years have been hurricane free in that they have died out just before encountering land or reduced to a large storm. Hurricanes have claimed over three thousand five hundred lives in the U.S. since 1996 while wildfires have taken 130 lives during the same period. Many counties have seen hundreds of incidents over the years, specifically hurricane prone New Jersey and quake-prone California.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has been the most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone this millennium. It is also the most damage causing natural disaster in the history of the United States. Katrina has the dubious distinction of being the 7th deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and 2005 has seen three of the six most intense Atlantic hurricanes recorded (along with #1 Wilma and #4 Rita). 1,833 people are known to have died in the hurricane and the inevitable other disasters that follow, like floods, power outage, disconnection from the world at large and non-availability of fresh food or water other than what was supplied by rescue officials. The damage to property was projected at $108 billion (2005 USD).

If a hurricane is going to hit your house, there is nothing you can do. Prudence demands that you take safety measures in advance and pray that the intensity of the hurricane is low. As a resident of New Jersey (Chart 2), you should have an action plan ready and your entire family aware of what can happen and how they can help you in weathering the storm. Historically, the maximum property damage occurs in coastal areas, like beachfront towns. Nine out of ten can expect severe floods.

Measures Against Hurricanes

If you intend to safeguard yourself and your family from a hurricane, plan for four stages. These are the precautionary stage, the prelude, the storm and the after effects.

1. Precautionary Stage

  • There will be more than adequate warning before a hurricane strikes. That said, there is no guarantee that a hurricane will stick to its predicted path after hitting land. This can work both ways, for and against you. If you are in the path, the hurricane may pass you by, but considering its size, you may still be hit by its peripheral clouds, which will have very strong winds but less than expected rain. Buy emergency supplies now, well before it happens. The power outage may last days. Avoid the crowd by getting in early at the mart. Let’s also assume your house is 40 miles from the coastline (two hours travel time for the hurricane).
  • Consider moving to a relative’s house in say, Chicago or further west. Make sure you leave in time. Hurricanes move fairly slowly, about 25-30 mph or 40-48 kmh at that latitude, but the wind speed under its swirling cloud mass can touch 120+ mph, or 190 kph+. It is these winds and lashing rain that cause physical damage, but floods are caused by both the rain and poor drainage systems, as proved in New Orleans after a post-mortem of Katrina.
  • If you decide to stay, as generally happens, then shore up your basement. You will have to endure the strong winds when safely ensconced in your basement. After the worst is over, you will have to face the ordeal of waiting till life recovers to normal. If floods are to follow, they will convert your basement into a swimming pool. If you do not have a second floor, things could be touch and go in your house. Be prepared to evacuate in the worst case scenario. If you live in an apartment, there is no need to move anything; all you have to do is ‘batten down those hatches’ and stock up whatever is relevant from the list below.
  • You will require these items in your basement:
    • Hurricane lamps.
    • A set of torches and spare batteries.
    • Attach iridescent stickers on flashlights for easy location in little or no light.
    • Candles, four to five dozen and candle stick holders. Be careful not to start a fire.
    • Matches and disposable lighters.
    • A charging system.
    • An inverter with two high power batteries, 48 V each. You will also need an adapter to plug the inverter into any electrical power socket. Charge the batteries fully and ensurethey have enough distilled water.
    • Electrical cables, preferably two rolls of 50 ft each, colored red and green.
    • Battery-powered space heater.
    • Extension cords, long enough to reach your neighbor’s house.
    • Rubber gloves and gum boots for all.
    • Hand tools such as hammer, screwdriver, nails and wood saw.
    • Firewood and charcoal.
    • A gas camping stove or hibachi grill.
    • Extra blankets.
    • Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils.
    • First-aid kit and manual.
    • Fire Extinguisher.
    • Whistle.
    • Spare toiletry bag, with enough soap, shampoo, toothbrushes for all, toothpaste, basic medicines like aspirin and vitamins.
    • Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
    • Prescription medicines for any affected person/persons, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
    • Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
    • Photocopies of credit and identification cards.
    • Cash and coins with everybody.
    • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
    • Clothing to keep your family warm, underwear and socks. Wear double layers in cold climates, and keep your head covered to retain loss of heat.
    • Space heaters that automatically shut off if they are moved or fall over.
    • Extra blankets, sleeping bags or newspapers to put on your bed/makeshift bed at night.
    • Knowledge that refrigerators and freezers are at their coldest settings in the house.
    • Extension to your phone line.
    • Mini-gas cylinder with attached lamp.
    • List of emergency phone nos. in huge print.
    • Mosquito repellent.
    • Fuel for your hurricane lamps.
    • Battery operated radios and clocks.
    • Knowledge that food is stored on shelves safely out of the way of flood waters.
    • Confirmation that an order for dry ice and ice blocks has been placed.
    • An 18 cubic foot standalone freezer. There should be 50 lbs (23 kg) of dry ice in this gadget when power goes. Use only this freezer. It will be the first device to be rendered ineffective, within 44-52 hours, but it would have done its job.
    • Coolers available and easily accessible. Styrofoam coolers work great.
    • Freezer bags filled with ice to make ice packs/ freezer-pack inserts.
    • Stocked ready-to-eat foods.
    • Shelf-stable items that are not canned. Look for juice boxes, stock and broth in boxes, dried fruits and snack items, and others that can be stored without refrigeration.
    • Some engaging, non-electronic games like cards and Scrabble, etc.
    • Bags to carry the equipment in, with inventory cards.

2. The Prelude

  • This is the phase when you get to know that the hurricane is close to the coast. In fact, high cirrus clouds (crow’s nest or mare’s tail) would have started appearing at least 60-90 hours earlier, with menacing clouds appearing about 2-2½ days later. A drizzle will set in, gradually becoming light, then heavy rain with very strong winds. Recheck the outside of your house to see that there is nothing that can fly off and hurt others just before the drizzle sets in.
    • Satellite dishes should be dismantled and brought in.
    • Recheck windows that might flap open in strong winds are nailed down.
    • Bring all flower pots into your garage.
    • Triple check your garage for safety, as they are weak structures, particularly their roofs. Cover glass surfaces of your car with Styrofoam. Cover the car securely with canvas.
    • Collect your order for dry ice and ice blocks as the drizzle starts. The exact timing is a function of how far your home is from the coastline and the market.
    • Freeze refrigerated items such as milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
    • Group food together in the freezer – this helps the food stay cold longer. A fully packed freezer keeps food safe longer than a lightly loaded one. Think ‘safety in numbers’!
    • Check that water repellent tarps, life jackets, inflatable raft if you have one, and kid’s swimming pools are inside the house.
    • Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer on the first floor. An appliance thermometer indicates the temperature in the container. In case of a power outage, it helps determine the safety of the food. The freezer should be as close to -18°C (0°F) as possible, while the fridge should be at or below 4°C (39°F).
    • Keep another appliance thermometer in your standalone freezer in the basement. Put all your perishable eatables and leftovers in this freezer. The temperature should be as close to -18°C (0°F) as possible.
    • Fill Ziplock bags, empty soda bottles, and other plastic containers with water and freeze. Use these to keep items in the freezer, refrigerator, and coolers cold.
    • Fill freezer bags with ice to make ice packs/buy freezer-pack inserts. This is mainly for the standalone freezer you’re going to eat from in the first two days and then for the refrigerator and its freezer compartment.

Note: Bacteria cannot survive temperatures below 4.°4 C (40° F). When the temperature rises above 40° F, it will take about two hours for all ice flakes to drop off. This is an indicator that conditions have changed in favor of bacteria, which thrive in such conditions and multiply very rapidly. There is only one thing you may do now: Throw away all food items that have crossed the two hour limit.

3. The Storm

  • Watch the storm from within the safety of your home. Look up to see if loose objects are flying around. Watch the windspeed pick up and batter your walls, windows and doors. Learn from the experience. As the intensity increases, head for your basement. It is only a matter of time before you have a power outage, if it hasn’t already gone.
    • There is nothing you can do but wait. Monitor progress on a smartphone.
    • Listen to a broadcast to find out if tidal waves have surged inland. Heed all warnings.
    • The rain will not let up for at least two days, while wind strength will keep varying.
    • Several agencies would have initiated precautionary action about five days before the storm intensified into a hurricane, like The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police Department, the United States Coast Guard, National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service.
    • In due course, the hurricane will either move away or die out.
    • Pray that the accumulated water outside drains quickly.
    • NEVER taste food to check if it is safe-never!

These three phases are the most manageable phases. All your supplies will hold, nothing will run out of stock in these couple of days, unless you have mismanaged the situation. The problems start now, in the recovery phase, particularly if there is flooding. The after effects of what was a controlled situation are what cause great mental trauma. We will look at the aftermath later.

Assembling an Emergency Food Supply

Your emergency supplies should consist of food, water and other supplies for at least five days. Your entire family should know where it is, what it contains, how it is to be utilized and who will look after it. All food will be in the fridge or freezer. Surplus cans must be stored on the highest shelves, keeping them safe from flood water. In case of a power outage, nobody should open any cooling equipment, except for the person in charge.

Water: Store at least one gallon of water per person per day for five days. An average person drinks one-half gallon of water every day, though this will reduce if there is a temperature drop. Remember:

  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Temperatures above 95°F (35°C), though unlikely, will increase the amount of water by 50%.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water in the precautionary stage.
  • If you are using council supplied tap water, stock it in large bottles. Use two-liter plastic soft drink bottles. Clean the bottles thoroughly with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water and swishing vigorously. After sanitizing the bottle, rinse out the sanitizing solution thoroughly with clean water.
  • Filling water containers: Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you need not add anything else to the water. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Tightly close the container using the original cap (ibid).
  • Many fruits and vegetables will hold their quality at room temperature, so buy them. Apples, tomatoes, grapes, heads of lettuce, squash, onions, potatoes, celery, peppers, and other produce will store well as long as they are stored in a cool and dark place.
  • Canned foods: canned beans, olive oil, tuna, chicken, small bottles of mayonnaise and salad dressing, canned meats and seafood, evaporated milk, soups, oil, canned juices, fruit, mustard and ketchup, brown bread, vegetables, dried foods, dried soup mixes, pastas, vegetables, meat, powdered milk, bouillon cubes and granules, spices, dried sauce mixes, pesto mixes, fruit, mushrooms and instant pudding mixes.

Food: Keep the following in mind when stocking your food supplies in the precautionary phase:

  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
  • Stock canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation. You may already have many of these on hand. Do include a manual can opener.
  • Keep a handy stock of plain milk chocolates.
  • Include special dietary needs (ibid).
  • Multivitamins.
  • Nuts and trail mixes, preferably in vacuum-packed containers which keep them fresh.

Canned Foods

“Canned foods maintain mineral content for entire shelf life. Vitamins A & C will decrease rapidly after fruits and vegetables are picked and cooked. Vitamins are lost during heating processes; however, once canned, vitamin A & C loss slows to 5- 20% per year. Other vitamins remain close to fresh food levels.”

Several factors limit the shelf-life of canned foods:

  • Cans or metal lids on glass jars can rust. When rust is deep enough, tiny holes open in the can or lid that may let spoilage agents in. Shipping accidents that dent or crush cans cause problems.
  • Can corrosion. Food reacts chemically with the metal container, especially high-acid food like canned tomatoes and fruit juices. Over several years, this causes taste and texture changes. It eventually lowers the nutritional value of the food.
  • Temperatures over 38° C (100° F) are harmful to canned foods. The risk of spoilage jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise. At prolonged storage temperatures above 24° C (75° F), nutrient loss in canned foods increases. Light can cause color changes and nutrient losses in foods canned in glass jars.

To store canned food wisely:

  • Store in a cool, clean, dry place where temperature is below 85 degrees (between 50-70 degrees is good) but not freezing temperatures.
  • Rotate foods so the oldest is used first. Try not to keep canned foods more than one year.
  • Use canned meats and seafood within 12 months.
  • Use low-acid canned foods within 8-12 months.
  • Use high-acid foods within 12 to 18 months. Foods stored longer will be safe to eat if the cans show no signs of spoilage or damage but may deteriorate in color, flavor and nutritive value.
  • Canned fruit juices can be stored up to 3 years.

Never use foods from containers with spoilage warning signs like loose or bulging lids on jars; bulging, leaking or badly dented cans (especially along the top, side and bottom seams); or foods with a foul odor (ibid).

The Aftermath of the Disaster

Power Outages

As soon as you lose power, unplug the freezer and refrigerator, as well as other appliances, to protect them from electricity surges when power returns. The inverter will give you 72 hours or more backup for one TV + 3 bulbs + 3 fans. Use your TV sparingly; recharge smartphones freely. Wrap the refrigerator/freezer in blankets, making sure they don’t touch the compressor, to create extra insulation. The same holds good for the standalone freezer.

If you have followed these directions to a T, there is very little chance of you running out of food. In any case, rescue teams will be making the rounds as soon as it is safe to do so. Items in the freezer can potentially stay frozen for 2 to 4 days, depending on the size of the freezer, how full it is, and how well insulated it is. These steps have been listed already. A full freezer that had been operating at 0°F will keep foods frozen for about 48 hours if the doors remain closed.

The blocks of dry ice are most useful in extended power outages. Use a twelve pound block of dry ice in the freezer and it will keep the contents frozen for one extra day, since you are not going to even touch it till the standalone freezer has done its job. Do wear gloves or use tongs when handling dry ice. The ideal method of using dry ice, apart from wearing gloves, is listed below:

  • Put heavy cardboard on top of packages of frozen food in each compartment of your freezer and put the dry ice on top of the cardboard.
  • If possible, place meat and poultry on a tray or seal them in a tough plastic bag so that their juices do not leak onto other foods if they ever begin to thaw.
  • Ensure you have a few days’ stock of foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • The safest way to determine a food’s safety is to use a kitchen thermometer. If a food’s temperature registers at 4.4°C (40°F) or below, it is safe. If not, destroy or discard it.
  • Feed infants and young children with care.
    • Breastfed infants should continue breastfeeding. For formula-fed infants, use ready-to-feed formula if possible. If using ready-to-feed formula is not possible, it is best to use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. Use treated water to prepare formula only if you do not have bottled or boiled water. You should have one week’s quantum of formula.
    • If you prepare formula with boiled water, let the formula cool sufficiently before giving it to an infant. Use your kitchen utensils over a regulated flame/fire to boil water.
    • Clean feeding bottles and nipples with bottled, boiled, or treated water before each use.
    • Wash your hands before preparing formula and before feeding an infant. You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer for washing your hands if the water supply is limited.
    • Ensure you have enough wipes/diapers (and plastic bags for disposal) in the house.
    • Recheck that you can cater to every need of the toddler for one full week, including light blankets, laundry detergent and medication, if any.

When Floodwater Enters Your House

  1. Keep Stored Water Safe: Once you realize that your house will get flooded, take all the items in the basement to the second floor and keep them under tarpaulins. If you do not have a second floor, keep all items as high as you can, covered with waterproofing material like tarpaulins, plastic or rubber sheets, etc. Thereafter:
    • Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.
    • If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present.
    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloth or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling.
    • Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
    • If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water.
    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloth or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.
    • Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per each gallon of water. Stir it well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before you use it.
    • Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
    • If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.
    • If flood waters reach food stored on shelves and in cabinets, many food items that came in contact with flood water are unsafe. A guide of what to keep and what to discard follows:
      • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water – this includes raw fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk or eggs.
      • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.
      • Food containers that are not waterproof include those packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard, or those with screw‐caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Flood waters can enter any of these containers and contaminate the food inside. Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
      • Check canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or rushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel‐type can opener. Do not taste any food to check if it is still edible.
    • Salvaging canned items: Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all‐metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf‐stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you do the following:
      • Remove the labels, if they are the removable kind, since they can harbor dirt and bacteria.
      • Thoroughly wash the cans or retort pouches with soap and water, using hot water if it is available.
      • Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
      • Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water that is safe for drinking, if available, since dirt or residual soap will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
      • Then, sanitize them by immersion in one of the two following ways:
        • Place in water and allow the water to come to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes, or
        • Place in a freshly made solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available) for 15 minutes.
      • Air‐dry cans or retort pouches for a minimum of 1 hour before opening or storing.
      • If the labels were removable, then re‐label your cans or retort pouches, including the expiry date (if available), with a marker.
      • Food in reconditioned cans or retort pouches should be used as soon as possible, thereafter.
      • Any concentrated baby formula in reconditioned, all‐metal containers must be diluted with clean, drinking water (ibid).

How to Prepare Food Without Power

If some disaster causes a power outage, you could use the gas camping stove or hibachi grill, or cook over an open fire. It may or may not be practical or possible to do so every meal, or for an extended period of time. So what are your options for uncooked meals without a working freezer or refrigerator?

You’ll be making a meal from stored food. Canned fruits and vegetables are not a problem. So the issue becomes staple foods: grains, potatoes, etc. There are several food options: instant oatmeal, quick barley, instant mashed potatoes, ramen, tabouli and couscous.

Use only clean safe drinking water. Preparation of stored food without cooking can contain bacteria. This food must be eaten immediately after preparation, to preclude bacterial growth which makes the food unsafe to eat. Instant oatmeal with non-fat dry milk, prepared without heat, though not as good as when it is cooked, is one of the better options for preparing food when you don’t have power to cook. It’s a great breakfast option.

Barley is a good staple food, which is high in protein and carbs. Quick barley will store well long-term if kept cool, sealed, and dry. This is definitively a good food for storage. Instant mashed potatoes take up room temperature bottled water quickly and well. The taste seems unaffected by the lack of cooking. You probably like your mashed potatoes hot, but that is situational. Try opening a small bottle of mayonnaise sauce and finish it. Instant mashed potato, ketchup and mayonnaise is a decent meal.

Making couscous at room temperature bottled water, takes 15 minutes or more. If the couscous turns out crunchy, add more water and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Taste-wise, couscous prepared in this manner is almost indistinguishable from cooked couscous, except that it is not hot. Add oil and vinegar, with some spices and salt to taste. Couscous is made with wheat, just like regular pasta, and it is just as nutritious. Tabouli and ramen are two more options.

Prepare ‘heat only’ foods like canned soup, stew, chili or ‘just add water’ foods like instant soup or oatmeal on a canned heat stove, prepare raw foods or canned foods that do not need heating, or prepare easy to cook meals on a one burner butane stove.

The one burner butane stove has many advantages. It will accommodate larger size cookware than the canned heat stove and normal kitchen cookware can be used. The butane stove can be used indoors with good ventilation. The gas flame is easier to regulate than canned heat and is hotter. These advantages allow the preparation of recipes rather than just heating up of canned foods thus giving more variety to menus while the power is out. A list of recipes for meals that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less (to conserve fuel) is at Pantry Cooking: Unlocking Your Pantry’s Potential.

Keeping Food Safe During an Ice Storm

Even a thin coating of ice can result in a travel nightmare, while heavier amounts will severely damage trees and power lines. Strong winds can add extra force to already weighed down tree branches and power lines, increasing the likelihood of significant damage.

Ice Storm Facts

  • Ice can increase the weight of branches more than 25 times.
  • A 0.5 inch accretion on electrical lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight between successive pylons.
  • In 2009, a heavy ice storm between northern Arkansas and the Ohio Valley shut down power to 1.3 million homes.
  • An ice storm between northern New York and northern New England in 1998 damaged trees by the millions. Ice accretion was as much as 7.5 cm (3”) thick!

These ice accumulations are caused by freezing rain. Freezing rain is the consequence of snow dropping through an above-freezing level warm layer in the atmosphere, wherein snowflakes melt into rain. These raindrops transit through a thin layer of air below freezing temperature at the surface of the earth, freezing immediately when it makes contact with land, trees, cars, etc.

Precautions:

  • Avoid driving on icy roads for your safety and the safety of emergency personnel.
  • Make sure you have several ways to communicate with others, like landline phones, cell phones, texting, etc.
  • Children should be stopped from playing around ice-covered trees for fear of injury.
  • Never use portable generators, camp stoves and grills inside your home or garage to forestall carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles to prevent the risk of fire. Attach a luminous strip of fluorescent paper to your torches.

Refrigerator Foods

When to Save and When to Throw It Out

FOOD

Held above 40 ºF for over 2 hours

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD

Discard

Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes

Discard

Thawing meat or poultry

Discard

Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad

Discard

Gravy, stuffing, broth

Discard

Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef

Discard

Pizza – with any topping

Discard

Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated”

Discard

Canned meats and fish, opened

Discard

CHEESE

 

Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco

Discard

Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, Provolone, Romano

Safe

Processed Cheeses

Safe

Shredded Cheeses

Discard

Low-fat Cheeses

Discard

Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar)

Safe

DAIRY

 

Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk

Discard

Butter, margarine

Safe

Baby formula, opened

Discard

EGGS

 

Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products

Discard

Custards and puddings

Discard

CASSEROLES, SOUPS, STEWS

Discard

FRUITS

 

Fresh fruits, cut

Discard

Fruit juices, opened

Safe

Canned fruits, opened

Safe

Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates

Safe

SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS

 

Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish

Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.

Peanut butter

Safe

Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles

Safe

Worcestershire, soy, barbecue sauces, Hoisin sauce

Safe

Fish sauces (oyster sauce)

Discard

Opened vinegar-based dressings

Safe

Opened creamy-based dressings

Discard

Spaghetti sauce, opened jar

Discard

BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA, GRAINS

 

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas

Safe

Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough

Discard

Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes

Discard

Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette

Discard

Fresh pasta

Discard

Cheesecake

Discard

Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagels

Safe

PIES, PASTRY

 

Pastries

Discard

Pies – custard

Discard

Pies

Safe

VEGETABLES

 

Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices

Safe

Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged

Discard

Vegetables, raw

Safe

Vegetables, cooked; tofu

Discard

Vegetable juice, opened

Discard

Baked potatoes

Discard

Commercial garlic in oil

Discard

Potato Salad

Discard

Chart 4 Source: Keeping_Food_Safe_During_an_Emergency.pdf

Frozen Food

When to Save and When to Throw It Out

FOOD

STILL CONTAINS ICE CRYSTALS AND FEELS AS COLD AS IF REFRIGERATED

HELD ABOVE
40 °F FOR OVER 2 HOURS

MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD

 

 

Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meat

Refreeze

Discard

Poultry and ground poultry

Refreeze

Discard

Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)

Refreeze

Discard

Casseroles, stews, soups

Refreeze.

Discard

Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products

Refreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor     loss.

Discard

DAIRY

 

 

Milk

Refreeze. May lose some texture.

Discard

Eggs (out of shell) and egg products

Refreeze.

Discard

Ice cream, frozen yogurt

Discard

Discard

Cheese (soft and semi-soft)

Refreeze. May lose some texture.

Discard

Hard cheeses

Refreeze

Refreeze

Shredded cheeses

Refreeze

Discard

Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses

Refreeze

Discard

Cheesecake

Refreeze

Discard

FRUITS

 

 

Juices

Refreeze

Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

Home or commercially packaged

Refreeze. Will change texture and flavor

Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.

VEGETABLES

 

 

Juices

Refreeze

Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours.

Home or commercially packaged or blanched

Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss

Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours.

BREADS, PASTRIES

 

 

Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)

Refreeze

Refreeze

Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling

Refreeze

Discard

Pie crusts, commercial and
homemade bread dough

Refreeze. Some quality loss can occur

Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable.

OTHER

 

 

Casseroles – pasta, rice based

Refreeze

Discard

Flour, cornmeal, nuts

Refreeze

Refreeze

Breakfast items –waffles, pancakes, bagles

Refreeze

Refreeze

Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie,convenience foods)

Refreeze

Discard

Keeping_Food_Safe_During_an_Emergency.pdf

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in Your Fridge

While it is not necessary that a natural disaster will lead to your fridge and freezer picking up a noxious odor, the fact remains that a long power outage where you cannot get back to your fridge freely or floodwaters will go a long way in generating that rotten egg / decaying meat smell. Unfortunately, your fridge is made of various plastics, compounds, rubberized linings and metal. It is the plastic elements and the rubberized section that retain the odor. The metallic portion can be scrubbed clean, but you cannot touch any electrical system for fear of damaging it.

More often than not, people do manage to get rid of the odor in a couple of days. There are always some tricky ones that will trouble you. It is a lengthy DIY process and perhaps the best option is given here. If the fridge is done in, then remove the door and dump the two separate portions of the dead fridge widely apart. This is a statutory law in the state of Michigan.

REFERENCES

This entry was posted in: Blog.

Economic Effects of Climate Change

Economic Effects of Climate Change

REPORT SUMMARY: Climate Change Background (causes, consensus), Impacts of Climate Change on Growth & Development, Estimated Costs in Developing Countries, Effects on Global Food Supply (agriculture, production), Diseases, Climate Change Policy, Technological Innovation, Carbon Tax, Low Carbon Economy

What is climate change?

Climatologists commonly refer to climate as the mean or average weather in a given place or region.

This description is usually stated in statistical forms showing variations such as averages and extremes. Climate comprises of humidity, patterns of temperature, wind, seasons, and rain or snow.  A recent science-based report shows that the quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other forms of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere continues to rise to such levels that the Earth get warmed resulting in a broad range of environmental effects such as melting ice and snow, rising sea levels, drought and wild fires, extreme storms, rainfall and floods.

source: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

More resources:

Causes of Climate Change

The earth’s climate is naturally variable on all time scales. However, its long-term state and average temperature are regulated by the balance between incoming and outgoing energy, which determines the Earth’s energy balance.

Any factor that causes a sustained change to the amount of incoming energy or the amount of outgoing energy can lead to climate change.

As these factors are external to the climate system, they are referred to as ‘climate forcers’, invoking the idea that they force or push the climate towards a new long-term state – either warmer or cooler depending on the cause of change.

Different factors operate on different time scales, and not all of those factors that have been responsible for changes in earth’s climate in the distant past are relevant to contemporary climate change.

Factors that cause climate change can be divided into two categories ­- those related to natural processes and those related to human activity. In addition to natural causes of climate change, changes internal to the climate system, such as variations in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation, can also influence the climate for short periods of time. This natural internal climate variability is superimposed on the long-term forced climate change.

Natural Causes

The Earth’s climate can be affected by natural factors that are external to the climate system, such as changes in volcanic activity, solar output, and the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Of these, the two factors relevant on timescales of contemporary climate change are changes in volcanic activity and changes in solar radiation. In terms of the Earth’s energy balance, these factors primarily influence the amount of incoming energy. Volcanic eruptions are episodic and have relatively short-term effects on climate. Changes in solar irradiance have contributed to climate trends over the past century but since the Industrial Revolution, the effect of additions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere has been about ten times that of changes in the Sun’s output.

Human Causes

Climate change can also be caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for forestry and agriculture. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, these human influences on the climate system have increased substantially. In addition to other environmental impacts, these activities change the land surface and emit various substances to the atmosphere. These in turn can influence both the amount of incoming energy and the amount of outgoing energy and can have both warming and cooling effects on the climate.  The dominant product of fossil fuel combustion is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The overall effect of human activities since the Industrial Revolution has been a warming effect, driven primarily by emissions of carbon dioxide and enhanced by emissions of other greenhouse gases.

The build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has led to an enhancement of the natural greenhouse effect.  It is this human-induced enhancement of the greenhouse effect that is of concern because ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases have the potential to warm the planet to levels that have never been experienced in the history of human civilization. Such climate change could have far-reaching and/or unpredictable environmental, social, and economic consequences.

source: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/water.html

Short-lived and long-lived climate forcers

Carbon dioxide is the main cause of human-induced climate change. It has been emitted in vast quantities from the burning of fossil fuels and it is a very long-lived gas, which means it continues to affect the climate system during its long residence time in the atmosphere. However, fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, agriculture, and forestry-related activities emit other substances that also act as climate forcers. Some, such as nitrous oxide, are long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and so contribute to long-term climate change.

Other substances have shorter atmospheric lifetimes because they are removed fairly quickly from the atmosphere. Therefore, their effect on the climate system is similarly short-lived. Together, these short-lived climate forcers are responsible for a significant amount of current climate forcing from anthropogenic substances.

Some short-lived climate forcers have a climate warming effect (‘positive climate forcers’) while others have a cooling effect (‘negative climate forcers’).

If atmospheric levels of short-lived climate forcers are continually replenished by ongoing emissions, these continue to exert a climate forcing. However, reducing emissions will quickly lead to reduced atmospheric levels of such substances. A number of short-lived climate forcers have climate warming effects and together are the most important contributors to the human enhancement of the greenhouse effect after carbon dioxide.

This includes methane and tropospheric ozone – both greenhouse gases – and black carbon, a small solid particle formed from the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil and wood for example).

Other short-lived climate forcers have climate cooling effects, most notably sulphate aerosols. Fossil fuel combustion emits sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere (in addition to carbon dioxide) which then combines with water vapour to form tiny droplets (aerosols) which reflect sunlight.

Sulphate aerosols remain in the atmosphere for only a few days (washing out in what is referred to as acid rain), and so do not have the same long-term effect as greenhouse gases. The cooling from sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere has, however, offset some of the warming from other substances. That is, the warming we have experienced to date would have been even larger had it not been for elevated levels of sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere.

The Effects of Sea Level Rise and Climate Change

Strong evidence from scientific research obtained from core samples, tide gauge readings and satellite measurements show that global mean sea levels have been rising since the mid-19th century.

Available records indicate that during the 20th century, the global mean sea levels (GMSL) rose by about 15-20 centimeters which roughly equals 1.5 to 2.0 millimetre per year and the rate at which the GMSL increased towards the end of the 20th century was greater than at the early years of the century. The rate of increase of the GMSL in the first ten years of the 21st century has been found to be around 3.1 mm per year which is much higher than the average rate recorded for the 20th century.

Future projections estimate the GMSL to rise by around 1 meter by 2100 but if the rate at which Greenland ice sheet melt increases, sea level might rise by roughly 2 meters by 2100.

The three major processes leading to a rise in sea levels are:

  • Thermal expansion: Water expands normally as its temperature rises just like air and other fluids. Ocean temperature increases as climate change increases leading to sea level rise because of the expansion of its water through the application of heat (thermal expansion). Evidence suggests that thermal expansion could have contributed almost 2.5cm of sea level rise from mid-20th century. Projections by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment suggests that sea levels will rise by about 17-28 cm (with an uncertainty rate of 50% plus or minus) over the 21st century.
  • Melting of glaciers and ice caps: Climate scientists say that melting of glaciers and ice caps are less likely contributors to sea level rise. The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC estimated that the melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps in the second half of the 20th century increased sea level by around 2.5cm and projected that melting of ice and ice caps will lead about 10-12cm (plus or minus of one third) increase in sea level in the 21st century.
  • Loss of ice mass from the Greenland and West Antarctic sheets: The West Antarctic sheet retains an equivalent of 5 meters of sea level while the ice on Greenland holds around 7 meters of sea level. If all the ice on Greenland and the West Antarctic were to melt away completely in a process that could last for many centuries, both will contribute about 12 meters of sea level rise. The West Antarctic ice sheet is highly vulnerable because it is rooted below sea level. Though the East Antarctic ice sheet holds around 55 meters of sea level but it is less vulnerable to loss of its ice.

The potential impacts of these three processes include more rapid coastal erosion, rising water tables, changes in tidal prism, slat water intrusion into aquifers and surface waters, increased storm damage to coastal infrastructure, and changes in shoreline including the possibility that protective natural barriers will be lost totally. 

Ocean chemistry will definitely change when ocean level rises due to climate change. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could make water bodies to become more acidic and warmer sea water will have more carbon dioxide dissolved in it resulting in less oxygen. Sea level rise will cause harm to marine ecosystems, it will alter ocean’s biodiversity, and also affect the tiny plankton which produces much of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

More information on sea levels and climate change

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change

There is an overwhelming level of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Over 95% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and that human activity is the cause. In spite of this agreement, only about 50% the general public think that scientists have reached a consensus on human-caused climate change. Two sources of the discrepancy are the unbalanced portrayal of the situation in the media, and the Manufactured Doubt Industry. – source: http://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/928.asp

    Climate Change and the Media

    According to a poll done by WorldPublicOpinion.org (WPO) after the 2010 election, 45% of voting Americans think that most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring. WPO goes on further to estimate that this percentage has actually increased over the past ten years. A recent Pew study found that an overwhelming majority of Americans like science, have a positive regard for scientists, and think that science "contributes a lot to society’s well-being." So if there’s obvious consensus among scientists, why is that information not making it to the public?

    Never Rarely Once a week 2-3 times a week Almost every day
    Fox News 30 37 45 36 60
    CNN 51 40 39 25 25
    MSNBC 49 34 35 35 20
    Network TV news broadcasts 59 37 41 36 35
    Public Broadcasting (NPR or PBS) 49 41 36 21 13
    Newspapers & news magazines (in print or online) 48 43 41 24 40

     

    Table 1. Of people who responded that they agree with the statement "most scientists believe that global warming is not occurring," 60% watch Fox News almost every day. (Source)

    The Economics of Climate Change

    In their characteristic manner, economists generally weigh costs and damages. Therefore, economics of climate change focuses on identifying the economic implications of climate change and, hence, offer relevant, normative, and realistic policies for bringing the menace under control.

    Though the economics of climate change relates to other aspects of environmental economics but because of a number of factors such as the nature and extent of uncertainties involved with it, its distinctive and global nature, its international scope, its long term scale, and the possibilities of distributing policy benefits unevenly, it is often given a unique focus.

    Projections by Goulder and Pizer (2005) suggests that spending on energy infrastructure could exceed $16 trillion by 2030 leading to a rise in carbon emission by 60%. Therefore, the importance of looking at the economics of climate change now in order to develop the right choices for mitigating climate change cannot be overemphasized.

    In a working paper titled ‘Climate Change and Economic Growth’ and produced by the Commission on Growth and Development led by Nobel Laureate Mike Spence, the author, Robert Mendelsohn, remarked: ‘whereas the grim descriptions of the long term effects of climate change have led many to believe that the consequences of climate change will threaten long term economic growth but contrary to this impression, the impacts of climate change on the global economy will likely be very small over the next five decades and severe impacts by the end of the century is quite unlikely.’

    While this statement may sound quite puzzling, it does make a lot of sense to economists and to clarify further, the author says: ‘the greatest danger that climate change poses to the global economy in the long term arises from potentially excessive near-term mitigation efforts’ meaning that there is the need to keep up with the current global economic growth while allowing the greening of the economic growth strategy.

    The priority of many of the economists concerned with climate change advocate developing the ‘right economic choices’ for mitigating the potential impacts of the global phenomenon but this position is at variance with the views of scientists and environmentalists who advocate that more extreme mitigation policies be applied in the near term.

    The Impacts of Climate Change on Economic Growth and Development

    One of the main drivers of climate change is economic growth.

    As the demand for energy and goods that uses fossil fuels intensively increases, the economy expands and the quantity of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere will also increase.

    However, economic growth may bring about a change in technological know-how leading to the inventions of more products that are energy efficient and, hence, slow down the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    Some impacts of climate change are directly linked to market transactions and invariably affect gross domestic product (GDP) while some are non-market impacts because the effects could only be noticed on human health and ecosystems and not on market transactions.

    Climate change impacts that are market impacts could be measured as economic cost but it is difficult to calculate non-market impacts on an economic scale.

    The uncertainties in scientific measurement about how climate change will unfold makes estimating the economic impacts of climate change rather difficult. Nevertheless, economists have attempted making economic analysis of the potential impacts climate change would have on growth and development of a state and the global economy.

    • Smith et al., (2001) warns that climate change would further widen economic inequities between individuals and nations. Smith also says that a slight increase in global mean temperature of about 2oC over the 1990 levels could lead to net negative market sector and net positive market sector in many developing and developed nations respectively.
    • Pearce et al., (1996) suggests that based on available economic research, only a limited sector of the market economy such as agriculture, tourism, energy, coastal resources, forestry, and water is susceptible to climate change but in contrast, Stern (2006) claims that the entire global economy and the well-being of people across the globe may be at risk.
    • Mendelsohn (2009) reasoned that even if the impact of climate change turns out to be severe, it is doubtful if climate change can hurt the global economy that much since the sectors listed above make up around 5 percent of the global economy and it is expected that the share of each sector will shrink over time. The thinking is that most sectors of the global economy are not sensitive to climate change. However, Mendelsohn holds the view that on a comparison basis, the economies of some nations would be more susceptible to climate change when compared with the global average. Those countries that might be hit harder are countries that have a larger share of their economies in agriculture and forestry. In general, Mendelsohn says developing countries are more vulnerable. This is probably because many developing countries appear to be in the low geographical latitudes where the impacts of climate change on the market economy sectors earlier mentioned will be the most severe. Already, the major economic sectors of some countries in Africa have been noted to be vulnerable to observed changes in climate conditions meaning that future climate change could impact these countries further more. However, Smith et al., (2001: p. 940-941) predicted that a number of the developing nations would have the wherewithal to efficiently cope with the challenges of climate change.

    Though the uncertainties over climate sensitivities may pose difficulties in calculating the real economic impacts that climate change could have on growth and development yet analysts consider these uncertainties as the only important factor needed to determine the costs of carbon in the atmosphere, and, hence, climate sensitivity is important as an economic measure of climate change impacts.

    Low-income countries will remain on the frontline of human-induced climate change over the next century, experiencing gradual sea-level rises, stronger cyclones, warmer days and nights, more unpredictable rains, and larger and longer heatwaves, according to the most thorough assessment of the issue yet.

    East Africa can expect to experience increased short rains, while west Africa should expect heavier monsoons. Burma, Bangladesh and India can expect stronger cyclones; elsewhere in southern Asia, heavier summer rains are anticipated. Indonesia may receive less rainfall between July and October, but the coastal regions around the south China Sea and Gulf of Thailand can expect increased rainfall extremes when cyclones hit land.

    Estimates of the incremental costs of adaptation in developing countries ($bn per annum)

     
    Study 2010-2015 2010-2020 2030 2010-2050 Method
    World Development Report (2010) 30-100 Compiled several estimates of adaptation costs (including others in this list) with scenarios of 450ppm, 2005 US$
    World Bank EACC (2010) 70-100 Average annual adaptation costs from 2010 to 2050 in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, infrastructure, water resource management, and coastal zone sectors, including impacts on health, ecosystem services, and the effects of extreme-weather events. In 2005 US$.
    Project Catayst (2009) 13-38 Estimates only public funding needs in vulnerable countries using costs from NAPAs, increased funding of public goods and disaster support. Assumes 450 stabilization, $1.25 to €1 exchange rate
    UNFCCC (2007) 27-67 Including: agriculture, forestry and fisheries, water supply, human health, coastal zones, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Excluded: mining and manufacturing, energy, retailing, tourism and ecosystems. In 2005 US$ between 450 and 550ppm
    Oxfam (2007) >50 Based on World Bank (2006), plus extrapolation of costs from NAPAs and NGO projects
    UNDP HDR (2007) 86-109 Builds on World Bank (2006), plus cost of adapting Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and strengthening disaster response
    World Bank (2006) 9-41 Costs of climate proofing ODA, foreign and domestic investment
    Stern Review (2006) 4-37 Aiming for 450ppm stabilisation

    source: http://www.climatefundsupdate.org/resources/estimated-costs-climate-change

    Additional Resources on The Economics of Climate Change:

    Economics of climate change

    The Impacts of climate change on growth and development

    How climate change will affect people around the world

    Implications of climate change on development

    Costs of climate change in developing countries

    Projecting the Growth of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    It is the standard practice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use future emissions projections of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases as a basis for determining how cost-effective short-term mitigation alternatives and future policy can impact greenhouse gas emissions.

    This is because though carbon dioxide (CO2) are the main constituents of greenhouse gas emissions, there are other non-CO2 gases like nitrous oxide, methane, and fluorinated greenhouse gases that are major contributors to climate change. When considered on a per-ton basis, these non-CO2 greenhouse gases contribute more to climate change impacts than CO2 and some of these gases have significant effects on a short-term basis than carbon dioxide.

    There are series of reports published by EPA that projects the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. EPA usually provide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reports by gas and by sector.

    The sectors commonly reported include

    • transportation
    • energy
    • industrial processes
    • agriculture
    • land use
    • land-use change
    • waste
    • forestry

    source: http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/archive/archive-pdfs/trans-low-carbon-econ.pdf

    The common gases in most reports are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), nitrous oxide (N2O), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

    The quantities of future GHG levels are highly uncertain but there are a wide range of data illustrating emission projections that have been generated quantitatively. A number of emissions projections combined anthropogenic emissions as a single figure which is termed carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE). The CDE describes the quantity of global warming that could be caused by a given type of GHG by using the concentration of carbon dioxide as the reference.

    Using the baseline scenarios of emissions projection, it is projected that by 2030, there will be an increase of 25% and 90% in greenhouse emissions relative to the 2000 level.  It was also projected that for carbon dioxide only, two-thirds to three-quarters of the increase would be recorded in developing nations of the world.  But the same report also projected that the average per capita carbon dioxide emissions in developing nations would remain significantly lower than those in the developed world.

    The projections of carbon dioxide equivalents for 2100 varied from a reduction of about 40% to an increase in GHG emissions of 250% above the levels recorded for 2000.

     http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Projected_total_carbon_dioxide_emissions_between_2000-2100_using_the_six_illustrative_SRES_marker_scenarios.png
    Source: SRES Final Data (version1.1, July 2000)

    A research report says that the estimated total atmospheric concentration of long-lived greenhouse gas emissions was about 455 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent .  When deduction is made for the effects of deforestation and other land-use changes and aerosol, then the physical effect which is also referred to as radiative forcing reduces the carbon dioxide equivalent to between 311 and 435 ppm. The estimate recorded for 2011 carbon dioxide equivalent concentrations is 473 ppm.

    Six of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) SRES emissions scenarios, that is the base line scenarios, have been used to project the possible future changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations equivalent. For example, the emissions projections for 2100 has been fixed between 540 to 970 parts per million (ppm).

    More resources:

    Global Food Supply and Climate Change

    Though crops, livestock and fisheries depend on specific weather conditions, it is difficult to understand the overall effect that climate change could have on food supply.

    In some instances, slight warming and high concentration of carbon dioxide may help some crops to grow faster yet agricultural yields may reduce with severe warming and floods and drought can cause further damage to agriculture and, hence, reduce food supply.

    The potential effects that climate change could have on world food supply and security have been documented , and some of the risks posed by concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere include negative effects on grain, fruit crops, vegetable, livestock and fisheries among others.

    • Vietnam is one of the hot spots where climate change through potential global sea level rise threatens rice production.
    • The Yakima River which is in the south central and eastern Washington state annually produces mostly perennial crops valued around $1 billion but many of the crop growers around this basin have been facing water shortages. In fact, reduced water allocation from the Yakima Basin that occurred in 2001 led to economic losses worth between $140 million and $195 million.

    Some of the practical effects of climate change on agriculture and food supply include reduction in yields, the need to deploy irrigation more than before, decreased arability; he possibility that insect and pests may reproduce more when the atmosphere becomes warmer, delay in planting and harvesting, and untold risks to fisheries.

    It’s not economic development that matters in this case, it’s the location on the surface of the Earth. Without better crop varieties or other agricultural technology improvements, irrigated wheat yields, for example, will fall at least 20 percent by 2050 as a result of global warming, and south Asia as well as parts of sub-Saharan Africa will face the worst effects.

    Potential Effects of Climage Change on Agriculture and Food Production

    The potential effects that climate change could have on agriculture and food production are many. For example, the rate of production of food crops, livestock, and dairy yields, may decline when temperature rises or due to drought-related stress. Several parts of the world that have been depending on natural and regular supply of water from rainfall each year during planting seasons may now require artificial supply of water through irrigation leading to higher costs for the farmers and possibly communal conflict when access to water becomes a battle for the fittest.

    In another scenario, climate change may make warmer conditions to shift to higher latitudes, where the soil lack adequate nutrients that could support crop production, making farmers to contend for lower-latitude areas that are less productive. Also, if the seasonal rainfall patterns continues to be irregular due to climate change, that could lead to more severe precipitation events such as flooding resulting in delay in planting and harvesting agricultural crops.

    The IBSNAT crop models were used to estimate how climate change and increasing levels of carbon dioxide may alter yields of world crops at 112 sites in 18 countries. (Figure 9.1). The crop models used were CERES-Wheat (Ritchie and Otter, 1985; Godwin et al., 1989), CERES-Maize (Jones and Kiniry, 1986; Ritchie et al., 1989), CERES-Rice (Godwin et al., 1993) and SOYGRO (Jones et al., 1989).

    The IBSNAT models are comprised of parameterizations of important physiological processes responsible for plant growth and development, evapotranspiration, and partitioning of photosynthate to produce economic yield. The simplified functions enable prediction of growth of crops as influenced by the major factors that affect yields, i.e., genetics, climate (daily solar radiation, maximum and minimum temperatures, and precipitation), soils, and management practices. The models include a soil moisture balance submodel so that they can be used to predict both rainfed and irrigated crop yields. The cereal models simulate the effects of nitrogen fertilizer on crop growth, and these were studied in several countries in the context of climatic change. For the most part, however, the results of this study assume optimum nutrient levels.

    The IBSNAT models were selected for use in this study because they have been validated over a wide range of environments (e.g., Otter-Nacke et al., 1986) and are not specific to any particular location or soil type. The validation of the crop models over different environments also improves their ability to estimate effects of changes in climate. Furthermore, because management practices, such as the choice of varieties, planting date, fertilizer application and irrigation, may be varied in the models, they permit experiments that simulate adaptation by farmers to climate change.

    Insect and Pests

    The problem that insect and pests constitute may be higher when the atmosphere becomes warmer on a prolonged term because they are known to survive or even reproduce more rapidly each year if the warm weather conditions persist.

    Crop growers in Canada and the NE Washington know that this is already happening because pine bark beetles are multiplying rapidly and are causing devastation to large tracts of forests .

    Migration of insect and pests from one region to another is possible when climate changes leading to changes in humidity and temperatures.

    Commercial fisheries may also be affected when different type of fishes shift from one region to the other in response to changes in weather conditions and temperature.

    Really, the threats of global food supply won’t affect countries and regions of the world equally. If a country loses its arable land due to climate change, the resources or favorable weather to pursue cost-effective alternatives and maintain its food security may be lacking. Though we hope that advancement in technology would bring succour to humanity in the worst case scenarios of climate change but since some countries are more susceptible to unfavorable international trade agreements than others, food distribution may be disrupted in some parts of the world.

    Additional resources:

    Climate Change and Diseases

    The health effects of climate change is one of the most important nonmarket impacts of climate change.

    Stress induced by a rise in heat level may increase heat strokes, dehydration, and deaths resulting from changes in weather . Allergies and respiratory health may also be triggered by climate change .

    Vector borne diseases (VBD) often thrive more rapidly due to the effects of climate change. Life-cycles of pathogens can be affected by changes in climate. For example, drought and hot summer temperatures have been found to rapidly increase the number of West Nile virus incidents. California could be at risk of a break out of exotic vectors like those responsible for yellow fever and dengue fever if raining season gets unduly prolonged.  

    In addition, VBDs may cross geographical boundaries and extend beyond current ranges making more people to be at risk of contracting VBD. Extreme events occasioned by severe changes in climate could threaten lives and where people fail to adapt, untold suffering may occur.

    The deadly dozen that may increse due to climate change:

    • Bird flu: H5N1 infections are becoming the rule rather then the exception in farmed poultry worldwide, and even wild birds are showing signs of infection more often. It has forced the culling of millions of ducks, chickens and geese globally—and has killed more than 240 people—resulting in at least $100 billion in economic losses.
    • Babesiosis: This malarialike disease carried by ticks is endemic in the tropics, but has cropped up everywhere from Italy to Long Island, N.Y. It is rare in humans at present and seldom deadly (treatable with antibiotics) but may become more problematic as the globe warms, providing more welcoming environments.
    • Cholera: This bacterium thrives in warmer waters and causes diarrhea so severe that it can kill within a week. Without improved sanitation, rising global temperatures will increase deadly outbreaks.
    • Ebola: This virus is lethal to humans and other primates, and has no cure. In addition, it is unclear where the disease, which causes fever, vomiting and internal or external bleeding, comes from—though scientists suspect fruit bats. What is clear is that outbreaks tend to follow unusual downpours or droughts in central Africa—a likely result of climate change.
    • Parasites: Many spread easily between humans, livestock and wildlife. Higher average temperatures and more rainfall will help many parasites, such as the tiny worms known as Baylisascaris procyonis that are spread by raccoons, to thrive in the wild before finding a host.
    • Lyme disease: This bacterium-caused disease will spread as climate changes extend the ranges of the ticks that carry it.
    • Plague: Changes in temperature and rainfall will affect rodent populations globally as well as the infected fleas they carry.
    • "Red tides": Poisonous algal blooms in coastal waters may increase as a result of warming temperatures or changes in littoral sea life.
    • Rift Valley fever: A newly emergent virus, carried by mosquitoes that causes fever and weakness, has spread quickly through Africa and the Middle East, killing people, along with camels, cattle, goats and sheep.
    • Tuberculosis: Both the human and livestock varieties of TB are likely to increase, particularly the latter as droughts bring livestock and wildlife into closer proximity at watering holes.
    • Yellow fever: Mosquitoes spread this disease, which causes fever and jaundicelike symptoms, between wildlife and humans, and will likely spread into new areas as the climate changes.

    More resources:

    Climate Change Policy

    Evolving a climate change policy that works can take many forms that includes individual action, political action government action and actions of watchdogs like the environmental protection agency (EPA).

    The EPA is saddled with many responsibilities that include:

    • collecting and publishing emissions data
    • developing regulatory framework geared towards promoting a clean energy economy
    • gathering and evaluating policy options
    • forming international partnership towards advancing minimizing carbon footprint
    • advancing the science

    This agency also helps communities prepare for climate change and how adapt to it.

    In 1988 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set up theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an expert body that would assess scientific information on climate change. As a reaction to the concerns raised in the IPCC’s First Assessment Report the UN General Assembly established the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in May 1992 and entered into force in 1994. The convention included the commitment to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2000.

    Agreed in 1997, the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol is a first step towards achieving more substantial global emission reductions. It sets binding emission targets for developed countries that have ratified it, such as the EU Member States, and limits the emission increases of the remaining countries for the first commitment period from 2008 to 2012. The 15 pre-2004 EU Member States (the EU-15) have a joint emission reduction target of 8 % below 1990 levels. Through the internal EU "burden-sharing agreement", some EU Member States are permitted increases in emissions, while others must decrease them. Most Member States that joined the EU after 1 May 2004 have targets of -6 % to -8 % from their base years (mostly 1990).

    Individual Action on Climate Change

    The individual action involves making various choices that limit and/or reduce the potential impacts posed by climate change on our environment. For example, choosing a diet low on carbon will minimize carbon footprint on the long run.

    A research report gave an estimate of the carbon footprint from the U.S. food system to be about 20 percent of the aggregate of the greenhouse emissions from the entire nation.  This estimate might be very conservative since it was based on the direct sources in the U.S. without considering food imported into the U.S. Industrial meat, industrially produced food and dairy among others constitute high carbon diet. The carbon footprint for food is not only measured based on waste of food but also on the entire chain involving production, processing, packaging, transport, and the actual stages involved with the preparation of food.

    Vegan Choices: A report by the United Nations Environment Programme advocated a shift from high carbon food choices to vegan diet where less fossil fuel would be required to complete the chain from production to the point where the consumer prepares the food and, hence, less carbon dioxide will be released to the atmosphere.

    Political Actions on Climate Change

    There are many ways political action could be deployed to save the Earth from carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

    • Direct lobbying
    • Protests
    • Letters to representatives
    • laws on greenhouse gas emissions limits
    • Tax incentives
    • Regulations that specify market-based approaches and grant economic incentives for controlling emissions of pollutants
    • Government policies

    The U.S. and the Challenge of Climate Change Policy

    Recently President Barack Obama endorsed a long-term measure meant to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases considerably by 2050 to 80% below the levels recorded in 1990.

    The American Clean Energy and Security Act which target 2050 and advocate for 83% reduction below 2005 levels was recently passed by the U.S. House but the bill has not yet received the consent of the U.S. Senate.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its regulatory duties on environmental issues with a new regulatory framework on minimizing carbon footprint launched in 2011.

    In addition, several billion dollars are being proposed by the Obama administration towards developing green energy technologies to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

    More Resources:

    Climate Change Technological Innovation

    Experts have claimed that embracing technological innovation can reduce the cost of minimizing the impacts of climate change. Egg heads in Silicon Valley are working round the clock to discover cheap and reliable clean energy that would reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

    Concerted efforts are being made to design technological systems that would make one of the commonest green energy options – solar, wind or nuclear – energy relatively cheap and reliable.

    Some of the technological innovations:

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests

    Provision of long-term policy signals that are sustainable to enable potential innovators and adopters of climate mitigating technologies gain the confidence to embark on the investments.

    Placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions through tradable permits or taxes to provide incentives to complete the stages of the innovative idea.

    Provision of a mix of relevant policy measures to strengthen innovators to face all barriers to the development and diffusion of all climate change limiting technologies.

    Innovation in the energy sector

    The way in which some of these basic principles of innovation play out in practice varies radically between different sectors. Information technology and pharmaceuticals, for example, are both characterized by high degrees of innovation, with rapid technological change financed by private investment amounting typically to 10-20% of sector turnover (Neuhoff, 2005). However this offers a dramatic contrast with power generation, for example, where the same fundamental technology has dominated for almost a century and private sector RD&D has fallen sharply with privatisation of energy industries to the point where it is under 0.4% of turnover (Margolis and Kammen,1999).

    There may be several reasons for this low inherent innovation-intensity. Processing large amounts of energy may inherently involve big capital investment and long timescales, which naturally increases risk and deters private finance; each stage in the innovation chain can take a decade, and diffusion is equally slow. Perhaps more fundamentally however, the R&Dintensive sectors (like IT and pharmaceuticals) are ones in which competition is essentially all around product differentiation (a better computer / mobile phone; a better drug) whereas innovation in power generation is basically about efficiency and price in delivering the same product (electrons). This is a far weaker driver. And compared to a new product that captures public imagination and commands a large market combined with a high price premium, price-based competition has dramatically less scope for offsetting big risks against the prospect of huge rewards.

    More Resources on climate change and technological innovation:

    Creating a Global Price for Carbon

    Carbon pricing which is also known as cap-and –trade is the climate change mitigating measure most preferred by business leaders and economists .

    This strategy of curbing greenhouse emissions is hinged on the idea that those who emit carbon dioxide and pollute the atmosphere should be made to pay a price for their actions. Carbon pricing is either a direct carbon tax or an allowance paid for permits to emit carbon. Where a permit is granted, it is tradable privately and emissions are limited to the cap (the total number of permits granted), hence, carbon pricing is also cap-and-trade system of minimizing carbon emissions.

    A few international businesses like Walmart, Google and Shell have started introducing the use of internal carbon pricing into their investment planning as an incentive and a tool for strategic planning that could give them competitive edge in the long-term. Though internal carbon pricing being practiced now by a few global companies won’t significantly lead to a reduction in global emissions yet it is a good decision that would create significant impact if embraced on scale.

    Monetary Value of Carbon Emissions

    A recent World Bank report shows that 39 national and 23 sub-national jurisdictions have implemented or about to implement carbon pricing strategies that includes carbon taxes and emissions trading systems. In addition, the global emissions trading schemes have been estimated to be worth around $30 billion with the second largest carbon pricing market now sited in China with about 1,115 million tons of CO2 emissions.

    The World Bank reported the total value of the global carbon market to be $176 billion in 2011 which illustrates a rapid growth rate from $11 billion reported for 2005 . Countries, companies and sub-national jurisdictions around the world are being encouraged by the World Bank to be a part of the growing movement that supports carbon pricing.

    More resources on pricing carbon

    Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

    There are great opportunities and enormous challenges ahead as the world strives to transition to a low-carbon economy. In the first instance, the emerging eco-friendly technological innovations will present an opportunity for commercialization which can further catalyze global economic growth while also carving out a niche market.

    On the other hand, it will require a significant capital investment to transition from the present state where the global economy is largely dependent on carbon energy supply. The challenge is even greater when we consider the extent of the transition we will have to undergo from our present state.

    To give you an order of magnitude of the capital required, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates we need $10.5 trillion in incremental investment globally in low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency by 2030. This estimate is across all sectors, including power, transport, residential and commercial building equipment, and industrial sectors, in order to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified as necessary for “avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

    The literature after the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report explored in much more depth the role of technological change in economic modelling and how policies might induce and accelerate such change. The models suggest that international coordination could lead to faster technological change and more benefits. In particular, the Innovation Modelling Comparison Project (IMCP)1 co-ordinated modelling teams in a study of the achievement of 450 ppm CO2-only stabilisation, which (under special assumptions about the abatement of the non-CO2 GHGs) can be converted to 550 ppm CO2-e. The key feature of the study is that it compared scenarios with and without induced technological change (ITC).

    source: http://www.theclimategroup.org/_assets/files/Macroeconomics-effects-of-the-Low-Carbon-Economy.pdf

    There are three central aspects of the problem:

    Urgency – the critical constraint on avoiding a 2ºC degree warming will be the time taken to develop and deploy the industries of the low-carbon economy.

    The Catch 22 of low-carbon industrial development – many zero and low emission commodities are currently low volume and therefore high cost. They will naturally increase in volume and decrease in cost – even to the point of being cheaper than fossil fuels (as has already occurred with solar hot water, biomass and wind power in several countries). But the issue of urgency means that this process has to be short-circuited so that high volumes are developed and deployed even at high cost.

    Developing countries are where the climate challenge will be won or lost, but the deployment of high cost, low-carbon solutions represents a real opportunity cost compared to short term poverty eradication, and a competitive disadvantage to third party funders.

    Addtional resources, papers and discussion on transition to low carbon economy:

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    This entry was posted in: Blog.

    World Food Day

    World Food Day

    IN THE REPORT: Inequalities of Food Distribution, FAO (purpose, history, progress), Global Undernourishment, Climate Change and Food, Future Food Systems, World Food Day 2014

    Land Mass vs The Population Density

    • The total land area of all continents is 148,429,630 square kilometers (57,308,738 sq mi), or 29.1% of Earth’s surface (510,067,450 km2 or 196,937,240 sq mi).
    • The inhabitable portion of Earth is only 43 percent of its land mass, 63,824,740 sq km (24,642,584 sq mi).
    • The total population of all seven continents is an estimated 7.12 billion as of mid-2014 and global population density works out to 111.55 per km2.

    In other words, each person on earth has as much as 8,965 sq m to live in, discounting the use of land for any purpose. That seems a lot, but is hardly the case in real life as explained later.

    Ancient Greek sailors predate the Roman and it fell to their lot to name the land masses they came across. They named such land masses on either side of the waterways of the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea as Asia and Africa. The Aegean Sea was the center of their world; anything to the east was Asia, to the north and west Europe, and to the south, Africa.

    Population Density

    The popular seven-continent view is best suited to show how population density is to be considered when relating food availability to the number of people to feed.

    The first factor to consider is their relative population density. Asia is the most densely populated continent, housing a large number of people who do not get two square meals a day. Europe, with very high population density, has no such problems. The deduction is simple: better education and knowledge of optimal crop growing and livestock rearing techniques make for a better output, leading to self sufficiency in food.

    Most of Black Africa is in dire straits. North America has surplus food and is the largest exporter of foodgrain. It is also the largest donor of such foodgrain as well as processed food, like powdered milk, to various countries affected by famine, whether sporadic, regular or otherwise. South America is comprised of too many countries to be as magnanimous as its northern neighbor.

    Population Density Chart

    A chart of population density as of today is given below, as Chart 1, followed by charts on Continental data as Charts 2 and 3.


    CONTINENT
    POPULATION PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL POPULATION LAND MASS IN KM2 POPULATION DENSITY PER KM2
    ASIA 4,264,252,000 60.00% 44,579,000 98.4
    AFRICA 1,072,234,000 15.00% 30,065,000 35.67
    NORTH AMERICA 562,056,000 8.00% 24,256,000 23.3
    SOUTH AMERICA 402,555,000 6.00% 17,819,000 23.2
    ANTARCTICA 5,000 0.00% 13,209,000 0
    EUROPE 778,199,000 11.00% 9,938,000 76.44
    AUSTRALIA 30,127,000 0.40% 7,687,000 3.2
    TOTAL 7,119,428,000 100% 148,429,000 48.18

    Chart 1: Population Percentage and Density

    Chart 2: Continents as a Percentage of Land Mass

    Chart 3: Comparison of Intra-continental Area (by Tens of Millions of Sq Km) and Population (Billions of People)

    Child Mortality Rate

    Eons back, there was sufficient food for everybody. As population grew, so did food production, since the numbers and quantities required remained very low. Child mortality was high since there were no medical facilities to speak of. Longevity was also low, and many people died in their prime in epidemics of untreatable diseases like malaria, smallpox, bubonic plague, tuberculosis and others. Famines and droughts, though prevalent, were a rarity. Women were married at puberty and gave birth at 13-14 years; people were considered old at 40 and 55-60 years was a ripe old age to die at.

    Matters, as they stand today, are becoming alarmingly grave in a perverse but necessary perspective. Consider child mortality. Child mortality is the death of a child below five years of age and is often called Under-5 mortality. Close to 50 percent of child deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Chart 4.  Child Mortality in Millions

    Improved medical care and technology is reducing child mortality. The same improved medical care and technology is permitting aging people to live longer, so that the number of mouths to feed is increasing. There are two ways of looking at this. The first is joyful, happily so. And the second?

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    History of the FAO

    Each successful birth and each successful life extended translates into the snipping off of lebensraum, living space. The global average works out to 234,200 additional lives per day. Whether these people are rural or urban is of little consequence, since they require both food and shelter. Where can this food and land come from? More food requires more arable land. Going vertical is only a part-time solution to reduce loss of land to housing, and will create immense infrastructural complexities to solve in the cities that go vertical. Paris, London, Delhi, most metros and several US cities already have severe parking problems. People will need more water for drinking, washing and bathing and more piped gas for cooking. In the final analysis, the extra land required will come from farm land, one way or the other. This means that the arable land required to grow foodstuff will keep reducing day by day. The world would be better off if it could revert to the population numbers prevailing in 1900 AD, insofar as the food situation is concerned, without being as acerbic as Eric R. Pianka, “For everyone presently on this planet to enjoy the lifestyle of an average American, we would need about ten planet Earths. We have only one. For everyone to live like an American, Earth can only support about one-tenth as many people. To increase the average quality of life, the number of people on Earth must be reduced.” Fortunately, most US citizens have a balanced and rational opinion. The point here is that the American way of life is considered the global standard, to be emulated in toto.

    This matter of hunger did not go unnoticed. Most of Africa and South Asia was found to be undernourished, after acquiring and assessing relevant statistics in 1935, when the ‘marriage of health and agriculture’ was first promulgated at the League of Nations. Just before being dragged into WW II, the US did forge a general plan to look into global hunger and attempt to assuage it. However, it was only after WW II ended that the US could relook at its past venture. Late in 1945, the United Nations set up a committee to look into the global food situation and what the pressing needs were. The driving force behind this movement came from the USA and Canada. The date was 16 October and the committee The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The venue was Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; the number of participating countries: 42. This is an important date to remember.

    The General Rules of the Organization stated that the seat of the Organization would be situated at the same place as the headquarters of the United Nations Organization. Pending a decision regarding the headquarters of the UN, the headquarters of the Organization was to be in Washington.

    The United Nations was founded eight days after FAO, in New York. It then became clear to the FAO hierarchy that the huge metropolitan centre would not suit an organization that dealt with or would be dealing with food, fisheries, agriculture and forestry. A different site therefore had to be found, and the General Rule changed. It took four years, till the FAO Conference in end 1949, for a final decision to be made. Nobody wanted to leave the Big Apple, but the HQ reluctantly moved to Rome by 1951. Interestingly, even the Gods did not like the idea of the move, since one of its ships, carrying 15 percent of FAO equipment, was all but wrecked in a storm over the Atlantic.

    The Purpose of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    The FAO is the designated agency of the United Nations tasked with leading international efforts to battle hunger at its source and overcome it so that every human being sees fructification of his right to live. The FAO’s long term aim is to achieving food security for all– to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Their three main goals were:

    • Eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
    • Elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all
    • Sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

    Decentralization of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    Early in the 1990s, the FAO embarked on its most highly goal oriented study: To check whether there was any barrier to both vertical and lateral communications, the fundamental objective being to bridge and close gaps and take FAO as close as possible to its members. This called for the widest-ranging reorganization since its founding. The allied problem to be solved was that reorganization was not possible without a decentralized structure, a management system with increased delegation of authority, and an environment that encouraged creativity and initiative. While decentralization has its pros, in this specific case, FAO found that it was overspending in certain areas, at times duplicating effort and cost. After verifying that lack of proper integration was indeed costing them €35 million per year in 1994, FAO decentralized its departments and offices.

    THE 7 DEPARTMENTS OF THE FAO THE 7 OFFICES OF THE FAO
    1 Agriculture and Consumer Protection Corporate Communications and External Relations
    2 Corporate Services, Human Resources and Finance Evaluation
    3 Economic and Social Development Inspector-General
    4 Fisheries and Aquaculture Knowledge Exchange
    5 Forestry Research and Extension
    6 Natural Resources Management and Environment Strategy Planning, Resource Management and Support
    7 Technical Cooperation Decentralisation

    Chart 5: The Departments and Offices of FAO

    Further Decentralization

    • Regional Offices: Regional Offices were created for Africa, in Accra, Ghana; for Asia and the Pacific, in Bangkok, Thailand; for Europe and Central Asia, in Budapest, Hungary; for Latin America and the     Caribbean, in Santiago, Chile and for the Near East, in Cairo, Egypt (moved to Rome in 1956 due Suez War).
    • Sub-regional Offices: Sub-regional Office were created for Central Africa in Libreville, Gabon; for Central America in Panama City, Panama; for Central and Eastern Europe in Budapest, Hungary; for Central Asia in Ankara, Turkey; for Eastern Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; for North Africa in Tunis, Tunisia, for Southern Africa and East Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe; for the Caribbean in Bridgetown, Barbados; for the Pacific Islands in Apia, Samoa and for Western Africa in Accra, Ghana.
    • Liaison Offices: Liaison Offices were created for North America, in Washington, D.C.; with Japan, in Yokohama; with the European Union and Belgium, in Brussels; with the United Nations, in Geneva and with the United Nations, in New York (ibid).

    Their strategic objectives were relooked at and expanded as listed below:

    Expanded Objectives of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

    • Help Eliminate Hunger, Food Insecurity and Malnutrition.

    FAO realized that there was sufficient global capacity to grow enough foodstuffs to feed everyone adequately; yet, despite the progress made since 1994, 842 million people still suffer from chronic hunger.

    Global Undernourishment Problem

    • One person in nine goes hungry.
    • Among children, about 162 million children below the age of five years are malnourished.

    Micronutrient deficiencies, or eating food with no nutritive values affect over two billion people worldwide, hindering human and socio-economic development and causal to the vicious cycle of malnutrition and underdevelopment. At the other end of the scale, around 500 million people are obese. The loss to mankind is huge, when malnutrition hampers productivity, health, well-being, the ability to learn, all seen as  reduced fulfillment of human potential.

    Number and Percentage of Undernourished Persons


    PERIOD
    NUMBERS IN MILLIONS PERCENTAGE GLOBAL POPULATION
    1990-1992 1015 19% 5432   Billion
    2000-2002 957 15% 6380   Billion
    2005-2007 907 14% 6479   Billion
    2008-2010 878 13% 6754   Billion
    2011-2013 842 12% 7016   Billion

    Chart 6

    UNDERNOURISHMENT CASE STUDY

    The South-South Cooperation (SSC) Program

    During the past decade, over 600 Chinese experts and technicians have been deployed in Nigeria to share their agricultural skills with local farmers. The South-South Cooperation (SSC) program, which has been fully funded by the Government of Nigeria and facilitated by the FAO, has benefited over one million people. The introduction of a wide range of technologies, from fish cage culture to drip irrigation, intensive poultry production to apiculture, has increased productivity and rural incomes. It is also helping the Government achieve the objectives of its Agricultural Transformation Agenda, which seeks to increase production, reduce food imports and provide millions of new jobs for young people. Nigeria has allocated significant resources from its annual budget amounting to US$ 42 million in support of the first five-year phase (2003–2007) of the SSC project implementation. During this first phase a total of 496 Chinese experts and technicians were deployed to 36 states in Nigeria. Based on the achievements recorded in the first phase, the Federal Government of Nigeria approved the continuation of the program and launched the second phase of five years in 2009 at a cost of US$ 19.6 million. The second phase has the same objective of assisting Nigeria develop its agricultural sector through the introduction of simple and low-cost Chinese agricultural technologies to farmers. Information provided by the states suggested that over one million people have been trained on the use of various technologies introduced by the SSC program.

    Making Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries More Productive and Sustainable

    Global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. The highest rates of growth are expected to occur in areas that depend heavily on their crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries, yet cannot reduce the prevailing rates of food insecurity. Improved agricultural output is the best method of cutting down poverty while acquiring food security. Innovation is needed in this sector to increase productivity, preserve natural resources using inputs effectively. Such an approach will need collective participation of small holders, women, locals and marginalized groups. The odds may seem stacked against the small or family farmer, but it is a battle that, when guided properly, can be won.

    Natural resources, such as oceans, land mass and water are a constant entity, and the more forward looking will quickly harness their latent potential. Labor presently available for production will reduce as lifestyle changes take place in rural areas. Continuous changes in practices will foster new or mutated pests and diseases. Climate change will degrade natural resources and impact the agriculture sector. Since these are a source of concern to FAO, its vision looks across this entire sector to focus on:

    • increasing efficiency, achieving higher productivity at a reduced volume of input.
    • managing ecological as well as economic risks linked to production systems in the agricultural sector, including vermin, illnesses and climate change;
    • identifying how ecosystem services work as well as their inputs to environmental conservation and enhancing them.
    • facilitating access to new technologies.
    • Reduce rural poverty

    The rural poor are day-to-day provenders, family farmers, landless agricultural hands and include fisherfolk, nomads who raise livestock on natural pastures and forest-dependent people with no or limited access to productive means. Hunger and food insecurity are known expressions of rural poverty and the majority of the world’s destitute live in rural areas. Reducing rural poverty becomes central to FAO’s mission. FAO has been instrumental in lifting many rural areas out of poverty over the past decades. In 1990, 54% of people living in rural areas in developing countries survived on less than $1.25 a day. By 2010, this number was brought down to 35%. Even today, rural poverty is endemic in South Asia and Africa. Getting more humans out of rural poverty is essential to retain the dignity of mankind; it is a vital ingredient of sustainable food security.

    Enabling Inclusive and Efficient Agricultural and Food Systems

    A side effect of globalization has been the inclusion of Agriculture in a high-tech Supply Chain Management (SCM) system. Apart from convoluting the push-pull balance of demand by Less Developed Countries, the SCM is threatening to isolate small players from the chain by elevating the threshold to levels beyond their economic capability. The roots of hunger lie in inequalities in access to resources. Right now, many farmers in poor countries—the people who grow the food the world relies on—don’t have the power to access the resources they need to thrive. As agriculture becomes more techno and capital intensive, undereducated players are seeing their dim hopes receding even further. Against this setting, FAO is trying to intercede on behalf of the smaller players to help them address the new challenges they have to face across the value chain.

    Increasing Resilience of Livelihoods from Disasters

    Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, pests and disease outbreaks, droughts, etc., have occurred since Noah’s days, but climate change seems to be increasing their frequency and power. So far, humanitarian agencies were required to focus primarily on disaster relief. A new paradigm is needed that emphasizes reducing risks to enhance resilience to shocks. This approach, requiring bottom to top action from local to global levels through their country, intends to make sure that humanity can forecast, cope with and bounce back from all setbacks efficiently and sustainably. And we can do without unwanted additions like wars!
    The World Food Day Since Inception

    In a concept of capsule plans on a yearly basis, it was decided in the 1945 to move towards removal of rural poverty in small steps, with a meeting every year where progress would be highlighted, areas of failure identified and remedial measures instituted while setting up the targets for the following year. In 1979, it was decided to bring global problems to the forefront and make the public at large aware of happenings on the food front. One issue to be highlighted was that a war in any part of the world would be detrimental to the global cause. Regrettably, countries flush with money from oil production and sale took little heed of the noble cause, secure in the knowledge that could buy their food, cost irrespective.

    It was also decided that the 16th of October of every year starting 1981 would be known as The World Food Day of that year.

    Year FAO Global Theme and Materials U.S. Teleconference Theme
    2014 Family Farming : “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”
    2013 Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition
    2012 Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world
    2011 Food prices – from crisis to stability
    2010 United against hunger
    2009 Achieving food security in times of crisis
    2008 World Food Security: challenges of climate change & bioenergy Choices for a Warm and Hungry Planet
    2007 The right to food Climate: Changes, Challenges and Consequences
    2006 Investing in agriculture for food security Power of the People: Bottom-up Solutions to Hunger
    2005 Agriculture and intercultural dialogue Reflections on Fighting Hunger: Roads not Taken; Goals not Met; The Journey Ahead
    2004 Biodiversity for food security Politics of Hunger: What’s at Stake?
    2003 Working together for an International Alliance to End Hunger Collaboration or Calamity: Africa in Peril
    2002 Water: Source of Food Security Hungry Farmers:  A National Security Issue for all
    2001 Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty World Food System: Serving Some or Serving All
    2000 A Millennium Free from Hunger Poverty and Hunger: The Tragic Link
    1999 Youth Against Hunger Tomorrow’s Farmers: An Uncertain Future
    1998 Women Feed the World Food for All: Right or Goal
    1997 Investing in Food Security World Food Summit: Promises and Prospects
    1996 Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition People Power: Harvest of Hope
    1995 Food for All Fighting Hunger: Looking Back. Looking Ahead
    1994 Water for Life Sharing Water: Farms, Cities and Ecosystems
    1993 Harvesting Nature’s Diversity Seeds of Conflict: Biodiversity and Food Security
    1992 Food and Nutrition Nutrition: Linking Food. Health and Development
    1991 Trees for life The Hunger Puzzle
    1990 Food for the future Food for the Future: Science. Policy and Ethics
    1989 Food and the environment Food,  Environment and Development
    1988 Rural youth Global Food Security: Focus on Africa
    1987 Small farmers Right to Food: From Awareness to Action
    1986 Fishermen and fishing communities Hunger Amidst Plenty
    1985 Rural Poverty Food & Poverty: Perspectives. Policies. Prospects.
    1984 Women in Agriculture 1984 – World Food Conference – Ten Years Later
    1983 Food Security
    1982 Food Comes First
    1981 Food Comes First

    Chart 7  Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Food_Day/ & / http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/about_us

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) : 1945-1979

    WW II had destroyed agricultural production across billions of acres. Factories related thereto were destroyed or switched to make armament. Existing channels in the global distribution of agriculture-related products were either obliterated or disrupted. FAO was struggling in extremely difficult times, along with the reconstruction of nations as existential, per se. Seen dispassionately, nothing seemed to be happening on the FAO front, other than lip service. It was only after the Vietnam War had run its course that the US could increase focus on internal issues.

    The principal drivers behind FAO have remained the USA and Canada, with other advanced nations chipping in. The USA was busy fighting wars on other countries’ territories for various reasons or organizing their reconstruction. A major chunk of its finances was lost there, with internal repercussions and reduced aid to countries it had pledged assistance to. A timeline 1945-1979 is listed below:

    • 1945 – 55. US forces present in China, Japan, Philippines, Austria.
    • 1945–49 – Occupation of part of Germany, countering the USSR threat.
    • 1945–49 – Post-World War II occupation of South Korea; North Korean insurgency in Republic of Korea. 1947 sees India and Pakistan becoming independent.
    • 1950–53 – Korean War.
    • 1950–55 – Formosa (Taiwan).
    • 1955–64 – Vietnam.
    • 1959–75 – Vietnam War. This war is now seen as unnecessary and extremely expensive in terms of finance and human lives. 20 years were spent in a lost cause, since South Vietnam has ceased

    to exist. Ironically, USA assisted in the Vietnamization, or bonding, of the two separate halves.

    • 1962–75 – Laos.
    • 1970 – Cambodian Campaign.

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): 1981-2013

    American intervention in the affairs of other nations reduced to external support, though some wars were either forced or prolonged. Technology cut down action periods from years to weeks! Some operations conducted are listed below:

    • 1987–88 – Persian Gulf.
    • 1990 – Saudi Arabia: Operation Desert Shield.
    • 1991 – Iraq and Kuwait: Operation Desert Storm.
    • 1992–96 – Bosnia and Herzegovina: Operation Provide Promise.
    • 1992–2003 – Iraq: Iraqi no-fly zones.
    • 1995 – Bosnia: Operation Deliberate Force.
    • 1996 – Kuwait: Operation Desert Strike.
    • 2001 – War in Afghanistan.
    • 2010–11 – War in Iraq: Operation New Dawn.

    Comparison with Chart 6


    PERIOD
    NUMBERS IN MILLIONS PERCENTAGE GLOBAL POPULATION
    1990-1992                    1015 19% 5432   Billion
    2000-2002 957 15% 6380
    2005-2007 907 14% 6479
    2008-2010 878 13% 6754
    2011-2013 842 12% 7016

    Chart 8 (Repeat of Chart 6)

    This comparison shows that reduction of poverty stricken individuals is directly proportional to the downsizing of American forces deployed in battle conditions. This is not to say that the US is the sole country providing aid under the FAO plan, but to reinforce the concept that it is the principal driving force behind reducing poverty and poverty-related problems. Statistics do not lie.

    Another point that needs reiteration is population density. If you were to stand up and say that one percent (1%) of the population of Asia had AIDS, it would imply that a number 1.4 times the population of the entire continent of Australia was affected. More people travel at any given time on the rail network in India than the population of Denmark. Bangladesh, with a population density of 2,595.74 per sq mile tops the list of reasonably sized countries, followed by South Korea at 1,273.50, Japan at 873.42 and India at 851.04. The USA is at 79.55, ranked 142 out of 192 countries.

    The FAO and UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda

    The UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDG) agenda is the overall framework within which the High Level Panel on the UN’s 15-year Development Agenda falls. The aim of this panel is to chart a 15-year program with defined targets for the period. The 2000-2015 report has been released, and the achievements listed. It runs as follows:

    Remarkable Achievements Since 2000

    After the MDGs were adopted, dozens of developing-country planning ministries, hundreds of international agencies and thousands of civil society organizations (CSOs) rallied behind them. Together, they have contributed to remarkable achievements; half a billion fewer people in extreme poverty; about three million children’s lives saved each year. Four out of five children now get vaccinated for a range of diseases. Maternal mortality gets the focused attention it deserves. Deaths from malaria have fallen by one-quarter. Contracting HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence. In 2011, 590 million children in developing countries – a record number – attended primary school. This unprecedented progress was driven by a combination of economic growth, government policies, civil society engagement and the global commitment to the MDGs.

    Given this success, it would be a mistake to start a new development agenda from scratch. There is much unfinished business from the MDGs. Some countries achieved a great deal, but others, especially low-income, conflict affected countries, achieved much less. In our discussions, we became aware of a gap between reality on the ground and the statistical targets that are tracked. We realized that the next development agenda must build on the real experiences, stories, ideas and solutions of people at the grassroots, and that we, as a Panel, must do our best to understand the world through their eyes and reflect on the issues that would make a difference to their lives.

    As may be expected, the bottom line of both the FAO and the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda are the same; just the wording is separate. As the Executive Report puts it:

    1. Leave no one behind.

    We must finish the job. After 2015 we should end extreme poverty, in all its forms. We should ensure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.

    1. Put sustainable development at the core.

    Only by mobilizing social, economic and environmental action together can we eradicate poverty irreversibly and meet the aspirations of eight billion people in 2030.

    1. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.

    A quantum leap forward is required in economic opportunities and a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods.

    1. Forge a new global partnership.

    We must build a new partnership underpinning mutual respect and mutual benefit involving governments and others: people living in poverty, those with disabilities and traditionally marginalized groups.

    As far as the FAO is concerned, the word poverty is symbolic of both hunger and malnutrition. That is why World Food Day 2014 is so important. It should reflect progress on the lines of those put forward by global leaders as summarized above.

    Relation Between FAO and the World Health Organization

    The relation between FAO and the World Health Organization: The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international expert scientific committee that is administered jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been meeting since 1956, initially to evaluate the safety of food additives and gradually increasing its ambit.

    JECFA has since checked 2,500 + food additives, around 40 contaminants and toxicants that are natural, besides remnants of close to 90 veterinary drugs. A set of guidelines and principles have been created to assess existing toxic agents, update them in consonance with technical advancement in toxicology as well as relevant sciences, and validate them. Importers subject food items coming from outside the state and react according to the test results. The recent ban on import of mangoes from India by the EU is a case in point.

    Their area of work thus is focused on assessment of risks, if any and the safety appraisal of all additives to food, whether intentionally added or not. They also check out processing aids and flavoring agents, natural toxins and the risk involved in working with such additives. A comprehensive list of items checked for safety and quality is listed on their website. The Codex Alimentarius is the lexicon listing the food standards and guidelines and the certified codes of practice considered by the WTO as the benchmark for compiling regulations at the national level for food safety.

    FAO assists its member countries encouraging them to develop and expand their capacities so that food safety as well as quality become key in guarding the health/well-being of locals while advising them how to go about accessing their domestic and regional markets before going global. Capacity Development then becomes the process wherein stakeholders can improve their utility from farm to table. They then become responsible in providing a guarantee with respect to the same two vital factors, viz, the safety and the quality of food destined for internal consumption or for export. The main issues they lay stress on are:

    • Needs assessment
    • Policy advice
    • Food regulations
    • Food inspection
    • Risk analysis
    • Good hygiene practices and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)
    • Effective participation in Codex
    • Voluntary standards & schemes
    • Public education and communication

    All agencies related to food also participate in the World Food Day Celebrations, including the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

    CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD SECURITY: A CASE STUDY

    The USA is the global leader in corn production and export. Corn comprises 80 percent of the country’s grain harvest. On the international front, the U.S. corn crop is more than the sum of China’s grain harvests (rice and wheat). Corn now tops global grain production way ahead of wheat while almost twice that of rice. It can thus be called the world’s No 1 foodgrain.

    Spring 2012 saw U.S. farmers planting close to 96 million acres in corn, a record breaking figure over 75 years. The warm early days of spring got them off to a dream start, with exuberant analysts predicting a record harvest. Corn is a demanding grain−mild heat and plenty of water. Shortage of one or both has serious results. 2012 turned into a farmer’s nightmare: soaring heat leading to dehydration. From a record crop, it dropped to a normal crop. In June, deflated analysts called it a flop crop. As expected, costs soared to record highs.

    This case study clearly shows how climate change can affect food security. What is of great interest is the fact that the entire world hoped that the tide would turn, since a good grain harvest in the U.S. translates into a good carryover in grain stocks. This, in turn, regulates grain prices across the world. 2013 costs were predicted to be higher than average, an accurate forecast of gloomy news.

    Then comes the cascade. High grain costs force exporting countries to maintain a buffer stock through Govt control. Importing countries enter a tailspin and middlemen make a killing. The biggest stockist of grain is China, a fact revealed only in August 2014. A partial solution lies in innovation: better biological strains, induced hardiness to resist dehydration, optimal utilization of water and then the magic words-Population Control. The panacea to all global problems!

    Unnecessary Impediments: The 2014 Crimean Crisis

    All good intentions are negated by loss of international goodwill. The recent annexation of Crimea by Russia followed by the war in Donbass is a case in point. The ban on Russian imports by a number of countries led by the USA, the EU and Canada and the reciprocal total ban by Russia of imports from the European Union, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia is a retrograde step for the FAO. Its annual achievements are slender and such moves could set FAO back several years.

    Fortunately, the countries involved do not fall in the category of countries requiring assistance to reduce rural poverty. Both sub-Sahara Africa and Asia should not be affected significantly, but internal ramifications, particularly financial, may still affect donor countries’ contributions this year and the next. The Food Day 2014 report might show a relatively small change since the imbroglio started in February but international sanctions were emplaced only in August.

    United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda: Where FAO Stands

    The core of the 2015-2030 agenda, with MDG and targets in mind, revolves around the following categories:

    • The Poverty Apex: It is possible to end extreme poverty and start the extension of prosperity to most people globally. The requirement would be unrelenting equitable economic growth coupled with access to credit and opportunities to move into entrepreneurship for the poor.
    • Human Needs and Capacities: Push to overcome unmet challenges of the past in areas like education, health, emancipation of womankind, specifically where linked to poverty and its obliteration.
    • The Resource Triad: Strengthen the defined resource triad (water and sanitation, energy and climate, and agriculture and food) to further concretize the props of sustainable development.
    • Enabling Environment: Look only at good governance that respects human rights, aims at peace and sustainability, and enables contemporary and green physical infrastructure.
    • Introducing the Corporate world and businessmen to MDGs.

    A concentrated assault on poverty should be made to restore human dignity, because poverty is the main obstacle to progress. The aim should not be crossing the definition of wage poverty as $1.25 per day. Note the location of food and agriculture.

    Note that poverty eradication has reached no. 3 spot in global opinion.

    Cybernated Farm Systems: An Interesting Concept

    Sustainability is no longer enough. That may shock you, but seen objectively, sustainability is only the beginning.  SUS + or Sustainability Plus has supplanted the concept calling for a move to overtake sustainability, thereby adding an extra dimension. That may sound heretic in an era where ‘sustainability’ is the programmed end result. On the other hand, we have depredated the globe to such an extent that we must remedy the damage done to the planet; sustainability can only be the beginning.  To go a step further, self sustenance is a homonym for a state of limbo, neither here nor there.

    Cybernated Farm Systems (CFS) is pushing the concept of SUS+ while explaining that we need to move out of limbo and give something back to the planet.  A good example would be the standard car. “It is sustainable to develop a vehicle that does not pollute, but it would be SUS+ if, by design, that vehicle also created potable water as a byproduct of its very operation,” say the staff at CFS, which is looking to go SUS+ in providing food.

    In the educated 21st century, why should anyone go hungry? Why can’t the shocking wastage of food at the current rate be eliminated? Why are gallons of fresh water used in catering for archaic agricultural practices? Yet we claim to be an advanced country in agricultural infotech capabilities. We have Smart Phones, Smart this, Smart that and more- where are our Smart Greenhouses?

    The gap between ‘advanced production’ of food and its distribution as clean, nourishing food to all people on the planet can be removed. CFS has devised a self-sustaining aquaponic system that will provide the hungry fruit, fish and half a dozen vegetables without using land. That makes them green at the start itself, ecologically conscious and vigorous in performance, and, as claimed, SUS+.  All that is required at the outset are enough fish to sustain a fish farm and enough fish food, plus a freshwater tank and interlink the two. Add solar panels, wind power generators and capacitors to store power and the system becomes self sustaining. It uses less than 10 percent the water a normal farm would use.

    Looking ahead, self-reliant partners like governments and organizations like Oxfam will be required to help create a Second Agricultural Revolution. The revolutionary point here is that there is no plan to feed people commercially, or recover land lost to antiquated 17th century agricultural systems which wasted fresh water and ravaged their topsoil. People will need to learn the simplest of methods of producing food, so that they rapidly acquire their needs for immediate survival.

    This advanced concept of food production should abolish any barrier between production and food distribution globally. Since their facilities are self sustaining, they can be emplaced in those parts of the world which has no infrastructure, thereby feeding the desperately hungry immediately. Location is no big deal; they can be snugly fitted into apartment complexes or areas under housing development, etc. In effect, they can be located on demand. The more arid the desert, the more the space available.

    When we see disturbing images of totally skeletal infants, with equally gaunt mothers, it triggers intense emotions within us. Nothing has changed in decades upon decades. A sense of guilt is not enough. Poverty was, is and will remain the major issue insofar as the development of humanity is concerned which is why this issue has stayed with us for centuries. The Internet is a global borderless communication network for free flow of information, and its utilization is growing exponentially. If that be so, why have we not yet been able to cater for the basic needs of one another? Why is nearly half the world without sufficient resources to survive? Can we rectify this ongoing atrocity? Of course we can.

    Today, poverty is not just unnecessary, it is an unacceptable reality in a fatalistic society that assumes it is just a way of life and that’s that. A lot of money has been donated but to no avail in the broader perspective. If we look at it from a different angle, we find it’s not the money that people need but access to food and resources directly through local means. This should be the thrust area, to give people access to resources by technological advancements and create an abundance of food and basic necessities we need to survive.

    People can bypass governments, have global connectivity, the power and tools to come together and share world changing ideas with millions and shape reality. Just one of CFS’ buildings can produce enough food to feed up to 600 people with half a dozen different types of fruits and vegetables each, giving a thrust to local food production to sustain the people and the community in need.

    World Food Day 2013
    In India, six percent of its people are being fed with grain produced by pumping groundwater. For China, 12 percent face the same problem. Water depletion looms large over harvests in China, India and the United States, the big three that together produce 50 percent of the world’s grain. Will water shortages affect harvests in the big three? Yes, it will. When? That’s the 64 million dollar question.   

    Case Study: What Happens When the Wells Go Dry

    Man can survive without food for up to 10 days, but not more than 48 hours without drinking water. There can be no substitute for water. Even food production depends on adequate water. The average human consumption of water is three liters a day, but that meal on your plate took 1,500 liters of water.

    Foodgrain is the prime supplier of our calories, supplemented by non-vegetarian intake. Vegans have a tough time getting their calories. Today, more than half the global grain harvest is grown on irrigated land. Irrigation thus plays a focal role in the growth of grain. Statistically, global irrigated land increased from 100 million hectares (250 million acres) in 1951 to 285 hectares (700 million acres) in 2000, a threefold rise. But the rise between 2010 and 2000 is less than 10 percent! The lesson behind this assumption by Lester R. Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute and prolific writer on food related topics is, unfortunately, less than watertight. Drip irrigation is the preserve of the affluent and less than 10 percent of land irrigated in the Indian subcontinent is by the efficient drip method. The remainder is watered by the inefficient gravity feed system. Over 25 percent of water meant for irrigation is lost between the fount and the field and another 15 percent lost in routing the incoming water. If assistance is provided to countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Brown’s figures will change dramatically. As it stands, India has just about started drip irrigation. The problem here is that the source of water in India is the aquifer/borewell.

    Irrigation water comes either from rivers or aquifers. Historically, irrigation water came from lakes behind dams across rivers. This water led to a network of gravity-fed canals, until the 1960s when building dams became anathema for a variety of reasons, mainly the consequent loss of poor farmers’ agricultural land. Farmers then turned to sinking wells into underground water resources.

    These water resources expanded global food production; the demand for food will keep climbing, as will the water pumped. Some day, extraction will exceed recharge from precipitation, water tables will fall, wells will go dry and the pumped water-based food bubble will burst.

    Some 18 countries are overpumping their aquifers, including China, India, the United States, Pakistan, Iran and Mexico. The most dramatic case is Saudi Arabia, water-poor if oil-rich. The 1973 Arab oil fracas saw the Saudis trying to gain self-sufficiency in wheat by developing irrigated agriculture based on underground water. They announced failure in 2008; wheat planting would cease in 2016. All 15 million tonnes of wheat, corn, barley and rice, required by its people would be imported. Syria, Iraq and Yemen will follow soon. Iran and Pakistan are next.

    Among the big three, USA, China and India, only 20 percent of the harvest in the US is from irrigated land. Most of the crop is rain-fed. Still, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 400,000 acres of farmland dried up statewide between 2000 and 2005. Falling water levels are already hurting China, almost as large as the United States, the global leader. India has difficult days ahead, since 27 million+ irrigation wells have been drilled by farmers to extract underground water. Grain harvest in India’s has been on the upslope, but for the wrong reason, i.e., over-pumping. 175 million Indians eat grain produced with over-pumped water.

    In the United States, farmers are over-pumping in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas. These states have not only raised wheat yields but shifted from wheat to corn, a higher-yield crop. Kansas’ production of corn now exceeds that of wheat.

    Irrigation based agriculture draws water from Ogallala aquifer, which is a huge underground reservoir. Unfortunately, this aquifer is fossil-based, and cannot be recharged. Once drained, back you go to dry land farming or giving up farming. Over-pumping, whether in the Middle East or the U.S., leads to aquifer depletion and shrinking grain harvests. For some countries this has become a stark reality.

    The world has quietly transitioned into a situation where water, not land, has emerged as the principal constraint on expanding food supplies. There is enough land to produce food if water were available. Harvests are shrinking in some countries because of aquifer depletion, in others because of soil erosion. Among the more vivid examples of soil erosion are Mongolia and Lesotho.

    Water constraints, exacerbated by soil erosion; the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses; a stagnation of yields in large producing areas, and climate change are increasingly making world food production more difficult. Are we likely to see a cessation of growth in world grain growth? No, say scientists.

    While reviewing the progress of the FAO since inception, they agreed that the time frame was not exactly ideal seventy years ago. The FAO had been setting small targets since inception in 1945, as listed earlier in Chart 7 on page 9. The ultimate aim was to eradicate hunger by the only method possible, viz., growing enough food to feed every human being on the planet. 1945 was a different era; it is difficult to imagine what life was like then. More than 85 percent of people of that era have died and the remainder is dispersed all across the globe. The number of countries in 1945 which were recognized internationally was 72, which has risen to 192 today.

    To most, the FAO was just another organization that met every year to enjoy an all expenses paid holiday, since no outcome was seen. While this may be a cynical diatribe, the fact remains that neither the UN nor the FAO progressed significantly. Besides, the world was in a state of turmoil, with large scale wars disrupting global progress. It was a period of the one step forward and two backward syndrome. But time is a great healer and both the UN and the FAO seemed to stabilize in the late 70’s.

    Toward the end of the past millennium, the UN and its various bodies had gained acceptance and enough clout to wield a punitive stick. For instance, the World Trade Organization (WTO) which supervised and liberalized international trade since 1 January 1995, having replaced the 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was successfully drawing the Multi Fiber Agreement regulating world trade in textiles and garments from 1974 through 2004 to a successful close in their new avatar as the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC), with new policies allowing less developed countries (LDC) greater opportunities in the global market for apparel through a series of negotiated agreements.

    The FAO was given due recognition and respect and created a charter to be followed in letter and spirit, with palpable emphasis starting in the new millennium. The yearly aims were no longer a bagatelle-a concerted effort was to be made to ensure that they were met. This time, there was to be the one step forward and no retrogression. It wasn’t as though the aim was achieved 100 percent, but at least a whole-hearted attempt would have been made. The theme for 2013 was Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.

    Feeding 7.12 billion mouths is a serious problem. Yet, many scientists think that loss of biodiversity is a far more serious problem. They suggest that these two issues should not be considered separately and remonstrate that they are closely connected and, if their synergies can be leveraged, both aims can be met with greater success. That is why farmers should care about conservation and conservationists should care about agriculture. Recently, leaders from these two sectors have put a new concept into motion, called Bridging Agriculture and Conservation (ibid). Their aim is to prove how optimal utilization of ecological systems will foster resilience in agricultural systems while simultaneously improving the conservation of biodiversity. They issued an interesting statement, “We believe that achieving the dual goals of food security and biodiversity conservation will require more science, not less (ibid).” The unspoken implications are increased depth in knowledge and enhanced technology. By putting science into farming at every level, the income for thousands of smaller farmers could well increase multifold. They have already demonstrated a 100 percent rise in productivity, promising much higher financial returns.

    World Food Day 2014

    842 million people will starve today, or, at best, manage a couple of scraps of food. Global population is close to 7.1 billion, of whom 6.3 billion will get the 1,800 odd calories required for   sustenance. Try and imagine one scenario, no matter how unrealistic: These 6.3 billion skip one meal on Global Food Day. If the ingredients that constitute that one meal can be collected and distributed to the starving, the 842 million will get enough to cook eight full meals, or ten meals if utilized sparingly. The point here is not so much the redistribution of one meal skipped, but the fact that every time you eat three meals a day per month, the global poor are missing out the ONE meal they can subsist on every day for one full month. USA figures in the list of hungry countries!

    Hunger in the USA

    Surprisingly, one in six Americans does not have enough food to eat. The South Bronx has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, 37 percent, compared with 16.6 for New York City as a whole. One in eight Iowans often goes hungry, with children the most vulnerable to food insecurity. Congressional cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) last fall of five billion dollars have reduced benefits from $205 to $172 a month and this $1.10 cut per day is hurting. Food pantries and soup kitchens have gone up to 50,000 from a few hundred in 1980.

    The 2013 benefits totaled $75 billion, but most households got lower payments. Recipients usually manage to hold their monthly allotment for three weeks, then willy nilly turn to food pantries. Who qualifies for SNAP? Households with gross incomes no more than 130 percent of the poverty rate. For a family of four that means $31,005 a year. Gross incomes in Alaska and Hawaii are higher than in the U.S. (ibid). The country that wastes the maximum cooked food is, you guessed right, the USA. 30% of all food in the USA, worth US$48.3 billion, is dumped each year. It is also estimated that about half the water used to produce this food also goes waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. It is ironic that the world’s richest country cannot feed 90 million people, yet wastes the maximum food!

    World Food Day: 2014: Family Farming

    Family farming is inextricably linked to national and global food security. Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development.

    The theme for 2014 World Food Day is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”. This theme has specifically been chosen in order to bring the profile of small family farming into the limelight as also the lot of farmers with a small farm holding. The idea is to focus global attention on the prominent role family farming can play in eliminating hunger as well as poverty, bolstering food security along with nutrition, enhancing livelihoods, regulating and controlling natural resources, safeguarding the environment while attaining sustainable development, specifically in non-mainstream rural areas. This theme is a repeat of 1987(Chart 7).

    The UN General Assembly designated 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming,” sending a positive indication that the global community takes cognizance of the major contribution that family farmers make to universal food security.

    Of the 570 million farms across the globe, 500 million+ may be called family farms. Most of these global farms are relatively minute, with 475 million+ farms smaller than 2 hectares in area. Put together, they occupy a vast area, but, as it turns out, they form a small percentage of our world’s farmland.

    Farmland distribution thus seems unequal at world level, but is improving in low, lower – middle – income countries and in the odd regional group. Unfortunately, census data on farmland distribution is inadequate, but it is essential to create a representative image of the number of farms, the number of family farms, farm size as well as global farmland distribution.

    Now that the entire background of factors affecting availability of food for the poor have been seen, it will become easier to envisage what can be expected of World Food Day 2014, rather, what we can contribute to making this momentous day a success.

    Some points to be kept in mind are:

    • There is a global misconception that people go hungry because the quantity of foodgrain available cannot support them. Actually, there is enough food available right now to feed the entire global population of 7.12 billion for almost 40 days, with huge amounts being added every day. Sadly, laws extant today make it well nigh impossible for the poor to reach this food over the shoulders of the middleman.
    • In India, the foodgrain that rots every year due lack of storage space can feed its entire population for a fortnight with three meals a day. This is unacceptable.
    • You have no control over what Vladimir Putin intends to do on 16 October. For that matter, you may not be able to persuade even your neighbors to cooperate.
    • Will the SFIS keep quiet that week/day? You cannot predict the movement of radicals.
    • Very few countries will actually contribute meaningful sums, particularly the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. This is ironic, since the last two countries named have almost a third of our global population living on their soil, and known to have vast numbers below the poverty line of US$1.25. It is not likely that any of these four will ask for aid either. That said, most countries provide students in Govt schools up to the age of nine one free meal.
    • A random analysis of contributions in this millennium shows lots of words and actions that did not translate into the need of the hour, foodgrain or hard cash.

    What Can you Do?

    So what can you do? When you look at the problem optimistically, there are many things you can do, both individually and as a group. First of all, go to the website for the US and Canada. Read through it. When you reach the Act page, you’ll see 12 options. Read through them and do what is attainable by you. All steps are listed. The options are:

    1. Host a World Food Day meal.                                  7.  Spread the word through social media.
    2. Organize a food packaging event.                             8.  Activate your campus.
    3. Walk to end hunger                                                   9.  Engage your local schools.
    4. Arrange a food and fund drive.                                10.  Inspire your faith community to take action.
    5. Grow a garden.                                                        11.  Join your local hunger coalition.
    6. Live on $1.25 a day.                                                 12.  Volunteer your time.

    There are many more links on the website and you can follow the lead and do your bit. Would you call this doing your bit? Responding to suggestions made by some unknown bloke who set up the webpage? The suggestions may well be helpful but they haven’t come from you-you are doing what someone else is telling you to do. Be original. Or stay conventional-the choice is yours.

    The Presbyterian Mission is organizing a Food Week of Action (12-19 Oct.), the International Day for Rural Women (Oct. 15), the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17) and World Food Day on the 16th. Their focus Sunday to Sunday is on Resiliency:

    • Resilient livelihoods, communities and relationships
    • Resilient farming production and food chains
    • Resiliency promoted through policy

    They also have a set of Actions and Activity Ideas. You will be able to download their printable flyer. Print 200 copies and ask for the newspaper delivery boy’s help in distribution. The idea of making a video and uploading it is appealing, so if you have any film-oriented ideas, jump right in. The activities are duplicated on the flyer, for easy reading. The generous prizes are incentive enough! You could then read the para on Faith in Action! It is self-explanatory. If you are an Oxfam type, go to http://www.oxfamamerica.org/take-action/events/world-food-day/

    REFERENCES

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