kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

  • The sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to publish a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine to say that fat (not sugar) was triggering heart disease.
  • Coca-Cola paid scientists to blame obesity on lack of exercise, rather than on drinking sodas full of sugar. They also paid professors to form a front group to downplay the link between sugary drinks and obesity.
  • Monsanto (maker of GMO seeds) paid scientists who claim GMOs are safe to eat and chemicals like Roundup weed killer don’t cause cancer. Now it’s known to cause cancer, and lawsuits are being settled in the billions.

In the book Feeding You Lies, How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health, the author Vani Hari tells you the truth about the food you are eating. She always felt that it’s not enough to just tell people about the ingredients that were making them sick. If she was going to help fix the system, Ms. Hari also needed to expose the lies that kept the status quo in place. She needed to give people the ability to see through these lies so they can make informed choices about the food they are eating and feeding to their families.

Feeding You Lies gives you actionable steps that protect you from cheap, processed, unhealthy foods and the health problems and suffering they cause.

In a very poorly thought out suggestion, USDA Guidelines of 2005 used the term “discretionary calories,”  and defined them as the extra, nutritionally-devoid calories you could safely consume (around 150 to 300 each day, depending on overall caloric needs), after you’ve already satisfied the rest of your day’s nutritional requirements.  The more recent 2010 “My Plate” guidelines use the term “empty calories”.

If you ate perfectly healthfully all day long, you could then indulge in just three Oreo Cookies or half an order of fries, or one can of Coke.  In reality though it just doesn’t work that way. Most of us sneak our empty calories into our mouths a little at a time, often without even realizing it.

People are misinformed by so many labels. Foods that are being marketed as ‘100% Natural’ at the grocery store are often not natural at all. This is one of the biggest lies of the food industry. Many of us think that they are making smart and healthy decisions by opting for these ‘all-natural’ products to their grocery lists.

Products that are labeled as ‘natural’ can contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and are usually highly processed. Moreover, these labels tell us nothing about the way the food was farmed. For example, it may have been farmed with harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and there would be no way to tell by the label.

There are still products with labels like ‘low-fat,’ ‘reduced fat’ or ‘fat-free’ in grocery stores. This is another example of the food industry lies. These food products are basically highly processed foods that are being marketed as low-fat or fat-free. Food companies deceive us by advertising their products as ‘low-fat’ or ‘low-calories’ to make it look more attractive to customers who want to lose weight. They do this by advertising the ‘serving size’ rather than the ‘portion size’ to manipulate down the numbers.

Generally, most of the products with ‘low fat’ or fat removed are unhealthy and are also unappealing to the taste buds. In order to compensate for the lack of taste, manufacturers usually add artificial sweeteners, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients to them. It is now known that fat has been unfairly demonized while growing evidence has been revealing the dangers of added sugar.

What this means is that “low-fat” foods are usually much worse than their “regular” counterparts.

We are trained to believe that fruit juice is healthy because we associate fruits with health and nutrition. But that’s not true at all. Fruits are healthy, but packaged fruit juices are not. Most of the fruit juices that you find in the grocery store contain lots of sugar and artificial flavors. They only contain a tiny bit of total nutrition and vitamins that you would get from eating actual fruits.

‘Real’ is another word often used by beverage companies to market their products. Many juice drinks bear labels such as ‘made with 100% real fruit juice’. However, if you check the list of ingredients, you will find that half of the drink (or more) is filled with sugar and other additives. In some cases, the flavor is the result of highly refined chemicals that fool our taste buds in our mouth into considering it as real.

Big soda companies spend billions of dollars to associate their drinks with happiness and positivity. Soft drinks, even the diet soda, are not the bottle of happiness; they are an invitation to problems like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney damage, etc. A growing body of evidence suggests that diet soda could be even more harmful than drinking regular soda. The consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks was positively associated with deaths from circulatory diseases, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks were associated with deaths from digestive diseases.

Over the past few decades, consumers have been led to believe that whole grains are among the healthiest foods they can eat. Processed foods like cereals often claim to include whole grains. The problem is that whole grains aren’t always “whole.” The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour. They may contain all the ingredients from the grain, but the resistance to quick digestion is lost and these grains might spike your blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts.

Many processed foods have a flavor that sounds natural. For example, “Orange-flavored Vitaminwater” tastes like oranges. However, there are no actual oranges in there. The sweet taste is coming from sugar and the orange flavor is coming from artificial chemicals.

A marketing trick for processed products is to list small amounts of ingredients that are commonly considered healthy. Usually, the amounts of these nutrients are negligible and do nothing to make up for the harmful effects of the other ingredients. Some examples of ingredients often added in tiny amounts and then displayed prominently on the packaging are omega-3s, antioxidants and whole grains.

Food manufacturers often hide the fact that their products contain controversial ingredients by calling them something else. In Europe MSG (monosodium glutamate) may be called E621 and carrageenan, an additive used to thicken, emulsify, and preserve foods and drinks, may be called E407.

The same can be said for many types of sugar, such as “evaporated cane juice”. It sounds natural, but it’s really just sugar.

Food manufacturers use the word “organic” to mislead people. For example, when you see “raw organic cane sugar” on an ingredient list, this is basically the exact same thing as regular table sugar. Just because something is organic does not mean that it is healthy.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Lion’s Mane is a beautiful, whitish, furry-looking mushroom found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is known by many names, such as pom pom mushroom, hedgehog mushroom, and bear’s head mushroom. It looks like it has teeth (some say they look like cascading icicles instead) that house the spores to help it reproduce.

Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a type of medicinal mushroom that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is now widely available in supplement form. Scientific research shows that lion’s mane contains a number of health-promoting substances, including antioxidants and beta-glucan.

Studies claim that lion’s mane can help with a variety of health problems, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol
  • Inflammation
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Ulcers

In addition, lion’s mane is said to strengthen the immune system, stimulate digestion, and protect against cancer.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are nootropic, meaning that they can improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.

Lion’s Mane mushroom contains several compounds, like hericenones and erinacines, that have been found to promote nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis in nerve cells. NGF is responsible for the regulation of growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of neural cells and promotes long-term health in our body.

Extensive research on Lion’s Mane shows that the mushroom supports neurogenesis, which is the process by which neurons are produced by neural stem cells. In one study where adult mice were administered Lion’s Mane mushroom daily, researchers found it promoted neurogenesis in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that supports information synthesis, long-term memory, and spatial recognition.

Lion’s mane may benefit older adults with mild cognitive impairment, according to a small study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2009. For the study, researchers assigned 30 older adults with mild cognitive impairment to take either lion’s mane extract or a placebo every day for 16 weeks. In cognitive tests given at weeks eight, 12, and 16 of the study, members of the lion’s mane group showed significantly greater improvements compared to members of the placebo group.

Extracts from lion’s mane mushrooms may be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

In a 2015 study, mice that consumed lion’s mane mushroom extract displayed fewer depressive behaviors and had blood markers that indicated lower depression. The researchers suggest that this is due to the extract’s anti-inflammatory effects. The findings of a 2018 animal study support this, with the authors concluding that these mushroom extracts may contain agents that are useful for treating depression.

In a small Japanese study, women with a variety of health complaints, including menopausal symptoms and poor sleep quality, ate cookies containing lion’s mane extracts or placebo cookies for 4 weeks. The participants who ate the extract reported lower levels of irritation and anxiety than those in the placebo group.

In a more recent study published in Biomedical Research in 2011, scientists examined the effects of lion’s mane on brain function in mice. Results revealed that lion’s mane helped protect against memory problems caused by the buildup of amyloid beta, a substance that forms the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The antioxidant properties of lion’s mane mushrooms may play a role in cancer prevention or treatment. In a 2011 study published in Food & Function, tests on human cells revealed that lion’s mane may help knock out leukemia cells. Another study published in 2011 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that lion’s mane extract helped reduce the size of cancerous colon tumors in mice. The study’s findings suggest that lion’s mane may help fight off colon cancer, in part by increasing activity in certain cells involved in the immune response. Another study found that the extract might help reduce the spread of colon cancer cells to the lungs.

A study using animal models found that these mushroom extracts may also fight liver, colon, and gastric cancer cells.

One of the complications of diabetes is nerve damage resulting from prolonged periods of high blood sugar. A 2015 study on rats, in which they ingested lion’s mane extract for 6 weeks, showed positive results, including lower blood sugar levels, reduced feelings of nerve pain, and improved antioxidant activity.

Lion’s mane may help your digestion by fighting inflammation. The mushroom may also boost immune function and encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

In vitro studies report that lion’s mane mushrooms can result in antibacterial activity that may improve digestion. Research in mice supports these findings by showing that extracts of lion’s mane may protect against stomach ulcers.

Most studies on lion’s mane mushrooms have used animals, but it appears to be safe to eat the mushrooms in moderate quantities.

The safety and effectiveness of lion’s mane supplements are less apparent because dietary supplements do not have the same regulations as food and drug products.

However, in the animal studies, even high doses did not produce adverse effects in the rodents.

Little is known about the safety of long-term use and side effects of lion’s mane supplements. However, there’s some concern that lion’s mane may aggravate symptoms in people with allergies and asthma.

How to Buy

Lion’s mane mushrooms are available year round in many specialty stores. You can find them in the fall in farmer’s markets and your local co-op.

You can buy Lion’s Mane Mushrooms online at R&R Cultivation.

 

How to Store

For cultivated mushrooms, the best way to store them to keep them fresh is in a paper bag.  If the bag is thin then double bag.  Fill the bag no more than half full, fold the top over, and lay in the crisper drawer of the fridge.  If no room in the crisper, you can place the bag on a shelf but for more protection, place the bag in a small cardboard box and place on the shelf.  Do not place the bag directly against the fridge wall.  Mushrooms can last up to two weeks when stored in the warmer part of the fridge.

If unable to use within a week you can always dry or freeze mushrooms. To freeze, place the mushrooms in a pan (tear apart larger pieces).  Sweat the mushrooms to get rid of moisture.  Once almost all moisture is gone, add a little vegan butter or oil.  Add enough that the mushrooms soak it up while cooking but not enough that they are swimming in it.  You do not want to overcook the mushrooms since you are storing them for later use.  Cook long enough so that the butter/oil replaces the lost water content.  Place in silicone bags, squeezing out all of the air or package in vacuum seal bags and then put in freezer for later use.

How to Cook

When it is cooked, the mushrooms imparts an aroma and flavor that is described by many as being a combination of eggplant and lobster. The cooked mushroom also has a consistency and texture that resembles crab meat.

Because it has a complimenting, yet subtle flavor profile, this mushroom can be added to a variety of common dishes in order to add a more diverse flavor to your meals. Mushrooms are a vegetarian and vegan alternative to pork and seafood.

To cook lion’s mane mushrooms, take a sharp knife and slice the mushroom in 1/2 inch thick slices. Preheat your frying pan over a medium temperature. Without adding any oil pan fry slices of lion’s mane for approximately 10 minutes or until it has halved in size.

At this point it should begin turn golden. Turn up the heat and add a small amount of olive oil and sear until crisp on the outside.

By dehydrating the mushroom on a dry frying pan, you can intensify the flavors. The crisp finish on the outside is great. All it needs is a little salt and pepper and it’s ready to be plated.

Roasted Lion’s Mane Mushrooms with Sherried Shallots

Robin Bashinsky/ Cooking Light/Photo: Justin Walker; Styling: Alistair Turnbull

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups vertically sliced shallots (about 6 large)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 silver dollar-sized lion’s mane mushrooms (about 12 ounces) – you can substitute with shiitake or cremini
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (Melt, Miyoko’s, or Earth Balance)  cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives

Instructions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 425°.

Step 2

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sherry; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until very tender. Stir in vinegar and black pepper. Remove from heat; keep warm.

Step 3

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms, fuzzy side down; cook 4 minutes or until browned. Turn mushrooms over; top each with 1 vegan butter piece. Place pan in oven; bake mushrooms at 425° for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon about 1/2 cup shallot mixture onto each of 4 plates; top each serving with 3 mushrooms. Drizzle any pan juices over servings. Sprinkle evenly with chives.

Resources

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