Brain Health Connected To What We Eat

There are many ways to keep the mind sharp. Exercise, sleep, meditation and of course a healthy diet. A healthy and nutritious diet supports the brain rather than stifles it. A diet that forces the body to expend energy for digestion after eating steals energy from the brain for thinking. Brain supportive foods include fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish, lean meats, and certain fats such as those in nuts that have been processed naturally. They are not acidic, and they promote alkalinity in the body. Sugar and carbohydrates tax the body and make it sluggish and acidic.

Scientific American has concluded that there is a large correlation between a healthy diet and our mood. Depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, lack of focus and dementia come with age as well as the ability to control mood diminishes. Scientific American believes that the best way to combat the mood changes is by choosing a brain healthy diet.

Our Diet is a Big Indicator of Brain Health

Scientific American has listed three classifications that help the brain remain healthy. They state that foods rich in Omega-3 such as fish oil and fish help fight depression. Pickles and other fermented food help combat anxiety while antioxidant foods like green tea and fruits help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, forgetfulness, and eventual dementia.

We lack these types of food in the western diet. The diet of the West consists of processed or frozen food with high amounts of sugar, preservatives, coloring, flavorings, and bad cholesterol. A new study found out that western diets, such as fast food diets shrunk the brain’s hippocampus as evidenced by MRI scans. The hippocampus is that part of the brain that is essential for memory and mood control.

In another study conducted at Rush University in Chicago, it was concluded that a combination of a Mediterranean diet with a high nutrient, low salt diet helped prevent hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease. The adults tested even had higher scores in cognitive abilities than people who were younger than them. This study was done on a thousand subjects.

We still have a lot to learn when it comes to determining the relationship between diet and brain health, but we know without a doubt that food is connected to our health.

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The Problem with American Diets: Ultra-Processed Foods

With all the food fads rallying for healthier food, the emphasis on “natural” foods and ingredients is now more important than ever. However, the changing food trends have done little to affect the diet of the average American. 58% of the calorie intake of Americans comes from ultra-processed foods according to a study was featured in BJM Open, a medical journal.

The Average American Diet

While the government has done its best to introduce guidelines, consumers continue to choose processed snacks, frozen foods, artificially sweetened desserts, and drinks. The Centre for Disease Control conducted a National Health and Nutrition Examination survey to record the food eating patterns of Americans. The research involved tracking the food items the candidates had eaten in the last 24 hours. It was found that out of all the calories consumed by the survey-takers, three from every five calories consumed came from ultra-processed food. Almost 30% of calories came from unprocessed and partially processed foods, ingredients like oil and salt made up 2.9% of the whole, and 10% came from canned and packaged food like cheese, meat, and vegetables. The statistics suggest that the consumption of ultra-processed foods is far greater and forms a significant chunk of the average American diet.

The Link Between Sugar & Ultra-Processed Foods

A recent dietary guideline introduced by the government suggested limiting the intake of added sugar in the American diet. Ultra-processed foods contain artificial flavors, colors, aromas, and sweeteners. 14% of the overall calories in ultra-processed foods come from sugar and added sweeteners. An increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods leads to an increase in the use of sugar too. Therefore, ultra-processed foods are primarily responsible for Americans crossing the suggested 10% limit on added sugar in the diet.


The Problem With Consumer Choices

While “healthy” and “natural” foods are in popular demand, consumers’ food choices in the market don’t reflect that need. Manufacturers continue to introduce healthy alternatives of food products to appeal to the health conscious, but consumers continue to pick salty snacks and products loaded with sweeteners. Many food brands have created new profiles and products to appeal to the new health-conscious consumer. However, if the food choices continue to lean towards ultra-processed foods, have any of the new products, and new guidelines helped Americans eat more healthy and nutritious food?

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Vitamin D Deficiency in Kids?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for growing kids. The new recommended daily dietary allowance for Vitamin D is 600 UI per day. Most parents think their child is getting enough vitamin D from milk and playtime in the sun. Surprisingly, several studies have shown vitamin D deficiencies in children of all age groups. A recent survey by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has revealed that the daily dietary allowance of vitamin D is insufficient for children. Participants in the study consumed almost twice the amount of the vitamin, and it still proved to be inadequate. Therefore, we now need to re-define how much of the vitamin is “enough”.

The significance of Vitamin D

vitamin d sunlight Vitamin D is not only necessary for healthy bones, but also helps prevent some major chronic diseases that may occur later in life. Deficiency may also result into bone-softening or rickets. The excessive low levels of the vitamin may have its basis in lifestyle changes. Preventing deficiency will only be possible by increasing the intake of vitamin D in children and all age groups.

The research at Pittsburgh University was conducted on 73 white candidates and 84 black candidates from ages between 8 to 14 years old. The kids were administered with a dosage of 1,000 UI of Vitamin D3 or with a placebo. The study spanned over six months during which blood tests were conducted to check vitamin D levels.

The result was that the baseline concentration was higher in the kids who received supplements as compared to those who were administered with the placebo. At first, the Vitamin D levels in the children (even those who were given supplements on a daily basis) remained small. Therefore, the degree of vitamin D was effectively raised in children who were given 1,000 UI of Vitamin D3. But, by the end of 6 months, this level too wasn’t sufficient.

Vitamin D Deficiency in Kids

Kumaravel Rajakumar, a professor of pediatrics at Pittsburgh University and the leading authority on the research stated that “Our findings suggest that the currently recommended daily dietary allowances of vitamin D of 600 UI may be inadequate for preventing vitamin D deficiency in children.” The administered dosage of the vitamin did no harm to the participating children. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the parameters be re-evaluated again.

Meanwhile growing children must be given the adequate amount of the essential vitamin in school lunches through fortified formulas and milk.

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NutriFusion Vitamin D From Shiitake Mushrooms

shiitake mushrooms vitamin D deficiency nutrifusionWe have always understood the importance of vitamin D for our essential micronutrient blends. Most people wonder how we supply a natural form of vitamin D since it primarily comes from the sun. Shiitake mushrooms are one of the few foods high in vitamin D because they naturally absorb the vitamin from sunlight and store it. We use shiitake mushrooms in all of our blends to provide an ample amount of natural vitamin D at a given level. If you are interested in learning more about our GrandFusion fruit and vegetable blends, please visit your respective category.


Pizza Ranks as America’s Top Comfort Food

Most of us turn to food as a source of comfort. Just imagine coming home from a hectic day at work, switching off your phone, cooking or ordering your favorite comfort food, and curling up in front of the TV with no interruptions – sounds fabulous, right?

harris poll top comfort food america pizza

America’s Top Comfort Food

Now, there could be a debate that there are other stress busters out there. To get a definitive answer, The Harris Poll recently conducted a study where 53% of Americans admitted that they eat more under stress while 67% said they opt for their preferred comfort food to think their way through during tough times. What’s surprising is they don’t feel guilty in doing so! So what emerged as the king of comfort food in America?

Hold on…it is…pizza! That’s right; the survey included 2,252 U.S. adults and won by a whopping 15%, which is more than twice as many votes than any other food choice. Chocolate and ice cream scored second place at 7% each, Mac & cheese came in at 5%, and chips finished at 4%. Strangely, pizza was selected by most people when demographics including gender, generation, and geographic region were evaluated. Barring people over 70 who preferred ice cream, pizza is a clear winner!

But Wait…

While pizza might be the ultimate comfort food, it is not the best option for all situations. For instance, Americans would prefer soup instead if they are sick – the figures say that 39% want soup with an extra 22% wishing for chicken noodle soup. This is true across all key demographics. Ice cream, toast, and pizza come to 3%, 2%, and 2% respectively when sick. During celebration time, 22% adults wish for steak and 12% opt for cake. To round out the top five: pizza, lobster, and other types of seafood at 7%, 4%, and 3% respectively.

Is Comfort Food Only For Bad Days?

Although some would argue that stress, bad days, and depression sort of complement each other, the comfort food dynamics might show a different picture. 45% of the Americans in the study choose comfort food when they are stressed, 43% after a tough day at work, and 33% during a depression. However, not everyone needs to be down in the dumps to dig into their favorite comfort food. It can happen on a good day for 38% while 37% may do it on their birthday.

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Can We Make Comfort Food Better For You?

We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes we need a little comfort food in our lives. But does comfort food have to be so bad for us? At NutriFusion, we believe that comfort food can be made better for us. We are not saying, you should eat it every day if it’s healthier, but it wouldn’t penalize your health so much when you do eat it.

Michael Pollan says food is not healthy it’s nutritious. Somewhere down the line, we lost sight of that in the food industry. We started to strip away the nutrition in our products and fortify them with man-made, synthetic, chemical nutrition. NutriFusion developed a product to change the packaged food and nutrition industry forever. Our patented method stabilizes the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in fruits and vegetables so that processed food companies can easily add living nutrition to their products. We believe our products are not a substitute for eating fruits and vegetables, but a better for you alternative as the majority of Americans transition to eating healthier. Learn more about NutriFusion for you category below:

Healthy Foods Could Lead to Overeating

Our weight loss goals are often accompanied by a structured, well-balanced diet of healthy foods. We now know that healthier food, not “less” food, is the key to losing weight and maintaining an active life. However, the healthy eaters are now facing a new contradiction in their diet plan.

Dietitians often hear their patients say that they eat healthily, yet they still tend to gain weight. This common problem has its basis in the belief that if something is healthy, you can have more of it. When it comes to junk food, we try to avoid them or eat smaller portions. Healthy foods, on the other hand, are seen for all their benefits. Instead, we side-track the prescribed quantity of consumption, and this is where our diet plan goes wrong.

The Irony: Healthy Foods Leading to Overeating 

A study conducted by the University of Texas-Austin revealed in full the “healthy equals less filling” theory. Junk food is loaded with carbs, oil, and artificial (appealing) flavoring. Eating foods like a hotdog or a burger will instantly leave you feeling full for quite some time. On the other hand, healthy foods are higher in nutrients, not carbs and are considered for the most part a lot less filling than junk food. The result is that we end up overeating healthy food and gaining weight in spite of avoiding junk food.

The research includes three experiments on different groups of Americans. 50 undergraduate students were asked to state whether they found healthy food less filling. Then, a group of 40 graduates had to report their hunger levels after consuming a cookie from a pack with nutritional value and a cookie that was represented as unhealthy. The last experiment involved assessing the food choices of 72 undergraduate students who watched a short film to test how the portrayal of food affects an individual’s inclination to have more or less of it.

What’s more? Participants who weren’t aware of the “you tend to eat more of healthy food” theory also concluded that the healthy cookie wasn’t filling. The study reveals how food labels can be responsible for how we approach certain foods.

Tackling the Obesity Epidemic

healthy foods or junk food childhood obesity

Obesity was already an important issue before health foods were added as a possible cause. As a solution, consumers must look for food that is nutritious and filling instead of just looking for items with low-fat and caloric content. Knowing your nutrition and protein sources is the key to creating a diet plan and schedule that keeps you feeling energetic and full through the day.

Our focus should be on eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. When we do eat packaged food products whether they are healthy or not, we should eat those with moderation. It’s easy to overeat when we have been told to do so for so many years. How will you limit yourself to healthy foods in the future?

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New Book “Ingredients” Uncovers World of Additives

A new book called “Ingredients” by photographer Dwight Eschliman and writer Steve Ettlinger was recently launched and this is definitely more than a must-read. “Ingredients” seeks to expose 75 common food additives by providing an easy-to-read encyclopedia which will give insight to the structure, use and history of each additive.

Eschliman had the task of sourcing and categorizing each additive before taking a photo.  He said that he was surprised as to how thorough the world was with white powders and clear liquid ingredients. The photographer also said that most of the ingredients were not hard to identify for purchase. Around 60 percent of the ingredients were from chemical supply companies that purchase their additives from China.

The two authors are promoting eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on processed foods. They plan to use the book to expose how dangerous some additives are and to raise awareness among consumers. Hopefully, this will start to force food companies to commit to clean labels and natural additives in the future.

“Everybody wanted us to align very much with those on the soapbox talking about how bad the food was…I wanted to take some measures to prevent that.” – Dwight Eschliman

Two Common Additives to Understand


additives food ingredients msg

Eschliman’s first step was to organize the additives into three categories: neutral, negative, and positive. He admitted that he initially placed monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the negative pile because of the additive’s reputation for causing “Chinese restaurant syndrome” – health concerns such as heart palpitations, allergic reactions, and so on. However, scientists now agree that this negative reputation is entirely unsupported. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid. It is a flavor-enhancer that makes tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese tasty. It has developed a bad reputation due to poor understanding of the structure of MSG and public mistrust.


Another misunderstood additive is a yellow powder called azodicarbonamide, or ADA. Last year Vani Hari, blogger and activist behind the name Food Babe, petitioned Subway to remove the “yoga mat chemical” found in its bread. The production of ADA has been documented to cause asthmatic symptoms and skin irritations to people who manufacture it, but has no evidence of any risk to people who consume it.

It definitely sounds strange that the same additives found in yoga mats, fertilizers, fire retardants, rust dissolvers and rocket fuel can also be found in the food we eat. But it doesn’t really mean that we are eating these items. Additives such as salt, for instance, are composed of sodium and chlorine and have an estimated 14,000 industrial uses.

Ettlinger and Eschliman provide a fantastic insight about additives in their book. There is even trivintor each additive on every single page. It’s easy to be scared of these additives when you have very little knowledge about each of them. “As it happens, it doesn’t take much to understand,” Ettlinger says.

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Jelly Beans Remain Unchanged 100 Years Later

Jelly beans, the chewy candy with a hard shell, was once thought to be related to Turkish Delight but eventually food historians agreed that it is an all-American food item created by William Schrafft, a Boston confectioner. While the price of jelly beans has changed from $0.09 a pound to almost $8 a pound, the shape and form of this little confectionery have remained the same after more than a hundred years. Latest trends call for “natural” food items which translate to food that is healthier and better for us. So, new jelly bean launches now use animal gelatin-free ingredients while still retaining its original shape, flavor, and color. Some manufacturers worry that the candy will never be the same again without gluten, but there are still challenges to reduce the sugar, artificial flavors, and color of jelly beans.


Jelly Beans: Private Label vs. The Brands

The jelly bean has become synonymous with Easter because of its ovoid shape and hard shell. After more than a century in the market, it had been sold in bulk with very little personality. Until 1976, when the jelly bean was re-marketed by The Jelly Belly Company as a new gourmet product. Jelly Belly used natural fruit purees and thus opened the doors for a wide variety of flavors. Have you ever tasted Jelly Belly’s pancake and maple syrup jelly beans? The company’s approach is to encourage customers to create their unique jelly bean flavor by combining different beans.



But other than innovating the flavor of the jelly bean, there were hardly any other changes to the candy. It is believed that the product’s association with the holidays made its innovation slower than ever. Tradition has made it a staple during Easter and Christmas. Therefore, it will less likely be considered a sophisticated candy that needs to be updated and periodically improved.



Private labels have positioned themselves as “gourmet” jelly bean manufacturers. The small private label brands now hold roughly 15% market share in the products launched in the past two years. Private labels may not have as many flavors as the Jelly Belly Company, but the industry has successfully gathered a large following in offering GMO-free, gluten-free and nut-free confectionaries. The claims of getting a gluten-free or allergen-free jelly bean variety may attract some customers especially those that are looking for candies that will fit particular dietary needs.

The jelly bean has seen little innovation over the past 100 years, and it will struggle to find any soon. Reducing the sugars and artificial flavors will be the biggest challenge for even the most forward-thinking companies in the jelly bean category.

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Add Nutrients to Jelly Beans with NutriFusion®

Innovation is stagnant in the jelly bean category, but there are huge opportunities to make confectionery better for you. We believe our ingredient could be crucial to adding minimal but essential nutrients to your candies. Our GrandFusion products are made from whole fruit and vegetables. Our ingredients enable you to add 10%-50% daily value of essential vitamins and minerals from natural sources. What makes us different? The stabilization of our food based nutrients can withstand the most intense heating and cooling of modern day food processing. What are you waiting for? Learn more about NutriFuision for your confectionery needs today!

Adults Not Meeting Daily Value of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, some cancers, and also adds vital nutrients to our diets. When consumed in place of more energy-dense foods, vegetables and fruits can help in managing body weight. It is recommended that adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity should consume 2 – 3 cups of vegetables and 1.5 – 2.0 cups of fruits daily.

There are two methods of determining the daily vegetable and fruit intake recommendations for adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. The first is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) while the other is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and is expressed in cup equivalents. However, a recent study conducted during 2007 – 2010 found that half of the total U.S. population consumed less than 1.5 cups of vegetables and less than one cup of fruit daily; 87 percent did not meet the daily value recommendations, and 76 percent did not meet fruit intake recommendations. National estimates indicate low fruit and vegetable consumption with substantial variation by state.

CDC’s Model Says Fruits and Vegetables Intake is Abysmal

fruits and vegetablesVegetable and fruit consumption information are available from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is the sole source of dietary surveillance information for most states. However, the federal vegetable and fruit intake recommendations, expressed in cup equivalents are not directly comparable to the frequency of input captured by BRFSS.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) did an analysis of the median daily frequency of vegetable and fruit intake based on BRFSS’s 2013 data for the District of Columbia and the 50 states. They applied newly developed prediction equations to BRFSS to calculate the percentage of the population of each state that meets vegetable and fruit intake recommendations.  The result was a bit disturbing. Overall, only 13.1 percent of the participants met the recommended fruit intake, ranging from 17.7 percent in California to 7.5 percent in Tennessee, and 8.9 percent met the recommended vegetable intake, ranging from 13.0 percent in California to 5.5 percent in Mississippi.  What this means is that a lot of effort is needed to build consumer demand for vegetables and fruits through placement, competitive pricing, and promotion in schools, child care, grocery stores, worksites, and communities.

Since vegetable and fruit consumption is currently low across all states and affects multiple health outcomes, continued efforts are needed to increase demand and consumption. Improving intake during childhood might be the key to improving fruits and vegetables consumption for adults.

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NutriFusion® to the Rescue

All the research points to the health and nutrition benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The problem is we are not doing a good job as a society in encouraging that behavior and making fruit and vegetable nutrition readily available. This study by the CDC speaks to why we do what we do. Our special blends give consumer packaged food companies, beverage companies, and supplement companies the ability to incorporate natural nutrition from fruits and vegetables into their products. NutriFusion® is processing stable meaning that it can withstand the heating and cooling of modern day food processing. The NutriFusion® innovation is leading a revolution in the food industry to use simpler ingredients and make some of our favorite foods much better for us. If you are interested in learning more about NutriFusion® for your processed foods, beverages, or supplements, please click below.