October 31, 2014

America Pays More For Internet, Gets Slower Speeds, Than Other Countries: "But many cities are banned from creating their own Internet service. At least 19 states have passed laws restricting publicly owned broadband networks..."

Americans pay far more and get far less when it comes to the Internet than many other people around the world. But a few small towns might be changing that.
Internet users in Seoul continue to get the speediest connections at the lowest prices anywhere in the world, with speeds of one gigabit per second costing just $30 a month, according to annual report released Thursday the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. By contrast, the best speeds that consumers in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., or New York can get are half as fast and cost $300 a month.
The report looked at the cost and speed of Internet service in 24 cities in the United States and abroad. Many of the report’s findings -- like the fact that broadband is faster and cheaper in several Asian cities like Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo than in American cities -- are similar to findings from previous years.
But new entrants to the U.S. broadband market are starting to close the gap between America and the rest of the world.
For example, Chattanooga, Tennessee, which built the country’s first citywide gigabit-per-second Internet network in 2010, has slashed the price of its ultra-fast service from $300 a month to $70 a month. Google’s new gigabit service, Google Fiber, which is available in Kansas City, also costs $70 a month, the report found.
Gigabit Internet connections are up to 100 times faster than what many Americans receive today. Consumers who can get such service don't have to worry about videos buffering or websites loading. They can share large files in seconds and take advantage of new offerings in online education and health care that require fast access.
Google is looking to expand its gigabit broadband service to several mid-size cities like San Antonio and Portland, but it is not expected to arrive in New York or Washington, D.C., in the near future, according to the Washington Post.
The New America Foundation's report highlights how city-owned networks are becoming more competitive with the offerings from Internet providers around the world. The small number of towns that have built such networks -- like Chattanooga and Lafayette, Louisiana --- ranked higher in the report on speed and price than almost every other city except for those in Asia.
"In general, our research shows that these locally-owned networks tend to deliver better value to their customers when compared on a price-per-megabit basis to competing cable and telecom providers in their own cities," the report said.
Lafayette has cut the cost of its city-owned service from around $1,000 per month to $110 per month in a single year, the report found.

Consumers wasted at least $300 million paying for AT&T’s ‘unlimited’ data

By now, you've probably heard that the Federal Trade Commission is suing AT&T for how it treats its unlimited data customers. Despite paying for an unlimited plan, these subscribers had their mobile Internet slowed to dial-up speeds, or "throttled," once AT&T decided they had surfed the Web too much. If that sounds nonsensical to you, you're not alone: Tens of thousands of consumers have complained about the practice, saying "unlimited" should mean just that — without limits.
Just how big a deal is this? At the very least, we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in potential losses to consumers. Although federal regulators haven't disclosed how much they're seeking in damages from AT&T, we can do some math to put a rough dollar value on AT&T's throttling practices. I asked a number of economists, antitrust lawyers and former FTC officials familiar with the process of calculating damages to help give a rough idea of the money that may be at stake here.
First, here's the quick summary. AT&T may have lost consumers anywhere from $300 million to over $1 billion or more.
That $300 million figure may not sound like much, considering the company allegedly misled 3.5 million customers a total of 25 million times over the course of three years. Indeed, $300 million is just a fraction of AT&T's annual revenue — two-tenths of a percent, to be exact. But what's pocket change to a wireless company is big money to consumers and for the FTC: $300 million is 13 times greater than the biggest fine the FTC has ever levied and (for a more apples-to-apples comparison) nearly four times greater than the agency's biggest restitution award against a wireless carrier.
And remember that $300 million is just a conservative baseline figure. Economists and lawyers from both sides are going to argue that damages should be calculated in all kinds of other ways, which we'll go into below.
How do regulators come up with damage figures in these kinds of cases? There are two ways to approach the problem, according to Kenneth Davidson, a former FTC attorney who spent 27 years working on agency investigations and enforcement actions from 1978 to 2005. The simpler, more limited way involves repaying customers who were effectively overcharged by AT&T. These customers paid for unlimited data for a month, but only got unlimited data for part of a month, so whatever fraction of the month that they paid for but didn't get unlimited data, they get back as cash -- refunds for services not rendered.

Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They’re Not Scientists. “It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican who is fighting a Democratic challenge from former Gov. Charlie Crist, was asked by The Miami Herald if he believes climate change is significantly affecting the weather. “Well, I’m not a scientist,” he said.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is locked in a tight re-election race, was asked this month by The Cincinnati Enquirer if he believes thatclimate change is a problem. “I’m not a scientist,” he said.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, when asked by reporters if climate changewill play a role in the Republican agenda, came up with a now-familiar formulation. “I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change,” he said.

“I’m not a scientist,” or a close variation, has become the go-to talking point for Republicans questioned about climate change in the 2014 campaigns. In the past, many Republican candidates questioned or denied the science of climate change, but polls show that a majority of Americans accept it — and support government policies to mitigate it — making the Republican position increasingly challenging ahead of the 2016 presidential elections. 

“It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who has advised House Republicans and conservative political advocacy groups on energy and climate change messaging. “Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything. Most politicians aren’t scientists, but they vote on science policy. They have opinions on Ebola, but they’re not epidemiologists. They shape highway and infrastructure laws, but they’re not engineers.”

Jon A. Krosnick, who conducts polls on public attitudes on climate change at Stanford, finds the phrase perplexing. “What’s odd about this ‘I’m not a scientist’ line is that there’s nothing in the data we’ve seen to suggest that this helps a candidate,” Mr. Krosnick said. “We can’t find a single state where the majority of voters are skeptical. To say, ‘I’m not a scientist’ is like saying, ‘I’m not a parakeet.’ Everyone knows that it just means, ‘I’m not going to talk about this.’ ”

But Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said that while debate moderators and editorial boards may continue to press the climate change question, the issue does not resonate with voters. He pointed to a Pew Research Center poll showing that Americans rank climate change near the bottom of policy concerns.

“It is very difficult to find an issue that voters place lower on the list than climate change,” Mr. Ayres said. “It vies with gay marriage and campaign finance reform as the least important issue. Most voters care about jobs, economic growth, health care and immigration.” 

For now, “I’m not a scientist” is what one party adviser calls “a temporary Band-Aid” — a way to avoid being called a climate change denier but also to sidestep a dilemma. The reality of campaigning is that a politician who acknowledges that burning coal and oil contributes to global warming must offer a solution, which most policy experts say should be taxing or regulating carbon pollution and increasing government spending on alternative energy. But those ideas are anathema to influential conservative donors like the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and the advocacy group they support, Americans for Prosperity.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said his group intends to aggressively work against Republicans who support a carbon tax or regulations in the 2016 presidential primary campaigns. “They would be at a severe disadvantage in the Republican nomination process,” Mr. Phillips said. “We would absolutely make that a crucial issue.”

In the meantime, climate change has come up this year in at least 10 debates in Senate and governor’s races — including those in Florida, New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa and Kentucky — forcing Republicans to respond to a growing number of questions about the issue. In 2012, President Obama and Mitt Romney never once mentioned climate change in their three debates.

TSA confiscates a toy ray-gun belt buckle. Because security.

Award-winning videographerSean Malone had a raygun belt buckle confiscated recently by the good folks at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You know, because all of the 9/11 hijackers were packing rayguns or something.
Malone emails that the pinch happened at LAX:
Same thing almost happened at DCA on my way out to Los Angeles on Sunday, but I argued with them until I got a high enough level supervisor to get it back.
Didn't have time this morning to fight it because I was already late for boarding when it started.
They called it a "replica" of a weapon....
Now that I'm in a restaurant in Philly, I have time to share more of the stupidity. First, they did a bag check, which happens to me every time I fly anyway, so who cares. When I walked over, the guy said, "Yeah, there's something in there that's kind of shaped like a gun," to which I replied, "Yeah. It's a belt buckle."...

He pulled it out of the bag and looked at it. Yep. Belt buckle. He didn't seem like an idiot, but he called his supervisor over, who instantly made it clear to me that she was one of those petty authoritarian, logic-impaired idiots you often come to expect in positions of middling power in law enforcement. Her word was law... Even when, you know, it wasn't actually law. She said, "Listen, you can either go back out of security and put this in your check luggage (which I don't have), or we'll confiscate it."
But this is honestly my favorite belt buckle, and I'm me, so - realizing I was speaking with a woman with the brainpower of a block of Parmesan cheese - I looked at her and said, "You understand that this is a belt buckle, right? It is not a danger to the safety of anyone nor is it against the law to carry. I have also traveled with this belt buckle all over the country and it's never been a problem. So please explain to me how exactly you would justify taking it."
Her response was to suggest a hypothetical scenario. "What if", she postulated, "you take this object out of your bag and point it - like a gun - at a police officer? He would have no choice to assume that it was a gun, and take action against you."
Now... Let's leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle in the shape of a 1950's toy ray gun. I'm glad she recognized this reality, but I don't think she really processed what it says about law enforcement in America. But leaving that aside... Why in the hell would I ever take my belt buckle and point it at a police officer?
To this, she had no answer.
She also had no answer to the point that even if I did that, it would represent a danger to me and not, say... an airplane full of people.

6 ‘Healthy’ Eating Choices to Rethink

In the pursuit of optimal vitality, many health-motivated people reach for food they think is good for them. Unfortunately, many such so-called healthy choices turn out to be less beneficial than we assume. Because they often involve swapping fats and sugars for a slew of chemicals, they may actually undermine, rather than support, your health goals.
Not quite sure how well you’d score on a healthy-eating pop quiz? Here are the subjects on which many well-intended eaters remain confused, and a review of the often misunderstood gaps between hype and reality.
1. Low-Fat Dressings
Hype: When studies in the early ’90s found that salad dressings were a surprisingly high source of fat in women’s diets, food makers rushed in to offer low-fat options. Today, dozens of low-fat and fat-free salad dressings crowd supermarket shelves, and one in three women (and one in five men) say they always opt for low-calorie dressings. The appeal of low-fat and fat-free dressings is the notion that they are in some way “heart healthy,” cholesterol reducing or helpful in supporting weight loss.
Reality: You’re better off making or buying salad dressings with a healthy dose of high-quality oils or natural fats such as olive oil or grape-seed oil, and even augmenting your salad with additional ingredients rich in healthy fats (think nuts, seeds and avocado). That’s because a well-built salad not only tastes great and satisfies longer, it’s a smorgasbord of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients. Striving to keep your salad fat-free, or even low fat, not only reduces the pleasure you take in eating the salad, but it reduces your body’s ability to make use of those nutrients.
It turns out that the human gut simply can’t absorb key nutrients, such as carotenoids (organic pigments that give orange and red fruits and veggies their bright colors), without a dollop of fat. Researchers estimate that the gut needs roughly 6 grams of fat to wrestle carotenoids from their plant moorings and whisk them into the body.
Another reason to pass on low-fat and fat-free dressings? Peruse the ingredient list of most fat-free ones and you’ll likely see artificial flavors and a hefty glob of high-fructose corn syrup. The syrup is particularly hazardous, since studies suggest it lowers metabolism while shutting off the brain’s master switch for appetite control. Some low-fat salad dressings also contain hydrogenated oils (trans fats), which you want to avoid at all costs.
“Fat-free dressings rob you of the chance to integrate healthy fats into your diet,” says Michelle Babb, RD, a nutritionist at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle. Moreover, she notes, “A salad with fat-free dressing will leave you hungry an hour later because you didn’t get the satiety that comes with eating fat.”
This last point is important, because a lack of eating satisfaction can lead directly to unhealthy snacking and overeating of sugars and refined carbs, both of which pose a larger threat to lipid profiles and healthy-weight maintenance than the fats found in most salad dressings.
Better choice: Give preference to dressings that have an olive oil or other healthy-oil base and that contain only natural, whole-food ingredients. It’s easy to make your own single-serving dressing. Start with a tablespoon of high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil and mix in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Add a couple teaspoons of your favorite vinegar, plus sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste. Prefer a creamy dressing? Add smaller amounts of the ingredients above to a base of plain, full-fat yogurt.
Not a fan of salad dressings? Get many of the same benefits (and then some) by adding avocado to your salad. At 115 calories and 10 grams of fat, one-half of an avocado will help your body absorb good stuff from the salad, as well as deliver vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, potassium and omega-3 fats. 

2. Whole-Grain Breads
Hype: Read the packages in the bread aisle and it’s easy to think you’ve hit the nutrient jackpot. Every label features words like “whole,” “multi-grain,” “oats,” “natural” and “fiber.” For generations raised on white bread, the mere hint of brownness and texture may be enough to signal wholesomeness.
Reality: When it comes to bread, you can’t judge a loaf by its wrapper — or its color. Nor can you assume that even a healthy bread is going to be healthy in any and all quantities.
First, read the fine print. Check the first few ingredients of most mass-market-brand breads and you’re likely to find “enriched flour,” meaning it’s made mostly of refined white flour — the same stuff in Wonder Bread.
“Just because it says ‘made with whole grain’ doesn’t mean it’s good for you,” says Michael Aziz, MD, author of The Perfect 10 Diet (Cumberland House, 2010). Also, make sure your whole-grain bread doesn’t contain added ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, artificial flavors, trans fats or industrial, unhealthy oils (soybean and cottonseed, for example, which are used because they are cheap, not healthy).
Keep in mind, too, that even the best whole-grain bread products require moderation. “Whole wheat has become a get-out-of-carb-jail-free card,” says John La Puma, MD, author of ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine (Crown, 2008). People tend to think that when they choose a whole-wheat product, they can eat it with impunity. “Some whole-wheat bagels are the size of tricycle tires,” he notes.
La Puma suggests that people strive to replace some of their grains with nonstarchy vegetables and legumes. When we do choose whole grains, he recommends eating a moderate serving (one slice of regular-size bread, for example) and pairing it with a healthy protein, such as nut butter, to slow digestion. A healthy serving of whole grains equals one slice of whole-grain bread, 1 cup of whole-grain cereal or a half cup of brown rice.
Better choice: Although many nutrition experts recommend eating bread sparingly, you don’t have to give it up completely. If you want to stick with conventional products, look for a loaf with fewer than five ingredients. Look at fiber and protein next, Ward advises. “You want four to five grams of fiber and some protein in each slice.” If you’re willing to sacrifice smooth, fluffy texture for a heartier, chewier one, Ward suggests opting for specialty breads made with sprouted grains and seeds. She likes them because “the sprouting process makes them more digestible and higher in key nutrients, like protein, than other breads.” Breads containing seeds also tend to satisfy hunger longer. 

3. Artificial Sweeteners
Hype: In the 1960s, artificial sweeteners found their way into soft drinks and were marketed as a dieter’s dream: all the sweet and none of the sin. Today, saccharin (Sweet’N Low), aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) and acesulfame-K and sucralose (Splenda) are ubiquitous parts of the American diet. Aspartame alone appears in more than 6,000 products and is gulped down by 54 percent of Americans. Because artificial sweeteners are low in calories and sugar-free, food makers market them to both dieters and people with diabetes (two groups with ever-expanding memberships). The sell is that calorie-free sweeteners are healthier than sugar and less likely to contribute to weight gain or blood-sugar disorders.
Reality: Research has shed light on the possibility that these sugar substitutes may hurt the very people they are purported to help. In a study of more than 3,600 people, published in 2008 in the journal Obesity, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio were stunned to discover that people who drank artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet sodas and artificially sweetened tea and coffee, gained 47 percent more weight during a seven- to eight-year follow-up period than people who avoided artificial sweeteners. These findings were based on long-term changes in individuals’ body mass index, or BMI, and all analyses were adjusted for each person’s BMI at the start of the study. Specifically, it found that consuming more than 21 artificially sweetened beverages per week (vs. none) was associated with an almost doubled risk of becoming overweight or obese among the 1,250 individuals who were normal weight at the study’s outset.
So what gives? Although the study didn’t investigate the underlying mechanisms of weight gain, lead investigator Sharon Fowler, MPH, suggests a couple of plausible scenarios: For starters, she says, “The brain is very good at counting calories.” Meaning, it likes to consume the same amount of calories every day. “So, if you switch from Coke to Diet Coke and cut out 400 calories a day from sugar, your body may try to compensate elsewhere.” The upshot is that you may end up eating all the calories you saved, and then some.
Then there’s a dynamic known as “taste distortion.” Artificial sweeteners, made to fit snugly into the mouth’s sweet-taste receptors, are up to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. Fowler and her colleagues speculate that teasing the taste buds with noncaloric sweeteners may stimulate appetite without providing any of the calories that would produce satiety. Instead, she explains, “they create a craving for intensely sweet, highly caloric food.”
Other research suggests that noncaloric sweeteners may also trigger the body’s cephalic phase response, in which the brain responds to the taste of something sweet by releasing insulin (the body’s normal response to a rise in blood sugar) even though there’s no sugar for the insulin to process. The net result: disrupted blood sugar, sugar and carb cravings, and resultant weight gain.
If you’re svelte, it might take more than a fear of weight gain to pry that Diet Coke from your hand. But Fowler cautions people not to underestimate the other health risks of artificial sweeteners. “These drinks are just a slurry of chemicals, and we’ve not yet begun to understand their total health risks.” She is particularly leery of sucralose and aspartame, pointing to research and consumer experiences that indicate aspartame can trigger responses ranging from skin rashes to migraines — and worse. One possible culprit may be formaldehyde, an indirect metabolite of aspartame. “People who are highly sensitive to formaldehyde may be the canaries in the mineshaft,” she says. “I’m concerned that the long-term effect on other vulnerable individuals may be a slow, neurological toxicity.”
Better choice: First, strive to reduce your intake of sweets and sweetened beverages overall. If you are in the habit of enjoying several sweetened beverages a day (regardless of how they are sweetened), make it a priority to replace them with water or herbal tea.
When you do choose to enjoy a sweetened food or beverage, give preference to sweeteners closest to their natural state, such as honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or raw sugar. But remember, sugar is sugar, and most natural sweeteners digest as quickly as refined sugar — so don’t overdo it.
If an inflammatory disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer or arthritis, has you cutting back on the sweet stuff, but you still crave the occasional treat, agave nectar is probably your best bet. Extracted from cactus sap (the same cactus used to make tequila), agave nectar is three times sweeter than white sugar but its glycemic index is four to five times lower than that of honey. That means it digests more slowly and, therefore, won’t spike blood-sugar levels.
Stevia is another option, but its calorie-free status raises some of the same concerns critics have noted about artificial sweeteners. While small amounts of Stevia (and its processed brand-name counterpart, Truvia) are not likely to pose any health risks, high doses of the herb have caused reproductive problems in rats, so consider it a second choice, and avoid commercial products that rely on Stevia as a sweetening ingredient.
No matter which sweetener you choose, keep in mind that feeding a sweet tooth is simply going to increase your cravings for more sweets and refined carbs and will also reduce your ability to enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. So, swap good sweeteners for bad, but use them in moderation. 
4. Egg Substitutes
Hype: Thanks to their fat- and cholesterol-rich yolks, eggs have gotten a bad rap. For decades, we’ve been told to steer clear of cholesterol-containing foods because diets high in cholesterol increase our risk of heart disease. So it’s no wonder that many health-minded people have turned to egg-replacement products as an easy substitution — especially since the tantalizing labels on these products promise “zero cholesterol.”
Reality: Dietary cholesterol is not a major culprit in contributing to heart disease and other health woes. Foods that incite inflammation in the body — sugars, refined grains, trans fats and other processed foods — not egg yolks, are the real problem. Egg yolks actually contain a variety of healthy fats and proteins and are full of vitamins and minerals that actually help support your body’s health.
Fake and yolk-free egg mixes, meanwhile, manage to reduce dietary cholesterol (and in some cases, calories) only by making some important nutritional compromises. To make up for removing the egg yolk, manufacturers often add polyunsaturated vegetable oil, a category of industrial fat known to stoke the fires of inflammation. “Heated polyunsaturated oils create free radicals that harm the arteries,” says Aziz. Other additives required to reintroduce flavor and texture add little or nothing in the way of nutrition and increase the daily burden of chemical compounds your body must deal with.
That’s why today’s well-informed nutrition experts are recommending that if you like real, whole eggs, you should go ahead and enjoy them. For starters, eggs are a good source of protein (about 6 grams in a large egg), and about half the protein resides in the yolk. The yolk also contains most of an egg’s minerals and vitamins, including vitamins A, D and E — not to mention micronutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, that give the yolk its vibrant color. Free-range and flaxseed-fed chickens produce eggs especially high in omega-3 fats.
There may also be a variety of other nutritional cofactors built into whole eggs that science has yet to discover, but the upshot is that whole eggs taste great and satisfy well, and since they’ve now been exonerated as a cholesterol- and heart-disease-causing suspect, there’s no reason not to enjoy them as nature made them.
Better choice: Enjoy whole eggs, choosing those from pastured chickens (meaning they roam freely outdoors) whenever possible.
Ward advises her clients who love eggs to enjoy them soft boiled or poached. “Scrambling exposes them to heat, oxygen and light, which can oxidize cholesterol and other fats,” she says. “So protect the yolk as much as you can.”
While frequency recommendations vary, there’s no evidence that eating eggs even several times a week poses any health risk. Just make sure you’re building enough nutritional variety into your diet and complementing your egg breakfasts with vegetables and legumes (consider adding a side of sautéed tomatoes, dark greens, zucchinis, sweet potatoes or black beans) whenever you can. 
5. High-Fiber Breakfast Cereals
Hype: Ads for adult cereals lead people to believe there is nothing more wholesome than starting the day with a heaping bowl of vitamin- and mineral-enriched flakes. Many fiber-rich cereals are emblazoned with health claims about cancer fighting, heart health and weight loss. But the truth may be a little harder to stomach.
Reality: Studies do show that a diet rich in whole grains and fiber can help thwart colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but it pays to be discerning. “In most whole-grain cereals, the grain is pulverized into a fine powder,” says La Puma. “And, once inside the body, it acts almost the same as a starch or sugar. The presence of ample fiber may help slow the release of all that sugar into your bloodstream and may also help you with regularity, but the cereal itself is unlikely to be a particularly nutritious day starter — even if it is fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that isolated nutrients, such as those added to many fortified cereals, don’t confer the same health benefits as eating whole foods.
In fact, one of the key problems with many high-fiber cereals is that they take a relatively unhealthy, conventional cereal product and then just add supplemental fiber and isolated nutrients to the mix. The product may still contain all kinds of other questionable ingredients and heavy doses of sugar.
Worse, relying on a cereal to fulfill daily fiber and nutritional requirements may discourage people from including more authentically nutritious whole foods (berries, nuts, seeds, proteins) in their breakfast regimens and may reduce their motivation to seek out vegetables, legumes and other fiber-rich foods throughout the day.
Better choice: Many dietitians prefer to see their clients eat breakfasts of yogurt with nuts and berries, eggs, steel-cut oatmeal, whole-food smoothies, or even leftovers, because these options are more naturally packed with nutrients as well as proteins, which help ward off hunger. If you enjoy having cereal for breakfast, however, just strive to have it a couple of times a week, rather than daily.
Take some time to select one or two truly nutritious cereal options. Most leading-brand products are heavily refined. Less-processed cereals, such as granolas and mueslis, may be more nutritious but can be surprisingly high in sugars and very dense in calories, so watch your serving sizes.
In choosing a fiber-rich product, select an unsweetened or minimally sweetened cereal that contains mostly whole-food, minimally processed ingredients and does not rely on “enriched” strategies for its nutritional merit. Make a point of topping whatever cereal you choose with nuts, berries, chopped apple, and ground flax or shelled hemp seed — or, better yet, start with a base of ingredients like these and then add a handful of cereal on top. Then add milk, yogurt or a milk alternative such as soy, hemp, rice or almond milk.
Avoid eating cereal plain out of the box for a snack. People tend to overeat cereal this way, getting a big infusion of fast-digesting sugars that can lead to hunger and cravings later. Instead, “toss cereal into a trail mix with nuts and seeds,” suggests Ward. Each of these options fuels the body with a steadier stream of energy and nets you more phytonutrients, fiber and healthy fats. 

6. Meal-Replacement Drinks/Weight-Loss Shakes
Hype: Promoted as healthy, handy alternatives to eating actual meals, many weight-loss and meal-replacement drinks promise to get you a huge helping of vitamins and minerals in just a few gulps. Most advertise their low-cal and low-carb attributes.
Reality: Labels of weight-loss shakes reveal these concoctions are little more than skim milk, high- fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavorings and colorings. Yes, they have supplemental nutrients thrown in, but as noted above, research has indicated that most nutrients are best absorbed when delivered by whole foods, not isolated and mixed with chemicals.
“Your body doesn’t know how to respond to new-to-nature molecules, like artificial colors and sweeteners,” says Babb. “We are learning that some of these chemicals, like high-fructose corn syrup, may trick your body into thinking it’s still hungry when it’s not.”
Another problem with these shakes is the chewing dilemma. “Weight-loss shakes don’t satisfy our need for chewing, for texture, for enjoying the sensory aspect of our food,” says Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, a registered dietitian and professor of public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Our body doesn’t properly register the calories we consume in beverages. So, if anything, they are counterproductive because they leave you wanting more.”
Finally, relying on prepackaged, processed food replacements for your sustenance establishes poor eating habits and may contribute to a sense of being “out of control” of your eating when you do attempt to enjoy regular food.
Better choice: Eat real food whenever you can, and commit to developing sustainable eating habits that support your health and vitality. Do not rely on liquid nourishment to support weight loss.
If you want to incorporate nutritional shakes as an energy-boosting snack during the day, make your own and take it with you. Babb advises her clients to start with a high-quality protein powder, add a cup of fresh or frozen fruit, pour in some milk or a milk substitute, and top it off with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed or hemp seed.
Want to feel even more virtuous? Add a handful of raw spinach leaves, a whole tomato or a scoop of a supergreen supplement, such as spirulina, to send your nutrient count skyrocketing. 

Are coffee and wine good for you?

For many people, the day begins with a cup of coffee and ends with a glass of red wine. If you have seen the headlines touting the health benefits of both beverages—and you’re among the 61 percent of Americans who down a daily cup of java or the 31 percent of drinkers who prefer a glass of wine to other alcoholic beverages—you’ve probably been thrilled to watch former vices morph into virtues. But how good are the drinks for your health? Here’s the latest.

Some research shows that coffee and wine, when consumed in moderation, may have similar benefits, such as increasing life span, boosting blood flow, and diminishing the risk of depression. And coffee and red wine have been found to contain antioxidants, which may prevent disease.

But the beverages aren’t just bundles of antioxidants; that’s why they’re more fun to drink than a kale smoothie (for most of us, anyway). The question is how exactly coffee and alcohol can play a role in improving health. People who moderately drank any type of alcohol—red or white wine, beer, or spirits—were 30 to 35 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers, according to Harvard University researchers who tracked more than 38,000 men over 12 years; other studies have found a similar effect in women. Drinking caffeinated coffee may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to another study—which is attributed to the caffeine working in tandem with a compound in coffee to boost brain health. (If you drink only decaf, you still reap some benefit: Research has linked caf and decaf with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.)

Still, the news isn’t all good. In the short term, regular and decaf coffee can aggravate acid reflux. Caffeinated versions can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety disorders and insomnia, among other conditions—particularly in women, who tend to be smaller than men, as well as in people who metabolize coffee slowly. Too much red wine can cause weight gain; a five-ounce glass has 127 calories.  Alcohol can be dehydrating, the main culprit behind hangovers. (But moderate coffee drinking, contrary to popular belief, is not dehydrating.) Over the long run, drinking the amount of caffeine in two to three 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee per day appears to increase bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. And several types of cancer are more common in people who drink any amount of alcohol.

It may all come down to you. Research shows that the impacts of coffee and wine differ greatly depending on how quickly your genes tell your body to metabolize those drinks. Until genetic testing is more common and you can pinpoint your limits, moderation and common sense are key. Translation: If you have or are prone to a condition that is exacerbated by drinking either beverage, skip it. If you take a medication that either beverage can interact with, ditto.

Here are some guidelines: Regarding coffee, data suggest that most healthy adults can safely consume, daily, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine—the amount in around two to four cups of brewed coffee. (Exact amounts vary a lot, though.) Pregnant women should keep it to less than 200 milligrams; kids, no more than 45 to 85 milligrams. (A 12-ounce can of cola has roughly 35 to 40 milligrams of caffeine.) The amount of caffeine in coffee can vary from brew to brew; see "The Jolt in Your Java," below.

As for wine: If you’re at a high risk for cancer, talk to your doctor about alcohol intake. If you’re generally healthy, the American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink per day for women and two for men. “Drink”—sigh—is defined for wine as a 5-ounce serving, and the limit is per day, not a weekly average. So forget those huge goblets of pinot noir; instead, pour a few ounces. If that feels sparse, at least you have room for coffee.

10 Annoying Food Trends That Need To End Now

When it comes to food, we are not hard to please. Ask anyone. We will pretty much eat anything that comes within a few yards of our mouths.
So, when we say that we’re no longer hungry for a certain food trend, you know there’s a big, big problem. We partnered with Mucinex®, the brand that's all about ending the misery in your life, to call out the most obnoxious trends.
You're on notice, chefs. End these trends. End them immediately.
Kale Creep 
Don’t get us wrong: kale is a lovely green thing. When we’re in the mood for veggies, we turn to kale. But recently we have noticed that kale is everywhere. We can't take a bite out of a chip or a nibble from a cupcake without tasting it. We worry where will it turn up next. Our birthday cake? Our toothpaste?
Stop the spread now -- before it's too late.

Juice Cleanses, AKA the Liquid Method for Slow Starvation
No one needs juice to cleanse their body. A body is a giant, walking trash compactor with a self-cleaning function. It is literally cleaning your insides while you read this. Also, spoilers: no one is losing that much weight because, during a cleanse,metabolism slows to a crawl. Instead, the juice cleanse is just making everyone insanely cranky. With hunger.
That makes us cranky. Quit it.

In the old days pumpkins only came out around the holidays, usually in delicious pie form. Now we have pumpkin beer, pumpkin latte, pumpkin pasta, and, somehow,pumpkin-spiced foie-gras mashed-potatoes.
Keep pumpkins in our pies, our soups and our front stoops. Nowhere else.

The “New” Quinoa
We literally just figured out how to pronounce “quinoa,” and now we’re already expected to move on to the next ancient supergrain? Freekeh? Kamut?! TEFF?!?
No. We refuse to try anything else. If you need us, we’ll be rocking in the corner, clutching onto bags of white rice.

Food Being From a “Farm”
Of course it comes from a farm. It is food. It does not grow in factories or warehouses or depots or mixed commercial/residential property. No, really -- where else would food grow but a farm? Find a better way to say that food is fresh. For instance, use the word "fresh." Please.

Pretending That The Paleo Diet is Incredibly Healthy
We like grilling and consuming vast amount of meats, we really do. But let’s not indulge in the fantasy that it’s wise to copy the exact eating habits of a group of proto-people whose average time on this Earth was, oh, say, 22 years. (Especially since thehealthiest people on Earth eat tons of the Paleo-forbidden rice.)
You know how a caveman would feel about a plate of spaghetti? Ecstatic. Stop Paleo.

Excessively Gendered Foodstuffs
We are not entirely sure why the plastic package of salad we buy in the grocery store needs to be called “Girl Greens.” Is it less-than-manly to eat a piece of spinach, we ask you? Is that not what Popeye did to grow his muscles to obscene size? Women can eat steak. Men can eat yogurt.
Degenderize immediately.

Putting Everything In Mason Jars
This was super cute when the struggling dive down the bar did it! But the folksy charm is somehow lost on us when the restaurant with the $27 burger is using a mason jar to serve us our bill. And don’t dare serve us a salad or a dessert in one.
Fancy restaurants have way more money than Grandma. Stop stealing her dishware.

Instagraming Foodstagrammers
This is not as funny or as smart as the Internet thinks. At least the person taking pictures of food has, you know, a pretty picture of food. The person taking pictures of the person taking pictures probably only has a picture of some bearded, tight-pantsed stranger cluttering up their phone’s storage space. Leave the hipsters be.

We're hip. We're not opposed to fusion. For instance, fusion power seems like a pretty good idea? And we listened attentively that one time Jay Z and Linkin Park made that CD together. But this reckless orgy of experimentation must stop. We do not want our ramen turned into a dessert or a burger. We cannot stand idly by while chefs destroy the already Platonic perfection that is the bagel.