WWB Culture Wise: Embracing Fusion and the “Cultural Cocktail” in America

Sep 26, 2013 by

World Wise Beauty Trendscapes

Back in 2008 I was producing a business conference and forum for the spa and wellness industry in California. Here were some of the top trends and topics I thought were important to explore to keep “purveyors” of beauty, health and wellness services on the cutting edge and in tune with the wellness consumer ( that would be you and me).

  • Global influences and practices
  • American Fusion and Cultural Cocktailing
  • Eco-conscious and GLOHAS ( global lifestyles of health and sustainability) Drivers
You think I was on to something? Despite the arguments going on in politics and the polarization of ethnic groups designed by lobbyist with special interests, America is a diverse multicultural country and the fusion of cultures and ideals are happening all around us everyday. There is no better example of “cultural cocktailing” than watching wellness culture.  So what is a cultural cocktail? Simply put it is a mix and blend of cultures.  In wellness culture specifically it’s the blending and integration of ideals, values and practices.  You can explore this very idea right here at World Wise Beauty by visiting the Culture Cocktail tab but you will also find the concept of fusion and blending in almost everything I cover and share.  Below is a report from Smart Planet on how Asia’s cultural values have shaped current beauty trends here in the U.S.  Where did the trendy BB cream and the CC cream come from? Take a look and stay wise and worldly…
Truly Herself,
Lauroly

 

 

Asian Beauty Products Bring New Glow to the

U.S. market

By  | September 26, 2013, 3:00 AM PDT
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog

During the summer of 2012, when friends Alicia Yoon and Cindy Kim were both working in Seoul, South Korea, they would both carry tons of Japanese and Korean beauty products on trips back home to the United States to give to family and friends.

“Products from Korea and Japan tend to be ‘better,’” says Kim, “probably because they are focused on using herbs, botanicals and natural ingredients, as opposed to a lot of chemicals.”

Soon, the two businesswomen realized interest wasn’t just limited to their circle but included the average American consumer. In January, they launched Peach and Lily, featuring top beauty products from Korea and Japan, joining other Asian beauty sites including SoKoGlam, which also opened early in 2013, and MomoMango.com. Both of the latter sites focus on Korean beauty products.

The demand for Asian products in the $60 billion U.S. beauty industry has been growing –- especially since 2011, when BB cream exploded on the scene. (BB stands for blemish balm.) This alternative foundation, which contains skin-benefiting nutrients, became popular in Korea five years ago, where it makes up 13 percent of the cosmetics market. After being introduced in the United States, it inspired a new beauty product category, with brands like Clinique, Estée Lauder and Chanel creating their own versions of the tinted moisturizer. The success piqued further interest in Korean products, as people in the industry wondered why BB cream hadn’t come to the United States sooner.

 

Alicia Yoon and Cindy Kim

“A lot of Asian women view their skin as a prized possession. It’s all about respecting your skin and using the best ingredients for your skin. As a result of that heritage and culture, Asian beauty consumers are some of the most savvy in the world,” Kim says. “What happens is all the money they spend on these beauty products, which is about seven times more than the average American woman, gets dumped back into R&D in Japan and Korea. And that’s why even Marie Claire is quoted as saying that Korea is 10 years ahead in skincare innovation.”

For instance, Yoon says two products that are huge in Korea but just making their way to the United States are CC cream, the next generation of BB cream (CC stands for color correcting or color control); and the cushion compact, “which is a foundation, but the applicator is antibacterial and very rubbery and gives you a glowy look while hydrating your skin and concealing blemishes. That’s a huge product category in Korea right now that you don’t see in the U.S.”

The U.S. consumer demand for Asian skincare reflects the convergence of two other big trends: the rise of natural, organic skincare, and the appeal of boutique brands over department store lines.

That’s why the consumer base for these sites isn’t limited to people of Asian descent. SoKoGlam estimates 80 percent of its clients are not Asian; likewise, Kim says more than half of Peach and Lily’s customers aren’t. She says the site’s customers — who hail from both bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, as well as smaller states like Arkansas, Utah and Minnesota — don’t see the products as being made for “Asian skin” so much as they are made for certain skin types.

The interest in natural beauty products is an extension of the rise of companies like Whole Foods, says Yoon. “Should you have parabens in your products or not? Should you have mineral oil? Those conversations, about what people don’t want in their products, took place in Korea and Japan long before the conversations here,” she says. “That’s a really big trend in skincare now, where it’s not just about putting something on your skin and trying to get overnight results. It’s about taking care of your skin in a full, holistic-wellbeing kind of way. And that’s something that Korea, Japan and Asia have been thinking about for a long time.”

 

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WWB Take Out–Wellness Wisdom to Go…

Sep 24, 2013 by

        WORLD WISE BEAUTY (WWB) TAKE OUT          WISDOM TO GO…  CURATED JUST FOR YOU!

Sometimes I  share WWB blog content on WWB Facebook hoping you will catch wise “bites” there, but that’s always a shot in the dark,  because it all depends on where WWB is on your news feed.  I had to think of someway to share all this great wisdom sitting on my blog and then suddenly I became inspired by a post I was doing on Chinese Take Out food in America. 

I spend a lot of time at World Wise Beauty interviewing the

best culturally relevant experts, inspirational authors and visionaries to help you become comfortable in your own skin and cultivate your own personal wellness lifestyle wisely.

I wish you had time to read every single post at World Wise Beauty because I know you would come away feeling enlightened, inspired and informed.  But at World Wise Beauty we are all about choices and options. Can’t read every post? No worries! The WWB Take Out monthly is curated especially just for you.  Some may call it a cheat sheet but I like to think of it ‘Wellness Wisdom to Go’.  A special spot to  find wise ‘takeaways’ from our featured guests on the blog.

So be sure to sign up for your WWB Takeout and enjoy the A’La Carte presentation of beauty, health and wellness content. If you follow the blog you will automatically receive your Take Out Share it, bookmark it, print it and okay try to remember it! But if you can’t, rest assured this the World Wise Beauty blog is always here to peruse at your leisure.  Enjoy…

Truly Herself,
Lauroly

 

WWB TAKEOUT–WELLNESS WISDOM TO GO…

 
Last week I invited Sandra Gordon health expert and respected author of “30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines to join me for a Q&A and share wisdom from her book co-authored with Dr. Steven Jonas. This book is on my Top 10 health and wellness reading list. The wise takeaway we learned from Sandra is there’s a definite link between nutrition, health and longevity and cultures around the world are living long without the horrible diseases we associate with old age like heart disease and cancer.  Sandra was generous enough to share 5 Global Eating Tips for Health & Longevity right here for you.  Review the Q&A here for additional wisdom from Sandra or purchase her book for even more eating strategies for longevity and yummy recipes from around the world…

 

5 Global Eating Tips For Adding on the Years and Reducing the Pounds!

 

Global Eating tip #1: Go nuts for nuts! A great source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, as well as vitamin E, protein, fiber, potassium and magnesium, nuts are a staple in the Mediterranean diet. Import them into your diet by adding them to recipes, including your morning smoothie.

Tip #2: How do the French stay so slim? There are lots of reasons. But one thing’s for sure: They’re not snackers. Eating between meals just isn’t part of the culture. The French fuel up at lunch and dinner, which negates the need for a snack. Studies show that grazing can help some people lose weight; for others, it’s an invitation to eat more often, which equals more calories. So if you’re trying to lose weight, consider cutting out snacking like the French and see how you do.

Tip #3: Want to eat less saturated fat? Don’t limit meatlessness to Monday. The Japanese have been eating light since the 6th Century, when Buddhism became the religion of the land and meat and fowl was consumption forbidden. Although the Japanese are free to eat meat now, their meatless tradition has helped make their diet one of the lowest fat in the world.

Tip #4: Go ahead, order Chinese. But skip the deep-fried Chinese-American fare, such as General Tso’s Chicken. Instead, head for the vegetarian section of the menu and eat the way the Chinese really do. Look for entrees made with napa cabbage, bok choy, spinach and broccoli, which are packed with vitamin A and C as well as fiber and phytochemicals. If meat is a must, order your chicken or beef mixed with snow peas, green and red peppers, string beans or zucchini.

Tip #5: Give your meals some heat. Some like it hot, and this is especially true in The Gambia in western Africa, where high-Fahrenheit sauces prepared with pungent cayenne pepper and hot chilies infuse countless native dishes. Spicy foods are an acquired taste, but research suggests that the slightly discomforting sensation that hot spices produce may cause the brain to release feel-good endorphins. By turning up the heat in your dishes, you can add flavor without extra calories, while keeping portions to a minimum.

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WWB Ideal Find: Romancing the Sea and Protecting it’s Magical Creatures…Inis the “Energy of the Sea” Perfume

Sep 17, 2013 by

 

Inis Energy of the Sea Perfume

 

WWB Ideal Find: Inis Perfume/Fragrances of Ireland

Inis/Fragrances of Ireland Founder:  David Cox

Authentic Dedication:   To inspire and uplift and make people happy through their senses. To promote an understanding that we are all connected and we should all strive to make a better world.  Since 2001, Inis the Energy of the Sea and Fragrances of Ireland is honored to be a core funder of the Irish Whale & Dophin Group dedicated to the the protection, conservation and better understanding of whales and dolphins in Irish waters and around the world.

 

Lauroly Q- Welcome David, I am so pleased to feature Inis Perfume as an Ideal Find. I will have to admit I am not a big perfume person and prefer essential oils but your Inis fragrance line is one of the few perfumes I really love. When I learned about your farm right across from your office in Kilmaconogue in Ireland where you harvest lavender and other plants you use for your perfumes, I realized why I love it so much.  Let’s get started and learn more about your company. Tell us about the Irish cultural inspiration for your perfume collection.  Inis “Energy from the Sea” is my favorite…

David Cox: All of our perfumes are inspired by some aspect of Ireland, something beautiful or magical that inspires us. Our first perfume (Innisfree) was inspired by a poem by WB Yeats, the Irish Nobel prize-winning poet; “Inis – the energy of the sea”, our unisex cologne, was inspired by a summer walk on the beautiful beach at Roundstone in County Galway.

Lauroly Q- I love your simple but also grand mission for your company–“To inspire and uplift and make people happy through their senses and to promote an understanding that we are all connected and we should all strive to make a better world”.  Many don’t think about the artistry of perfume.  You worked with an independent master perfumer Arthur Burnham to develop your special Inis line. He trained with master perfumers like Jacque Polge Chief Perfumer for Chanel in Grasse, France “the perfume capital of the world”. It was definitely a project for a master, because how do you capture the energy of the sea in a bottle? Rose petal notes we can understand!

 

David Cox, Founder of Fragrances of Ireland

David Cox: A good question, and one that Arthur was struggling with after we had given him the brief. He rang me from his perfumer’s lab and admitted that he couldn’t get his inspiration and he didn’t know where to start. So I suggested we go to the source, the beach, and drove him to Roundstone Beach which did the trick. “I’ve got it, I know what I’m going to do” he said after just a few minutes on that brilliant summer’s day smelling the fresh sea air, he knew that (in brief) he needed to mix fresh lemon scents with sweet florals (Lily-of the Valley) and then to make it a little masculine and salty with cloves and woody scents. And that’s what he did, he went back to his lab and did the detail which involves many other ingredients too, but held true to that inspirational mixture that came to him that day on the beach.

Lauroly Q: Your message on every bottle of Inis is “no man is an island”. A great message of inter-connectedness. The word Inis means “island” in Irish and your love for the sea has driven your dedication to “The Irish Whale & Dolphin Group” in Ireland. Tell us more about the conservation efforts of this group and  your company’s involvement. 

 

David Cox: We have been the core sponsor for the IWDG for many years now and it still seems as natural a fit as it did when we started. We draw our inspiration from the sea and want to do something concrete to give back and help safeguard this natural resource; the IWDG do excellent and vital work helping preserve whales and dolphins in Irish waters. In 1991 Ireland was the first European country to announce its waters within the 200 nautical mile fishery limits of the country as a whale and dolphin sanctuary. This was an independent Irish declaration and was strongly influenced by the IWDG.

Lauroly Q I understand you have developed your collection to include skin creams and lotions and once again have been inspired by the sea. Tell us about your work with the University of Galway and your investment in seaweed research.

 

Inis Energy of the Sea Gift Set

 

David Cox: We commissioned postgraduate research at the Martin Ryan Marine Research Institute at NUIG (National University of Ireland, Galway) into all seaweeds growing on the West Coast of Ireland, their beneficial effects on the skin and which seaweeds would deliver the best results. We have, in fact, discovered a wonderful variety of seaweed which hitherto has never been commercially used, which has remarkable ingredients for the skin’s well-being. We also developed a heat and chemical-free method of extracting the ingredients from the seaweed, so they could be used in close to their natural state in our skin products. We will be launching our skin cream soon, I hope. (I should add that our seaweed is hand-harvested and in a sustainable way).

Lauroly Q- Thank you so much David for joining me here at World Wise Beauty and sharing your Irish cultural values with us.  Inis is an inspirational “Ideal Find” for me and I think the rest of the world will agree. Visit their website to learn more about the complete Fragrances of Ireland collection and follow Inis Energy of the Sea on their Facebook page.

 I will leave everyone with a quote I love “I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”  ~Anaïs Nin   

May we all find the mermaid in us and protect our oceans and their magical creatures worldwide. To learn more about the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group click here.  

Trulyherself,
Lauroly 

 

 

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WWB’s CULTURE WISE: The Future of Wellness Culture: Multi-Tasking With Health Benefits

Sep 13, 2013 by

                 For More And More Americans

                                 Work Time Is …

Exercise Time

By SAM HANANEL 09/12/13 02:22 PM ET EDT AP

 
exercise work
WASHINGTON — Glued to your desk at work? Cross that off the list of reasons not to exercise.

A growing number of Americans are standing, walking and even cycling their way through the workday at treadmill desks, standup desks or other moving workstations. Others are forgoing chairs in favor of giant exercise balls to stay fit.

Walking on a treadmill while making phone calls and sorting through emails means “being productive on two fronts,” said Andrew Lockerbie, senior vice president of benefits at Brown & Brown, a global insurance consulting firm.

Lockerbie can burn 350 calories a day walking 3 to 4 miles on one of two treadmill desks that his company’s Indianapolis office purchased earlier this year.

“I’m in meetings and at my desk and on the phone all day,” he said. “It’s great to be able to have an option at my work to get some physical activity while I’m actually doing office stuff. You feel better, you get your blood moving, you think clearly.”

Treadmill desks designed for the workplace are normally set to move at 1 to 2 mph, enough to get the heart rate up but not too fast to distract from reading or talking on the phone comfortably.

It’s been a decade since scientific studies began to show that too much sitting can lead to obesity and increase the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Even going to the gym three times a week doesn’t offset the harm of being sedentary for hours at a time, said Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic.

“There’s a glob of information that sitting is killing us,” Levine said. “You’re basically sitting yourself into a coffin.”

More companies are intrigued by the idea of helping employees stay healthy, lose weight and reduce stress – especially if it means lower insurance costs and higher productivity, said Levine, an enthusiastic supporter of the moving workstations.

“Even walking at 1 mile an hour has very substantial benefits,” Levine said, such as doubling metabolic rate and improving blood sugar levels. “Although you don’t sweat, your body moving is sort of purring along.”

Sales at Indianapolis-based TreadDesk are expected to increase 25 percent this year as large corporations, including Microsoft, Coca Cola, United Healthcare and Procter & Gamble have started buying the workstations in bulk, said Jerry Carr, the company’s president.

At LifeSpan Fitness, based in Salt Lake City, sales of treadmill desks more than tripled over 2012, said Peter Schenk, company president.

“We don’t see the growth slowing down for several years as right now we are just moving from early adopters, which are educated and highly health-conscious, to more mainstream users,” Schenk said.

With bicycle desks or desk cycles, workers can pedal their way through the day on a small stationary bike mounted under their desks.

Treadmill desks can range from about $800 to $5,000 or more, depending on the manufacturer and model. Desks cycles start as low as $149 for models that can fit under an existing desk but can run $1,400 or more for those with a desk built in. Standup desks can run as low as $250 for platforms that can rest on an existing desk.

Some workers have opted for lower-profile – and lower-cost – ways to stay fit at work, such as sitting on giant exercise balls instead of chairs. Using the inflatable balls can help improve posture and strengthen abs, legs and back muscles.

“I’ve got nurses in my operating room who will use one of those balls instead of a chair,” said Michael Maloney, a professor of orthopedics and sports medicine specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Maloney said anyone trying an exercise ball, treadmill desk or other moving workstation should approach it just as they would any new exercise regime. Those who have not been working out regularly should start using the equipment in small time increments to avoid injury, he said.

“They have to just do it with some common sense and not overdo it,” Maloney said. “Just pay attention to how their body is responding to the new activities.”

Georges Harik, founder of the Web-based instant messaging service imo.im in Palo Alto, Calif., bought two treadmill desks for his 20-person office to share three years ago. Employees tend to sort through email or do other work while using the treadmills.

“I do it when I can,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not possible if you’re really thinking hard or programming a lot. But this sort of low-grade activity that keeps people from being sedentary probably helps extend their lives by a few years, and we’re big fans of that.”

The office has also purchased standing desks for most of its employees. The desks can be raised up or down with the touch of a button, and Harik says at least three or four workers can be seen standing at desks to stretch their legs at any one time.

But not everyone wants one, Harik said. Some workers find it too distracting to incorporate standing or walking into their work, and some feel they are just not coordinated enough to multitask as they exercise.

Levine said he was at first skeptical that a standup desk would offer improvements in health comparable to treadmill desks or other moving workstations.

“It appears I was completely wrong,” he said. “Once you’re off your bottom, it’s inevitable that you start meandering around. Within two minutes of standing, one activates a series of metabolic processes that are beneficial. Once you sit, all of those things get switched off.”

Denise Bober, director of human resources at The Breakers, the resort hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., said having a treadmill desk in her office has made a big difference in how she feels after work.

“The more movement and interaction I have, the more energy I have at the end of the day,” she said.

Bober spends one to three hours walking when she’s in the office, usually at 2 mph.

“If I go faster, then I make too many typing errors, but if I’m just reading a report I can go faster,” she said.

___

Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP

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30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines–A Q&A with Author and Expert Sandra Gordon

Sep 12, 2013 by

This substantive book is on my top ten list of health and nutrition books. The author Sandra Gordon is one of the most sought-after and highly respected food, nutrition, health and fitness writers in the industry and she teamed up with a distinguished doctor/professor, Dr. Steven Jonas, specializing in the field of public health and preventive medicine to write it.  Be impressed…

Sandra has written literally hundreds of articles on diet, weight loss, health, general nutrition and fitness and has become one of the leading consumer journalists on the relationship between food and various diseases including cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. Her articles have been featured in leading consumer magazines such as PreventionMoreSelf,  Redbook,  Shape, and now she has graciously agreed to come chat with World Wise Beauty the fresh and new digital destination for celebrating ideals for wellness culture.  

So, have a cup of tea and do a little arm-chair traveling with me as I chat with Sandra about the 30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines and pick up a few healthy global eating tips.

Truly Herself,
Lauroly 

Lauroly Opening – Welcome to World Wise Beauty Sandra. I am excited about featuring your book “30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines” co-authored with Dr. Steven Jonas, Professor of Preventative Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York. The book may be couple of years old but it’s an excellent health and nutrition book blending ground breaking nutritional research with information about the culinary histories and traditions of a number of major countries and regions around the world. The book is filled with culinary wisdom and could help people reduce their chances of developing a number of major diet-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. There have been many books covering the subject of diet and longevity since your book was published but I still find your book to be one of the best  to connect nutrition with health and longevity.  Plus it also includes fabulous globally inspired recipes! My personal favorite is Seafood Soup with Rouille from France. Let’s get started with learning how you and Dr. Jonas got together to write this book. 

Sandra Gordon: “30 Secrets” was an idea I came up with after writing a piece for Woman’s Day, called “The World’s Best Eating Tips.” I loved the idea of going around the world in a book, reporting on the healthiest eating habits, take-home tips that Americans could easily import into their repertoire. I wrote a book proposal—my first—and then got a literary agent (Linda Konner in New York City). It was Linda who connected me with Dr. Jonas, who is a professor of public health. Dr. Jonas did a great job of reading what I wrote and putting his mark of approval on it. When John Wiley expressed interest in “30 Secrets,” which was my first book deal, I was working fulltime in NYC as a health writer in the marketing department for a health insurance company. I also happened to be pregnant with my first child. My husband and I had just bought our first house too. I quit my job to write the book, in my new house in the suburbs. It was a race against time. Would I get the book done before the baby came? That’s all I focused on, so much so that I didn’t go shopping for new-baby gear until about a week before my due date. As it turns out, my daughter was two weeks late and the doctor wasn’t waiting any longer. I think I had willed my baby to stay in, and she took my cues too seriously. I ended up having plenty of time to complete the book. With baby #2, I wrote book #2 when I was pregnant too, “The Aging Eye,” for Harvard Medical School. I began to see a pattern. If I want to get another book deal, do I have to get pregnant again? All told, that was my last baby, but not my last book, fortunately.

Lauroly Q-  A busy woman you were–birthing babies and books! Your book “30 Secrets” was timely in the year 2000 because it was right about that time period we Americans started to get hooked on “magic bullet” foods and ingredients. Mediterranean diets in particular became a global fascination as more scientific research piled up about the culture’s longevity and low rates of heart disease compared to the rest of the world. You and Dr. Jonas synthesized cultural research and nutritional science in an easy to read book about the “world’s healthiest cuisines”. What did you personally come away learning after writing this book with Dr. Jonas?

Sandra Gordon: Since writing the book, my eating habits have really gone global. I cook a lot, which is not very American, and I’m a big recipe person. I love to go Mediterranean one night, Japanese the next. We recently had two teens stay with us from Russia for three weeks, which required cooking big dinners nightly. Interestingly, the girls expected home cooking because few people can afford to go out to eat in Russia. During their stay, I realized how much my meals are a mishmash of cultures. Aside from peanut butter, which I made the Russians try (they had to hold their nose and chase the peanut butter bites they took with water); none of my meals were “American,” whatever that means. Finally, on the last day, the Russians requested an “American lunch.” Knowing they were going to be flying home for 11 hours, we went to Five Guys for burgers and fries, so they could fuel up for their flight. Incidentally, they thought Five Guys was much better than McDonald’s, which they had gone to during their free time.

Lauroly Q-In some ways it’s sad that the American cultural experience is to eat at a fast food chain but you are right we really are a blending of cultures, so what truly is American? Dr. Jonas  is careful not to glorify “super foods” but encourages us to incorporate a variety of them into a well- rounded diet. Very wise advice but when you learn more about diets around the world you  come to appreciate how various cultures survived over time because of nature’s bounty and compensation. Can you illustrate a few cultural examples of this?

 

Sandra Gordon: It seems like every culture has gone through periods of famine because of war or other reasons, which made them resourceful food wise. That’s why they eat all parts of the animal in France, for example. In the past, food was scarce and the culinary compensation that resulted became part of their food tradition. The Mediterranean regions known for their health and longevity, such as Crete, were based on subsistence farming. Traditional Cretans were poor, but their gardens yielded tomatoes, greens like purslane, parsley, garlic, olives/olive oil and fish from the adjacent sea. I think the traditional Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest out there, and studies continue to prove it. Fortunately, it’s an eating pattern that’s pretty easily to import. My idea of super foods is based in the Mediterranean: yogurt, olive oil, all fruits and vegetables, including onions and garlic, fish and a little wine too (white or red). At my house, we also eat grains like bulgur because my husband in Armenian and that’s his comfort food.

Lauroly Q-It is interesting to note that the world’s healthiest cuisines are often corrupted once they have been imported to America. Chinese food is a good example. Can you share more about “westernization” and the unhealthy effects on some global cuisines?

 

Sandra Gordon: It’s true–what we consider to be Chinese food—egg rolls, sweet and sour pork, chow mein, chop suey, barbecued spare ribs, for example–aren’t part of the traditional Chinese diet. They were invented for Americans by the Chinese who emigrated here. Traditional Chinese food is a stir fry, with very little meat and lots of inexpensive rice. I think it’s fine to eat American Chinese food every once in a while, as long as you know that’s what you’re eating, and not try to tell yourself, “It’s Chinese, so it’s healthy.” On a similar note, the westernization of cuisines is a widespread problem, especially in cities across the globe. As people have less time and more money, they turn to quick fixes like fast food, which are becoming more increasingly available. Then again, I’m surprised by how much some global traditions are holding fast and how the American diet isn’t infiltrating everything. The concept of home cooking in Russia, for example, is what the 1970s were in the U.S. When you cook at home, you can eat healthier because you’re in control. Yet, Russia is a whole-milk kind of culture. Non-fat milk is not the norm. So the diet isn’t as healthy as it could be in terms of saturated fat and they have high rates of heart disease to prove it.

Lauroly Q- I found the information on West Africa in your book to be eye-opening. It puts the importance of a plant-based diet at the forefront of nutritional health and science and we are just beginning to embrace this ideology now in 2013. The smallest country of Africa is Gambia and they have the lowest incidence of cancer in the world–even lower than Japan and especially when it comes to breast cancer. What is their secret and what should we be learning from this knowledge today?

 

Sandra Gordon: Since writing “30 Secrets,” we’ve learned even more about a plant-based diet–that it’s even more important for heart disease protection than cancer protection. One of the things we’ve also learned is that staying slim throughout your life can reduce the risk of cancer. After writing “30 Secrets,” I had a friend who worked for a relief organization in The Gambia, which gave me a different perspective on the cancer prevention aspects of the diet. When she came home after a year, her parents didn’t recognize her at the airport because she was so skinny. She said that it was so hot there that she just didn’t feel like eating much, and really, there wasn’t that much to eat, in terms of variety. Peanuts, yams; yams, peanuts. According to a major report by the American Institute for Cancer Research, staying lean throughout your life, with a body mass index (BMI) in the range of 21 to 23, is one of the most important things you can do to stay cancer-free. And that’s because any weight gain after age 18 (excluding pregnancy) is mostly fat. Excess body fat produces hormones and releases inflammatory factors into the blood stream that can influence cell growth, upping the risk of cancer of the esophagus, colon, rectum, endometrium, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and kidneys.

Weight gain after menopause is particularly lethal. It increases the risk of breast cancer by 8 to 13 percent with every 11 pound tacked onto your frame. Some of the risk associated with weight gain sticks around even if you purge the pounds. But if you’ve gained and lost even just 10 pounds of it, you’re better off than if the weight never left. So maybe it’s the fact that The Gambians don’t have an obesity epidemic that’s saving them from cancer. In any event, no matter what and how you eat, try to do what you can to keep your weight in check. And go global—the Mediterranean diet, especially, is a model for filling up on fewer, though quality, calories.

Lauroly Closing: Thanks so much for joining me Sandra. I hope we have inspired a number of readers to discover your book “30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines” and learn about the benefits of embracing a rich, and varied healthy global diet. We look forward to more work from you as you often write and report on health and wellness in various magazines and publications. Hope you come visit us again!

To learn more about Sandra’s latest published ventures visit her website here.

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