Dallas Tops List as Worst City for Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

The beautiful weather has arrived, in Dallas anyway! The rest of the country seems conflicted on whether to officially let Spring come to the party. But along with Dallas’ blue skies and gentle breeze comes sneezing, watery eyes, and a nose that looks more like a drippy faucet. It’s all proof that Dallas tops list as worst city for seasonal allergy symptoms.

seasonal allergy symptoms“A direct barometer for allergy season is the tissue box in the reception area. When it’s empty at the end of the day, I know my adult and pediatric patients are suffering with seasonal allergy symptoms, says chiropractor Dr. Jeff Manning of Manning Wellness Clinic in Dallas.

In the most recent Top 10 list compiled by  The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, cities are ranked  based on pollen levels, use of allergy medications and the number of board-certified allergists in the area.

Louisville has moved up the list from No. 5 last year because of higher-than-average pollen counts, high use of allergy medications and too few allergy specialists, according to the foundation.

New York; Columbia, South Carolina; and San Antonio are new to the top 20. Only Los Angeles residents can breathe a sigh of relief; the city fell 39 places from No. 38 last year to No. 77 this year.

Here are the worst cities for spring seasonal allergy symptoms and sufferers in 2014:

1. Louisville, Kentucky

2. Memphis, Tennessee

3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

4. Oklahoma City

5. Jackson, Mississippi

6. Chattanooga, Tennessee

7. Dallas

8. Richmond, Virginia

9. Birmingham, Alabama

10. McAllen, Texas

“Allergy and asthma patients already have a chronic sensitivity to things like pollen, mold and other airborne allergens, but they can also be more susceptible to rapid changes in temperature and moisture,” Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said in a statement. “A blending of the winter and spring means these patients are at risk of multiple symptoms simultaneously.”

If you think popping a pill is the only way to find relief for seasonal allergy symptoms, you are in for a treat: Chiropractic can help to improve seasonal allergy symptoms and help you to avoid allergy-related illnesses like sinus infections.  In the throes of an allergy attack, antihistamines definitely have their place. But with side effects like sleepiness, dry mouth and an overall clouded feeling, they’re not an ideal match for everyone.

Chiropractic works by helping the body to help itself. By removing interference within the body, nerves can function and perform the way they are meant to. Seasonal allergy symptoms can feel less severe.

For lots of information on chiropractic for allergies and asthma, click on the following link which Manning Wellness posted almost exactly 1 year ago!: http://manningwellness.com/combatting-allergies-and-sinus-issues-with-chiropractic/ 

“As long as Dallas tops list as worst city for allergy sufferers and seasonal allergy symptoms, my door will be open, and my waiting room tissue box full, says Dr. Manning.

Contact us today and find out how and why chiropractic can help you combat seasonal allergy symptoms, allergies, and asthma.

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2702 McKinney Ave, suite 202

Dallas, Texas 75204 214-720-2225

www.manningwellness.com

 

 

14 Foods you Should Never Eat

It seems every time you try to make a healthy food choice, some new research tells you, “NO, DON’T EAT THAT!!” At the end of the day, it’s not only frustrating, but incredibly confusing, too. The link below, 14 Foods you Should Never Eat  is a somewhat new list, with some obvious choices (artificial food coloring), but also some new ones like sprouts. See, that’s where it gets confusing since sprouted everything seems to be all the rage! Take a peek….maybe make a few adjustments to your diet. We’re veering into a new year, so the timing is perfect! If you have any questions and/or other suggestions for the list, please post and share.

 

http://www.rodalenews.com/food-ingredients-avoid

One of the 14 foods you should never eat

 

Splenda downgraded from “safe” to “caution”

Note from Dr. Manning: Our new patient history paperwork specifically asks about artificial sweetener consumption because I oftentimes find a link between consumption and inflammation. I do not personably consume artificial sweeteners of any kind and suggest the same to my patients.

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Group Cites Need to Evaluate Forthcoming Italian Study Linking Artificial Sweetener to Leukemia in Mice

June 12, 2013

splendaThe Center for Science in the Public Interest is downgrading sucralose, the artificial sweetener better known by the brand name Splenda, in its Chemical Cuisine guide to food additives. The nonprofit food safety watchdog group had long rated sucralose as “safe,” but is now placing it in the “caution” category pending a review of an unpublished study by an independent Italian laboratory that found that the sweetener caused leukemia in mice. The only previous long-term feeding studies in animals were conducted by the compound’s manufacturers.

CSPI’s Chemical Cuisine gives the artificial sweeteners saccharinaspartame, and acesulfame potassium “avoid” ratings, the group’s lowest. CSPI considers rebiana, a natural high-potency sweetener obtained from stevia, to be “safe,” though deserving of better testing.

“Sucralose may prove to be safer than saccharin, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium, but the forthcoming Italian study warrants careful scrutiny before we can be confident that the sweetener is safe for use in food,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.

Despite its concerns about the risk posed by artificial sweeteners, CSPI says consumers who drink soda are still probably better off drinking diet soda than sugar-sweetened soda, which poses the greater and demonstrable risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gout, tooth decay, and other health problems. Soft drinks—diet or regular—often contain questionable food dyes and so-called caramel coloring that is contaminated with cancer-causing 4-methylimidazole. To avoid the risks of both sugars and non-caloric sweeteners, CSPI urges people to switch to water, seltzer water, flavored unsweetened waters, seltzer mixed with some fruit juice, or unsweetened iced tea.

CSPI has also made new entries in Chemical Cuisine for some other natural, high-potency sweeteners that aren’t widely used yet but are on the horizon. Monkfruit extract, used in some foods, contain substances called mogrosides that are about 200 times sweeter than sugar, but with an aftertaste described as licorice-like. Monkfruit, also known as Luo Han Guo and Lo Han Kuo, has been used as food in China for several hundred years. Monatin is a plant-based sweeter derived from the root of a shrub found in South Africa that is supposedly some 3,000 times sweeter than sugar. Those two sweeteners might also prove to be safe, but CSPI gives them a “caution” rating on the basis of inadequate testing.

Chemical Cuisine includes much more than sweeteners. While most of the additives will be disclosed on ingredients lists, some will not. Transglutaminase is a naturally occurring enzyme that’s presumably safe on its own. Known informally as “meat glue,” the enzyme lets chefs or manufacturers fuse together inexpensive cuts of beef into the distinctive shape of more expensive filet mignon. Besides cheating consumers, that practice can result in a less-safe steak since bacteria ordinarily confined to the surface of the steak are driven into the interior.

Castoreum is a rarely used additive that CSPI, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, assume to be safe. Any food manufacturer that actually uses it will likely list it among “natural flavorings” on ingredient lists and not disclose where castoreum actually comes from: the anal castor sacs of beavers.

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Manning Wellness Clinic  2702 McKinney Ave, s. 202   Dallas, TX 75204

214-720-2225  www.manningwellness.com

Manning Wellness Clinic is a top-rated comprehensive chiropractic clinic servicing

Uptown, downtown, Park Cities and the Oak Lawn areas of Dallas.

 

A Better Mac and Cheese recipe

To post information about the questionable additives in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and suggest that you try to cut down or eliminate eating it, leaves a void for many mac-n-cheese loving folks…our children included. The following recipe, though not flavored or colored like the well-known blue box, definitely fits the bill when you’re craving some comfort food. And it is EASY!! Our kids love it, as do their friends.

A Better Mac and Cheese

mac and cheese

1  1/2 cups cottage cheese

1 1/2 cups skim milk (1 or 2% is ok too)

1 tsp dried mustard or 1 Tbl prepared mustard

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt (cottage cheese has a high sodium content so you can omit this)

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup grated onions (you can sub with 2 T chopped dried onion)

1 cup plus extra grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 lb uncooked whole wheat macaroni

2 Tbl grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9 or 10″ square baking pan with a light  coating of cooking spray. In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, milk, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper and purée until smooth. In a large bowl combine the puréed mixture with the onions, cheddar cheese, and uncooked macaroni. Stir well. Pour the macaroni and cheese mixture into the baking pan. Combine the grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake for about 45 minutes until the topping is browned and the center is firm.

 

Are Apples Bad for your Health?

Apples Top EWG’s Dirty Dozen

images-1Washington, D.C. – Apples top the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen™ list of most pesticide-contaminated produce, followed by strawberries, grapes and celery. Other fresh fruits and vegetables on the new Dirty Dozen list, a part of EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ are peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list, those fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide load, consists of corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

“When given a choice, more consumers are choosing organic fruits and vegetables or using EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to find an easy affordable way to avoid toxic chemicals,” said Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst. “They want to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables without eating too many pesticides. And they want to support local farms and agriculture that is better for the environment.”

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, now in its 9th year, ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables, based on an analysis of more than 28,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration.

 

Dr. Jeffrey Manning, DC

Manning Wellness Clinic

2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202

Dallas, TX 75204

214-720-2225

www.manningwellness.com

Request an Appointment

Chia seeds–The ‘It’ Food of 2013

(From ABC News)

chia-seeds-photo-1024x768An ancient seed is finally having its day in the sun.

Actually, its second day in the sun. The first time around was as the key ingredient in the gag gift known as “the pottery that grows.” Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

2013 is undoubtedly the year of the chia seed among the health conscious. For a while it was flax seed. And 2012 could easily have been named “the year of kale.” But this year, experts agree, belongs to chia.

“Chia seeds have been in Whole Foods for a long time, but they’re just now starting to grow in popularity,” said Drew Rosen, nutrition and cooking teacher at New York City’s Whole Foods Market Tribeca. “It’s an ancient crop, but because the seeds are so flexible and high in omega threes, they are just blossoming all over the markets in all different types of products.”

Indeed. There are chia seeds, ground chia seeds, chia bars, chia snacks, chia drinks. The drink aisle alone housed four different brands of chia-seed drinks.

All these products are in response to high demand. People are looking for chia in all its forms, Rosen said. “It runs the gamut, some people look for the seeds, some for the products. People want to make it easy for themselves.”

“Easy” could be precisely what makes chia such a hit in health food circles. While it can be made into pudding, or used as an egg substitute for the vegan crowd, the same benefits can be found simply by sprinkling a teaspoon into your yogurt, oatmeal or smoothie. Some people simply add it to their water.

Unlike flax seed, chia seeds don’t have to be ground and they don’t go rancid the way flax does. “Chia seeds are going to absolutely replace flax seeds,” said Rosen. “They’re the absolute best source of omega three fats on the market, hands down, when you consider the ratio of omega three to omega six.”

But he cautioned, “You should only eat a small amount, maximum one ounce a day.”

That’s because chia is very high in fiber, which in large quantities can cause stomach upset.

Licensed nutritionist Lisa Goldberg, who runs a company called Health Coach, which delivers healthy lunches, agrees that a little chia goes a long way. Including, she said, benefits for those trying to lose a few pounds.

“It’s a high source of fiber,” she said. “Chia will keep you fuller longer and prevent you from overeating. You have that feeling of fullness in your stomach because when you wet chia seeds, they form a gelatinous substance that takes longer to digest.

“You’ll overeat less and tend to snack less. If you eat chia before a meal, you’ll eat less at the next meal. It packs a nutritional punch without adding a lot of food to your diet.”

And while the drinks in particular are convenient and filling, Goldberg does not recommend them as a meal replacement. “There’s not enough nutrients and calories. What I would say is, it’s a great addition.”

 

Dr. Jeffrey Manning, DC

Manning Wellness Clinic

2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202

Dallas, TX 75204

214-720-2225

www.manningwellness.com

Request an Appointment

TOP 10 USES FOR VINEGAR

TOP 10 USES FOR VINEGAR

TS-87589654_Bottle-of-white-vinegar_s3x4_al

Vinegar is an inexpensive, healthy way to clean and disinfect your home.

Cleaning drains: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda in the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar; the mixture will foam as it cleans and deodorizes. Use every few weeks to keep drains clean.

Mildew on plastic shower curtains: Put the shower curtain in the washing machine with light-colored towels; add 1 cup white vinegar to the detergent and wash.

Soap scum on shower: Spray on vinegar, scrub and rinse.

Toilet hard-water rings: Shut off water at the tank and flush to remove as much water as possible. Spray vinegar on the ring, sprinkle in borax and scrub with drywall sandpaper.

Shower head deposits: Pour white vinegar into a plastic bag, tape to the shower head and leave overnight. Brush the shower head to remove remaining deposits.

Softening laundry: Fill dispenser with 1/4 cup white vinegar to soften laundry without leaving odors.

Cleaning vinyl floors: Add 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 gallon hot water for spotless floors.

Cleaning windows: Mix 50 percent white vinegar with 50 percent water in a spray bottle. Spray glass surfaces and wipe dry.

Neutralize pet odors: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. Pour on stained areas and blot; never rub to remove stains and odors.

Greasy dishes: Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar to liquid dish soap to boost its cleaning power.

If you have any other ways you use vinegar, please let us know in the comments section! The more the better!

 

Dr. Jeffrey Manning, DC

Manning Wellness Clinic

2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202

Dallas, TX 75204

214-720-2225

www.manningwellness.com

Request an Appointment

Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies

baby being fed by her mum
At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.

Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005,  the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.

In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn’t be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.

Study and findings

As part of the two-year study, 1,334 mothers filed out monthly questionnaires about what their babies ate during the last week, says Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the study authors. Scientists then analyzed the data reported by the mothers to determine at which age babies were being fed solid food.

They found 539 moms, or 40% of moms, gave their babies solid food early. Previous studies had put that estimate at 19% and 29%. Researchers believe based on this study, they may actually be underestimating how many moms introduce solids early because the study was more likely to have older, more educated and higher income moms participating. “Mothers of lower socioeconomic status are at a higher risk of early solid food introduction,” the study says.

Giving your baby solid food too soon has been linked to a higher risk of obesity and diabetes, according to the study. Also, “starting infants on solids before 4 months can lead to allergies and eczema,” says Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician and AAP spokeswoman who was not involved in the research.

Among the 539 moms who did introduce solids early, nearly 1 in 10 gave their babies solids before they were 4 weeks old.

Researchers found formula-fed infants were about twice as likely to be introduced to solids early, compared to only breast-fed babies.

Moms were also given 12 reasons to choose from to explain why they introduced solid food early. Among the top answers:
– 90% of moms said they thought their baby was old enough to start eating solids.
– 71% said their baby seemed hungry a lot of the time.
– 55% believed their doctor or another health care professional said their baby should start eating solids.

Scanlon cautioned that this last point reflected a perception that health care professionals were recommending when to start an infant on solids; researchers couldn’t actually confirm that’s what a doctor or nurse actually said.

Shu says she was surprised by the findings, but notes that some doctors and nurses may have been trained at a time when babies were fed solids earlier and says it’s hard to change behaviors when medical information changes so quickly.

Bottom line

“There’s a lack of awareness of what the recommendations are,” Scanlon says, adding babies are not developmentally ready for solid food before they are 4 months old.

Some of these moms are getting information on when to feed their babies solids “from generations (ex. grandparents, nurses, friends) who may have started their babies on solids at an earlier age,” suggests Shu.

According to the latest AAP recommendations, moms are supposed to exclusively breast-feed their babies until they are about 6 months old if possible, so babies can reap all the benefits of mother’s milk including extra immune protection and possible protection for future chronic illnesses like obesity and type II diabetes.

Every baby develops at a slightly different pace, but there are some signs to look for to help parents figure out if their child is ready for solids:
– Is the baby sitting up? Can she hold her head up?
– Does your baby open his mouth when food comes his way?
– Is she big enough? (Babies typically double their birth weight by 4 months)
– Can he take food off the spoon and actually swallow it?

The takeaway

Parents need clear and accurate guidance on when to introduce solid food to their babies, and pediatricians and health care professionals need to support them, says Scanlon, by explaining to the parents that crying doesn’t always mean the baby is hungry – it could also be wet, sick or lonely.

27 Foods you Should Never Buy Again

Cross these items off your grocery store list—whether they’re rip-offs, fakes, drastically unhealthy, or just plan gross, here are the 27 foods you should never buy again.

© Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

A few shavings of nice cheese on top of pasta or vegetables can take a simple dish from good to great—but you don’t have to fork out $22 a pound for the famous stuff. Instead, look for varieties like Pecorino Romano and SarVecchio, which offer the same flavor at half the price.

© Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock

Smoked and Cured Meats

From fancy charcuterie to “dime a dog” night, pass on cured meats in any form—they’ve been linked to cancer, disease, high blood pressure, and migraines. Plus they’re packed with artery-clogging grease: regulations allow up to 50% (by weight) of fresh pork sausage to be fat.

© Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock

“Blueberry” items

Ahh, blueberries…now in everything from your breakfast cereal to muffins, granola bars, and sauces—or are they? Turns out that most of the blueberry-flavored items on grocery store shelves don’t feature a single actually berry, just artificial blueberry flavor. Buy your own berries and add them to plain cereal for a real health boost.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Multi-grain bread

This is junk food masquerading in a healthy disguise. Check the ingredient list to make sure whole wheat is the first, and main, ingredient—otherwise, you’re just getting a few grains mixed into regular white bread. Better yet, forgo the bread and enjoy straight-up barley, brown rice, quinoa, or steel-cut oats.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Reduced fat peanut butter

When companies take out the fat, they have to add something back in to make the food taste delicious. In this case, it’s lots of extra sugar—and who wants that? Instead, spread regular peanut butter on your sandwich for more of the good fats and protein without fake sweetness.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Bottled tea

Brew your iced tea at home and you’ll save both big bucks and your waistline—bottled teas can have more grams of sugar than a soda or slice of pie.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Tomato-based pasta sauces

A jar of spaghetti sauce typically runs $2 to $6. The equivalent amount of canned tomatoes is often under $1. Our suggestion: Make your own sauces from canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes — particularly in the summer, when they are plentiful, tasty, and cheap. The easiest method is to put crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh) into a skillet, stir in some wine or wine vinegar, a little sugar, your favorite herbs, and whatever chopped vegetables you like in your sauce — peppers, onions, mushrooms, even carrots — and let simmer for an hour. Adjust the flavorings and serve. Even easier: Coat fresh tomatoes and the top of a cooking sheet with olive oil and roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes at 425˚F before making your stovetop sauce.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Swordfish

Large bottom-feeder fish such as tuna, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and especially swordfish are high in mercury. Choose smaller fish, like flounder, catfish, sardines, and salmon instead.

© Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Energy drinks

Stick to a cup of coffee for your afternoon boost. Seemingly harmless caffeinated beverages are often sugar bombs—and the FDA has received numerous reports linking brands like 5 Hour Energy and Monster Energy to heart attacks, convulsion, and even death.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Gluten-free baked goods

If you aren’t diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, keep in mind that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy—and gluten-free baked goods like bread, cookies, and crackers often are packed with more refined flours, artificial ingredients, and sugar than traditional baked goods. Plus, they can cost up to twice as much as you’d normally spend.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Flavored non-dairy milks

Vanilla-eggnog-caramel soy milk doesn’t win you any points in the health department—and it definitely won’t help your grocery receipt bottom line. If you prefer non-dairy milks for personal dietary reasons, buy unsweetened versions. And if you’re just trying to eat healthfully, skim milk should be just fine.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Foods made of WOOD

Take a look at the ingredient list for your high-fiber cereal or snack bar, and you’ll probably see an ingredient called “cellulose.” Turns out that cellulose is a code word for “wood pulp.” Food manufacturers use it to extend their products and add fiber, so it looks like you’re getting more food. But really you’re just left with a mouthful of wood shavings.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

White rice

Skip the refined grains and go for whole: a 17% higher risk of diabetes is associated with eating five or more servings of white rice per week, compared to eating white rice less than once a month.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

‘Gourmet’ frozen vegetables

Sure, you can buy an 8-ounce packet of peas in an herbed butter sauce, but why do so when you can make your own? Just cook the peas, add a pat of butter and sprinkle on some herbs that you already have on hand. The same thing goes for carrots with dill sauce and other gourmet veggies.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Microwave sandwiches

When you buy a pre-made sandwich, you’re really just paying for its elaborate packaging — plus a whole lot of salt, fat, and unnecessary additives. For the average cost of one of these babies ($2.50 to $3.00 per sandwich), you could make a bigger, better, and more nutritious version yourself.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Premium frozen fruit bars

At nearly $2 per bar, frozen ‘all fruit’ or ‘fruit and juice’ bars may not be rich in calories, but they are certainly rich in price. Make your own at home — and get the flavors you want. To make four pops, just throw 2 cups cut-up fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. You might wish to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water so the final mix is a thick slush. Pour into 4-ounce pop molds or paper cups, insert sticks, and freeze until solid.

© Eising/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Boxed rice ‘entree’ or side-dish mixes

These consist basically of rice, salt, and spices — yet they’re priced way beyond the ingredients sold individually. Yes, there are a few flavorings included, but they’re probably ones you have in your pantry already. Buy a bag of rice, measure out what you need, add your own herbs and other seasonings, and cook the rice according to package directions.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Energy or protein bars

These calorie-laden bars are usually stacked at the checkout counter because they depend on impulse buyers who grab them, thinking they are more wholesome than a candy bar. Unfortunately, they can have very high fat and sugar contents and are often as caloric as a regular candy bar. They’re also two to three times more expensive than a candy bar. If you need a boost, a vitamin-rich piece of fruit, a yogurt, or a small handful of nuts is more satiating and less expensive.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Spice mixes

Spice mixes like grill seasoning and rib rubs might seem like a good buy because they contain a lot of spices that you would have to buy individually. Check the label first: We predict the first ingredient you will see on the package is salt, followed by the vague ‘herbs and spices.’ Look in your own pantry, and you’ll probably be surprised to discover just how many herbs you already have on hand, and you can improvise as much as you want.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Powdered iced tea mixes or prepared flavored iced tea

Powdered and gourmet iced teas are really a rip-off! It’s much cheaper to make your own iced tea from actual (inexpensive) tea bags and keep a jug in the fridge. Plus, many mixes and preparations are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, along with artificial flavors. To make 32 ounces of iced tea, it usually takes 8 bags of black tea or 10 bags of herbal, green, or white tea. If you like your tea sweet but want to keep calories down, skip the sugar and add fruit juice instead.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Bottled water

Bottled water is a bad investment for so many reasons. It’s expensive compared to what’s coming out of the tap, its cost to the environment is high (it takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce and ship all those bottles), and it’s not even better for your health than the stuff running down your drain.

Even taking into account the cost of filters, water from home is still much cheaper than bottled water, which can run up to $1 to $3 a pop.

If you have well water and it really does not taste good (even with help from a filter), or if you have a baby at home who is bottle-fed and needs to drink safe water, buy jugs of distilled or ‘nursery’ water at big discount stores. They usually cost between 79 cents and 99 cents for 1 gallon (as opposed to $1.50 for 8 ounces of ‘designer’ water). And you can reuse the jugs to store homemade iced tea, flavored waters, or, when their tops are cut off, all sorts of household odds and ends.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Salad kits

Washed and bagged greens can be a time-saver, but they can cost three times as much as buying the same amount of a head of lettuce. Even more expensive are ‘salad kits,’ where you get some greens, a small bag of dressing, and a small bag of croutons. Skip these altogether. Make your own croutons by toasting cut-up stale bread you would otherwise toss, and try mixing your own salad dressing.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Individual servings of anything

The recent trend to package small quantities into 100-calorie snack packs is a way for food-makers to get more money from unsuspecting consumers. The price ‘per unit’ cost of these items is significantly more than if you had just bought one big box of cheese crackers or bag of chips. This is exactly what you should do. Buy the big box and then parcel out single servings and store them in small, reusable storage bags.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Trail mix

We checked unit prices of those small bags of trail mix hanging in the candy aisle not that long ago and were shocked to find that they cost about $10 a pound! Make your own for much, much less with a 1-pound can of dry roasted peanuts, 1 cup of raisins, and a handful of almonds, dried fruit, and candy coated chocolate. The best part about making your own? You only include the things you like. Keep the mixture in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid for up to 3 weeks.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

‘Snack’ or ‘lunch’ packs

These ‘all-inclusive’ food trays might seem reasonably priced (from $2.50 to $4.00), but you’re actually paying for the highly designed label, wrapper, and specially molded tray. They only contain a few crackers and small pieces of cheese and lunchmeat. The actual edible ingredients are worth just pennies and are filled with salt.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Gourmet ice cream

It’s painful to watch someone actually pay $6 for a gallon of designer brand ice cream. Don’t bother. There’s usually at least one brand or other on sale, and you can easily dress up store brands with your own additives like chunky bits of chocolate or crushed cookie. If you do like the premium brands, wait for that 3-week sales cycle to kick in and stock up when your favorite flavor is discounted.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Pre-formed meat patties

Frozen burgers, beef or otherwise, are more expensive than buying the ground meat in bulk and making patties yourself. We timed it — it takes less than 10 seconds to form a flat circle and throw it on the grill. Also, there’s some evidence that pre-formed meat patties might contain more e. coli than regular ground meat. In fact, most of the recent beef recalls have involved pre-made frozen beef patties.

© 2012 The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.

Can Fast Food lead to Asthma, Hay Fever and Eczema? New Study Suggests Link

CNN: Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal’s respiratory journal Thorax.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) study used written questionnaires completed by 319,196 13-  and 14-year-olds from 51 countries and by the parents of 181,631 6- and 7-year-olds in 31 countries.  They were asked if they had symptoms of the three conditions and about their weekly diet – including the types of foods they ate over the last year, and how often.

“We found clear associations between certain foods and severe asthma, hay fever (or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis) and eczema in the largest study of allergies in children (aged 6-7 years) and adolescents (13-14 years) to date,” said study author Hywel Williams of the Centre for Evidence Based Dermatology, Queen’s Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK.  According to Williams, the associations between allergic diseases and fast food were “only really convincing for severe disease.”

Researchers saw a protective effect against severe asthma for those who ate fruit at least three times a week.  Those consuming fast food three or more times a week had about a 30% increased risk of severe asthma, hay fever and eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes scaly, itchy rashes.  The results were consistent in both age groups.  Affluence and gender did not change or affect the outcome.

“The cautionary notes are that this study showed an association, which does not always mean that the link between food and allergies is causal,” Williams said. “It could be due to other factors linked to behavior that we have not measured, or it could be due to biases that occur in studies that measure disease and ask about previous food intake.”

Study authors say if further research shows that consuming a lot of fast food actually does cause these types of allergies, it could have major public health implications because of the rise in fast food consumption globally.

“It’s not at all surprising to me that a disease as complex as asthma would be directly affected by diet.  We’ve known for a while that diet can affect immune system function with certain foods being pro or anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Stephen Teach, who is the chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington and was not involved in the research.

“Given that asthma’s inherently an inflammatory disease, with swelling and inflammation of the small to medium-size airways of the lung, it is not at all surprising that diet should affect those processes in some way.”

Teach said it’s important to note that these are associations only. “In other words, it would be wrong to assume from the results of this study that fast foods directly cause allergic disease.  It is possible that some unmeasured effect of socioeconomic status or environment which correlates with fast foods may in fact be responsible.”

Either way, Williams said, there is a take-home message for parents.  He says you don’t have to stop eating fast food entires, ” but to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and maybe less fast food – one or two times per week rather than three or more – if your child has allergies.”