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Spinach makes us strong and eating fish makes us smart. Saturated fat is bad, we should never snack before bedtime. Breakfast, meanwhile, is essential every single day. These are absolute truths that should never be questioned, right?

Wrong. They should be seriously questioned, according to Tim Spector, author of The Diet Myth and Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We've Been Told About Food is Wrong. Spector is professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College, London, and he wants to start a revolution on how we think about food.

"The purpose of The Diet Myth was to explain how gut microbes interact with food, but after its publication six years ago, I really started to notice how bad eating habits had become in Australia, England and the US," he says.

"People's diets have been manipulated by a series of factors. Many of these are the fault of the food industry, but also the very poor state of nutrition research and lack of funding. I set out to write Spoon-Fed to point out what bad shape we're in."

Published by Penguin, Spoon-Fed is "illuminating" and "incredibly timely", according to English-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi.

Spector debunks beliefs such as sugar-free drinks are a safe way to lose weight, fish is the healthy option and exercise will make you thin (more on those later).

When Spector was researching Spoon-Fed, Clare Collins, laureate professor in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle, was creating an online course to help Australians make their own healthy eating decisions.

Collins' free six-week course, The Science of Weight Loss: Dispelling Diet Myths, is now open for enrolment through online learning provider EdX until March 10.

"More than 70 per cent of Australian men and 50 per cent of women are living with excess weight, which means weight loss is often on a lot of people's minds," she says. "The course is designed to address the same questions."

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Topics include metabolic rate, how to identify fad diets, and how to maintain weight loss. The course aims to change conversations around food, a topic Spector believes is too often overlooked by educators.

"I want people to be interested in food, but rather than oversimplifying it, we need to acknowledge that food is complex and deserves full scientific attention," he says.

"It's a topic that needs to be taught to children. It's as important as reading and writing."

To cut through some of the complexity and ever-evolving research around weight loss, Good Food asked the experts to highlight seven myths that need busting for healthier eating, whether you want to lose weight or not.

"Aussie kids are Weet-Bix kids!" We're also a nation of happy little Vegemites, avocado toast fetishists, and all-day-long egg lovers. But is breakfast as vital as dietary guidelines, food companies and grandparents would have us believe? Spector says no.

"We have been led to believe breakfast is the right thing to do through a series of bad research and breakfast cereal marketing. We've been told that skipping breakfast is very bad and could lead to diabetes, weight gain and kids going crazy in school.

"However, there's no evidence for any harm at all, and some evidence points to occasionally skipping breakfast as a useful strategy for reducing weight."

Research conducted though ZOE, a nutritional science company co-founded by Spector, found that as people get older, they tend to metabolise things better in the evening than before lunch.

"And yet we're told that everybody should have their calories in the morning because of studies originally done on 20-year-old students," says the professor.

Evidence is also growing that increasing fasting intervals to about 14 hours can reduce insulin levels and promote weight loss. Further, Spector says fasting may help create a healthier gut microbiome the community of 100 trillion microbes living mainly in our small intestine.

The microbiome helps regulate our health and metabolism. Emerging data suggests short periods of fasting may lead to certain microbe species replicating and tidying up the gut to make it healthier and more efficient.

"I think everybody should skip breakfast once a week," says Spector, adding that anyone omitting the meal should track how it affects their energy and mood through the day, plus any long-term weight loss or gain.

"There are some people that do benefit from eating their kilojoules earlier in the day, and others in the evening. It's probably very personal. The message here is don't believe something just because your mother told you it's true. Do your own experiments."

The high-fat,low-carbohydrate keto diet is hard to sustain.Photo: iStock

You can't talk about weight-loss fads in 2021 without talking about the ketogenic diet, more commonly known as keto. The high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is designed to put the body into a metabolic state (ketosis) that makes it super-effective at burning stored fat.

"Fad diets often fade away and come back under a different name, and keto is just an extreme version of the Atkins diet," says Dr Jessica Danaher, a lecturer in nutrition at RMIT University, Melbourne.

"A lot of the time people can lose weight on a restrictive diet such as keto, but that's probably not the way you want to eat the rest of your life. The best diet is one that's sustainable."

Carbohydrates shouldn't be seen as the bad guys either. "People often get confused about the quality of carbohydrates in different foods," says Collins.

"Absolutely you should reduce your junk food carbs, but you shouldn't reduce carbohydrates found in whole grains, which are a good source of fibre. Plus, there's lots of research suggesting whole grains are particularly useful in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease."

A 2018 clinical trial in California also found an equal number of adults lost weight on a high-fat and low-carb diet as on a high-carb, low-fat eating plan. Again, it's personal.

Clocking up multiple kilometres each day on a fitness app? Fantastic stuff, keep it up. However, while receiving that 10,000 steps alert is "a nice placebo", Spector says all that walking won't lead to weight loss.

"There is this idea that if you exercise enough you don't have to worry about what you're eating, but unless you're an Olympic swimmer, that's not quite true. This isn't something people in the gym and fitness business like to hear."

It's not something sugary beverage companies such as Coca-Cola like to hear either, which is why they spend millions funding research to shift obesity blame away from diet and towards inadequate physical activity.

Virtually all non-biased research shows that exercise in normal amounts won't lead to weight loss, Spector writes in Spoon-Fed.

About 80 per cent of our energy expenditure is due to cells burning fuel just to keep us alive and digesting food. Another 10 per cent of expenditure is used on small movements such as standing and sitting, which, for most people, leaves only the remaining 10 per cent to be manipulated.

Further, exercise stimulates appetite and can lead to overeating. Kilojoules burned during a high-intensity workout are easily replaced with a protein shake and an extra slice of pizza.

But and this is a big "but" Spector also says exercise should arguably be our "number-one prescribed drug". It reduces the risk of diabetes and may well reduce heart disease and high blood pressure, too. Other studies have shown it can help depression and the severity of dementia symptoms. In other words, don't stop moving.

The number of fries varies between each individual serving.Photo: iStock

Speaking of kilojoules, at the core of every weight-loss diet is the rubric that burning more energy than you consume leads to success. Simple in theory if you assume all kilojoules are created equal and are easy to count. According to Spector, however, this is far from the truth.

"It's impossible to count kilojoules accurately," he says. "For one, the energy labels on food products and menus are almost always incorrect."

Consider the variables in a McDonald's value meal for example, from the number of individual fries in each serving, to a soft drink's shifting percentages of post-mix syrup, fizzy water and ice.

Additionally, says Spector, some people will react differently to a kilojoule depending on whether they consume it as a fat or carbohydrate.

Participants in the PREDICT (Personalised Responses to Dietary Composition Trial) study started by Spector in 2019 were fed special muffins while being monitored for sugar peaks and one in four people experienced a peak and subsequent dip after eating the baked item. They also reported increased hunger and consumed 10 per cent more kilojoules over the next 24 hours than participants who didn't have the dip.

"That was really interesting because it means the way your body responds to kilojoules from different sources will determine how much food you eat," he says.

"We now know from other experiments that if you give people junk foods and whole foods in identical kilojoule amounts, the junk food will always generate more hunger later. The kilojoule is camouflaging lack of quality."

When you also consider everyone burns fuel in different ways at varying levels of efficiency dependent on factors including age, genetics, and the unique gut microbiome any attempt to accurately count kilojoules consumed and burned is more or less a fool's errand. Dang.

The concept of detoxing was thoroughly debunked by health professionals long before Gwyneth Paltrow was hawking cleansing "superpowders". Nevertheless, the global detox product market is expected to reach $US70 billion ($90 billion) by 2025, so someone's buying all those yerba teas and thistle pills.

Detox-spruiking products are largely snake oil, as our bodies already have detoxification well under control, says Collins.

"The liver is your major detoxification organ the demolition yard to break down unwanted chemicals. And your kidneys are the body's filter, like the boom gates you see in waterways."

Any "cleansing" or detox diet that involves restricting food should not be attempted without consulting an accredited practising dietitian, who will most likely tell you it's bunkum and to eat more vegetables instead.

With junk food companies well on board the plant-based train, marketing teams are trying their hardest to convince consumers that vegan eating is the healthiest thing since MeadowLea on multigrain.

"Veganism can be healthy, provided you're getting the majority of your nutrition from vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and healthy meat alternatives," says Danaher. "You don't want to rely on junk food that's vegan, or ultra-processed plant-based snacks. A vegan burger is still a burger.

"Anyone looking to exclude certain food groups from their diet should also consult an accredited practising dietician and make sure they're not setting themselves up for a nutrient deficiency."

Purple and red coloured fruits and vegetables arehigh in polyphenol. Photo: iStock

By now, it should be clear there is no one-size-fits-all diet. The "average person" is rare.

"There are loads of different ways to lose weight, it's keeping the kilograms off that's the hard part," says Danaher. "I wouldn't get caught up with someone screaming from the rooftops about keto, for example, just because it worked for them. There's every chance it won't work for the next person."

For anyone who has tried every diet in the playbook with limited results, Danaher recommends creating an individualised nutrition plan in consultation with a dietitian. Spector, meanwhile, suggests eating food to cultivate a "garden in your gut".

"Instead of worrying about kilojoules, focus on improving your gut microbes to help metabolism and get your weight under control. It's a really different mindset to saying, 'I have to lose 10 kilos in six weeks'. Every time you put something in your mouth, think about whether it's good or bad for your microbiome."

Spector's rules for healthy eating are as follows: avoid highly or ultra-processed foods, which are often manipulated by the manufacturer to make us eat more than we need to. Also experiment with meal skipping, which is increasingly recognised as having health benefits.

Try to eat between 20 and 30 plant species a week to create healthier and more diverse gut microbes. Polyphenol-rich plants are great to include in the mix, as evidence suggests they can help metabolism and weight loss, too. Bright or dark colours often indicate high levels of polyphenols in a food, so consider eating more berries, red grapes, beans, red cabbage and chillies.

Finally, a growing body of research indicates the gut loves to be nourished once a day by a fermented food such as kefir, kombucha, kimchi or 'kraut.

"Those rules aren't very hard to follow and can be adapted to suit your own tastes and circumstances," says Spector. "You're not going to lose weight suddenly, but you will notice a difference. And over the course of a year, you'll feel a whole lot better."

Kombucha is better for your microbiome than a Diet Coke.Photo: Jonathan Carroll

*A note on sugar

Advice around sugar is much the same as it always has been (limit intake, go for natural sources), but a recent systemic review found sugar-free soft drinks show no clear benefit for weight loss compared to regular soft drinks. Possibly because artificial sweeteners can hide nasty chemicals, and we're only feeding our long-term sugar addiction. The brain may also feel conned into thinking it was receiving real sugar and when it doesn't arrive will tell the body to regain this energy by storing fat. Your dentist will thank you for drinking less Diet Coke, too.

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Diet myths busted: Why breakfast isn't the most important meal (and other uncomfortable truths) - Good Food

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

In many ways, diet soda is a healthier alternative to its sugar-filled counterpart. It's lower in added sugar and calories, both of which contribute to obesity and chronic health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, it's still not the perfect solution. In fact, you may be better off just choosing a low-sugar soda alternative over one that's completely sugar-free.

Here's why: one of the most popular diet sodas out there, Diet Coke, uses an alternative sweetener called aspartame. The artificial sweetener has been under fire since its debut in the 1980s for its potential cancer-causing effects. While the American Cancer Society states that research around those effects is inconclusive, there may be another reason to be skeptical of the alternative sugar. (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work).

According to a 2008 study published inThe Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, people who drank aspartame-sweetened Diet Coke were more likely to experience moderate to severe fatty infiltration in their livers than those who drank non-diet sodas, including Sprite and Fanta. Why is this an issue? This infiltration can lead to a condition called, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) where fat builds up in the liver and causes cirrhosis, otherwise known as late-stage liver scarring.Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure if not addressed early on.

There are other known health issues associated with the artificial sweetener typically found in diet soda. A 2017 Nutrition Reviews special article that reviewed nearly two decades worth of data on aspartame concluded that consuming aspartame in quantities even within recommended safe levels may "disrupt the oxidant/antioxidant balance, induce oxidative stress, and damage cell membrane integrity, potentially affecting a variety of cells and tissues and causing the deregulation of cellular function, ultimately leading to systemic inflammation."

Another reason not to reach for diet soda daily? One study suggests drinking just one of the artificially sweetened beverages daily was linked to an 8% higher risk of type 2 diabetes; however, the meta-analysis looked at observational studies, which can only show correlation, not causation. And another study indicated that consumption of artificially sweetened drinks was associated with a 21% percent higher risk of developing the condition in older women (again, the study showed a correlation, not causation).

At the end of the day, there is research that supports both sides of the argument on whether or diet soda is harmless or harmful for your body. Our advice? Cut down on your intake to play it safe. If you can't shake the craving, consider limiting yourself to three servings of diet soda a week and then try, eventually try to drop it down to just one serving a week.

For more, be sure to read29 Most Popular Diet SodasRanked!

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One Major Effect of Drinking Diet Soda Every Day, Says Science | Eat This Not That - Eat This, Not That

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

When it comes to public perception, eggshave received the full scope of treatment. In the later half of the 1900s, they had a pretty bad rep, which might mean you grew upordering egg whites only or avoiding them altogether. Thankfully, a lot of the science behind eggs nutritional value has been demystified since and coupled with a new-found love for brunch, eggs are back on the menu.

However, theres still a load of scaremongering about eggs out there, from claims that they increase cholesterol to resulting in heart disease. The recent reporting of a new study published in PLOS (Public Library of Science) left people thinking that eating just half an egg a day could lead to early death - but experts have since debunked these findings.

The conclusions of this study are overblown, saysDr Ada Garcia, senior lecturer in public health nutrition at the University of Glasgow. Blaming eggs alone for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease is a simplistic and reductionist approach to the concept of diet and disease prevention.

Animals produce their own cholesterol, so any time we eat an animal product we will be consuming some cholestrol, says Ariana Rodriguez, registered dietician and co-founder of Embody Health London. But the beautiful thing about the human body is that we have a liver which can recalibrate and regulate our body as we digest any type of food.

Despite what you might have heard, not all of the this cholesterol simply clogs up our bodies. There is a purpose to cholesterol, says Ariana, including synthesising hormones and supporting your metabolism, among other things.

Of course, variety is important. We cant just have eggs nor can we just have spinach. Its always going to be about moderation, reminds Ariana.

Many people opt for a post-workout protein shake or think that lean meats, such as chicken breast or steak, are the best way to hit your protein goals. The reality is that eggs are one of the highest quality proteinsthat we can have - in fact, theyre seen as the gold standard.

The scoring system that food researchers use is called a digestible indispensable amino acid score and eggs are used as the baseline which we compare all other protein sources to, explains Ariana. Thats because they contain all 21 amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in well-balanced measure. As protein supports muscle recovery, theres no better way to rebuild and repair than a post-workout scramble or poached egg on toast no complaints here.

As well as the macronutrients such as proteins and fats, its also important to look at micronutrient content of foods. The good news: eggs contain a lot of micronutrients, including the below.

You probably know that a six egg omelette for every meal isnt the answer. So how many should you really be eating, and are they safe to eat every day?

According to the NHS, there is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat. Some studies show that having two or three eggs a day can increase the good type of cholesterol which is what we associate with improved heart health and lower risk of heart disease and stroke. And yes, thats the whole egg, not just the white. The egg yolk is minimised and thought to just be about fat - when it actually offers so much more than that, says Ariana.

In fact, the yolk contains half of the protein and most of the other vitamins and minerals.The vitamin A is what gives it that yellow, orangey or reddish colour, so the darker the yolk the more vitamin A youre getting, Ariana adds.

Take it from a registered dietician - if youre eating a balanced diet, youve probably got nothing to worry about.

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Unsplash

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Eggs: are they good for you and is it safe to eat them every day? - Stylist Magazine

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on February 20, 2021.

If COVID-19 was a shark that ate people, imagine our reactions if we handled it the same.

Some imagination is required for the analogy to work, because sharks eating people isnt actually a problem, but hear me out. Imagine we all lived on a beach where we spent most of our lives in the water, and a shark shows up.

In this world weve grown accustomed to sharks picking off a few of our old and weak each year, but the number lost is small enough, most dont even notice.

But this time, its an enormous Great White and the word around the world is its aggressive and relentless. In fact, we arent the first beach its been to and so we know in advance it will devour one per cent of unprotected swimmers.

We know the only way to guarantee safety is to get everyone out of the water, but in this not-all-that hypothetical world, weve created a system where we believe if we dont go in the water, we cant survive on the beach.

And so, faced with this dilemma, decisions by beach management have a profound effect. If we dont get out of the water, the shark might eat us, but if we get everyone out of the water, we jeopardize lives by crashing our underwater system a currenteconomy if you will.

At our beach, we collectively choose our management, and we take pride in our freedom to swim where we want. Ordering us out of the water is not something leaders can take lightly.

So when this particular shark showed up, beaches in our part of the world took what managers sold as a balanced approach. And since management has wrongly convinced us it cant possibly provide what the ocean can, balance was something we were buying.

Were going to have to learn to swim with the shark, they said.

We told people to stay out of the water if they can, but should a swim be essential, wear a wetsuit and stay six feet apart. Then we deemed a group of us essential swimmers and left them with the shark.

Some of us sat on the beach and spread rumours it was just a reef shark, or even the shark is a hoax, but for the most part we cheered on heroic frontline swimmers and lifeguards who risked their lives for the greater good.

Then the first wave of attacks went by, and we lost fewer people than we were told could happen. Well that shark wasnt so bad, we thought, and management told us it was safe to go back in the water.

Even though we knew the shark was still here, we listened to our leaders and swam more freely. Of course, as soon as it had more food, it began to eat more often. We had every piece of evidence necessary to know this would happen, but we tried to swim with the shark anyway.

And what happened? After it was already too late to save certain lives, we did the same thing we did before get some out of the water, leave some in and wait for its appetite to slow.

Here we are again. Attacks are on the decline, and our lifeguard shacks have plenty of space. The minister of lifeguards says what a great job we did not swimming with the shark, and that its time we reward ourselves by swimming with the shark.

As a bonus, sharks from the UK and South Africa are now in the water, and rumour has it, they bite more often.

The point of this oddball analogy is, like this hungry hypothetical shark, the very real COVID-19 needs to eat, and we are its food. How much it eats depends on how much access we give to its source of nutrition us. As long as its here, it will keep eating. The more food we offer by going for a swim, the more it will consume.

And since weve spent a year taking this balanced approach, the virus lingers, eating a little at a time until we let our guard down and give it the buffet. Is the vaccine our shark repellent? Maybe, but until we have shots in every arm, the virus will feast on everyone else.

Weve seen other countries starve their shark, so we know a zero attacks approach can work. Experts continue to remind us that if we stop feeding this thing, it dies in seven weeks.

But if we get back in the water while the shark is still here, there is only one way this turns out. Well end up on the beach anyway, and well have left a whole lot more blood in the water.

Scott Schmidt is the layout editor for the Medicine Hat News. Contact him at sschmidt@medicinehatnews.com

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Laying It Out: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - Medicine Hat News

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

When a delivery driver began sliding down on an icy Texas driveway, she closed her eyes, praying she wouldn't hit the client's home.She didn't hit the house but Chelsea Timmons' car crushed a flowerbed outside an Austin, Texas, home as a snowstorm paralyzed the state last Sunday. She didn't know it yet, but she would be grateful to be in this particular driveway.Homeowners Doug Condon and Nina Richardson checked on Timmons to try and help her get her Toyota Rav4 up the driveway, but it was stuck. They invited her to wait for a tow truck inside their home."I'm just extremely fortunate that this is where my car crashed," Timmons told CNN. "It was in their flower bed. It wasn't in a ditch. It wasn't on the side of the road. ... I was stuck someplace safe and warm."The bad weather persisted a lot longer than any of them thought. Five days later, Timmons was still living with the couple.Texas weathered a fierce storm that left cities without power, water and warmth for millions of people who aren't used to this kind of cold.Amid the tales of people struggling to survive, a few stories of hope showed that Texas hospitality is the real deal.Timmons, who lives in three hours away in Houston, said she makes weekly trips to Austin because the delivery market is better there. The 32-year-old picked up one last delivery on Sunday as the snow picked up, thinking she would have time to make it home.Waiting on a tow truck that never cameShe struggled to drive into the hilly neighborhood at midday to deliver the groceries, which were already a day late and included steaks for the couple's planned Valentine's Day dinner."I was going down very slowly, remembering to tap my brake," Timmons said from her hosts' home in Austin. "I tapped more aggressively and it just still kept sliding. My heart just dropped as I just slid right towards their house and I just closed my eyes and just prayed that I did not hit these people's home, that I did not damage my car. I just knew definitely knew if I hit their home, that was my tip."She texted the couple to let them know she was there with their groceries and that she was stuck.Condon came outside and they tried to get her car up the steep driveway. Timmons said she tried to wait in her car and call AAA for a tow, but Condon invited her inside.Timmons was used to sanitizing before and after deliveries, wearing a mask and keeping her distance after no-contact deliveries, she said."They invited me inside and of course, at that point, I was just feeling very awkward coming into a stranger's home. But they were super kind," she said. "When they invited me in, I sat with my mask in their kitchen for about two hours."She kept calling for tow truck updates and went back out to her car to wait. A few more hours later, the car service said they wouldn't be able to make it to the area safely, due to the storm, she said."As soon as we found out that AAA couldn't come and the conditions were getting worse, it seemed silly to even imagine that she would go to a hotel," Richardson said. "It didn't even occur to us."Richardson and Condon had just received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot a week before as part of phase 1B. The couple said they were not going to let Timmons sit out there in the cold. Daytime turned to night and soon dinner was upon them. It was Valentine's Day and the couple made steak with bleu cheese, broccoli and a salad. It was a lot better of a meal than Timmons imagined she'd be getting that night, she said."That was definitely not how I expected my Valentine's Day to go," Timmons said with a laugh. "We had a great dinner and I sat, I was warm, I was fed and it was just amazing and I thought it was just going to be for one night, but here I am, day five."Back at home, Timmons learned that her apartment in Houston lost power. If she would have made it home, it would have been to see the power go out.Each day, they would monitor the weather and Timmons and Condon tried to make progress on her car. They shoveled small parts of the driveway and tried to inch it back up, bit by bit."We were using a broom and a spade to be able to clear the driveway as best we could," Condon said. "We thought we had it cleared enough for her to be able to get up. She got up about halfway and got stuck."She tried to leave but hosts insisted she stayEvery time Timmons suggested trying to leave and get a hotel room somewhere, the couple worried what situation she would be in."'Our guest bedroom is better than the Hampton Inn,'" Timmons said the couple told her. "'If you leave, what are you going to eat? Are you sure you can make it there all the way?'"As the days went on, the group became chummy and it was just like Timmons was a guest staying in the couple's spare bedroom."We've had kind of an exciting week with crazy weather and a surprise guest, which turned out to be quite a quite an enjoyable experience," Condon said.The couple's dogs, Crosby and Haddie, quickly began sitting on Timmons' bed and snuggling up to her."She just became kind of part of part of the family pretty quickly," Richardson said.Timmons helped the couple prepare meals. Someone would boil the pasta and someone else would work on the other parts of the meal, Richardson said.Timmons made a coconut cake to thank the couple. "We were we were definitely the beneficiaries of her baking," Condon said.For Condon and Richardson, they hope that others would have done the same for a stranger needing help."We would hope that if our daughters were in a situation similar to Chelsea, that there would be someone that would treat to treat them like we treated Chelsea," he said. "I don't think we ever thought twice about it."The couple and Timmons said they plan on staying in touch. On Friday, the weather let up and Timmons safely made it home to Houston on a sunny day with clear roads."I am so grateful that they were not only able but willing to let a complete stranger into their home in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a storm that with no hesitation," Timmons said. "They just opened their doors, opened their home and said come in and relax.""I'm just so grateful for them and so glad that this is where I ended up out of all the driveways in the world," she said.

When a delivery driver began sliding down on an icy Texas driveway, she closed her eyes, praying she wouldn't hit the client's home.

She didn't hit the house but Chelsea Timmons' car crushed a flowerbed outside an Austin, Texas, home as a snowstorm paralyzed the state last Sunday. She didn't know it yet, but she would be grateful to be in this particular driveway.

Homeowners Doug Condon and Nina Richardson checked on Timmons to try and help her get her Toyota Rav4 up the driveway, but it was stuck. They invited her to wait for a tow truck inside their home.

"I'm just extremely fortunate that this is where my car crashed," Timmons told CNN. "It was in their flower bed. It wasn't in a ditch. It wasn't on the side of the road. ... I was stuck someplace safe and warm."

The bad weather persisted a lot longer than any of them thought. Five days later, Timmons was still living with the couple.

Texas weathered a fierce storm that left cities without power, water and warmth for millions of people who aren't used to this kind of cold.

Amid the tales of people struggling to survive, a few stories of hope showed that Texas hospitality is the real deal.

Timmons, who lives in three hours away in Houston, said she makes weekly trips to Austin because the delivery market is better there. The 32-year-old picked up one last delivery on Sunday as the snow picked up, thinking she would have time to make it home.

She struggled to drive into the hilly neighborhood at midday to deliver the groceries, which were already a day late and included steaks for the couple's planned Valentine's Day dinner.

"I was going down very slowly, remembering to tap my brake," Timmons said from her hosts' home in Austin. "I tapped more aggressively and it just still kept sliding. My heart just dropped as I just slid right towards their house and I just closed my eyes and just prayed that I did not hit these people's home, that I did not damage my car. I just knew definitely knew if I hit their home, that was my tip."

She texted the couple to let them know she was there with their groceries and that she was stuck.

Condon came outside and they tried to get her car up the steep driveway. Timmons said she tried to wait in her car and call AAA for a tow, but Condon invited her inside.

Timmons was used to sanitizing before and after deliveries, wearing a mask and keeping her distance after no-contact deliveries, she said.

"They invited me inside and of course, at that point, I was just feeling very awkward coming into a stranger's home. But they were super kind," she said. "When they invited me in, I sat with my mask in their kitchen for about two hours."

She kept calling for tow truck updates and went back out to her car to wait. A few more hours later, the car service said they wouldn't be able to make it to the area safely, due to the storm, she said.

"As soon as we found out that AAA couldn't come and the conditions were getting worse, it seemed silly to even imagine that she would go to a hotel," Richardson said. "It didn't even occur to us."

Richardson and Condon had just received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot a week before as part of phase 1B. The couple said they were not going to let Timmons sit out there in the cold.

Daytime turned to night and soon dinner was upon them. It was Valentine's Day and the couple made steak with bleu cheese, broccoli and a salad. It was a lot better of a meal than Timmons imagined she'd be getting that night, she said.

"That was definitely not how I expected my Valentine's Day to go," Timmons said with a laugh. "We had a great dinner and I sat, I was warm, I was fed and it was just amazing and I thought it was just going to be for one night, but here I am, day five."

Back at home, Timmons learned that her apartment in Houston lost power. If she would have made it home, it would have been to see the power go out.

Each day, they would monitor the weather and Timmons and Condon tried to make progress on her car. They shoveled small parts of the driveway and tried to inch it back up, bit by bit.

"We were using a broom and a spade to be able to clear the driveway as best we could," Condon said. "We thought we had it cleared enough for her to be able to get up. She got up about halfway and got stuck."

Every time Timmons suggested trying to leave and get a hotel room somewhere, the couple worried what situation she would be in.

"'Our guest bedroom is better than the Hampton Inn,'" Timmons said the couple told her. "'If you leave, what are you going to eat? Are you sure you can make it there all the way?'"

As the days went on, the group became chummy and it was just like Timmons was a guest staying in the couple's spare bedroom.

"We've had kind of an exciting week with crazy weather and a surprise guest, which turned out to be quite a quite an enjoyable experience," Condon said.

The couple's dogs, Crosby and Haddie, quickly began sitting on Timmons' bed and snuggling up to her.

"She just became kind of part of part of the family pretty quickly," Richardson said.

Timmons helped the couple prepare meals. Someone would boil the pasta and someone else would work on the other parts of the meal, Richardson said.

Timmons made a coconut cake to thank the couple. "We were we were definitely the beneficiaries of her baking," Condon said.

For Condon and Richardson, they hope that others would have done the same for a stranger needing help.

"We would hope that if our daughters were in a situation similar to Chelsea, that there would be someone that would treat to treat them like we treated Chelsea," he said. "I don't think we ever thought twice about it."

The couple and Timmons said they plan on staying in touch. On Friday, the weather let up and Timmons safely made it home to Houston on a sunny day with clear roads.

"I am so grateful that they were not only able but willing to let a complete stranger into their home in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a storm that with no hesitation," Timmons said. "They just opened their doors, opened their home and said come in and relax."

"I'm just so grateful for them and so glad that this is where I ended up out of all the driveways in the world," she said.

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Strangers took in a delivery driver for 5 days after she was stranded in the Texas storm - WYFF Greenville

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

Luz Moreno-Lozano|Austin American-Statesman

People in Austin, Texas, struggle to survive in winter storm, outages

After a winter storm slammed Texas, Austin residents with medical conditions struggled to survive amid widespread power outages and no water.

Bront Wittpenn and Ana Ramirez, Austin American-Statesman

As temperatures rose and the ice began to thaw over the weekend, many Central Texasschool districts took the time to assess campus damage, and access to electricity and water. District officials this week announced campus closures and when in-person and virtual instruction will resume:

Austin schools:Both remote and in-person learning is canceled Monday and Tuesday. Officials said they plan to move to total remote learning Wednesday through Friday. Friday will be an asynchronous day, meaning students can complete their work at their own pace that day. In-person instruction is expected to resume March 1. Free curbside meals will be provided to students and their caregivers on Monday and Thursday.

Pflugerville schools: All classes were canceled Monday for in-person and virtual learners. On Tuesday, all students will attend asynchronous virtual learning. Classes will resume in-person and virtual on Wednesday.

Round Rock schools:All classes and offices are closed Monday and Tuesday. Curbside meal service will take place Monday from noon to 1:30 p.m. Officials are soon expected toannouncewhen virtual and in-person learning will resume.

Hays schools:School was canceled Monday and Tuesday.School will resume Wednesday for in-person and virtual students, includingDahlstrom Middle School, which was closed just before the storm hit after a student was found to have contracted the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, the disease linked to the coronavirus. The campus was slated to return Thursday, but based on contract tracing results and CDC guidelines officials said it was safe for students and staff to return a day early.

Leander schools:All schools will remain closed through Tuesday. Seven-day meal kits will be provided to students in need starting Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at each of the middle school campuses. It is free and contactless. Officials plan to make another announcement on plans for Wednesday on Monday night.

Lake Travis: school are closed Monday, but hope to return to in-person learning on Tuesday. Officials said all buildings and campuses had electricity, but West Cypress Elementary School was without water. The districts Food and Nutrition Services Department will provide pre-packaged breakfast and lunch meals to go between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm onMonday at Bee Cave Middle School, Hudson Bend Middle School, and Lake Travis Middle School.

Eanes schools: All instruction is canceled Monday. School will resume for both in-person and virtual learners on Tuesday. The district said they will continue to work with families and staff who are still unable to participate due to storm impacts.

Manor schools:all schools will be remote through Wednesday. Instruction for Monday and Tuesday will be asynchronous, meaning students can complete school work as utilities allow. Wednesdays instruction will synchronous but campuses will remain closed. In-person instruction will resume Thursday. Breakfast and lunch will be available for pick up to all student at Decker Middle School, Lagos Elementary, and Presidential Meadows Elementary from 10 am to 12 pm.

Dripping Spring schools:In-person and virtual learning is canceled Monday. Tuesday has been designated an asynchronous learning day or all students. The district plans to return to regular operations and reopen campuses on Wednesday.

Bastrop schools: School campuses remained closed on Monday. Officials said they planned to reopen and resume normal operations on Tuesday.

Hutto schools: All school campuses and classes were closed Monday after several campuses experienced flooding from broken pipes, low water pressure, power loss and a loss of food supply. Officials said the plan is to return to normal operations on Tuesday. Students who are virtually learning and are having connection issues will not be penalized and will be offered grace in those situations, officials said.

Georgetown schools: Both in-person and virtual learners returned for normal operations on Monday. Officials said the district was fortunate to have not lost power or water in an district buildings.

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See which Central Texas school districts are operating this week, where to get free meals - Austin American-Statesman

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

On Sunday, after a week of bitter cold and extreme weather, Mother Nature decided to remind us all why we live in Dallas. The sun came out, temperatures warmed to 70 degrees, and people across the city treated their cabin fever with a hefty dose of sunshine. In my case, that meant dining out on a patio for the first time in nearly a year.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dallas dining rooms have been especially fraught places over these last 11 months. While trying to parse out the ethics of potentially putting other people at risk and concerns about my own health, it was immediately clear to me last March that eating at a restaurant and feeling comfortable while doing it was not an option during the pandemic. But theres light at the end of the tunnel. Dining indoors could soon be a possibility for even the most cautious once again, but not without a dramatic reduction in the states infection rate and easily accessible vaccines.

With the ice melted and a sense of stir-craziness that could only be cured with a strong drink, I headed to Thunderbird Station in Deep Ellum on Sunday. Knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a very real thing hundreds of Dallasites were diagnosed with the virus even during Winter Storm Uri a patio was the only option for me. Thunderbird Stations was especially appealing, with its large and very distanced tables, frozen cocktails, and a legitimately transcendental fried bologna sandwich that might be worth committing several felonies over.

Whatever sense of apprehension I had about eating in public for the first time in nearly a year melted away as soon as I sat down at one of the bench-style tables. Knowing that I had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine coursing through my veins and that Dallas Countys new cases of the virus have finally been on the decline in recent weeks, I finally felt comfortable sitting outside to eat.

With blue skies and an artfully arranged selection of oil barrels as a backdrop, I ordered fried pork skins that arrived at the table still crackling from the hot grease, and a frozen cocktail called the the Peel Out, a mix of vanilla, vodka, and orange juice that tasted just like the frozen orange sherbet Push Pops I used to scarf by the box as a kid.

In my enthusiasm, after more than a year without eating in a restaurant, I ordered too much food for myself and a friend. Alongside those crispy, sizzling pork rinds came chips and a trio of dips dill pickle, French onion, and pinto bean then a towering fried bologna sandwich smothered in cheese, grilled onions, and special sauce. And, of course, there were more cocktails.

As I sat at the table at least 10 feet away from the handful of other people sitting outside on Thunderbirds large patio it was almost impossible to keep the tears from flowing. After nearly a year outside of restaurants, I was reminded of exactly what wed all lost during the relentless hellscape that was 2020. Amid all the death and fear and political chaos, I had forgotten exactly how important sharing a meal with friends and family is.

On March 16 of last year, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson ordered dining rooms across the city to close their doors as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the city. It was a time wracked with uncertainty and fear, both in terms of our own personal health and what might come next in this new world where masks were required to leave our homes, socializing with friends could prove deadly, and eating dinner at a restaurant could pose a bonafide public health risk.

When that shutdown happened, none of us could have predicted what would come next. Even though Gov. Greg Abbott allowed dining rooms to open at 25 percent capacity on May 1, the dining world was now fundamentally different. For folks who had genuine concerns about the pandemic, there was a lot of fear associated with the idea of entering into a restaurant. Would I get sick? Would I get my family sick? Would I transmit the virus to a cook or server, who probably doesnt have health insurance or paid time off?

That fear has not subsided entirely. Every time my server came to the table, I tried to remember to pull my mask over my nose and mouth, even if the latter was stuffed with fried bologna and bean dip. I sanitized my hands after touching pretty much any surface. Using a public bathroom, even one as clean as Thunderbirds, was out of the question entirely. But for the first time in what felt like an eternity, something felt normal.

Even though I had to scan a QR code and view it on my phone, it was really nice to leisurely browse through the menu, scanning all the cocktail options and debating with my best friend over how many appetizers is appropriate for two people to order. It felt really good to sip a drink that was finally, blessedly, mixed by an actual bartender while George Jones blared from the stereo and my skin soaked up Vitamin D from the sun.

Nothing in this last year has been normal. From the time that the pandemic began in earnest to this week, when millions of people across the state lost access to power and clean water, there has been an extreme amount of suffering. Even for people who have still not contracted the virus or lost loved ones, there is no way to reclaim the time we have lost.

But what we can do, finally, is be a little bit hopeful. Over the past week, even the most cynical person must have had a little bit of their faith in humanity restored as people banded together in truly awful conditions to feed and offer warm shelter to their neighbors. After a week of weather-related shutdowns, the areas COVID-19 vaccination programs are back in action, dispensing thousands of doses of a shot that provides more than 94 percent protection against this virus each week. In Dallas County, hospital occupancy has declined such that restaurants can reopen their doors for indoor dining at 75 percent.

We are not there yet. Researchers are still not sure exactly how effective the vaccine is at preventing people from spreading the virus. As someone who has only received one of the two required doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, dining indoors is not something I am ready to contemplate just yet. Plenty of establishments are not following the rules as carefully as they should be. In an extreme display of irony, the patio at one Deep Ellum bar that shall remain unnamed boasted a huge crowd of people on Sunday afternoon, all gathered together above a banner that encouraged drinkers to come social distance with a view.

For actual normalcy to return, Texans are going to have to do a little bit better in these coming months than we have done before. Weve got to wear our masks and stay out of crowded bars and work tirelessly to get as much of the population vaccinated as possible. Perhaps most importantly, we have to prioritize providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine for people that work in the hospitality industry in order for everyone to comfortably, safely participate in indoor dining again.

Even though this country has bungled its response to the pandemic from the jump, federal leadership now finally recognizes that restaurant workers are essential. If we dont get servers and cooks and bussers vaccinated in a timely manner, these experiences that we have missed so sorely will take even longer to come back. And while dining outdoors is arguably the safest way to eat a meal outside of our homes, it is not without its risks. We have an obligation to make sure that our return to restaurants is as cautious and considerate as possible wearing masks, staying distant, and tipping heavily.

It remains unclear when we will be able to return to pre-pandemic normal, or if that is even possible. Despite a good experience on the patio at Thunderbird Station, I dont think Im quite ready for outdoor dining to be part of my regular eating rotation just yet. But I have seen light at the end of the tunnel, and after a year that was to say the very least hellish, there is comfort in knowing that the time-honored tradition of drinking on a patio is something that will soon be part of normal life again.

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My Year Without Dining Out Ended on a Post-Snowstorm Patio - Eater Dallas

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

Technology has blessed us with various tools, gadgets and appliances that have made our daily chores easier. One such amazing instance is of a microwave oven. This appliance holds a constant position in almost every modern kitchen. In fact, it is one important kitchen appliance that can help curtail the time we spend in kitchen. Microwave oven not only helps you roast, grill, boil and cook different foods, but also can be used to reheat them before eating. Hence, it is a must to have some microwave oven-safe plates at home to directly reheat and eat the food in.

Signoraware Round Plate Set

Made of 100 percent food grade plastic, these microwave oven-safe plates by Signoraware comein a set of 3. You can get them in 4 colour variants and are ideal for daily use.

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These plates by Larah are made of extra strong toughened glass. This product comes in a set of 6 plates and is an ideal option for the ones looking for light weight plates for home.

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These microwave oven-safe ceramic plates are just ideal to up your dinner game. With beautiful floral motif printed on the plates, this product is a must-have in your collection.

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About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.

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These Microwave Oven-Safe Plates Are A Must-Have In Every Kitchen - NDTV Food

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Feb 23rd, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

February 16, 2021

Theres no substitute for spending quality, in-person time with friends. But when you arent part of the same COVID bubble and the safest way to socialize is outdoors, you may assume that get-togethers are off-limits during the chilly winter months.

That doesnt have to be the case. If you can adjust your attitude about the cold and plan ahead with friends, it can be quite enjoyable to see people during the pandemic, without computer screens between you.

We talked to Yildiz Zorba, M.D., an internal medicine specialist with Hackensack Meridian Medical Group about how to gather outside safely:

Youll stay warmer if you meet friends for some physical activity, but its also possible to treat the outdoors as an extension of your living room and sit together for a while. Try these ideas:

Dont expect outdoor winter gatherings to last for more than an hour or two. Try these ideas to make them more comfortable for everyone:

To ensure that everyone stays safe when you get together:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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Safe and Warm Ways to Gather Outside While Social Distancing - COVID-19, Featured, Health Topics - Hackensack Meridian Health

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Feb 16th, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely

White fungus (Tremella fuciformis) is a wild edible mushroom that grows on tree bark and branches, especially on broad-leaved trees (1).

It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Today, its still lauded for its medicinal benefits, including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

This article explores the benefits, uses, downsides, and ways to prepare and enjoy white fungus.

White fungus is an edible mushroom that belongs to the Tremellaceae family (1).

Its also known as snow fungus, silver ear, snow ear, white wood ear, and white jelly mushroom due to its characteristic features and because its generally found attached to fallen branches of broad-leaved trees.

It has a white to pale yellow color, a soft, jelly-like texture thats almost translucent, and a shape that resembles underwater coral.

White fungus commonly grows in Asia but is also found in tropical climates worldwide, including South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands (1).

It has been used as a medicinal herb in Chinese medicine for years to promote health and longevity (2).

White fungus is an edible medicinal mushroom with a gelatinous texture and a coral shape. It commonly grows in Asia and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years.

Theres currently no available information on white fungus nutritional value.

However, its nutrition profile is likely similar to that of other wild mushrooms or mushrooms in general.

Overall, mushrooms tend to be low in calories and provide small amounts of protein and fiber (3).

Adding fiber to your diet may help lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal diseases (4).

Mushrooms, in general, also provide small amounts of vitamin D, zinc, calcium, and folate, which play a key role in immunity, bone health, and brain development, respectively (3, 5, 6, 7).

White fungus is low in calories and high in fiber. Its also packed with multiple vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health.

White fungus is appraised for its multiple health-promoting effects, most of which are attributed to its content of carbohydrate chains known as polysaccharides (2).

However, research is limited and mostly in animals and test tubes. Thus, keep in mind that although findings seem promising, human research is needed.

Inflammation is a natural way your body responds to injury and supports the healing process. It typically goes away once a wound has healed (8).

However, if your body stays in a permanent state of inflammation, its called chronic inflammation. This is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer (8, 9, 10).

Chronic inflammation is also associated with increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers like nitric oxide, interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (11).

Test-tube studies suggest that white fungus extract has an anti-inflammatory activity capable of lowering said pro-inflammatory markers (9, 12, 13).

If your body is exposed to too many free radicals, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause negative health effects like cell and tissue damage (14).

Antioxidants are molecules that help neutralize free radicals, thus protecting your body from oxidative stress (14).

Test-tube studies show that white fungus polysaccharides may reduce oxidative stress by fighting free radicals. This may help protect you from certain chronic conditions (9, 12, 15, 16).

White fungus polysaccharides may protect brain cells against nerve cell damage and degenerative diseases (17).

One test-tube study found that white fungus extract may reduce brain toxicity caused by beta-amyloid a protein that in high amounts has been linked to the development of Alzheimers disease (18, 19).

Research also suggests that the extract may improve memory.

One 8-week study in 75 people found that consuming either 600 mg or 1,200 mg of a white fungus supplement per day improved memory questionnaire scores especially in short-term memory parameters compared with a control group (20).

Similarly, one 14-day study in rats showed that a daily oral treatment with white fungus extract significantly reversed drug-induced memory loss (21).

Bioactive compounds in white fungus may stimulate some of your immune systems defense cells.

One test-tube study concluded that a protein found in white fungus may stimulate macrophage activity a type of white blood cell that kills bacteria and eliminates damaged tissue (22).

Another study showed that its polysaccharides might help regulate the immune response and reduce infection-related mortality in a laboratory-induced infection in mice (23).

However, more human research is needed to better understand what this means for human health.

White mushroom is popular in the beauty industry due to its anti-aging and moisturizing properties.

Its polysaccharides may improve skin hydration by reducing water and collagen losses in the skin after sun or ultraviolet exposure (24).

Whats more, white fungus polysaccharides form a transparent film that improves water retention when coated on the skin. Thus, they may act as natural moisturizers and antiwrinkle agents (25).

White fungus polysaccharides may also help lower blood sugar levels by acting upon multiple antidiabetic pathways.

For example, one animal study determined that white fungus polysaccharides may considerably lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is how your cells respond to the hormone insulin (26).

Additionally, test-tube studies found that white fungus extract may positively influence diabetes-related enzymes and hormones.

The studies suggest that white fungus might inhibit aldose reductase activity. Increased levels of this enzyme may cause eye and nerve damage in people with diabetes (27, 28).

Other studies show that white fungus polysaccharides could normalize resistin and adiponectin levels two hormones that may lead to insulin resistance when altered (29, 30).

Compounds in white fungus may also protect against heart disease (31).

One test-tube study showed that the mushrooms antioxidant activity may prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation (12).

Evidence shows that LDL oxidation is involved in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis the buildup of plaque in your arteries which is considered a risk factor for high blood pressure and stroke (32).

Research suggests that white fungus may offer various health benefits, mostly due to its polysaccharide and antioxidant content.

There are no reports of unwanted side effects or toxicity from white fungus intake.

Even so, pregnant women should avoid consuming it as a precautionary measure.

Also, foraging for white fungus in the wild is not recommended. You risk mistaking edible mushrooms from poisonous ones, which poses a serious health concern.

White fungus has no reported side effects. Still, pregnant women should avoid consuming it.

Although you may find fresh white fungus online or at your local specialty store, its mostly sold in dried form.

Dried white fungus should be prepped before cooking by following these simple steps:

White fungus has a sweet taste and bland texture and is traditionally cooked in soups, both sweet and savory. Still, you may enjoy it as an ingredient in other everyday dishes.

Heres an easy way you could make white fungus porridge:

You may enjoy this porridge with fruits or nuts as part of a balanced breakfast or snack.

White fungus is easy to cook with and can be added to your everyday dishes. Just remember to soak, trim, and wash it first if you get it in its dry form.

White fungus is a wild medicinal mushroom thats been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Its rich in fiber and chains of carbohydrates called polysaccharides, which provide it with health benefits like improved brain, heart, skin, and immune health.

However, keep in mind that human research is limited and that most of the purported benefits are only backed by test-tube and animal studies.

White fungus has no reported side effects and is easy to add to your diet.

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White Fungus: Benefits, Uses, and What to Know - Healthline

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Feb 16th, 2021 | Filed under Diet Safely
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