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Congress tries to figure out the future of food assistance programs.

Plus: The four key factors that impact your blood sugar.

Monday. In today’s weird food news, South Korean researchers recently developed “meat rice,” a hybrid form of rice with some added protein (IT’S TRUE—READ ABOUT IT HERE). That’s right—scientists found a way to Frankenstein together beef muscles and grow them on rice. I don’t know about you, but I am probably going to pass on the beef rice. 

In other, not-so-strange news, the debate over food assistance programs continues in Congress. So, what’s the latest controversy? Let’s dive in.


Which Foods Are Healthy Enough For SNAP Benefits?

Nancy Pelosi Snap GIF by GIPHY News

Navigating the maze of healthy eating just got a bit more complex. With the continuing debate in Congress over food assistance programs starting to heat up, there are plenty of questions that still need to be answered, but as is usually the case in our nation’s capital, we can’t seem to agree on the best path forward. 

On one hand, we have an urgent plea for more funds to ensure the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) doesn't face a crunch. On the other, there's a contentious proposal on the table that could potentially reshape how SNAP benefits can be used, suggesting restrictions to ensure only "nutrient-dense" foods are purchased using those benefits. 

It’s worth noting that this discussion isn't just about allocating millions of dollars; it's fundamentally about how we approach nutrition assistance and its implications on the daily lives of tens of millions of Americans.

At the heart of the controversy is a proposed pilot program aimed at testing restrictions on what foods can be bought using SNAP benefits. The idea is to direct food choices towards healthier options in the face of the nation's escalating diet-related health issues. Theoretically, this makes sense. If people aren’t allowed to buy junk with their SNAP dollars, then maybe we can start to curb the obesity and chronic disease rates that are doing so much damage to our health. 

However, not everyone agrees. Opponents see it as a massive overstep, patronizing those who rely on SNAP by dictating their food choices. They also warn it could add unnecessary complexity to the program, making it harder for recipients and retailers to navigate an already complicated program full of red tape. 

The concept of "nutrient-dense" foods is at the heart of this debate. These are supposed to be foods that pack a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial components without too much added sugar, saturated fat, or sodium. Think vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats prepared with minimal unhealthful additions. 

Yet, defining what qualifies as nutrient-dense can be tricky. Many foods that people might consider part of a healthy diet could be excluded under strict guidelines, such as whole-fat dairy products or canned beans with added sodium. This nuance raises questions about how such a system would work in practice. 

We’ve seen how allowing others to categorize “nutrient-dense” foods can turn into a slippery slope. Last year, the Tufts Food Compass came out as a tool to rank nutrient-dense foods, and it ranked Lucky Charms as a healthier option than steak (That’s right—READ MORE here). Is this really the type of system we want to use to dictate the foods Americans can buy with their SNAP benefits? 

Some of these concerns came to light during a recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. Would setting these restrictions create more problems than it solves? Some experts think so. 

The key takeaway? As discussions continue and the potential pilot program's fate hangs in the balance, it's clear that any move towards restricting SNAP purchases will require careful consideration and a delicate balance. 

The goal is to enhance the nutritional value of the food assistance without infringing on personal choice or complicating the process for families just trying to feed themselves. As we wait to see how these debates unfold, one thing is certain: the conversation around SNAP and nutrition is far from over, but at least it is a conversation we are now having, and that’s a good thing. 

The challenge now lies in finding a way to encourage healthier eating habits without overstepping boundaries or complicating a program that serves as a lifeline for so many. 

Let’s hope the bright minds in D.C. can figure it out…


Tonic Shots

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  • The little blue pill that just keeps on giving. Sildenafil (Viagra) may help reduce Alzheimer's risk, study suggests. (READ MORE)


The Four Key Factors That Impact Your Blood Sugar

When looking to optimize our health, blood sugar levels are a crucial factor we all need to consider. Yet, despite how vital it is to our overall well-being, this essential information is often overlooked. 

Our bodies rely on glucose, a type of sugar, as our primary energy source. This glucose fuel comes from our diet and is also produced by our bodies. That said, we don’t necessarily want our glucose levels to spike or crash. Keeping our blood sugar within a certain range is essential for maintaining good health, stable energy levels throughout the day, and avoiding chronic health issues more long term. 

Ideally, blood sugar levels should be between 72 mg/dL and 110 mg/dL at all times. After meals, it also shouldn’t rise more than 30 mg/dL from the pre-meal level. Anything more than that would be the type of blood glucose spike you generally want to avoid. 

When blood sugar levels fluctuate significantly or remain chronically high, it can lead to various health issues, including insulin resistance, prediabetes, or Type 2 diabetes. These conditions are also linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, and glycation, which can contribute to chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. No bueno. This is why you want relatively stable blood sugar. 

Surprisingly, large fluctuations in blood sugar, not just high levels, can also lead to health complications like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. So, the more stable, the better. 

So, how can we manage our blood sugar levels effectively? There are four key factors to consider and prioritize…

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