Healing, Baking & Blogging

Healing, Baking & Blogging

Food for Life:

Jenna WunderYour grocery cart should look like a rainbow. That’s one of hundreds of nuggets of nutritional advice you’ll find in the UM Integrative Medicine (UMIM) Healing Foods Pyramid, coauthored by Jenna Wunder, MPH ’01. “We recommend eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day,” says Wunder, a researcher and dietitian with UMIM, who gives classes on the pyramid to UM medical and nursing students, among others. Colorful plant foods are loaded with phytochemicals, including antioxidants, that help to combat chronic disease, cancer, and the adverse effects of aging.

Other tips? Dark chocolate can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower the risk of blood clots. Teas are rich in antioxidants. Turmeric may reduce symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables take longer to digest than processed foods and therefore help you sustain energy.

Since its release in 2005, the pyramid website has received more than 1.5 million hits worldwide. Wunder claims it’s the most comprehensive food pyramid in existence, because you can click into each of its dozen, information-packed categories and learn about the benefits of everything from water to seasonings, healthy fats, legumes, and accompaniments like chocolate and tea.

A Baker’s Gift

Manasee ShahChocolate chip. Oatmeal raisin walnut. Nankatai Indian tea biscuits. If your mouth is now watering, check out Crust and Crumbs Bakery, the brainchild of Manasee Shah, MPH ’05, where you can order these and other homemade cookies by the dozen and ship them anywhere in the U.S., including APO and FPO addresses. Shah bakes the cookies herself, using all-natural, preservative-free, and (wherever reasonable) locally sourced ingredients. She launched the part-time business in January, after leaving a corporate job in California and moving back to Ann Arbor, where she’s a research technician with the UM Institute of Gerontology. “I love to bake,” she admits.

What’s good for Shah is also good for her community. Each month, visitors to the Crust and Crumbs Bakery site get to vote on where they’d like Shah to donate a portion of the bakery’s earnings. The choices for May 2009 are Food Gatherers, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, and UM SPH. Shah sees this as an integral part of being “corporately responsible. As long as I don’t go bankrupt, I’ll contribute what I can.”

 Blogging for Health

David Dyjack, Dr.P.H. ’96, is a dean who likes to blog. A few months after taking the helm at Loma Linda School of Public Health, the environmental, occupational, and preventive medicine specialist pledged in early 2008 to eat as a vegetarian for a month and to log the ups and downs of his experience. His Dean’s Challenge blog garnered 6,000 unique visits from roughly 75 countries. He found the experience valuable, and has since been “actively advancing research related to plant-based diets.”

David Dyjack“I learned a great deal about nutrition, agriculture, and animal-husbandry practices, and found the experience to be personally and professionally enlightening,” he says, looking back. “I learned that the Dean’s Office potentially possesses influence well beyond academic matters, and that a carefully crafted program of this nature can improve morale, create and strengthen relationships, and improve lifestyle practices.”

Dean Dyjack launched a new “Exercise Challenge” blog in early 2009, as a couple hundred Loma Linda faculty, staff, students, and friends signed on to see who could walk the most over a four-week period. He issued the pedometers and promised to blog on the success (or difficulties) in his own exercise quest.