Dr. Ayala's Blog

The latest science of healthy food and healthy living

Dr. Ayala

Dr. Ayala
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
V.P. Product Development
Herbal Water
I’m a physician (Pediatrics and Medical Genetics), artist, and mother of 3 school age active kids. I recently co-founded Herbal Water Inc. (www.herbalwater.com) with my husband, Albert. I am a serious home cook, and love to entertain. My expertise is vegetarian food (I have been a vegetarian all my life). I strongly believe that eating healthy and enjoying good food go hand in hand. My main interests are science, nutrition and art, and I am overall a very curious person that tries to learn something new every day. Dr. Ayala (Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.)


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Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 3, 2012 9:23AM

Study debunks exercise as a weight-loss solution


Physical activity is incredibly important for our health.  Exercise improves almost all aspects of physical and mental health, and people who are physically active are also usually thinner.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that exercise will make you shed extra fat.

The makers oRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 16, 2012 9:28AM

Study proves school nutrition standards work


School meals are far from perfectly nutritious, even after the long awaited and very welcome changes put in place earlier this year.

The good news is that under the new guidelines kids will hopefully double their fruit and veggie intake, will be served more whole grains, all milk willRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 25, 2012 7:45AM

Can we blame our habits for making us fat?


We’d like to think we’re free to make choices about our everyday life.

But studies show that almost half of the actions people take each day aren’t actually a result of decisions – they’re driven by habit alone.

Habits are so strong and so ingrained that theyRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 29, 2012 7:48AM

Kids aren’t getting enough sleep -- and they never have

Sleep’s a mysterious thing. We’re not sure what sleep is and why we need it, but we do know sleep is critical to our health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep has been associated with pretty much all that ails humans, and recently it has been also blamed for rising obesity rates.Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 14, 2011 7:26AM

Silly science, silly inventions and other 2011 follies

It’s that time of year again.  Time to put aside the pursuit of better health through science and look at exceptionally ridiculous science and innovation achievements in food and nutrition — proven to improve health through the remedy of good cheer.

A better way to get drunk

Is yourRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 2, 2011 9:14AM

Can a genetic test tell if you’re going to become fat?

Simple observation suggests overweight and obesity tend to run in families, and indeed the search for genes that affect the tendency to pack on pounds has found a growing list of genes that each contribute to overall risk.  The most famous of these genes is the FTO gene on chromosome 16Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 5, 2011 7:46AM

Junk food is cheaper

In his recent New York Times article titled Is Junk Food Really Cheaper, Mark Bittman asserts:

 “In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two meRead full post »

This may seem like a silly question, since all food provides calories, and you can potentially eat too much of anything and fatten up.

On the other hand certain foods and lifestyles do seem to be associated with overeating and weight gain.

And since weight loss is ever so difficult and onceRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 22, 2011 8:19AM

Pediatricians Warn Against Energy and Sports Drinks

Energy and sports drinks are aggressively marketed to kids and teens. Not only is engaging in a sports activity – however casually and briefly – a reason to “rehydrate” with a sports drink, kids are now encouraged to consume sports drinks before, during and after thinking of mRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 15, 2011 9:22AM

Forks Over Knives: Can a Plant Based Diet Reverse Disease?

“Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” Douglas Adams

There’s no doubt in my mind that the western diet – characterized as highly processed, animal product rich, sugary, fatty and saltyRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 8, 2011 8:01AM

MyPlate: Big step in the right direction


The new MyPlate icon of good eating was unveiled last Thursday.

I Like it! It’s definitely a big step in the right direction.

The most compelling features are its visual simplicity and overall message. As Michelle Obama noted in the unveiling ceremony, what can beRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 18, 2011 8:48AM

Sampling our way into healthy eating


Here’s something every food maker knows: Sampling drives trial. Sampling also drives sales. Giving future consumers a taste of the product is perhaps the most honest of marketing tools (let the food speak for itself!) and the most effective way to engage and impress target audience/
Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 11, 2011 8:57AM

Critical times for developing healthy food preferences

Research shows that although there’s a natural attraction to sweetness and saltiness, taste preference has much to do with exposure, especially early exposure. Infants usually accept whatever they’re fed, and that’s why kids around the world reflect the culinary traditions… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 4, 2011 9:05AM

The Forbidden Food Debate


We want what’s best for our kids, therefore we want them to eat well, but what's the best way to influence our kids’ eating habits?

I believe in the importance of good parental role-modeling regarding food choices; We have to watch what and how we eat not only for our… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 23, 2011 9:17AM

Does thinking about exercise make you overeat?

Exercise burns calories. We’d all love to believe that we can forgo the unpleasant recommendation to eat less if we committed to exercising more – and the biggest fans of the “move more” doctrine are the makers of calorie-dense proces/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 16, 2011 9:24AM

Marketing to kids: Cartoons sell, but so does health

Familiar cartoon characters make cereal taste better, confirms a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. I doubt anyone’s surprised by this finding – after all we all know that marketing helps sell more products, and that companies wouldn’t be sp/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 23, 2011 8:35AM

Study: Sixty percent of teens notice calorie postings

Chain restaurants are required to post the calorie content of their offerings on menu boards in a prominent way in some major American cities (including my fair but fat city of Philadelphia). The new health care reform law, signed last year, will enforce such labeling nationally. Many health expertsRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 19, 2011 6:53AM

The census bureau’s snapshot of the American diet

The census bureau recently published the official count of people living in the US — there are more than 308 million of us. But the bureau does much more than tally people — it also gathers lots of interesting information about Americans and the American economy, and this treasure trove iRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 12, 2011 10:05AM

Can video games improve nutrition and health?

I’m very old fashioned when it comes to video, computer and all other electronic games. OK, I’ll admit it: I don’t even fully understand why playing them is fun, or as my kids say, I just don’t get it. My imaginary migraine-inducing chamber-of-torture is a video arcade –Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 15, 2010 7:42AM

Silly science, silly inventions and other 2010 follies

Silly science 2010 photo background

An end of year tradition — now in its second year — I’d like to share some of the studies I failed to mention during this passing year, and pay tribute to some outstandingly ridiculous achievements in food, health and weight-loss.

Beware of the beard bugs

Fall season is cele… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 8, 2010 12:58PM

Better fast food? Less push to kids? Report finds neither

Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a new report today. It’s the most comprehensive study of fast food nutrition and marketing ever conducted, and its conclusions aren’t pretty.

Kids are seeing more fast food ads than ever, across a variety of media includi

Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 3, 2010 7:48AM

Lunchrooms designed for healthy eating

Could lunchroom design drive better nutrition? Brian Wansink, Co-Director of the Cornell Center of Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and author of "Mindless Eating", presented proof that it can, and shared some tried and true, low-cost healthy-eating-promoting ideas for school lunchro

Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 27, 2010 8:58AM

Halloween Rice

Black rice with butternut squash

It is the season for black and orange, and I can’t resist this occasion for sharing with you my favorite rice: black rice. Oh, how I love this dark, fragrant whole grain. In this dish I combine black rice with orange butternut squash. Orange is the color that epitomizes

Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 11, 2010 8:59AM

Sleep Yourself Lean?

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.” ~Irish Proverb

Eat fewer calories and exercise more – that’s the age old recipe for weight-loss – and the rest is gimmicks. But a new study suggests that we should perhaps add one more element to… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 20, 2010 7:38AM

BMI doesn't tell the whole story

The fact that the majority of Americans are overweight isn’t any news. But here’s a worrisome new finding: The extra padding we’ve added as a population has accumulated in the worst location for our health — our belly — and even people with normal weight seem to be getti… Read full post »