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
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 »

FEBRUARY 15, 2012 8:46AM

Halftime in the school cafeteria

Last month Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced some very welcome and long awaited changes to the government subsidized school meals. These are the first changes made in the program -- which feeds 32 million kids each day – in 15 years. Under the new guidelines kids wiRead full post »


If you’re looking for a homemade gift for Valentine’s Day (reminder: it’s this coming Tuesday) these cookies are perfect – textbook for the serious chocolate lover and great for cookie fans too. I’ve received a recipe request from every recipient of this cookie gRead full post »

Overweight people are the majority in the US; a third of Americans are obese, so obese people can hardly be viewed as a small minority.

Nevertheless, overweight people face bias and discrimination every day.

Does the portrayal of obese people in the media reinforce weight bias?  Is the swellinRead full post »

A calorie’s a calorie, isn't it?  

Well, accumulating evidence shows that our body has a hard time registering calories from beverages in the tally towards satiety; unfortunately, beverage’s calories are still counted in our energy balance. That’s why the extra calories in bevRead full post »

Brian Wansink is famous for his work on the psychology of eating and for popularizing terms such as "mindless eating" and "health halos." His research has unveiled some of the many occasions in which environmental cues such as packaging, label claims and plate size influence our eating.

There&rRead full post »

JANUARY 11, 2012 7:53AM

Study shows soda adds belly fat

Do sweet drinks cause belly fat? Fat around abdominal organs is much more active metabolically than the fat under our skin, and poses additional risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke above and beyond the risk seen with being overweight.

And while fat distribution is influenced by age andRead full post »

Many parents struggle with getting their kids to eat veggies.  A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tests a new tactic to getting those veggies in and shows that rewarding kids for tasting a disliked veggie increased both intake and liking.

I was surprised when I read… Read full post »

DECEMBER 21, 2011 9:39AM

Choosing Happiness for the Holidays

This is the season to grab every bit of happiness and living in the moment is one suggested way to increase bliss.

A brief article in Science provides evidence: The authors, Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, developed an iPhone app to sample people's ongoing thoughts, fRead 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 »


This is the vegetarian version of the all-healing chicken soup.  Works just as well, I think, if not better.

Made of simple, inexpensive ingredients, and requiring very little chopping (thanks to my loyal helper, the food processor) this vegetable soup is one of the best ways to geRead full post »

How much we eat matters a whole lot, and the bottom line is that too many calories, no matter what their source, will lead to weight gain and the myriad of health consequences related to overweight, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers. 

But whatRead full post »

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your kind readership. 

In case you're still looking to add… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 16, 2011 7:44AM

Banning soda in school isn’t enough

vending machine

It took the whole village a few decades to create the obesity epidemic.  We slowly allowed the development of a food environment in which junk, fast and highly processed foods became available everywhere and anytime. Marketing and advertising of these food products permeated every real aRead full post »

When a home cook wants to cut fat and sugar from a meal he’ll bake the potatoes rather than deep fry them, choose tomato sauce over a creamy one and serve fresh fruit in place of Crème Brulee for dessert.

But when a food producer is designing a product that he… Read 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 »

OCTOBER 26, 2011 9:55AM

Herbed Brown Rice

Herbed Brown Rice

My mother-in-law is the queen of rice.  She has at least a dozen fabulous rice dishes, which she’ll often cook on a bed of crispy potatoes her many grandkids fight over.  Her dill-rice dish inspired this recipe.  I use an assortment of herbs that complement each other, anRead full post »

In contrast to adults, chest pain in kids is rarely of cardiac origin.  A new article in Pediatrics reassures us that an aching chest in kids, although a common complaint, was only rarely due to abnormalities of the heart.

But is the growing epidemic of childhood obesity threatening toRead full post »

Eating out, and especially eating at fast-food restaurants, is considered a risk factor for obesity, poor diet and chronic diseases.

Yet eating fast food is a major American habit: At least one quarter of adults eat fast food daily, as do 25 - 30 percent of kids.

Fast foodRead 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 »

SEPTEMBER 28, 2011 8:36AM

Fat burning miracles?

A few years ago billboards announced the arrival of “negative calorie” food.  Drinking three 12-oz. cans a day of Enviga, the Coca Cola and Nestle carbonated tea drink, will burn an extra 60-100 calories daily, claimed the products’ packaging.

The Center for Science in the PubRead full post »

Mounting evidence links sugary drink intake with rising obesity rates, but it’s only recently that researchers started to sound the alarm: Sugary drinks not only cause obesity – which any food in excess will do – but may also act on our body in a uniquely harmful way.  SodRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 7:44AM

The 5-a-day of parenting

It’s always hard to say goodbye to summer.  And what a glorious end-of-summer we’ve had -- days of lazing about together, good food, wonderful books (I have to mention Ann Patchett’s remarkable “State of Wonder”, which put me in a an utter state of wonder) and a fewRead full post »

Why are today’s kids so much heavier than kids of previous generations?

The classic answer is that kids today are taking in more calories and spending less energy: They spend less time playing outdoors and have stopped working on the farm and doing chores – but hey, haven’t they stoRead full post »

I’m here to report that the hottest snack trend for 2011 is…flavored popcorn!  Walking the busy and delicious isles of the Fancy Food Show in Washington DC last week, I encountered popped corn in every imaginable combination, from bourbon to smoked almond, from c/

Read full post »