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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There is very little doubt that drinking sugary drinks regularly is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease

Since sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, and it’s quite easy to take in lots of calories in bRead full post »

JULY 6, 2011 8:31AM

Flat Belly Tip: Eat More Fiber!

Not all body fat is created equal.  Some people accumulate fat predominantly in the belly, while in others it's spread evenly around, and it does matter, because belly fat presents a higher risk for chronic diseases.  Think of belly fat as a big, active endocrine gland secret/Read 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 »

JUNE 1, 2011 7:43AM

The fructose glucose wars


There is very little doubt that drinking sugary drinks regularly is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

But does drinking sugar just make us consume too many empty calories, or is there something inherently unhealthy about sugar… Read full post »

Cancer of the colon and rectum are the third most common cancer in the world, accounting for 10 percent of cancer overall. Colorectal cancer is correlated with industrialization and is more common in higher income countries. In fact, a rise in its incidence usually coincides with the spread the westeRead 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 »

Tv ads 003

Kids are very susceptible to the messages in ads, often not even aware of their persuasive intent. We’d like to think that we adults know better, and are somewhat immune to the power of commercials.

But the mere presence of ads -- and knowing how much money is invested in themRead full post »

MARCH 30, 2011 8:13AM

Can vitamin D protect from cancer?

Vitamins 003 

We’re living in the glory days of Vitamin D, now touted as a miracle cure-all treatment for, well, practically everything.  Doctors are testing their healthy patient’s vitamin D levels, and deficient or not, many choose to pop a D supplement, just in case.

Every day a n… 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 »

The energy drink market is booming, enjoying robust annual growth despite the recession and is expected to top $9-billion this year in the US alone. The biggest consumers of these drinks are kids and young adults, which begs the question: Are these drinks safe for kids?

A special article in this… Read full post »

MARCH 2, 2011 8:46AM

Obesity: Prevention is the cure

The Emperor of All Maladies by oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee is a biography of cancer, told as the story of the patients battling the dreaded disease, the doctors who care for them and the researchers laboring in search of a cure. It’s also the fascinating story of cancerRead 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 »

FEBRUARY 16, 2011 8:43AM

Are you too busy to cook?

Parents today are busier than ever, and lack of time is the reason many people give when asked why they don’t cook more often and resort to prepared foods.

But I don’t believe it. My feeling is that although it’s true that our lives may be fast and hectic, time scarcityRead full post »

FEBRUARY 9, 2011 7:49AM

Miho Aikawa's Dinner in New York

One of the pleasures of being a blogger is the occasional pleasant surprise in your mailbox. No, I don’t mean the goodies sent your way for review (I don’t review products on my blog), what I’m referring to is the bloggers, colleagues, friends and like-minded people who reach out ovRead full post »

FEBRUARY 1, 2011 9:12AM

The New Dietary Guidelines: Eat Less!


Dietary guidelines cover 

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are finally out. Yeah, I know, not everyone suspended eating awaiting their debut. Nevertheless, the guidelines are an excellent source on what scientific evidence suggests we eat, and it seems this seventh edition of t/… Read full post »


Sugar used to be a special treat, enjoyed occasionally, but those days are long gone. Sugar is now a major food group, and sugars in soft drinks are now the largest single source of calories in the American diet.

And while we’re all eating (and drinking) lots of added sugars… Read 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 »

I have been making dinner pretty much every day for the past 16 years. I’d be lying if I said cooking, serving, participating and cleaning-up have been the highlight of each of my days. After a hectic day at work, the question “what’s for dinner” often felt like an accusation,Read full post »