5 Healthier Candies To Enjoy This Halloween

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

Halloween is here and I’m sure many of us are thinking the same thing – how can we indulge in a little candy this Halloween without totally ruining our health and fitness goals? Well, worry no more. We’re going to give you 5 healthier candies that you can eat in moderation this Halloween!

5. Fun-Sized Snickers Bar

Ok, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How can a Snickers bar possibly be one of the healthier candies?!” Bear with us for a minute.

When it comes to healthier candy bars, you want to look for ones that have less sugar and less saturated fat. Snickers satisfy both of these categories when you opt for the “fun size” because let’s be honest, who needs a big candy bar anyway? A fun-sized Snickers is 80 calories and only has 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 9 grams of sugar. Many other candy bars are almost made up of entirely sugar, so this is a major improvement. This is also less sugar than some protein and granola bars which we perceive to be healthier for us!

Also, we’ve seen the commercials about satisfying your hunger with a Snickers. Although we always recommend a healthier option to satisfy hunger, Snickers has filling protein to leave you feeling more satisfied longer and less likely to go for more. So, on Halloween, we say it’s ok to indulge in one!

4. Peanut M&M’s

Again, you’re probably thinking, “another candy?! I thought these were terrible for our health!” Well, they’re bad if you eat them every day, but for a sweet treat on Halloween, they’re one of the better options.

The first word that sticks out to us is peanuts, and we know that nuts and legumes can be good for us when consumed in moderation. Because peanuts contain both protein and fiber, they help prevent blood sugar spikes that can lead to us wanting more and more. One fun-sized pack is 90 calories and contains 2 grams of saturated fat and 9 grams of sugar, so of course, we recommend to keep it at one for the night.

Think of this as a sweet treat while still getting some necessary nutrients for the day. Just remember, it’s a slippery slope to overindulging, so keep it at just one!

3. Better-For-You Gummy Candies

We all love a good gummy bear or Sour Patch Kid, but they are some of the worst candies for you. This may be a good alternative for you!

One brand that we just came across, Smart Sweets (sold on Amazon) is the healthier version of the gummy candies we know and love. They come in 6 different flavors – Sweet Fish, Sweet Chews, Peach Rings, Sour Blast Buddies, Gummy Bears, and Sour Gummy Bears, and contain only 80 calories and 3 grams of sugar per pack! The candies are sweetened entirely from Stevia and don’t contain any sugar alcohols either, giving them 76% less sugar than regular gummy candies.

There are lots of other brands of healthier gummies on the web, so be sure to check them all out!

2. Dark Chocolate

Our favorite! We’ve said it before, a small amount of dark chocolate may be able to help your body more than hurt it!

Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate (about 6 grams a day, or 1 to 2 squares) has numerous benefits for our health, including lowering one’s risk of heart disease and diabetes. Dark chocolate contains flavanols that support nitric oxide production in the body, which helps improve blood flow. They also have been shown to lower blood pressure and inflammation. Flavanols can also help lower the risk of diabetes because it helps increase the production of insulin.

Dark chocolate is high in calories at 170 and in saturated fat with 7 grams, so it’s important to consume in moderation. Too much could lead to weight gain. But, on Halloween, feel free to indulge in this beneficial sweet!

1. Fruit!

Yes, fruit! Fresh fruit can be just as sweet and satisfying as candy on Halloween, especially if you prepare it in a fun way!

Fresh fruit, like berries, oranges, apples, etc., have natural sugar, making them a sweet treat without all the negative outcomes of added sugar and sugar alcohols. They also contain a lot of good nutritional components, like potassium and fiber, and vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, B6, and C, and magnesium. Fruit is good for our digestive systems, our immune systems, and our overall health!

And, there are so many fun ways to use fruit to create different spooky things on Halloween! Below are a few of our favorites:


Pumpkin Fruit Cups                    Monster Teeth



Ghost Banana Pops                     “Candy Corn” Parfaits

5 Top Issues Important to Farmers

We asked hundreds of farmers and ranchers across the United States to tell us their thoughts on the 2020 presidential election and the issues that matter most to them going forward to help us better tell their stories. Here are the 5 issues they said were most important as a farmer in America.

5. Farmer Subsidies

“Farmer subsidies” refers to the financial assistance they receive from the government, and over half of our respondents said farm income is one of their top concerns. This also includes economic support programs during an especially weak and unsettled farm economy.

Over a quarter of respondents included farmer subsidies in the top 3 most important issues to them. However, many said that they don’t want to live on government subsidies and that agriculture needs an open market and fair trade instead.

4. Educate a Disconnected Consumer

28% of our respondents put this category into the top 3 most important issues to them and it is an issue we are seeing become more prevalent among farmers and consumers alike.

Transparency is a reoccurring topic and, in terms of farming, it refers to consumers being aware of where their food came from, along with every step of the production process until it is on their table. Education also includes pesticide application, GMO crops, organic farming, and farming practices in general.

When asked about common misperceptions regarding farmers, some responses were:

“They (think we) play in the dirt all day.”

“That we are not astute business people. They do not recognize that we are managing multi-million-dollar business enterprises… and that we are better educated than the majority of the US population.”

3. Input Costs

35% of our total respondents included input costs in their top 3 issues American farmers face today. Many feel as though politicians underestimate the costs it takes to run a farm and they think farmers are much more profitable and wealthy than they actually are.

Farmers made it clear they don’t want to live on government subsidies. Lower input costs would help them achieve this and become profitable.

2. Global Free Trade

Global free trade was a common issue among many farmers and 37% of our respondents put it in their top three.

When asked to address further what either political party could do to help, many responded to support free trade. They also want less government intervention across all aspects of agriculture. Some wrote that they want to see an improvement in economic policy and stability in regard to both global trade and all of ag.

1. Trade with China

Trade with China was the most common issue we saw among farmers. 40% of our respondents included it in their top three.

Farmers are especially concerned about the unsettled state of relations with China. When asked about the most important thing either party could do to help farmers and ranchers in America, many responded to resolve the trade war with China.

COVID had a large effect on global trade, however, China still remains a vital participant. In 2018, China led the country with the highest amount of combined imports and exports at $5 trillion. We need trade with China and they need trade with us, and farmers recognize this.

To see the full Farmer and Rancher Election Survey results, click here.

Farmer & Rancher Election Survey Results

Our thanks to the hundreds of farmers and ranchers who took time during a busy season to tell us what they think about how the two major political parties are addressing their interests and concerns in the 2020 election campaign. These responses will help D2D do even more to tell your story.

Given this heated political environment and neither presidential platform addressing highly-specific plans for agriculture and food production, we set out with a goal to better understand the issues affecting American farmers – their concerns, hopes, and thoughts about the next four years.

A look at our respondents

Our survey launched in late September and amassed 300 completions from U.S. farmers and ranchers. Respondents provided a good cross-section of the farm and ranch population. They tended to be:

  • 45 years of age or older, and overwhelmingly politically aware and engaged
  • Diverse, across all types of farms sizes and crops/livestock
  • Dispersed geographically with a heavy concentration in the Midwest, reflecting the overall national character of farming and ranching

Cutting to the chase

Overall, respondents believe the Republican party is stronger on general farm economics and trade, and earned consistently higher marks than the Democratic party across all areas of interest addressed in the survey. 

Furthermore, respondents believe Republicans better understand their professional challenges and that the party will better support them by promoting their sound farming practices.

Democrats fared relatively better on questions related to environmental protection, food safety, diet, and nutrition – but still trailed the GOP in each category.

Putting issues in order

Farmers and ranchers have a lot to say about the obstacles they face daily to sustain their way of life for their staff, families, livestock, and customers.

When presented with a specific laundry list of potential issues, three out of four respondents cited a trade-related matter as one of their three biggest worries today, especially the unsettled state of relations with China. Just over half said farm income was one of their top concerns, as reflected in both the cost of inputs and availability of subsidies and economic support programs during an especially weak and unsettled farm economy.

But which issue is most important?

When asked to write in detail about what either administration could do right now to help them, most respondents addressed anticipated needs, such as free trade and less government regulation. But a surprising number of respondents looked beyond particular policies and roadblocks and instead, demanded some diplomatic aplomb for the parties to work together and get these issues remedied.

Politicians’ biggest misperceptions

Despite many farmers and ranchers preferring the Republican take on key issues affecting their operations, respondents won’t be giving either political party a free pass on their approach to food and agriculture. They weren’t shy about offering advice to both candidates on how to better connect both politicians and the larger public with the people who produce the nation’s food.

In summary, they believe they are a very misunderstood group. Respondents felt that politicians think they don’t care about the environment, don’t understand the physical and financial demands to run a multi-faceted operation, and that they are just ‘dumb hicks wearing overalls’.

When asked what particular misperceptions about farming and ranching need to be addressed, respondents offered some often colorful comments:

“They [think we] play in the dirt all day.”

“That we are not astute business people. They do not recognize that we are managing multi-million-dollar business enterprises. They do not recognize that we know a balance sheet and that we are better educated than the majority of the US population.”

“We don’t want to have to live on government subsidies.”

Many respondents felt the average politician doesn’t see farming and ranching as a demanding profession that requires shrewd business and operational knowledge. Additionally, respondents believe they also fail to grasp the economic stakes of modern farming and the risks that come with it from so many directions.

Delivering a message to candidates

Farmers and ranchers also had some equally blunt advice to politicians when asked about what they’d tell the presidential candidates if they had the opportunity:

“We provide the best, safest, and cheapest supply of agricultural products in the world, but have to go through expensive risk to do so.”

“Production ag needs markets and fair trade, not subsidies, to succeed long-term.”

“You are both full of manure.” 

The overriding sentiment expressed in this open-ended question was that respondents felt as though the food system they operate every day for every American and countless others around the globe goes unnoticed by politicians and consumers alike. Farmers and ranchers remind us that “we in the middle of the country matter, too”, feeling forgotten or only catered to around election years.

And many expect better treatment for others, too — even presidential candidate to candidate. One piece of sage advice: “Get along with each other’s party…do what is best for America”.

Farmers remain resilient

Despite the litany of misperceptions that need to be addressed, the farmers and ranchers who responded to the D2D survey remain surprisingly optimistic about their future.

After almost seven years of declining income and sustained economic stress, seven in 10 respondents say they are optimistic about the future of their operations.

Making changes on the farm

When asked unaided about the biggest changes they’re currently facing in ag, most individual respondents described several ways they’ve continued their operations amid such instability. They’ve done everything, from cutting costs to utilizing marketing and technological strategies to adding new product lines and income sources.

Get ready…

So who do farmers foresee as president in 2021? Two-thirds of our respondents predict a victory for Donald Trump on Nov. 3.

In Closing

This feedback garnered from farmers and ranchers – our readers and friends—are not the end of the discussion, but just the beginning. Please stay tuned for further efforts to engage and empower our farmers and ranchers who sustain us and our families every day.

To review all quantitative responses in this survey, please click here

5 Benefits of Apples

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

Fall is upon us! And, with fall comes delicious, fresh apples! We all love an afternoon of apple-picking in the crisp weather, the smell of an apple pie in the oven, or even snacking on a crisp, locally-grown apple, but we sometimes overlook all of their nutritional benefits. An apple a day really can keep the doctor away and we’re going to tell you why!

5. Good For Your Gut

You’ve heard us talk before about how important a good gut microbiome is for our health.

Studies have shown that apples may promote a good gut microbiome. This is because apples are full of fiber, including pectin. Pectin acts as a prebiotic in our bodies, which is key for keeping our microbiome healthy and for promoting the growth of good new bacteria in our intestines.

Having a diverse microbiome leads to a high-functioning immune system, better digestion, and an overall healthier you, so eat those fiber-rich apples and know your gut is thanking you!

4. Good For Your Brain

You mean, eating apples can help our brains? Yes!

Studies have shown that apples and other apple-based products may help decrease mental decline by reducing the amount of ROS, or reactive oxygen species, in brain tissue. ROS can build up and cause brain damage, but the antioxidants and other properties in apples can help reduce this.

Furthermore, apple juice concentrate was found to prevent the decline of acetylcholine, which is linked to aging and oxidative stress. A decrease in acetylcholine has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, showing that apples may be able to reduce the risk of developing this disease.

However, it’s good to note that apple juice and other apple products may contain a lot of added sugar, something that is definitely not good for us. So, try to eat whole apples as much as possible!

3. Protection against Some Cancers

According to the CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., contributing to 23% of overall deaths in 2012.

Apples contain fiber and many phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that these antioxidant properties may protect a cell’s DNA from oxidative damage, a precursor to cancer; stop the spread of cancer cells; and prevent new ones from forming. Cancers linked to these effects are colon, breast, and lung cancer, but only for past smokers.

Anything we can do to reduce our risk of developing cancer is very important, and a healthy diet can be one of the best and easiest forms of protection.

2. Good for Weight Management

Many of us are always looking for that secret way to lose weight or keep bad weight off. Apples may be a great way to help!

Apples contain a lot of fiber, and, in addition to fueling our microbiome, it also helps keep us feeling fuller for longer. By eating an apple, the fiber content can help slow digestion and keep us satisfied so we don’t go looking for another snack to eat. Apples also have a low-energy-density at 0.63 calories per energy density, meaning they have fewer calories respective to their weight. In one study, participants who ate apple slices before each meal ended up eating 200 less calories a day than those who didn’t.

Rather than going for a cookie or a bag of chips, eat an apple! If you’re still feeling hungry after snacking on an apple, try adding a little nut butter. The extra protein might be just what your body needs!

1. Protection against Diet-related Illnesses

Diet-related illnesses include diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and 34% of the deaths from heart disease could have been prevented by changes in health habits.

Plant chemicals in the apple peel, such as pectin, have been shown to protect free radicals in the heart and blood vessels from damage. They have also been shown to lower the amount of LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol in the body, and the number of triglycerides, both being key contributors to diet-related illnesses. Flavonoids in apples have antioxidant effects that have been shown to protect cells in the pancreas, which helps control the secretion of insulin in people with type 2 diabetes.

A healthy diet is so important in preventing the onset of these diseases and many more health conditions. So, along with apples, be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

And remember, fresh is always best, but if you’re looking for a special treat to spice up your apple intake, here is one of our favorite recipes for apple fritters!

Trump vs. Biden: Comparing Ag Platforms

Everyone agrees it will be an important event for all Americans – a momentary pause, if not an end, to the endless argument about the future direction of the country. On November 3rd, we will select our President, our entire House of Representatives, and a third of our Senate.

When it comes to food and agriculture, what makes one presidential candidate different from the other? The significant farm issues are the economy, international trade relationships, China as a strong component but other countries as well; the Renewable Fuel Standard; rural broadband access; the regulatory environment, and COVID. What will be the key goals and objectives they set? What big ideas will drive their actions over the next four years? What is likely to change and what will stay the same?

Don’t expect any great epiphanies from reading party platforms. Such documents are great at grand philosophical statements, but light on the specifics that might risk offending some potential voter. But there are insights in there anyway, especially when combined with the public statements and media coverage that have emerged in this campaign.

Candidates’ Philosophies

We took a look at comparing the policies that would most affect food and agriculture from each of the candidates. We focused on trade, the economy, climate change, and immigration.


America is in trouble, due largely to the missteps of the current administration. America must return to many of the approaches of the previous Democratic administrations, including:

  • a stronger focus on building consensus, stepping up government support and engagement in things that build a fairer society

  • governmental programs to protect individual rights, reduce anti-competitive practices among agricultural businesses, reform our criminal justice system, and expand access to health care, broadband, and other social services

  • more aggressive governmental regulations to climate change, and in the process spur a broad effort to generate new jobs, protect our environment and revive the economy with innovative environmental products and technologies

  • revive a spirit of international cooperation to boost trade


America is on the right track, so let’s stick with what we have started:


  • take the tough steps needed to compete in a global marketplace, while shielding U.S. citizens, with subsidies, from the immediate adverse effects of such actions

  • keep current policies and programs and continue to reduce the governmental barriers that hold back enterprise and initiative

  • support worthwhile government programs but still rely on private enterprise and voluntary effort as the primary engines of progress in protecting the environment and managing financial risk

  • stand up for American interests first in the international arena, especially on matters of trade

Both platforms share some commonalities around the ideas of conservation. Their differing philosophies are on the role of the government as it pertains to conservation, trade, taxes, regulations, and immigration.

Plans for Trade


  • seek international consensus: multilateral and bilateral before negotiating trade agreements

  • restore more traditional negotiating style and posturing with trade partners

  • revitalize focus on boosting ag exports; concerned about Brazil and Argentina taking place of U.S.

  • expand focus on workers’ rights and interests in trade negotiations


  • take the tough steps needed to compete in a global marketplace, while shielding U.S. citizens, with subsidies, from the immediate adverse effects of such actions

  • maintain efforts to implement improved trade deals with China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Britain, and E.U.

  • enforce tougher negotiating philosophy with focus on exports and long-term opportunities

  • continue direct aid to farmers while negotiating trade deals, currently at $32 billion

 Trump favors the aggressive use of higher tariffs as a tool for negotiating better trade deals. Biden prefers a more traditional approach of focusing on progressive tariff reductions.

Addressing Farm & Rural Economies


  • raise taxes: income, capital gains, corporate tax rate; end stepped-up basis

  • provide more financial support for rural economy via initiatives and infrastructure modernization, including direct farm support, rural health care, broadband

  • support local trade between farmers and schools and hospitals

  • preserve and protect smaller operators from unfair, anti-competitive forces with a higher focus on FTC antitrust regulations such as the Clayton Act, Dodd-Frank, etc., trickling down to farm economy

  • enhance labor rights and protections; support union workers

  • provide more financial support for younger, beginning farmers/ranchers, and smaller farms

  • support Farm Bill and SNAP


  • continue 2017’s tax plan that enables farmers to pass their farms to their next-generation farmers

  • preserve lower-tax environment

  • continue efforts to identify and remove regulatory and other barriers to support private initiative and innovation

  • support broadband throughout rural America

  • continue financial relief through direct payments to affected producers, as needed

  • maintain financial discipline in existing government programs

  • support Farm Bill and SNAP, but close loopholes that allow ‘able-bodied working-age adults’ collecting food stamps to move into a work environment to create a sense of fiscal independence

Trump offers a strategy to continue the ‘America First’ initiative, providing increased business opportunities by limiting regulatory barriers, while providing relief to those in need. Biden proposes tax increases to overhaul current systems in rural America, such as broadband access and healthcare. He also plans to strengthen antitrust enforcement.

Climate Change & Sustainability Affecting Ag


  • Green New Deal is ‘a crucial framework’ for climate challenges

  • make American ag first in the world to achieve net-zero carbon emissions

  • increase research funding focused on zero-carbon and productivity-increase goals

  • support renewable fuels and ethanol mandates

  • expand financial incentives for programs that reduce greenhouse gases – conservation reserves, reduced tillage, ‘blue sink’ programs, regenerative ag

  • expand USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program

  • promote development of new, innovative products and technologies related to environmental protection, reduced carbon footprint


  • against Green New Deal due to added costs and reduced income for farmers and added regulations

  • maintain existing conservation programs, including Conservation Stewardship Program, based on voluntary participation

  • encourage regenerative ag, soil and farm technology, and clean water

  • continue to support Renewable Fuel Standard program, including ethanol

Both parties maintain conservation efforts as a priority and state that ’sound science’ is highly important in addressing food and ag issues, but neither is anxious to define exactly what ’sound science’ is, other than a broad philosophic concept.

While Biden looks to increase funding on its zero-carbon emission goal, Trump focuses its funding on renewable energy sources and fuel alternatives.



  • take immediate action to undo policies regarding wall construction on U.S. and Mexico border

  • reassert a commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees and investigate the root cause of irregular immigration

  • reexamine relationships in Central American nations as part of plan to deter violence causing influx of refugees

  • create doorway for seasonal farm labor and migrant workers

  • address path to citizenship for undocumented workers


  • continue funding for construction of a wall to differentiate nation’s border with Mexico

  • close legal loopholes that enable illegal immigration

  • end chain migration and eliminate visa lottery program

  • continue work on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and move to a more merit-based immigration plan

Biden would work to reverse the Trump administration’s U.S.-Mexico wall construction and instead focus on refugees and irregular migration from the southern border. Trump would maintain a strong process for legalizing immigrants, including the continuation of his work on DACA. In a continued effort to deter illegal immigration, construction would resume on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Summing it all up…

Biden & Harris’ platform proposes a larger and more aggressive role for the federal government in guiding the system through wide-ranging policies and programs that overlap with wider social, environmental, and other policy objectives.

Trump & Pence maintain a more traditional role for the government in creating an environment that rewards individual initiative and competitiveness in pursuing many of the same ultimate goals — economic growth, environmental protection and sustainability, adaptation to changing societal needs, and expectations of our modern food system.

Was this information helpful to you? We want to know!

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Nootropics: How to Eat for a Better Brain

On the run? Listen to our post!

Today’s demanding lifestyle has us frequently on our toes, waiting for the next hurdle to jump over. It is no wonder about 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental illness, chronic fatigue, as well as some serious neurodegenerative diseases.

Just like your body, your brain needs the right fuel to perform at its peak. Nootropics, a class of cognition-enhancing compounds, are hailed as the newest type of brain medicine and can be found in medicines, supplements, and foods. Early applications of nootropics include uses to improve mental and physical performance and boost memory, increase focus, and enhance creativity and motivation.

Nootropics: Natural or Synthetic?

These so-called “smart drugs” are a relatively new class of drugs. They are part of a category known as PIEDs, or Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs, and are broadly categorized into three groups:

  • Stimulants, like amphetamines and methylphenidate, are synthetic drugs primarily prescribed to those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorders, given their effectiveness with improving cognitive function. These are only available by prescription in the U.S.
  • Racetams, such as piracetam, are lab-made and can help our brain neurotransmitters, specifically glutamate and acetylcholine, function properly and effectively. They are known to boost memory in people with brain injuries, help with seizure control, depression, or age-related decline but do not affect otherwise healthy individuals.
  • Natural Compounds found in whole foods and supplements, like caffeine, ginseng, and creatine, are over-the-counter nootropics that are among the most popular agents of neuroenhancement. They are a healthy way to help with brain function without the unwanted side effects if consumed in moderation.

At D2D, we are focusing on the fascinating group of natural compounds, which are found in whole foods or available over-the-counter. These nootropics provide myriad benefits when consumed in a healthful way. But be aware: researchers are still working to define what constitutes “a healthful way” to consume nootropics.

Given its recent increase in demand, what problem are we all trying to solve here? Do we have poor concentration, memory, and lack of energy because we are eating a diet full of fats, sugars, and salt rather than fresh fruits and vegetables? Or can we enhance our brain function just by increasing the consumption of healthy foods? We believe that for the best brain and body performance, you need a healthy diet with lots of variety.

Nootropic supplements are unregulated and lack sufficient approvals to confirm efficacy. So instead, let’s focus on the natural nootropics found in foods, herbs and drinks, and what their potential health benefits are.

With only a handful of high-quality studies and no FDA oversight for supplements, it’s difficult to make an informed decision. We need more clinical data to see if nootropics have a measurable and lasting cognitive effect.

So don’t fall for any brands that claim to be cure-alls – know the science and the proven benefits.

What We Do ‘Noo’

Nootropics found in foods affect certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and acetylcholine, in various ways. They can help increase blood flow to the brain, support neurotransmitter health, regulate the amount of specific neurotransmitters, and increase brainwave activity. These “smart foods” target metabolic or nutritional components of brain function. They deal directly with memory and attention to create a clear, efficient pathway for all signals to reach the intended neurotransmitters. When neurotransmitters can function at peak efficiency, the result is overall increased cognitive function.

Your Morning Nootropics

Many everyday whole foods contain varying amounts, as well!

Caffeine. Let’s start here — Caffeine is a natural nootropic found in coffee, cocoa, tea, and certain nuts, like kola and guarana. It is a compound often added to energy drinks and sodas and is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance worldwide.

An intake of 40 to 200 mg a day, or between one and two cups of coffee, can increase alertness and decrease reaction time. This is especially helpful for those who are feeling fatigued, which is why your 6 a.m. cup hits much differently than your 2 p.m. cup. However, too much caffeine will do more harm than good, causing jittery, anxious feelings.

While the nootropics in coffee block the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical that makes you feel tired, it can also trigger the release of adrenaline, which can cause anxiety and sleeplessness.

L-theanine. Teas containing L-theanine, such as green tea, matcha, and black tea, can help calm an overactive brain. Green tea contains about 5mg of L-theanine per cup, while matcha and black tea contain about 46mg per cup. What does it do? Several studies have concluded that this type of nootropic can have a calming effect, while simultaneously not causing drowsiness. In roughly two cups of brewed green tea, you can increase your brain’s alpha waves, which can promote creativity. L-theanine, when coupled with caffeine, is even more effective. Supplement companies often combine these nootropics to create performance-enhancing supplements.

Ginkgo Biloba. This plant has an extract in its leaves that may positively affect your brain function. Most commonly, ginkgo biloba is taken as a supplement to improve memory and mental processing functions in adults. This is because it helps increase blood flow to the brain, making neurotransmitters more high-functioning.

Making a Nootropic-rich Meal

By adding in various whole foods, like eggs, salmon, and blueberries, your brain gets a boost of nootropic compounds at every meal!

  • Eggs are rich in choline. Choline can assist our brains with transmitting signals across our neuronal membranes. What in the world does that mean? Well, our bodies take in choline from eggs, and use it to produce a compound called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine aids the body in retaining memories and in achieving restful sleep. One egg provides 27% of your recommended daily value of choline!
  • Spinach is another incredible brain-boosting resource. With nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, it can help with quicker mental recall and increased memory capacity. Furthermore, a cup of spinach a day is adequate for absorbing nutrients to increase performance.
  • Salmon is a fatty fish that can improve one’s ability to send and receive messages in the brain. Because of its high DHA density and protein-packed profile, it helps keep the brain in tip-top shape. A 3-4 oz serving of salmon will cover your daily recommended intake.
  • Lean meats contain creatine, an amino acid that helps your body produce protein. Once creatine enters your brain, it binds itself to phosphate to create a molecule that can fuel your brain’s cells to help improve short-term memory and increase reasoning skills. Studies show that ingesting just 5g of creatine per day will have cognitive benefits without any side effects.
  • Turmeric, a long-used spice in Chinese medicine, also possesses incredible nootropic benefits. It helps trigger neurogenic creation and is often used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. About 2.5 grams a day is all it takes to capitalize on its benefits.
  • Blueberries are another natural nootropic. Super-high in antioxidants like anthocyanins, blueberries help boost cognitive function and protect the brain from damage caused by aging, as it rids the brain of free radicals. 500 mg or 2 cups of blueberries is a sufficient amount for nootropic results.
  • Dark chocolate is a flavanol-rich food made from cocoa beans. Cocoa beans increase blood flow to the brain, much like gingko biloba, and can actually trigger the production of new brain cells! Dark chocolate, made with 70% cocoa or higher, has shown to have these antioxidant effects.

Challenges of Nootropics

Addiction to nootropics is common, most typically in the stimulant or supplement category. But it also can be found in caffeine intake. Unfortunately, more is not always better, as in the example of nicotine. While nicotine can increase mental sharpness, its long list of side effects, including chest pains, headaches, abdominal discomfort, and anxiety and irritability, outweigh any potential positive benefits. The abuse of, or overuse of certain nootropics, like nicotine, amphetamines, or creatine, can cause severe dependence and significant health problems.

Let’s also not forget our golden rule here at D2D: variety and moderation. 

Don’t go out and overload on blueberries and coffee thinking it will turn you into Einstein.

Choose a healthy diet with a variety of different foods including fish, berries, leafy greens, and protein. The emerging new field of nootropics will be exciting to watch unfold as new studies are published. However, to truly maximize cognitive function, you must also focus on sleep, exercise, and brain-building activities to keep your mind sharp, as found by an Oxford University meta-analysis study. Also, keep your body healthy by eating good-for-you calories, rather than processed, unhealthy ones.

5 Ways to Catch COVID

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

5. Don’t Wash Your Hands

Washing hands? Please.

Every day, we come in contact with millions of germs through our hands. Healthcare workers carry about 5 million bacteria on each hand. Pathogens on hands can be very easily spread from person to person, either through direct or indirect contact. For example, if someone coughs or sneezes into their hands, then shakes your hand, you now have those germs. If someone coughs or sneezes into their hands then touches an elevator button, which then you touch, you, plus probably a dozen or so other people, now have those pathogens on your hands.

Now, imagine that person has COVID-19, and you don’t wash or sanitize your hands then touch your face. Congrats – your chances of contracting COVID-19 just skyrocketed!

4. Don’t Exercise

Exercise is incredibly important for a healthy immune system.

Exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, controls weight, and fights off diseases. It is especially important to fight off diet-related illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes. Exercise allows for better blood circulation, which in turn helps our immune system. More oxygen can get to cells and our bodies are overall healthier.

If a healthy and working immune system is not what you’re going for, we highly recommend staying clear of exercise. Sit on the couch, watch some TV. You’ll get COVID in no time.

3. No Mask, No Problem

Wearing a mask has become a very controversial topic, and we’re here to tell you that if you want COVID, take a pass on the mask.

The CDC has made it very clear that masks and face coverings can protect oneself from COVID-19. In fact, in Missouri, wearing a mask protected 2 hairstylists in a salon from contracting the virus. Because of this, it is now mandatory in most places to wear a mask. I know that I can’t enter any grocery store, restaurant, or any other building where I live without a mask.

It seems pretty easy to us – wear a mask, don’t get COVID. Don’t wear a mask, get COVID.

2. No Vitamins

When in doubt, take your vitamins.

Vitamins are a great way to supplement your diet with nutrients that you’re not getting enough of in whole foods alone. New studies are showing that vitamin D is helping patients suffering from COVID-19. Vitamin D has been seen to reduce both complications and even the risk of death from the illness. Some COVID risk quizzes online even ask if you are taking vitamin D in one of their questions.

So, no vitamins, especially vitamin D, if you are looking to contract the virus.

1. Stick To An Unhealthy Diet

We posted a couple of weeks ago how important a healthy diet is to protect yourself from COVID-19.

A healthy diet is just as or more effective at fighting off illnesses than washing your hands, wearing a mask, etc. Eating healthy keeps our entire body running at tip-top shape. Fruits, vegetables, fish, water…these are all incredibly important to get essential nutrients that keep us healthy. Fast food, added sugars, and saturated fats are things you want to stay away from at all costs if you want to stay healthy.

However, if you are looking to indulge in those fats and sweets, just know you are putting your body more at risk of getting sick.

Want to step up your COVID game and protect yourself further? Check out our other articles on how to protect yourself!

Chlorinated Chicken: Public Health or Politics?

On the run? Listen to our post!

The United Kingdom says no to chlorinated chicken. But is their opposition based on science – or something else?

As I took my chicken breasts out of the package and put them in the baking dish, some of the chicken juice splashed into the sink. I dutifully scrubbed the sink and threw away the packaging, hoping no pathogens survived or dripped on the floor on the way to the garbage. I know I’m not the only one concerned about contamination in a food prep area. No one wants to get food poisoning.

To counter this concern, a small share of U.S. poultry processors use a mild sanitizing spray as the chicken pieces are getting washed which includes chlorine as part of their rigorous food safety procedures. Most scientists – as well as U.S. and even European food safety agencies — agree the practice poses no substantial health threat to people who consume the chicken.

But UK trade negotiators say ‘no’ to such a practice anyway, and use this reason to deny U.S. imports of lower-cost poultry into Great Britain. They argue such practices are inconsistent with the more stringent food standards they prefer. Better to focus on how poultry is grown, processed, and handled, they say. Focus on preventing a potential food safety problem more than on correcting it. to prevents E. Coli in cattle. U.S. trade officials say it’s just an excuse to close off an important export market for U.S. agriculture and to protect the UK industry.

As Mild as a Swimming Pool

On hearing some of the rhetoric in this debate, you would think U.S. chicken is coated in chlorine. That’s not the case.

We’ve all gone swimming in chlorinated pools.  It gets on our skin, goes in our mouth, and even up our noses. We certainly don’t mind that much because we know it’s cleaning the pool and for our overall benefit. Chlorinated water for sprays or rinses in chicken processing – much like the water in swimming pools and in many municipal water supplies – is used in only about 5 percent of processing plants, according to the National Chicken Council. Most of the chlorine used by the industry goes into cleaning and sanitizing equipment, not on chickens.

The industry makes much greater use of antimicrobial products to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria and pathogens like salmonella. Used repeatedly and sequentially across the processing chain, these agents help minimize contamination and create a safety-first philosophy of seemingly redundant levels of sanitization.

It’s an important part of providing consumers with a safe supply of poultry.  If you eat undercooked chicken or other foods or beverages contaminated by raw chicken or its juices, you can get a foodborne illness, which is also called food poisoning.

To help consumers avoid microbes, chickens go through a ‘car wash’ where the industry routinely uses various FDA approved acidic washes in multiple stages of processing and chilling poultry, many with imposing and clinical names like paracetic acid (PAA), cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), and acidified sodium chlorite (ASC).

Food safety experts, however, warn against a natural tendency to look at such imposing names as somehow dangerous substances. PAA, for example, is nothing more than an organic compound of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, used by the poultry industry in concentrations that make it less acidic than lemon juice. CPC is an antiseptic commonly found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and nasal sprays. In addition, bromine and diverse organic acids are sometimes used. The industry simply does not rely on one ‘magic bullet’ antimicrobial agent – or some terrifying chemical cocktail out of a teenage sci-fi horror movie.

In most cases, the antimicrobials are used in very minute quantities – generally parts per million.  The amount can be visualized as “an inch out of nearly 16 miles,” or as “one minute in almost two years.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the international Codex Alimentarius Commission all have found no serious threat from safe levels of chlorinated water or chlorine washes. Various university studies have drawn similar conclusions.

Reasons for UK and EU opposition

These approaches the U.S. uses to potentially reduce harmful food contamination seem to have worked well. But even with these science-based arguments behind the U.S. poultry industry, the European Union and the United Kingdom have banned imports of chlorinated poultry for almost 25 years. Politicians there dismiss the science – even from their food-safety related agencies and scientists. Their reasoning follows largely political lines.

The UK and the EU generally prefer to argue for a food safety system focused very strongly on avoidance of contamination, much more so than dealing with actual contamination. Food safety policy focuses on all aspects of how animals are raised, handled, processed, and delivered, even if that might make the production process less efficient than the U.S. model. Indeed, many opponents of chlorinated chicken are in fact fundamentally opposed to what they see as the “industrialized farming” of the United States.

The UK imports large volumes of poultry products – worth close to a half-billion dollars – each year, almost half from the Netherlands and much of the remainder from other EU-based nations. While UK poultry production continues to grow each year, demand has recently outstripped the industry’s ability to meet it. The importance of trade is clearly recognized in the UK, and apparently increasing – prompting hopes for progress in the continuing trade debate with the United States.

The argument against U.S. chicken imports reflects a desire to preserve and protect the rural nature of much of the UK and EU countryside, with maintenance of long-standing food-based segments of the economy. 

Poultry is just one front in an on-going war to guard against the demise of a valued way of life. 

Likewise, these opponents also often cite the humane aspects of their preferred approach as a strong reason for an adamant trade position. Critics sometimes allege the defense of science-based sanitary practices is in reality advocacy for “U.S.-style industrialized farming” practices that compromise not just a valued way of life but the safety of workers in these labor-intensive facilities as well.

Science or Protectionism?

Those favoring a more liberalized approach to poultry trade often call such arguments a “weak defense of outright trade protectionism” – the use of non-science-based reasoning to insulate a special interest from the global competition that drives higher productivity across the food system – greater savings for consumers, and better access to the food consumers want.

But with the UK facing an uncertain future with its largest historic trading partner – the European Union – there’s hope for some kind of breakthrough. One option talked about quietly behind the scenes would allow some imports of U.S. chicken, but with a hefty tariff attached. That would buy some time to gauge public reaction to the new food option – and its effect on the existing UK poultry industry – and the larger agricultural system.

Consumer Considerations

The United States exported about $4.5 billion in poultry and eggs in 2017, and is the second-largest provider of broiler meat for the international market, with exports exceeding $4 billion annually. Growing global demand for animal protein, rising dietary and health concerns, and relatively rapid production cycles make the industry ripe for further growth – and additional economic opportunity for those capable of serving the demand.

U.S. producers want access to every possible market. And in one important respect, so should American poultry consumers. The economic vitality that exports help make possible for poultry producers help provide the money for further investment in producing more of the animal protein the world increasingly demands – and in making that process yield the safe, wholesome, and affordable product that makes food contamination a much lower risk for everyone.  

What happens next? It’s up to us…

Our highly-regulated food system in the U.S. is designed to provide us with food we want, at a price we can afford, and to safely consume it without fear of contamination. But’s it’s our job at home to prepare our foods in a way that maintains those rigorous practices.

Nearly one in six Americans suffer from some form of food poisoning each year. And while most cases are generally mild, following a few sound safety steps can help make sure you and your family members don’t become victims. Want to read more on the safe handling of poultry? Read this.

5 Ways To Help Your Body During COVID-19

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

Navigating through COVID-19 can be stressful. Stress causes the body to produce increased amounts of cortisol. While these can be beneficial in the short-term, in the long run, stress can wreak havoc on the body, weakening our immune systems. This is why we’re here to give you our advice on the 5 best ways to help you manage your stress and strengthen your immune system during COVID and all year round!

5. Meditation and Breathing

 One of the craziest things about humans is that when we are stressed out or anxious, sometimes we forget to breathe.

Meditation and breathing are incredibly important, and studies are showing that the benefits are endless. They can help decrease our stress levels, ease our anxiety, and put us into a more relaxed state of being. They have also been shown to help our emotional control and psychological well-being.

With the stress of schools returning, places opening back up, it can be a lot to handle. Allow yourself a few minutes every day to relax. It will help you become more present in life, combat COVID times with ease, and decrease stress levels, ultimately helping your immunity.

4. Turn off your Devices

Your phone. Your computer. Your tablet. Your TV. Just turn it off.

Over 90% of Americans have a smartphone and almost all of them rarely turn it off. Constantly being exposed to upsetting and stress-inducing content about the pandemic can wreak havoc on our bodies. By turning off our devices even just for an hour a day, it’s been shown we can create better connections with those around us, especially friends and family,  sleep better, and become present.

We all need a break once in a while, so go screen-free for some time every day, forget about the stressors of the outside world and pandemic, and see how much better and more present you feel.

3. Sleep

You knew it was coming. Sleep.

Sleep is so important when it comes to taking care of your body. It allows you to unwind, relax, and reset yourself to take on the next day. But, studies are showing that there is a relationship between stress and sleep. The hypothalamus in our bodies is key to regulating sleep. However, stress can activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system, leading to insomnia and sleepless nights, which can then lead to more stress.

Stress and sleep deprivation seems like a never-ending cycle, but you can break it. Make sure you’re getting the sleep you need every night – 7 to 9 hours for adults. It will make all the difference in your body, and help you tackle anything that comes your way.

2. Exercise

Exercise is probably one of the best things you can do for your body. It is so important to stay active during the day for both stress and your immune system.

Exercise is great for the body. It improves our cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and keeps us healthy by controlling weight and fighting off diseases. Exercise helps our immune system by allowing for better blood circulation and contributing to an overall healthy body. Exercise can help with stress by decreasing both adrenaline and cortisol – the body’s stress hormones – and helping to produce endorphins, which are our mood boosters.

Your body will feel better. Your immunity will strengthen. Your waistline will shrink. Your mood will boost. And you’ll have the energy to take on anything.

1. Stay Connected

Between social distancing, working remotely, and protecting ourselves and others, it’s easy to feel both isolated and alone during COVID. That’s why staying connected to both friends and family is so critical for our mental health during the pandemic.

When we experience a lack of in-person contact, it can cause stress and loneliness, neither of which will help us fight a novel disease. But, with the technology we have today, it’s easy to get that face-to-face interaction without being in the same room. Between Google Hangout, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Netflix Parties, Facebook video, and social gaming, the possibilities are endless. Sending a text or call is one thing, but getting face-to-face human connection can help the body and the mind.

So be sure to stay connected during COVID-19. And, if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by family or friends during the pandemic, be sure to check up on those who are by themselves. It will make all the difference.

The Bottom Line

The behaviors we have are just as important to protect ourselves from the virus as the food we eat. Be sure to take time for you during the pandemic, listen to your body, and become present in life’s everyday moments.


You may be wondering, “but where is the information about food?!” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at last week’s Featured 5 to learn what foods you can eat to protect yourself from COVID. And, for more, check out our other articles about foods that can strengthen your immune system: