Archive for May, 2013

Diminishing Nutrition

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , |

According to this NYT article-Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food

We’ve reduced the nutrients and increased the sugar and starch content of hundreds of…fruits and vegetables.

While I don’t think this article captures the larger issue as strongly as the title does, it is an important topic. I do like how they point to fresh herbs as a way to compensate for the nutritional losses in our food.

greens

 

Carrots

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The Case Against GMOs

Posted on May 30, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I am only a third of the way through GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops and already I am compelled to share it.  Far from the intentionally sensational posts of anti-GMO social media groups, this comprehensive report makes the case that genetic modification of the food supply has not only fallen far short of its promises, but has exacted real consequences.  Earth Open Source’s Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson and John Fagan have compiled evidence of negative environmental, social and health impacts leaving us to ask: What do we want to do about it?

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Strawberries: Conventional vs. Organic

Posted on May 29, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Eat these! | Tags: , , |

Which one sounds like food to you?  Remember, food is:

Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.

strawberry

 

I could probably write a whole book describing the  toxic effects of each of the conventional strawberry’s “ingredients”, but I’m called to other efforts.  If you are interested in how everyday chemicals impact your body then I highly recommend Nina Baker’s The Body Toxic.  I was sold on her after reading this very digestible take on complicated material, but then she did me the favor of responding to the email I sent her shortly after being diagnosed with ALS.  Such a human thing to do.

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Salt vs. Mineral Salt: It Matters

Posted on May 28, 2013. Filed under: Autoimmune disease, Eat these! | Tags: , , , |

We’ve all heard that we ought to be mindful of how much sodium we ingest, but recent research suggests that it may be what kind of salt-not how much-that matters. Yale University and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg researchers found that the sharp increase in autoimmune diseases may be the related to the nutrient-less refined, processed and bleached salt that pervades our tabletops.

Mineral-rich Himalayan salt

Mineral-rich Himalayan salt

Mineral salts, like pinkish Himalayan rock salt or grey Celtic salt, dissolve into mineral ions.  Researcher Dr Hendel says,

These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. They’re also needed to balance PH levels in the body.

Mineral salts sound like food to me, while the typical table salt just sounds edible.

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What Is Food?

Posted on May 27, 2013. Filed under: Diet | Tags: , , , , , |

Do you eat food?  Are you sure?

I said we would spend a lot of time talking about food on this blog and I think it makes sense to start with the basics.

What is food?

When you really contemplate that question, what do you come up with?  Last night’s chicken dinner, was that food?  Was this morning’s Cheerios food?  We really need to define food to decide if these can be considered food.  A quick Google search gives us this definition:

Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth (emphasis added).

So, did that chicken dinner help to maintain your life and growth?  If the chicken involved was pasture raised then it very likely contains some of the nutrients necessary to maintain your life.  Pasture raised birds eat their natural diet rich in seeds, green plants, insects and worms, which fills the chicken with all the nutrients it needs for a healthy life.  Compare this to a diet of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meals flush with additives of conventionally raised birds and what do you get?  National Geographic reported on a comparison of pasture raised to conventionally raised chickens.  The pasture raised birds were found to have:

  • significantly less fat and less saturated fat
  • 50% more vitamin A
  • significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids

Vitamin A contributes to vision, immune function, bone development, cellular differentiation, growth and reproduction so that extra vitamin A will likely be put to very good use.  Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in reducing inflammation, proper cell membrane function, cell signaling, gene expression and disease protection.  It sounds like a pasture raised chicken is nutritious and meets the definition of food.  A conventionally raised chicken, while less nutritious, is probably still food.  But where is the line between food and not food?

Let’s take a look at Cheerios, considered so wholesome as to be a common first finger food for babies.   The fact that it lists whole grain oats as an ingredient means that the grain they use includes all three parts of the kernel-bran, germ and endosperm- which is good because this is where the nutrition lies in whole grains.  Fiber, iron and B vitamins are the main nutrients associated with whole grain foods so it is funny that the Cheerios website goes on to list fiber, iron and B vitamins as Cheerios ingredients-things they purposely added to the product.  (When I compare the Nutrition Facts of

Cheerios Ingredients

Cheerios Ingredients

Cheerios to that of another whole grain oat product-Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Oats Flour-I see that the cereal has less fiber and protein than the flour, which is a one ingredient food).  I don’t know what kind of whole grain oats Cheerios is using, but if it has to add the very nutrients whole grains are known to have naturally I can’t help but be curious about the quality of the whole grain they are using.

As for the rest of the ingredients in Cheerios, some are items I use in my own cooking-sugar, water-and others are chemicals for thickening, stabilizing and preserving and I can’t say that I’ve ever put those items on my shopping list.  And, what about the added vitamins?  The Handbook of Cereal Science and Technology reveals that cereal manufacturers have added vitamins and minerals to cereals to compensate for the losses that occur during processing (this may explain the discrepancy between the whole grain oat cereal vs flour mentioned earlier). I have too many questions and concerns about this addition of vitamins to address here, but I’ll mention a few.  Which form of each vitamin do they use?

  • For B12, do they use premethylated methylcobalamin or synthetic and cheaper cyanocobalamin?
  • For vitamin E do they use the preferred alpha and gamma tocotrienols or the lower anti-oxidative tocopherols?
  • Are the vitamins they use synthetic or naturally derived?

While I am not opposed to supplementation, I do ascribe to the thinking that the best way to get our nutrients is from food sources as they contain all the cofactors necessary to activate the nutrients.  It seems to me that Cheerios starts with a known food-whole grain oats- and then processes out some of what make it food and then tries to put some of it back in and then some.  I’m having a hard time calling this food.

I’m sure I am not putting as fine a point on this food vs not-food point as I mean to, but that’s because it is still forming for me.  The food industry seems to think that anything that is edible is food and they’ve led us to believe they are the same thing. Only, the simple Google definition of edible helps us to see the difference:

Fit to be eaten (often used to contrast with unpalatable or poisonous examples).

Food and edible are not really synonymous.  Food is about nutrition and edible is about being tasty or not poisonous.  I think it would be a HUGE step in the right direction if we simply refused call things food based on the item’s edibility.  Velveeta cheese may be edible, but it is not food.  At best, combining Velveeta’s ingredients gets us a cheese-like product, not cheese.  If we could gain agreement on this one simple thing then maybe we could gain some traction on a number of social/political issues regarding food.  I will now be making a point to outwardly recognize the difference between food and non-food items.  Will you join me?

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Whole Wheat’s Whole Story

Posted on May 24, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Wheat | Tags: , |

Most of us have been to led to believe that whole wheat is good for us. That may have been true at one time, but the food  procewheatssing techniques of today have change that. 

For a full explanation of what is different about today’s wheat and why it is bad for us, I highly recommend you read cardiologist Dr. William Davis’s book Wheat Belly. Here is a quick clip of why he says whole wheat is poison and here is a slightly fuller explanation for those willing to hunker down for half an hour (the best info starts at minute 24 onward):

A bagel at breakfast, a sandwhich for lunch and some pretzels for a snack over time adds up to a lot of wheat, not to mention all the foods wheat is added to for flavor and texture that we don’t even know to look for it.

You may think it is challenging to think about living without wheat/bread, but I think the more important question is: Can you live with it?

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The McNugget Diet

Posted on May 19, 2013. Filed under: Diet |

Seventeen year old Stacey Irvine is recovering with a high-dose course of vitamins after collapsing and struggling to breathe related to 15 years of eating a diet almost exclusively of chicken nuggets. stacey

Here is the nutritional value of McDonald’s chicken McNuggets, her preferred nugget source:

mcds

The consequences of her diet include:

  • anemia
  • inflamed veins on her tongue
  • severe vitamin deficiency requiring vitamin injections
  • untold future health problems due to a body lacking iron, calcium, antioxidants, vitamins and good fats

Apparently, man cannot live on nuggets alone.

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Alzheimer’s: Type 3 diabetes

Posted on May 15, 2013. Filed under: Neurodegenerative disease | Tags: , |

Have you heard that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is now being called Type 3 diabetes? This article is one of many stating:

growing evidence supports the concept that AD is fundamentally a metabolic disease with substantial and progressive derangements in brain glucose utilization and responsiveness to insulin and insulin-like growth factor [IGF] stimulation.

And because the disease has many aspects to it including:

impairments in energy metabolism, increased oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin and IGF resistance, and insulin/IGF deficiency in the brain…

…it is imperative that future therapeutic strategies for AD abandon the concept of uni-modal therapy in favor of multi-modal treatments that target distinct impairments at different levels within the brain insulin/IGF signaling cascades.

The article also has a simplified diagram of the process under which it states:

Brain insulin resistance

High caloric intake and/or chronic low-level nitrosamine exposures [through diet, smoking, agriculture], promote fatty liver disease (steatohepatitis) that progresses due to injury and inflammation, eventually leading to hepatic insulin resistance. The same poor physiological states also promote obesity, diabetes mellitus, and other peripheral insulin resistance diseases. Toxic lipids, including ceramides, made in the liver, get released into the circulation, cross the blood-brain barrier, and cause brain insulin resistance, inflammation, energy failure, toxicity, and local production of toxic ceramides. The end result is progressive neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer’s disease.

How much you wanna bet ALS is Type 4 diabetes?

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Who’s Watching Your Vitamin D Level?

Posted on May 10, 2013. Filed under: Vitamin D | Tags: |

Are you one of the 41% of Americans living with vitamin D deficiency (rates are much higher for Blacks [82%] and Hispanics [69%])?  I was.  A few months before my ALS diagnosis I had an annual checkup with my primary care provider (PCP).  Routine blood work showed my vitamin D level was an abysmal 11 ng/mL. (more…)

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