Archive for June, 2013

GMOs Are Not Benign

Posted on June 24, 2013. Filed under: Food Politics, GMO | Tags: , , , , |

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US approves a label for meat free of Genetically Modified products.

Posted on June 22, 2013. Filed under: Food industry, Food Politics, GMO, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Finally, a label that makes sense!

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Salt, Sugar, Fat: That’s how they getcha

Posted on June 19, 2013. Filed under: against the current, Diet, Food industry, What is food? | Tags: , , , , , |

Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler exposed the food industry’s purposeful use of sugar, salt and fat in his 2009 book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.

Now, New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss takes the subject a step further in his book Salt, Sugar, Fat by taking a closer look at how the food industry makes the decisions they do; in the lab, not a kitchen.

Take away: Processed food is designed to be bad for you. Period.

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Avocado: The World’s Healthiest Food

Posted on June 18, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , |

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have just one food with you, what would you choose. I would choose an avocado. The avocado page on the Whole Foods website offers an amazingly comprehensive explanation of the seemingly endless nutritional value of the avocado, but here is why I try to eat one every day. Avocados are:

  • full of antioxidants
  • enhance the absorption of other antioxidants
  • anti-inflammatory
  • full of good fats
  • blood sugar regulators


Add an egg to it, like I did for breakfast this morning and you get:

  • a complete range of amino acids
  • all the B vitamins
  • rich source of selenium and iodine, minerals difficult to obtain from other foods
  • omega-3 fats


  1. cut 1 avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out a little extra if needed
  2. drop one egg in each avocado half
  3. sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
  4. bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (don’t overcook!)
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How Colorful Is Your Plate?

Posted on June 17, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Dr. Terry Wahls, Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , |

When I first made major changes to my diet I learned from Dr. Terry Wahls to eat, among other things, 3 cups of color per day.  She suggested the 3 cups be made up mostly of reds and blues like blueberries and raspberries.  She clearly was promoting the consumption of antioxidants to stop the internal “rusting” associated with oxidative damage.

I eat those 3 cups of color most days, but I have to admit that is far easier to accomplish during the bountiful summers here in the Pacific Northwest.  Below is a chart that reminds us of the importance of all the colors foods have to offer.



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Leaky: Bone Broth for Leaky Gut and Leaky Brain

Posted on June 13, 2013. Filed under: Cancer, Diet, Dr. Terry Wahls, Eat these!, GMO, Gut health, Neurodegenerative disease, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

There are many ways to react to a diagnosis as big as ALS. Having a decent sense of self-efficacy, I chose to find ways to intervene in the disease process. Re-watching a TED Talk by Dr. Terry Wahls reminded me how important diet can be to health and healing so this is where I began.


I started by eating the Wahl’s Way as described in her book Minding My Mitochondria, which, at it’s simplest, involves 3 cups of greens, 3 cups of colorful fruits/veggies and 3 cups of sulphur veggies daily. Then, not satisfied that I was doing all that my body might need, I moved to the Gerson Method, which is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients, and extremely low in sodium, fats, and proteins. In essence, it involves 13 fruit/veggie juices per day, soup and baked potatoes, but it is cancer focused so I eventually decided there were limits to it’s value to my neurodegenerative-self.

Along the way I learned about leaky gut and leaky brain. As described by Dr. Andrew Weil,

Leaky gut syndrome (also called increased intestinal permeability), is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream.

While I did not think of myself as someone with a lot of stomach complaints, I was realizing that I had issues with milk, which I had been consuming my entire life. Could this constant exposure to an irritant have disrupted my stomach lining homeostasis? I had also spent many years as a junk food junky with a penchant for sweets. Did I have an imbalance of sugar loving yeasts in my gut that was contributing to leakiness? There is also a growing body of evidence pointing to the harmfulness of GMOs to our bodies and gut with this one on pig stomach lining disruption by a GMO diet being the most recent. And if I did have a leaky gut, what nutrients weren’t being absorbed or metabolized and what molecules were crossing into my wider system that should have been kept out?

Leaky brain syndrome essentially is the caboose end of the leaky gut syndrome train. Scott Forsgren writes,

Food sensitivities and Leaky Gut Syndrome lead to systemic inflammation. Once the entire body reacts and enters a state of inflammatory response, a multitude of additional symptoms may be observed…


…inflammation due to pro-inflammatory cytokines attracts molecules which have receptors on the blood-brain barrier. Slowly, these molecules end up in the brain compartment and cause destruction of nerve cells. This entire process starts in the gut and results in a neuroimmune disorder including autoimmunity to the brain.

I certainly have a history of inflammatory issues spanning the entirety of my life. I had stomach issues as a baby, eczema during childhood that resolved and returned in adulthood, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and more. Could I have been challenging my gut and brain barriers my whole life? Could healing those barriers stem the tide of inflammation and give my body a chance to heal? I was willing to do the work to find out.

Enter bone broth.

Bone broth is so full of minerals and nutrients as to support a number health issues including healing the gut. The nourished kitchen website writes:

Bone broths are a good source of amino acids – particularly arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports the bodies detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body. Glycine also supports digestion and the secretion of gastric acids. Proline, especially when paired with vitamin C, supports good skin health. Bone broths are also rich in gelatin which improves collagen status, thus supporting skin health. Gelatin also support digestive health which is why it plays a critical role in the GAPS diet. And, lastly, if you’ve ever wondering why chicken soup is good for a cold, there’s science behind that, too. Chicken stock inhibits neutrophil migration; that is, it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.

So, if you have issues with inflammation, leaky gut and leaky brain, consider learning to make and drink bone broth on a regular basis.

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What’s in a Burger?

Posted on June 10, 2013. Filed under: What is food? | Tags: , |

I’ve been trying to refine my own understanding of when something is food vs edible. Maybe you can help me with this: what percentage of a hamburger needs to be meat in order to call it food? Check out this brief video for some relevant information: What’s in a Burger?

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The Current of Food Politics

Posted on June 5, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Food Politics, Nutrition | Tags: , , |

A guest blogger at Scientific American recently made this tongue-in-cheek post: Dear American Consumers: Please Don’t Start Eating Healthfully. Sincerely, the Food Industry.

It pointed me to the 2009 Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children and the guidelines this group created which included:

…that foods advertised to children must provide a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet.” For example, any food marketed to children must “contain at least 50% by weight one or more of the following: fruit; vegetable; whole grain; fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt; fish; extra lean meat or poultry; eggs; nuts and seeds; or beans.


And here is some of what one food industry member, General Mills, had to say about the guidelines in a public comment letter:

  • under the IWG guidelines, the most commonly consumed foods in the US would be considered unhealthy
  • of the 100 most commonly consumed foods and beverages in America, 88 would fail the IWG’s proposed standards
  • it would cost [the food industry] $503 billion per year [if the guidelines were implemented]

Just in case you weren’t sure, it’s not that our government doesn’t know what would be good policy-because clearly they have studied it, it’s that officials lack the will to prioritize the needs of its people over the highly organized, professional and well paid voice of the food industry.

So, I swim against the food industry-created and government sanctioned current for the benefit of me and my family. My children and I discuss the confusing messages of the McDonald’s commercials. We talk about why sugared cereal is placed right at their eye level in grocery stores. We teach our pediatrician that milk isn’t the only (or best) way to get calcium.

Yeah, I’m that lady. And I’m OK with it.

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The Art and Skill of Useful Interactions

Posted on June 2, 2013. Filed under: Dr-Patient relationship | Tags: , , |

Having ALS necessitates having conversations about some potentially touchy subjects and there is both an art and a skill to having these conversations well. I am probably primed to be critical of some folks’ ability in this department because of my professional history as a therapist and a social media consultant with a sub-specialty in health. I take great care to interact with empathy and relevance on the health oriented discussion boards I’m on. I’ve heard first hand accounts of unsympathetic, or worse, dismissive medical professionals and I don’t want to burden other members with more of that kind of useless experience. I’ve also been contracted to research a model of medical care called patient centered care and I have a hard time not cringing when medical professionals aren’t at least trying to implement its principles. In short, I have high expectations of myself and others and I’m not particularly apologetic about that.

And so it is through that lens that I view my own experiences with ALS professionals. Right from the start there seemed to be a disconnect between how I was presenting and how some professionals were treating me. I had hope and an incurable sense of self-efficacy. Despite this, one of my neurologist’s first suggestions was that I meet with a social worker. Turns out he did not meet with me so he could get to know me or how his organization might support me on my journey to live well with this disease. Rather, he wanted to be able to check off his list that he had told me about SSI, his organization’s services and to give me a stack of marketing materials that were so useless that they ended up in the trash.

His message was far from hopeful. There were no discussions of how to maintain a sense of value and usefulness-qualities constantly at risk due to diminishing physical abilities-by, say, supporting my continued employment; instead I was directed to SSI. He had no suggestions for a trustworthy resource for stair climbing equipment to help ease the work of getting up and down my home’s stairs because he thought it was better if people just moved to a one story home. This ALS-bound belief of his was completely out of touch with the reality of the benefits of my current home which included living near irreplaceable neighbors, the built-in babysitting of the gaggle of kids that play like siblings whenever school is out and that we can retrofit a downstairs space into a main bedroom in the future if we like. His lack of artfulness in having these conversations could have led me down the wrong paths if I didn’t find the strength to listen to my own instincts.

Ultimately, that has been one of the gifts of this disease: a renewed ability to listen to my own instincts. I feel less bound to social norms and more committed to honesty and genuineness even when the truth causes discomfort. I’m not uncomfortable with others’ discomfort; I’ve got bigger things to worry about.

But, as critical as I am, I have empathy too. I recently read this post by a blogging doctor titled A Letter to Patients With Chronic Disease. It exposes the perspective of medical providers whose genuine desire to be helpful may be thwarted by the fact that there is no known cure for a disease. It reminds me that providers have human reactions to big diseases too. I will be wrestling with one piece of advice he offers:

Don’t come on too strong – yes, you have to advocate for yourself, but remember that doctors are used to being in control. All of the other patients come into the room with immediate respect, but your understanding has torn down the doctor-god illusion. That’s a good thing in the long-run, but few doctors want to be greeted with that reality from the start. Your goal with any doctor is to build a partnership of trust that goes both ways, and coming on too strong at the start can hurt your chances of ever having that.

I suspect there is a better balance I could strike between coming on too strong and not strong enough. In my defense, my intensity is highly related to the fact that I often feel I am swimming against the current. I am expected to be hopeless, dependent and in need of education, but if you’ve ever met me, you know how far off these descriptors are for me. So how do I push against those assumptions without coming on too strong?

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Toxic Conventional Strawberries

Posted on June 1, 2013. Filed under: Alzheiner's, Cancer, Neurodegenerative disease | Tags: , , |

I’ve posted previously re: the difference between conventional vs. organic strawberries.  Now this infographic enumerates the toxins in conventional strawberries.



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