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You Are What You Eat?

The phrase “you are what you eat” indicates that to be healthy you need to eat healthy foods. The Phrase Finder describes the history of this notion. In 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, wrote in an essay “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” (Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are). In 1863/4 Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote in his essay about materialism & spiritualism “Der Mensch ist, was er ißt (Man is what he eats). They were both saying that the state of your health & your mind is dependent on what you eat. 

Are we too focused on fad diets & the individual foods that we consume rather than on the overall effect of our daily intake of nutrients has on us? Lets explore that idea.

Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist, personal trainer, health educator & author has written an article “Why You Really are What You Eat”. She explains how our cells have a “shelf life” & are constantly being replaced. In order to do that properly the body needs the nutrients from the foods we consume. As she says, we are literally what we eat. This article is important to read because she takes you through how our systems use the nutrients to build a healthy, functioning body. 

When people are confronted with the idea of a change in diet to help them to build their immune system or to regain their health they think in terms of diets & exercise. For example, they get caught up in the super food list, fad diets, & new exercise regimes. Not realizing that the foods we eat will work together, synergistically, to build a healthy body. It is not about just one food item, an apple or a lettuce leaf, but about a balance of nutrients from all food groups.

If we eat a healthy, balanced diet, will our outer appearance be healthier too? According to this article it will be. WebMD: Foods for Healthy Skin: You Are What You Eat  “What you put on your plate is even more important than what you put on your skin.”

In this article the author quotes Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York City. She points out that not only will your skin look healthier with a healthy diet but all sorts of skin problems will occur if we don’t pay attention to what goes in our mouths. Thus, what you eat will have an impact on skin conditions. 

WebMD: The Skin “The skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.” Obviously we should be paying attention to looking after this organ. Food matters externally as well.

What about our mental health. Does “you are what you eat” also mean “you are emotionally what you eat’? Read the following article & reflect on your mental well being.

Harvard Medical School, Health Publishing: Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food NOVEMBER 16, 2015, by Eva Selhub MD, Contributing Editor  “Think about it. Your brain is always “on.” It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat, your senses — it works hard 24/7, even while you’re asleep. This means your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That “fuel” comes from the foods you eat — and what’s in that fuel makes all the difference. Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.” Read the rest of the article.

Our mental health does depend on the nutrients we consume daily. We can also argue that the healthier we are, the more energy we have & the happier we are. Yet we hear about celebrities & athletes that are fit, healthy & trim but have problems with depression & anxiety. There is now scientific evidence that certain foods will affect us emotionally, and the lack of needed nutrients will also affect us emotionally.

In an earlier post I discussed the brain~gut connection. This is an important part of the equation. The healthier the gut buddies are the healthier the brain is.

Putting together what we have learned; what we eat affects us internally, externally & mentally, then this weeks news should make you think differently about the problems of obesity. Child and teen obesity spreading across the globe 11 October 2017  Looking at the obesity rate of children & teens from 200 countries over the last 40 years, the Lancet reported that it has increased 10 fold; 124 million children & teens are obese. The World Obesity Federation  talks about the astronomical increase in health costs with this trend. They are looking at physical diseases. Mental health will also be a problem. “Researchers believe wide availability and promotion of cheap, fattening food is one of the main drivers.”

This morning I saw an obscure headline, in my world health news, by Fortune: KFC Needs to Take Responsibility for Africa’s Obesity Crisis The article is about Ghana’s obesity crisis. The food culture of the Ghana people has changed with the opening of fast food places, in particular the most popular, Kentucky Fried Chicken. What has followed with this new way of eating is an epidemic of obesity, diabetes & heart disease. This is a good article pointing out how the western food culture, namely ours, has changed the health of every country in the world! This is nothing to be proud of.

We know that cancer is one of the problems that can occur with obesity. Cancer: 40 percent of all cases related to obesity, overweight  “A new report warns about the role of obesity in cancer. As many as 40 percent of all cancers are related to obesity, according to the new research, which suggests that these cancers would be preventable if weight was kept under control.” 

This an interesting piece to read. The researchers, grouped and analyzed the data by sex, age, ethnicity, geographic area, and the site where the cancer appeared.” The bottom line on this report is to promote strategies for cancer prevention including helping people to get to a healthy weight & to keep their weight under control.

Once again, the main strategy should be to promote healthy eating. This preventative strategy should start with families & their children. Education is such a powerful tool.


The Mediterranean, DASH & MIND diets are the best ways for most people to eat. It is difficult to change. With the Mediterranean diet there is wiggle room for personal tastes without losing nutrients. You can also go out to eat with family & friends still adhering to this way of eating. No peer pressure! Keeping the Mediterranean diet pyramid in mind will help you to plan stress free meals. Plus it is made up of all those super foods & brain foods you read about on the internet 🙂 

How do I justify being a Vegan or a Vegetarian setting aside animal rights? If a person finds foods that cause the body harm then they must omit or limit them. As I have been open about, I have Lupus. Along with this diagnosis comes brain fog, rashes & lots of joint pain among other symptoms. In order to decrease the intensity of these symptoms I have had to omit & limit food groups. But…I have learned to replace these food groups with foods that will give me the same nutrients. My meal plans are balanced to make sure I get the essential vitamins & minerals too. There are unhealthy, obese vegans & vegetarians. We need to pay attention to the quality of the food we consume just like everyone else. 

This article from the New York Times is excellent. Please take the time to read it. Good Vegan, Bad Vegan By Jane Brody, October 2, 2017.  This is about more than being a vegan. The author has used scientific based facts in her article. She explains why moving your diet towards a plant based diet, not necessarily vegan or vegetarian, is the ultimate way to maintain a healthy body. 

By the way, I totally agree with everything she says. Although I did like the documentary “What the Health”, I have to agree with her assessment of it. It was a bit over the top. 

Here is a bit of humor about being vegan or vegetarian. My personal pet peeve is when eating out & I say I am a vegetarian & the waitperson says; “But you do eat chicken & fish right?” Where did they learn what a vegetable is?  #VegetarianMonth: Things never to say to a veggie “To mark World Vegetarian Day, we asked some veggies to share what they wish meat-eaters would stop asking them.”  🙂

I sincerely hope that you will take another look at yourself & ask if you are healthy inside & out plus do you have a healthy mental outlook. Then look at what you are eating on a daily basis. Remember my journal rant? Write down not only what you eat but how it affects you mentally & physically. Then & only then can you create a personal diet plan. 

I realize how difficult it is right now to maintain a happy, healthy attitude. A friend of mine said it so well. “There is a worldwide collective pain right now. Knowing that, I either need to learn to dance in the collective Joy that also exists or learn to be neutral.”

Lets all dance in the collective Joy. Until next week…Mary 🙂

All Things Pumpkin

October cuisine makes me think of winter squash, especially all things pumpkin; pumpkin pie to Jack ‘O Lanterns. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many incredible recipes using pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree. I have cooked a pumpkin to make puree or to use whole in a recipe but I prefer having canned/boxed puree on hand in my pantry. Our store carries Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin in a boxI also substitute their canned pureed sweet potato in my recipes for a change. Click on their Recipe tab for even more fun things to bake.

There is a big difference between pumpkin puree & pumpkin pie mix. Pureed pumpkin’s ingredient list should be only cooked pumpkin. Pumpkin pie mix has pumpkin, water, sugar (added sugar), salt, spices, dextrose, & natural flavors (whatever they are). These recipes require pumpkin puree, & no you shouldn’t use pumpkin pie mix instead.

WebMD: 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin, By Chris Obenschain  Here are the 6 benefits, go to the article for more information.

  1. Weight loss High in fiber
  2. Sharp vision Vitamin A
  3. Better immunity Vitamin A & C
  4. Younger-looking skin
  5. Lower cancer risk Beta Carotene
  6. It may help treat diabetes May reduce blood glucose levels

Nutritional Information for Organic Pumpkin Puree Note the amount of fiber in 1/2 cup; 8 grams & vitamin A; 280% of your RDA! Worth adding to your meals.

So let’s get started with all the recipes I found.

Here is a recipe that I have shared with you several times. It is still my go-to Chili when entertaining & during those cold months of winter. From Delicious Living: Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili with Toasted Pepitas “Economical canned pumpkin, tomatoes, and beans combine to make a creamy base for this Caribbean-inspired chili.” This chili is even better the next day! I serve it with the toasted pepitas, avocado & cilantro on top with a side of cornbread muffins & a salad. You can’t go wrong with this recipe.

If you are in the mood for a healthy vegan burger, here it is! Sweet Missellany: PUMPKIN & BLACK BEAN BURGERS Great recipe. Simple & tasty. You can make them ahead & refrigerate or freeze them. 

Looking for a hot & spicy veggie burger? Peas & Crayons: CHIPOTLE PUMPKIN VEGGIE BURGERS  “These tasty Chipotle Pumpkin Veggie Burgers are quick, easy, and a total crowd pleaser! Each veggie burger is vegan, gluten-free, freezer-friendly and 100% delicious!” This site has a lot of wonderful recipes. Be sure & click on their recipe tab to take a look.

Both of those recipes can be non-vegetarian as well. Add diced or chopped chicken, turkey or even fish to them. Be creative 🙂

I really like a pumpkin sauce for over pasta. This recipe does use cheese but it sure looks good! Creamy Pumpkin Alfredo Penne Pasta from Jessica in the Kitchen.

For a vegan recipe: my Darling vegan, VEGAN PUMPKIN ALFREDO WITH ROASTED HAZELNUTS This recipe looks simple & really tasty. Will add this to my vegan recipe collection 🙂

I used to buy sauce by Cucina Antica when I was in a rush. Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce. Not organic but a “clean” product. 

Prevention Magazine: 10 Fast Recipes with Pureed Pumpkin. Take a look at the last recipe on the list, Pumpkin-Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas A shmear of spicy pumpkin-chipotle sauce adds tons of flavor to quesadillas, so you can get away with using less cheese. Win! ” You can switch out the chicken for fish or turkey or go vegan with Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s or spicy potatoes. 

This has got to be the best list of all things pumpkin recipes! 55 of the Best Savory Pumpkin Recipes from Country Living. I scrolled through the list & picked out a few that caught my eye but all 55 are amazing.

My husband & I love hummus. We also love the taste that pumpkin brings to a recipe. This recipe combines the two. Winner!! From Easy as Apple Pie: Savory Pumpkin Hummus The author adds cumin & cinnamon to the mixture giving it an extra special zip. Looking forward to trying this recipe.

Pumpkin Bread is a favorite of nearly everyone. It is also a tasty hostess gift to take along to a party or dinner. 

September Nutrition Nuggets


The topics for this months Nuggets are: Strokes; Diet & Acid Reflux; Apricot Kernels; Microbiomes (gut buddies); Artificial Sweeteners & Diabetes; and Diet & B/P as we age. Lots to think about!

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC, states on their website that:  “Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.1,2 About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.” Anyone can be at risk of having a stroke regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. 80% of strokes are preventable, according to the CDC. 20% are not preventable but strokes are treatable. The treatment depends on the type of stroke & how early it is caught.

New report a “wake-up call” about stroke risk By ASHLEY WELCH CBS NEWS September 6, 2017  The “wake -up call is that the progress of stroke prevention has stalled. This particular study does not address the reasons for the stalled progress. Other studies have pointed at obesity, diabetes & high blood pressure as the culprits. 

CNBC/Modern Medicine: America is losing battle to prevent strokes, as risk factors increase across population This article mentions the fact that we are seeing an increase in hospitalization of younger people & children for strokes. The cause is linked to risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes & use of tobacco. This is appalling news! 

The CDC is calling this a “wake-up call” for the CDC. There are studies & programs to show that diet & lifestyle changes can lower your risks. I think the “wake-up call” is for the American public to take a serious look at how they & their families are eating & exercising. Be your own advocate. Don’t wait to be told that you need to clean up your diet, exercise & change your lifestyle. Losing just 10 pounds, if you are overweight, will lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol & your overall risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke & diabetes. 

The Huff post & other news agencies reported that A Vegetarian Diet Could Be The Ideal Acid Reflux RemedyThis could be huge. 09/08/2017, By Rebecca ZamonSenior Editor, Lifestyle, HuffPost Canada As it says in the title, this could be huge. The latest studies, Science News, have shown that medications used for acid reflux, proton pump inhibitors, have been linked to a higher risk of death with long term use. This small study of 184 people shows that you can get the same benefits with a plant based diet… like the Mediterranean diet 🙂 

Another example of what a change in diet & lifestyle can make.

You have probably heard of laetrile used as an alternative treatment for cancer. Laetrile is made from apricot kernels/seeds. Laetrile is also inaccurately referred to as Vitamin B17, to be able to market the laetrile as a supplement. The apricot kernel contains a toxic substance, amygdalin. Amygdalin is converted to cyanide in the body, which is poisonous and can cause serious harm. Cyanide prevents the cells from using oxygen. All cells, not just cancer cells.

Apricot kernels can give you cyanide poisoning  Daily News, by Constance Gibbs, September 12, 2017  An Australian man in remission from prostate cancer, took apricot kernels in an extract along with pills made from fruit seeds to prevent the cancer from returning. He took them every day for 5 years & died from cyanide poisoning. He was warned to stop taking them by his doctors when they noticed his oxygen saturation was very low. He didn’t listen & continued.

Before you try any alternative treatment for any disease or condition, research it, talk with your healthcare team or email me! Alternative means that you are told to forgo your conventional treatment to use only the treatment offered. This is rarely a good idea.

NPR: Is The Secret To A Healthier Microbiome Hidden In The Hadza Diet? August 24, 2017, by MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF  The Hadza are a hunter-gatherer group in Tanzania. Their diet consists of what they find in their forest. This is an interesting study of their diet and its impact on their microbiomes, gut buddies. Our diet influences what gut buddies we have. We now know that our gut health is linked to our brain function as well as the health of other parts of the body. This article is worth reading. The results of the study may surprise you.

US NEWS: Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Diabetes Risk? By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter Sept. 14, 2017  I have talked about artificial sweeteners use before. This study was conducted in Australia with a small group of participants, 27 adults, over a two week period. Even so the study has made diabetic experts ask some important questions.

As I have long suspected, use of artificial sweeteners can affect the way your body responds to glucose (sugar), increasing your risk for type 2 Diabetes. The results of this study apply to people who use these sweeteners all the time. Too much phony sugar is as bad as too much regular sugar. Both come with their own health problems. I would ordinarily say that moderation is the key, but in the case of fake sugar, I would say don’t use them at all. 

For those of you who are shaking your head right now, wondering what to sweeten your foods with…use regular old sugar, honey, pureed fruit etc. Use it in moderation. If you usually take 2 packets of fake sugar in your coffee then use use 1 teaspoon or less of sugar. Buying sugar free processed & packaged goods is not a healthy choice. Not only because of the fake sugar but also because of all the other ingredients in them that are unhealthy. Products that are sugar free give some people the idea that they can consume more, racking up the calories as they do. 

Ok, enough from my fake sugar soapbox 🙂

CTV Health from Canada: Keeping a steady, healthy weight as we age also helps keep blood pressure low  Published Saturday, September 16, 2017 Another important study that was done in the US. Read the article, very informative.

The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study used 4,630 participants, 18-30 years old & followed them for 25 years. Their blood pressures & health behaviors were measured 8 times during that period. The study looked at the following health behaviors:

  • Healthy body weight
  • Have never smoked
  • Zero to seven alcoholic drinks weekly for women and zero to 14 for men
  • 150 minutes or more moderate to vigorous physical activity per week
  • Eating a healthy diet based on adhering to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan; the DASH diet.

The conclusion was, maintaining a healthy body weight was the most important behavior to keep an optimal blood pressure as the participants aged. They also stressed that all the listed behaviors have a positive impact on health. My question would be; don’t you need the other behaviors to maintain a healthy body weight?


I will be on vacation next week. The next Blog post will be on October 9th. Yes, October is almost here! I am looking forward to all things pumpkin…until then, Mary 🙂

Ketogenic Diet

Two weeks ago my post was Are Carbs the Problem? Not Fats?  The post was about the McMaster University study which found that a higher-fat diet was actually associated with a lower risk of early death. The bottom line that I took away from the study was that fat is okay in moderation; 30% of your calories. Low fat diets are harmful. Complex carbs are okay in moderation; 50-55% of your calories. Simple carbs are not okay. Eat a plant based diet.

In the news this week is that the Keto diet, which is similar to the diet the McMaster Univerity study covered, can help you to live longer. This diet is very popular among people who want to lose weight & athletes. Lets look at the new research & the history of the Ketogenic diet as well as the pro’s & con’s of being on the diet. It is not for everyone.

I am sure we will be hearing more about research into the benefits of this diet for some cancers, especially cancer of the brain. 

The Ketogenic diet was introduced in 1924 by Dr.Russel Wilder at the Mayo Clinic for children with epilepsy. It fell out of favor in the 1940’s when anti-seizure medications were discovered. The diet was successful with a large percentage of epileptic children but had to be adhered to 100% for it to work. Taking an anti-seizure drug was, understandably, much more appealing. The main complaint from parents was that the diet was difficult to maintain. It took too much time to calculate & prepare plus you couldn’t eat anywhere but home.

New interest in the diet for epilepsy started in 1994 with a news report on NBC’s Dateline. It was the story of Charlie Abrahams, the 11 month old son of Jim Abrahams, an American movie producer & writer. Charlie had epilepsy that was difficult to control. When the conventional & alternative treatments that they tried didn’t help his sons seizures, Mr. Abraham took him to the pediatric unit of Johns Hopkins Medical Center. They were using the ketogenic diet for the treatment of epilepsy. Here are a few excerpts from the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies

“In 1993, 11 month old Charlie Abrahams developed difficult to control epilepsy. As a last resort, while Charlie was experiencing multiple daily seizures and multiple daily medications, his parents turned to a Ketogenic Diet for help. The diet worked. Charlie became seizure and drug free within a month. He was on the diet for five years and now eats whatever he wants. He has never had another seizure.”

“The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies was founded in 1994 to provide information about diet therapies for people with epilepsy, other neurological disorders and select cancers.”

“New applications of the ketogenic diet for cancer, autism, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, type-2 diabetes, and traumatic brain injury have emerged.  Scientific data regarding these new uses of diet therapy is accumulating rapidly. Variations of the ketogenic diet for these other disorders are being developed. Today, it is the Charlie Foundation’s expanded mission not only to champion ketogenic diet therapy for epilepsy, but provide up-to-date information regarding its expanded use and variations. To this end we have re-named ourselves “The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies”.”

This is an amazing website with all the current news & research on the ketogenic diet. If you have an interest in the diet I would recommend starting with the foundations website. ***When you go to the website, watch the video about the Keto diet & brain cancer. 

The latest research on the Keto diet is reported in  Healthline:  Keto Diet Can Help You Live Longer, Researchers Say  Written by Gigen Mammoser on September 13, 2017 “Two recent studies concluded that the low-carbohydrate diet can increase life span. However, there is still plenty of controversy surrounding the Keto diet.” This research has only been done with mice so far. If the results can be applied to humans, it would be an extremely important outcome. I imagine that human clinical trials will start soon. 

What is the Ketogenic diet? The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, adequate-protein, high-fat diet.  

Lets go back to the Charlie Foundation website: Frequently asked questions about the Classic and Modified Ketogenic Diets, Classic Keto and Modified Ketogenic Diets  This page answers a lot of your questions even though it is focused on childhood epilepsy.

1. “The ketogenic diet is a special high-fat diet that is used for difficult to treat seizures. Heavy cream, butter, plus, nut and seed oils, provide the necessary fat. The diet also completely eliminates sweets such as candy, cookies, and desserts. Other carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, potatoes, rice, cereals, and pasta are not allowed on the strictest form of the diet, but are allowed on more liberal forms of the diet. All foods must be carefully prepared and weighed on a gram scale. Each meal must be eaten in its entirety for the diet to be most effective. The Classic diet consists of a ratio in grams of fat to non-fat (protein and carbohydrates) of 4:1 and 3:1. The modified ketogenic diet consists of ratios of 2:1 and 1:1.”

What is the Ketogenic Diet?  This page is an introduction to the diet. It has a comparison chart for the Ketogenic Diet, MCT Oil, Low Glycemic Index Treatment & the Modified Atkins Diet. It answers FAQ’s such as; should these diets be medically supervised; percentage of carbs allowed; is a pre-evaluation needed; are tools needed; side effects & more. I found this the most comprehensive, scientifically balanced information regarding the ketogenic diet.

What are the side effects? As I have stated before, this diet is not for everyone. You should be monitored by your health care team if you are going to try it for any reason. Cancer changes your immune response & leaves you vulnerable with any nutrition or lifestyle changes. Whats good for an athlete does not apply to you. 

Check out this article from ASCO, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Post: The Ketogenic Diet in Cancer Control 

These are the reasons you need to be monitored by your health care team before & during the use of this diet. 

These side effects may occur when beginning the diet. Probably due to hypoglycemia. I read that they resolve in a few weeks.

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Muscle weakness or pains
  • Poor sleep
  • Constipation, nausea or upset stomach
  • Excessive thirst & frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Confusion, anxiety and/or irritability
  • Tachycardia: heart rate speeds up
  • Lightheaded & shaky
  • Sweating and chills

These are some of the long term effects found with some adults.

  • Kidney stones: 5% of the patients
  • weight loss
  • constipation
  • increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • increased risk of bone fractures
  • Women may experience problems with their menstrual cycle.

Work with your healthcare team before you try any new diet, but this one in particular. There are people who should not be on this diet, for example anyone with kidney, pancreatic or liver disease. 

This is a very good you tube video about not only the keto diet but about the gut-brain connection & the diet.  David Perlmutter – Ketogenic Diet, Carbs & Gut Bacteria “Dr. Perlmutter discusses new science regarding low-carb, high-fat diets (ketogenic), gut bacterial diversity and exercise for optimal brain health.”

I have been an advocate of a healthy, balanced, plant based diet for most of my life. I have attended conferences about nutrition & how important it is to keep us healthy. I am at a loss to understand why diet is not the first line of defense recommended by physicians to their patients. The only reasons that I can come up with is the lack of training during medical school & the laziness of the typical American. Popping a pill is much easier. The ketogenic diet is a good example of what can be accomplished with diet alone. 

If you are interested in the use of medical marijuana derivatives for children with epilepsy, read this blog post: The Charlie Foundation’s Position on Marijuana Derivatives for Epilepsy Treatment  I am in total agreement with what he says. Sometimes anecdotal evidence & the risk/benefit ratio needs to be considered without the interference of government agencies.

Next week will be the Nutrition Nuggets I have collected over the past month. Until then…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources:

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: High-Fat Ketogenic Diet Misunderstood, Underused November 18, 2010
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine, Neurology & Neurosurgery: Adult Epilepsy Diet Center  “Recent studies have shown that the modified Atkins diet lowers seizure rates in nearly half of adults that try it, usually within a few months. Unlike the ketogenic diet (used mostly in children), there is no hospital stay involved, no fasting to get started, no food weighing, and no counting of calories or fluids. The diet is “modified” from the traditional Atkins diet because fats are encouraged. Adults can also lose weight on the diet if desired.”



Foods as Beauty Products!

Picking Chamomile. MHollander

Our NUT Elf, Suzi, had this interesting idea for this weeks post; using food as beauty products. This can be for your everyday routine or for an in-home spa day to relax. What a fun time I had in researching this topic. 

Before we get into natural ways to enhance your beauty, take a look at this article from Health on NBC News. Suffering for beauty has ancient roots. From lead eyeliner to mercury makeup, killer cosmetics over the decade. by Diane Mapes. Reading this may have you taking a closer look at the ingredients in your makeup & beauty products.

You can always check up on the manufacturer on’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database 

I felt it only fair to add this site where you can check on the ingredients of your cosmetics. It is sponsored by the industry.  Cosmetics Info: The Science & Safety Behind Your Favorite Products “Consumers of cosmetics and personal care products are protected by strong federal safety regulations under the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) via the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act. In addition, cosmetics companies work to ensure ingredient safety and are guided by a strong commitment to utilize the best science and latest available research data to substantiate the safety of a cosmetic and personal care product before it is marketed. Based on the information that is submitted to the FDA, via the Adverse Events Reporting System and other reporting mechanisms, it is important to note that only a very small percentage of cosmetics or personal care products on the market are associated with adverse events.”  Take a look at this page: A History of Cosmetics from Ancient Times  Fascinating!

Suzi starts us off with this contribution… “It works! I’ve only done this once today, and my wrinkles were not gone totally, but not as deep. So I’m guessing if I keep using it, maybe they will go away! ha ha ha”

No More Wrinkles and Sagging Skin on Your Face 

  • 1/2 cucumber + 1 egg white
  • Peel cucumber and cut into small pieces. Blend into a puree. Pour into a bowl covered with a strainer, drain all the juice. Smash the pulp with a spoon in the strainer to ensure all the juice is extracted. Add the egg white and mix well.
  • Apply the mixture on the areas of the skin you want to tighten. Let it stand for 15 minutes; rinse with cold water.
  • To get the best results, use once or twice a week.

Our coffee grounds go in a jar for the garden. They are nitrogen rich & turn my Hydrangea flowers from pink to purple. Now I have a new use for them.  From Elle Magazine: Seven Miracle Beauty Products Found in the Food Aisle Strawberries as teeth whitener? Yep. BY   JAN 31, 2014

For all of you coconut oil lovers, the author lists several good uses for it. I want to try it for shaving my legs. That way I won’t have to put lotion on afterwards. 

From marie claire: 11 Natural Skin Care Products That Are Already in Your Fridge  Your kitchen = your new Sephora. By  Oct 30, 2015 

In this article, instead of strawberries to whiten your teeth, she recommends orange peels. Both sound tasty. If you have Champagne & Sake in your kitchen, you can now move them into your makeup cubby 🙂 Of course Apple Cider Vinegar & Baking Soda make the list. 

Tea Bags have been used for dark circles & puffy eyes for centuries. I like using Chamomile on my eyes when they are tired & itchy. Here are some more ideas from the Readers Digest:  22 Ways to Use Tea to Benefit Your Beauty, Home and Garden   

Here is a site with 5 DIY beauty tips using green tea from the Indian Spot: Amazing Beauty DIYs using Green Tea  Rich in antioxidants and anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea has amazing beauty benefits. It can be used in different natural ways to help your skin appear brighter and flawless.”

I prefer to use loose tea at home. To use tea bags in these recipes all you need to do is buy a couple of muslin reusable tea bags for loose tea. When finished you compost the tea & rinse out the bag to use again. These are not difficult to find. Try Michael’s, natural food store’s, herb stores or the link above for Amazon.

Having problems with dry cuticles & hangnails? Try this Homemade Cuticle Cream from 30 Handmade Days. Very simple to make & will last for a long time.

Lydi Out Loud has put together a list of  THE BEST BEAUTY PRODUCTS YOU CAN DIY  from 30 fun websites. One of the websites she mentions is one of my favorites. 

Frugally Sustainable A RESOURCE FOR ALL THINGS FRUGAL AND SUSTAINABLE  I like her homemade Shampoo Bars I am going to make the Chamomile & Calendula Bar. 

From the same website, Frugally SustainableI am really into this idea! Herbal Sleep Aid :: How to Make Peaceful Sleep Sachets Using Herbs, Essential Oils, and Crystals   by 

Organic Beauty Recipes by Eve. She has face, body, hair & lip-care recipesI’ve created this blog so anybody can start making their own organic beauty recipes at home and ditch all the chemical filled commercial products…

I will share homemade organic recipes of face & body creams, body butters, lips balms, shampoos (or no poo!), cleansers, make up and look forward helping you switching to a natural beauty lifestyle.

I can promise you one thing: I will do my best to make it easy and fun…oh and it will save you some bucks (or loonies!) in the process.”

Cannot leave out the wonderful Avocado! Hello Glow: 4 TASTY AVOCADO RECIPES FOR HAIR, SKIN + WRINKLES Take a look under the Beauty tab for more recipes.

AVOCADO HAIR MASK RECIPE from Organic Beauty Recipes by Eve Take a look at the ingredients. Besides avocado it has cocnut oil, banana, apple cider vinegar & honey. Sounds like a pudding 🙂

In case you would rather eat the avocado: California Avocados/Recipes 🙂

I saved this one for last. I don’t know about you but it is all I can do to get a mango home without eating it! Years ago we bought a case of mangoes in Oregon. We were stopped at the California/Oregon border & they were taken from us. We didn’t have the time to stop & eat them all; I hated seeing a grown man crying over his mangoes 🙂 

Brit + Co: Want Silky Smooth Skin? DIY This Whipped Mango Body Butter By Eileen Chow 

Or…you can eat them. 

I hope that you enjoyed this post. It is going up early so that my assistant Juli can go on a much needed vacation! Until the following week…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources: You can also find jars & tins in natural food stores or herb shops. I have found some lovely shaped bottles & containers at Michael’s.

Are Carbs the Problem? Not Fats?


It is getting increasingly more difficult to keep up with research studies on diet. It seems that every few weeks it is something new. Yet when I read through the published studies it all boils down to the same thing. This one is no different. The results were the same; the healthiest people in the world eat fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts & whole grains, avoid or limit simple carbohydrates and sugar.

The latest study from McMasters University in Canada suggests that carbohydrates are the problem in diet related illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, rather than fat. 

The Canadian Reducing carbohydrates, not fat, should be focus of dietary guidelines, study says  A McMaster University study found a higher-fat diet was actually associated with a lower risk of early death.”

The Telegraph: Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows  Always love these headlines 🙁

Here are the facts that I have taken from the McMasters study: 

  • The study is challenging the World Health Organization’s guidelines for a low fat diet as the best diet for cardiovascular health.
  • Participants: 135,000 people in 18 countries.
  • Since heart disease is a global problem, this study was important.
  • Findings: Participants who ate a higher fat diet of 30%, rather than the 11% recommended, had a 23% LESS risk of dying & 18% lower risk of stroke.
  • The results were based on a 30% intake of all fats: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. 30% being the ~fat sweet spot~.
  • They found no evidence that a low fat diet, less than 10 %, had any health benefits, & under 7% was harmful.
  • A diet with more than 60% carbs had a 28% higher risk of death.
  • Low carb diets showed no health benefits either.
  • They concluded that the healthiest diet would be 50 to 55 per cent carbohydrates ~ called the carb sweet spot~ and 35 per cent total fat, including both saturated and unsaturated types.
  • Although further study is needed, these results may have an even better impact on cancer, respiratory disease & dementia.

Another study that is referenced in the articles above is about the amount of fruit, veggies & legumes you should consume on a healthy dietReuters: Study challenges conventional wisdom on fats, fruits and vegetables  By Andrew M. Seaman

Facts gleaned from the second look at the McMasters study regarding fruits & veggies.

  • Current WHO guidelines state that individuals should eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruits, vegetables & legumes per day.
  • Canadian guidelines are 5-10 servings per day. USA guidelines are 5-13 servings of fruits, veggies & legumes per day.
  • In most parts of the world 5 servings of fruits would be too expensive. 
  • The greatest health benefits was 3-4 servings per day with no significant increase in benefits above that.
  • This study does not suggest that you quit eating more than the recommended servings if you already do.

The researchers of this study stress MODERATION. They are not giving you a free license to eat extremely high fat & extremely low carb diets. I must agree with this idea. The only point I felt was lacking, in all but one article, was to stress that the carbs that are the problem are simple carbohydrates, not complex carbs. In other words; sodas, sugar, processed & packaged foods, etc.

Our Blog post for December 2015 was ‘Tis the Season of Carbs!  Click on the title & review the information about complex carbohydrates & simple carbs. 

Complex carbohydrates play an essential role in keeping the immune system healthy & functioning. Our body needs complex carbohydrates. From Carbohydrates: Simple versus Complex: “Complex carbohydrates may be referred to as dietary starch and are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a coil. They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals.

Simple carbohydrates are sugars. All simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested.” They also pose the greatest health risk. Look at our Blog Post ‘Tis the Season of Carbs! for a list of both types of carbs.

Read this article from the South China Post: Why West’s low-fat diet advice could be deadly for Asia’s poor, because they’ll likely eat even more carbs Telling people already on a high-carb, low-fat diet to eat less fat will only get them eating even more carbs – increasing their risk of death – because of the high cost of fruit and vegetables, say researchers. UPDATED Sunday, 03 September, 2017.

Any diet recommendation should be for the country or culture that the study population is from. Even though researchers say that the healthiest people in the world eat fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts & whole grains, and avoid or limit simple carbohydrates and sugar; not all cultures can or need to eat that way. Eating healthy has become an economic & even a political issue. 

What do we do with the information. We set it up as an example of what we can strive towards. We do the best we can within the limits of our pocketbook & what is actually available to us. We construct a diet that fits our culture & food preferences. Otherwise we set ourselves up for failure & that healthy diet change is never met.

So here we are again. Fat is okay in moderation; 30% of your calories. Low fat diets are harmful. Complex carbs are okay in moderation; 50-55% of your calories. Simple carbs are not okay. Eat a plant based diet. If you are on a budget ~& who isn’t~ here is that website I talked about last week: Plant Based on a Budget Check out their Lentil Taco Filling.

Until next week…Mary 🙂

August Nutrition Nuggets



Another interesting month for health news. I will start with one of my favorite fruits, the avocado. The other topics are high calorie foods & cancer; walnuts & weight loss; vitamin C & B; & a study on bright lights & breast cancer. I included two fantastic vegan recipes at the end of the post. 

 PIXABAY photo

Did you know that Americans eat about 2 billion pounds of avocados a year? Those of you living in San Diego know that estimate to be true 🙂 That is what the Hass Avocado Board claims. Here is a link to their website with wonderful avocado recipes: Avocado Recipe Collection

After eating the avocado, the seed & husk are usually tossed out. I know that our composting worms don’t like either of them. The seed did have its 15 minutes of fame a few years ago when health websites were telling people to put it in their smoothies. The Health Sciences Academy has a good article about the pits: Avocado Pits: Start or Stop Eating? 

What about the husks? Forbes: There’s An Untapped Wealth Of Useful Molecules In Avocado Seeds by Sam Lemonick, AUG 21, 2017 .  “It could very well be that avocado seed husks, which most people consider as the waste of wastes, are actually the gem of gems because the medicinal compounds within them could eventually be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions,” said Bandyopadhyay, according to an American Chemical Society press release. Very interesting information. I like it when something most people consider a waste product is turned into something useful.

The idea that high calorie foods, such as those found in fast food, sugar laden sweets & fried foods like chips, would be linked to obesity linked cancer is a no-brainer. But what the study showed was that the risk they found was only in women of a normal weight or thinner who ate those kinds of foods regularly.

My takeaway from this study is that the quality of the foods you eat is most important. People who eat calorie dense, nutritionally deficient foods tend to eat fewer veggies, fruits, nuts & whole grains. As the lead researcher Cynthia Thomson, quoted in this story, mentions, “But, she added, being thin doesn’t mean you are “metabolically healthy” — which means having normal blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, for instance.” I knew a young aerobics teacher, back in the 80’s, who only ate Doritos & drank Tab. That was all she would eat because it kept her thin. She rarely ate a vegetable & I never saw her with a piece of fruit. The problem was, she was always tired & sick. 

Read the article: MedLinePlus: High-Cal Foods May Raise Cancer Risk in Women, Even Without Weight Gain: Plant-based diet could help avoid malignancies, study suggests, Thursday, August 17, 2017  A balanced, plant-based diet, is overwhelmingly the best diet for our health. Study after study has shown this. Yet people continue to dispute or ignore this information. 


I saw the following study in a number of articles in the health news. I decided to use it because it shows the problems with studies that get so much coverage. First of all, as you will see, the study was done with 10 obese patients. One dropped out, leaving the study size to be nine. Way too small to take any results seriously right now. Here is one of the articles: Walnuts May Help You Lose Weight By Controlling Your Mind, 

The next article is quite good because it is a rebuttal of the original story covered by the NY Times. Its main thrust is “incomplete & imbalanced journalism”. Interesting reading. Note the update at the end of the story: Update: This post originally stated that Kevin C. Klatt’s lab at Cornell has received funding from the California Walnut Commission. That was incorrect and the disclosure statement has been removed. Walnuts for weight loss? Times makes huge leap based on brain scans of 9 people, August 22, 2017

Researchers should be more transparent concerning who is paying for their research because if they aren’t, journalists can get it wrong. I think they owe it to the public as well. 

This site, California Walnuts, is all about walnuts & even has some wonderful recipes! Also check out this downloadable booklet; Simple Ways to Use Walnuts& this free e-book by Mollie Katzen; Mollie’s Favorite Walnut RecipesI didn’t know that walnuts could be used to thicken sauces 🙂

I have to say that I have been a Vitamin C fan since Linus Pauling’s day. This study is still at the “mice stage”, but it looks very promising. Vitamin C May Encourage Blood Cancer Stem Cells to Die, 08/18/2017, by NYU Langone Health 

Here is an excerpt from an explanation of the study & its conclusion. A must read if you are interested. PubMed Health: Vitamin C injections could play a role in treating blood cancers , Mon, 21 Aug 2017 “The study found that using high doses of vitamin C intravenously did in fact suppress the growth of leukaemia cancer stem cells in the mice.

Although this does pave the way for future therapeutic approaches, this study was very early stage research in mice, and therefore would require further investigation and trials in humans before any treatment based on the findings could be offered to patients.

Also, the dose used was far higher relative to weight, than would be safe in humans. It would be the equivalent of a human taking 300g of vitamin C, which would mean eating more than 5,000 oranges. So scientists would also have to find a way to lower the dose while achieving the same beneficial effect.” Wait for the human clinical trials before you jump on this one. Past research & studies that were promising on mice have failed to produce the same results in humans. 

This is an overview of High-Dose Vitamin C. NIH, National Cancer Institute: High-Dose Vitamin C (PDQ®)–Patient Version 

High doses of vitamin B tied to lung cancer risk, study says   August 23, 2017  This study found that men, taking individual dietary supplements of Vitamin B6 & B12, in very high doses & who are smokers, had a higher risk of lung cancer.

The study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology: Long-Term, Supplemental, One-Carbon Metabolism–Related Vitamin B Use in Relation to Lung Cancer Risk in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort, Theodore M. Brasky, Emily White, and Chi-Ling Chen Conclusion: This sex- and source-specific association provides further evidence that vitamin B supplements are not chemo preventive for lung cancer and may be harmful.

The Business Insider says it well: We should never have told people to start taking vitamins, and new research linking one type to cancer shows why. By Erin Brodwin, Aug. 23, 2017, If you take high-dose vitamins please read this entire story. A low-dose multi-vitamin is usually safe to take without side effects. But even that depends on your health & on the manufacturer of your chosen brand. Look for vitamins that are less than 100% of the RDA.

Speak with your health care team before taking high-dose vitamins. I would recommend you tell them about any vitamins & minerals that you are taking.

We have discussed hormone disruptors before. This time researchers are looking at the disruption of melatonin by artificial light. This study is large, and it was based on the Nurses Health Study participants. How many of us are not exposed to artificial light, especially at night. I have 2 articles to share with you that I found very informative.

Exposure To Artificial Lighting Ups Risk For Breast Cancer19 August 2017, By Athena Chan, Tech Times It mentions that previous studies have shown a link between artificial light & prostate cancer. So it is not a gender issue. 

Harvard study strengthens link between breast cancer risk and light exposure at night  By The Associated Press

Should we go back to candlelight immediately? More research needs to be done but this study is very unsettling. 

 I want to end with links to my two, new, favorite vegan recipes. They are simple to put together & my family gave them both 5 stars. Of course I double the garlic in both. Enjoy!

Food Network: Tofu Spinach Dip My husband is a snacker. I try to have healthy dips for him to enjoy with whole grain sprouted crackers or whole grain sprouted breads. This one is very good & super healthy. It is especially good as a spread on sandwiches.

My daughter, Jennifer, was visiting this past weekend & she brought this vegan recipe for us to try. It was a big hit as a dip, sandwich spread & for pasta. I tossed it on roasted veggies. Sunflower Seed Pesto The recipe is from Plant Based on a Budget Take a look at her story & her wonderful website.

Next week I want to explore this huge new study that found “carbs are the problem, not fats”. Until next week then…Mary 🙂

What is “The Salt Fix”?


Salt is back in the news thanks to a new book that was just released. The Salt Fix  by researcher James DiNicolantonio It came to my attention on Dr. Low Dog’s Facebook post.

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog: “We’ve been looking at the evidence for and against saturated fat and carbs in the diet for years. Now there is a book looking at the role salt plays in our health. For years, physicians, myself included told people to limit their salt intake to 1 teaspoon per day (2300 mg of sodium) and for those at high risk for heart disease or hypertension (e.g., people over age 50, African Americans, those with kidney disease) to cut back to no more than 1/2 teaspoon per day (1500 mg of sodium). However, in 2013, after reviewing the evidence, the Institute of Medicine found that those who went on very low salt diets actually faired worse than those with higher intake. Now comes along, The Salt Fix, written by researcher James DiNicolantonio, which questions many of our current assumptions around this precious mineral. I still think it wise to avoid heavily processed foods that are loaded in salt and devoid of much nutrition. I prefer spices and culinary herbs for flavoring foods as they are powerhouses when it comes to taste and health giving compounds. And while it is probably okay to “loosen the reins” a little when it comes to salt, moderation seems to always be the sagest advice.” WNY researcher shakes up nutrition world with new book on salt  By

Sodium is a chemical element that is essential for the human body. Salt is a mineral that is made up of two elements: Sodium & Chlorine. For you chemistry buffs, NaCl or sodium chloride. 40% of table salt is sodium. Salt is harvested from the evaporation of sea water or mining it from the earth.

From Sources of Sodium 

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

Salt has been used to cure/preserve meats, enhance flavors, add moisture to foods, it has played a role in religion & has been used as currency. I found a fascinating history of salt at SaltworksThis is a very interesting site with information about gourmet salts, salt recipes & more. I enjoyed perusing the pages.

Sodium has many roles in the body. It helps to regulate the body’s overall fluid balance, thus regulating our blood pressure. It also regulates the normal function of nerves & muscles. It is found in the blood & around cells. We get our sodium through food & drink, and lose it through sweat & urine. Our kidneys regulate the balance by adjusting the amount lost in urine. The amount of sodium in the body effects the blood volume or amount of fluid in the blood & around the cells. It is quite the balancing act! The ratio of sodium to potassium affects our blood pressure & kidney function. 

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. The average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. Most of that is from processed foods.

Hyponatrimia, is when our sodium is too low. This is a rare problem. Usually it is due to dehydration after extreme exercise.  

Hypernatrimia is when our sodium levels are too high. This new book, & the author’s research, is challenging these levels. 

Where do we get our sodium/salt? All whole foods have some amount of sodium in them. Eating a plant based diet, the Mediterranean or DASH diet gives you enough sodium for your RDA, Recommended Daily Allowance.

As Dr. Low Dog said, heavily processed foods are loaded with salt. So are canned goods & processed meats. Even frozen vegetables have salt in them. I give my dog green beans as a snack when she is hungry. Salt isn’t good for dogs, so I have to find canned green beans without it. Sounds easy but it isn’t. Even store brands have some salt in them. Read your labels. The RDA on the label is in milligrams or grams & % of your daily values based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Texas A&M, Agri Life Extension has an online brochure listing the Sodium Content of Your Food.  It is the most extensive list that I have seen.

From details on the website about the book,  The Salt Fix 

About the author: James J. DiNicolantonio, Pharm. D., is a respected cardiovascular research scientist, doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, and the associate editor of British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Open Heart. He is the author or coauthor of approximately 200 publications in medical literature. His research has been featured in The New York Times, ABC’s Good Morning America, TIME, Fox News, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo! Health, BBC News, Daily Mail, Forbes, National Public Radio, and Men’s Health, among others. This is obviously no fly by night person who decided to write a book about salt.

About the book: A leading cardiovascular research scientist upends the low-salt myth, proving that salt may be one solution to—rather than a cause of—our nation’s chronic disease crises.

Sure to change the national conversation about this historically treasured substance, The Salt Fix elegantly and accessibly weaves the research into a fascinating new understanding of salt’s essential role in your health and what happens when you aren’t getting enough—with far-reaching, even heart-stopping, implications. 

The book is available on Amazon : The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong–and How Eating More Might Save Your Life   Why is this book so controversial? Here is what Amazon says about it: 

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a leading cardiovascular research scientist, has reviewed over 500 publications to unravel the impact of salt on blood pressure and heart disease. He’s reached a startling conclusion: The vast majority of us don’t need to watch our salt intake. In fact, for most of us, more salt would be advantageous to your health. The Salt Fix tells the remarkable story of how salt became unfairly demonized—a never-before-told drama of competing egos and interests—and took the fall for another white crystal: sugar. 
In fact, too little salt can:
• Cause you to crave sugar and refined carbs.
• Send the body into semi-starvation mode.
• Lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and increased blood pressure and heart rate.
On the other hand, eating the salt your body desires can:
• Improve everything from your sleep, energy, and mental focus to your fitness, fertility, and sexual performance
• And stave off common chronic illnesses, including heart disease.
Dr. DiNicolantonio shows the best ways to add salt back into your diet, offering his transformative five-step program for recalibrating your salt thermostat to achieve your unique, ideal salt intake. Science has moved on from the low-salt dogma, and so should you—your life may depend on it.

I have not read the book yet. I have read & watched several interviews with the author. Here are my favorites that explain his research & his book.

The Salt Fix with Dr James DiNicolantonio You tube video that covers the information in his book. Excellent. I do object to his claim that women need to eat more red meat 🙁

The Be Well Blog has a good interview with Dr. DiNicolantonio. 7 QUESTIONS FOR DR JAMES DINICOLANTONIO, ABOUT HIS NEW BOOK, THE SALT FIX  by Dr. Frank Lipman 

His bottom line is to eat a whole foods diet & listen to your body’s craving for salt. His research & conclusions are scientifically based & correct. I am sure that this book is going to generate more research on the subject of salt in our diet & of sodium’s effect on the body. 

A mother always cut the ends off of her pot roast before putting it into the roasting pan. When questioned by her daughter, she said that her mother always did that. On further research into family lore, it was discovered that the reason the grandmother cut the ends off the roast was so it would fit into her only roasting pan. Why do we continue to do things the way that we were told or taught without any question? What is the story/legend/myth behind it?  This is what research is all about.

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Iron Deficiency Anemia & Iron-Rich Foods

Iron deficiency anemia, IDA, is a common symptom among cancer patients. It can be the result of the inflammatory process of cancer or by its treatment. Many patients come into the oncologists office with a history of anemia. From my research I see that iron deficiency is a common problem world wide. Treating IDA varies by cause. Depending on the diagnosis, it can be helped or corrected with nutrition. In this post I am going to discuss dietary sources of iron exclusively. Eating a diet rich in iron can be done alongside any treatments your healthcare team has decided upon.

The National Institute of Health states on their Iron Supplement Fact Sheetstate that “People in the United States usually obtain adequate amounts of iron from their diets” & “Isolated iron deficiency is uncommon in the United States. Because iron deficiency is associated with poor diet, malabsorptive disorders, and blood loss, people with iron deficiency usually have other nutrient deficiencies.”  Hmm…

The Iron Disorders Institute states: “Iron deficiency is a condition resulting from too little iron in the body. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the world. In the USA, despite food fortification, iron deficiency is on the rise in certain populations.” Diet plays a huge part in this. Poor diets are not just an economical problem. The SAD, standard american diet, is woefully lacking nutrients the body needs to stay healthy.

This is an informative resource about Iron Deficiency Anemia. This was written in January 2017 & it states that IDA is a common nutritional deficiency in the USA. I wanted to share this paragraph regarding the symptoms of anemia. 

Academy of Nutrition& Dietetics, EatRight: Foods to Fight Iron Deficiency By Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN, Published January 06, 2017

“If the body doesn’t absorb its needed amount of iron, it becomes iron deficient. Symptoms appear only when iron deficiency has progressed to iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which the body’s iron stores are so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen efficiently. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States. 

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin and fingernails
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Glossitis (inflamed tongue)

Iron is an import mineral the body needs. As explained in the Patient & Caregiver Handout from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Iron in Your Diet  “Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs to create red blood cells, which store and carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron is also part of many proteins and enzymes that help you stay healthy.

Iron Deficiency Anemia   “If  your body isn’t getting enough iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia. This can happen if you:

  • Don’t have enough iron in your diet
  • Have had chemotherapy
  • Have had radiation therapy
  • Have a chronic illness
  • Have lost some of your blood, such as during surgery or an accident

How much iron you need to stay healthy is decided by age & gender. The handout has a graph for you to use set up by both age & gender. “Common side effects of taking higher amounts of iron include stomach irritation and constipation.”

The article brings up two important points: do not take iron supplements without speaking with your healthcare team & don’t forget to read the labels on all foods & supplements. Many are fortified with iron & you can easily go over the recommended daily amount. 

I would recommend that you look at & print out this handout if you or someone you knows is anemic or has been diagnosed with Iron Deficiency Anemia.

Sources of iron in your food are divided into two types. There is some controversy surrounding whether or not vegan’s & vegetarians can get enough iron in their diets, in particular the vegan.

  • Heme: from an animal source which includes dairy, fish & poultry.
  • Non-heme: from plant-based foods

The above mentioned handout has a list of both animal & plant-based foods rich in iron. Here is a list for meat-eaters from WebMD: Iron-Rich Foods “Some foods can help your body absorb iron from iron-rich foods; others can hinder it. To absorb the most iron from the foods you eat, avoid drinking coffee or tea or consuming calcium-rich foods or drinks with meals containing iron-rich foods. To improve your absorption of iron, eat it along with a good source of vitamin C — such as orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries — or eat nonheme iron foods with a food from the meat, fish, and poultry group. I have a problem with all the lists I found for people who eat meat. They all start with beef, making you think that is the only way to get a good source of iron. Keep reading & take a look at the veggies list. 

Very good sources of heme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of beef or chicken liver
  • 3 ounces of clams, mollusks, or mussels
  • 3 ounces of oysters

Good sources of heme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of cooked beef
  • 3 ounces of canned sardines, canned in oil

Other sources of heme iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of chicken
  • 3 ounces of cooked turkey
  • 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna
  • 3 ounces of ham
  • 3 ounces of veal

Other sources of heme iron, with 0.3 milligrams or more per serving, include:

  • 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna

Rodales Organic Life… 14 Vegetarian Foods That Have More Iron Than Meat: Your best meat-free options to boost your iron levels. November 18, 2016

Check out their comprehensive list with the amounts of iron per serving.

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Lentils
  4. Kale
  5. Bok Choy
  6. Baked Potato
  7. Sesame Seeds
  8. Cashews
  9. Soybeans
  10. Chickpeas
  12. Swiss Chard
  13. Tofu
  14. Kidney Beans

This list adds a few more. One Green Planet: 10 Plant-based Foods Packed with Iron Take a look at the article for the amount of iron in each.

  2. Dried Fruit
  3. Blackstrap Molasses
  4. Dark Leafy Greens
  5. Spirulina
  6. Tofu
  7. Whole Grains
  8. Legumes
  9. Nuts
  10. Seeds

I have had a problem with Anemia my entire life. It isn’t bad, just low. I have never been able to give blood because of it. My doctors have always blamed my being a vegetarian as the problem. But here is the kicker 🙂 When I am following a strict vegan diet my numbers improve & I am no longer anemic. I don’t know why & my doctors just shake their collective heads. I think it is because I increase the veggies, fruits & whole grains in my diet & stop all dairy including eggs. This would decrease the chronic inflammatory process & would make sense.

I am not suggesting that you become a vegan if you are anemic. I am making a case for increasing the iron rich veggies, fruits & whole grains in your diet & not relying on just meat, poultry & fish for iron.

For those of us who are vegan, on the Forks over Knives website, What Is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?  BY , the erroneous idea of eating for just one nutrient is explained.

The idea of eating a particular food for one nutrient is pervasive in our culture. We have been led to believe we should eat meat for protein, dairy for calcium, fish for omega-3 fatty acids, and even tomatoes for lycopene, among many others. This sort of thinking is misguided and has caused grave harm to human health. The quest for protein, for example, has steered us toward meat consumption. In this quest, we not only consume protein in excess of our needs, but also many harmful substances like dietary cholesterol that are only present in animal foods.

No food is a single nutrient, and we should never think of foods in that way. Any given food has countless nutrients. What matters most is the overall nutrient profile, i.e., the whole package. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12), and in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods. So our question is really this: Why waste any of what we eat on inferior packages? As long as—over time—we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods, we will easily meet our nutritional needs.

Even on this diet, people sometimes tend to worry about eating a certain type of green vegetable for calcium, beans for protein, nuts for fat, and so on. We ask you to let go of that kind of thinking. The most important thing in this lifestyle is to choose the whole, plant-based food you enjoy most!” I have discussed how a whole food has thousands & maybe more pathways of information. The nutrients in each food works synergistically within the food & with other foods as well. Isolating one nutrient does not make sense.

Another good website to look at for vegans is Dr. Neal Bernard’s: 21 day Vegan Kickstart  & his Food For Life program.

Before I sign off, I want to share part of an email I received from our NUT, Terrie M, about last weeks post: Organic Imposters  I followed up on what she says & she is correct. This is a good example of store brands being legit. “I have checked out the Organic veggies when I find them at the 99 cent store. They are the same packages I see at Sprouts and Frazier Farms. The local company is identified on the package and invites a “check us out.” I did,  it is not day old, it is over picked and packaged surplus. Helps me greatly. I buy what they have, Spinach or other “greens…”  Thank you Terrie!

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources


Organic Imposters


I was complaining to my husband last week about the prices we pay for organic products at our natural foods market. I was comparing them to what I could buy at Safeway; purchasing their store brand organic products. I was also comparing the prices for produce at our local farmers market. After researching for this post, freshness & quality at the farmers market & our local natural food store won over the cheaper prices at Safeway.

What I have wondered about for years: are there really enough small organic farms to supply big box stores like Walmart, Safeway, Target and others? I decided to do some investigating.

What I found was troubling at the very least. Big farms & dairy’s are the ones supplying the bigger stores. These large enterprises are certified organic, by some iffy certifiers, and are cutting corners. According to the following articles, cutting corners means not living up to the organic standards set by the FDA. For example some dairy’s are not allowing the cows outside as outlined in the standards but are factory farming. UGH 🙁

What are the standards? USDA Organic Production/Organic Food: Information Access Tools Everything you ever wanted to know about Organic food & organic certification. 

This is a very good article explaining the problem of organic impostors from my ECOWatch Newsletter: Here’s How to Boycott Organic Imposters By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association,  A recent series of articles by a Washington Post reporter could have some consumers questioning the value of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic seal. But are a few bad eggs representative of an entire industry?

Consumers are all for cracking down on the fraudulent few who, with the help of Big Food, big retail chains and questionable certifiers give organics a bad name. But they also want stronger standards, and better enforcement—not a plan to weaken standards to accommodate “Factory Farm Organic.”

The article points out that their are about 25,000 honest organic producers & that they are being hurt by the dishonesty of the few. The authors list the ones that we, as consumers, need to watch out for. They also give you the following tools.

  • USDA Organic Integrity Database Organic Certifier locator.
  • The Cornucopia Institute Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk Provides links to information about organic dairies & their certifications.
  • Where is My Milk From? How it works: From the cow to your mouth. In five easy steps. Udder to pail. Pail to dairy. Dairy to grocery store. Grocery store to fridge. Fridge to mouth. We’ll let you take it from there. So where is your milk from? Locate the code on your carton or container, enter it above (go to website) and click Find It. You’ll instantly know which dairy your milk came from! The same goes for your yogurt, chocolate milk, soy or organic milk, coffee creamer, cottage cheese, ice cream, and more!
  • The Cornucopia Institute Choosing the best eggs As with the link to the dairy information, this link is all about organic eggs & how to choose them.

Very informative article. It confirmed my suspicions regarding big box stores & their private labels. Private labels are a good way of hiding the suppliers name. Not all private labels are fraudulent. Ask or use the above tools to track down the supplier of your favorite brand.

Organic Consumers Association   If you are truly interested in the latest in organic news, then I suggest that you subscribe to their newsletter. I do 🙂

Who owns who? This is an interesting site not only to see the Organic Industry structure now, but also the structure in 2007 to compare it to! Wow!  See other relevant info-graphics too at: Philip H. Howard Michigan State University  Click on the info-graph below to make it larger & then click again to zoom in.

What are the practical measures we can take to avoid these impostors? We can investigate every label & every certifier & boycott big box stores organic labels. That is not a practical choice for most of us. We are on a budget, and must be careful with each dollar spent on groceries.

Our first question to ourselves is why we are even buying organic. In my case it is a no brainer; for health. I see it as our health insurance. What is your answer? It will influence your buying decisions. 

Here are my steps to balance my budget & still be able to buy organic.

  • Buy local organic produce. Skip the oranges from Chili & the other out of season produce that you know had to come from another country or state. You can buy them locally when the season arrives.
  • Buy local organic products. Our natural foods store has a sign when a product such as honey, peanut butter, locally roasted coffee, olives & more are from a local farm, person, or company. Local means transported within one day from farm/factory to your store.
  • Use EWG’s Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 lists. I have the EWG App on my phone so I have it with me all the time.
  • I already use very few canned goods & rarely anything processed. It is amazing how easy it is to do without those items. I buy my beans & rice from bulk bins. Our store has their origin on the label of the bin.
  • I support my local farmers market during the season & our local organic farmer at his stand during the winter months.
  • I am going to stay out of Safeway & Fred Meyers (a Kroeger market). No Target or Costco up here & I have boycotted Walmart for hundreds of years 🙂  

What are you going to do? Don’t go with the fads or the headlines, or ME! 🙂 This is a personal choice. You need to decide what is right for you & your family.

This is a wonderful resource for your local farmers markets in San Diego County. Farm Bureau San Diego: San Diego County Certified Farmers’ Markets  Buy Local San Diego Produce by visiting one of the Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM) in San Diego County allows you to experience agriculture. Farmers’ Markets provide venues for farmers to sell directly to consumers and supports small farming operations.

If you don’t live in San Diego County, then Google farmers markets in your county. 

I will continue to buy organic, support our local farmers & grow as much as we can. My budget will have to accommodate that choice. As I said earlier, this is our health insurance.

Until next week…Mary 🙂