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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 🙂

July Nutrition Nuggets


I like to lead into our Nutrition Nuggets with a coffee article or research study. Did not expect this one! Washington Post: Coffee with Viagra-like ingredient recalled after FDA discovery By Alex Horton July 20  Ha! 🙂 No Comment! “The FDA announced last week that Yee’s company, Grand Prairie, Tex.-based Bestherbs Coffee LLC, is voluntarily recalling all lots of the uniquely spelled “New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee” due to undeclared ingredients, including desmethyl carbodenafil and milk, sold between July 2014 and June 2016.” The desmethyl  carbodenafil is the problem. It is similar to Viagra.

I am big on telling you to read the labels before you buy anything new. Especially if you take any medications or have allergies. In this case the milk & herb were not declared on the ingredient list! The herb will interact with medications, especially nitrates. The milk could be dangerous for those with allergies or even sensitivities to dairy. 

There were no health issues reported to the FDA about this coffee. It is not clear why they were targeted by the agency. It is among other coffee brands laced with this herb that were recalled earlier this year & last year. Sigh…we need to be ever vigilant & stick with whole foods & familiar brands. 

There were two studies in the news about sugar. The first one is concerning the pairing of sugary drinks with high protein meals; think fast food & “super sizing”.  Drinking Sugary Drinks With High Protein Meals ‘May Prime The Body To Store More Fat’  07/21/17  The one quote in this article that stood out for me was that “sugary drinks are the largest single source of sugar in the American diet”The study showed that with an increase of protein & fat in the meal, paired with the sugary drink, the metabolism of the individual was impaired leading to storage of the energy as fat & weight gain. The study also found that the sugary drink did not satisfy the subject. They wanted more salty & spicy foods for hours after their meal. Good read.

The second study is in regards to artificial sweeteners. NPR…Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Help People Lose Weight, Review Finds, July 17, 2017, KATHERINE HOBSON  This is as a very good article to read. It explores various studies relating to artificial sweeteners and the reasons people use them. They are not used solely by people wanting to lose weight. They are, surprisingly, also used by people who feel they are a better, healthier, sweetener choice. The reasons that weight loss doesn’t follow when using artificial sweeteners are also looked at.

One of the studies they refer to, in this article, is from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Consumption of Low-Calorie Sweeteners among Children and Adults in the United States March 2017. “Our findings were that 25.1% of children and 41.4% adults reported consuming LCSs. Most LCS consumers reported use once daily (80% of children, 56% of adults) and frequency of consumption increased with body weight in adults. LCS consumption was higher in females compared with males among adults, and in obese individuals, compared with overweight and normal-weight individuals.” I was surprised at how many people, especially children, use artificial sweeteners. The numbers are even higher because they are in granola bars, energy bars & drinks that you wouldn’t know about unless you read the label. Thought provoking.

My personal opinion as to why people don’t lose weight & may even gain pounds, is twofold. One, because people add extra calories to their meal as a reward for drinking or eating products with artificial sweeteners in them. The second reason is that the body reacts to the brain saying we just ate something sweet. When it doesn’t find the sugar (just chemicals) it takes it out of our energy storage. Thus making us feel lethargic & needing more sugar. It ends up a circular process with no ending.

An added thought about weight gain…I found this video with Professor Traci Mann’s view on obesity refreshing. Take a look.  BBC: Think Again: ‘There is no obesity crisis’ A personal view from Professor Traci Mann, A film by Sahar Zand 

Alessandra sent me this very good article.  A Medicinal Shroom For Every Health Woe  The article starts out with “Medicinal mushrooms have been on the health scene for quite a few years now, but they’re just now reaching peak trendiness.” There are a few things to note about this information. 

These mushrooms have been prescribed & eaten by the people of Asia for millennium. The research we usually see is based on people who have been using them for generations. They are very important medicinally. Yet, like anything that has become “trendy” it has also become costly. Medicinal mushrooms are expensive.

Another thing to remember is that like herbs, to benefit your health, they must be taken/eaten daily. It takes at least 3 weeks for herbs to start to show their health benefits. Most Americans give up the first few days because they don’t see any benefit yet. Americans expect the mushrooms & herbs to be like aspirin, immediate relief.

My personal opinion is that these mushrooms are amazing. You can find them, dried & packaged, at Jimbo’s. You can also get them at a Chinese Herbalists. Just make sure that the Chinese Herbalist is trustworthy so that you get the correct mushroom & that it is safe to use. 

I use Mountain Rose Herbs to buy dried herbs & mushrooms that I can’t grow. Very respected company for their quality, safety & sustainable gathering practices. Here is their page for Mushrooms.

I am including this part for anyone with a gastric tube for nutritional purposes or needs an oral formula for added nutrition. I had the opportunity to research some of the liquid nutritional formulas being sold for home use.

Many patients I have helped in the past have wanted to make their own organic, whole food, liquid nutritional formula to put through their gastric tube. This way they could control the ingredients & calories. It is not only costly & time consuming, but you must plan ahead & have the equipment needed to puree the foods. If it isn’t pureed enough it could clog the tube.

I found two companies who make a good supplement for use with or without the liquid formulas you are sent home with. Make sure to check the calorie content. These are meant for gastric tubes not IV drips. If you have a j~tube, please consult your health care team before trying these.

Liquid Hope “Liquid Hope is the worlds first shelf stable organic whole foods feeding tube formula and oral meal replacement. Robin created Liquid Hope using the Functional Medicine/Food as Medicine model so each ingredient has been chosen for its potential to promote health and vitality and its ability to support the body’s natural immune system. When our bodies are given what they need… well let’s just say, food was our original medicine and Robin thought it was time to get back to our roots. This product is advertised as real food, plant based; dairy, gluten, soy, corn, GMO & BPA FREE! 450 calories per container. It can be used as a feeding tube formula or an oral meal replacement formula. Liquid Hope meets all food safety requirements and meets all GRAS, HACCP, CGMPS standards. Liquid Hope is processed in a FDA/USDA registered facility with USDA inspector on site. SID#: 2013-06-12/001 This is impressive. It is also Medicaid & Medicare approved. Other insurances may approve it also. The site has a billing code for them.

Real Food Blends  Originally inspired by their young tube-fed son, AJ, who is now the company’s “Chief Inspiration Officer”, and a belief that we all deserve real food, Julie and Tony Bombacino sought to create a company that provided easy access to 100% real food meals and nutritional variety to tube-fed people and their families, at home or on the go. Years later and with well over 1 million meals sold, you will still only find 100% real food in our meals. No corn syrup, preservatives or synthetic additives/fillers – just a variety of simple real ingredients to nourish your body and soul.” This brand is not organic or GMO free, but it is made with whole foods. Look at the nutrition labels, no chemicals added. It has 330 ~ 340 calories per container. It advertises that it is covered by many major insurances. Good choice for people who have financial issues.

Study finds a major uptick in calls to poison control centers over dietary supplements  By ABC NEWS Jul 24, 2017  Watch the video first. It gives an overview of the study. The increase in calls, by 50%, was not about life threatening situations but more about small problems. I agree with the reporter; I too was stunned by the fact that the majority of the calls, 70%, were about children 6 years old & under. Some of the children were given supplements by their parents/caregivers & some found opened bottles & ate them. 

The marketing of supplements has lulled the public into thinking they are natural & therefore safe. This is far from the truth. They are like any other medication. They can have side effects & interact with other supplements, over the counter medications & prescription drugs. It is important to research the brand & find companies that self regulate or have joined a group of other companies to regulate their products. was mentioned in the report. It is a very reliable source for identifying pills & finding any interactions with your prescriptions. Bookmark it for future use.

275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures, study finds. Researchers calling for FDA regulation of yohimbe, energy products. July 24, 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Summary: US Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures. According to the study authors, lack of federal oversight has led to inconsistencies in the quality of dietary supplements, product mislabeling and contamination with other substances.

Researchers are not alone in calling for more FDA regulations of supplements. I have always been against it. With all the recalls recently of adulterated supplements & beauty products, I feel I must reevaluate my stance on this issue. Times change. 🙁

The coconut oil debate is not going to go away as seen in the emails I have received. There are ongoing debates concerning the American Heart Association’s announcement that coconut oil is a saturated fat which can cause heart disease & increase your cholesterol. This announcement stirred reporters to write sensational headlines causing a fierce debate within the medical & nutritional community about coconut oil. I believe the problem is solely semantics. Is coconut oil HEALTHY, is it DANGEROUS. The actual debate should have been about saturated fat. Recent research does not support their, the AHA’s, findings. 

I didn’t read anywhere that coconut oil is really dangerous, except for in those sensational headlines. What I did read is that it, coconut oil, is without a doubt a saturated fat. Saturated fats are okay to use when used in moderation. Bacon is okay when eaten occasionally. The issue is with those people who use coconut oil in EVERYTHING! The way it has been used/abused in the name of “health” is the problem; more than the oil itself.

I continue to use it as a substitute for Crisco or butter in recipes. When I want a buttery taste on popcorn or in a dish I have made, I use Nutritional Yeast. Once again, MODERATION is the last word!

Interesting topics coming up for our August blog posts. Check back every week…Mary 🙂 

Elimination Diet

Elimination diets can be quite helpful when you & your health care team cannot explain that rash, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or other mysterious digestive & health related symptoms. It could be food allergies, sensitivities or an intolerance caused by something in your diet.

If you think you have a food allergy or if you have had a severe reaction to a food then you need to be under the care of a physician. In extreme cases, eliminating the suspected food & then reintroducing it may trigger a severe reaction like *anaphylactic shock.  

An elimination diet is the removal of foods that you or your health care team think are causing these issues. My favorite way of identifying these foods is by keeping a food diary & noting when you have any symptoms & more importantly, describing them. Another way is to eliminate the foods that are known to be a food allergen. 

There is a difference between allergic reactions to foods & being sensitive or intolerant of a food or food group. An allergic reaction is much more serious & is caused by your immune system. The symptoms for an allergic response can be as simple as a rash, itchy eyes, runny nose to more serious reactions like gasping for breath. These can occur within minutes or hours of eating something that your immune system sees as a threat. 

Most food problems are from a sensitivity or intolerance of a food item or group. This is usually experienced as a digestive upset; cramps, diarrhea, bloating or gas. These symptoms are not related to an immune response. 

According to the Mayo Clinic’s All About Food Allergies,Some of the most common food allergens include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Fish

I would include wheat & wheat gluten to the list. Intolerance or a sensitivity to these two have been on the rise as I discussed in earlier posts. Processed foods & alcohol should also be on the list. Processed foods have hidden ingredients; those that are under the percentage that must be listed on labels by FDA rules. 

Lets look at the safest way to use an elimination diet for an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to a food item or group.

To do this correctly it will take up to 6 weeks. During that time you should plan your diet carefully to make sure you are getting the nutrients you just eliminated. For example, if you have eliminated all dairy, make sure you are getting enough protein & calcium from another source. 

The article that I found most helpful is from Authority Nutrition How to Do an Elimination Diet and Why By Ryan Raman, MS, RD | July 2, 2017  The author discusses what an elimination diet is, how it works, what you can & can’t eat, the benefits & risks. If you are even thinking about an elimination diet this article is a must read.

Under the section, How it Works, Mr. Raman explains the two phases of an elimination diet: the elimination phase & the reintroduction phase. If your symptoms persist after eliminating the foods you thought were the culprits, you need to speak with your health care team. He describes how to reintroduce foods slowly, one at a time, over a period of days & what symptoms to watch for.

In his last paragraph, The Bottom Line, he  makes several good points to remember. The first is that an elimination diets should not be used with children without the supervision of a physician or certified dietitian. And the other point that I find extremely important is that an elimination diet is for short term only, because restricting your diet for long periods of time will lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

This is my favorite handout to print & use when you are doing an elimination diet. It is from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health: Elimination Diet Handout  It has an example of an elimination diet calendar, it helps you to plan, has helpful tips & ends with a one week food diary chart. 

Still need information?

The Easy Way to Figure Out If You Have a Food Intolerance   JUNE 9, 2015/BY AMY SHAH  “Amy Shah, M.D., is a premier medical doctor specializing in food allergies, hormones and gut health.” A very good & informative article. It has an info-graph with 4 phases of what to eliminate when. 

A very simple plan from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs: Simple Elimination Diet “The purpose of an elimination diet is to discover symptom-triggering foods. Everyone’s body responds to foods differently. If we are sensitive to a food, there are a host of symptoms our body can respond with, such as headaches, skin rashes, joint pains, and digestive problems, just to name a few.” 

Both of these articles have lists of what you can eat. Makes it easier to plan 🙂 As mentioned in the simple plan: “The more whole, unprocessed foods you eat the better it is for you, your sensitivities, and your immune system!” 

If you are in treatment, please speak with your healthcare team before you start an elimination diet. You don’t want to do anything that would compromise your immune system.

Next week: Nutrition Nuggets from July. Many to choose from! See you then…Mary 🙂

Additional information:

*Anaphylactic shock: an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive.

Essential Oils

Herbs by MHollander

I am writing this post in response to several emails I have received recently about essential oils. This is a huge subject. What are essential oils? Are they regulated by the FDA? How are they made? Are there any safety issues?  When & how do you use them? These are great questions, keep reading for the answers!

On the FDA website, there is a page devoted to Aromatherapy. Under the law, how “aromatherapy” products are regulated depends mainly on how they are intended to be used.

FDA determines a product’s intended use based on factors such as claims made in the labeling, on websites, and in advertising, as well as what consumers expect it to do. We also look at how a product is marketed, not just a word or phrase taken out of context. Finally, we make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

If a product is intended for a therapeutic use, such as treating or preventing disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body, it’s a drug. For example, claims that a product will relieve colic, ease pain, relax muscles, treat depression or anxiety, or help you sleep are drug claims.

Such claims are sometimes made for products such as soaps, lotions, and massage oils containing “essential oils” and marketed as “aromatherapy.” The fact that a fragrance material or other ingredient comes from a plant doesn’t keep it from being regulated as a drug.

Under the law, drugs must meet requirements such as FDA approval for safety and effectiveness before they go on the market. To find out if a product marketed with drug claims is FDA-approved, contact FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), at

This is important to know. If you see an essential oil that claims to cure cancer it is considered a drug & is subject to the same regulations as any medication. More than likely it is a false claim & should be reported to the FDA. I am not in favor of “over regulation” by the FDA but I am in favor of protecting vulnerable populations.

Essential oils have been very popular for several years.  Mountain Rose Herbs  sells 42 different essential oils. Other companies sell over 80 essential oil singles. There are countless numbers of combinations of oils sold as well. Amazing selections!

On the Skin Deep Cosmetic Data Base site, you can search for the safety of a product with essential oils or an essential oil itself by company. Here are examples for my search of the essential oils by NOW 

Essential Oils are an exceptionally concentrated oil that has been extracted from a plant by steaming, pressing or by a solvent. The preferred way is by steaming or pressing. The extraction process is dependent upon the plant. Some are very fragile & require a specific type of process. The resulting oil smells like the original plant & is volatile, which means it can evaporate easily at normal temperatures.

If you are interested in the different processes of extraction, NAHA, National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, has a very thorough article on the subject. How Are Essential Oils Extracted? 

Essential oils can be used in cosmetics, cleaning solutions, lotions, creams, salves, steam inhalers, as aromatherapy & more. There are some basic facts that you should be aware of before using them. For more safety guidelines click here

  • They should be used externally in a carrier oil only. Never directly on the skin.
  • Essential oils should never be taken internally/by mouth. University of Maryland Medical Center: “You should never take essential oils by mouth unless you are under the supervision of a trained professional. Some oils are toxic, and taking them by mouth could be fatal. Be cautious with the words Trained Professional.
  • Use in a diffuser for aromatherapy. Don’t overheat the essential oil.
  • To use medicinally in a steam inhaler, use a small amount of the oil. Inhale a few times only. Prolonged use could cause problems.
  • Pregnant women & people with severe allergies, asthma or lung conditions should avoid using them. University of Maryland Medical Center: Should Anyone Avoid Aromatherapy? “Pregnant women, people with severe asthma, and people with a history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician. Pregnant women and people with a history of seizures should avoid hyssop oil. People with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender. People with estrogen dependent tumors (such as breast or ovarian cancer) should not use oils with estrogen like compounds such as fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary-sage. People receiving chemotherapy should talk to their doctor before trying aromatherapy.
  • A little bit goes a long way. 
  • Read the labels. Research the companies you want to buy from. The bottle should say 100% pure essential oil. Here is an example of some of the information you should see: Lavender I would also look for the scientific name & the part used to make sure they used the correct plant & the correct part of the plant; roots, seeds, leaves or blossoms.
  • Use only Organic essential oils. They come from plants & could have toxic pesticide residue on them. Research the companies!

I don’t have the time or the room on our Blog to list all the essential oils & their various uses. I will concentrate on the most popular essential oils. The uses I have listed have not all been verified by research or the FDA. They are from personal experience, articles by herbalists or physicians I trust, or anecdotal. ***See the end of this post for links to peer review journals for essential oil research & research articles.

Aromatherapy essential Oils for congestion & cough: Use these in a diffuser or humidifier~ using the manufacturers instructions~ in the “sick” room. Do not use directly on the skin or internally. You can also put a few drops of the essential oil onto a cotton ball & place it on your bedside table or even in your pillow case.

  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil: Congestion & cough. Anti-microbial.
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) essential oilCongestion. Can be combined with eucalyptus for use in diffuser/humidifier. Add equal drops.
  • Peppermint (Mentha Piperitaessential) oil: Congestion & headache. Anti-bacterial.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil: Congestion & cough.
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) essential oilClears sick room; anti-viral. Congestion & cough.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare) essential oil: Proven antibacterial. Fights sinus infections.
  • Orange (Citrus Sinensis) essential oil: Stimulates appetite. Add a drop to your place-mat or napkin.

Aromatherapy essential oils used for relaxation in a diffuser. I also combine the ones I like in a small spray bottle of water. A few drops of each is all that is needed. The following oils have been used to help with anxiety, stress & depression.

  • Bergamot: From the peel of citrus fruit, Citrus Bergamia, 
  • Chamomile: My pick would be Matricaria Chamomilla It can also be used to help with migraines.
  • Jasmine: Jasminum Grandiflorum.
  • Lavender: Lavendula Angustifolia, intensely calming. I combine this with lemon grass & chamomile in a spray bottle to use in my treatment room before my clients enter. 
  • Lemon: Citrus Limon.
  • Orange: Citrus Sinensis Brightens mood.
  • Rose: My favorite is Rosa Rugosa. 
  • Sandlewood: It is endangered due to over harvest in India. I would use this one:,Australian Sandalwood, Santalum Spicatum. It is being grown ethically on plantations.

These are a few essential oils that your can add to a carrier oil to use topically. Always test a patch of skin to see if you have a reaction. My favorite natural carrier oils to use are: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter or Vitamin E Oil. Yes, you can use Coconut Oil too. These oils have healing properties of their own. Vitamin E oil is also used as a preservative in salves, creams etc. This is a good guide for you from Healing Solutions: An Essential Oil Dilution Guide for Beginners and Beyond.

  • Peppermint oil: Mentha Piperita In a carrier oil it can be rubbed into your temples for headache relief. I also rub it under my nose to help a headache.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Melaleuca Alternifolia This oil should only be used topically with a carrier oil if used directly on your skin or nails. You can use it without the carrier oil but it is very harsh. I use it with carrier oils or add it to my homemade healing salves. It is an antimicrobial. It’s well known for it’s anti-fungal properties. You can add it to a steam inhaler, use a small amount, for lung & sinus infections. 

A few other oils people like to use topically are: Frankincense, Lavender, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano,Thyme & Lemon.

Another good article & guide is by Sustainable Baby Steps: How to Use Essential Oils with Four Applications Methods

Other Essential Oils that are popular & their uses.

  • Clove: Syzygium aromaticum Clove oil has been used for centuries for toothaches. It is our go to for a painful tooth or gum. It has an anesthetic, antibacterial & anti-inflammatory effect. Remember it is only a temporary solution. See your dentist if the pain persists.
  • Lemon Grass: Cymbopogon flexuosus One of my favorites. Very refreshing. This scent is all I need for those time I am tired & need a lift!
  • Pine: Pinus sylvestris Another uplifting scent. It is also invigorating. Combine with Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) & Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis) for a fresh forest scent.
  • Rosemary: Rosmarinus Officinalis Primarily used as aromatherapy to improve memory.

A couple of my favorite “recipes” for summer:

Natural Insect Repellant Spray  from the American college of Healthcare Sciences. Read the article about other essential oils to repel insects.

  • Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia oil: 15 drops
  • Lemon eucalyptus: Eucalyptus citriodora oil: 10 drops
  • Tea tree Australia: Melaleuca alternifolia oil: 10 drops
  • Lime Citrus: aurantifolia oil: 6 drops
  • Bergamot Citrus: aurantium var. bergamia oil: 6 drops
  • Distilled water: 2 ounces
  • Vinegar from your kitchen: 2 ounces (I prefer white vinegar, but apple cider works too! Leave the balsamic for the Caprese salad!)

Blend all the ingredients and put into a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Note: Both bergamot and lime are photosensitive oils. This is an aromatic blend meant to be diffused into the air around you and is not intended for topical or internal use. I make a similar one by adding Yarrow Oil (Achillea millefolium) to the same mix. I use 80 proof vodka rather than vinegar. I do this because I use it when I make tinctures. They last a long time.

DIY Hand Sanitizer by Live Simply  We love this hand sanitizer. I keep a glass bottle with a regular cap in the car & I have a plastic spray bottle to use when hiking. We have found that it also repels bugs! 🙂 Spray it on your hat.

Ingredients I found Thayer’s Witch Hazel with pure Aloe & Lavender. Makes it easier to put this together.

  • 3 TB aloe vera Get pure aloe vera. Check the labels!
  • 2 TB witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, if using alcohol reduce to 1 TB We only use witch hazel in our house. It is a great wound cleaner.
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil You can get this in a small bottle or you can open capsules if you have them.
  • 16 drops tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil
  • 8 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

I am going to add eucalyptus oil next time. Just a thought.

Instructions: I use a dark colored bottle.

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. To use the hand sanitizer store in a small jar or a squeeze tube. I also use these tubes for homemade toothpaste. Note: This recipe will make 2 fl oz (one tube.)

This is a simple way to make your own Lip Balm from MaryJanesFarm Magazine. 

Love this from HealingSolutions: RE-CREATING (10) OF OUR FAVORITE FALL SCENTS: Use these recipes to reawaken fall-time memories, freshen up your workplace and/or living environment, and promote good health in both body and mind!

I make my own herbal medicinal salves & tinctures. I use the herbs from my garden & I buy essential oils to add to the salves if needed. I make cleansing sprays for the house from water & essential oils & I use them in the cleaning supplies I make. My favorite scent right now is either lemon or orange. So refreshing.

Don’t be afraid to use essential oils, just follow the safety guidelines, read the labels & research the companies.

Until next week…Mary 🙂 

Research Articles for Essential Oil use:

  • American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products is a Peer Reviewed Journal. Prime Focus of the Journal is to publish articles related to the current trends of research. This Journal provides the platform with the aim of motivating the students and personals in the Essential Oil and Phytochemistry Research and Development.
  • Journal of Essential Oil Research  The Journal of Essential Oil Research (JEOR) is the major forum for the publication of essential oil research and analysis. Each issue includes studies performed on the chemical composition of some of the 20,000 aromatic plants known in the plant kingdom. JEOR is devoted entirely to all phases of research from every corner of the world by the experts in their field. JEOR can provide you with the information that you need to complete vital research projects. In a day and age of rapidly changing technology. JEOR can help keep you up to date on the latest discoveries. This is a journal from the UK. Very good information on research. You can see a summary for free, if you want access to the research you will have to pay for it.
  • International Journal of Advanced Biological and Biomedical Research (IJABBR) is a monthly open access, peer reviewed and international journal published by Center of Advanced Scientific Research and Publications (CASRP) in United Kingdom from September, 2015. IJABBR will be published high quality and novelty papers focusing on Biological and Biomedical Research.
  • Essential Oils for Complementary Treatment of Surgical Patients: State of the Art  Susanna Stea, Alina Beraudi, and Dalila De Pasquale 2014
  • Science Daily: Orange essential oil may help alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder Researchers find evidence that essential oil reduces fear, diminishes immune system markers of stress in mice. April 24, 2017  

The History of Food Fads in the U.S.

You should know by now how I feel about fad diets. I was interested to find out why, when & where this crazy attitude about food began? I think you will be surprised, I was!

The why isn’t too shocking. Women & men have had this need to ‘look good” at whatever cost to their health for a very long time. Looking good has not always meant being thin. For women, during some periods of history, it meant being what would be considered plump & curvy by the current standards. It also meant trying to have a young boys figure for those flapper dresses in the 1920’s & again during the 1960’s when looking like Twiggy was all the rage. Jack LaLane defined what a man’s body should look like starting with his health club in 1936! The problem with this is that most women & men, no matter how much, or how they lose weight, will never conform to those images.

I found this abstract on PubMed very interesting. Regime change: gender, class, and the invention of dieting in post-bellum America. by Katharina Vester  The crux of the abstract is to argue against the idea that women were encouraged to diet in the 1920’s as a way to control them from further independence. She offers that dieting started way before then, in the 1860’s, & targeted white, middle class males instead. Because the men were building up their bodies & losing weight, women began to do the same. “Revising the history of dieting to show its origins as a masculine practice appropriated by women to stake a claim to class and race privilege invites a rethinking of power and resistance in the disciplining of the female body.” The abstract is short & an interesting idea. Give it a read.

 To prove the point, here is the ~not so pretty~ history of some fad diets. The sad part is that some of these exist today.

Maeve Hanan gave me permission to use this wonderful info-graph from her site dietetically speaking. She is a Registered Dietitian from Ireland, currently working in England. She wrote this very interesting article about fad diets: A Brief History of Ridiculous Fad Diets by Maeve Hanan, March 20th, 2016. 

The first diet she lists is from 175 BC, the cabbage & urine diet. Maybe this is where our idea of the cabbage soup diet came from 🙂 Maeve also mentions the “tapeworm diet”. Believe it or not, it has been used for weight loss for over 100 years in the USA. It is also illegal in this country. I can’t even imagine how one can rationalize this diet to oneself. Read her article for the entire list. 

I want to add a note here for those of you who still believe that coconut oil is healthy for you to consume. Please read this very well researched & written article by Maeve Hanan: The Facts About Fat; Part 4: Coconut Oil Debunked.  Food for thought 🙂

This is a fun read about famous writers & their eating habits. The first Celebrity Diet is attributed to the poet & playwright, Lord Byron (1788-1824) in the article  10 Writers’ Diets In the 1800s by Sabine Bevers, June 9, 2013. Byron had a weight problem & designed his own diet. I would say that Robert Lewis Stevenson would be considered a glutton by today’s standards or maybe a ~heart attack waiting to happen~.

In another article from the BBC News Magazine: History’s weirdest fad diets January 2013, the author describes the vinegar diet. She writes about Lord Byron’s dietary use of vinegar for weight loss. Because of his status, his dietary habits became a worry due to his influence on the youth of the time. Sounds familiar. This article is also a fun read. The advent of rubber knickers & corsets for men & women to lose weight was started by Charles Goodyear! Another idea that was popular in the mid 1800’s.

This is a timeline for popular diets put together in an article in the Los Angeles Times: A brief timeline shows how we’re gluttons for diet fads by Rene Lynch Feb. 28th, 2015 

The author, Rene Lynch, begins her timeline with the book “The Physiology of Taste” written by Jean Brillat-Savarin in 1825. The timeline continues to the Paleo Diet in 2010. I like this timeline because it reminds us of all the foolish diets; the Drinking Man’s diet, the Cigarette diet 🙁 and the not so foolish diets; Weight Watchers & the Mediterranean diet. It is fun to read this & tic off each of the diets you have tried! I counted 7 🙂

Here is another timeline from CNN: Diets through history: The good, the bad and the scary By Lesley Rotchford,, February 8, 2013 . This one is especially interesting because it names the celebrities that backed some of these scary diets & ways of losing weight.

I was just ready to publish this post when I noticed these two articles.

This was on CNN about the Military Diet: Military diet: 3-day diet or dud? The first part of the article is a detailed description of what the diet is. Very entertaining! You may like the idea of eating ice cream with dinner everyday 🙂 As it describes the diet there is also commentary on why it is unhealthy. 

The Military Diet is also known as the Army or Navy diet. The U.S. Department of Defense disavows any link to this crazy diet. The article goes on to explore who actually created the diet. It is an interesting journey. It has also been called the Mayo Clinic Diet, Kaiser Permanente Diet, American Heart Association Diet,  the Cleveland Clinic Diet & the Birmingham Hospital Diet. All have denied ever creating such a restrictive diet, & they don’t support or recommend it. 

The author also explores why people fall for fad diets in the section called How Diet Misinformation Spreads. This is a very good article & worth reading. 

I just couldn’t pass this one up, although it isn’t a diet, it is about chocolate! Several news outlets had this in their headlines, but I chose CBS’s article to share with you: S​enator calls for regulation of “snortable chocolate​” Of course my first reaction was, “Are you kidding me? Really, what fun would that be, I mean what’s the point?” Sitting at the beach or reading a book & indulging in a rich piece of chocolate is Heaven! After reading the article I understood & share the concern with Senator Schumer.

The product is being marketed as “raw cocoa snuff”. As it says in the article, it is difficult to find what other ingredients are in it. I did find an article with an interview of the product owner & it said that the ingredients used in energy drinks, such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana, are in it You Can Now Snort Chocolate for Energy ). These ingredients are not safe. The manufacturers website, LegalLeanStore.comwhich is definitely aimed at young consumers, I found disturbing as a health care person, and as a grandmother. This is a good example of the FDA’s limits for regulating products. This is also a good example of why we as consumers need to read the labels on products. It is ultimately our responsibility when choosing to believe the hype or not.

I hope you enjoyed this trip through history. It shows how people were influenced by the icons, & media of their time. Fast forward to 2017 with it’s celebrities from the screen, fashion & social media dictating how we should look & how we should eat. Not much has changed. Even Queen Victoria was concerned about being too fat. I guess there must have been fat shaming in her time as well.

Fad diets will never go away. My message to you is to remember that you are a unique individual. You have to decide what is right for you, & what makes you healthy & happy. 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Additional Information

Have You Met Polenta?

Polenta tubes are a staple in our pantry. My husband likes to use it for a quick snack or for his lunches. I like to use it instead of pasta in some recipes. If you haven’t met Polenta, you are missing out. 

Polenta is made from cooked cornmeal, making it gluten-free. It can be made with white or yellow corn; yellow is the most often seen. It was considered peasant food in Northern & Central Italy but is now a delicacy. I have seen it called “Italian Grits”.  Before the 16th century, polenta was made with spelt, rye or buckwheat. In the 16th century, corn was exported from America to European countries. It was at this time that polenta was made from corn. If you are interested in a more detailed history of polenta: Italy Heritage, traditional foods: Polenta 

Polenta is very easy to make. 1 cup of cornmeal will make about 3+ cups of polenta. Here is a basic recipe from Cooking Lessons from the Kitchen.

How To Make Creamy Stovetop Polenta , Makes about 4 cups

What You Need

Ingredients …Instead of butter or cheese you can add herbs for flavor.
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 cup cheese (optional)
1-3 tablespoons butter (optional)

2- to 3-quart pot with lid
Long handled spoon or sturdy spatula


  1. Bring the water to a boil. Bring the water to a brisk boil over medium-high heat. Add the salt.
  2. Pour the polenta into the boiling water. While whisking gently, pour the polenta into the boiling water in a steady stream.
  3. Continue whisking until polenta is thickened. Turn down the heat to low and continue whisking until the polenta has thickened enough that it doesn’t settle back on the bottom of the pan when you stop stirring.
  4. Cook the polenta 30-40 minutes. Cover the polenta and continue cooking. Stir vigorously every 10 minutes or so, making sure to scrape the sides, bottom, and corners of the pan. Cook 30 minutes for softer porridge-like polenta or 40 minutes for thicker polenta.
  5. Stir in cheese and butter, if using. Stir the cheese and butter into the polenta, if using. Serve immediately, or cover the pan and let it sit at the back of the stove for up to 15 minutes before serving.

Additional Notes:

  • Leftover Polenta: Polenta will solidify into the shape of the container in which you store it. Leftover polenta can be sliced or cubed before being roasted, grilled, or deep-fried. To make it creamy again, warm it with a little broth, milk, or water, and stir vigorously. It won’t be quite as creamy as it was originally, but it should still be pourable.
  • Per serving, based on 6 servings. (% daily value)…when  made with butter & cheese.
    • Calories 207
    • Fat 10.7 g (16.4%)
    • Saturated 6.1 g (30.7%)
    • Trans 0.4 g
    • Carbs 21 g (7%)
    • Fiber 1 g (4.1%)
    • Sugars 0.5 g
    • Protein 6.4 g (12.9%)
    • Cholesterol 29.4 mg (9.8%)
    • Sodium 517.5 mg (21.6%)

Livestrong has a good article on the Nutrition Information of Polenta. 

Ancient Harvest is the brand I buy. It is a very good brand for Organic Polenta, precooked in a tube. You can buy it just about anywhere. It is even sold at Walmart according to the websites “store locator”

The Traditional Polenta basic ingredients are simple:  Water, Organic Yellow Corn Meal, Salt, Tartaric Acid*, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) 

NUTRITION FACTS:  Servings per Container: about 5 / Serving Size: 2, 1/2 Inch Slices (100g) Calories 70, Total Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 310mg, Total Carbohydrates 15g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 2g

Their polenta comes in several flavors. 

  • TRADITIONAL POLENTAAncient Harvest polentas may be wheat-free, gluten-free, fat-free, nut-free, soy-free and dairy-free, but you can bet they’re always flavor-full. Try our sensational ready-to-eat Food Merchants Traditional Italian Polenta and see what we mean. Delicioso!
  • BASIL GARLIC POLENTA  My favorite.
  • GREEN CHILI AND POLENTA  My husbands favorite.
  • POLENTA Polenta combined with quinoa. Haven’t tried this one yet.

Ancient Harvest has a great Polenta Recipe Page that is divided into topics. I liked this one: Easy, Plant-Powered Polenta Recipes In light of my last post about how french fries are killing us, here is an alternative option!

Baked Polenta Fries with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Baked Polenta Fries with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Created by Wendy at What a delicious treat! Baked Polenta fries with honey mustard dipping sauce are a fantastic addition to the Ancient Harvest family of recipes.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they have their own brand of Organic Polenta in a tube. From their Fearless Flyer: “In typical Trader Joe’s fashion, Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta has a world-wise pedigree. The Washington-state-based company that makes it for us has family roots in Italy. They are also the pioneers of ready-to-eat polenta. Rather than stirring and waiting, stirring and waiting, you can have fresh-tasting polenta in minutes. Just slice it into rounds and bake or pan sauté for best results. (If you’re really careful, you can even grill the rounds.) Polenta can be topped with tomato sauce, grated cheese, basil & pine nuts or whatever suits your mood. It’s a terrific side dish with chicken, beef or your favorite mild fish. It also adds an interesting twist to otherwise traditional Eggs Benedict — whether you use it to replace the English muffin or the Canadian bacon is entirely up to you.” 

Here is a link to their Polenta Recipes. This one is almost like a lasagne. I need to try it for a “company dinner”. Acorn Squash Polenta Stacks Serves: 6/  Prep Time: 15 Minutes/  Cooking Time: 1 – 2 Hours


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice squash halves into 1/2″ half-moon-shaped slices. Spray a large baking sheet with a light dusting of oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. Place the slices on the sheet in a single layer. Lightly spray the tops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the slices are tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool; lower oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Place ricotta, kale, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl and combine. Set aside.
  • Assemble the stacks: Coat the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with a light layer of sauce. Lay 12 Polenta rounds side by side and season with a little salt and pepper; cover with sauce. Next, top each round with squash slices facing each other, trim to fit neatly. Top each set of squash with the ricotta-kale mixture and smooth out. Top with more sauce, followed by a layer of polenta and the last layer of squash. Pour over the remainder of sauce and top each stack with Mozzarella cheese, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Uncover for the last 10 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and rest 15 minutes before serving.

I am  always on the lookout for a new breakfast or lunch recipe. This one looks like it can be either. It is from The Breakfast Drama Queen. 

Polenta Scramble (Gluten-Free and Vegan)  This is a gluten-free, vegan breakfast scramble that’s easy to make and even easier to modify. Perfect for tofu-haters, or anyone who loves cornbread. Take a look at the recipe, click on the link. She has photos & explanations. Good website to bookmark! 

Prep time 20 mins/ Cook time 10 mins/ Total time 30 mins/ Yield: 2

  • ½ cup polenta
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups diced eggplant (approx. ½ an eggplant) Yum, my favorite veggie!
  • ½ a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a saucepan, use a wooden spoon to mix together the polenta, almond milk, water and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil (stirring occasionally) – or at least to the point where a lot of bubbles surface.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the polenta is thick and creamy.
  3. Transfer to polenta to a small-medium rectangular dish (mine was 5×7-in). Spread the polenta evenly and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add a few shakes of salt to the diced eggplant. Set aside.
  4. Turn out the polenta onto a plate or cutting board. Slice into small cubes (approximately 1×1-inch each). Set aside.
  5. Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Grease well with cooking oil spray. Add the sliced bell pepper and carrot, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a spatula.
  6. Add the diced eggplant, and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. (Don’t be surprised if there’s a lot of steam when you add the broth).
  7. Carefully use the spatula to fold through the polenta without breaking the cubes. Add the parsley and a few shakes of black pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the polenta is warm and lightly browned. Taste for salt and pepper.
  8. Divide the polenta scramble between two plates (or bowls). Enjoy!

Polenta can be eaten as a porridge with cut fruit & a dollop of Greek yogurt for a breakfast or for a pick-me-up snack. It can also be eaten like southern grits. 

The difference between grits & polenta is the corn. Polenta is made with a yellow corn called flint or Indian corn. The kernels are harder, because they have less water content than other types of corn, thus the name flint.  Grits are made with white corn called dent corn. Dent corn is a field corn that is softer & higher in starch than flint. It is named after the dents on the top of the kernels. Both are stone-ground cornmeal but the flavor & texture is different. 

Good article from the KitchenPolenta Versus Grits: What’s the Difference? 

I hope you give polenta a try. Until next week…Mary 🙂

More recipes for polenta:

June Nutrition Nuggets


June is nearly over! The summer solstice is past us, and the days will be getting shorter. The months seem to be going by quite fast. What was new in the health news for June?

I believe the biggest shocker to anyone who is interested in their diet or nutrition is whether or not coconut oil is a healthy choice. Lets start with that. Remember, fats are not all the same. Here is an excerpt from my post Healthy Oils/Fats:     

  • Trans Fats:  Being banned by the FDA.  Most trans fats are made from highly processed oils; called partial hydrogenation. Research has shown them to be unhealthy for consumption and that is why they are banned in European countries & are being banned here.
  • Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperatures. Less than 7% should be in your diet.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats: They are always liquid even when refrigerated. Each type of polyunsaturated oil contains a different Omega 3  to Omega 6 ratio. Check the labels. Your body needs both but the Omega 3’s should be higher.
  • Monounsaturated Fat: Liquid at room temperature but becomes cloudy when refrigerated. Choose oils that are highest in monounsaturated fats. These are the “healthy oils”. These oils contain more Omega 3’s.

CBS News ran this article, along with a video, on June 16th: Why you should replace coconut oil with healthier fatsThe American Heart Association (AHA) released a report this week aimed at setting the record straight in the long-running debate over the healthiest fats. A recent New York Times survey found that 72 percent of Americans think coconut oil is healthy but only 37 percent of nutritionists agree with them.

The AHA says that replacing saturated fats found in coconut oil or butter with vegetable oils like corn or peanut can lower cardiovascular disease by about 30 percent. That’s almost the same amount as a cholesterol-lowering statin drugI want to mention here that corn & soy oil is GMO unless it is Organic. Extra Virgin Olive oil, a mono-saturated fat, would be my choice.

In the video, Dr. Tara Narula said: “But the reality is when you look at what coconut oil is made of, 80 percent of it is saturated fat and that’s similar to butter which is about 60 percent saturated fat or beef fat which is about 40 percent,” Narula told “CBS This Morning.” “Saturated fat raises the LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol so coconut oil is going to have that same effect as butter and beef fat.”

There is such a thing as the “halo effect”, where a food goes from bad to a super food status from one study or a celebrity endorsement. We have seen this happen many times. This has happened to coconut oil. It is not a “bad” oil but it is a saturated fat. 

Based on all that I have read about this, coconut oil can be used, but in moderation. The AHA has recommended that no more than 7% of your total calories per day should come from saturated fat. For example, with 2000 calories a day your saturated fat limit is 16 grams or 140 calories from saturated fat. On the label of my coconut oil it states that 1 tablespoon = 13 grams of saturated fat. 

Coconut oil advocates argue that it is a healthy fat because it is plant based. Not all plant based oils are healthy. They also point to cultures who exclusively use coconut oil in their cooking. Yes, but they don’t have the same lifestyle & fast foods that we have. I can list all the arguments for its use as a food, but research does not back them up. Consume it in moderation.

It still has many uses as a skin moisturizer & in other beauty products. Don’t throw it away, just move it to your bathroom 🙂

As I am writing this, I see a new study with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. USA Today reported on June 21, 2017: Extra virgin olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s, preserves memory, new study shows  Very good article by Sean Rossman. “Temple University research shows extra-virgin olive oil protects against memory loss, preserves the ability to learn and reduces conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the college’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine found mice with EVOO-enriched diets had better memories and learning abilities compared to the rodents who didn’t eat the oil. The real effect of EVOO appeared in the inner-workings of the mice’s brains. Neuron connections in the brain were better preserved in those on an EVOO diet.

Also, olive oil reduces brain inflammation and activates the autophagy process, whereby intracellular debris and toxins are removed. Such debris and toxins are firm markers of Alzheimer’s disease. A reduction in autophagy, researchers claim, is suspected to be the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Read the rest of the article for more information about this study. This is good news, but remember, the study has been done only on rats. Human clinical trials are needed. But in the meantime, I will keep on using my extra virgin olive oil! 

The next piece of bad news is for french fry lovers 🙂  From the Washington Post, Those french fries could kill you, a new study says. But don’t panic! This article, published b on June 16, was my favorite because of the way it was written. He starts by saying: Hey, you, the dude reading this story on your phone over a pile of french fries: Back slowly away from the crispy spuds. They’re out to get you.” 

The article is based on a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which concluded that: “The frequent consumption of fried potatoes appears to be associated with an increased mortality risk. Additional studies in larger sample sizes should be performed to confirm if overall potato consumption is associated with higher mortality risk.”

Mr. Carmen finished the article with: What they did say was that folks who ate “fried potatoes” two or more times a week “were at an increased risk of mortality.” And not the kind of minuscule increase that’s easy to brush off for those firmly committed to their death sticks. The researchers concluded that frequent fried potato eaters more than doubled their risk of premature death. This was in the study results.

The ray of hope for tuber lovers? “The consumption of unfried potatoes was not associated with an increased mortality risk,” the study noted. No word if those unfried potatoes were drenched with butter, slathered with sour cream and sprinkled with pre-shredded cheddar.

Everyone, of course, cried fryer-oil tears over the news.” Once a month can’t be all that bad, right? 

BBC News, June 14, 2017:  EU court bans dairy-style names for soya and tofu “Plant-based foods cannot be sold in the European Union using terms such as milk, butter and cheese, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The ECJ was ruling in a case referred to it by a German court and involving German food company TofuTown. The company sells plant-based products with names including “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and “Veggie Cheese”. It said customers were not misled, because their products’ plant origins were clear.

Since December 2013 EU regulations have stated that designations such as milk, butter, cheese cream and yogurt can only be used for marketing and advertising products which are derived from animal milk.

There are some exceptions. Coconut milk is allowed, for example, as are peanut butter, almond milk and ice cream. However, soya and tofu are not exempted.

I included this article because I thought it was interesting. Since the consumers were not confused, I am not convinced there is a problem with the labeling. I would say that the process required to make butter or cheese should be the deciding factor, not that it comes from milk 🙂

I really enjoyed reading this article about the history of rice in Asia. I received it from the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s newsletter.  A NEW DAWN FOR WHOLE GRAINS IN CHINA, MAY 31, 2017  When you think of grain foods in China, you’d be forgiven if white rice is the first thing that comes to mind. But as China gears up to feed a growing population, and ward off the diet-related chronic diseases that Americans are all too familiar with, the tradition of whole grains in China is being revisited with renewed vigor.

What is interesting about this article is that the reason they are promoting brown rice over white rice has more to do with feeding the population than the health benefits. One kilogram of paddy rice yields about 750 grams of brown rice, but only 650 grams of white rice. For this reason, the Health Promotion Board in the Philippines encourages people to “be RICEsponsible” and choose brown rice instead.  It would not be surprising to see similar campaigns make their way to China in the coming years. Apparently some reports warn that in 40 years there will only be enough food in China for people to eat 2 meals per day, so strategies to reduce food waste are of utmost importance.

Read the rest of the article for the history of white, black & brown rice in Asia. In conclusion, the article ended with this information…

…”Despite the historical significance that whole grains have in Chinese culture, companies are also  finding modern ways to incorporate more whole grains into current Chinese traditions. Oat House (the company that organized the Sino-Foreign Whole Grains Industry Development Experts Forum) is putting whole grain oat flour into the mooncakes for the upcoming mid-autumn festival in China. Here is a link to what mooncakes are.

With their eager embrace of globalization, many Chinese people have reshaped their diets to incorporate unfamiliar foods from around the world (like coffee and yogurt). Hopefully, with cooperation of Chinese government agencies, NGOs, and manufacturers, whole grains will make their way onto more and more Chinese plates as well. (Kelly) 

Kentucky fried Chicken has been in China since 1987 & has over 5,000 outlets there! Pizza Hut, Subway & Starbucks are there also. Hopefully the SAD, Standard American Diet, and all its diseases won’t follow.

After reading my post, my husband has abandoned using coconut oil in & on everything. It was the buttery taste that he was going for on toast & popcorn. I never liked it because it made my mouth feel greasy. He is back to using EV olive oil now. I think he has made the right decision. 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

***Cookbook by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson, on Amazon, only $1.99 for Kindle edition: The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity  A collection of more than 120 recipes formulated to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve mood, sharpen the central nervous system, and more.

Food & Mood.

You have read &/or heard my opinions on food & mood for a very long time. On many occasions I have encouraged you to start a food diary that also notes how you feel emotionally after you eat a specific food or a meal. This is why you should start doing this…

I saw an article on BBC news regarding food & mental health. I decided to dig a bit further to see if I could find any research on the subject. We can all stand to improve our mental health, but especially when dealing with a life altering diagnosis. 

This is the article that started my thoughts on the subject: How food can improve your mental health 22 May 2017  Approximately one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year in England.  As part of our fight against this, we have a very much under utilised tool – food. In BBC One’s Doctor in the House, I try to help 34-year-old Emma Gleeson, who has been experiencing anxiety, depression and panic attacks for many years. 

This article is worth a serious look. The dramatic changes in her mental health is wonderful. Emma states: “I had been living on a diet of takeaways, fizzy drinks and general processed and convenience foods for as long as I can remember, and didn’t for one moment think that what I ate was contributing in any way to the anxiety and panic attacks I’d been experiencing for years,” she said.

“Since meeting and spending time with Dr Rangan, he has changed my entire outlook on food, and why certain foods were potentially having a negative impact on my mental health. I now only buy and cook with fresh food, I make my own stocks, I eat plenty of fish and I try to reduce the amount of sugar I consume. I feel so much better and intend to keep this up.”

Diet changes to effect a change in our mental health should be made along with any therapy or prescriptions you are already taking. This is not meant to replace mental health care if you need it.

 In Psychology today: How Food Effects Mood has a list of articles written about food & mood. They are all very good. The first one isRecent Links Between Food and Mood : The benefits of being a Mediterranean omnivore by Gary L. Wenk Ph.D.Your …Brain on Food, Posted Apr 08, 2015 “Considerable evidence has linked an unhealthy diet to obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cancer.  We now understand how chronic obesity ages us and then underlies the foundation of our death.  Furthermore, obesity leads to body-wide chronic inflammation that predisposes us to depression and dementia.  However, these are all the long-term consequences of our diet upon our body and brain.  What about the short- term consequences?  Can specific nutrients in my breakfast or lunch influence my brain’s function today?  Intuitively, we would all agree that this is certainly likely.  After all, being depressed or anxious can lead to poor dietary habits; conversely, poor dietary choices can lead to depression and anxiety.  Although it can be difficult to determine which came first in some people, most relevant studies indicate that an unhealthy diet is a significant risk factor for future depressive symptoms (Br J Psychiatry 2009;195:408413).” Continue reading for more information on studies & the 🙂 Mediterranean diet & mood! 

This next article is about moods & the Mediterranean diet but it also lists 6 foods & their impact on your mood; salmon, probiotics (gut to brain link 🙂 ), leafy greens, blueberries, oysters & chocolate. 

 From the Washington Post:  6 foods to eat for a mood boost   April 6  “If you’ve ever found bliss in a bite of chocolate or smiled when someone offered you a french fry, then you know food can make you happy. But while it’s true that your favorite treat may give you a brief emotional lift, sustained mood-boosting brain power can only come from a consistent supply of nutritious foods.

Recognizing the difference between a quick jolt of cookie-fueled joy and the positive effects of long-term nutrition for brain health is important. Researchers are taking a closer look at how food can impact your mood and future cognitive function, and they are finding that what you eat does make a difference.” I do like the cookie-fueled joy, but I agree with the idea that long-term nutrition is more important. This article shows it is not just what you are no longer eating~ junk food~ but also the impact of what you are eating every day on your mental wellbeing. 

I found this article in Food & Nutrition: The Relationship Between Food and Mood BY ABBIE GELLMAN, MS, RD, CDN, 02/08/2017  Turns out that the old saying “you are what you eat” is true, especially in relation to food and mood. Over the past several years, many evidence-based studies have been published detailing how some foods help improve your mood while others make it worse. Important nutrients affect brain chemistry, impacting mood, memory and cognitive function.  However, if you’re eating a healthy balance of whole foods that contain a variety of nutrients, you’re more likely to feel calmer, more content and generally in a better mood.”

The author, Abbie Gellman, goes on to talk about; Ways Your Food Intake Can Effect Your Mood & Ways You Can Improve Your Mood Through Food. This was my favorite tip in the second part: “Consume foods as close as possible to how they look in nature. For example, an orange is less processed and closer to nature than orange juice.” Good advice.

Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food , Eva Selhub MD, POSTED NOVEMBER 16, 2015, 9:00 AM , UPDATED NOVEMBER 17, 2015,  “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.

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”

The brain/gut connection has been the subject of several studies. This is a good article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, Healthy Aging: The Brain-Gut Connection“Anxiety and depression have been thought to contribute to gastro conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A Johns Hopkins expert explains how what’s going on in your gut could be affecting your brain….If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain.  Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.”  

If you are mindful of the brain/gut connection, passing up the coke & fries makes sense. It doesn’t mean that you CAN’T try the deep fried Oreo at the fair. It means you might want to share it with someone & enjoy your half. Just don’t make them at home 🙂 

This article from WebMD was published December 15, 2009. This idea has been around for a long time & the recommendations in the article still apply. How Food Affects Your Moods Can your diet help put you in a good mood (or a bad one)?  By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

So how should you change your diet if you want to try to improve your mood? You’ll find eight suggestions below. Try to incorporate as many as possible, because regardless of their effects on mood, most of these changes offer other health benefits as well. Read the article for details about each of these.

  1. Don’t Banish Carbs — Just Choose ‘Smart’ Ones
  2. Get More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
  4. Keep Exercising and Lose Weight (Slowly)
  5. Move to a Mediterranean Diet 🙂 🙂 🙂
  6. Get Enough Vitamin D
  7. Select Selenium-Rich Foods
  8. Don’t Overdo Caffeine

Eliminating or decreasing the amount of sugar & processed foods is a good start. Dare I say it? Yes, move towards a plant based diet such as the Mediterranean.

I will leave you with 2 quotes from my favorite author Michael Pollen’s books & a list of Brain Food recipes below.

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car” From Food Rules: An Eaters Manual. My favorite book of his.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” from In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Here are a few links to Brain Food Recipes!

  • PureWow: 30 Mood-Boosting Dinners for a Happier, Healthier Month  SARAH STIEFVATER, MAR. 22, 2017  “Our perfect dinner is delicious and nutritious enough that we don’t feel guilty about eating it. Basically, we want to eat things that make us feel good. Which is why we’ll be whipping up the following 30 meals this month: They all include ingredients that are proven to boost your mood.
  • From Eating Well: Brain-Boosting Dinner Recipes   “Eat for a sharper mind with these healthy dinner recipes to boost brain power. Adding omega-3-rich ingredients, such as oily fish, to your diet, as well as iron-rich foods, such as beans, and water-rich foods, such as leafy salad greens, can support healthy cognitive function. Try one of our healthy salmon recipes or hearty bean recipes tonight for a brain-boosting dinner.”
  • Cooking Light, Health News: 5 Recipes to Boost Brain Health Much depends on what you eat, especially how you age, feel, and focus. So why not feed your body and brain with clean, high-octane fuel? Here’s how.
  • A Couple Cooks: 10 Brain Food Recipes to Boost Your Mood We’re Sonja & Alex, a husband and wife who love to cook. This website is a collection of the simple, healthy, and mostly vegetarian recipes we cook in our kitchen. We also host the A Couple Cooks Podcast, a show for a growing community of people who love to cook and eat well.
  • Eating Well: Brain-Boosting, Healthy Breakfast Recipes Our healthy breakfast recipes deliver brain-boosting nutrients, like iron and omega-3s, plus whole grains to support cognitive function and improve memory while powering your morning. Try our healthy granola, breakfast-sandwich, waffle recipes and more easy breakfast recipes for a healthy start to your day.