Monthly Archives: January 2015

Vitamin D update!

Hi NUTs,

Once again Vitamin D is in the news. As most of you know, I am not an advocate of taking any supplements unless blood work by a reputable physician shows a deficiency. Getting vitamins & minerals in your diet is the only way to be sure of it being safe and bioavailable.

Having said that, I have been following the ups & downs of Vitamin D for several years. Based on the research and listening to Vitamin D advocates at conferences, I believe everyone should be taking 1,000 – 2,000 IU’s every day; tested or not. I also believe that Vitamin D plays an important role in the health of our immune system. This makes it an important vitamin to take for cancer patients to lower the risk of reoccurrence and to help rebuild your immune system along with diet, exercise and stress reduction.

The FDA does not follow-up on the thousands of Dietary Supplement companies that bring their products into the USA unless it has received complaints. You can’t always be sure that what is on the label is in the bottle. When you buy Vitamin D or any supplement, make sure it is from a company that you can trust. A company that belongs to a group that self regulates and allows third party studies on their products. Here are a few brands to get you started; Kirkland (Costco), Nature’s Way, Trader Joe’s brand, Jimbo’s brand, Nature Made, NOW, and Neutragenics. There are many more but you need to do your research, don’t believe the stickers and claims on the bottle….it has been shown by the FDA that less than reputable companies are “photo shopping” the stickers onto their labels. So FDA approved, no GMO’s etc. may not be true. It is a “crap shoot” when buying supplements or any over the counter medicine without researching the company first.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

On Facebook this weekend, Dr. Low Dog posted the following:

Was reading the Well section of the New York Times and saw yet another study showing the benefits of vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin has long been correlated with strong bones, and now science is discovering many other benefits. Research suggests that vitamin D may play a role in reducing inflammation and fighting off bacteria, along with possibly reducing the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer. Deficiency of vitamin D might increase the risk of these cancers, and possibly reduce survival. Vitamin D can be hard to get naturally in the diet (fatty fish, fortified milk, egg yolks) because we are supposed to get it from the sun. However, with the use of sunscreen and increasing time spent indoors, it is little surprise that up to 75% of Americans may have lower than optimal levels. While I think vitamin D testing is the best way to determine how much you might need, taking 1000 IU per day is probably a good idea for many of us.

How Vitamin D May Fight Colon Cancer

Higher levels of vitamin D have been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer in many observational studies. A new analysis has found a possible reason.

A malignant tumor contains not just cancer cells but many types of cells, some of which affect how fast a tumor may grow or spread. Among them are a group of immune system cells called T lymphocytes, or T cells, that can target tumor cells and limit their growth. Having a tumor with more T cells correlates with a better prognosis.

The study, published in the journal Gut, included 318 people who had developed colorectal cancer and 624 matched controls. All had vitamin D levels measured before the appearance of any cancers.

The higher the blood levels of vitamin D, the less likely people were to develop colorectal tumors. Vitamin D, the authors suggest, interacts with the immune system to prevent the growth of this type of malignancy.

“This study really shows that vitamin D has an effect on immunity,” said the senior author, Dr. Shuji Ogino, an associate professor of pathology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, “and it’s the first study to show that in a human population. Vitamin D boosts immunity not just in cancer, but in fighting infections as well.”

 

Quest for fresh produce!

How & where to shop for organic products and the freshest organic produce when you are on a budget? How do I cook them? How do I store them? These are questions I have had to ponder whenever I moved to a new place. This move is not any different. I hope my quest gives you the incentive to look around where you live.

Living in Crescent City has again changed the way I shop. Unlike San Diego, we have one natural food store, a discount grocery store, Walmart & Safeway. The closest Trader Joes is in Medford, Oregon, 100 miles away! I followed the advice I gave  you in group. I checked availability & prices in each store; checked for local Farmer’s Markets & stands; farms & ranches. Here is what I learned.

Safeway has an organic brand called O. They have a large organic produce area. The produce that is not prepackaged is as fresh as the natural food store but it is not always cheaper. We were surprised. The canned and processed foods: beans, soups, breads etc. were very expensive and comparable to the cost at the natural food store. Walmart & the discount store had only prepackaged organic produce and very few processed foods I would buy.

We have a Farmer’s Market from June to October. The local organic farm has a farm stand at the farm twice a month during the winter. We have a local dairy farm that is all organic with grass fed cows & chickens that roam acres! We also have the oldest family owned cheese factory in California.

What finds! I now have time to cook from scratch. I use dried beans instead of canned, make my own sauces and as I write this I am making granola in my slow cooker (look on the Recipe page). I buy few processed foods: soy sauce, vegenaise, mustard and a few others. I make a weekly menu & grocery list. I have fun going to the farm stand to visit with the cows, pigs & cats. Oh, and I do buy their in season produce. I go to the Cheese factory for their feta, eggs & butter when needed in a recipe. They also sell the organic dairy’s products there. I buy what I can from the natural food store and go to Safeway for groceries I know are less expensive. Our plan is to make a run to Medford once a month to stock up on items from Trader Joes. Gives me an excuse to visit Ashland, a beautiful town.

Now I have bags of fresh in season produce, what do I do with it all? How do I cook it and where is the best place to store it?

Our NUT Elf, Suzi, sent us a link to CookSmarts. This site has a printable chart showing you how to cook individual vegetables and videos to teach you techniques. Here is an excerpt from the site.

“In our All-in-One Produce Prep Guide,’ you learned how to efficiently prep your vegetables. This infographic and the videos below teach you our favorite cooking formulas (or techniques) for enjoying a wide variety of vegetables: sauteing, steaming, roasting, boiling, microwaving, including in salads, pureeing into soups, and turning into zucchini noodles. Enjoy them in season for the tastiest (and least expensive results).”

Cooksmarts is a great site to look at. I loved the chart, very valuable information there. The videos are very helpful.

This link came from Alessandra. It is from Earth911. The article is called ‘Put a Lid On food Waste: Simple Tips for Extending Shelf Life Of Food’.

I like this article. When I buy fruit,I never know where to store it. I want to keep it out so I will see it so I remember to eat it. The drawer “fruit crisper” in the refrigerator sounds like I should store it there. This article has helped me to decide not only for fruits but for vegetables and herbs as well.

If any of you come across a good site you would like to share, email the link to me. See you here next week!

Mary

Antioxidant Update

Hello NUTs,

Antioxidants are back in the news. Extra Antioxidants may make little difference in lifespan

This study and earlier studies are important for you to know about. The studies were conducted with supplements. This means that the subjects were given the individual antioxidant in a concentrated form. Why is this important? Because when you isolate one chemical, vitamin, or mineral you lose the synergistic effect they have in whole foods.

A 2014 study by Swedish researchers has brought up the question of the value and safety of antioxidants in supplement form. These researchers gave mice with small lung tumors antioxidant supplements and found that the tumors grew faster, were more invasive and the mice died faster. An earlier trial in Finland showed similar results when giving beta-carotene to men who were heavy smokers. The trial was stopped when the researchers saw an increase in lung cancer in the group taking the supplement.

My opinion is that these studies show that we should not rely on supplements to fix our health problems. By thinking this way people tend to take larger dosages because ‘more is better’. Turns out ‘more’ may mean an increase in health risks, not a decrease.

I came across a wonderful article by the Harvard School of Public Health, January 2014, in response to these studies that I mentioned. “Antioxidants: Beyond the  Hype”   I like this article because it explains free radicals at the cellular level, how the body responds, and what antioxidants are. Here is a paragraph from the article.

“But using the term “antioxidant” to refer to substances is misleading. It is really a chemical property, namely, the ability to act as an electron donor. Some substances that act as antioxidants in one situation may be prooxidants—electron grabbers—in a different chemical milieu. Another big misconception is that antioxidants are interchangeable. They aren’t. Each one has unique chemical behaviors and biological properties. They almost certainly evolved as parts of elaborate networks, with each different substance (or family of substances) playing slightly different roles. This means that no single substance can do the work of the whole crowd.”

What did I learn from these articles and what do I want you to know? Eating a plant-based, whole food diet is the only way to stay healthy. Eating colorful veggies & fruits and rotating which ones you eat is important. Each food has its own “mix” of vitamins & minerals. By having a varied diet you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. Your immune system stays healthy protecting you from acute and chronic diseases.

Do you ever need a supplement? Yes, when your blood work shows you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral and your healthcare team prescribes it. Follow-up with blood work to see if the supplement is helping or not is very important. You are probably tired of hearing me say this but it bears repeating; you are a unique individual, not a statistic. What works for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.

Mary

 

Back to Basics!

Good Morning NUTs,

Last week I decided to do some baking. I opened the oven and nearly fainted! DIRTY is a nice way of describing its condition. When we bought this house I tried the cooking elements to see that they worked (electric stove) but didn’t look inside the oven. What to do….buy toxic oven cleaner or turn to my old standby…vinegar? I decided to go with the vinegar.

I googled various ideas and this is what I decided on. Baking Soda & white vinegar. First I made sure the oven was off. I then sprayed the oven with water to dampen it. Then I sprinkled the oven liberally with Baking Soda making sure I got the worst parts. I let this sit for 3 hours. I then sprayed the Baking Soda with white vinegar. I left this until it quit fizzing.

When I wiped the oven down with wet rags my now clean oven emerged! I still had to use a bit of elbow grease but this was a great way to clean it. No toxic fumes and inexpensive.

I decided to try the same thing on some awful carpet stains. Sprinkled the stains with Baking Soda & let it sit for the morning. I then sprayed the Baking Soda with white vinegar. When the fizzing stopped I patted it with a dry cloth to absorb the moisture. When the carpet was dry, I vacuumed & the spot was gone!

Sometimes going back to the basics is the easiest and the least expensive way to live.

This leads into going back to the basics to keep your immune system strong and at the same time reduce the risk factors of reoccurrence. The list is pretty simple: no tobacco, restrict alcohol intake, sleep, exercise and a balanced diet. Adhering to this list will help your body fight off infections and prevent a number of illnesses both chronic and acute.

Most plant based foods, spices and herbs have the ability to strengthen your immune system. They are rich in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Here is my edited version of a list from Mother Earth Living magazine, (November/December 2012 issue)

  • Berries, cherries & grapes: antioxidant rich & anti-inflammatory
  • Complex carbs: Whole grains, legumes and vegetables contain complex carbs, which digest more slowly and are high in fiber. Fiber supports healthy digestive gut buddies which in turn supports a healthy immune system.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. “Animal and population studies link increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables with reduced cancer risk.” Broccoli was the star in the study!
  • Dark green leafy vegetables: Kale, collard greens, bok choy, arugula, are “natural sources of calcium and magnesium which may protect against colon cancer. Women who eat more leafy greens have a reduced risk of breast cancer.” **see the article I posted under Topics/Calcium on this website for a more complete list… Mary
  • Seeds & nuts: These contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins & minerals. Great for a pick-me-up snack.
  • Tomatoes: Great source of carotenoids. The red color is due to lycopene. The best source of lycopene is through your diet not supplements.
  •  Legumes: Fiber rich! **I must add here my opinion of soybeans. I believe that you can have a healthy diet without the consumption of controversial soy products. Because studies on the effect of soy on breast cancer, pre & post treatment, are not, in my opinion, very satisfactory, I would recommend eating small amounts of soy. Further, I would recommend fermented soy such as tempeh or miso and fresh edamame beans. The soy products in the USA are highly processed.  There are many other legumes to choose from.
  • Orange fruits & vegetables: Rich in carotenoids. Along with the leafy green and cruciferous vegetables they are all protective against several types of cancer.
  • Pomegranate: Mentioned in this article and is on their list. I would have left it off because I am not convinced of its healing properties to inhibit cancer growth. I would like to see more studies done.

Herbal antioxidants mentioned in the article are listed below. They are rich in antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory benefits and enhance immunity. Use liberally in your diet.

  • Garlic: Raw, as heating will kill off the protective properties.
  • Medicinal mushrooms: Enhance the immune system and have anti-cancer properties. All edible mushrooms have benefits. The article says “even the common button mushroom enhances immune-cell functions and can fight cancer.”
  • Milk Thistle: This herb has cancer-protective effects as well as protecting the liver. **I would recommend it as tea…Mary
  • Tea: Black tea as well as green are antioxidant rich. Drinking 3-5 cups of green tea a day is beneficial. **If on chemo or radiation treatment I would recommend keeping it to 1-2 cups a day during treatment unless your physician has asked to you stop it while being treated…Mary
  • Turmeric: Antioxidant plus anti-inflammatory. Combining with pepper enhances absorption. One of the most effective ways to consume turmeric is in curry, not the spice called curry but the dish called curry which uses several spices including turmeric. **I use turmeric in my dishes all day to have a consistent level of its anti-inflammatory effect.

I will  conclude todays blog post with the herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar’s, recipe for the traditional Ayurvedic healing drink used to treat inflammation and to support the immune system, “Golden Milk”. It is from her book, Medicinal Herbs, which happens to be one of my favorite books.

Golden Milk

  • 1/4 cup Turmeric root powder
  • Almond oil
  • Milk (cow’s, almond, or coconut)
  • honey (optional)

To make the turmeric base: Combine the turmeric powder with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture turns into a thin past. Cool, scoop into a glass jar, and store in the refrigerator.

To use: To make one serving, combine 1/2 -1 teaspoon of the turmeric paste, 1 teaspoon almond oil, and 1 cup milk in a blender. Add honey to sweeten if you wish. Blend to make a frothy drink.

Variation: you can add other herbs to this basic recipe, simmering them with the turmeric. Traditional additions include adaptogenic tonics*, such as ashwagandha, astragalus, cinnamon and, ginger.

*Adaptogenic herb tonics: Anti-stress, immune & wellbeing enhancers. Traditionally safe and non-toxic… Mary

2015: A year of new beginnings

Hello NUTs,

2015 is a year of new beginnings for me and for our group. As many of you know, I have moved to the northwest corner of California. Our move went smoothly with the help of my daughter and my two grandsons. We are unpacked but still arranging and rearranging our “Blue House”.

Even though I am 825 miles from Encinitas I will continue to keep you up to date on nutrition research, news and answer any questions you may have. This website is now public so feel free to share it with family & friends.

Even though I have been packing and moving I have kept an eye on the health news. Lots to share!

Let’s start with Dr. Oz. Here is one of many articles that appeared in the news on December 19th regarding a study reported in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

Reporting in the BMJ, Canadian researchers analyzed two medical TV talk shows—The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors—and found that only 46% of the recommendations on The Dr. Oz Show and 63% on The Doctors were supported by evidence. 15% of advice given on Oz and 14% of advice on The Doctors contradicted the available published evidence in journals.” For the full article click here: http://time.com/3642533/dr-oz-advice/

As we have discussed before, we must be our own health advocate. Advice on the internet is generally ‘one size fits all’. We are unique individuals, not statistics. Taking medical advice from the internet is a crap shoot. You really can’t always believe what you hear or read. My resource page has links to safe sites with evidence based information.

The U.S News & World Report’s senior health and wellness editor, Angela Haupt, said on Tuesday that the DASH diet has been named the best overall diet for the 5th consecutive year. They have been ranking and evaluating diets for five years. This diet is rich in vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, See entire article at foxnews.com

Is the DASH diet better than the Mediterranean diet? The original DASH diet was heavy in refined grains. The new improved Dash diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat & non-fat dairy, along with nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, lean meats, fish & poultry. You can find more information here: dashdiet.org  It has an easy to follow plan. From what I have seen it is as good as the Mediterranean diet and lower glycemic as well.

The last piece of news I will share today is an article in Time: Most Cancer Is Beyond Your Control, Breakthrough Study Finds.

This is a very interesting study. I think that it potentially could change the way science looks at cancer.

“Christian Tomasetti and Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins University believe they may have found an answer, and it’s likely to turn our understanding of cancer — and how it should be diagnosed and treated — on its head. In a groundbreaking paper published in Science, the duo describe a new factor, a tissue’s stem cells, that may explain as much as two-thirds of the difference in cancer risk among different tissues.”

This last paragraph in the article is very important.

“In the meantime, he stresses that while we may not be able to prevent the tumors from forming, it’s still possible to treat them and potentially save lives by finding them early and removing them or using chemotherapy or radiation to keep them under control. “My biggest fear is that people will say forget about it, and then do nothing. The opposite is true. We need to do everything we did before, but we want to do it even more than before,” he says.”

Lifestyle changes can change the course of your treatment. Diet, exercise and stress reduction are very important not only to a cancer patient but to everyone. These 3 can decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other illnesses.

That’s it for this week. I will be updating the website and adding new posts each Tuesday. I am grateful that we can continue to connect. Hugs to all of you.

Mary