Monthly Archives: April 2015

Diet Pepsi, Silicone Bakeware, Non-dairy Milks & Cookies!

I found several good articles in the news again this week. I was also sent links to two I missed; thank you NUT Elves, Suzi & Deborah! In addition, I had a request for cookie recipes with no added sugar. Oh, and by the way, I have written an informative page: Medical Marijuana, (Cannabis Sativa), and posted it under Topics to help clear up the confusion regarding its use.

Okay, let’s get started! This article was on BBC news Sunday morning: Pepsi to drop artificial sweetener aspartameA controversial artificial sweetener is being removed from Diet Pepsi in the US amid consumer concerns about its safety. Aspartame-free cans of the drink will go on sale from August in America, but not in Britain. Regulators in the UK and the US insist aspartame is still safe to use in soft drinks. PepsiCo says its decision is a commercial one – responding to consumer preferences.” 

I was happy to see this corporation taking action due to consumer preferences. Take note when you read the article: Pepsi thinks Aspartame is safe and secondly they made the change due to the drop in sales. The drop in sales is due to consumer’s concerns with the safety of Aspartame. As  I have said before, we vote for products we want when they are scanned at the check out counter. If products are sitting on the shelf because no one wants them then the corporation feels it financially. This hurts their profit margin and they will look into why the product isn’t moving.

Let’s continue pressuring corporations into making healthy changes in their products. Changing from one sugar substitute to another is not what I consider a healthy change, but at least Pepsi is noticing consumer concerns. In case you have forgotten, that is what the Food Babe is all about. Look at her websiteFoodBabe  

Our NUT Elf, Suzi, sent me an article about the safety of silicone bakeware:  Is silicone bakeware eco-friendly and safe?   “Silicone is a synthetic rubber that contains bonded silicon and oxygen. It’s a natural element that is abundant in sand and rock. Silicone bakeware is known for its heat-resistant and rubber-like qualities and is safe for the oven and freezer. It is touted as being stable or inert, not changing the flavour or releasing odours that might affect food quality.” 

I am sure you have all seen this colorful, rubber like, bakeware in stores. As you will see in the article, there is not a lot of research on the safety of it but it is a safer alternative to the non-stick variety that is toxic as it gets older and flakes into your food. I researched the subject further and the only safety concerns I found were its use at temperatures over 428 degrees and that lower grade bakeware may have toxic fillers added. As usual, check the manufacturers “ingredient list” on the box or online before buying. Use only food grade silicone, not industrial grade. Baking usually doesn’t go over 375 degrees, over 400 degrees is considered roasting!

In the above article there is a link to this article: How to avoid toxic non-stick cookware  This is an excellent article as well. I prefer cooking with stainless steel, glass, or cast iron because that is what I grew up using. I don’t have a problem with clean up. If I did buy non-stick I would go with the silicone bakeware described in the first article.

Here is an update on Non-dairy Milks that Deborah sent me a link to. It is more comprehensive than the one we saw last month. Here is the link: Non-Dairy Milk Substitutes Best Bites Nutrition Ratings  I either make my own or use Pacific Brand. Pacific didn’t even get an honorable mention! This is a great list to refer to if you buy a non-dairy milk.

Nut milks are simple to make. In a good blender or food processor add a cup of nuts of your choice. Add enough water to cover the nuts and blend. As it thickens add more water to get the consistency you want. You can strain it through a nut bag if you don’t like the little bits in it. I don’t strain it because I like the bits in my cereal and it adds a nutty quality to recipes. My favorite is cashew milk. I can make cashew “butter” by barely covering the nuts with water. It is easier to make this way than making actual cashew butter. It is thinner but is spreadable. If I add a tiny bit more water I have cashew “cream” for toppings. More water gives me milk. Easy, no added ingredients and cheaper to make. You can add vanilla or a flavoring if you want to.

On to cookies! My favorite topic besides coffee and chocolate 🙂

On our recipe page there is a link to an Easy Oatmeal Cookie  I love this recipe and make it often. No flour, no fat & no added sugar. It is so versatile. You can add whatever you crave that day. Chocolate/carob chips, currants rather than raisins, chopped nuts, coconut grated or flaked, substitute pumpkin puree for the applesauce, & adding different spices are just a few examples. They keep well refrigerated, although mine don’t last long!

Also on the recipe page is a Chocolate Chip Cookie that is made without flour, sugar & eggs. Try this out if your a chocolate lover!

This link  is to 16 Amazingly Delicious No-Sugar-Added Desserts and Sweet Treats These recipes do use some honey but no refined sugars. Some use fruit to sweeten. 

Pull out your silicone baking sheets and bake some cookies! Serve with a Nut Milk (dump the diet Pepsi) & enjoy! See you here next week….Mary

Exercise & Cancer

When I am asked what is the most important thing to focus on during cancer treatment, my reply is always the same; diet, exercise & stress reduction. In reality they are all 3 related. A plant based diet reduces stress on the body, strengthens the immune system, stabilizes weight, increases energy, alleviates depression & more. Exercise reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, stabilizes weight, increases energy, alleviates depression, increases mobility & more. Stress reduction? Same list. A healthy diet plus exercise is the ticket to physical & mental well-being before, during & after cancer.

Is there science behind exercise while undergoing chemotherapy, radiation &/or surgery? Yes, there is. There have been recent studies conducted on mice that show that exercising can enhance the treatment you are currently on; chemotherapy, radiation & post surgery. Here is a link to a great article that Deborah, with the non-profit group, North County Cancer Fitness, sent to me. How Exercise Aids Cancer TreatmentThe author of the article, Hollye Jacobs, is a breast cancer survivor, registered nurse, author and has a wonderful website. After you read her article check out her website while you are there.

The National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on their site; Physical Activity & Cancer , that lists studies done on exercise by type of cancer. Here is a list of the key points of the article.

Key Points

  • Physical activity is a critical component of energy balance, the term researchers use to describe how weight, diet, and physical activity influence health.
  • There is strong evidence that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of cancers of the colon and breast.
  • Several studies have also reported links between physical activity and reduced risk of endometrial (lining of the uterus), lung, and prostate cancers.
  • Current National Cancer Institute-funded studies are exploring the role of physical activity in cancer survivorship and quality of life, cancer risk, and the needs of populations at increased risk.

I would encourage you to start an exercise program as soon as you are diagnosed, especially if you have been inactive. You can also adjust your existing exercise regimen to work with how you are feeling at the moment. How should you go about this? First you should ask your heath care team if you have any restrictions. For example, if you are having radiation and your skin is tender or “broken” then you shouldn’t go swimming. This would increase the risk of infection. You could go to a Restorative Yoga class, a Gentle Zumba class, Tai Chi class or take walks.

If you are reading this and thinking; “I can’t get off the couch!” That’s okay, you can make your everyday “must do’s” your exercise. After a sledding accident~ don’t ask~ I was sent home on strict bed rest. When I got up to use the bathroom I would take the long way there. I would make phone calls (this was the age of phones attached to the wall), wash dishes, make coffee, & pickup toys. On my way back I would pickup my coffee, take a longing look outside and return to bed. This was my exercise for 3 weeks! As with the princess pink wall phones, strict bed-rest is a thing of the past. Patients are encouraged to get out of bed and walk several times a day. You can see them walking the halls with their IV poles right after surgery. Walking down your driveway each day is a great start.

Your health care team is not only okay with you exercising but encouraging you to start now! Where do you go next? Here are several options. Go to our Website; the San Diego Cancer Research Institute/resource pagenow scroll down to “Free Wellness Activities for cancer patients”. You will find a list of gentle fitness programs with contact information. We have partnered with these groups because they are safe, and they are free for cancer patients. You can also contact our partner, the  North County Cancer Fitness group, for an evaluation. This group will put you in programs that are facilitated by a Certified Cancer Fitness trainer. They are trained to give you exercises that fit with your cancer, your treatments, and your overall health picture. 

American College of Sports Medicine:

If you are still not convinced or would like more information, here are a few resources for you.

The American Cancer Society has an article about exercise during your treatment: Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient

Here is a link to a good article about cancer prevention & exercise by the MD Anderson Cancer Center; Exercise and Cancer: Your Training Guide“Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and to lower your risk for many cancers.”

Another article; The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Survivors by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. “Studies suggest that cancer survivors who exercise regularly may feel better, have less fatigue, and experience fewer symptoms after treatment.”

Get out your yoga mat, your walking shoes &/or dancing shoes right now! Take the first step…………….See you here next week!

Mary

Mental Health, Super-bugs & Diet Pills

I had a difficult time trying to decide between so many health news articles that came out last week. I finally chose three. Here are the subjects I chose.  Diet and Mental Health (no brainer..LOL!),  1,000 year old Onion & Garlic Recipe Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Super-bug & FDA Drops the Ball on Weight Loss Supplements. 

An article on line by the Huffpost caught my eye Diet May Be As Important to Mental Health As It Is To Physical Health. I guess the reason I looked at this article is because it seemed so ridiculous to me. Anyone who has changed their food intake from junk food to whole foods knows that not only did they have more energy but mentally they felt better as well. The brain fog from too much sugar, salt & fat lifted as soon as they quit eating that way. They felt more alert, less depressed and more focused within a day or two. I always notice a huge change in outlook by the third day of a plant based, whole foods diet. I attribute the change to getting the nutrients from fresh foods that were lacking in processed & junk foods.

The article starts with; “While the role of diet and nutrition in our physical health is undeniable, the influence of dietary factors on mental health has been less considered. That may be starting to change.” That was so hard for me to take in! No one has considered this until now?

This is even worse; “Some psychiatrists, too, have recently launched a rallying cry for a more integrative approach to mental health care — one that takes diet and other lifestyle factors into account in diagnosing, treating and preventing mental illness.” Not all psychiatrists, just some….wow! How can that be?

“Growing evidence of the brain-gut connection also lends support to the hypothesis that when it comes to mental health, food matters.”   The brain-gut connection is extremely important. Our gut plays a huge part in keeping our immune system healthy. By the way, our gut includes the intestines, not just the stomach. Our gut buddies, there are 100 trillion little guys, are what keep us healthy physically & mentally. What are we feeding them?

Lastly; “Food should be the first line of defense because it’s a foundational treatment,” said Ramsey. “We really need to move away from thinking of things like diet and exercise as ‘complementary’ or ‘alternative.’ That’s really bad thinking that’s gotten psychiatry into trouble.” There you have the problem, not only in psychiatry but in all medicine. If you are going to treat a person holistically, integratively or what ever the newest term is, you need to treat the persons whole being & that includes what they eat, their age, culture & environment! The other problem I see is what we have done to the word “diet”. It should simply mean what we eat, not what fad we are following at the moment.

As a cancer patient this subject is important. How do you get through the cancer journey without being mentally up to it? How do you get through the highs & lows, ups & downs of treatment? How do you make good decisions with your health team? Eating a plant-based, whole foods diet, getting exercise daily & stress reduction techniques will help keep you alert, focused, and your immune system will be stronger. Even when all you can get down is a snack several times a day. Make that snack count nutritionally. Exercise can be walking to your mailbox at the end of the driveway every day. Sitting quietly, gardening, handwork, artwork; anything that requires your focus, is the same as meditating & reduces stress. The bottom line? Diet and lifestyle should be the first concern in a persons treatment.

Next!

Because of the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, the over prescribing of antibiotics, and in my opinion the senseless use of antibacterial soaps, wipes & cleaners we now have super-bugs. These super-bugs are antibiotic-resistant. MSRA is one of them. From a nutrirional point of view this is a great article: “1,000-year-old onion and garlic eye remedy kills MRSA”

The Center for Disease Control defines MRSA: “Methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. In medical facilities, MRSA causes life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections.” 

I loved this article for several reasons; it is a natural remedy from 1,000 years ago, scientists just found it in a book of remedies & they stupidly tried to reproduce the results by taking out the “active ingredient”.

“A 1,000-year-old treatment for eye infections could hold the key to killing antibiotic-resistant superbugs, experts have said. Scientists recreated a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon remedy using onion, garlic and part of a cow’s stomach. They were “astonished” to find it almost completely wiped out methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA. Their findings will be presented at a national microbiology conference.”

Here is Tom Fielden’s, science editor of Today Programme, reaction to this wonderful find;  “The Leechbook is one of the earliest examples of what might loosely be called a medical textbook. It seems Anglo-Saxon physicians may actually have practiced something pretty close to the modern scientific method, with its emphasis on observation and experimentation.”  I would say that from early man until today all discoveries have been based on observation and experimentation. Arrogance? What a disconnect science has with history and with nature.

The scientists tested each ingredient to isolate the one that was killing off the bacteria. Individually none were, but collectively they did. This “blew them away”. Another example of being disconnected to nature.

The take away, nutritionally, for you is: whole foods work synergistically. Synergistic: various parts are working together to produce an enhanced result. Eating the whole piece of fruit has more nutritional value than taking a supplement with the isolated vitamins & minerals in it. That whole piece of fruit also works synergistically with the other whole foods you ate by the end of the day. This is not just a concept it is a fact. It has been proven in studies over and over again. So eat your medicine by eating whole foods in their natural state.

Last…..

Supplements in the news AGAIN!  Supplement expert: FDA “completely dropped the ball”  “Nearly a dozen supplements marketed to help consumers lose weight, improve athletic performance and enhance cognitive function are a new cause for alarm. Researchers found an amphetamine-like substance known as BMPEA in products containing Acacia rigidula.”

This article is worth reading. Thousands of new supplements enter the USA each year. The FDA does not have a program to regulate/manage them. The supplement industry itself has set up an organization for companies to join together to self regulate and allow for 3rd party research to make sure their products are safe and that they contain what it says on the product. Not many do this.

“Assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and dietary supplement expert Dr. Pieter Cohen said the FDA “completely dropped the ball” in their responsibility to prevent the inclusion of dangerous ingredients in supplements.” He is correct. It is their responsibility to regulate “dangerous ingredients”.

I included this article to drive home the false idea that “supplements are regulated and therefore safe”.

Check the Recipe page. I added a recipe from our NUT Elf, Suzi, Strawberry-Spinach Salad & a website she found, 15 Freezer Friendly Dishes. Thank you Suzi!

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

& Mary 🙂

 

Artificial Sweeteners

I thought I should revisit this subject and give a more balanced view. I have never felt that artificial sweeteners were the answer to cutting back on sugar intake. I have also felt that they were not the best choice because they are highly refined and made of chemicals & sugar alcohols. My other objection is that they are not scrutinized very closely by the FDA. More importantly, you don’t learn anything about a healthy diet and a healthy intake of sugar when consuming low calorie or no-calorie foods.

Artificial sweeteners and “natural” alternatives such as Stevia come with side effects & problems when overused. Regularly consuming highly refined Stevia for example has side effects; feelings of nausea, bloating, and a decreased appetite to name a few. It can also cause hypoglycemia, lower blood sugar, when used with diabetic medications. Years ago I did a finger stick on myself, for a diabetic workshop I was co-teaching, after drinking a diet 7up and found that my blood sugar had dropped to 40! No wonder I always felt so tired in those days!  Overuse of some artificial sweeteners can cause bloating and diarrhea.

The Mayo Clinic has a wonderful article that gives a balanced view of using artificial sweeteners based on the most recent research. Their view differs from mine, but what I want is for you to make an informed decision. That means reading accurate information from both sides of the subject. Click here to read their article:  Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes.

I firmly believe that artificial sweeteners and diet drinks in particular contribute to obesity. One reason is because drinking a diet soda doesn’t curb your sweet craving. You continue to drink them looking for that sweet taste and end up either eating more food along with them, or you seek out high sugar treats. Research in the past has shown a possible link between diet drinks and obesity but scientist felt it wasn’t enough to change the artificial sweetener industry. Newer research is showing a definite link. Here is an article in Time from March 17th, 2015. Click here to read the article: What Diet Soda Does to Body Fat  

Artificial sweeteners and “natural” alternatives such as Stevia, Agave & even honey give you a false sense of security that what you are eating has fewer calories and is healthier. In fact, these diet foods are highly processed, packed with fat, sodium and additives to make it taste good! It is the same as eating Organic candy thinking it is healthier. It is still candy!

What is the answer in my view? Cut back on added sugar & cut way back on processed foods which are laden with sugar. As an example: some people like sugar in their coffee, then use 1/4 as much as usual so that the sweet taste is still there. If you drink only one cup a day and use 1 tsp. of sugar then it isn’t that big of a deal. Have desert as a treat once a week. My sweet day is Wednesday when we go out to dinner. We share the desert. I keep a Lindt 90% dark chocolate bar on hand and have a square when I “need” chocolate. Eat whole fruit (fiber moderates the speed that fructose enters the body) & not juices. No sodas, diet or otherwise.

So rather than introducing sugar substitutes, look at your diet and change that instead………Mary