Monthly Archives: September 2017

September Nutrition Nuggets


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok, enough from my fake sugar soapbox 🙂

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

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

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

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


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

Ketogenic Diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Resources:

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



Foods as Beauty Products!

Picking Chamomile. MHollander

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

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

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

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

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

No More Wrinkles and Sagging Skin on Your Face 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or…you can eat them. 

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

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

Are Carbs the Problem? Not Fats?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week…Mary 🙂