Monthly Archives: October 2017

October Nutrition Nuggets


Autumn is one of my favorite seasons; spring being the other. Watching the changes in nature as She puts on a colorful show. The winding down from a busy summer. Time to slow down & enjoy the quiet & be with oneself.

I shared this post from Dr. Low Dog on our SDCRI Facebook page: Loneliness vs Solitude.  “Loneliness can have severe detriments to your health, but it is not the same as solitude. I often find solitude to hold many joys and comforts.”  Take a minute to read the article. We all need that time alone to regroup & refresh. This is the season to start to enjoy the joys & comforts of solitude. 

I have chosen 3 research studies for our October Nutrition Nuggets & I am also including an article about the safety of cookware that I know you will benefit from. 

The news was full of research studies concerning the world wide obesity rates of children this past month. I touched on that in a previous post. This time I will write about the obesity rates of adults in the U.S.A. 

What is new about the obesity epidemic among adults in the U.S.? The CDC’s National Center of Health Statistics has published data from a survey they did: Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015–2016 The study includes charts showing the increase in obesity by age group, gender & race. What I found significant was in the following categories:

  • 39.8% of adults are obese. 
  • The obesity rate was highest between the ages of 40-59.
  • Women had a rate higher than men overall. Women 44.7% & men 40.8%.

These rates are mystifying in many ways. In spite of all the media coverage on health & what constitutes a healthy diet & what doesn’t, obesity continues to rise. With the many fad diets pushed by “celebrities” it continues to rise. Media coverage of the links between obesity & chronic diseases hasn’t helped either. Why is that? I am asking because I just don’t understand. My best guess is that most people just aren’t willing to change. Life in this technological age is stressful & expensive. It is easier to find comfort in cheaper, packaged, fast foods than to find time in a too busy schedule to buy groceries & to prepare meals. That I get. 

Even more interesting was a link from this survey to the Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion’s Healthy On this site is the topic Nutrition and Weight Status The Healthy People 2020 Goals, include reducing the obesity rate to 30.5% for adults & 14.5% for children. With the trend of rising obesity rates it doesn’t look like this goal will be met. This is an interesting site to look at. It covers how this goal will be accomplished through eating a healthy diet & maintaining a healthy body weight. The problem I have with these statistics is that they are based on a BMI chart. Their way of measuring BMI in the survey does include age, gender & race but it is still not very accurate overall. 

Being our own health advocate includes taking care of ourselves. I look at the cost of healthy, organic veggies, fruits & grains as preventative health insurance. 

I have been asked about whether or not hair dye can cause cancer. My thought was that anything that contains a toxic chemical that is applied externally or taken internally has the potential to cause cells to mutate.  A study done by Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey & Rutgers School of Public Health took a look at this question & the results were published in June of 2017. The study participants were 4,285 African American & Caucasian women who used hair dye &/or hair relaxer. Some had already been  diagnosed with breast cancer but not all had the same type of breast cancer. Some of the participants did not have cancer. The age group was 20-75 years of age. Here is my summary of what they found.

  • The risk was higher when having their hair dyed in a hair salon rather than dying their hair at home.
  • The darker the dye the higher the risk. 
  • African American women had a higher risk than Caucasian women using dark hair dye.
  • Caucasian women had a higher risk when using hair relaxers than African American women.
  • There was an overall higher risk associated with estrogen-positive cancers.

The bottom line on this study is that more research needs to be done. There is a big difference in ingredients in each hair dye or relaxer product. The participants were not asked which product they used. So the actual culprit is probably a common chemical ingredient. Which one was not established in this study. There is also a debate on whether the frequency of using hair dyes & relaxers makes a difference.

The best article I could find about this study was from ASPPH, Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health: Rutgers Study Links Certain Hair Products to Breast Cancer , June 22, 2017.

In another study in Finland, the researchers found an increase of breast cancer among women who dyed their hair. These researchers weren’t convinced it was just the hair dye products causing this cancer. The Finish researchers also speculate that women who use hair dye may tend to use other products such as makeup, creams etc. This may skew the results of these studies. The original article was published October 14, 2017 in the New York Post: Hair dyes could raise risk of breast cancer: study by Tamar Lapin

This issue, for both men & women, will be a personal decision. How important is it to you to dye &/or straighten your hair?

Sebastian Beaton at twokitchenjunkies sent me a link to his article about cookware safety. I am sharing the link to his guide because it is based on science & is the most comprehensive guide on this subject that I have seen. He not only discusses each type of cookware, for example stainless steel & cast iron, he also provides links for additional reading & some very informative videos. This is a must read for any of you who want up to date information on what kind of cookware is best for you or to check in to see if the cookware you own is a healthy choice. I have bookmarked the website for my own personal use 🙂

The ultimate guide to safe & healthy cookware “We spend a lot of time considering what we eat. There’s no doubt that cooking our own meals gives us ultimate control over the healthfulness of the ingredients in our food, but what about the impact of cookware on the safety of what we eat? Just how healthy for us is the cookware we use?

No matter how much thought we put into selecting our produce and other ingredients, using the wrong cookware or even using good cookware improperly can have devastating effects on our best efforts.”

As Sebastian points out, which type of cookware you use depends on what you are cooking. We own several types of cookware for that very reason. 

Be sure to explore the twokitchenjunkies website. I have always wanted a rice cooker & found the information on the website very helpful. There is even a cooktop guide. If you use Pinterest, make sure to follow him at Two Kitchen Junkies. I am a gadget person & he has a page of them! I also like all the info-graphs. I have to time myself when on Pinterest 🙂 Easy to get lost in all those subjects, photos & recipes!

Thank you for sharing with us Sebastian 🙂

Until next week, November!!! Wow, this year has just flown by for me. Time to slow down & get ready for winter. I will be looking for new Thanksgiving recipes to share…Mary 🙂


Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?


The topic that I have always received the most questions about is sugar. Not only from cancer patients, but from family & friends too. Hot topic 🙂  A newly published 9 year research study regarding sugar & cancer is in the news this week. The news headlines state that this study has shown that sugar makes cancer cells grow faster and the tumor to become more aggressive. The response to this news is usually; “I knew that because of my PET scan”. 

Before we get into the study itself, I am re-sharing a post from the Mayo Clinic. In spite of the new research, it is still correct.

Mayo Clinic: Cancer…”Myth: People with cancer shouldn’t eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster…

Fact: Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn’t speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn’t slow their growth.


This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn’t true.

However, there is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. It can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer.

All cells in your body need sugar/glucose to function properly. Cancer cells grow & divide more quickly than normal cells do. Thus they need more energy to accomplish this. This energy comes from the breakdown of glucose. 

The best article that I have found to explain this is from Cancer research UK: Sugar and cancer – what you need to know, May 15, 2017  I highly recommend that you read the entire article. 

Okay, now lets look at this new study. The research was on yeast cells which react to sugar in the same way as cancer cells. It certainly brings up more questions than answers. 

Because of copyright issues I can’t use parts of these articles to illustrate what the research study found. I will summarize it as best as I can & you can read them for more details.

The research findings, by Belgian scientists, suggests that the “Warburg effect” actually does exist. The Warburg effect is that cancer tumors use a much higher amount of sugar when compared to normal/healthy cells. This has been a well known fact, through observation, for a very long time. What makes it so significant is that scientists didn’t know if the Walburg effect was a symptom of cancer or if it was a cause of cancer. It is sort of a chicken & egg question. This study is suggesting that it may be a cause. 

The results show that the high use of sugar by the cancer cells stimulate the tumor growth & make it more aggressive. As stated by the research team; this is a scientific breakthrough but not a medical breakthrough…yet. They do go on to say that health teams will now be able to give cancer patients a specific diet based on their findings. But in subsequent articles that I have read, oncologists, dietitians & scientists are saying that there needs to be a lot more research done to prove this. 

As one person is quoted as saying, breaking glucose down into energy does not involve just one product. This means that there is a long way to go before stating that the Walburg effect is the cause of cancer. The researchers agreed with this. 

Science Daily: Scientists reveal the relationship between sugar, cancer, October 13, 2017  

Bioscience:  Breakthrough study confirms that sugar exacerbates cancer by Alex Lee 16 Oct 2017

Do these findings change anything for cancer patients? And does it change anything for the population in general? All cells need sugar/glucose. There is not a way for the body to send glucose to healthy cells & withdraw glucose from cancer cells.

The following article is very informative & describes the Warburg effect in scientific terms. The cancer cells are using fermentation rather than respiration as your healthy cells do to break down sugar/glucose for energy. One of the scientific facts it talks about is that when all cells are deprived of glucose for energy they will use fat & protein. Being on a prolonged low sugar diet/a low carbohydrate diet, can lead to health problems by limiting nutrients the body needs to maintain balance. It won’t starve the cancer cells.

CUTTING CARBS WON’T SAVE YOU FROM CANCER  By 10.20.17  This article is worth reading in its entirety. 

So what is the answer while we are waiting for more research to be done? We already know 🙂 Eat whole foods in all the food groups. Limit or omit processed foods & sugary drinks. Read the labels! Look for ADDED corn syrup, maple syrup, cane sugar, honey & more. Having desert on special occasions is fine, just limit how often you partake. 

This is a good season to take this information seriously. Halloween is all about Candy now. You can take a stand on this & give out non-candy treats. Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners can still be tasty. Serve more vegetables & just one favorite desert. Moderation!

Until next week…Mary 🙂

To read my previous Sugar Posts; under Topics: Sugar or you can enter sugar into the search box at the top of each page.

You Are What You Eat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Things Pumpkin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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