Monthly Archives: January 2018

January Nutrition Nuggets


Once again I have saved articles of interest in the health news to share with you. They range in topics: is weight-gain contagious? 🙂 ; the benefits of honey; non-dairy milk vs cows milk; dietary sugar & bacterial infections; a new study with coconut oil; curcumin & memory; & an interesting slide show from WebMD.

Most of the health news this past month has centered around this years flu. I want to remind you that you can still get a flu shot & should discuss it with your healthcare team. I realize that this years vaccine is said to be only 30% effective, but even so, it may lessen the time with the flu & its severity. Something to consider. 

 This idea could be applied to most any lifestyle choices. Who do you hang with? Newsweek: WEIGHT GAIN IS CONTAGIOUS AND YOU COULD ‘CATCH’ OBESITY FROM YOUR NEIGHBORS, STUDY FINDS, BY MELISSA MATTHEWS

This article points out a similar study’s results that showed that people who do not smoke, eat a healthy diet & exercise don’t generally keep company with those who don’t follow the same lifestyle. In a Weight Watchers group I went to decades ago, the speaker said to take a look at who your eating partners are & where you tend to meet them. Good advice. If you want to change your lifestyle you may have to meet new people who are doing the same thing.

 I remember using honey as a poultice for bedsores when I was a student nurse. It healed & soothed the wound faster than the pharmaceuticals of the day. Honey is also soothing & healing for mouth & throat sores. Check out this article. CNN: The proven health benefits of honeyBy Sandee LaMotte, January 15, 2018  Honey is also a good cough suppressant. Note the reminder that you should not give honey to children under 1 year of age. I would extend that to under 2 years of age to be safe.

I chose this article because so many of us do not use dairy, especially cows milk. I take issue with the idea that cows milk is the best source of protein & B vitamins. I also take issue with them encouraging cows milk for children because the use of non-dairy milks may make them shorter. We could say that cows milk makes them taller & they enter puberty earlier because of the growth hormones in it. 

The takeaway from this article is that if we deviate from a healthy balanced diet we need to make sure that we fill the nutritional gaps that happen with that change. For example vegans must look for other sources of protein & B12. This is why I cringe when I see fad diets that don’t fill the gaps. Is It OK to Substitute Non-Dairy Milks in Kids’ Diets?By Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD, CSSD, 

I saw several articles about dietary sugar & its link to bacterial outbreaks in hospitals. Most of them were sensational. This article is more technical but easily understood. It is where the original study comes from. It discusses clostridium difficile, a hospital acquired infection in developed countries & its link to a sugar additive, trehalose. Baylor College of Medicine: Dietary sugar linked to bacterial epidemics, By Dipali Pathak, January 3, 2018  

This is another well written article about this problem from CDC Radio: This food additive is hard to avoid and could make hospital superbugs more deadly, Saturday January 06, 2018 According to the researcher who led the study, Robert Britton, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, this problem could become worse as the FDA continues to okay new additives being introduced into our foods. Another reason to limit packaged/processed foods & to read the labels. Trehalose If your interested in this food additive, this is very informative.

The BBC2 series, Trust Me I’m a Doctor, conducted their own study to see if coconut oil is heart healthy or not. They used 94 volunteers, aged 50-75. Blood work was done to establish their baseline for cholesterol, LDL & HDL. There were 3 groups. Group one was given coconut oil, the second group extra virgin olive oil & the third group unsalted butter. Interesting results! BBC News: Is coconut oil a superfood?  By Dr Michael Mosley, 9 January 2018  

This was a small study but the results are consistent with other studies. Looks like the American Heart Association needs to take another look at coconut oil 🙂 I still recommend using it in moderation like any other oil.

UCLA Newsroom: Curcumin improves memory and mood, new UCLA study says, By Leigh Hopper | In case you have forgotten 🙂 curcumin is found in turmeric. We know that it is an anti-oxidant & an anti-inflammatory. This study shows that it is also good for improving your mood & memory. In the article the author quotes Dr. Small: “Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” said Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center and of the geriatric psychiatry division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and the study’s first author.”

I know this article doesn’t address “chemo brain” or my “lupus brain fog” but it might help due to its anti-inflammatory affect. Break out the turmeric from your spice cabinet & start using it! I put it in everything. It is really good on rice & in scrambled tofu “eggs” because it gives the dish that yellow color; a “poor man’s saffron”. 

Golden Turmeric Milk: This is a simple recipe that I put together from many sources.


  • 1 cup milk or milk alternative such as Almond or Cashew milk
  • ¼ – 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut, almond, or olive oil
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • Honey to taste (optional)
  • Simply blend together in your blender until frothy.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon, cardamom or ginger on top of prepared milk

In addition, I thought you might be interested in this wonderful recipe by herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar.

Medicinal Curry Blend

  • 1 ounce Corriander seeds
  • 1 ounce Cummin seeds
  • 1 ounce Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 ounce black Mustard seed
  • 1/2 ounce Chili pepper (Cayenne)
  • 1/2 ounce Fennel seeds
  • 1/2 ounce Ginger powder

Combine by grinding together into a powder & use in curry dishes.

Rosemary Gladstar combines 2-3 teaspoons of the powder with 1/4 of oil, I use Olive oil, in a saucepan and warms it until the herbs are fragrant ~a few minutes~then stores it in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

Couldn’t resist adding this last article:

WebMD: Drinks With as Many Calories as Soda  Liquid Calories: A 12-ounce can of soda has between about 125 and 180 calories. All of those come from sugar — between 8 and 11 teaspoons in your glass. Those numbers give this drink a reputation as a nutritional bad guy. Still, there are lots of other beverages that have as many or more calories as a soda.” Did you see your favorite drink in there? Makes you question what you thought you knew or what you were ignoring. 🙂

I am adding this article at the last minute because I realized that this same “cure” is being directed at cancer patients on the Internet. Another potentially fatal & surely harmful scam. Newsweek: PARENTS ARE MAKING THEIR CHILDREN DRINK BLEACH TO ‘CURE’ THEM OF AUTISM, BY  

Be sure to check our Topics page for updates on Medical Marijuana!

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Mary’s Nutritional Guidelines ~ Updated

Herbs by MHollander


Have you noticed the changes in our website? I have re-organized the recipe section to make it more user friendly, got rid of broken links on our Resource pages & changed the Topics page to include only the information you need right away. I also want to remind you that you can find information on the blog by typing in the subject you want to read about in the search box. 

One of the topics that I wanted to update & share with you again is my article about healthy eating habits for everyone. You will find this updated version on the Topics drop down menu for quick access.

“Healthy Eating Habits for Everyone” by Mary Hollander RN., Updated: January 2018

During and after treatment whether by surgery, chemotherapy and or radiation therapy, the body has to expend more energy to fight cancer cells and to rebuild damaged cells caused by treatment. To be able to do this effectively the body requires a healthy, balanced diet that will provide the nutrients needed. It doesn’t matter what “diet” you are following, these tips are for a healthier lifestyle.

The optimal diet for everyone from Michael Pollan: “Eat only what your Grandmother would recognize.”

These are my general guidelines for a healthy, balanced and nutrient rich diet. Remember, these are what you aspire to. Don’t try to do everything at once. That sets you up for failure. Change one part of your diet at a time; one change a week or a month. This is a process to make healthier choices that you can stick with not a fad diet for a week or two.

  • Eat a balanced diet to get the vitamins, minerals and proteins that you need. Eating from ALL the following food groups is important; Water, Healthy Oils, Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Healthy Protein.
  • Eat a varied diet of fruits & vegetables; a rainbow of colors. Fruits & vegetables are antioxidant rich. Eating a variety ensures that you receive all antioxidants not just one or two.
  • Eat Whole grains. Nothing white; black, brown, wild or red rice as an example.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible; stay out of the center of the market. Read the labels of the packaged foods you do buy. If you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients then don’t buy it.
  • Eat Certified Organic fruits, vegetables & whole grains as much as you are able to afford. These will be pesticide free. Look at for the current list of the “Dirty Dozen & Clean 15” to make this more affordable.
  • Eat Certified Organic dairy and grass fed meats. Eat a minimal amount or avoid all together. Certified Organic means no antibiotics or growth hormones. Stores such as Ralphs & Costco are offering antibiotic free &/or growth hormone free meats that are not Certified Organic and cheaper. This is an affordable alternative. They also have grass fed and range free meats & eggs. 
  • Dairy is inflammatory and should be eaten in moderation. It also has natural occurring estrogen, even organic or raw dairy. Cows are kept pregnant, which increases the estrogen levels to increase the milk production and to increase the length of time they can be milked. Estrogen is stored in fat, so if you are concerned about estrogen then use non-fat dairy.
  • Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms/GMO’s. There still hasn’t been any long term research on how this will affect humans. Foods send thousands of bits of information to the body. Changing those pathways by genetically modifying it will change the information sent. There are no GMO’s in Certified Organic food. We have a right to know what is in our food so we can make informed choices. Many companies are using the Non-GMO label on their packages. Watch for this label even on non-organic products.
  • Non-GMO

Think of the plate as your day or your meal.

  • 50% of your plate/day should be vegetables & fruits. Go for a colorful array of choices.
  • 25% of your plate/day should be whole grains; whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice to name a few.
  • 25% of your plate/day should be mixed protein; each kind of protein provides different nutrients. Mix it up during your week; fish, chicken, legumes, & nuts.
  • Minimal added oils: Extra Virgin Olive oil, Avocado & Grapeseed are examples of healthy oils. Coconut oil in moderation, meaning occasionally & in small amounts.
  • Minimal dairy; buy Certified Organic to avoid the antibiotics and growth hormones in dairy. See my notes on dairy in the section above.
  • No tobacco
  • Limit Alcohol consumption to special occasions & then only 1 or 2 servings.
  • Soy: Tempeh, Miso, & Edamame Beans are the types of soy that are protective. Limit Tofu & soy milk as they are highly processed. Soy is a GMO crop, so buy Certified Organic or GMO free. Read the labels. This is a controversial subject for hormone positive cancers. My recommendation is to eat soy products in moderation & simply stay away from processed soy & soy added to packaged foods. Soy is even in supplements. It all adds up. This is a wonderful list for you: Soy Allergy Avoidance ListCompiled by Debra A. Indorato RD, LDN, member of KFA’s Medical Advisory Team It lists the products soy is in & the hidden names used.
  • Eat when you are hungry but don’t skip a meal: largest meal should be your breakfast; break~fast. Never skip breakfast. I like the saying:  “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper” This has scientific data to back it up!
  • Avoid sugary drinks: Fruit juices are sugar too!  A 4-6 oz cup of juice a day is ok. Your body reacts the same way to juice as it does to colas. Juices are healthier but should be used in moderation. Without the fiber to moderate how fast the sugar, fructose, enters the blood stream, it enters it quickly. Carrot juice does the same thing. It is healthier to eat the whole food.
  • Anything with High Fructose corn syrup should be avoided; read the ingredients on the labels. I have read that hidden sugars are in 75% of packaged foods. How can you find the culprits? Huffington Post: Food Labels: How to Spot Hidden Sugars by Pooja R. Mottl  UCSF: Hidden in Plain Sight Look to the right in the article for a list of 61 names for added sugars.
  • Do not replace a meal with juice/smoothies or protein bars; use them between meals for a healthy snack. A smoothie for breakfast is okay if it contains whole foods & not juices. You need the fiber to moderated the absorption of the sugars in the whole foods & to aid your digestive & elimination processes.
  • Keep healthy snacks in the house; Dried fruit, nuts, crackers, nut butters, string cheese or baby bell cheese. Fruit cut into bite size pieces along with veggies in bite sizes are good choices. Experiment with new vegetables, fruits and grains.
  • Make your own high protein smoothies with fresh veggies & fruits added. Don’t forget that avocado is a great fruit to add to a smoothie to make it creamy and to add healthy calories and fat. Frozen bananas (freeze peeled) also make a thick creamy smoothie. Add nut butters to increase the protein and good fat. Add omega 3’s: Chia & Hemp seeds and/or healthy oils. Combine fruits with vegetables in your smoothie; 80% veggies & 20% fruits is a healthy ratio. Be creative not only with the combinations but also with added spices. Apple, carrot, kale, garlic & oranges are great together. Not sweet enough? Add a date. Look at our Recipe page on the website for how to make a healthy smoothie.
  • Drink water! Add a slice of cucumber, lemon, lime or mint leaves to make it more interesting.
  • Limit fluids during meals as they fill you up.
  • Eat your “comfort food” when you need it; no matter what it is. If you don’t, you will make bad choices to get the same feeling of “comfort” and take in more calories doing so!

My favorite plate is from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Health Publications

Eat your medicine: Food has all the vitamins and minerals that you need & it is bio-available to your body. If you are not able to eat a balanced diet then there are key supplements you need. Speak to your Health Care Team before adding these.

  • If you eat a balanced diet you don’t need most supplements.
  • What supplements should you take? (Unless your physician has said otherwise)
    1. Take Vitamin D: 2,000 to 3,000 IU’s daily
    2. Take Omega 3’s: fish oil, flax seeds (grind before using), chia seeds &/or hemp seeds ; 2tabsp./day of the seeds.
    3. Calcium: only if your physician has told you your blood tests indicate you need it or you are not getting 1200 mgm/day in your diet. 1 cup of dairy = 300 mgm. The daily intake of fruits & veggies add another   300 mgm/day. Also, some of your dairy & grains may be fortified with calcium. Add that in too! Check any vitamins you are taking for added calcium as well.
  • Supplements are not always bio-available to the body. Typically we are able to use 10 – 30% of the supplement. Whole foods are 100% bio-available.
  • Choosing supplements is somewhat like a crap-shoot. What brand of supplements should you use? Not all companies are reliable. You may be getting more or less than what is indicated on the label. Where are they made? Where were the herbs grown; possible heavy metal problem? Research the brand name and see if they have certifications by the supplement industry. Have they been tested by a 3rd party and do they offer the research data when asked?
  • Check the ingredient list. Sometimes soy is added, fillers and herbs you don’t need or ones that may interact with over the counter drugs or prescription medications.
  • Why are you spending money on these supplements? Did you hear about it on line, friends, relatives, on TV, or in line at the market? You need to make an informed decision about what to believe. Don’t fall for marketing targeting cancer patients in general. You are not a statistic, you are unique.
  • Some foods and supplements are thought or even proven to reduce the risk of cancer. Find out what studies were done, who did them, where they were done, and if they were done on animals or humans. Were the studies done on your particular type of cancer, your gender & age group? What country was the study done in? Does it apply to you?
  • Supplements & herbs do have side affects and do interact with other herbs, over the counter medications and prescription drugs. Factor in any other health problem you may have. Are you a diabetic, have high blood pressure, have organ involvement etc.?
  • Supplements & herbs can take 3 to 6 weeks before you see a difference. They don’t work quickly like an aspirin. 🙂
  • You can become Vitamin Toxic. It is rare but can happen. Take the recommended daily allowance, not more. Look at the Nutrition Panel on the bottle. Stay under 100% with each listing. Remember you are taking in natural vitamins & minerals in your diet.

FDA: Tips for Dietary Supplement Users Good information. It is important to report to the FDA & your Health Care Team any adverse reaction you experience when taking any prescription, supplements, or over the counter medications.

FDA: Dietary Supplement Label Database: “The Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) includes full label derived information from dietary supplement products marketed in the U.S. with a Web-based user interface that provides ready access to label information. It was developed to serve the research community and as a resource for health care providers and the public. It can be an educational and research tool for students, academics, and other professionals.”

Make changes in your diet one at a time over months not days. You want to make healthy changes that you and your family can stick to. These are guidelines. Choose what works for you.

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources

Surfing the Wave of the Wellness Trend


So many new choices at the farmers market, the natural food store & even the grocery store. They have all joined in on what is referred to as the Wellness Trend. 

In this article from the BBC: What’s Really Driving the Boom in Wellness Foods By Elizabeth Hotson, “investigates what wellness devotees are buying into.” the author writes about the “buzz words” & the businesses that are catering to this trend. I agree with this article that Wellness is an umbrella term for many fads & that it isn’t going away. Are you surfing the wellness trend looking for the quick fix & longevity? Or are you looking for a healthier diet & lifestyle.

The new year always brings thoughts of a “new you”, a healthier lifestyle. Last week I discussed the diets from: U.S. News Reveals Best Diets Rankings for 2018  Once you decide on which diet works for you, you then shop accordingly; trying to choose the healthiest food options for that diet. Businesses have capitalized on the “new you” idea by bringing out a confusing array of new products to entice us. They are not always the healthiest choices. 

This article from Fortune is an example of what people are buying into. This Is the Controversial Ingredient Inside the New Diet Coke Flavors  Coke is coming up with more flavors & more ways to make it’s diet drinks taste like original coke. They are tapping into a part of the wellness trend for dieters who want an easy, quick fix for losing weight. We have already discussed the pitfalls of drinking diet coke, one of which is weight gain!

It isn’t just about the drink itself, it is the attitude that since you drank a zero calorie soda it negates the hamburger & fries you are eating with it. It is also about the sugar substitutes they are using. Are they safe or not. It depends on which study you look at. My thought is always to eat as close to the natural food source as possible. Aspartame & its friends are not natural food sources.

Kambucha was mentioned in the first article. It has been popular as a health drink in the U.S. since the 90’s. Kambucha has been around for over 2,000 years. It started in China & was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. It has been brewed in Russia, Japan & Eastern Europe for centuries. 

It got a bad rap in the U.S. when people were becoming ill & several deaths were attributed to it. These medical problems occurred with homemade kambucha. Kambucha is a fermented product made from yeast, sugar & black tea. If it is not fermented properly it can grow harmful bacteria. But when produced correctly it is a healthy drink. 

If you are a Kambucha aficionado then this article in Forbes is a must read. Kombucha 101: Demystifying The Past, Present And Future Of The Fermented Tea Drink by Christina Troitino , Feb. 1, 2017  It includes it’s history, how it is brewed, & recent studies on it’s health benefits.

New vegetarians, vegans & even flexatarians rely on soy products to help them adjust. Soy is in everything from supplements to nut milks. Tempeh, Miso & edamame beans are the best soy choices. Tofu is processed but there are brands that use sprouted soy beans & some that are not as processed as others. Soy is healthy but only in moderate amounts. 

Because of the wellness trend, there are now some really good healthy choices that are not soy based. 

EcoWatch: Soy Meat Is Soy Yesterday: 5 New and Better Options, By Katie O’Reilly  I have seen these in our local grocery store. I have only tried the Jackfruit & found it very tasty. I do like Litelife Tempeh, but haven’t tried these patties yet. Since I have never liked the taste of meat, I won’t be trying the Beyond Meat Burger or the shrimp 🙂 

OneGreenPlanet has a list of The Best Vegan Burgers on the Market This list includes soy, non-soy, & gluten-free options. We like Hilarys, Field Roast & Sunshine; all soy free. 

I use these products about once a month. We stay away from processed foods as much as possible but they are very convenient when in a hurry & I keep a package in the freezer for those times. 

Cheese is another product that vegans miss. It isn’t that difficult to come up with creamy sauces for pasta or other recipes: Cauli-power Fettuccine “Alfredo” (Vegan) ~love this recipe. It is nice though to have grated or sliced cheese to put on your pizza or sandwich. 

There are some new cheese products that are soy-free. Field Roast: Chao Creamery is one of them. It is my husbands favorite. I prefer Daiya Provolone. It melts really well & is just like provolone cheese on a sandwich. 

OneGreenPlanet: Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands The brand that I would like to try is Treeline.  For example their Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese “Flavored with fine herbs and garlic for a sophisticated and complex flavor.” Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, sea salt, lemon juice, dried scallions, garlic powder, white pepper, onion powder, L. Acidophilus, dried basil, dried oregano. They even have 2 aged nut cheeses.

VegNews: 18 Vegan Things We Can’t Wait to Try in 2018, By Anna Starostinetskaya | December 11, 2017 This list has everything from dairy-free Reddi Whip, CBD Gummy Bears to Starbucks food & vegan doughnuts! Browse the list & you will see how companies really are ridding the wellness trend wave.

Don’t get roped into the marketing; as with all new products read the labels to see what the ingredients are. The processed foods that we want to avoid are those with ingredients that you can’t pronounce, added sugar, fake sugar, salt & saturated fats. The burgers, cheese & kambucha that I have written about are processed but the ingredients are “clean”. I would consider them healthy additions to any diet but should not be eaten every day.

A reminder of how we should be eating. I subscribe to the Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard School of Medicine’s Newsletter. They sent me this wonderful article & the following links.

January 2018, The right plant-based diet for you, “Plant-based diets can help reduce your risk of heart disease, but they’re not all created equal. 

This Healthy Eating Plate is from the The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Health Publications

The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Healthy Eating Plate & Healthy Eating Pyramid“The Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications, was designed to address deficiencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s MyPlate. The Healthy Eating Plate provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices.” Lots of good information.

Another good article from The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health: Becoming a Vegetarian. “People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. Some people follow a largely vegetarian diet because they can’t afford to eat meat. Becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce, more vegetarian dining options, and the growing culinary influence of cultures with largely plant-based diets.” This is an excellent article about the different types of vegetarian diets, the scientific based health benefits of these diets & the health risks if you don’t pay attention to what you are eating. 

  • Vegans (total vegetarians): Do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do consume dairy products.
  • Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs.
  • Partial vegetarians: Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian).

The best part of the Wellness Trend for all of us is that mainstream/chain grocery stores, restaurants, cafes etc. are joining the wave. That means more products will be available at a lower price to the health conscious public. Just remember to read those labels!

Until next week…Mary 🙂

The “Raw Water” Trend & 2018’s Best Diets

North Fork Smith River by Don Hollander

I was surprised to see the headlines about a new trend, “raw water”. It piqued my interest. What the heck is “raw water” & why would I want to drink it? These were just a few questions that went through my mind. I researched it & will tell you what I know.

The second part of the post will be about the U.S.News, 2018, report on the 40 top diets in 2017. I always find this interesting. We will take a look at which diets made the top 3 in all 9 of the categories.

This new trend for “raw water” started in & around Silicon Valley, California. There are many start up companies bottling this water which has caused the price to jump to $60 for a 2.5-gallon jug! People around the country are buying it. It is flying off the shelves in a San Francisco Co-op at $16 a 12 ounce bottle! 

Basically it is unfiltered water from natural sources such as streams, creeks, groundwater & lakes. The reason people are interested in it is because it doesn’t go through any type of filtration system & there are no additives such as bleach or fluoride added. This may sound good to water purists but it does open the door for bacteria, viruses, & parasites that can be in these natural water sources. 

The CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch and other health officials are warning that the “raw water” can hold bacteria linked to cholera, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and giardia. As avid hikers & backpackers we are aware of these diseases & always carry a water purifier. Diarrhea is not our idea of a successful trip 🙂 Drinking from a pure, cold spring is magical & tastes wonderful. I won’t deny that. But care has to be taken when drinking from rivers, streams. creeks & lakes. 

As reported in the articles below, the sources used by some of the bottling companies are being monitored by local water companies. This is because the local water companies are using the same source for the community water supply & by law have to test the source for diseases & contaminants. This isn’t true for all sources of “raw water”.

If you are worried about your tap water here is a must have resource for you EWG’s Tap Water Database. “EWG’s drinking water quality report for California shows results of tests conducted by the water utilities in California and provided to EWG by the California State Water Resources Control Board.” Here is the link to California water safety; enter your zip code on the right. 

On this page you will also find the following useful guides:

  • EWG’s Updated Water Filter Buying Guide “Find the right filter for your water – and budget”
  • Top 5 Reasons to Choose Filters Over Bottled Water  “But if you want safer water for yourself and your family, bottled water isn’t the solution – not for your pocketbook, not for your health and certainly not for our planet. Your best option for cleaner, healthier drinking water on the go is filtered tap water and a reusable glass or stainless steel container. As we say here at EWG, know your water, pick the best filter and choose a BPA-free container.”

Before we look at the list of the best diets 2018, I want to share this article I saw this morning as I was editing my post. USNews: Why Eating Fewer Calories Won’t Help You Lose Weight  Conventional nutrition wisdom overlooks key biological processes. By Alissa Rumsey, Contributor, Jan. 8, 2018

The reasons the author, Alissa Rumsey, lists are not only for people who are trying to lose weight. These are good tips for everyone deciding on a lifelong way of eating. Read the article for the details . Here are the tips:

  1. Give yourself permission to eat all kinds of food. This will take away the bad food vs good food syndrome. It will also open up the idea of eating a balanced diet. 
  2. Learn to honor your hunger & fullness cues. Sometimes it isn’t about the foods we eat but the portions we serve ourselves. Do you really need an extra helping? Take a few minutes to see if you still feel hungry.
  3. don’t discount the importance of satisfaction. This one is really important. If you are on a diet that puts your favorite foods in the “bad food” category, you will not be satisfied with what you are eating. For example substituting an apple for that piece of chocolate or cookie that you crave. Yes, the apple is better for you, but if you had just eaten that one piece of chocolate you wouldn’t find yourself eating everything in the house after the apple & still not feeling satisfied! Now you just feel guilty.
  4. Get rid of the food police. I like this one. Read what she  wrote about them. The food police can also be a partner, spouse or friend. 

At the end of the article is a slide show of: 8 Food Trends Nutrition Experts Pray Will Never Return Check it out 🙂 

Now to the U.S. News: U.S. News Reveals Best Diets Rankings for 2018 U.S. News evaluated 40 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals. 

Once again the U.S. News has evaluated and ranked the most popular diets of the year. They do this yearly with a panel of health experts. Their criteria does not include cancer prevention specifically, but it does address all the other inflammatory diseases. This means that the top diets will indeed be preventative & lower the risk of cancer. It also means that they will boost your immune system & improve your overall health. As you well know, most people don’t just have cancer, they also are at risk or have been diagnosed with other chronic diseases such as pre-diabetes, high blood pressure or even heart disease. 

Who are the experts? Experts Who Reviewed the DietsA panel of health experts, including nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behavior and weight loss, reviewed detailed assessments prepared by U.S. News of 40 diets. The experts rated each diet in seven categories, including short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety and nutrition.”

The diets are then ranked in the following categories; click on the category to be taken to the full list & information about each diet. When you get to that list you can click on the diet you are interested in. Not only is each diet rated on it’s own page but it also has a tab for recipes & information about how to follow the diet.

Best Diets Overall 
1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet: I like this approach. Here is an excerpt from the diets page…The theory: Flexitarian is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago, and in her 2009 book, “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life,” registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.

Once again the DASH & Mediterranean Diets tie 🙂 The Paleo diet was #29 thru #35 out of 40 in all categories. Under “Health & Nutrition: Slapping the diet with multiple low scores, the experts couldn’t accept that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded, making it hard for dieters to get all the nutrients they need. It’s one of the few diets that experts actually considered somewhat unsafe and only somewhat complete nutritionally.”

Best Diets For Healthy Eating 
1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Mediterranean diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. TLC Diet (tie): I am not totally on board with this one…The theory: Created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is endorsed by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy regimen that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The key is cutting back sharply on fat, particularly saturated fat. Saturated fat (think fatty meat, whole-milk dairy and fried foods) bumps up bad cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. That, along with strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, can help people manage high cholesterol, often without medication. I will recommend it to people with extremely high cholesterol.

Easiest Diets to Follow 
1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
2. Weight Watchers (tie)

Easiest diet to follow; #1, my favorite!!! The Mediterranean is the most flexible diet for anyone trying to move towards a healthier lifestyle. You can make slow changes to become more plant based & still stay within the parameters of the diet.

The Flexitarian is easy to follow because it is so flexible for those who want to eat more plant based with the option to eat meat when they want it. Keeps the “good food, bad food” guilt under control.

Best Diets for Diabetes 
1. Mediterranean 
2. DASH Diet 
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)
3. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)  This excellent diet plan from the Mayo Clinic Diet is the real thing. There have been many, many fad diets for decades claiming to be from the Mayo Clinic. All of them fraudulent & unhealthy.
3. Vegan Diet (tie)
3. Volumetrics (tie): I like this one. Makes you more mindful of what you are eating. The theory: People tend to eat the same weight, or amount, of food each day, regardless of how many calories they take in. Since some foods are less energy dense than others – that is, they have fewer calories per gram – filling your plate with more of those means you’ll be eating fewer calories without actually eating less food. Low-density foods, which are low in calories but high-volume, help you feel full and satisfied while dropping pounds. Fruits and veggies are ideal, since they’ll fill you up without breaking your calorie bank. (A pound of low-density carrots, for example, contains as many calories as an ounce of high-density peanuts.) Volumetrics is all about getting more mileage out of what you eat.
3. Weight Watchers (tie)

Best Heart-Healthy Diets No surprises here 🙂
1. DASH diet
2. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
2. Ornish Diet (tie)

Best Plant-Based Diets  Love it! 
1. Mediterranean Diet
2. Flexitarian Diet
3. Ornish Diet

Best Commercial Diets 
1. Weight Watchers
2. Jenny Craig 
3. Flat Belly Diet (tie)
3. Nutritarian Diet (tie)

Best Weight-Loss Diets
1. Weight Watchers
2. Volumetrics
3. Jenny Craig (tie)
3. Vegan Diet (tie)

Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets 
1. HMR Diet (tie)
1. Weight Watchers (tie)
3. Biggest Loser Diet (tie)
3. Medifast (tie)
3. SlimFast (tie)
3. Volumetrics (tie)

Weight Watchers has always been about eating a healthy, balanced diet. They have tried to make it simple using a point system rather than counting calories. The only thing I don’t like about it is the Weight Watcher Brand products; too processed. You are not asked to eat their products, they are there to help you stick to the program. That’s good when you work full-time. 

For those of us who are vegan, here is how it was ranked in all categories. This makes sense because not all vegans are eating a healthy, balanced diet. It takes some planning & commitment to make sure you are getting enough fat, protein, complex carbs, vitamins & minerals in your diet.

Vegan Diet is ranked:

  •  #19 (tie) in
    Best Diets Overall
  •  #3 (tie) in
    Best Weight-Loss Diets
  •  #3 (tie) in
    Best Diabetes Diets
  •  #27 (tie) in
    Best Diets for Healthy Eating
  •  #10 (tie) in
    Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets
  •  #5 (tie) in
    Best Heart-Healthy Diets
  •  #9 in
    Best Plant-Based Diets
  •  #36 (tie) in
    Easiest Diets to Follow

I hope this has been helpful. Until next week…Mary 🙂

Back to Basics to Enhance Your Immune System

 The New Year has arrived along with new fad diets, new exercise equipment, new research studies and a flu season that does not look good. Let’s set aside your New Year’s Resolutions regarding “diets” & exercise and look at how you can help your body be prepared for the flu & any other opportunistic diseases that come along. For those of you with a compromised immune system this is important.

The flu season is being reported as a bad one this year. Besides getting a flu shot, what is the best way to help your body be prepared for it? Building a strong immune system is the answer. Going back to basics is the key to keeping your immune system strong and at the same time reduce the risk factors for chronic diseases including cancer. It is also the safest way to lose or gain weight. 

Here is what you need to start with. The list is pretty simple:

  • No smoking.
  • Restrict/omit alcohol intake.
  • Get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep when possible. Sleep Review: Weekly Fish Consumption Linked to Better Sleep Works for adults too.
  • Exercise/walk 30 minutes a day. Does not need to be at one go. 3 ten minute walks during the day will give you the same benefits. Get up & move as much as you are able to. 
  • A balanced, plant based diet. Start by making small changes each month by adding more whole grains, vegetables & fruits to your meals.

I want to add a couple more ideas to my original list. Some of these ideas came from WebMD: Healthy Habits: Better Eating Resolutions  Check out their full list.

  • Cut back stopping for fast food. With all the fat, sugar & salt in these foods, even a healthy immune system will suffer.
  • Be mindful of what you are eating. Watching a program & eating at the same time is always a bad idea. You look down & the chip bag is empty; how did that happen?
  • Bring healthy snacks to share at work. Dark chocolate or fresh fruit.
  • Start your day with a healthy, high fiber, breakfast. This will keep you full until snack or lunch time & will keep your blood sugar stable.
  • Keep a food diary 🙂

Nearly all plant based foods, spices & herbs have the ability to strengthen your immune system. They are rich in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Some are even anti-viral. They each have their own health benefits & set of nutrients; when combined in a meal, they are super foods!

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

Here is my edited version of a list of whole foods & their benefits from my issue of Mother Earth Living magazine, (November/December 2012 issue). I have included links to supportive research & information.

  • Berries, cherries & grapes: Very high in antioxidants & they are anti-inflammatory. Take a look at this from the HUB: Diet rich in apples, tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests  Brandon Howard ,Published Dec 21, 2017
  • 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. Oldways Whole Grains Council: WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?
  • 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! Have you tried roasting these veggies? Tasty! NIH, National Cancer Institute: Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention
  • 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. Check out this from the Economic Times: Eat spinach, lettuce and kale daily to keep your brain 11 years youngerDec 21, 2017, from CBS: Should you really be taking calcium and vitamin D supplements?  By DENNIS THOMPSON ,HEALTHDAY, December 27, 2017, This study is about bone health. Eat your calcium!
  • Seeds & nuts: These contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins & minerals. Great for a pick-me-up snack. Nuts are overlooked because they are high in calories. You can get the health benefits from just one serving a day! Choose unsalted & raw. NDTV: Fibre Rich Food May Help Maintain Weight Gain, Blood Sugar And Colon Health: Research  December 27, 2017 
  • Tomatoes: Great source of carotenoids. The red color is due to lycopene. Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, guava, and other fruits are rich in lycopene. The best source of lycopene is through your diet not supplements. USNews: How Does Getting Nutrients From Fortification Compare to Whole Food? Added nutrients can fill critical dietary gaps. But optimal balance requires going to the source. By Michael O. Schroeder, Staff Writer |May 11, 2017  
  • Orange fruits & vegetables: Rich in carotenoids. Along with the leafy green and cruciferous vegetables they are all protective against several types of cancer. Make your plate a rainbow of colors.
  •  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. Choose sprouted tofu; less processed. GeneFood: What’s in a bean? Lots of health benefits  By Amber Krosel, December 22, 2017
  • Pomegranate: Mentioned in this article and is on their list. I would have left it off because I wasn’t convinced of its healing properties to inhibit cancer growth. MedicalNewsToday: 15 health benefits of pomegranate juice By Mandy Ferreira, July 2017

These herbs & spices are rich in antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory benefits and enhance immunity. Use liberally in your diet.

Make your own spice blends according to your tastes. I am still crazy about Bragg’s Organic Sprinkles with 24 herbs & spices. I put it on everything! Here is an idea for those of you who love curry…

Medicinal Curry Blend ~ by Rosemary Gladstar

  • 1 ounce Corriander seeds
  • 1 ounce Cummin seeds
  • 1 ounce Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 ounce black Mustard seed
  • 1/2 ounce Chili pepper (Cayenne)
  • 1/2 ounce Fennel seeds
  • 1/2 ounce Ginger powder

Combine by grinding together into a powder & use in curry dishes.

Rosemary Gladstar combines 2-3 teaspoons of the powder with 1/4 of oil, I use Olive oil, in a saucepan and warms it until the herbs are fragrant ~a few minutes~then stores it in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

Turmeric is just one of many spices that have health benefits. These resources are very thorough & informative.

I no longer make yearly New Years Resolutions. I always feel like a failure when I don’t follow through with them. Instead, I have a  lifelong intention/resolution. To make this work I must reaffirm my intention every morning during my meditation. It is made up from these two quotes. 

  • “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” I am a great believer in what Hippocrates wrote.
  • “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” One of my favorite quotes from Michael Pollen.

Here is to a Healthy 2018. Until next week…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources: