Being Vegan on Vacation.

Grandson, Winston, by Jennifer Moore

 

I just returned from our vacation to visit colleagues, family & friends in the San Diego area. I decided, before we left home, that I would continue to eat vegan as much as possible on the trip. We drove, total of 16 hours, & stopped for the night half way. It wasn’t difficult to eat this way once we got to San Diego, but a bit of a challenge before that. I do have a rule for myself; no eating/snacking in the car. The only exceptions to that rule are coffee, tea & water.

On our way to San Diego we stopped at the Olive Garden for lunch. Now don’t laugh. It was the only thing we could find that knew what a salad was. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had a lot of vegan choices. Click on the link above. You can order the salad with a vegan dressing of oil, vinegar & spices. The bread-sticks are vegan if you ask them not to brush them with the butter & garlic, although some vegan sites say that it is dairy free. I would ask first. Our server said it wasn’t vegan, but then again she didn’t know what a vegan was until I told her ūüôā Their Minestrone soup, so good, is vegan. Most of their pasta’s are vegan & they have marinara sauce for them. I had the salad & soup. There are other choices as well.¬†

Dinner found us at the Veggie Grill¬†in Santa Monica.¬†“Vegan chain offering sandwiches, salads, faux meats & sides in a modern, counter-service setting.”¬†They are all over the place. Check the website for a location¬†near you. We both had the Falla-Full Sandwich.¬†“2 flatbread sandwiches with house-made falafel, hummus, skchug sauce, mint, basil, cilantro, tzatziki, pepperoncini.¬†Vegan!

Fortunately, when we arrived in San Diego, our family & friends cooked healthy vegan meals for us on several evenings while we were there. That helped a great deal. We also hit Jimbo’s when we arrived to stock up on freshly ground peanut butter, a few vegan salads from the deli, Majestic Hummus which is my favorite, fruit & whole grain crackers. This way we were able to have breakfast & some lunches in our hotel room when we were not otherwise occupied with visiting or shopping ūüôā

My daughter & her co-workers took us out to lunch at a new vegan place in Encinitas called Plant Power Fast Food. 100% plant based food. She & I shared the Mushroom Swiss Burger & regular fries. We asked for the black bean burger & it was delicious. One of her friends was a meat eater & ordered the Chicken Sandwich. It looked just like fried chicken & according to her tasted like it too. This is a great place to get vegan fast food & if you stick to the black bean burger it is less processed. Check out their website for more information. They are also located in Ocean Beach. 

Another place that we ate at was the Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar in Encinitas. It has vegan options but also serves fish, turkey & chicken. You can eat there with any family member no matter their food choices. I like the sandwiches & the soups. There is always a vegan soup on the menu. There are quite a few salad options & several vegan dressings. Tahini is my favorite.

My favorite place to eat, Jyoti-Bihanga, was closed the day we went there. It is on Adams Ave. in San Diego. I love their vegan Neatloaf Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes & Gravy! Take someone with you if you go there as the sandwich could serve 2! But of course I eat it by myself & have to be helped out of the restaurant! 

Since we were all disappointed, hot & tired when we found that Jyoti-Bihanga was closed we succumbed to the call for Mexican food. When in San Diego… So, we went to our favorite place in La Jolla, Don Bravo Grill & Cantina¬†We have been going there for over 25 years when it was called Bahia Grill.¬†I started out ordering the potato rolled tacos, which can be vegan, but fell from grace when I remembered how awesome their guacamole was. Also, I saw a quesadilla¬†go by on a tray. Oh well, can’t be perfect. But I did share the quesadilla¬†ūüôā

I was invited out for breakfast twice & I chose to go to the Naked Cafe in Encinitas & the second time to the Naked Cafe in Carlsbad.¬†They are also located in Solana Beach & Point Loma. Wonderful place for Kona Coffee & if you are vegetarian. Vegan, not so much. Luckily one of the vegan options they have is one I really like; Yin & Yang, “crisp rosemary potatoes, jalapenos, onions & tomatoes, balanced with red beans, avocado, salsa, and a fresh tortilla”.¬†Yum! If you are a vegetarian they will add an egg &/or cheese.¬†

Another lunch date was at the Thai Society in Encinitas. I really like Thai food. Easy to be vegan at Thai restaurants. I had the¬†Tom Kha Soup “coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms and cilantro” with their¬†Fresh Spring Rolls “tofu, rice noodles, lettuce, carrots, mint and cucumber / peanut sauce, plum sauce and citrus soy sauce”. ¬†I was introduced to this restaurant because their owner, a breast cancer survivor, catered an event for SDCRI. Lovely place & wonderful food! Now, we drive to Brookings, Oregon, for our Thai experience ūüôā

When I finished eating at the Thai Society, I popped next door to KC Tandoor. They make vegan samosas & vegan naan. I bought them to take to our daughter’s for dinner. She made lentils & salad to go with them. Check out the link to the menu above. There are lots & lots of vegan options. Good Indian¬†food! They have also catered an event for SDCRI. Very nice people.

Our drive home was fun because we stopped to see the Botanical Gardens at UC Berkeley. It was a great time to be there, flowers everywhere. If you are ever in that area I encourage you to stop & take a leisurely stroll. Eating wise we stopped at In & Out Burger for a quick lunch. I did not eat vegan there but did order their Grilled Cheese which is their burger without the burger. I also shared fries with my husband. It is fun to have fast-food that is freshly made. For dinner we stopped at an Olive Garden because it was the only thing open at that time & right off the freeway. I was so looking forward to a big, fresh,  salad! NO SALAD! An E-coli outbreak caused the Olive Garden to pull all their lettuce. Ended up with Minestrone soup again. 

When we got closer to home, we stopped at a Co-op in Eureka to shop for fresh veggies! We had an apple for a snack. It is interesting that the only thing I really missed was a big salad every evening. We are so very grateful to those friends & family who made vegan meals with big, lovely salads just for us! 

There are a number of restaurants in the San Diego area that have vegan options. I have only mentioned a handful. I have found that if you tell your server that you are a vegan, they will help you find something to eat. Here are a few in Encinitas area.

  • EVE Encinitas:¬†Casual vegan restaurant serving imaginative menus of plant-based meals.¬†Haven’t tried this one.
  • Nectarine Grove:¬†Cozy cafe highlighting health-conscious eats, including paleo, gluten-free & vegan dishes.¬†Haven’t tried this one
  • Native Foods California:¬†Chain for creative, Californian-style vegan fare, including mock-meat dishes, ordered at a counter. I never liked this one. Too processed.¬†
  • Ki’s Restaurant: Wholesome, home-style meals made with organic ingredients served in a 2-story house with ocean view. Vegan options. Love Ki’s

I learned on this trip that you can survive as a vegan with a little bit of creativity. Stores with a deli & fresh produce are great to stock up on snacks & breakfast foods. Our hotel in Encinitas had a nice breakfast in the morning. My husband loved their pancakes. I stuck to my freshly ground peanut butter or hummus on crackers. Having fresh fruit in the room was also a must. Coffee? Oh yes, I had my coffee every chance I got ūüôā

I hope that this blog shows that eating on the road can be healthy no matter how you eat. Until next week…Mary ūüôā

 

 

 

Cleaning does not have to be hazardous to your health.

MHollander

 

I have been receiving newsletters about harmful chemicals in our cleaning products. Nothing really new, but just in time, because I am in the mood for spring cleaning ūüôā Do cleaning supplies have to be harmful? Can I make my own? You can either buy safe products, they are easy to find, or make your own, as it is relatively easy to do with natural ingredients that you already have on hand.¬†I posted some of this information last year: DIY Natural Cleaners.¬†This post is an updated version with new links to safer products & cleaning recipes.


If you prefer to buy your cleaning products but want them without all the toxic ingredients then EWG is the website for you. It has always been my go-to for information regarding toxic ingredients in anything I use or consume. Their new Healthy Home Guide  site has links to all their guides to help you with choosing safe products for your environment. Explore the Home Guides has them all listed in categories. We have been upgrading our 68 year old home a little bit at a time. It is important to use safe products even when painting or caulking the bathroom tiles. There is a guide on this page for any product that you may need when upgrading, repairing, cleaning etc. Bookmark it!

The labels on cleaning products are very confusing & difficult to decode. EWG has done that for us.¬†¬†EWG‚Äôs Guide for Decoding Labels:¬†‚ÄúDecoding the labels: Confused by the labels on cleaning products? EWG helps you sort facts from hype.‚Ä̬†For example: ¬†‚ÄúActive ingredients‚ÄĚ in cleaning products are usually antimicrobial pesticides added to kill bacteria, viruses or molds. Avoid them ‚Äď they‚Äôre hazardous chemicals, and you rarely need them to get your house clean.¬†Another good page to bookmark.

Safety ratings¬†for more than 2,500 products.¬†You can type in the product or the brand that you are interested in using the search box. You will get a rating on all the brand’s products or on the individual product you typed in.¬†If you would like a list of products & their grades rather than looking them up one at a time, look at¬†the top left of the page & find the Green Banner that says¬†EWG‚Äôs Guide to Healthy Cleaning.¬†It is a drop down menu. Click on the cleaner you are interested in & you will get a list with their grades beginning with the highest rated products.


Most of my cleaning supplies I have made. Some, detergent & dish soap, I buy. When I make them myself, I like simple & fast. White Vinegar, Baking Soda, Borax & salt have been used for cleaning for generations. You can buy them, cheaply, in large containers at drug stores & markets. Here are some of my favorites recipes.

Oven/Pot/Pan cleaner: Make a paste with baking soda & water. Apply it to all the gunky areas liberally. Sprinkle white vinegar onto the paste. It will foam. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Wipe & you have a clean oven or pan. You can add salt to the paste & skip the vinegar. Let it sit 30 minutes, then scrub. Works well.

All purpose cleaner: 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. I use this to clean counters, floors, stove tops, cupboards, doors & walls. It can also be used on carpet, but test it first in case it bleaches out the color. Here in the Pacific Northwest, mold & mildew is a problem. We now have a dehumidifier which has limited the mold & mildew in the house. That combined with using this white vinegar spray, I no longer have a problem. This can also be used to clean your car inside & out.

Window cleaner: 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Bright & shiny windows. I use this on our car’s windows too. Well, my husband does ūüôā

Bathroom tiles: 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water. Spray onto tiles & shower curtain to get rid of mildew. Let it sit for about 30 minutes & then rinse it off with warm water. If the grout is particularly bad then add baking soda or salt & scrub. You can use this to clean the tiles as a preventative measure all year.

Keep your drains clog free: I shared this with a plumber & he just laughed at me ūüôā¬†Place 1/4-1/2 cup of baking soda into your drain. Follow this with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar. It will foam up. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Then clear the drain with 2-3 cups boiling water. If you do this once a month you won‚Äôt get that buildup around the inside of the pipes. Great preventative¬†method. I have also used this to unclog drains.¬†


This is my favorite reference for cleaning ingredients & recipes. They also have a printable version at this link… A Green Clean: Homemade Cleaners to Detox Your Home from Mother Earth Living, by Kim Erickson, July/August 2009  This is a list of the ingredients they discuss. Go to the link to read about each one.

  • Baking Soda:¬†The overflow hole in our bathroom sink in Encinitas was emitting¬†a horrible odor. I used the Baking Soda & Vinegar in the hole & then rinsed it with hot water. Odor was gone!
  • Borax
  • Distilled White Vinegar: My favorite
  • Hydrogen Peroxide:¬†I used this to remove an oil stain from my husbands work clothes. I saturated the stain with the hydrogen peroxide, added dish soap (Dawn is recommended. I used my 7th Generation dish soap) & then add the baking soda last. I scrubbed¬†with a small brush & let it sit for an hour. I then rinsed & washed the clothes. It did a good job & removed 90% of the stain. It was an exceptionally¬†bad stain, but it was gone after the next wash day. Hydrogen peroxide is like a mild bleach, test your fabric before using. Gets out blood stains too.
  • Salt:¬†¬†I always forget to use salt on carpet stains. It works well.
  • Vegetable Oil (Castile) Soap:¬†Dr. Bronners is a castile soap.
  • Washing Soda:¬†Washing soda is soda ash.¬†It is not edible.¬†EWG gives it an A. It is very caustic, wear gloves when using. It can be purchased at most grocery & big box stores. Look in the laundry detergent aisle. Arm & Hammer makes one & it gets an A from EWG.
  • Lemons: ¬†If you have been cutting up garlic, cut a lemon in half & add salt to the cut side, scrub the board. You can also use salt & lemon juice to wash the garlic smell from your hands. As teenagers, my younger brother & I surfed, not very well, but we did try. He had light brown hair & wanted it blond. I poured grapefruit & lemon juice on his head & he laid out in the sun for hours. Presto! Blond sticky hair!¬†ūüôā

The next list on the same page is for Homemade Cleaners: You can use your essential oils with these. They not only make them smell fresh, they are also anti-viral & anti-bacterial.

  • All-purpose cleaner and disinfectant
  • Lemongrass dust cloths
  • Creamy nonabrasive cleaner
  • Pre-vacuum carpet freshener:¬†Sometimes I just strew dried lavender onto the carpet & leave it there until the next time I vacuum. Smells lovely. I also hang a muslin bag, full of dried lavender & dried lemon grass, from the door knobs. Wonderful room freshener. I use it in the car too.

I would like to end with a recipe for a Hand Sanitizer that I found on Live Simply: DIY  I keep a bottle in the car & a small spray bottle of it in my backpack. 

DIY Hand Sanitizer by Live Simply 

Ingredients

  • 3¬†TB¬†aloe vera¬†Get pure aloe vera. Check the labels!
  • 2¬†TB¬†witch hazel¬†or rubbing alcohol, if using alcohol reduce to 1 TB¬†We only use witch hazel in our house. It is a great wound cleaner.
  • 1/2¬†tsp¬†vitamin E oil¬†You can get this in a small bottle or you can open capsules if you have them.
  • 16¬†drops¬†tea tree essential oil
  • 8¬†drops¬†lavender essential oil

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. To use the hand sanitizer store in a small jar or a squeeze tube. I also use these tubes for homemade toothpaste. Note: This recipe will make 2 fl oz (one tube.) 

I found a Witch Hazel product by Thayers with alcohol free Aloe Vera & Lavender oil already in it. I use 5 TB of that & then add the Vitamin E oil & Tea Tree oil. See it here. My husband noticed that when he used it, it also acted as a mosquito repellent. We now apply it to our skin & hats when hiking. Works very well.


Now you are ready for spring cleaning without the worry of toxins. For even more information, explore the links below under Resources. I will be on vacation beginning this week. The next post will be on April 17th.

Until then…Mary¬†ūüôā


Resources:

March Nutrition Nuggets

MHollander

 

The articles from this months headlines are as crazy, interesting as always. I am sure that the marketing department of some of these brands think that the American public is either ignoring the negative research studies for their products or that they simply don’t care. They may be right on both counts. I question everything I read, especially¬†now when anyone can have a website & write¬†whatever they want & make claims that they can’t substantiate. That is why I love this Blog. I want to wade through all this for you. You aren’t expected to believe everything I say either. Do your own research & if you have further questions just ask me. Let me know when you disagree! I can take it ūüôā¬†


This first article is important to read. I don’t think I can stress enough how unhealthy most¬†processed foods can be. I am giving you two views of the same study.¬†

Eco Watch:¬†Study: Eating Highly Processed Foods Linked to Increased Cancer Risk,¬†By Dawn Undurraga,¬†In the article the author states: “Ultra-processed foods are defined as foods that undergo multiple physical, biological and mechanical processes to be highly palatable, affordable and shelf stable.”¬†This study shows a possible cancer link to all ultra-processed foods, not only meats such as hot-dogs¬†& deli slices. The study states that 1/4 to 1/2 of the daily intake of calories for the average person are ultra-processed foods. This study was done in France following 105,000 people over an average of 5-8 years. We need to be cautious about the study because the lifestyles of the French are different than ours. Yet, I think it is safe to say that Americans eat the same or more calories per day of ultra-processed foods.

This article from¬†BBC gives a slightly different¬†look at the study & it’s conclusions.¬†Ultra-processed foods ‘linked to cancer’,¬†15 February 2018¬†¬†

What I got from both of these articles is that eating this way leads to obesity which we know is directly linked to some cancers. Also, that a balanced diet that includes more plant-based foods & omits processed foods is the answer to a healthier you.

Here is a very good article from my Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Newsletter: Can Obesity Cause Cancer?, Published: March 16, 2018  This article shows the connection between obesity & cancer with an info-graph. Very good information whether you are considering losing weight or not. Make sure you look at the tips at the end of the article.


“Coca-Cola is planning to produce an alcoholic drink for the first time in the company’s 125-year history – with an alcopop-style product in Japan.”¬†BBC News: Coca-Cola plans to launch its first alcoholic drink, 7 March 2018¬† The company says that they will probably not sell this outside of Japan. You want to bet on that? Because the younger generations, in the United States, are becoming increasingly¬†interested in what they are eating & it’s impact on their health & the environment, Coca-Cola has been branching out into the water industry and tea brands.

Check out the Product Description for all the brands that Coca-cola now owns. I am still upset that they bought Honest Tea & added sweetener to it. That used to be my go to drink when traveling. Bringing my own now. By the way, Pepsi Brands are just as interesting.


What a fickle market health food is. From the Washington Post:¬†The sudden collapse of coconut oil, 2015‚Äôs favorite superfood,¬†¬†March 7¬†¬†“Health Foods & Super Foods”, go out of favor quickly. It just takes one research study or one “Food Guru” to cause their downfall. Coconut oil is a good example. Good article.

Speaking of trends, this is interesting.¬†The ‚ÄúGreat Eight‚ÄĚ Hottest Healthy Food and Beverage Trends for 2018,¬†By food expert, Mareya Ibrahim, The Fit Foodie and founder of eatcleaner.com¬†¬†Take a look at the list.

Tart cherries were on the Super Food list before. They are good for the reduction of pain & inflammation, especially for arthritis sufferers. You can drink Tart Cherry Juice for the benefits by puting an ounce in a glass of water. Make sure the only ingredient on the juice container is tart cherries; no sweetener including white grape juice. If you are interested in trying this, read this article first: Livestrong: Pros & Cons of Cherry Juice, BY  KAREN CURINGA


This was no surprise to me.¬†Calcium Supplements May Raise the Risk of Colon Polyps, New Study Finds More research is needed but experts suggest some people may want to reconsider taking them”¬†Research has shown that calcium in supplement form is not absorbed & used by the body in the same way as calcium rich foods are. This is a case where isolating the mineral from the food source did not get the same results.¬†

Have you spoken with your oncologist or healthcare team about your calcium levels? You should. Cancer treatments can affect your levels as well as your diet. The debate continues. How much calcium is too much? What is the range? Where should you get your calcium from? Read on!

This is a very thorough & well researched article about calcium from Wellness Mama: The Problem with Calcium Supplements I am so impressed with the research studies that are cited in the article. This is really a must read for anyone taking a calcium supplement or thinking about taking it. 

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical school:¬†What you need to know about calcium,Calcium is billed as the bone-building nutrient. But some experts argue that we should pay more attention to exercise and vitamin D.”¬†This article brings up the fact that even with all the research, the results can be looked at quite differently depending on your point of view.¬†

Here is a great printable list from the University of Chicago Medicine: Food Sources Rich in Calcium You can see why I suggested, in last weeks post, that anyone with a calcium deficiency should consider the plant-based Mediterranean diet to up their calcium intake. Between legumes, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds & fish, you can increase your natural intake of calcium easily. 


I will be on vacation, after Easter, for 2 weeks . I will post as usual next week, but will have it on the Blog one day earlier, Monday the 2nd. The next post will then be on Tuesday, April 17th. 

Until next week…Mary ūüôā

Plant Based Diet: What is it exactly?

Photo from Pixabay

 

The words “plant-based diet” have been bandied¬†about for a few years now. We know that this is the healthiest diet to follow to reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes & other chronic diseases. This is based on scientific research. I have recommend a plant-based diet or moving towards a plant-based diet on this Blog many times. So what exactly is this diet & what does plant-based mean?

The USNews & World Report publishes the Best Diets Rankings at the beginning of each year. They have what I consider the best working definition of a plant-based diet: Best Plant-Based Diets: Plant-based diets are good for the environment, your heart, your weight and your overall health. U.S. News defines plant-based as an approach that emphasizes minimally processed foods from plants, with modest amounts of fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy, and red meat only sparingly. The reason I like this definition is because it follows current scientific research & it is practical for everyone. I believe that the confusion comes from those of us who describe ourselves as being a vegetarian or a vegan, as being plant-based. Both definitions are accurate even though they seem to be conflicting.

There is no such thing as a universal quick fix when it comes to diets. The answer is to find a common ground that we can all benefit from. Because of it’s versatility the plant-based Mediterranean diet appears to be that common ground. It will work for cultural differences, food preferences, allergies, food sensitivities & more. It is easy to understand & according to all the research it is the one way of eating that people can maintain for a lifetime.¬†

Even though I have been a vegetarian or vegan for 50+ years, I understand that when confronted with the with the words plant-based, most people would just tune out. Do I think that the vegan diet is the best one for overall health? Yes, I do, but it isn’t a diet for everyone. It requires time, energy & planning to make it a nutritionally balanced diet.¬†

For example, people who have a medical diagnosis that requires more calcium; osteopenia or osteoporosis, would do better as a vegetarian who eats dairy or on the Mediterranean diet where they would get more dietary calcium then on a vegan diet. As a vegan you can get the recommended amount of calcium in your diet but it has to be well thought out. As a lacto-vegetarian or on the Mediterranean diet it is not a problem at all to up your dietary calcium intake.

Many do not want to give up their dairy, meat & fish, but they would consider cutting down on it to have a healthier lifestyle. This is why I feel that the first definition, by the USNews group, is the one that would get more people to consider a plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean. 

Being more plant-based or moving towards the plant-based diet would simply mean to add more vegetables, whole grains & fruits to your plate each day & downplay the dairy, poultry, fish & seafood. Red meat, & pork would be eaten in small amounts once a month or phased out as would processed food. This approach is doable. 

My absolute favorite site to learn about the Mediterranean diet & how to apply it to your meal plan is on the Oldways website: Mediterranean Diet. The page has the Mediterranean Pyramid & the following informational tabs:

  • 8 Steps to Getting Started with the Mediterranean Diet
  • Our 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan
  • Our Mediterranean Diet¬†Email Newsletter
  • Our ‚ÄúMediterranean Diet 101‚ÄĚ brochure: Welcome to the Mediterranean Diet
  • Foods & Flavors of the Mediterranean Diet
  • The Mediterranean Diet and Health: Proven BeneÔ¨Āts in Countless Studies¬†
  • The Healthy Pasta Meal

Oldways also has a Mediterranean Recipe page. There are pages of recipes that are quick & easy to more complicated. When you click on the link I provided it takes you to all the recipes. On the left you can use the filters to get more specific recipes. I use the vegan filter. There is even a filter for more affordable meals. 

From the Mayo Clinic:¬†Mediterranean diet recipes,¬†Experiment with eating the Mediterranean way with these recipes.¬†By Mayo Clinic Staff, “People who follow the Mediterranean diet have a longer life expectancy and lower rates of chronic diseases than do other adults. Indeed, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans point to the Mediterranean diet as an example of a healthy-eating plan.”¬†This site has a few recipes to get you started.

Even AllRecipes has a list of healthy recipes:¬†Mediterranean Diet Recipes¬†¬†Find recipes that fit the Mediterranean diet, using lots of olive oil, fresh fruit and veggies, beans, and fish.”¬†I scrolled through & found that they varied from traditional to heart healthy. Take a look!


Our NUT friend Suzi sent me this link to a Natural Food Store that is very special. Unfortunately for those of us in California, there are no stores in the state. The reason I am sharing this link is because of the recipes & the list of ingredients they refuse to sell in their store. Lots to learn from them.

Natural Grocers: What We Won’t Sell and Why¬†¬†This is an amazing list with information about the problems with each food, supplement & body care ingredient. What an amazing store!¬†

You can search by specific ingredients or by diets. I found some interesting recipes for vegans. Natural Grocers: Recipe Finder

Thank you for sharing this with us Suzi! If any of you want to share a website or a recipe with us, send it to me!


So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at the Oldways website link:¬†Mediterranean Diet,¬†& see how you can make changes in your way of eating to fit into a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet. Once you get the hang of it, it is a simple, tasty way to becoming a healthier you. Plus, your family will love you for it ūüôā

Information from our Resource page to help you.

  • Good Fish Guide:¬†Great information about specific fish you may eat. This site is out of the United Kingdom but is relevant information. Lots to learn about fish!
  • Monteray Bay Aqaurium Seafood Watch:¬†This is the best site to keep an eye on the seafood that you eat.
  • Eat Wild:¬†This site tells you where you can buy healthy meats by state.
  • Harvest Calendar:¬†For San Diego & Southern California
  • San Diego Farmer‚Äôs Markets:¬†Look at the menu on the left under ‚ÄúBuy Local‚ÄĚ. Lots of good information.
  • Shelf Life Advice:¬†¬†Wondering about how long those Easter eggs will last? How about those veggies you have had for two days? This site is really nice to find out the shelf life for specific items.¬†

¬†Next week it is time for the March Nutritional Nuggets. Interesting¬†information to share. Until then…Mary ūüôā

Food! Recipes! Tips!

MHollander

 

Even though our wood stove is working overtime with the late winter storms we are having, I am still thinking Spring. I have some wonderful recipes to share with you. I have tried them all & they have become my go to recipes. I am also going to share some interesting subjects about food that I found in the various newsletters I receive. Let’s get started!


Our friend Teri Polley sent me a recipe for using up all those Easter eggs. She has avocado trees, yes~I am jealous, and came up with this simple, tasty way of using them. 
Deviled Avocado Eggs : You need 3 hard-boiled eggs; peeled & cut in half & 1 large avocado; pitted & peeled. Mash the avocado flesh with the 3 cooked egg yolks & add the following:

  • 1 tsp. cilantro chopped
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp red onion
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

Scoop the mixture into the halves of the hard-boiled egg whites & top with a sprinkle of chili or paprika. Add a few cilantro leaves for garnish. Thank you Teri!

From Rodale’s Organic Life:¬†How To Make Natural Easter Egg Dye Out Of Fruits, Vegetables, And Spices.¬†“Color your Easter eggs without artificial dyes by doing it the old-fashioned way‚ÄĒwith produce, vegetable scraps, and spices.”¬† BMarch 17, 2017

Other ideas:¬†19 All Natural Easter Egg Dyes to Make At Home,¬†BY¬†READER’S DIGEST EDITORS, “Skip the kit and try coloring Easter eggs naturally with homemade dyes that use coffee, onions, blueberries, and other kitchen finds.”


Speaking of eggs. Take a look at this slideshow from WebMD: Cheap, Healthy Foods Not only are these foods cheap & healthy, most of them are also high in protein.

My favorite quick, protein rich & healthy breakfast is a piece of organic pumpernickel bread with peanut butter, mashed banana & homemade marmalade on it. Very filling.

I love marmalade. My husband doesn’t, which means I am on my own when I buy a jar. I find that it is difficult to find a small jar of marmalade with no added sugar. I found this simple recipe on the¬†DawnJacksonBlatner’s website: Aldi Chia Marmalade w/Cinnamon Toast, that I absolutely love! This is the way I make it just for me. It fits in a pint jar.

  • Zest one orange before you peel it. I also thinly slice a few pieces of the rind to add to the mix.
  • Place the orange sections into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.¬†
  • Add 1 tablespoon of Chia seeds, your zest & thinly sliced bits of peel & mix thoroughly.

Put it into a pint size canning jar & refrigerate for a few hours before using. The recipe I use doesn’t add any sweetener. I like it that way.¬†

You can use other fruits if you want a homemade jam. For 2 cups of fruit use 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. You can mash up part of the fruit, like blueberries or strawberries, & add it to the remaining whole berries. Then add the chia seeds & refrigerate for an hour or two before using. You could add a sweetener; a bit of honey, agave, maple syrup or stevia. Or just enjoy the fruit flavor. A bit of lemon juice or lime juice added will bring out the flavor too. Experiment!

The other protein rich favorite for my breakfast is Hummus on sprouted bread toasted or on the pumpernickel. I make this recipe a lot to have on hand as a dip or a spread for a veggie burger or just for a tomato sandwich. 

I have taken several hummus recipes & tweaked them to make one that I like. This is fast & easy to make yet oh so flavorful!

My Homemade Hummus

  • 15 ounce can of organic Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) I drain the can but I do not rinse the beans. The aquafabe, the liquid that it is in, makes the hummus creamier & has a smoother taste to it. When I have time I sprout the beans & use them raw in the recipe. I find the canned ones give it a different flavor that I like better.
  • 1/2 cup Tahini paste. I know this looks expensive when you buy a jar, but you use only 1/2 cup each time. I watch for sales & buy a jar to have on hand.
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or lime juice. I use lemon for a more traditional taste but I do love the lime juice too.
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped. I adore garlic & use 4 to 5 large cloves. If you aren’t a garlic fan then stick to 2 medium cloves.
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of salt. I taste test it with 3/4 teaspoon of salt then adjust it if I need to.¬†
  • 1/4 cup of water or you can use 1/4 cup of the aquafabe from the can you drained. It does give it a different taste, & the texture is lighter & creamier. I usually use just the¬† water.

You can use a blender or a food processor for this. Pulse the garbanzo beans a few times until they are broken up. Add the rest of the ingredients & puree until smooth & creamy. Place it in a bowl & drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top & sprinkle with a generous amount of Smoked Paprika. You can use plain paprika but I like the smokey flavor.


An evening meal without a salad is just wrong in my house ūüôā I had 2 fennel bulbs that I wanted to use. I found this easy, full of flavor recipe for a salad option: 10 Ways to Cook Fennel Tonight on the One Green Planet website.

Fennel Salad:

Dressing: Whisk together  I made the dressing ahead of time & put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve the salad. This dressing is delicious. Could be used for any salad you make.

  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon or Lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Agave (I used 1 as 2 would have been too sweet for me)¬†
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 2 Fennel bulbs. Thinly sliced. I cut the bulb in half & thinly sliced them up to the stems. Keep some fronds to add to the salad for flavor & it looks pretty.
  • 3 or more celery stalks thinly sliced. Add the celery leaves to the salad too.
  • 2 oranges. Segments cut in thirds.¬†I think mandarin or blood oranges would be really good too.
  • Walnuts, toasted. I also did this ahead of time. Gives it a nuttier taste. I used walnut halves chopped into fourths. Still chunky.

Throw salad together in bowl & add dressing. Combine. This is a great recipe to take to a potluck. The balanced flavors were wonderful.


Another recipe for spring that I have shared before, but is worth mentioning again, is a vegan Pesto recipe made with sunflower seeds rather than the traditional pinion nuts; nutritional yeast rather than Parmesan cheese; & less oil. I have made it with spinach leaves when basil wasn’t available. I would also like to try it with arugula. The recipe is by Renee Press on Plant Based on a Budget: Sunflower Seed Pesto¬†¬†At the bottom of the recipe is an icon to print it out.

Sunflower Seed Pesto

Servings : 2, Prep Time : 10 minutes, Ready In: 10 minutes
This sunflower seed pesto is spectacular on pasta, veggies, pizza, toast. The light nuttiness of the sunflower seeds mixes with the punch of the fresh garlic, and the bright taste of basil wonderfully and really captures the essence of summer. The photo shows it mixed with gluten-free spaghetti and a mound of fresh vegetables. But it’s so tasty, anything goes. Double this recipe if you like it!

  • 1 cup basil
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar¬†I left out the sugar in the recipe. Because it is such a small amount you can leave it in.
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice¬†I am a lime person & tried it both ways. Both were delicious.

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until creamy. Usually 1-2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Toss with warm pasta, spread on toast or pizza, use as a dip.¬†The first time I made it I put it on Pasta. My taste tester was our very own Italian friend Alessandra Colfi! It passed the test. Whew ūüôā The next time I made it, we used it as a dip for cut up raw veggies. Another hit!

 DawnJacksonBlatner, Wow Nutrition: MAKE YOUR LEAFY GREENS LAST LONGER A few good tips on how to extend the life of your salad greens.


Another Spring salad that we like a lot is Mock Tuna Salad. I have put together my own version of this salad so that it was more colorful, adding in more antioxidants & flavor. This is another easy to make salad that can be used as a salad over a bed of greens or as a “tuna” salad sandwich. We also like it with whole grain crackers.

My Mock Tuna Salad

  • I can of garbanzo beans. I drain the beans but I don’t rinse them so I get the creaminess of the aquafaba liquid.¬†Instead of the beans, you can crumble Tempeh. It gives it more of a tuna texture & a different flavor.
  • 1 cup of chopped raw celery.
  • 1 cup chopped scallions or spring onions. We use wild spring onions that grow like weeds around here ūüôā
  • 1 cup of grated carrots. The orange makes the salad look pretty & adds those beta carotene’s.
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed. Sometimes I will use 1/2 cup frozen peas & 1/2 cup of frozen corn just to be different ūüôā You can set them out to thaw or just rinse them in a colander with hot water. No need to cook them.
  • 1 tablespoon of relish. I don’t buy relish so I chopped up a dill pickle.
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard. You can use your favorite.
  • ¬†1/3 to 1/2 cup of Vegenaise or whatever type of Mayonnaise you use. You want the salad creamy but not with a sauce!
  • Salt & pepper to taste.

I use my small food processor to pulse the garbanzo beans until they are broken up & looks sort of like tuna. If I am in a hurry I chop the veggies, except for the peas & corn, in the food processor one group at a time. Otherwise just chop them to the consistency that you prefer. Mix it all together & put it in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the flavors to merge. 


While I was chopping all those vegetables I saved the ends & peelings that I could use in making my own vegetable broth later in the week. We have a worm compost system. The ends that I don’t use go to them right away & the strained cooked veggies I used in the broth go to them later. I don’t like wasting foods.

I think it is safe to say that we are all on a tight budget. We want to be the healthiest version of ourselves that we can be by eating a plant based diet. To help you with this I want to share a link to¬†EWG: Good Food on a Tight Budget¬†Stretching your dollars to get a month’s worth of healthy, filling food is a challenge. EWG assessed nearly 1,200 foods and hand-picked the best 100 or so that pack in nutrients at a good price, with the fewest pesticides, contaminants and artificial ingredients. Enjoy!¬†On the same page is a link to getting EWG’s¬† guide:¬†“Good Food on a Tight Budget” booklet comes with our top tips for healthy eating, quick lists of best foods, tasty recipes and easy tools for tracking food prices and planning your weekly menu (a key step to cutting costs!).¬†
We hope it helps you find delicious, healthy food — and save money, too.¬†
You have to give them an email address for them to send it to you. You will be getting EWG updates from then on but you can always opt out. The guide is worth it.


A favorite dip of mine is Spinach Tofu Dip from the Food Network Kitchen. On their page is an icon to print out the recipe.

Directions: Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen
Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Transfer to bowl and serve with raw vegetables.

Spinach Tofu Dip I recommend that you follow the original directions the first time to see if you like it. Then, if you want to try my version, go for it!

  • 2 scallions, coarsely chopped¬†I use more, at least 6. I like the taste.
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled¬†I use 4-5 medium cloves.
  • 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach,¬†thawed and squeezed dry¬†I use a 16 ounce package¬†of frozen spinach. It makes the dip very thick.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne¬†I used the 1/2 tsp. & it was perfect. If you use 16 ounces of spinach then increase this to 1 teaspoon of cayenne.
  • 1/4 pound silken tofu¬†¬†Use the Organic Silken Tofu by MORI-NU that is in a 12.3 ounce box. These are great to have on hand to make dressings, sauces etc.
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice¬†I use 3-4 tablespoons when using 16 ounces of spinach.
  • Splash sesame oil (optional)¬†It adds a nice flavor if you have it on hand.
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce¬†Use 2 tablespoons if you use the 16 ounces of spinach.

I enjoy cooking & experimenting on my acquaintances ūüôā¬†We are going to a Potluck dinner this weekend. This dip reminds me a lot of Spanikopita. I am going to try something different. My plan is to use phyllo dough sheets,~ click for instructions on making triangles.¬†I will use¬†2 sheets brushed with butter when layered & then cut into 5 strips. Add a dollop¬†of the dip on one end & wrapping it into a triangle. Brush with vegan butter as it is wrapped. Bake them at 375 for 20 minutes until browned. I will let you know how it works.

***They turned out just like I had pictured them. They tasted like spanikopita with a “kick” from the cayenne. A definite hit! Another great idea for a potluck. You can also vary the size of the stuffed triangle depending on your intention; appetizer or entree.


While I was writing this post, I had a pot of pinto beans cooking. It occurred to me that I should serve them with a homemade salsa. I got out my new cookbook by Kim Campbell, the companion cookbook for the documentary PlantPure Nation: PlantPure Nation Cookbook I like this cookbook because the recipes are all familiar & easy to make. The first section of the book is about the ingredients that she uses & what each of them are. She has a salsa recipe called Corn Salsa. Of course I changed it a bit to meet my needs.

Basically I just threw all these ingredients into a jar, mixed it up & put it in the refrigerator for the flavors to blend before dinner tonight. You can adjust the amounts of each of these depending on your tastes.

  • Red onion chopped
  • Frozen corn thawed
  • Leftover cherry tomatoes chopped
  • 4 ounce can of chopped green chilies
  • Small bell peppers of varied colors chopped
  • Fresh cilantro chopped
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

While I was pulling the veggies for the salsa out of the refrigerator, I noticed that I still had a big cauliflower from last week. Instead of a brown rice mix, I will make cauliflower rice to round out the meal. Usually I place the florets into my food processor & pulse until it looks like rice. I add a small amount of olive oil to my pan & stir fry some garlic & onion until cooked then add the “rice”. As I stir fry it I add some turmeric, salt & pepper to taste. This time I am going to add Nutritional Yeast to make it “cheesy” to go with the Mexican food theme. Here is a good recipe for the same idea from OneGreenPlanet:¬†CHEESY TURMERIC CAULIFLOWER RICE [VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE]

Yum, with a salad this stacked up to be a healthy, tasty meal ūüôā

If you aren’t into cauliflower, here is a recipe for a jazzed up corn bread to go with the beans & salsa.¬† Jalapeno¬†Cornbread¬†¬†I use a 4 ounce can of chopped green chilies instead of jalapenos. The first time I made them I didn’t have cornmeal but I did have course ground cornmeal for polenta & grits. It gave the cornbread a nutty texture & tasted great. I also bake them in a cupcake pan. Hope you try these.


DESSERTS!¬†¬†I¬†couldn’t choose just one recipe for desert. Here are links to some amazing looking baked goods. I included both vegan, gluten-free & vegetarian links.


I write a lot about a plant based diet or moving towards a plant based diet. What does that mean? Does it mean being a vegetarian or a vegan? I will look at all the definitions out there & try to make some sense out of it for us. I will include a plan to reach your goal of a healthier you. I will also share more recipes.

Until next week…Mary ūüôā

P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest! Click on the icon at the beginning of the post. I have an Easter section.¬†

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine”

MHollander

 

I firmly believe what¬†Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”¬†Eating a plant based, whole foods, balanced diet is the only path to a healthy body. As Michael Pollan put it, ‚ÄúEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”¬†

I am loving this! Corporations that own large food companies are having a difficult time financially because more people are asking for healthy foods that are not ultra-processed & contain fewer unhealthy ingredients. According to a Nielsen report the purchasing of foods that are less-processed has risen 15% since 2014. 

Take a look at this Nielsen Report from 2015: We Are What We Eat: Healthy eating trends around the world.¬†¬†Scroll down to Natural foods With Beneficial¬†Ingredients¬†Are Most Desirable: “When it comes to the foods we eat, consumers are going back to the basics. We asked respondents to rate health attributes from very important to not important in their purchase decisions. The most desirable attributes are foods that are fresh, natural and minimally processed. Foods with all natural ingredients and those without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are each considered very important to 43% of global respondents‚ÄĒthe highest percentages of the 27 attributes included in the study. In addition, about four-in-10 global respondents say the absence of artificial colors (42%) and flavors (41%) and foods made from vegetables/fruits (40%) are very important”¬†YES!!!

Another article by Nielsen Insights:¬†WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ‘CLEAN’ IN TODAY’S FMCG MARKET¬†,¬†08-21-2017¬†In this report, 68% of those who resoponded said that they were willing to pay more for foods that contain less ingredients that they think are unhealthy. 53% said that products with fewer undesirable ingredients was more important to them than seeing ingredients that they considered healthy. At the bottom of this report is a link to Undesirable Ingredients.¬†One of the most comprehensive lists that I have seen.


Bear with me in this next section. It does pertain to what I have said so far; people are turning towards a healthier diet. Yet they are changing their diet because of what they read on the internet or in the health news of major & minor news sources. Let me give you an example.

Every week I see an important new study about a particular food that decreases the risk or improves the survival rate of a particular cancer. This week it is about tree-nuts & colon cancer. Tree-nuts include: almonds, Brazil¬†nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios & walnuts. Peanuts are a legume, they don’t count.

Yale News: Nut Consumption May Aid Colon Cancer Survival, by Anne Doerr, February 28, 2018¬†This study was published in the¬†Journal of Clinical Oncology, by lead author Charles Fuchs, the director of Yale Cancer Center. The study followed 826 stage 3 colon cancer patients in a clinical trial. Colon cancer patients who ate at least two 1-ounce servings of tree-nuts per week had a 42% increase in a disease-free survival rate & a 57% increase in overall survival. These results were based on self-reporting of dietary intake over 6 1/2 years. This is an interesting article. The funding for the study is in the last paragraph ūüôā

Here is the actual study if you are interested.: Nut Consumption and Survival in Patients With Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance) 

That study has important information for us. It is not the only dietary change that would help. When I googled research on foods that reduce colon cancer I found these articles. Notice that the articles focus on dietary changes & exercise not on one particular food, mineral or vitamin.

My point here is that I can find research for any type of cancer regarding reducing the risk & increasing the survival rate. The results are overwhelming similar; a change in lifestyle, diet & exercise. Even though we see studies about a particular food, for example tree nuts & colon cancer, eating just that food along with the standard American diet will not reduce the risk significantly, if at all. 

The results of research studies as to what is the best diet & lifestyle to reduce the risk & increase the survival rate of people with chronic diseases, including cancer & obesity, always comes back to these points.

  • Lifestyle changes; no smoking & reducing alcohol intake.
  • Exercise daily. This depends on your ability not someone else’s formula. Even 5-10 minutes a day is a good start.
  • Eating a healthy balanced plant based diet.¬†Mediterranean diet or one similar.
  • Cutting out or back on processed foods & added sugar. Read those¬† labels & the ingredient list.
  • Portion control. If you’re paying attention to serving sizes, eating until you are sated, not stuffed, then you are taking in the nutrients needed in the amounts the body needs to function.¬†

This is a list from the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, PCRM  to reduce the risk of cancers. 

Applying the Precautionary Principle to Diet and Cancer: Six Tips to Reduce the Occurrence of Cancer

  1. Avoid dairy products to reduce risk of prostate cancer.
  2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.
  3. Avoid red and processed meat to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
  4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
  5. Women should consume soy products in adolescence to reduce risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors should consume soy products to reduce risk of cancer recurrence and overall mortality.
  6. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several forms of cancer.

This is very exciting news! In the Newsletter this week from T.Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies was this article:¬†Center for Nutrition Studies Donates $1.5 Million to Highland Hospital for New Nutrition Research Program¬†¬†By¬†¬†Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY will receive a $1.5 million donation from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies for a new nutrition research program. Lead by Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D., and Erin Campbell, M.D., M.P.H., this significant research venture will focus on plant-based nutrition and will be part of Highland‚Äôs new Weight Management & Lifestyle Center.

Initial research done through Highland’s Weight Management & Lifestyle Center will focus on nutrition and cancer. The pilot project will be a first-of-its-kind study that looks at the effects of plant-based nutrition in patients with advanced breast cancer, who are also receiving conventional therapy. The Center plans to do additional studies on nutrition as an intervention in a variety of diseases, partnering with experts in various specialties at the University of Rochester.

The reason I am excited about this study is because it will center on a plant based diet while undergoing conventional treatment. “This type of diet avoids or minimizes meat, dairy, and processed foods, including added fats and sugars. A plant-based diet includes pastas, breads, rice, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.” It will be done by Dr. Campbell, who wrote The China Study. This is important because he has constructed other programs that were testing a vegan diet on the general population in parts of Kentucky who signed up to correct health issues. The outcome of those tests were very impressive. Can’ wait to see the results of this clinical trial!¬†¬†

To find out more, visit lifestylecenter.urmc.edu


I am heartened to see that globally people are turning to healthy, basic,¬†whole foods to eat. It gives hope to the idea of decreasing cancer & other chronic diseases & ending obesity. Moliere¬†appears to be the first to say, (in a comedy he wrote in 1668 called¬†‚ÄúThe Miser‚ÄĚ): ‚ÄúOne should eat to live, not live to eat‚ÄĚ.¬†What this means to me is that we should be preparing & eating healthy balanced meals to nourish & sustain our bodies. I think it also means that these meals should be eaten with friends & family when possible & sitting down at a table. It should be a community/family ritual. Food is our medicine but so is the camaraderie¬†& love we get when sharing it with others in a mindful¬†way.

Until next week…Mary ūüôā

 

February Nutrition Nuggets: Coffee & Alcohol

MHollander

 

I have chosen these new studies regarding coffee & alcohol to take a closer look at & to discuss. Are they good for you? Will you live longer if you drink them? What’s the story this month? ūüôā Hopefully you learned¬†from last weeks post,¬†Understanding Clinical Trials, that we need to know if the benefits outweigh the risks before we decide to change our lifestyle & in this case to imbibe or not.


Anything written about coffee interests¬†me ūüôā I¬†have had several emails from fellow coffee lovers about this newest headline. They all wanted to know if they should stop drinking coffee or just ignore the study & enjoy their favorite beverage. I was wondering the same thing.

When coffee beans are roasted they retain a chemical called acrylamide. This chemical is on the list as a carcinogen in California. Acrylamide is in foods like french fries, potato chips, crackers, bread, cookies, cereals, canned black olives, prune juice & coffee. The amount is dependent upon the cooking method, temperature & cooking process. So it varies by manufacturer. This page on the NCI website will give you more detailed information.¬†National Cancer Institute:¬†Acrylamide and Cancer Risk¬†They have based the inclusion of acrylamide, on the carcinogen list, on studies done on rats. The wording is as follows:¬†“The¬†National Toxicology Program‚Äôs Report on Carcinogens¬†considers acrylamide to be reasonably anticipated to be a human¬†carcinogen, based on studies in laboratory animals given acrylamide in drinking water.”¬†The problem with this is that the metabolism & absorption rates differ in rats & humans. From this site you will see that the human study was done with self reporting which is always difficult to know exactly how much acrylamide they actually ingested.¬†

This article is the one that caused the concern.¬†Forbes:¬†Potential California Warning: The Chemical In Your Coffee That May Cause Cancer By ,¬†February 1, 2018¬†¬†Regardless of the fact that there are not any studies yet that back up the idea that coffee can now be linked to cancer, because of California’s Prop 65, coffee vendors ~yep, even Starbucks~, will have to post a warning that drinking coffee is a potential¬†health risk.¬†

Did you know that the same Prop 65 warning is at any establishment that serves french fries & potato chips since a lawsuit by the state in 2005? I have never noticed it! The fast food industry didn’t argue, they just went ahead & posted the sign as required ūüôā CA.gov: Proposition 65: Acrylamide

This next article is a must read if you are still worried about drinking coffee. Based on the results of a meta-analysis, the benefits of coffee outweigh the risks. The only group who should not drink coffee are pregnant women. The Washington Post: After poring over all the evidence, experts declare coffee is (mostly) good for you By  February 4, 2018

I am looking at all the information above & I am thinking that drinking your morning coffee is not the problem here. If you haven’t omitted or sharply curtailed your use of ultra-processed foods, fried foods & sugary products, you may be getting a lot more acrylamide than is healthy. Clean up your diet & enjoy your morning cup of java ūüôā

The earliest record of drinking coffee dates back to the 15th century. Just saying…


Research results are a bit like the IRS; call until you get the answer you want. Even those who have a drink of wine once in awhile would like to hear that it is healthy. I am that way about coffee ūüôā¬†

The subject of consuming alcoholic beverages is as touchy as gun control in the United States. Not sure why this is. Since I rarely drink alcohol anymore, when I ask for water at a party people look at me like I am very odd. It seems that the general consensus is that you can’t have a good time socially if you aren’t drinking with everyone else. Even physicians¬†have¬†a difficult time bringing up a patients alcohol consumption & I am sure, if asked, most of the patients would either underestimate how much they drink or just lie about it.

Take an honest look at your relationship with alcohol & how it fits in with your goals to be a healthier you. I am not suggesting you give up alcohol all together¬†but I am suggesting that you decide if you are in the low to moderate drinking category or in the heavy drinker category. With that in mind, let’s look at these studies.¬†

This first study was done in France & was published on February 20, 2018 in Lancet:¬†Contribution of alcohol use disorders to the burden of dementia in France 2008‚Äď13: a nationwide retrospective cohort study¬†The study was a retrospective¬†look¬† & analysis involving 30 million people with a history/diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder”,¬†discharged¬†from a hospital in France. There are three take-away’s from this huge study.¬†

  1. The study included both genders, 20 years + in age.
  2. 50% of early-onset dementia is caused by heavy alcohol use. That is more than 2 drinks/day.
  3. This link between early-onset dementia & heavy alcohol use can be preventable by cutting back on the intake of alcohol.
  4. This study definitely shows that physicians should include a patients history of alcohol use in their dementia assessment.

With the above study in mind here is a new study about wine & it’s benefits to your brain.¬†CNBC:¬†A glass of wine after work may be good for your brain, according to science, By¬†¬†,¬†

Those 2 studies do not contradict each other, actually they validate each others findings.

This is my favorite article about alcohol. It will clarify the risks & benefits for you. Harvard, T.H. Chan, School of Public Health: Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits

Alcoholic beverages are a problem for some chronic diseases; diabetes for one. Do the benefits outweigh the risk? This is a question that you and your health care team need to discuss. Are you counting carbs or staying away from sugar because of your diagnosis? Then possibly the risks will outweigh the benefits for you. Livestrong: Sugar Content in Alcoholic Beverages, by SHANNAN BERGTHOLDT , 

Another good source for you to look at if you are in treatment.¬†Dana-Farber Cancer Institute:¬†Cancer and Alcohol: What You Should Know,¬†February 13, 2018 “Questions often arise about the relationship between alcohol and cancer: Does it increase cancer risk? Is it safe to drink while in treatment? What about after treatment?”

Bottom line? Do the risks outweigh the benefits for you as an individual based on your age, diagnosis & other chronic diseases you may have. Only you, along with your healthcare team, can decide.

Had to add this one; getting older does have its benefits ūüôā¬†This study was done on people 90+ years young. Those who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day, “were 18 percent less likely to experience a premature death. Meanwhile, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11 percent.”¬†¬†Chicago Tribune:¬†Drinking alcohol more important than exercise for living past 90, study says¬†Three results from this study stood out for me

  1. Drinking coffee cut the chance of premature death by 10%.
  2. Those with a hobby they worked on every day cut it by 21% .
  3. And my favorite; those who were slightly overweight by 3% ūüôā

The magic number from all these studies seems to be 2 to 2 1/2 servings of alcohol a day, which can be beneficial. Anything over that raises the risk for a number of chronic diseases including cancer, dementia & heart disease. Remember that the American Cancer Society recommends that people who drink alcohol limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women. 

What is a standard “drink size” in the USA? The NCI has a website about alcohol:¬†What Is A Standard Drink?¬†In the United States, one “standard” drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

I will continue to drink my 2 cups of coffee each morning. The benefits, for me, outweigh the risks.  I will continue to have an alcoholic beverage on special occasions & limit it to one serving. For me, I see that the risks outweigh the benefits to imbibe more alcohol than that. What have you decided?

Until next week…Mary ūüôā

Understanding Clinical Trials

 

The more research studies that I read the more confused the issues become. Take my post from last week as an example: Asparagus & Cancer Cell Growth Even with my explanations some of you came away confused. I understand that. Because of that post, this week I am going to talk about how research, in particular clinical trials, are done.

The headlines in the news tend to be sensational & scare the **** out of us.¬†I don’t think that the researchers are trying to upset us or confuse us. They are just reporting on their findings. We want¬†to know that studies on mice show that some nutrients, given in larger amounts, will cause cancer or that some, given in smaller than normal amounts, may block the cancer cells ability to metastasize. But…before we go crazy trying to decide what this means to our diet, we need to take a breath & step away. We need to wait for several, not just one, clinical trials on humans to then make adjustments to our lifestyles. Even then we need to talk this over with our health care team to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks for us as an individual.


What is the difference between basic research studies & clinical trials? Research studies are experiments that have been conducted in a laboratory setting usually using non-human subjects. These experiments can be at a cellular level in a petri dish or done on mice/rats etc. 

Clinical trials are done with human volunteers in order to prove a theory that was developed in the laboratory about treatments for diseases. Your healthcare team may be aware of a Clinical trial being conducted that you could benefit from. Talk to them first. 


There are several governmental agencies which oversee clinical trials. They are in place for the protection of those volunteer subjects & also to list the clinical trials that have been done, are currently going on & those which need volunteers.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a watch-group called the Office for Human Research Protections: The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) provides leadership in the protection of the rights, welfare, and wellbeing of human subjects involved in research conducted or supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). OHRP is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Office of the Secretary of HHS.

OHRP provides clarification and guidance, develops educational programs and materials, maintains regulatory oversight, and provides advice on ethical and regulatory issues in biomedical and behavioral research. OHRP also supports the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), which advises the HHS Secretary on issues related to protecting human subjects in research.

On this page, About Research Participation, OHRP has the following information. If you have an interest in being part of a clinical trial this is a good place to start to understand the protections that are in place.

  • Informational videos about research participation.¬†
  • A list of questions to ask the researchers of the study you are interested in.
  • Information about the regulations protecting you as a subject in a clinical trial.
  • Resources outside of OHRP to help you in understanding research involving human subjects.

There is another safeguard that has been set up. It is called the IRB, Institutional Review Board. The FDA has a site that answers questions about the IRB if you are interested: Institutional Review Boards Frequently Asked Questions -Information Sheet.¬†The first question is probably all you need to know ūüôā

1. What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

Under FDA regulations, an IRB is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, an IRB has the authority to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or disapprove research. This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.

The purpose of IRB review is to assure, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research. To accomplish this purpose, IRBs use a group process to review research protocols and related materials (e.g., informed consent documents and investigator brochures) to ensure protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects of research.


Clinical trials are usually done in phases. I will use the word “drug”, but this applies to drugs, devices, procedures, nutrients, diets…you get the idea ūüôā

  • Phase 0: This phase is more of an “exploratory phase”. Say a drug company wants to speed up the clinical trial process to get their drug approved. They would use this phase to try micro-doses on a few human subjects to determine if they should continue with a full clinical trial.
  • Phase 1: This phase is done on a group of healthy human subjects to determine if a drug is safe. It is also used to decide on the highest dose that causes the least side effects. This may take months.
  • Phase 2: They then move on to this phase to determine if the drug actually works on the targeted disease & its safety at this dose. It is given to human subjects with that particular disease. This phase can also have two groups. One that takes the drug & one that is given a placebo. This phase can last for a year or more.
  • Phase 3: When & if a drug gets to this phase, several hundred or even thousands of human subjects will be used. It is to obtain a more accurate picture of the drugs effectiveness & adverse affects on a broader range of people.¬†
  • At this point the company can apply to the FDA for approval of the drug.
  • Phase 4: The drug has now been approved for use in the U.S. This phase is used if the company wants to compare its new drug to other drugs that are on the market, look at the long term affect on a persons quality of life or look at the cost effectiveness. Thousands of people take part for many years. At this point the drug still may be taken off the market by the FDA after evaluating the above information.

***My resources for the above list:

  1. American Cancer Society: What Are the Phases of Clinical Trials
  2. Center Watch: Overview of Clinical Trials

If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial there are a lot of questions to ask. For example who is responsible for the cost of the trial & do you as a participant bear any responsibility. I found this next site from the NIH: National Cancer Institute, to be the best one to answer those questions. It also has a page to help you find clinical trials for cancer patients.

Clinical Trials Information for Patients and Caregivers¬†¬†“Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Understanding what they are can help you decide if a clinical trial might be an option for you. Or maybe you have a friend or family member with cancer and are wondering if a clinical trial is right for them.

We’ve provided basic information about clinical trials to help you understand what’s involved in taking part. This includes information about the benefits and risks, who is responsible for which research costs, and how your safety is protected. Learning all you can about clinical trials can help you talk with your doctor and make a decision that is right for you.

Find NCI-Supported Clinical Trials: You begin by entering your type of cancer, age & zip code to locate clinical trials in your area.  NCI-supported clinical trials are those sponsored or otherwise financially supported by NCI.

See our guide,¬†Steps to Find a Clinical Trial, to learn about options for finding trials not included in NCI’s collection.”¬†This page is very important if you want to find a clinical trial specifically for your type & stage of cancer. It shows you how to gather the information needed & how to find a trial.


On this next website you will be able to access clinical studies from the U.S. & other countries. You will choose all studies or current studies underway or those recruiting for a study. You will enter your type of cancer or any disease; any other term you want to search under, for example a particular medication; & then you choose a country. If you want to narrow it down more, then choose Advanced Search.

NIH: National Library of Medicine, ClinicalTrials.gov is a database of privately & publicaly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.”¬†Not all of the studies on this site have been evaluated by the U.S. Government.¬†


As you can see, it sometimes takes years to get from the initial Phase 0 trial to the approval by the FDA. I also read that the time between the end of the Clinical Trial & the publication in a peer review, a conservative estimate, can be 2 years or more. I couldn’t find any time estimate from the initial idea & research on non-human subjects to the publication after clinical trials. It must be more than 5 years I would think.

I asked Google how much it would cost to get a drug approved from the laboratory to clinical trials to approval. The results referred me to an article in the Washington Post about a study asking that same question done by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, a research group partially funded by drug makers. Does it really cost $2.6 billion to develop a new drug?  November 18, 2014  

The debate over the actual cost is in the article. Some people claim that this study was done to justify the high prices of drugs. Others say that the Federal Government has grants for studies that are paid for out of our taxes, and this money was not included. Regardless of who is right, it costs close to a billion dollars for drug companies to do these studies. They have a lot invested in the outcome. Hence the oversight committees that are put in place. 


When I look at a study that has made the news, I try to find the original paper. These are the points that I then look at…

  • Who conducted & authored the study.¬†
  • Where was the study conducted. University? Drug Company laboratory?
  • What country was the study done in.
  • If it was a clinical trial I check to see who the participants were, how many were in the trial & how long it lasted. I check for the gender & age group. I also check to see how it was done; self reporting is less accurate than monitored.
  • Who paid for the study. This is very important to find out. If it is a study on sugar & the sugar industry paid for the study, we need to know that.
  • I look at the purpose of the review. Sometimes the news media misinterprets this.
  • I check the Introduction to see what they have to say about this research.
  • I read the conclusions. Usually they say either there needs to be more studies done or that they are now going to clinical trials.¬†
  • At the bottom of an abstract paper is a section that shows “conflict of interest”. Here is an example from a meta analysis that¬†the NIH &¬†NCBI published in 2016 called: Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding¬†¬†Conflicts of Interest:¬†J.M. Rippe‚Äôs research laboratory has received unrestricted grants and J.M. Rippe has received consulting fees from ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, the Florida Department of Citrus, PepsiCo International, The Coca Cola Company, the Corn Refiners Association, Weight Watchers International and various publishers.”¬†Now you see why this is important to know.

I am also very selective about which news group I will read after seeing a headline. I am not going to even look at the National Inquirer for example, but I will read what BBC, CNN, a university or cancer center publication, or a trustworthy site that I like, has to say. Then I “fact check” by reading the original study. It is a lot of work, but it weeds out the **** from the the wonderful studies being done on cancer.


I hope that from this post you can see why, although interesting, results of research on mice should not determine how you eat or how you change your lifestyle. Especially if it means going on some fad restrictive diet or crazy exercise program. We need to wait for the clinical trials. Then, & only then do we check to see if these results apply to us. I am not going to get too excited about changing my diet if the clinical trial was done on men in their 30’s ūüôā

Until next week…Mary:)

 

Asparagus & Cancer Cell Growth

 

I love asparagus & pig out on it when it is in season; to the extent that my husband is now growing it for me ūüôā This season will be the first time we can harvest it. Because of this, the headlines about how asparagus is a food that breast cancer patients should avoid caught my eye. I wondered why asparagus was being singled out now. I found that the reason for these headlines was due to a new study by the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute¬†that¬†had been published in the journal Nature this past week. What do we do with studies & headlines like this? We take a closer look & see if they apply to us as a unique individual.


This is the first article that I read.¬†Cure:¬†Asparagus Could Kill Me?, “A recent study points to a concerning ingredient in one of our most common foods. Could this potentially help the spread of cancer?”, BY¬†BONNIE ANNIS, FEBRUARY 09, 2018¬†Should you eliminate asparagus from your diet? Let’s take a closer look at the study & what it means.


Here is the actual study as published in Nature: Asparagine bioavailability governs metastasis in a model of breast cancer The information that I gleaned from this study is as follows.

  • The study has only been done on mice with a strain of an¬†aggressive¬†breast cancer.
  • No human studies/clinical trials have been done yet.
  • Not all circulating cancer cells were able to begin new tumors at secondary sites.
  • Those cells that did metastasize were strongly influenced by the presence of the amino acid asparagine.
  • Limiting asparagine by dietary restrictions or by the drug¬†L-asparaginase, which blocks the cells use of asparagine, limited the cells ability to metastasize.¬†

The most important part of this study that you need to remember is that they did not take away all asperigine. It was a low-aspargine diet that was used. This is important to note because it would be difficult to totally eliminate this amino-acid & it would cause other problems if you were able to. Asperigine is important in the protection of the liver & it is important for the health of your nerves. Concise information regarding the role of asparagine in your body from the AminoAcidsGuide.com: Asparagine 

Most fruits & vegetables are low in asparagine. What are the food sources with high asparagine content, besides asparagus?

  • Animal:¬†dairy,¬†whey,¬†beef,¬†poultry,¬†eggs,¬†fish, & seafood
  • Plants:¬†asparagus,¬†potatoes,¬†legumes,¬†nuts,¬†seeds,¬†soy,¬†whole grains

As we have seen in other restrictive diets, it is not a good idea to eliminate a food group. Because asparagine is in many foods, restricting our diets to decrease it may be difficult. The more promising outcome of a clinical trial may be the use of the asparagine blocker, l-asparaginase. 


Food may influence cancer spread,¬†By James GallagherHealth and science correspondent, BBC News,¬†7 February 2018¬†¬†This article is very good & explains the study in layman’s¬†language & what it’s effects on diet may be.¬†

As we have seen in previous studies done with mice, it does not always have the same outcome when human clinical trials are done. But then again there are studies that do have the same outcome. The researchers are going to start human clinical trials with healthy individuals first. They will put these individuals on a low-asparagine diet to see if this will reduce the levels of asparagine in their bodies. If it does then the next step would be to use cancer patients in a clinical trial. 


This isn’t the first study that has shown that certain amino-acids may be influencing cancer cells in specific types of cancer. Serine & glycine were the subjects last year.¬†

GEN: Diet Therapy Could Slow Cancer by Cutting Certain 
Amino Acids. April 20, 2017 This study was also done in the UK using mice. The results were that by restricting dietary serine & glycine it can reduce tumor growth in intestinal cancer & lymphomas. It also showed that it may not be effective in other cancers. Clinical trials in humans are needed. The scientists noted that doing the clinical trials would not only show them if it works the same in humans, which types of cancers are affected, but also how restricted the diet needs to be and also remain safe. 

From the AminoAcidsGuide.com: Serine This explains the function & importance of serine & glycine in the body.  Deficiency of serine in the diet can lead to depression, irritability, insomnia, anxiety and confusion; thus the concern regarding a safe diet. 


This article caught my eye yesterday in MedicalNewsToday: How Blueberries help to kill cancer cells, Wednesday 3 January 2018, By Fact checked by Jasmin Collier  The lead researcher, Dr. Yujiang Fang & his co-researchers are with the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  

This study was done with human cervical cancer cells in a petri dish. The researchers used a blueberry extract with radiation on some cells & compared the results with only radiation on other cells. The results showed that the extract killed 25% of the cells & the radiation alone killed 20%. Next will be clinical trials.

These findings are great because we already know that blueberries are high in anti-oxidants, are anti-inflammatory, have a high fiber content for heart health, are low in calories & are readily available. The perfect fruit!

You can read the study & it’s¬†results¬†in¬†Pathology and Oncology Research.


In one of my favorite books, The China Study,¬†on page #226,¬†co-author,¬†T. Colin¬†Campbell PhD, writes about¬†Eating¬†Right: Eight Principles; “Principle #1: Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In his book, he explains how each separate¬†nutrient works synergistically with other nutrients causing a cascade effect throughout the body. Together they stimulate glands & the production of important¬†hormones & body functions. Where they go in the body & how much is needed in each area or even each individual cell is all very carefully controlled.¬†

What I am saying is that each nutrient alone may influence the growth of cancer cells but it cannot be totally omitted because of its function with other nutrients to keep us healthy. Each nutrient sends out thousands of bits of information. We need them all. Balance!

Visit T. Colin Campbell: Center for Nutrition Studies for more information. Make sure you check out the recipes & the book section. I bought The PlantPure Nation Cookbook By Kim Campbell. Love the recipes. 


I hope that this information will help you decide whether or not you are going to give up asparagus ūüôā As noted by one of the researchers, these types of studies do not mean that they would work safely with a “home-made” diet plan. Again it is all about moderation & balance.

Until next week…Mary ūüôā

 

Chemo Brain

Photo by Don Hollander

 

Chemo brain is a term used by cancer patients in treatment & by thrivers/survivors to describe memory & plain old thinking problems. The severity of the problem varies by patient. Usually the symptoms are self-reported & are dealt with as “complaints” rather than a disorder. Cognitive tests are not done on new patients before treatment, so it is difficult for a healthcare team to know if what the patient is experiencing is new or not. This should not make a difference, in my opinion, the complaints should always be addressed. This¬†brain fog does have an impact on a patients daily activities.¬†

After all the research & articles I have read on this subject, this one is my favorite:¬†The Cut:¬†Finally, My Case of ‚ÄėChemo Brain‚Äô Is Vindicated,¬†By¬†, July 12, 2017.


Symptoms of Chemo brain or chemo fog may include the following according to the Mayo Clinic: Chemo Brain

  • Being unusually disorganized
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty finding the right word
  • Difficulty learning new skills
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of mental fogginess
  • Short attention span
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks
  • Trouble with verbal memory, such as remembering a conversation
  • Trouble with visual memory, such as recalling an image or list of words

As I look at this list, I can’t help but think about how I feel when I am totally stressed out. Do you think that part of the problem is due to the stress of the diagnosis, fear of the unknown, fear¬†of¬†the treatment, feeling helpless & anger?¬† Yes, it is part of the problem & it does confuse the issue.

A very informative article & video I found about chemo brain is from the Simms/Mann, UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology: Countering Chemo Brain, Linda M. Ercoli, PhD, October 14, 2014 The transcript of the video is right below it.


There are no diagnostic tests for chemo brain. There are no definitive causes known to science at this time. Because of this there are no cures. This page in the Mayo Clinic’s: Chemo Brain¬†has many ideas of how to cope with the symptoms. They also talk about¬†the lack of medications to help the patient & list the ones typically used. The section “What Can You Do”¬† has a list of how to prepare for your appointment & a list of questions to ask your physician. This is a very thorough & helpful article.

Another good article is by the American Cancer Society: Chemo Brain I like this one because the author states upfront that this is a very real & sometimes distressing problem.


Looking at the research that has been done so far, I believe that complimentary therapies, exercise & diet can play an important role in relieving some of the symptoms. As I mentioned above, stress can confuse the issue for both you and your healthcare team. Here is a partial list of which of these therapies have science behind their use for stress relief. You can find a list of therapists on our SDCRI/Resource page

  • Massage¬†
  • Acupuncture
  • Energy Work
  • Expressive Art
  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness¬†

When we look at what can help to alleviate the symptoms or at least give you some relief from them, we should be looking at what helps anyone with cognitive problems. Not just chemo brain. The aging brain may be giving researchers a map of what happens with chemo brain. It is all speculative at this time, but can be a useful tool for those of you with a chemo brain diagnosis. The symptoms of mild cognitive impairment are very similar to those listed at the beginning of this post. What research has shown helps cognitive problems may help you. Exercise & diet have research behind them as being useful.

Exercise is addressed in this article:¬†USNews:¬†Health Buzz: People With Mild Cognitive Impairment Should Exercise Twice a Week, Research Says It involves issues with thinking and memory.¬†By¬†David Oliver¬†, Associate Editor, Social Media¬†|Dec. 29, 2017¬†¬†Exercise is important¬†for anyone trying to rebuild their¬†immune system & it helps to relieve stress. The key with exercise is not how long or how intense it is but how consistent¬†you are. Even 5 minutes every day is helpful. Choose an exercise that you will do everyday. I found going to the gym¬†didn’t last long; too much trouble. We have a lot of rain so I invested in a stationary bike & a tiny stair stepper. I use both every day at the same time for 45 minutes total. I can live with that! You can even break up the time spent. I ride my bike in the morning & do the stepper in the afternoon. On nicer days I get outside & take a walk. You can very the time you spend exercising based on how you are feeling. Listen to your body.


Diet can help in many ways. Chemo brain & cognitive problems may be the result of a chronic inflammation in the¬†brain as well as the body as a whole. We know that chronic diseases are considered inflammatory diseases. We also know that there is a scientifically proven link between the gut & brain. Yep, those gut buddies again. I think I can safely say; we are what we eat ūüôā


There has been an increasing interest in chemo brain in recent years. Here is a sample of the research that has been done.

  • National Cancer Institute:¬†Understanding ‚ÄúChemobrain‚ÄĚ and Cognitive Impairment after Cancer Treatment¬†In this section, the author mentions how until 2012, when a research paper was published about chemo brain & breast cancer, physicians dismissed women’s concerns about their cognitive behavior. It is also suggested that these complaints may be from an “aging brain”.¬† The gist of this article is that it would be of great interest¬†& helpful to be able to predict which patients will get chemo brain.¬†Very interesting article.
  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America:¬†Study finds ‘chemo brain’ persists after treatment in breast cancer patients,¬†
  • MedicalNewsToday:¬†How long does ‘chemo brain’ last?,¬†Published By¬†: “Cancer survivors have long complained of cognitive decline following chemotherapy. This effect has been studied in some depth, but, for the first time, researchers ask how long these deficits might last.”¬†This study on mice shows that the deficits from chemo brain may be long lasting. I think we can confirm that just based on anecdotal evidence.
  • Cure:¬†More Than Chemo Brain: Several Factors Contribute to Cognitive Decline After Cancer,¬†BY LAUREN M. GREEN,¬†PUBLISHED JANUARY 18, 2016, Though patients and survivors often complain of chemo brain during and after treatment for cancer, a growing body of research shows that there are multiple causes behind the cognitive decline many survivors experience.”¬†This is a very good article. The author quotes Tim¬†Ahles, a behavioral psychologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, from his talk at¬†the inaugural 2016 Cancer Survivorship Symposium. Worth the read.

I find it fascinating that the research is so late in coming. Also, that there hasn’t been any definitive conclusions drawn on what, why & how one ends up with chemo brain. Based on that, what do you have to lose by cleaning up your diet & lifestyle! If you have already made these changes to reduce the risk of cancer, build up your immune system or for any other reason, you are also reducing the risk of cognitive impairment¬†in aging & even chemo brain.¬†

Until next week…Mary ūüôā