What Do the New Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean?

Why are the new blood pressure guidelines causing such a stir? Because they place 46% of Americans in the high blood pressure range. Lets look at what blood pressure is, how it is measured, what these new guidelines are & how we can bring our blood pressure down naturally. 

As your heart beats, it pushes the blood through your circulatory system to bring your body the oxygen it needs. As it moves through the blood vessels it exerts pressure on them. Blood pressure is measured on the arterial system. There are 2 numbers, for example, 120/76. The top number, systolic, is the pressure on the arterial wall as your heart beats. The bottom number, diastolic, is the pressure of the resting of the heart between beats. 

Here are some tips on how to make sure you get a correct reading when either you are taking it at home or having it taken in a medical setting.

  • Take your blood pressure at the same time every day. It is highest in the early morning, so choose a later time.
  • Make sure you are using the correct cuff size. This will effect the reading. There are cuffs for children, adults of normal weight & a cuff for larger arms.
  • Don’t eat or drink caffeine at least 30 minutes before a reading. And don’t smoke at least 30 minutes before a reading.
  • Empty your bladder 🙂
  • Take time to sit quietly for about 5 minutes before the reading. I know that in a medical setting it is usually rushed.
  • Make sure that the cuff is on bare skin. Don’t roll up a tight sleeve above the cuff. Wear something loose or if at home take off the shirt.
  • Sit with your back straight, with feet flat on the floor. DO NOT cross your legs.
  • Place your cuffed arm on a table at heart level with the other palm resting on your leg.
  • No talking during the reading!
  • If you or your medical team is not satisfied with the first reading then have it taken again after waiting for 5 minutes. It should not be taken immediately after the first reading. Some authorities recommend that you take it 3 times with a 5 minute break between times & average the last 2 reading for an accurate test.

What has been considered normal, high & low blood pressure has changed over the years due to new research & understanding of heart disease. Back in the 60’s I remember being told as a young nurse that you would take your age & add 100 & that would be your normal for the systolic. Once you aged past 60 years old you would use 160 as normal.

Take a look at this paper from the Journal of Clinical Hypertension: Historical Perspectives on the Management of Hypertension by Marvin Moser, MD The author uses the health of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940’s as an example of what was considered normal treatment. In the 1948 textbook, Cardiology, your blood pressure was high if over 180/110. This was based on the medical evidence at that time. In the 1950’s older patients were not treated when their blood pressure was between 160/80 – 200/110! He continues thru the years to show what was considered high & how it was treated. Good article.

 My summary of the new changes are as follows: 

  • Normal is now below 120/80. It was 140/90.
  • Elevated blood pressure is 120-129 systolic & a diastolic less than 80. This is a reading that is not considered hypertension.
  • A diagnosis of hypertension is called Stage 1: 130 – 139 systolic & 80-89 diastolic.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: above 140/90

The new guidelines include these lifestyle changes for all patients. These are recommended particularly for those with “elevated” blood pressure readings rather than medication.

  • Weight loss for overweight or obese people
  • Heart healthy diet like DASH
  • Salt restrictions
  • Increase potassium intake through diet..DASH diet is naturally high in potassium.
  • A diet low in sodium, saturated fat, and total fat with an increase in fruits, vegetables, and grains has the biggest impact in lowering the blood pressure 🙂
  • Exercise & a general increase of physical activity during your day.
  • Alcohol: Men no more than 2 servings per day & women no more than 1 per day. 

A plus for these guidelines is that they include recommendations for race, gender & age. Takes the guesswork out of what your normal should be. They also give the doctor better guidelines for what treatment a patient should receive & when to recommend lifestyle changes. These recommendations will now be at an earlier age which is why most doctors like these new guidelines. Catch potential heart disease earlier.

Harvard Health Publishing: New high blood pressure guidelines: Think your blood pressure is fine? Think again…,   NOVEMBER 17, 2017, by Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor  Good explanation of the guidelines. 

Nearly half of Americans now have high blood pressure, based on new guidelines  By Susan Scutti, CNN, November 14, 2017 This article is quite good. It explains the shortcomings of the new guidelines & what the physicians are worried about. 

From what I have read in several articles, the main concern is that many more people will be put on medications that in some physicians eyes are not needed. After looking over the guidelines I think they will cause physicians to evaluate patients more intently when it comes to earlier detection of heart disease. 

In the guidelines, adults 60 years or older will be diagnosed with hypertension if over 150/90 & medications will be given. Concern about raising this limit for older adults has been expressed because it is felt that this will increase heart disease in this age group if not medicated earlier. Proponents of this change state that these new numbers are based on the most up to date scientific information & research on this age group.

Lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure are not that different than the lifestyle changes to lower cancer risk. Relaxation techniques to decrease stress along with exercise can reduce your blood pressure effectively. Diet is extremely important. Just losing 10% of your current weight, if overweight or obese, will bring about significant changes in your blood pressure.

I am not going to list the foods you should & shouldn’t be eating, you should know that by heart from previous posts. Think DASH, MIND & Mediterranean diets 🙂 But I will point you in the right direction. 

If you want a scientific view of the DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet & its effects on blood pressure, read this abstract from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Effects of Sodium Reduction and the DASH Diet in Relation to Baseline Blood Pressure

From Spectator Health: Low-salt diet ‘as effective as drugs’ for hypertension  Very good article about research with a low salt DASH diet & its effects on blood pressure. The bottom line is that it performed better than prescription drugs. Check out my post in 2015 on the DASH diet or from the NIH: Description of the DASH Eating Plan

High blood pressure: Could diet replace medication?  By November 24, 2017  Another good article about research on the low salt-DASH diet. 

One thing to remember is that the body does need sodium, salt, to function. So if you are going to limit your salt intake, use the recommendations given with the DASH diet. Too little salt can have the opposite effect by raising the risk of heart disease & stroke. It is all about BALANCE. Remove the salt shaker from the table & replace it with flavorful herbs. ***Braggs Organic Sprinkles: 24 Herbs & Spices  My favorite! 

This is not really off topic 🙂 I wanted to share this article that I came across. 17 tips to pick the freshest veggies and ripest fruit, Nov. 17, 2017, TODAY  Goes along with a healthy low-salt diet!

Until next week…Mary 🙂 

November Nutrition Nuggets


Time again for those Nutrition articles that I saved from the news during the last month. I will start with Medical Marijuana & work my way through new gut buddy studies, cancer risks with alcohol, coffee :), sugar & energy drinks. 

I can see so many health benefits with Medical Marijuana. The problem that I see is that the industry is growing at a faster rate than the regulations of the cannabis sold. It is much like the nutritional supplement problem. Which outlet do you trust? How is the cannabis grown? And many other questions. Medical Marijuana comes in many forms; edibles, smokeables, vapes, tinctures, pastes, & salves for example. These also come in different concentrates or ratios of CBD/THC. The growing concern that I have is not only how the cannabis is grown but how the products are produced. Is the cannabis used standardized. This means that if I buy a product like a tincture to use, then need more, will the same tincture contain the same amount of THC/CBD as the first one I bought.

CBD is the fastest growing Cannabis derivatives sold. It is effective for many health problems & it is safe. It can also be sold online & cross state borders unlike Medical Cannabis with any THC in it. 

These two articles address my concerns. Reuters: With online medical marijuana, it’s buyer beware, By Lisa Rapaport, NOVEMBER 7, 2017  This study of online CBD products, showed that the same product showed inconsistencies in the amount of CBD it contained. I bought CBD paste online to try for joint pain. It did help somewhat but I wasn’t comfortable with the way I had to decide how much to use, and it didn’t appear to be standardized. I chose a reliable company & I shouldn’t have worried… Probably the nurse in me 🙂

Only one-third of marijuana extracts accurately labeled, researchers say, By Ben Tinker, CNN, November 7, 2017 Good article about the same study.

Because Cannabis is still illegal federally, the FDA isn’t regulating it like a pharmaceutical product. It is being watched like a nutritional supplement would. Because of that, the labeling must comply to the same standards as nutritional supplements. Health claims must be vague 🙂 The labels cannot say that the CBD or CBD/THC cures a specific disease. In order to make that claim, it has to have research to back it up along with clinical trials. At that point it becomes a pharmaceutical. This step is a problem because the FDA has rules for who can obtain the cannabis for research because it is on Schedule 1 along with Heroin. Stupidity in my eyes. The New York Times: FDA Warns Companies Against Claims That Marijuana Cures Diseases By Sheila Kaplan, Nov. 1, 2017

For information about Medical Marijuana, read the article we published on the SDCRI website. Cannabis as Medicine: Using medical marijuana in the oncology setting. by Teri Polley-Michea, “As a cannabis nurse navigator it is my honor and privilege to help guide patients in making educated choices when selecting and using medical marijuana as part of their healing journey.”

Two important studies looking at the relationship between gut buddies & immunotherapy for cancer patients have been in the news. Remember that your gut buddies are involved in digestion, protection from infection and they regulate our immune system. Couple that with immunotherapy which stimulates our own bodies defense mechanism and we see a valuable cancer treatment.

Gut bacteria ‘boost’ cancer therapy, 

Reuters: Good gut microbes may help immunotherapy drugs shrink tumors, By Ben Hirschler, NOVEMBER 2, 2017 

The bottom line on these studies is that they hold promise in the treatment of a difficult disease. They also show that more research needs to be done to understand our gut buddies. What is really exciting about this is that once they are understood, the analysis of an individuals gut buddies will tell the oncologist if immunotherapy will work for them. That would be a big step in treatment protocols.

The New York Times: Cancer Doctors Cite Risk of Drinking Alcohol, By Roni Caryn Rabin, November 7, 2017  The article is about the official stance that the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, ASCO, has taken in regards to alcohol. It states that even light drinking of alcohol can slightly raise a woman’s risk for breast cancer & esophageal cancer. If you are a heavy drinker then the risk of many cancers is higher. The message from these oncologists is that if you do drink alcohol, drink less & if you don’t drink alcohol then don’t start. 

I will be interested to see if the American Cancer Society changes their views on how much alcohol a person should drink. I have never agreed with them. Alcohol Use & Cancer: As part of its guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, 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.”  The Susan G. Komen website agrees with this limit. In light of the ASCO stance, I hope they both reconsider what they are recommending.

Here’s Another Reason to Feel Good About Drinking Coffee  Time, By Amanda MacMillan, November 13, 2017  We have been told that drinking coffee is good for our hearts. This study shows that drinking up to 6 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart failure & stroke incrementally

Science Daily: Higher coffee consumption associated with lower risk of early death, August 27, 2017, European Society of Cardiology. Summary: Higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of early death, according to new research. The observational study in nearly 20 000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.

Loving my morning cups of java 🙂

I keep thinking that the story about how bad added sugar is on our health is over. Not so: NPR, What The Industry Knew About Sugar’s Health Effects, But Didn’t Tell Us, By , November 21, 2017  This is worth the read. Don’t be surprised if it sounds familiar, think big tobacco companies. The sugar industry in the 1960’s funded research on the effects of sugar on our health. Because the results were damaging, the industry halted the studies & suppressed what results they had from the study. The industry then made certain that fats were blamed for heart disease & other health problems. 

Same as with alcohol, if you use/eat added sugar, use/eat less & if you don’t use/eat added sugar don’t start. How? Look at labels, stay away from processed foods whenever possible. 

Energy drinks come in different disguises. They come as sports drinks, as pick-me-ups in the afternoon, as a caffeine drink to help you stay awake for your night shift or study time for your exams. People of all ages & backgrounds turn to these drinks. Besides being high in sugar & caffeine, they have other herbal stimulants added. If you use them, read the labels carefully. These drinks increase your blood pressure, put you at a higher risk for diabetes & kidney disease. They are also linked to psychological problems. 

The new trend is to mix them with alcohol. Bad idea as we see in this article: Mixing Energy Drink And Alcohol Poses Serious Risks, 17 November 2017, By Allan Adamson Tech Times

Here is an earlier PubMed Health review that is interesting. Mixing alcohol and energy drinks ‘may be a risky cocktail‘, Thu, 23 Mar 2017 It seems to play down the health risks compared to this newer study.

Have a simple cup of coffee or tea! Don’t risk your health with these drinks. 

The new guidelines for blood pressure readings have caused quite a stir in the health field this past week. It is so controversial that it warrants its own post. I will look at both sides of the argument next week & talk about how to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Until then…Mary 🙂

Diets in the News

Pixabay free image

Have you heard about the newest weight-loss diet fad? It turns out it isn’t really new at all. In fact it has been “recycled” many times. In this incarnation it is called the Cico diet. Calories in, calories out. The premise is correct. You take the calories you need to maintain your weight & subtract the calories you need to expend to lose weight. If you eat more calories than you use, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you use, you lose weight. Basic biology. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a sedentary woman burns between 1600-2000 calories depending on age etc. What happens when you decide you will eat 1500 calories a day to lose weight & exercise to make sure you expend more calories? But…you don’t pay attention to the quality of the food you are eating? Check out this article to see:

International Business Times: Cico diet: Why you shouldn’t fall for the latest weight loss fad “Calories in, calories out,” is the mantra of the Cico diet – but dietician warns latest fad is unhealthy. By 

The quality of the food you eat is the key to not only maintaining a healthy weight, but the key to a healthy overall you. This is what I mean:

  • A Big Mac with medium fries & a medium coke = 1,080 calories
  • Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar ~ leftover from Halloween 🙂 = 270 calories
  • Turkey Sandwich on whole wheat with mayo, tomato, lettuce & 3 ounces of roasted turkey = 360 calories. Add an apple for another 110 calories & a glass of water or tea for 0 calories. Total = 470 calories. 
  • Greek Yogurt 1 cup = 100 calories. Add fresh/frozen Blueberries, 1/2 cup = 42 calories. Total = 142 calories

The U.S.Department of Agriculture has this link on their website. Take a look at it.SuperTracker is an interactive food, physical activity, and weight tracking tool that serves as the public interface for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The comprehensive and state-of-the-art resource is designed to assist individuals as they make changes in their life to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. Consumers can choose a variety of features to support nutrition and physical activity goals: personalize recommendations for what and how much to eat and amount of physical activity; track foods and physical activity; customize features such as recipes, goal setting, virtual coaching, weight tracking, journaling; and measure progress with comprehensive reports. Groups of people can now use SuperTracker to work toward their health and wellness goals together.” You can create your own plan or you can use the general plan. This is a great resource.

In another article the author quoted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only 1 in 10 persons in the U.S. eats enough fruits & vegetables. This says it all. Fast food is not known for the fruits & veggies it contains. 🙁  From The Guardian: Only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, CDC study finds By Jessica Glenza, November 17, 2017

This study made me sigh. I have been a registered nurse for 49 years…yikes, did I just say that out loud? 🙂 …and as a student nurse I learned that you could reverse Type-2 diabetes with diet. Eating a balanced plant based diet & exercising will bring your weight down & the need for diabetic medications will either stop or become less. Here is the new study done on rats:

Altering the Type-2 Diabetes Can Be Done With Low Calorie Diet, By Pooja, November 10, 2017  The author also refers to this being good news to the Pharma industry to create a targeting drug. I am not sure, even after reading the article several times, why they think that. Unless it is going to be another weight loss drug 🙁 

As I indicated, this is not new news in my world. These physicians have proven over & over again that Type-2 Diabetes can be reversed with diet.

From December 14th, 2014, Dr. Hyman: 7 Steps to Reverse Obesity and Diabetes Check out his books on Amazon.

Dr. John McDougall: Jason Wyrick: Cured Type-2 Diabetes and Obesity  Dr McDougall has talked about this since his first book came out in 1983. Wikipedia calls it a fad diet. I don’t think so. If you read his earlier works he explains how diabetes, heart disease & cancer travels the world following the introduction of the Standard American Diet & Fast Food.

Dr. Ornish is another physician who said that a plant based diet could not only reverse cardiac disease but also obesity & diabetes. He has been writing about this for more than 30 years!

WebMD Archives: Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?  “Losing 5% to 10% of your body weight and building up to 150 minutes of exercise a week may help you to slow or stop the progress of type 2 diabetes” says Ann Albright, PhD, RD

I read a rebuttal to the idea that a vegetarian diet should be followed to reverse Type-2 Diabetes. The reason the author gave was because you should not expect people to adhere to such a strict, difficult diet. I have remarked on that outlook many times. Americans are basically lazy when it comes to diet & their own health. Easier to take a pill with all its side affects than to change their lifestyle. 

These changes in Type-2 Diabetes can be accomplished with a Mediterranean Diet as well. Reversing Type-2 Diabetes. Good article from the UK. Instead of calling it “reversing” diabetes they call it going into remission. I feel that is a more accurate term because when anyone goes back to eating the Standard American Diet, their risk for Type-2 Diabetes increases as well as for obesity, heart disease & cancer.

We must all make our own choices when it comes to our health. It boils down to either wanting a better quality of life now or focusing on quantity of life.

We already know this too. But it is nice to have it verified. In the article the researcher pointed out that for those who simply don’t want to be a vegetarian can still get a huge health benefit by reducing their meat intake. 


In the article Newsweek shares that they had previously reported that research has shown vegan and Mediterranean diets are the best for reducing the risk for cancer and heart disease.

No matter how you choose to eat, make a plan. Don’t be so rigid that you set yourself up for failure & stress. Here are a few helpful ideas.

  • Plan your meals by the day or week. Shop accordingly.
  • Choose whole foods.
  • Reduce the amount of meat you eat by increasing the servings of vegetables, grains & fruits on your plate.
  • If you want to continue to eat meat, then buy the best grade you can afford by buying a smaller amount. Check to make sure it is antibiotic & growth hormone free.
  • Plan vegetarian/vegan meals several times a week.
  • Plan a day weekly or monthly to go out for a favorite meal. Don’t call it your “cheat day”. Incorporate it into your meal plan.
  • Plan a day weekly for one serving of your favorite desert or share a desert with someone. Your not “cheating” when it is part of your eating plan.
  • Pay attention to the size of your portions. 1/2 cup cooked rice, or other grain is a serving. Sounds like a small amount but once on your plate it is a lot. I think that serving size is really important. You can be eating the healthiest of diets but eating too many calories.
  • Sit at the table when you eat. Don’t eat in the car or while walking around the kitchen 🙂 
  • Eat slowly & savor each bite. Mindful eating.
  • Drink more water.
  • Cut out processed foods. They are a major source of fat, sugar, salt & artificial ingredients.
  • Keep only healthy snacks in your pantry. 
  • Exercise daily. Do what you can even if it means just walking the length of your driveway right now. Move as much & as often as you can.
  • This is the Holiday season. Enjoying the company of family & friends is much more important than what is being served. Laughter, fun, togetherness & love cancels the calories 🙂

I saw an interesting article about Holiday weight gain that pertains to what I have written above. It was in the Los Angeles TimesThe biggest cause of holiday weight gain isn’t the food By Holly Van Hare, November 20, 2017. Most people go on a strict low calorie diet before the big dinners. What happens is that it puts our bodies into starvation mode by lowering our metabolism. That is why you don’t lose a lot of weight quickly. Your body is holding on to those calories as fat for energy. Then the “big meal” comes & you pig out! Your body says “Hooray!” & packs on the calories as fat to help itself out of the starvation mode; so we gain weight. Makes sense, right? The solution is to eat a balanced, healthy diet during the holidays & enjoy the meals & deserts, but mostly enjoy the company. 

Be a healthier you no matter your present circumstances. It can be accomplished with a little thought & planning. Have a Happy Thanksgiving full of Love & Gratitude.

Until next week…Mary 🙂

A Vegan Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving at my house will be strictly vegan this year. Our house rule is that we are vegan at home & vegetarian when out & about or for special occasions. This rule has always worked for us, especially when a pizza craving occurs. This year we have found that we migrate to vegan food even when out & about. We just feel healthier eating this way. Hence the Vegan Thanksgiving. 

In the past I have posted a balanced look at Thanksgiving recipes. You can find those posts here:

This year I want to share how a vegan cooks for this holiday. Vegans & vegetarians don’t look for a protein to be the centerpiece of the meal. It is usually a side dish. For a vegan this is especially true since we don’t eat any animal products; dairy & eggs included. We do cook with the intent of having nutritionally balanced meals. Making sure we get all the nutrients needed to stay healthy including protein, fat, fiber etc. 

What do vegans eat on holidays? For a more traditional Vegan Thanksgiving meal, here are some ideas.

Delish: 24 Seriously Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes By Sienna Fantozzi, September 18, 2017 Love these recipes. Here are a few that I picked out to consider for our meal.

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts I like simple 🙂 This is a perfect side dish. You can use frozen Brussels Sprouts too. Easy to cut while frozen.
  • Holiday Roasted Vegetables Another simple way to roast veggies. I would add turnips & or potatoes to the mix.
  • Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy You have to have gravy for the mashed potatoes. This recipe is simple & tasty. I have used it before.

Minimalist Baker: VEGAN THANKSGIVING RECIPE ROUNDUP, 65 Vegan Recipes! These recipes are organized by meals. Breakfast, Sides & Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts & Beverages. Something for everybody. Here are a few that I picked out. 

It is not difficult to change a recipe into a vegan version. Take a look at this article. Food52: Veganizing Thanksgivingby  • November 15, 2012   I found this post from 2012 to share with you. The author, Gena Hamshaw, shows you how to ‘veganize’ your favorite Thanksgiving recipes with links to the new version. She also includes a wonderful recipe for Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Bread Stuffing with Apples. 

One of my go to websites is Oh She Glows. Angela has a great list of recipes for Thanksgiving. She is a mother of little ones so her recipes are ‘make ahead’ or easy to throw together. The one I would like to try is Make-Ahead Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole Make sure to take time to look at her cookbook too.

Martha Stewart has some very good Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes. My favorite is using white beans: Creamy White Bean and Vegetable Mash This is a healthy, creamy mashed potato alternative. Looks good!

I also stumbled onto Food & Wine; Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes. They have some delicious recipes for any holiday! I love Mexican food. This recipe is a must try for New Years! Vegan Enchiladas You could buy the sauce. I happen to like green salsa & green enchilada sauce best. The Crema looks easy to make. Mexican food for New Years! Yes!

The Huffington Post: These 29 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes Are An Herbivore’s Holiday Dream Come True, By Kate Bratskeir  Each recipe is linked to a vegan website. Oh She Glows contributed the first recipe: Fluffy White Dinner Rolls. Every Thanksgiving that I can remember there was always a debate as to whether we should include rolls on the menu. I always voted yes because I love breads. But every year we were all too stuffed to enjoy the homemade rolls. Most were leftover for breakfast. So why not just make them the next morning to enjoy with the leftovers! 

The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen: Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes has some traditional recipes for your dinner. We haven’t discussed desert yet. Each of the links I have provided have deserts from apple to pumpkin. But this one! Oh my! Vegan Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake I don’t use vegan cheese or butter, but I will make an exception for this lovely treat. 

For an easy vegan pumpkin pie from scratch by the Minimalist Baker: VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN PIE You can buy a ready to use vegan crust or my favorite crust is to use phyllo dough layers. It looks pretty when done & they are easy to use. I use olive oil between the layers as I place them in the pie dish. You can find the recipe for this here:  Athens Phyllo 

Remember the website Chocolate Covered Katie? Well, she has an apple pie recipe that sounds soooo good! Healthy Apple Pie Recipe  Browse her Recipe Index for more healthy vegan ideas.

What is my menu for this holiday? We decided to skip tradition & the dinner rolls 🙂 

Happy cooking! Until next week…Mary

***To replace an egg in a recipe…

Cold & Flu Season is Here Again!

Herbs by MHollander

The downside of autumn thru Winter is  the cold & flu season. I write about this every year to remind you that there are natural ways to cope with the symptoms. Once again I am going to share 2 of my posts from September, 2015. I have updated them & added additional information, including some new websites & soup recipes.

I recommend these remedies & teas for everyone, not just cancer patients in or out of treatment, but for family, caregivers & friends as well. Oncologists differ in what they ask you to NOT take during your treatment. Please check with them before you start using any of these products. 

What can you safely use for cold & flu symptoms before, during & after chemotherapy, radiation or surgery? There are literally thousands of over the counter remedies to choose from. Most of these have ingredients that will interact with medications & may have side effects. I will talk about remedies that are natural & easy to find. I will also note if there are any drug interactions that you should be aware of. 

Lets begin with ways to help stimulate the immune system to fight off colds & flu. Here are the obvious ones.

  • Eat a balanced, plant based, healthy diet. Think Mediterranean ?
  • Eliminate added sugar & processed foods.
  • Alleviate stress with mindfulness programs, meditation, art, massage & other non-drug, complementary therapies.
  • Exercise: Walks, Yoga, Zumba etc.

These are the remedies we use to ward off those colds & flu starting in November.

  • Vitamin C:  1000 mgm each morning. This is an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation.
  • Elderberry Syrup: 1 Tablespoon each morning during flu season. Black elderberries are anti-viral & will relieve flu symptoms. They are also protective if taken every morning during the flu seasonSambucus Syrup by Nature’s Way is a good, safe brand to use. Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup is another good, safe brand.  This is also an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation. ***If you are interested in making your own Elderberry Syrup, as I do, email me & I will share the recipe I use.


Herbal Teas are wonderful to help with cold & flu symptoms. Taken in tea form, two or three times a day, they will not interact with medications. Here are 2 safe brands of herbal medicinal teas I use & recommend. I have also included a few that you should know about for other problems ? Explore the tea aisle of your store or go to the links I have provided to see what other seasonal, medicinal, teas there are.

Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Teas: These are the teas that I have personal experience with. Traditional Medicinals are organic, herbal teas. Herbal teas should be steeped for  7-10 minutes. Follow the directions on the package.

  • Gypsy Cold Care: I use this tea when exposed to a cold or when I start with the runny nose & itchy eyes. I drink an 8 ounce cup three times a day for 2 to 3 days. “Elder, yarrow and peppermint—the foundation of this tea—are a classic European blend of herbs used for centuries. We love the aroma of the pungent, minty steam that rises off this tea. Sip slowly and let your weary body be comforted by its warming properties. Fragrant and soothing, it’s one of those teas that just seems to say, “don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right.”
  • Throat Coat: The herbal ingredients in this tea soothe a raw throat. I have also used it for GERD or acid reflux. Works well for both. “Slippery elm or Ulmus rubra (Latin for “red elm,” so called for its lovely reddish bark) is a beautiful, native North American elm tree. It’s the inner bark of this tree that is actually called “slippery elm” due to its, yes, slippery, smooth, and slimy-in-a-good-way properties. Combined with licorice and marshmallow root, we think this tea blend is like taking your voice to the spa—because we all need a little comfort sometimes so we can get back to being our best.”
  • Breathe Easy: Love this tea! It opens up those bronchial. When my grandsons were babies & had a bad cold where they weren’t able to lie down because of respiratory congestion, I gave them a tablespoon or two of prepared tea. Within a few minutes they were asleep. I also use it for other types of respiratory congestion such as asthma. “One of our original formulas, Breathe Easy tea has been supporting people for nearly four decades. This enduring classic combines the best of Western herbalism with ancient Traditional Chinese wisdom resulting in a unique blend that warms and engages the senses. Eucalyptus, fennel and licorice are combined with Bi Yan Pian extract, a traditional Chinese formula of 12 different herbs. We love this aromatic and fragrant blend that soothes with its warm and spicy taste.”
  • Echinacea Plus: Echinacea is a good immune stimulant. This tea or Echinacea Plus Elderberry is very good.  “Echinacea—or purple coneflower—was used by a number of Native American tribes for hundreds of years before it was introduced into Western herbal traditions in the late 1800s. Today, it is one of the most studied herbs. We love how this pleasant-tasting herbal blend supports a healthy immune system response.”

You should also know about other teas that I recommend from this company: 

Yogi Cold Weather Season Teas: This brand is as good as Traditional Medicinals. It is a fantastic company & uses Organic herbs. Herbal teas should be steeped for 7-10 minutes. Follow the directions on the package.

  • Breathe Deep: Similar to Breathe Easy. I prefer the herbs used in Breathe Easy, but both work the same. See which one works best for you. “Relax and breathe in the enchanting aroma of a steaming cup of Yogi Breathe Deep tea. This all organic blend of herbs is purposefully formulated to support respiratory health. Traditionally used to support free breathing, we include Thyme and soothing, aromatic Eucalyptus. Warming spices Cinnamon, Cardamom and Ginger, combine with Licorice for a naturally spicy-sweet blend. Enjoy this tea plain or with a little honey, and experience delight with every steaming cup of Breathe Deep tea.”
  • Honey Lemon Throat Comfort Throat Comfort: “The perfect way to help soothe your throat is with a cup of our certified organic Honey Lemon Throat Comfort® tea. This traditional herbal formula, flavored with Honey and Lemon, includes Slippery Elm Bark, prized by Western herbalists for its usefulness in relieving minor throat irritation. Wild Cherry Bark, traditionally used by native North Americans for its soothing effects, lends a naturally sweet cherry flavor. We augment this recipe with Echinacea Root and a burst of Peppermint for cooling refreshment. Enjoy our Honey Lemon Throat Comfort tea as a naturally tasty treat or when you need a gentle and comforting blend to soothe your throat.” Both teas are excellent to soothe the throat. Throat Comfort would be the one to use for GERD or gastric reflux. The lemon in the other one may irritate the gastric lining in this case.
  • Cold Season Tea: A good “protective” tea for the cold season. Like Gypsy Cold Care, I use it when I know I have been exposed to a cold or I begin to have the runny nose & itchy eyes. “Cold Season is a soothing all organic herbal tea specifically formulated for use during the cold weather season. We start with the warming herbs traditionally used in Ayurveda–Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Clove–known as heating herbs that can help to support respiratory and bronchial function. The blend is complemented with Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Basil, herbs traditionally used for their warming and invigorating properties. So when the cold weather season arrives, relax and sip a steaming cup of Cold Season tea to help keep your internal fire blazing.”
  • Echinacea Immune Support: Good tea to support immune function. Health practitioners for centuries have respected the powers of Echinacea. Traditionally used for centuries, our exclusive combination combines three varieties of Echinacea root, an herb that is believed by herbalists to support the immune system. We complement this blend with Elder Berry Extract and soothing Organic Mullein Leaf, herbs traditionally used to help support respiratory function. Hints of spice combine with lively Peppermint, Lemongrass, Rose Hip and sweet Licorice for an intriguingly delicious blend. This blend is sure to become an all-season favorite as well as when your immune system needs support.”

Other Yogi teas that I recommend: 

  • Soothing Mint Get Regular  for constipation, even when chemotherapy induced. This is a new combination. Mint was added. Plain old Get Regular was discontinued. I like this better.
  • Ginger for all nausea
  • Bedtime for those sleepless nights!

I have shared this website with you before: Mountain Rose Herbs This link goes to their bulk tea blends. For their Organic Herbal Teas  I prefer bulk teas to tea bags. I also like to blend my own teas. 


Lozenges for colds, coughs & sore throats: Cough suppressants prevent or stop a cough. An expectorant is a medication that helps bring up the mucus in the lungs.

I saw 2 interesting questions on line about cough drops; How many calories are there in one cough drop? & How many cough drops would be an overdose? I don’t think calories should be a concern when you are coughing your lungs up ? & you should not be eating these like candy. Most packages say the “serving size” is one lozenge & should be taken as needed up to 5 lozenges PER DAY. 

  • Organic Sambucus Lozenges by Nature’s Way: These lozenges shorten my cold symptoms & reduce the severity. They contain Elderberry, Vitamin C & Zinc. I also use them as a cough suppressant. “Made with unique, full-spectrum black elderberry extract. Each lozenge provides 12.5 mg of Black Elderberry Extract, plus 5 mg of Zinc~should never exceed 10mg~ and 60 mg Vitamin C.”
  • Ricola Original Natural Herb Cough Drop: My husband prefers these. They are cough suppressants & work every time he uses them. Ricola original herb cough drops contain the goodness of mountain herbs. This classic Ricola product has a distinctive cube shape and fine herb flavor. Original Ricola natural herb cough drops are made today just as they were in the 1940’s using the highest quality natural herbs cultivated in Swiss alpine areas using natural farming methods without chemical pesticides to ensure optimum taste and effectiveness.”  ***Their sugar-free cough drops with green tea & echinacea contain Aspartame. Unless you have a medical reason to use a sugar-free cough drop, I would not use them.
  • Smith Brothers & Halls: Both have ingredients & dyes that I would not recommend. Check out their websites & see what you think.

Aromatherapy essential Oils for congestion & cough: Use these in a diffuser or humidifier~ using the manufacturers instructions~ in the “sick” room. Do not use directly on the skin or internally. You can also put a few drops of the essential oil onto a cotton ball & place it on your bedside table or even in your pillow case.

  • Eucalyptus essential oil: Congestion & cough. Anti-microbial.
  • Camphor essential oilCongestion. Can be combined with eucalyptus for use in diffuser/humidifier. Add equal drops.
  • Peppermint essential oil: Congestion & headache. Anti-bacterial.
  • Thyme essential oil: Congestion & cough.
  • Tea Tree essential oilClears sick room; anti-viral. Congestion & cough.
  • Oregano essential oil: Proven antibacterial. Fights sinus infections.
  • Orange essential oil: Stimulates appetite. Add a drop to your place-mat or napkin ?

Umcka Cold Care : Umcka Original Drops are made by Nature’s Way. One of my daughter’s favorite cold care remedies for my grandsons. They are 16 & 20 now, but still use it 🙂 This product is Homeopathic which means it will not interact with any medications. “Umcka goes beyond symptom relief and actually helps you recover faster – which means you can get back to life faster, too. In fact, studies show that adults with acute bronchial irritations were able to return to work nearly two days earlier with EPs 7630. You can feel confident knowing that the EPs 7630 found within Umcka has been widely studied by various clinical organizations in the treatment of the common cold, bronchial irritations and other upper respiratory concerns.” 

Olbas Oil:  Place a drop or two on a cotton ball or a handkerchief. Place it on or under your pillow when napping or before bed time. It will act as a decongestantOlbas Oil originated in Basel, Switzerland over 100 years ago, and continues to be a European and worldwide favorite. The natural essential oils in Olbas are extracted from six medicinal herbs, which have been the basis of healing in cultures around the world for centuries. These oils are carefully blended by Swiss herbalists, making the Olbas formula truly unique. The synergistic combination of these six essential oils provides amazing sensations to your body at multiple levels.”

*** If your sore throat or cough is severe, persists for more than 2 days, is accompanied or followed by fever, headache, rash, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, call your health care team. This may be more than a cold or a mild case of the flu.

There are many homemade remedies to treat the symptoms from a cold or flu. I will share the ones that I use & that I know work. Each year more over the counter cold & flu remedies are pulled off the shelf by the FDA due to ingredients that are harmful to both adults & children. Sometimes over the counter cold & flu remedies make you feel worse because of the side-effects & the cost ?

If you don’t grow your own herbs then you can purchase fresh herbs like sage, thyme & rosemary in the produce section of the market. You can also use dried. Simply buy them in the spice aisle. There are many sage’s. The one to use medicinally is the culinary sage. At the end of this post is a list of resources. They are my well used & loved herbal reference books & websites.

Sore throats can be bacterial or viral infections. The majority of them are due to viral infections heralding the start of a common cold. Throat inflammation is an immune response to the virus & usually accompanies a runny nose & cough. The following simple remedies will relieve the soreness & calm the inflammation in the throat.

  • Gargle with warm salt waterWater should be warm to the touch but not hot.  1 cup of water & 1/4 tsp salt. Swish & spit.
  • Sore Throat Gargle by the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. This one has a bit of Zip to it. Rosemary says that she is the first to admit that it isn’t her tastiest recipe but it works for both sore throats & laryngitis.
    • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar ~I use Bragg’s~
    • 1 cup of strong (triple strength) sage tea ~I use 3 tablespoons of fresh sage or you can use 3 teaspoons dried sage, bring 1 cup of water to boil, add sage & steep for 15 minutes~
    • 2-3 teaspoons of salt
    • Pinch of Cayenne

Combine all of the ingredients. Gargle frequently as needed throughout the day. Don’t swallow, swish & spit.

  • Sage Gargle. This is an old family recipe that Dr. Low Dog recommends for a sore throat. It works quickly.
    • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried sage 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt  
    • 1 cup of water

Bring the water to a boil, add sage, cover & let steep for 10 minutes. Strain, pour into a tea mug, add the salt & stir.

Gargle every 1-2 hours, or as needed. Don’t swallow, swish & spit.

***Dr. Low Dog notes that this gargle can be used along with antibiotics for strep throat.

Strep throat symptoms By Mayo Clinic Staff  In general, signs and symptoms of strep throat include: ***Click on the link & read the entire article for when to see the doctor etc.

  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the soft or hard palate — the area at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen, tender lymph glands (nodes) in your neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Stomachache and sometimes vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Fatigue

***Strep throat is bacterial & different than a cold because it never has the stuffy nose & cough. Strep throat is highly contagious so it is important to be treated immediately with a course of antibiotics. 

Cough. This is your bodies way of telling you that you have too much mucous, gastric acid, or you have been breathing in smoke. It varies from a small irritating tickle in the back of your throat to a full blown wet cough. Coughs that accompany colds last about 3 weeks. If they last longer than that or continue to get worse you should consult your health care team.

  • Honey has been used for coughs forever! Researchers have studied different types of honey & found that all of them work as well as any over the counter cough syrup. It is especially effective for children over the age of 12 months to relieve a nighttime cough. Dosage is 1-2 teaspoons before bed. Works for adults too ? It is a great soother for throat cancer patients with sores or thrush in the mouth & throat. 

***Honey should never be given, even a tiny taste, to children under the age of 12 months. Wild honey can be contaminated with bacteria, Clostridium Botulinum, & may cause poisoning in infants and young children. However, this is not a danger for older children and adults.

  • Thyme Cough Syrup by Dr. Low DogThis is her go-to cough syrup because it works quickly, is safe, tastes great & costs very little to make. Thyme relieves coughs & congestion.
    • 4 tablespoons fresh Thyme or 4 teaspoons dried Thyme ~culinary, common garden thyme~
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1 cup of water
    • 1/4 cup honey, preferably raw & local or 1/4 cup maple syrup if using it for a child under 12 months of age.

Pour near-boiling water over thyme & steep, covered, for 15 minutes. strain. Add honey & lemon juice. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Children 12 months or older: 1-2 teaspoons every 2-3 hours as needed.

Teens & Adults: 1-2 tablespoons every 2-3 hours as needed.

Congestion. This is usually an excessive amount of mucus or secretions in your respiratory track. It causes difficulty breathing thru the nose or sometimes even the mouth. If the congestion becomes worse & you have difficulty breathing then it indicates that it has moved lower into the lungs. You should seek medical advice.

  • Warm water with lemon & honey helps loosen congestion, and prevents dehydration. 
  • My recipe; for colds & upper respiratory congestion. I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but I have tweaked it enough over the years to call it mine ? It works well. It is too spicy for children under 10. I used to say over the age of 4 but I have reconsidered that advice based on experience.
    • 1 cup of water  
    • 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar~I use Bragg’s~
    • Juice of 1 fresh lime
    • Honey to taste
    • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root 
    • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder ~ don’t use less, even if you don’t like cayenne~

Bring the water to a boil & then add the rest of the ingredients. Let sit overnight before using. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. I prefer to use it warm. Take 1-2 tablespoons as needed. For children over the age of 10, 1 teaspoon as needed. It is quite spicy! 

  • Fire CiderThere are many versions of fire cider. I use Rosemary Gladstar’s. This is an immune enhancer, can be used for digestive problems, sinus infection & congestion!
    • 3-4 Tablespoons fresh horseradish root grated I tried using horseradish powder when I couldn’t find the root; did not work!
    • 1 medium onion chopped
    • 4-5 cloves of garlic coursley chopped
    • 3-4 tablespoons freshly grated gingerroot
    • Honey to taste 
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
    • unfiltered apple cider vinegar~I use Bragg’s~

Combine the onion, garlic, ginger & horseradish in a wide mouthed glass quart jar. Add enough warmed vinegar to cover them. Place it in a warm spot & let it sit for 3-4 weeks. Strain, & add the honey & cayenne. It should taste lively, hot, pungent & sweet.

Take 1-2 teaspoons at the first sign of a cold & repeat every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside. 

Cold Remedies. Fire Cider ~above~ & Honey-Onion Syrup are to fight off a cold. You can use either of them at the first sign of a cold or if you are already suffering from one.

  • Honey-Onion Syrup for Colds. Rosemary Gladstar shared this old fashioned recipe for sore throats & colds. 
    • 2-4 large onions sliced into thin half-moons & place in a deep pan. Just barely cover the onion slices with honey.
    • Warm on the stove over a very low heat until the onions are soft & somewhat mushy & the honey tastes strongly of onion.
    • You can add chopped garlic if you want for an even stronger syrup: stronger medicinally & tasting!
    • At the first sign of a cold take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon every hour or two until you feel better. If you already have a cold then take 1 teaspoon 3-4 times a day to speed your recovery.
  • Chicken Soup: Studies of homemade chicken soup to cure or limit a cold have shown that it acts as an anti-inflammatory. It also speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose. This can relieve congestion & prevent dehydration. Homemade is the best, but if you buy an organic canned soup then check the list of ingredients. 
    • Super Soups: Vegetarian Times “Nearly every culture turns to soup to heal, nourish, and soothe. Whether you’re battling a bad cold or the stomach flu, the food that can always comfort and nourish is soup. “Soups are warm and easy to take,” says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the University of Arizona’s Integrative Medicine Program. “They’re an excellent way to get nutrients, and they provide good associations for people.” Research confirms the health-giving properties of these home remedies and their active ingredients. Try these healing soup recipes from all over the world to ward off illness or just warm up a chilly weeknight supper.”
    • Allrecipes: 14 Soothing Soups For Cold And Flu Season  By Vanessa Greaves
    • Everyday Good Thinking: 5 Soothing, Staple Soups for Cold & Flu Season  

Fever. If you have a fever of 103 or higher & it lasts more than 3 days you should consult your health team. A fever means a healthy immune system. It is telling your body to raise the heat to defend itself. You don’t need to treat the fever. You need to treat whatever is causing the fever. Support the body during the time you have the fever by doing the following.

  • Hydrate. It is easy to become dehydrated when you have a fever. Drink water, juice, & healthy broths. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks. Chamomile & or Lemon Balm tea are calming & hydrating.
  • Rest. Sleep does wonders when you are ill.
  • Nourishment. Healthy broths & soups ~see chicken soup above~
  • Cool down. Wear light clothes. Taking a tepid, not cold, bath can help as long as you wrap up in a towel after the bath to avoid being too chilled.

If you have any questions or you have a family remedy you would like to share, email me! I would love to collect some old family herbal remedies…..Until next week…Mary ?

Resources:  Take time to look at the Plants Archives by Traditional Medicinals & the Yogi Tea: Well Being links below.

*** If your sore throat or cough is severe, persists for more than 2 days, is accompanied or followed by fever (103 or higher & lasts more than 3 days), headache, rash, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, call your health care team. This may be more than a cold or a mild case of the flu.

October Nutrition Nuggets


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for sharing with us Sebastian 🙂

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


Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week…Mary 🙂

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

You Are What You Eat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Things Pumpkin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September Nutrition Nuggets


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok, enough from my fake sugar soapbox 🙂

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

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

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

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


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