Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ditch That Protein Powder

I found this awesome blog that I really like. I am posting this in its entirety.

Protein Powder in a Smoothie is not Healthy
If there’s anything that greatly concerns me, it’s ladies who are pregnant drinking smoothies fortified with protein powder and munching on other high protein/low carb “health foods” in their quest to reach the magical number of protein grams per day recommended by their obstetrician or midwife.
When I was pregnant with my third child, I was horrified at one prenatal visit to find a basket of soy protein bars in the waiting room! This was at a birth center staffed by midwives no less!
While adequate protein intake is indeed important during pregnancy, getting this macronutrient via highly processed protein powders and high protein foods is a disastrous choice.   This is because these same ladies that are drinking high protein smoothies and protein bars are very likely avoiding saturated fat at the same time.   A diet high in protein and low in fat rapidly depletes Vitamin A stores.
Whole foods containing large amounts of protein naturally include protective amounts of fat such as eggs, grassfed beef and other meats. On the other hand, high protein processed foods are devoid of any fat in most cases making them particularly dangerous.
Depletion of Vitamin A stores during pregnancy is a dangerous problem as Vitamin A is critical to preventing birth defects such as cleft palate, cleft lip, major heart malformations, and hydrocephalus.  Vitamin A is also the “beauty vitamin” responsible for symmetry in physical and facial features.
Vitamin A deficiency from consumption of high protein foods is not assisted by prenatal vitamins either as these worthless pills do not contain true vitamin A but instead the synthetic version, Vitamin A Palmitate or the plant based version beta carotene – little of which is converted to true Vitamin A.
Vitamin A depletion when consuming high protein processed foods is also risky for the average individual as well.  Symptoms of Vitamin A depletion include:
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Kidney problems
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Thyroid disorders
Negative calcium balance is also a risk with high protein, lowfat diets which means that more calcium is lost than what is taken in.  Consequences of negative calcium balance include bone loss and nervous system disorders.
Know anyone who drinks a high protein smoothie everyday for lunch who develops a bizarre neurological disorder out of the blue?  I personally know several.
I’ve wondered about the stories in the news recently of young, healthy, vibrant male athletes, some only in high school, who inexplicably drop dead during competition.  Could these young men be eating lots of protein, much of it processed, while on a lowfat diet in order to build muscle and strength as recommended by bodybuilding magazines?   Such misguided advice would rapidly deplete Vitamin A stores which could potentially lead to heart arrhythmia and sudden death.

Other Problems with High Protein Processed Foods

Besides depletion of Vitamin A stores, high protein processed foods contain potentially large amounts of MSG in the form of protein isolates.   Separating protein from its food source during manufacturing results in the creation of MSG – the amino acid glutamic acid gone bad.   Therefore, MSG is present in high protein processed foods but it is not on the label because it is not technically added to the final product.  It is only created during manufacturing and therefore can be conveniently unlisted on the label.
Don’t buy into the “low temperature dried” protein powder fallacy as well.   While low temperature processing and drying of protein powders is a less damaging manufacturing method, it still denatures the protein.  Whey protein in particular is very fragile and cannot be dried or powdered.
A good rule of thumb is that no protein powder is a safe protein powder!

Good Alternatives to Protein Powder

Need a protein boost in smoothies and want to avoid the protein powders now that you realize the dangers to your health in using them?   Try gelatin instead – it has 7 grams of protein per tablespoon.  Gelatin is a colloidal substance which means it attracts digestive juices to itself similar to raw foods full of enzymes.  Hence, gelatin is helpful to the digestion and contains a protein kick to boot.
Another option would be to add nutritional yeast (Frontier is the best brand as it has no additives and is low temperature dried) which has 8 grams of protein per serving.
Be aware that even natural gelatin contains small amounts of MSG, so if you are particularly sensitive, you may wish to choose nutritional yeast as the better alternative.

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

The Herbal Infusion “Wonder Water” Effect

This is from Sarah at Healthy Home Economist: link
The terms “herbal infusion” and “herbal tea” are typically used interchangeably.
The two terms are in fact quite different as a properly prepared herbal infusion is much more potent and easily absorbed than plain herbal tea.
If you plan to use herbs therapeutically as in use of nettle tea during pregnancy to tone the uterus and prepare for natural childbirth, it is best to prepare herbal infusions instead of herbal tea.
The ease of assimilation and increased potency of herbal infusions is due to careful preparation which involves boiling of the water and steeping of the herbs for anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours depending on the type of plant matter used.
The boiling of the water releases any dissolved gases from the water into the air which are not reabsorbed by the water due to the tight fitting lid on the steeping jar.  These dissolved gases can interfere with the rapid and complete assimilation of the nutrients released into the water by the herbs as they steep in the cooling water.
This boiling of water to release any dissolved gases and then cooling of the water in a glass jar with a tight lid to restrict the gases from redissolving back into the water is referred to as the “wonder water” effect.
Using the wonder water principle, how should herbal infusions be properly prepared?
Very easily as it turns out.

Preparing Herbal Infusions

Roots and Bark
If making an herbal infusion using the roots or bark of a plant, use one ounce of plant matter per pint of water to be used.
Place the correct amount of plant matter at the bottom of a glass mason jar and fill to the top with boiling water.  Screw the lid on tightly and leave at room temperature for 8 hours.
Use one ounce of dried leaves per quart of water.  Place the leaves in a quart mason jar and fill to the top with boiling water.  Tighly afix the lid and leave at room temperature for 4 hours.
Flowers and Seeds
One ounce of flowers per quart of water should be steeped in boiling water as it cools in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid for no more than 2 hours.
One ounce of seeds are steeped in a pint of boiling water, again with a tight fitting lid on a mason jar and only for 30 minutes.

Herbal Infusion Dosage and Storage

Once the herbs have steeped for the proper amount of time, strain out the plant matter and drink 2 cups per day if you weigh between 125 – 150 lbs until the infusion is used up.
Add an additional one half cup per day for every 30-40 lbs additional weight.  Similarly, if you weigh less than 125 lbs, reduce dosage by one quarter cup for every 15-20 lbs.
Herbal infusions spoil rapidly so it is best to make and use them up as soon as possible.   Store unused portions in the refrigerator for no more than a day and then prepare a fresh batch.
Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

From the Healthy Home Economist:  link
*My last videoblog titled “Healthy Chinese” drew some comments from folks questioning my choice of rice.
Why was I using white basmati rice instead of brown?   Isn’t brown rice the healthier choice, after all?
Ok, I’ll spill the beans, rice.   Here are my reasons …

Truth is, neither my husband or myself have ever enjoyed brown rice.   Every time we eat it, it just seems to not sit very well in our stomachs.  It, well, uh, sits like a brick for lack of a better word.
I’m never one to force feed a food to myself that doesn’t intuitively seem to be something my body enjoys receiving – even if politically incorrect.   So, for our entire married life (19 years and counting!), I’ve always served white basmati rice in our home.
White rice just seemed to digest a whole lot better for us.   That to me was reason enough to choose it over the brown rice.  
You are what you digest, after all – not necessarily what you eat!
End of story?    Well, not quite.
You see, a few years back at the annual Weston A. Price Conference, I became familiar with a new book called Fiber Menace.    The author, Konstantin Monastyrsky, was a speaker at the Conference that year and his talk about the dangers of a high fiber diet was really buzzing around amongst the Conference attendees.
Now, Mr. Monastrysky’s point about the dangers of a high fiber diet was in relation to high fiber from grains, not fruits and veggies.   In other words, folks who eat a bowl of All Bran every morning to keep the bathroom visits regular are unknowingly ripping their insides to shreds.
The basic premise of Fiber Menace is that grain fiber plays a leading role in many gut related ailments including colon cancer.
When I first learned of this information, my preference for white rice over brown rice started to make more sense.   Perhaps the brown rice didn’t digest that well because of all that fiber?  
Chalk one up for the white rice.
A second piece of information which seemed to further validate my preference for white rice came in the Spring 2010 Issue of Wise Traditions magazine (p. 28-39).  
Ramiel Nagel, of Cure Tooth Decay fame, wrote a thought provoking article in that issue on the devastating effects of phytic acid in the diet.    Phytic acid is a very powerful blocker of mineral absorption in the gut.
In this article, Mr. Nagel writes that brown rice is very high in phytic acid and that soaking reduces this potent anti-nutrient by very little.   He also maintains that the traditional method for preparing brown rice is never to eat it whole (with only the husk removed), but rather to pound it in a mortar and pestle in order to remove the bran layer too – coincidentally, the primary source of the phytic acid.
Nagel goes on to point out that experiments have shown that milled rice, the rice that results from this pounding process, has the highest mineral absorption from rice.   Mineral absorption from whole brown rice is much less as the phytic acid from the bran greatly interferes with the absorption process.
Which is Better?   Brown Rice or White?
So it seems that brown rice is not necessarily a healthier choice than milled white rice.    Obviously, whether you choose one or the other is a personal preference, but I hope this information helps you sort through the decision with a bit more clarity.
As for me and my family, we will be sticking with the white basmati rice (white basmati rice is more nutritious than plain white rice).   Intuition told me many years ago that brown rice was not something that was sitting well in my stomach or my husband’s and it seems that as the years go by, more research is coming forth to indicate that this decision was the right way to go after all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Link to article

  Easy Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles

I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am to bring you this Russian classic – lacto-fermented dill pickles – known to Russians as maloslnye ogurzi. Unlike the more familiar vinegary dill pickles, the acid in these is produced by the activity of beneficial lactobacilli, which occurs when you expose vegetables to a large amount of salt in an oxygen-free environment.
A close relative of sauerkraut and kimchi, these cukes are both delicious and a breeze to make, with the only downside being their inability to be kept for a long time. Not that it’s an issue – at our house, they disappear faster than I can ferment a new batch. The upside is of course the fact that the beneficial bacteria in these are alive, making them a healthful accompaniment to many meals.
If you have never tried these, expect the flavor to be somewhat different from what you might be used to. Not at all vinegary, these are mostly sour and salty, with perhaps a slight touch of bitterness that is not at all unpleasant.
Meanwhile, the method itself is absolutely elementary (making it my favorite during this busy time of year):

Prepare your produce and pack it into crock/jars:

  • These can be made either in a ceramic crock, like my 2-gallon crock above, or a mason jar (or several).
  • I like to choose really small cucumbers for pickling as they are usually the crunchiest.
  • The pickles will be their crispiest when pickled the day they have been picked.
  • Wash your cukes thoroughly using a vegetable brush. Take special care to clean between all the little bumps as dirt could lead to spoilage.
  • Wash your crock in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
  • Trim off both ends to facilitate the fermentation and to remove the blossom end, which contains the enzymes that promote softening.
  • Pack your cukes tightly into a crock or a mason jar, along with whole garlic cloves, lots and lots of whole peppercorns, and whole dill stalks, stems and all. I like to have some dill on the bottom and some on top. Another very traditional addition would be oak or black currant leaves, both of which promote crispness and add a wonderful aroma. Note that all of the above ingredients should be thoroughly washed as well.
On adding whey: While Sally Fallon recommends adding whey to your lacto-fermented pickles, it is entirely unnecessary for the fermentation to take place, nor is it traditional.

Prepare the brine (makes enough for 4 quart jars):

  • 4.5 tablespoons of pickling salt (which contains no additives that could interfere with the fermentation)
  • 2 quarts of water (if you live in town and don’t have a well, filtered or distilled water is your best bet)
Add salt to the water, bring to a boil, and boil until the salt has dissolved.
Pour the boiling brine over the contents of your crock or jar(s).
If using a crock, weigh the contents down with a plate to assure that everything is submerged, hence creating the anaerobic environment conducive to the growth of lactobacilli.
If using a jar, you can weigh the contents down with some oak leaves (my husbands’ method), or just by packing everything so tight that nothing can float to the top.
  • Do not seal your jars. Place a clean, moistened cloth over your jar or crock instead, securing with a rubber band or a piece of twine.
  • Leave your jars on the counter at room temperature (it doesn’t matter whether or not the jars are next to a window) for 3 days.
  • In 3 days, remove the cloth, taste your pickles, and if you like the taste, screw on a lid and transfer them into the fridge. If you feel that your pickles could use some more acidity, however, feel free to leave them on the counter for another day or until the desired flavor has been achieved.
  • Note that the brine will turn milky/cloudy (above) and may develop white foam on top, the bottom, or the contents. It may also appear slightly slimy, and will grow increasingly so after you’ve transferred your jars to the fridge. These are a normal part of the fermentation and need not be a reason for concern.
  • Once refrigerated, the pickles will last for a couple of weeks, but their acidity level will increase with time as they continue to ferment slowly in the fridge (hence the increasingly cloudy brine). Because of their short life, don’t make more than your family can consume within that time frame.

Monday, September 05, 2011

History of Vitamin 'C'

From Radiant Life:

We are often asked about all natural Vitamin C and how it compares to Ascorbic Acid.  What's wrong with Ascorbic Acid? How does it differ from natural Vitamin C?

Thousands of bottles of ascorbic acid are purchased everyday under the misguided assumption that ascorbic acid is the same as vitamin C. In reality, ascorbic acid is an isolated nutrient that is part of vitamin C but it is not the whole vitamin C.
You are getting cheated if you buy ascorbic acid thinking it is vitamin C. But that may be only a partial injustice! Studies over the last several years demonstrate that people taking high doses of ascorbic acid put themselves at risk for a number of health challenges. One study demonstrated that doses of 500 mg a day or more of ascorbic acid increase the incidence of arterial plaque buildup. Another study indicated that gallstones are more likely to appear in those taking ascorbic acid.
You may ask, what about all the studies done by Linus Pauling and other reputable researchers who have proven the benefits of Vitamin C and ascorbic acid? Let us put a little perspective on this:  

Back in the 1930's ascorbic acid was isolated out of little red peppers by Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who won a Nobel Prize for his work. What he also found, which has mostly been ignored until recently, was that ascorbic acid was far more biologically available and active while it was still in the red pepper.  

Scientists of the era of "Better Living Through Chemistry and Science" (which we have been experiencing for the last sixty years) decided to take the discoveries about Vitamin C and "improve" on Mother Nature.

They found that extracting ascorbic acid from natural foods, such as the red peppers, cabbage, cranberries, gooseberries, or acerola berries, is relatively expensive. Ascorbic acid can be created in the laboratory much less expensively (and of course much more profitably). Scientists discovered that they could take corn syrup, mix it with hydrochloric acid, and voila: ascorbic acid! (By the way, the corn is more likely than ever to be genetically modified and of course not organically grown.)

Years later, scientists discovered what Dr. Szent-Györgyi had discovered about ascorbic acid: it is not as effective when detached from the whole food matrix! So they went about trying to determine what other factors there could be in the whole food that would make the ascorbic acid work better.

First, they discovered the importance of bioflavonoids, so they figured out how to produce these synthetically in the laboratory, to be added to the ascorbic acid. Then they found that ascorbic acid worked better as a mineral ascorbate and they worked on that! Then they found that fat-soluble ascorbic acid was superior, because it went directly to the liver vs. water soluble ascorbic acid. In fact if you put 100 mg of ascorbic acid in the body, within a few hours at least 90% of it would be excreted in the urine. If you put 10 times more into the body to account for a 90% loss it would cause diarrhea. So they experimented with various things and concluded that if you attach the ascorbic acid molecule to another molecule, in one case a metabolite, the ascorbic acid will stay in the body longer (they didn't seem to care why it stayed in the body longer, but it stayed in the body longer and hopefully that was a good thing).

Today there is a broad variety of ascorbic acid products with various things attached to them. With all this research, time, thought and dollars being put into creating a synthetic vitamin C, the fact remains that none of them can come even close to the potentials of what Mother Nature makes. One important factor that science has not been able to duplicate is the special kind of energy that holds living food together. Whether this energy is found in the enzymes or in the energy patterns of whole food structures, it is unlikely that science will ever be able to reproduce it in a laboratory. This may be one of several reasons why studies have shown that the body will absorb close to 100% of the vitamin C that is consumed as part of a whole food, whereas barely 10% of the "stripped down" ascorbic acid is absorbed.

Again it is an issue of what we are willing to put into our bodies. Mother Nature has created foods for us that are complex and designed to be metabolized by our bodies in a synergistic way.

Natural whole food sources of vitamin C include: Amla, Camu, and Acerola

Friday, September 02, 2011

Beautiful Pro-Life article from the Chicago Sun Times

Article on Amanda

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them,” as the famous Victor Hugo verse goes.
Facing adversity, criticism and an uncertain future for her conjoined twins, Amanda Schulten says she chose life.
Despite the devastatingly low probability of survival, the single Marengo mother-to-be said that, for her, there was just no other option.
Joined at the heart, her daughters — whom she’s already named Hope and Faith — should be given a chance to live, Amanda said, no matter how long those lives may be.
Strong in her Catholic religious beliefs, Amanda said she loves her children unconditionally and cannot interfere with God’s will.
“He has a plan for me, and for them,” she said. “We never know when our last day will be. We have to enjoy it, and appreciate health while we have it.”
Amanda has created a blog about her experiences at amanda-faithhopelove.blogspot.com, which tells the story of her journey throughout the pregnancy. On the main page is the poignant poem she penned, “I Love You.”
“No matter what happens, my soul will never leave you; If difficulties come here, I will never disappear,” the poem begins.
“I’m sure you would be proud to call me momma,” she writes, “for you are a special gift to me.”
Dark days
With delivery inevitably soon, Amanda has made it a long way from April 1, when she first learned she was carrying twins during a routine ultrasound at Elgin’s Sherman Hospital.
“My family thought it was an April Fools joke,” Amanda said. “We were so excited, but we wondered why they didn’t give us pictures.”
Later that evening, Amanda received a phone call from her doctor saying she needed to come in the following Monday morning.
Not thinking much of it, she went to the appointment alone, where she was given the distressing news.
“The doctor said the babies won’t make it, and termination is the best option,” Amanda said. “I broke down. I wasn’t thinking about abortion, I was thinking, ‘Will they survive?’ Not ‘I want them to die.’ ”
Amanda never returned to that doctor’s office. But dark days would follow in the form of depression and loneliness, as many around her didn’t agree with her decision.
“Some people were really supportive and thought I was doing the right thing … while others, not so much,” she said. “They would say things like, ‘the kids would suffer’ … ‘I’m selfish if I keep the babies because of how short their life span is’ … ‘they’re just going to die anyway.’ ”
One heart, in spirit
The girls have separate heads but are fully connected at the torso, sharing a heart, a liver, and two lungs and kidneys. One twin never developed a lower body, so they share two legs, one of which is clubbed. They each have one good arm, and one has another half an arm.
Conjoined twins result from a fertilized egg that begins to divide into identical twins but never fully separates — a rare occurrence found in only about 1 in 100,000 pregnancies.
A Caesarean section is almost always necessary, and roughly half of the babies are stillborn. If they make it past birth, survival rates are low.
Although Amanda heard about 7-year-olds surviving similar conditions, the oldest documented twins sharing a heart are 3½ years old.
“My goal is to have the oldest living conjoined twins,” she said.
With support from her family and church — St. Charles Borromeo in Hampshire — Amanda is now being cared for by an obstetrician who handles high-risk pregnancies at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Still, the prognosis isn’t good.
“Doctors kept telling me they aren’t going to survive much longer,” Amanda said. “Every day, I wake up thinking, ‘Is today their last day?’ ”
Amanda was admitted to the medical center on Monday, well in advance of her Oct. 11 due date. She will remain there until delivering.
It isn’t her first time in the hospital during the pregnancy. She had a kidney infection in May and, a few weeks ago, spent her 21st birthday at Sherman Hospital being monitored for high blood pressure.
The blog retells the journey.
Besides providing photos and updates, it also offers ways to donate to help the family.
Amanda said her needs are great as a single mother unsure how to prepare for the arrival of her special daughters.
“I didn’t have a baby shower, so I really have nothing,” she said. “It’s so hard to plan for them … for their clothes.”
Amanda said her blog has been a double-edged sword, with some contributors lifting her up, and others telling her to get an abortion.
“People say really mean things. I am constantly deleting things,”
Amanda said she will stand by her choice. “If they were in my shoes, maybe they’d see it differently.”
Amanda said if mothers don’t protect their children, who else will?
Perhaps really three are sharing one heart, as she, too, shares theirs.
“You know you’re really a mom when you’re willing to give up your whole life for them,” Amanda said. “I will love my kids always and forever, no matter what.”
Here is a link to her blog: