Told you so.

April 2, 2010

Huffington Post

They found that the “rats with 12-h access to HFCS gained significantly more body weight than animals given equal access to 10% sucrose, even though they consumed the same number of total calories, but fewer calories from HFCS than sucrose.”

Findings of the long-term research weren’t all that different: Over roughly half a year, both male and female rats that had access to the corn syrup “gained significantly more body weight than control groups.”

And the bad news didn’t stop there. The researchers write that the additional body weight with high fructose corn syrup “was accompanied by an increase in adipose fat, notably in the abdominal region, and elevated circulating triglyceride levels.”

Percentage of high fructose corn syrup in Americans’ daily caloric intake: 7

Percentage of U.S. caloric sweeteners made from high-fructose corn syrup: ~40

Year [pdf] high fructose corn syrup became available in the U.S. food supply: 1967

How much U.S. consumption of high fructose corn syrup rose between 1970 and 1990: 1,000%

Percentage of obese Americans, 1960-1962: 13.4

Percentage of obese Americans in 2005-2006: 35.1

Approximate number of obese Americans, 2007-2008: 1 in 3

In 2006, how many U.S. government subsidies went to corn: $4,920,813,719

Check out the article for links.

Grist

A picture is worth a thousand words.

But here are a few:

“According to this analysis, we eat something like 30 percent more grain than we should–presumably mainly in the form of bread–and 20 percent too much meat. Meanwhile, we’re eating just 80 percent of the vegetables we should be, 60 percent of the dairy, and 40 percent of the fruit.

Another way to put it is like this: from a dietary perspective, we’re overproducing (and consuming) wheat and meat, and underproducing (and consuming) fruits and vegetables.”

Federal policies of subsidies for meat, corn, soy have created this unhealthy food environment and everything connected to it. Meat has become both cheap and of poor quality. Not to mention the pollution of water tables from factory farm runoffs, chemicals in our food and our water, GMO, hormones, antibiotics and on and on.

Perhaps Americans need to practice frugal eating from a time when a nice cut of meat was a special occasion indulgence rather than a several times daily occurrence. We don’t need to consume like the farmer that did hard labor from sun up to sun down. If our lives are less physical, we need to modify our diets accordingly.

Less meat. Less refined pasta, rice and bread. Whole grains instead of white rice, white flour and white sugar. Desserts for special occasions instead of every day for lunch and dinner. (And breakfast if you count cereals, pastries and donuts). More vegetables and fruits. Start dinner with a soup, then have a salad, by the time you get to the entre, you don’t want a big steak, or even any steak. And fruit for desert.

Maybe limit it to a pork roast or prime rib on Sundays only. A nice chicken during the week. And fish. The rest of the meals are soups, salads, beans, whole grains.

And make everything with ingredients you trust rather than buying pre-processed, pre-packed convenience and fast food.

We might find we not only are eating our fill, but are feeling better and better. Maybe even losing a few pounds. And we can all stand to lose a few pounds.


Well, lookee, lookee.

January 30, 2010

“ConAgra uses only sugar or honey in its new Healthy Choice All Natural frozen entrees. Kraft Foods recently removed the corn sweetener from its salad dressings, and is working on its Lunchables line of portable meals and snacks.”

Sugar is making a comeback. No wonder there are those propaganda commercials touting high fructose corn syrup as “natural”.

A lot of companies are listening to consumers, and more importantly, looking at their bottom line as customers avoid their HFCS laced products. In reaction, they are reformulating their products and dropping HFCS and using cane sugar instead.

While sugar isn’t good for you either, it’s certainly better than HFCS. Good!

Now I’m searching to make sure that when you see “corn syrup” on a label, it’s not HFCS. Because there *is* a difference.


I am really and truly pissed.

October 16, 2009

Here I thought I was getting healthier by dumping HFCS and I find an insidious ingredient in the 1% lowfat chocolate milk I switched to. Crystalline Fructose.

I thought that when I started drinking the stuff it said sugar. Not anymore. Perhaps somewhere along the line it changed.

Beware anything with the word fructose in it. It’s a liver-killer.


Adding more on.

August 29, 2009

So my tests have come back. Among other things, there doesn’t seem to be an endocrine reason for my fatigue or weight gain. My thyroid and adrenal glands are fine.

The doctor says “bad genes”. I say “you’re full of crap”.

So I’m looking at diet. We’ll add exercise when I’m not so tired all of the time.

I’ve already cut out high fructose corn syrup out of everything. The trash can has been full the last two weeks. I’ve cleaned out the house and the pantry in the garage. The last thing to go through is the freezer.

And I’ve added some supplements to my diet. I’m trying to take my potassium more often. I still tested low. And I’ve added folic acid, Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha. I’m trying to reduce my stress and inflammation. And I’m taking Omega supplements, more on that later.

Speaking of inflammation, I had no idea what it was. I figured swelling from injury. Not so. You can have ‘secret inflammation’ for several reasons. Like eating crap like HFCS or other not so good chemicals. Or from stress. Stress itself can be based on chemical stresses to your body (like HFCS), physical stresses like pain from injury or mental stresses like worrying a lot. Gee, three for three! So it’s not enough to reduce my stress in all three categories. I also need to reduce my inflammation.

Thankfully, the list of things that cause inflammation is relatively short:

• Poor diet–mostly sugar, refined flours, processed foods, and inflammatory fats such as trans and saturated fats

• Lack of exercise

• Stress

• Hidden or chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, yeasts, or parasites

• Hidden allergens from food or the environment

• Toxins such as mercury and pesticides

• Mold toxins and allergens

Dr. Mark Hyman has some suggestions on Huffington Post.

So does Dr. Robert Kornfeld.

There are some overlaps.

Here’s what Dr. Hyman recommends:

1. Whole Foods — Eat a whole foods, high-fiber, plant-based diet, which is inherently anti-inflammatory. That means choosing unprocessed, unrefined, whole, fresh, real foods, not those full of sugar and trans fats and low in powerful anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients.

2. Healthy Fats — Give yourself an oil change by eating healthy monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts and avocadoes, and getting more omega-3 fats from small fish like sardines, herring, sable, and wild salmon.

3. Regular Exercise — Mounting evidence tells us that regular exercise reduces inflammation. It also improves immune function, strengthens your cardiovascular systems, corrects and prevents insulin resistance, and is key for improving your mood and erasing the effects of stress. In fact, regular exercise is one among a small handful of lifestyle changes that correlates with improved health in virtually ALL of the scientific literature. So get moving already!

4. Relax — Learn how to engage your vagus nerve by actively relaxing. This powerful nerve relaxes your whole body and lowers inflammation when you practice yoga or meditation, breathe deeply, or even take a hot bath.

5. Avoid Allergens — If you have food allergies, find out what you’re allergic to and get stop eating those foods–gluten and dairy are two common culprits.

6. Heal Your Gut — Take probiotics to help your digestion and improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, which reduces inflammation.

7. Supplement — Take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement, fish oil, and vitamin D, all of which help reduce inflammation.

And here’s what Dr. Kornfeld recommends:

1. The primary pathway of inflammation is built primarily from Omega 3 fatty acids. Taking supplements rich in these natural nutrients assists the body in having a more profound primary inflammatory response and at the same time, it minimizes the chronic inflammation responsible for pain and suffering. (Nordic Naturals – 1000 mg 3x a day containing a minimum of 300 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA)

2. Taking supplements rich in plant enzymes such as bromelain assist the body as catalysts for the repair of our cells. Taken on an empty stomach, these enzymes can break down the byproducts of inflammation thus clearing the way for cellular repair. (Bromelain Plus 6 – 250-500mg 3x a day)

3. Efficient inflammation depends on a healthy immune system. 70% of the cells of our immune system are found in the gastrointestinal tract. These cells are fed by short chain fatty acids (that do not exist in nature), which are the result of fermentation of complex carbohydrates — whole grains, vegetables, beans — by the friendly bacteria (probiotics) of our intestinal lining. So it is essential for anyone suffering with inflammation to take an ample supply of probiotics on a daily basis. (Theralac Probiotic – 20 billion CFU daily)

4. Consuming a diet low in Omega 6-rich foods like meat, dairy, baked goods, flour products, and grains (basically the standard American diet), is also helpful when looking to relieve inflammation. Although Omega 6 fatty acids are essential in any diet because they are the building blocks of chronic inflammation (which helps the body protect itself when it can’t repair itself efficiently), it will cause the immune system to bypass primary inflammation and default into chronic inflammation, when consumed in excess.

5. Since we require water to serve as the vehicle for all chemical reactions in the body as well as to flush out toxins, proper hydration becomes paramount (the daily requirement varies from individual to individual, consult your physician for what’s right for you). I am not talking about dehydrating liquids such as caffeinated beverages and alcohol, but rather, clean, fresh water preferably filtered, distilled, or from a reliable spring.

Interestingly, we used to get Omega 3s from cows and chickens…when they ate grasses and seeds and more natural diet. Now that they’re caged and corn fed, not so much. So if you’re going to eat beef, eat grass fed and finished. And if you’re going to eat chickens, look for cage free and natural fed if you can. Does it cost more? You betcha. But…as opposed to a doctor’s bill and deteriorating health it’s a bargain.

Now I’m already doing quite a bit. I ate my first salmon two weeks ago. I’ve thrown out all of the HFCS crap. And I’ve replaced my flours with whole grain stone ground flours (higher in omegas 3s) and I’ll be using more Stevia and Agave Nectar which have a much lower glucose level. I’m replace my morning 1% chocolate milk with YoPlus+ which has probiotics. I originally did it not because of the probiotics, but because it is the only yogurt at Vons that doesn’t have HFCS. Good enough. I just wish they had more flavors than vanilla and berry. I’m taking Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea to try to control my stress and inflammation. And I’ve started taking 100 mg ibuprofen for the inflammation. (If you’re wondering where you can get it…it’s children’s chewable ibuprofen.)

I am going to reduce my (cane sugar) soda to one can/bottle a day and drink water the other meal. I am also going to try to drink more water. I know dehydration has been a chronic problem of mine. When you can’t go to the bathroom whenever you want, you learn to limit your liquid intake. I teach. You can’t just leave the classroom to go pee anytime you want. Sometimes I have to go four hours without a break. Yes, really.

Now, about those Omegas. I bought two bottles of Omega 3-6-9 at CVS on sale when I decided to try them as a supplement. Now I read…less 6, more 3. Well, I’ve only been taking one a day. Seems I should be taking 3 a day. So, I’ll buy a bottle of Omega 3 only and take those for the two other meals. Problem solved. Except for the burping. I hate burping fish oil.

I bought a bread machine on eBay and will be making my first whole grain loaf on Sunday morning. I hope to bake bread every Sunday morning. Two loaves. One for me and one for my parents. That will be for the week. If it doesn’t last, tough. No bread until the following Sunday. Yes, I can do it with my mixer. I’ve done it before. But I just don’t have the energy to go through the mixing, rising, kneading, rising, shaping baking stuff right now. Maybe when I’ve lost 30 lbs.For now the machine will have to do.

I’m also going to experiment with Quinoa Sushi. I’ve never made sushi and want to learn. So I’ll be using quinoa instead of white rice.I’ll be doing bento boxes for lunch. School starts next week.

Maybe if I can lose about 15-20 lbs my energy will go up enough for me to do a little walking. Or….ride my new most beautiful bike in the world.

And now off shopping. I’m going to make bread and pesto tomorrow. And maybe an apple/celery salad.


Putting it together

August 24, 2009

In defense of Food by Michael Pollen

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable.”

You might say Julia Child planted the seeds for Slow Food in the U.S. At a time when fast foods, TV dinners and convenience cooking using pre-processed foods was on the rise, she was encouraging cooking good meals using real ingredients.

Eat Food.

Sounds simple. But do you have any idea how much food Americans eat that isn’t really food?

You’ve heard it before. Processed foods contain a lot more salt than we need. They contain a lot more fat than we need. The dangers of hydrogenated oils. They contain a lot less nutrition due to over processing. They contain ingredients we can’t identify and can’t pronounce. And they contain ingredients that aren’t food. If it’s boxed, bagged, canned or jarred and has a list of ingredients on the label, it’s processed.

Methods used to process foods include:
* Canning
* Freezing
* Refrigeration
* Dehydration
* Aseptic Processing

Processed foods
have been altered from their natural state for “safety” and convenience reasons. And scary as it seems, about 90 percent of the money that Americans spend on food is used to buy processed items.

Sugar is sucrose. High Fructose Corn Syrup has been processed to combine fructose and glucose. HFCS is up to 10 times richer in harmful carbonyl compounds, such as methylglyoxal, than a diet soft drink control. Carbonyl compounds are elevated in people with diabetes and are blamed for causing diabetic complications such as foot ulcers and eye and nerve damage. Consumption of fructose is more likely to lead to obesity than consumption of sucrose. There are some indications that HFCS turns off our body’s ability to sense when it’s full and stop eating. Large quantities of fructose stimulate the liver to produce triglycerides, promotes glycation of proteins and induces insulin resistance. Glucose is metabolized in every cell in the body but all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of test animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics. In a 2007 study, rats were fed a diet high in fat and HFCS and kept relatively sedentary for 16 weeks in an attempt to emulate the diet and lifestyle of many Americans. The rats were not forced to eat, but were able to eat as much as they wanted; they consumed a large amount of food, and the researcher, Dr. Tetri stated that there is evidence that fructose suppresses the sensation of fullness. Within four weeks, the rats showed early signs of fatty liver disease and type II diabetes. Some HFCS manufactured in 2005 contained mercury. In 2009, trace amounts of mercury were still being found in a wide assortment of products containing HFCS.

Some people are more sensitive to fructose. They include hypertensive, hyperinsulinemic, hypertriglyceridemic, non-insulin dependent diabetic people, people with functional bowel disease and postmenopausal women.

Sugar glossary and list of hidden HFCS and amounts HERE.

To spot fructose on a food label, look for the words “corn sweetener,” “corn syrup,” or “corn syrup solids” as well as “high-fructose corn syrup.”

Other “non-foods” to avoid are:

Trans Fats, “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated” (fully hydrogenated fats are not a heart threat, but some trans fats are mislabeled as “hydrogenated”). The higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on the list of ingredients, the more trans fat the product contains. Olive oil good. Palm kernel oil, bad.

Refined Grains, white bread, rolls, sugary low-fiber cereal, white rice, or white pasta. That includes refined white flour and even unbleached flour.

Salt, otherwise known as sodium. Your limit should be 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, about the amount in three-fourths of a teaspoon of salt. (Table salt, by the way, is 40 percent sodium, 60 percent chloride.) Only the “Nutrition Facts” panel on a food package will give you the real sodium count. Don’t believe claims on the package front such as “sodium-free” (foods can still have 5 mg per serving); “reduced sodium” (it only means 25 percent less than usual); or “light in sodium” (half the amount you’d normally find). In fact, between the nutrition information and the ingredients list, you’ll be able to cut a lot of unhealthy “food-like products” out of your diet.

Or you can follow Michael Pollen’s guidelines:
Avoid foods that are:
1. Unfamiliar
2. Unpronounceable
3. More than five in number
4. Include High Fructose Corn Syrup

Not too much.

Portion control. Sounds simple. But in fact isn’t that easy. Do we weight it? How many of us have food scales in our kitchen weighing grams of this and grams of that? Or do you to volume? Nothing bigger than your clenched fist. Remember that one? Or how about calorie counting? Or Richard Simmon’s “food wallet” with the cards. How much is too much. Not realy my problem. I did Nutrisystem for a year and my problem was not eating enough. After I reached my goal weight I had a cupboard full of “snacks” and some breakfasts left. So “not too much”. Well , I’m still working on that. In my lastest quest to try to portion (eat enough of the correct thing) I have found….Bento.

Bento boxes are portion sized and intended to be used for brown bagging lunch. Most work out to about 600 – 800 ml. There are some larger boxes for men and even family picnic sized bento sets. There are smaller boxes for children’s lunches. You can tell them by the anime and cartoon characters that decorate them and their bright colors. There are thermal ones with seals for transporting soups or liquids. Once you get used to the size of a bento lunch, portioning for breakfast and dinner becomes easier. You can bento a breakfast too. And there are open bento trays designed for dinners.

And even though there is no research supporting it, you’re still going to want to avoid HFCS in case that contributes to over eating.

Mostly plants.

Sounds simple. Until you’ve priced fresh produce. And what if you’re trying to eat green. You can’t grow enough to provide all of the fruits and vegetables you really need. You want to eat local. You also want to eat as organic as possible to avoid chemicals and keep your carbon footprint low. Locavore. Urban gardening. Edible Landscapes. There is a huge movement to replace lawns with edible gardens. Fritz Haeg wrote Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. Front lawns came into vogue after WWII. With the advent of the middle class and boom in housing, people wanted to display their prosperity in the same way the rich have on their estates: with a huge, wasteful, high-maintenance lawn.

At the extreme there is Urban Homesteading. This isn’t for everyone and is definately time consuming. You’ll also have to check local codes to see if you’re allowed to have urban chickens or other livestock as “pets”.

Can’t grow your own? You can still eat local and organic. Just find a farm near you that will allow you to join their co-op. You can have fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables year round every week, or every other week.

And for those that don’t have their own yards, there are community gardens. No community garden to join? Well, there’s always…guerilla gardening.


Becoming less refined

August 23, 2009

Sugar in the amounts Americans consume is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and possibly endocrine imbalances like thyroid or adrenal fatigue among other problems. Refined sweetners, especially in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup is in practically every convenience product in the grocery store, from yogurt to ketchup, ice cream to bologna.

If you’re looking to cut your consumption, avoiding all products with HFCS is a start. But it’s really hard to break the craving for something sweet. Our ancient ancestors had a sweet tooth. You can use more natural substitutes, however.

If you just can’t kick the soda habit, you can find sodas that use cane sugar rather than HFCS. Cane sugar is NOT refined white sugar. For fruit juices, check those labels! You’re looking for pure fruit juice. If it’s anything other than juice and water, put it back on the shelf. If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, you can use something else to sweeten your drink. And I don’t mean sugar substitutes. Trading refined sugar for something you cannot pronounce and have no idea what chemical compound it is or what it will do to you is worse. You may be able to pronounce aspartame, but what is it really? And “Equal”? There’s a reason they give it such a simple, catchy name. Look to see what it’s really made of. Can you pronounce it? There are several less refined, yet sweet natural products you can use without having to resort to chemicals.Try cane sugar or stevia.

Go through your cupboards. The first thing you may want to do is throw away anything that has an “ose” in it. High FructOSE Corn Syrup is easy to spot. But some less obvious hidden refined sugars would be glucose, dextrose, maltose, etc. Your body produces it’s own glucose so you don’t need to consume it. (Type 2 diabetes involves your body’s resistence to the insulin your pancreas produces. You want your pancreas to produce less insulin and your body to absorb and process it better.) BTW Corn syrup is not the same as HIGH FRUCTOSE corn syrup. Corn syrup undergoes a further refinement to make it HFCS. So if you have a recipe that calls for corn syrup (like popcorn balls) don’t freak too much. But don’t eat them every week either.

There is maple syrup, maple sugar and molasses. Ok. Maybe you don’t want to put that in your coffee or tea. But try it on your cereal. (And check the ingredients on your cereal for HFCS) You might consider using fresh fruit to sweeten your morning cereal too. If use use maple syrup instead of sugar in recipes, use the same amount as the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.

Some people like honey in their tea. Honey has minerals and enzymes. Raw organic honey is naturally solid and translucent. You should not be able to see through it, but light will come through it. Clear honey is not raw. It may have bits of the comb on the top of it. You can pick out those parts if you don’t want them in your tea and save them for when you’re baking. For baking use half the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. So if a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, only use half a cup of raw honey.

There is “cane juice”, “cane syrup” or even granulated cane sugar sometimes called Suconat. This is sweeter than refined sugar so only use about 1/2 of what you normally would.

Other possibilities are Turbinado Sugar, Stevia, Date Sugar. Stevia is made from an herb and doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. But it is extremely sweet so use only a drop or two in liquid form.