Wednesday, August 23, 2017

To Turmeric or Not To Turmeric

Turmeric, a tasty spice often encountered in Thai and Indian foods, has achieved an almost legendary status as a superfood with impressive nutritional and health benefits. It is widely touted as a powerful anti-inflammatory and beneficial to people with arthritis, heart and circulatory problems. Like its botanical cousin, ginger, it us reputed to be helpful with gastrointestinal disorders. These days the spice is added to all sorts of foods, and people are paying out big money for organic and "enhanced" versions.

Is there any scientific backing for these benefit claims? According to Prevention Magazine some, but not much.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for most of its claimed health benefits. It is both an anti-inflammatory agent and an anti-coagulant. With inflammation being at the root of so many of the health issues we face here in the USA, one might think that curcumin has potential. It does.

But according to Mary Beth Sodus, a nutritionist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric contains only about 3% curcumin. This means that unless you have a cast iron stomach you would never be able to consume enough turmeric to get a therapeutic dose of curcumin.

This is often how marketing works in the food and nutrition industries. Add trace amounts of a beneficial substance and then tout the health benefits of your product. With turmeric, the trace amounts are already added, so claim away!

If you enjoy turmeric by all means use it. But don't expect much in the way of health benefits.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Well, this is embarassing.....

I'll just come right out and say it. I'm going to share a recipe. Its a first for me, and I doubt it will become a habit as this is not a cooking blog. But I thought this one was just SO good that I'd share it.

There are a lot of benefits to cutting back on our consumption of meat. Red meat in particular, but all meat. Benefits to our health and benefits to the environment. But the problem is, its hard to find meatless meals that actually taste good, fill you up and are as enjoyable as they are good for you.

So here is one to get you started. Its sort of like small, individual lasagnas.



1 medium eggplant per 2 servings
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1 jar of your preferred spaghetti sauce
Shredded mozarella and parmesan cheeses
Garlic, basil and black pepper
Olive oil


Heat the oven to 375deg.
Lightly coat a large sheet pan with olive oil
Place the flour, eggs and bread crumbs in 3 shallow bowls.
Cut the ends off the eggplant and remove the skin; cut into 12 slices.
Dredge each slice of eggplant in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs.
Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Turn over the eggplant slices and bake for another 10 minutes.
In a medium casserole dish, coat the bottom with spaghetti sauce and place 4 slices of the baked eggplant in the dish.
Cover each slice with grated mozarella cheese and sauce.
Place another eggplant slice on top of each and cover with mozzarella cheese and sauce as before.
Place the last 4 eggplant slices on top, cover with sauce till it runs down the sides of the stack, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Season to taste with garlic, basil and black pepper.
Bake for about 8 minutes and serve hot.

Eliminating the frying and using whole wheat flour and bread crumbs turns what is usually a fat and calorie bomb into a nutritious meal. Serve with whole wheat spaghetti and steamed asparagus or broccoli.

You won't miss the meat, I promise.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Osteoarthritis and Fiber

You are probably tired of hearing about the health benefits of dietary fiber and the many problems begat by American's chronic lack of it. But here is one more that I had not heard of before. Eating more fiber rich foods such as nuts, fruit, whole grains and vegetables may reduce chronic inflammation enough to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee and lessen the pain of those who already have the condition.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine, followed over 5,000 osteoarthritis patients annually for 4 years with a follow-up after 9 years and concluded that "greater fiber intake was associated with a reduced risk for symptomatic osteoarthritis". The study results "support the current recommended daily fiber intake for older Americans,” according to Zhaoli Dai, the study's lead author.

How much fiber and what was the benefit?

Those who consumed an average of 26 grams of fiber daily had a 61% lower risk of knee osteoarthritis than those who consumed only 14 grams.

"Increasing dietary fiber is one of the most economical ways to reduce the pain of knee osteoarthritis," Dr. Dao told the New York Times. "And there are a lot of other benefits as well: reduced weight and cardiovascular risk, and reduced diabetes risk as well."

So maybe you are tired of hearing it. But average fiber consumption by Americans is about 16 grams. And by 2020, 6.5 million Americans between the ages of 35 and 65 are predicted to suffer from this painful knee condition. So maybe you ought to pay attention.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

KFC Sets the Right Example

Yes, KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken.

No, the largest fast food chicken restaurant chain in the world has not suddenly started selling food that is good for you. But, by the end of 2018 at least, they will be selling food that is better for you. And better for everyone.

The chain announced that it would stop serving meat from chickens that are raised using antibiotics that are "important in human medicine" by the end of next year. This means that they will serve only chickens that have never been given antibiotics that are used to treat infections in humans - such as amoxicillin, erthyromycin and tetracycline.

Antibiotics are often given to chickens - and other livestock - to compensate for the miserable, unhealthy, overcrowded conditions in which they are raised on so-called corporate farms. Such overuse contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria that the UN World Health Organization has called "potentially the most serious health problem facing humanity". In the US alone, about 23,000 deaths are attributable to antibiotic resistant bacteria each year.

Along with poultry giant Tyson Foods, which has pledged to eliminate all use of medically important antibiotics in 2017, KFC's announcement is an important step forward and hopefully will be an example to other companies. I'll never be a big fan of fast food, but let's give credit where credit is due. Good move, KFC!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lies Are One Thing, Murder for Profit Is Another

Anyone who has been reading my posts is aware that I am, to make a huge understatement, not a fan of the pharmaceutical industry. This is even more true since they started blanketing television with deceptive ads aimed at consumers. But that was nothing compared to the murderous impact of their highly addictive opioid pain killers and the slick, dishonest marketing they use to push them, addicting hundreds of thousands of people and killing - murdering - tens of thousands of them.... annually.

In 2016 alone 60,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses. That is a 16% increase over 2015, twice the number who died as a result of gun violence and more Americans than were killed in the entire 15 tears of the Vietnam War. In Ohio, where deaths have soared 50% over last year, county morgues are renting refrigerator trucks to store the bodies that are piling up. Every year, we lose the equivalent of twenty 9/11s to opioid overdoses.

In the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration rubber stamped the claims of drug makers that opioids were safe and rarely addictive. Purdue Pharma's marketers told doctors that the risk of addiction to OxyContin was "less than 1%". Today, 20 years later, 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids and at least 1 million more have turned to heroin and fentanyl as cheaper alternatives.

Two decades into this legally created epidemic, lawsuits and - belatedly - the FDA are finally beginning to rein in the sale of prescription painkillers. But for the tens of thousands killed, their families and communities, it is already too late.

We, as individuals, need to resist the "drug culture" created by powerful business interests and get past the comforting but false belief in what Stephen Covey years ago called "the medical rescue fantasy". We can eat crap, not exercise, burn the candle at both ends for years if we like. But the expectation that it can all be undone with a pill is not only false, its dangerous - life threatening even. Because there are large, well-connected, powerful companies out there who are happy to sell you the pills. Even if it kills you.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Buy Organic or $ave the Money?

Organic foods are more widely available than ever. Even major grocery chains are sprouting organic produce sections. This is a good thing. But organic foods are usually more expensive than conventionally grown produce. Is it really worth the difference in cost?

The answer is.... it depends.

You may be able to afford the higher cost and be happy to do so to support the organic food industry, and that is a great reason. But what if you clip coupons and really need to stretch your grocery dollars? Is there enough of a difference in the health impact of organic food to be worth the extra cost?

First of all, lets remember that "organic" food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general features practices that strive to recycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations regulating organic products may restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers in farming. In general, organic foods are also usually not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or synthetic food additives.

From a purely good health perspective, one of the main reasons for consuming organic foods is to avoid fertilizer and pesticide residue. According to guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture, certain produce arrives in your kitchen heavily laced with such residue, while other types contain little or none. While this is not the only factor to consider, it is a good place to begin when making the organic vs conventional choice for yourself and your family.

According to the USDA analysis, conventionally grown strawberries have more pesticide residue than any other fruit or vegetable. Spinach is a close second followed by nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes. Buying organic makes good sense for these products.

Among the produce least likely to contain potentially harmful residues are sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melons and kiwis. You are probably fine purchasing cheaper conventionally grown produce in these cases.

Another useful rule of thumb (although not a foolproof one) is to buy organic if you plan to eat the skin or rind, and conventional if you don't.

Regardless of what you decide, always rinse your produce with water or, better yet, a natural wash such as FIT.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Good Network Marketer is Always Learning

Those of you who follow my posts here for the health and nutrition information, please excuse me a moment while I speak to the rest of you who are starting or building a network marketing business.

I am a pilot and we have a well worn saying that goes "A good pilot is always learning". I've found this to be totally true, but it is just as true in your network marketing business. Certainly take full advantage of your company's training programs. But if you limit yourself to them you are definitely limiting your growth.

Eric Worre ( and Ray Higdon ( are two outstanding trainers and advocates that you should be a fan of.

Take a look at this short, free and outstanding video about value, contribution and attitude from Ray Higdon.

Then go to their websites and get on their distribution lists.

(NB: I am not a marketing affiliate or financially connected to either of these outstanding people, just a really big fan.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Five Easy Ways to Live Healthier Now

Living a healthy lifestyle can often seem so complicated and demanding of your time and your treasure that it is easy to get overwhelmed and just give up.

Here are 5 ways to bump up your healthy living that are simple, easy and cheap from, of all places, Kroger/King Soopers markets.

1. Drink Some Water First

Thirst and hunger cues can often feel the same to us. Give your body some time to process which you are feeling by drinking a glass of water when a "hunger" pang strikes. Eight to 12 ounces ought to do it. Keep some water in the fridge if you prefer it cold, and toss in some lemon, lime or orange slices if you like a little flavor. If the cravings are still there 15 - 20 minutes later, go ahead and have a small snack.

2. Start Breakfast the Night Before

Prepping your breakfast the night before can take some of the stress, guilt and time pressure out of your morning meals. There are plenty of healthy foods that can be made up the night before and then slapped together in a minute or two in the morning. Try making oatmeal with dried fruit in your slow cooker. Or cut up all the ingredients for your smoothie and store them in the fridge in a plastic bag. Sometimes even just knowing what you plan to have for breakfast can make the whole thing easier.

3. Use Your Freezer

Freezing is a natural and healthy way to preserve food, and can keep food fresher and more nutritious than most other storage methods. You can serve complete meals from the freezer, or use pre-cleaned and cut items as quick ingredients. Freezing allows you to create healthy meals and save them for another time, and will go along way toward reducing the 40% of food that gets wasted every year in the United States.

 4. Keep It Fresh When You Can

Consuming fresh produce can be a challenge here in Colorado. It sometimes seems to me that my produce rots between the time I buy it and the time I get it home. But its worth a try to incorporate as much fresh fruits and veggies into your day as you can. They are very low in calories, high in fiber and contain a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals. With a little forethought they can be convenient too. Have celery, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers already cut up in your fridge. Dip them in some hummus or low fat ranch dressing, and they are tasty snacks too.

5. Keep Healthy Foods Visible and Hide the Indulgences

We tend to grab and eat what is visible and in arms reach. So its best to keep your healthy choices in plain view or prepped and ready to grab on the shelf closest to eye level in your fridge. Keep the potato chips and cheese out of sight and you will eat less of them.

Finally, lets all keep in mind that living a healthy lifestyle is not a binary, on or off thing. Anything you can do, large or small, that makes you healthier is, well, healthier. So go ahead. Take a few small steps. You don't have to be perfect, just better.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Studies Show...

How often do we hear that? From the media, from friends trying to make a point, from out healthcare team.

Studies, it turns out, often show exactly what the people or organizations funding them want them to show.

Take for example a study conducted to "investigate lunch meat consumption in the US population" published in the official sounding Nutrition Journal. The results? People who consume lunchmeats are no different than those who do not in measures of weight, blood pressure or cholesterol.

Good news if you like bologna, right? Not so fast.

The study is riddled with flaws that the media failed to report. It studied only lunch meats, none of the many other forms of processed meats that American consume by the truckload, so its very unlikely researchers would detect any meaningful differences. The researchers simply asked people what they ate the day before. A person who eats salami 4 days a week for lunch but happened not to eat it the day before is counted as a non-lunchmeat consumer.

Despite the fact that the International Agency for Cancer Research has listed processed lunchmeats as a "human carcinogen", the media dutifully reported the study's conclusion that "the study provides insight into how to better utilize lunchmeats in the diets of US children and adults".

Funding for the study? The North American Meat Institute. The researchers? Two "nutritional consultants to the food industry" and a consultant to the National Pork Board.

Sounds trustworthy to me!

Studies show indeed.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Buona Salute!

That's "Good Health! in Italian. And other than the Mediterranean Diet, there is a lot we could learn about it from Italy. Starting with the passeggiata.

The passeggiata is a short, sociable walk taken after meals. In addition to the social benefits, a recent study by the George Washington University School of Public Health found that taking a relaxed 15-minute walk after each meal results in a drop in blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. That, of course, helps to lower the risk for diabetes.

If you haven't got someone to walk with, ask your dog. He'll be happy to go with you and you will both be healthier for it.

Grazie, Italia!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Five Ways Food Companies Mislead You (On Purpose)

From cancer to heart disease to diabetes to obesity, the heath problems our society faces all have one thing in common - a strong link to the lifestyles we choose to live. You've heard it all before.

Our diet plays a big part in the problem.

If this is true, and it is, why don't we just make the changes that would make us all healthier? Why not just eat better and be done with it? Its tempting to say that people are just lazy, or dumb, and perhaps a few are. But this is largely a case of blaming the victim.

"The narrative is that people who are struggling (to create a healthier lifestyle) don't have the willpower or they just aren't trying hard enough," says Ashley Gearhardt, assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. "In my clinical work and research I consistently find that people are trying SO hard."

Why then does the problem of "lifestyle induced" health problems not just continue but seem to get a little worse every year?

One reason is the deliberately misleading ways in food companies market their products to us.

You probably know that when you go into your local supermarket, the healthiest food choices tend to be located along the walls, not in the aisles. Here are five more things you need to know about how you are being tricked before the next time you go shopping.

1. Product Placement

Did you ever wonder why every time you finally figure out where all the things you normally buy are located, the supermarket moves everything around on you? Its not an accident. Shifting things around every few weeks forces you to go searching for the items you came in to buy. This is more than just annoying. It encourages impulse buying, and not just by making you see things you might otherwise not have taken notice of.

Products placed at eye level sell better than products placed on a high or low shelf. Products at the end of the aisles or at the checkout sell even better than that. Products that occupy more shelf space sell better than those with a narrower presence. Food marketers and supermarkets know this. Companies pay supermarkets chains as much as a million dollars per year per product to get their products placed in these prime locations.

BEST DEFENSE: Be aware of how you are being manipulated, never shop without a list, and very rarely buy anything that isn't on it.

2. Misleading Product Names

Just because a product says it is something doesn't mean that it really is. As long as there is just a trace amount of something healthy sounding in the product, the marketing department can name the product accordingly. Supermarket shelves are packed with crap that sounds like it is made with something virtuous, but isn't.

For example, you might assume that Honest Tea Pomegranate Blue Flavored Herbal Tea contained pomegranate juice. Legally you would be correct. But the only fruit in the drink is a trace amount of "juice concentrates" that are "added for flavor". The product is tea and added sugar. A lot of sugar. Honesty indeed.

BEST DEFENSE: If it is not a product you are familiar with and trust, read the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of predominance.

3. Healthy Sounding Words

Protein! All Natural! Made with Organic Ingredients! Gluten Free!

The larger the product packaging screams this sort of claim, the more suspicious you should be. Some of these terms have absolutely no regulatory meaning at all, like "natural". Others are specious, such as a product with no wheat content (I've seen wine labeled this way) announcing it is "gluten free".
A product can be "made with organic ingredients" and still contain up to 30% non-organic ones. Often the packaging highlights "advantages" that are native to the product so even the cheapest store brand has them.

BEST DEFENSE: Be skeptical of marketing claims and educated about which ones have any real meaning. "100% Organic", "Organic", Certified Non-GMO" and others do have legal, regulatory meaning. Here are a few other misleading claims you should be aware of.

4. Hidden Disclaimers

It's perfectly legal to lie on food packaging, as long as you state somewhere on the package that you have lied. Unfortunately, the lie usually appears in huge, colorful letters right on the front while the disclaimer is hidden away in tiny print on the side somewhere.

Protein is popular, but regulations only allow companies to boast about protein content if a serving contains 5g or more. "4 g of protein" boasts Special K Protein Chocolaty Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars. Not to worry, though. Hidden away in tiny print at the bottom on the side of the box, Kellogg's lawyers have made sure you know that you need to eat 1 1/2 bars to get that protein.

BEST DEFENSE: Again, be very skeptical and read the label. Not the marketing label on the front but the legal labeling on the side. Both sides. Yes its a pain in the butt. Food companies are counting on that to discourage you from bothering.

5. Playing Games with Serving Size

This may be the most popular deception of all of all. All of the information contained in the Nutrition Labeling on food packages is provided on a "per serving" basis. Serving size is prescribed by regulation (which the food companies help write). Too often we assume that a serving is the whole package, and very often it is not. Soups, canned items, soft drinks, snacks (when is the last time you had "about 20 chips" after opening a bag?) and candy bars are routinely packaged in single serving packages that contain multiple servings.

Example: "210 calories" crows Dove Strawberry & Cocoa Almond (which contains cranberries not strawberries - see #2). Per serving. Servings per package? 3 1/2. Eat it all and your 210 calories become 780.

BEST DEFENSE: Do the math. If you are counting calories or watching your sodium or sugar intake, its the only way to avoid being fooled. Your smartphone has a calculator on it. Use it.