Category Archives: Food & Mood

Chicken Nugget recall & Cereal Questions

Do your kids eat chicken nuggets? This first week in April, 2014, Tyson Foods has issued a recall of 5 pound bags of chicken nuggets sold at Sam’s Clubs. They reportedly received calls from customers reporting plastic particles mixed into some of their packaged nuggets.  And while we’re looking at chicken nuggets, there have been a number of reports about how other manufacturers make chicken nuggets and the sources and types of meat used to make them. While Tyson, in the current press release notes that their chicken nuggets are made from white meat, reports of questionable nugget content associated some brands with a form of chicken “pink slime”.

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Some clinicians have noted that children presenting with ADHD and other neurological problems reported daily or weekly consumption of chicken nuggets and some higher sugar-content breakfast cereals.

Many pure food advocates feel that ALL cereals are poor nutrition for children and expose them to a number of additives & chemicals used in the processing of grains into cereal.  In addition, many children may be missing important minerals and vitamins because they consume these processed foods instead.

High quality protein to start the day is associated with better behavior, longer attention spans and better memory. Sources of protein are lean meats, eggs, fish and various beans.  Morning smoothies made with frozen organic fruit, a few kale leaves, nut milks,  hemp protein powder and no added sugars, juices or syrups provide a quick, healthy start.

What?! No waffles, pancakes, pop tarts, granola bars, biscuits, donuts and other forms of the same stuff the cereals are made of on the recommended list? Certainly not.

A vegan staple for your new way of eating

You are what you eat, so eat pretty!
Above: Coconut Squash soup. Find the recipe in Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods.

Who says vegetarian fare isn’t better than the everyday processed gunk that your body can’t process away?  Can you imagine eating rich, creamy and incredibly delicious food and not gaining weight, not feeling like you’re going into a coma afterward and actually building your immunity to colds & illness at the same time? Well, start imagining it because that’s what we’ll be bringing to the website – news and recipes on how to eat well and stay happy and slim.

Start with some basic searching.

Search out the closest and best sources of fresh, organic produce. If you eat meat, find organic and preferably local butchers or farms. People are surprised to find that many of these are right under your nose or right down the road from you. Fresh, cold water fish is a major source of essential fatty acids – excellent fuel for the brain. Find the best sources near you. Some major grocery chains have been caught using bleach to kill the bacteria and smell of past prime meat and fish in black communities.
It’s essential to know where your food really comes from.

Look up http://www.csa.org for Community Supported Agriculture which will show local farms, farm stores, food drop off points and farmers markets. Find one that delivers near you or is located near you and buy a “farm share”. A full share usually provides you with fresh picked produce for a family of 4 weekly from May to November. A half share for the same 24 to 28 weeks will cost you around $300 or about $12 per week.  A pretty good deal! And a great alternative to half-dead produce that has excess pesticides, might be a genetically modified crop and may have been shipped thousands of miles. Some pesticides are outlawed in this country but are used in others. We buy that produce and the chemicals affect our brains. Often cheap processed food has many more chemicals in it, so if you’re going to save on something, maybe you don’t want it to be at the risk of your health.

Just Get Over It! And Other Insensitive Things That People Say……..

 

How many times have you heard someone shriek, mutter, moan, yell, spit, murmur or plead, “Just get over it!”, usually followed by the less audible, “Will you?” The answer is, you won’t.  The fact that you are displaying emotion  through your words, facial expression, body language, tears or a big fat sign with four-letter words is THE POINT. What would make someone think that just telling you to get over it would fix it for you?  Two things: One, the assumption that emotions are totally within one’s control and, two, that you just need to change your thinking and apply a little discipline to change your mood.

People fear feelings

This simplistic thinking is  the equivalent of magical thinking. Just close your eyes and pretend what’s happening is not real and think    happy  thoughts so I won’t have to come up with the right words to make you feel better. So my telling you to straighten your face and look happy is really an expression of my fear of not being a good enough partner, parent, friend or sibling.

The effect of experience

Some people are very literal thinkers. If they feel things deeply, they don’t tell anyone, not even themselves. If they don’t feel things deeply, they don’t understand how you could. Literal people often don’t understand that what someone might express emotion about might really mask something totally different that they are upset about. Like people who cry at the movies when the hero dies. They might actually be thinking bout a pet’s death early in their childhood. And some people  who have had many disappointments in their lives  might react intensely to anything. Opening the container that holds their emotions might cause them all to spill out. One could imagine that for some people, each subsequent loss made it harder and harder for them to contain their sadness or anger.

It is often said that African Americans are likely to be more expressive of their emotions than whites, that Latinos are more expressive than European Americans, and the British more conservative in expression than Italians. In these instances we may be referring to cultural learning about what is acceptable  expression of feelings.

Sensitive brains and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Here’s another something to consider – the brains of some people, and their nervous systems ( which their brains are connected to, by the way) are extra sensitive. In the field of neurofeedback, you can look at the speed with which brain cells are firing in an EEG (electroencephalograph). Those people who have extra fast firing neurons in the front of the brain tend to get stuck on thoughts and feelings, sort of like your car tires spinning on ice. Such people can’t help themselves  from getting carried away when they get upset. They will obsess over it until something or somebody gives them a push or a pull out of that rut that they are creating. Luckily, neurofeedback, also known as brain biofeedback, provides a non- intrusive, drug-free way to slow down the troublesome brain activity.

The power of positive thinking

So many people who have grown up in difficult situations have found help from positive thinking courses. It is the poor man’s form of self- treatment and it can be very useful if there is not a biochemical cause of mood disorders. Positive affirmations introduced years ago by folks like Norman Vincent Peale and reframed twenty years back by Iyanla Vanzant in her book, Acts of Faith, began a very successful trend  of giving folks new roads out of despair.  Mental health problems can come from  physical disorders like diabetes or heart problems, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, dementia, lupus, etc. because in these disorders the chemistry and functioning of the organ systems are altered, thereby affecting the brain.

The  power of CBT

So there are different ways of accessing mental health problems in order to find solutions to them. Solutions from the inside might include medications, diet change, detoxification or supplements. Solutions from the  outside may include psychotherapy, group therapy, acupuncture, transcranial magnetic stimulation, neurofeedback, meditation, yoga, exercise and other treatments. For some problems, a combination of several of these may be just the ticket. While the current medical treatment in America emphasizes drugs above psychotherapy, the rule of thumb over the last twenty years has always been psychotherapy first and medication second if there was no risk of harm to life and limb or safety. In more recent years drugs have dominated nearly every area of medical treatment such that people assume there is nothing else. In other countries, where the success of medical care for everyday health issues is more successful than in the United States,  alternative, non drug therapies are a matter of course.

One of the most effective, short term therapies, is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). In talk sessions, one’s specific thoughts underlying your feelings and behavior are examined. Those that are logical and are working for you are reinforced. Those thoughts that are mythical, incorrect or left over from some previous bad experience  are corrected and replaced with more helpful thoughts. It has been proven that CBT and other forms of talk therapy actually change the brain and provide long lasting improvement for most people.

It is important to ask your provider, what is the safest, least intrusive way to solve your problem and is this an area in which they specialize. There are many people with depression who have been on medication for years and yet have never been evaluated by a therapist – an expert in mental health needs. A general antidepressant is often given out by gynecologists and family practitioners based on your answers to a checklist of questions. This can be helpful where there are no trained mental health providers but in most populated areas there are many and in rural areas telephone or Skype therapy is possible.

Since antidepressants don’t cure depression or rid you of its’ cause, once you stop taking them you may be right where you started or the real cause of your depression may have disappeared for unrelated reasons. A responsible and comprehensive approach would include having a full medical work up to eliminate physical sources of problems, for which depression or anxiety might be the first symptoms.  In the meantime, one can begin therapy and learn how to use insight to identify choices and learn techniques to change their behaviors and feelings. They can’t just be told to “Get over it”.

Mental health or behavior problems aren’t just a matter of choice.

Using Vitamins to Reduce Angry Behavior in Black Children

 Reducing angry behavior with vitamins?

Fish oil from arctic fish might be your & your child's "bestest" friend. Odorless capsules now make it much easier to take. Seems like the old folks with their cod liver oil were truly wise.
Fish oil from arctic fish might be your & your child’s “bestest” friend. Odorless capsules now make it much easier to take. Seems like the old folks with their cod liver oil were truly wise.

Are children lacking the essential elements for a well nourished brain more susceptible to bad behavior?

A number of studies show a link between violent behavior in some individuals and their levels of DHA, an essential fatty acid.  EFAs, or essential fatty acids are required by the brain in order for it to function well.

The body does not manufacture its own EFAs and so we have to obtain them from the outside, from what we eat. One type, ALA, alpha linolenic acid, comes from vegetable sources like flax seed and walnuts and some vegetable oils. The body only  partially converts ALA into DHA and EPA. Fatty cold water fish provide a direct source of EPA and DHA, allowing more DHA to get into the body.

According to Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard University School of Public Health, Omega 3  fatty acids protect from heart attack and stroke as well as against autoimmune disorders and in building  the membranes of brain cells.

The ratio of EFA choices is important

The EFA that most Americans get a lot of is Omega – 6. It comes from animal (meat) sources.  Compared to our ancestors, we are getting between 16  times more Omega -6 for each serving of Omega-3 than we did before the last 50 years or before we began eating so much processed food. We are getting far less DHA or Omega- 3 that comes from fish oil or krill( non-fish plankton)  oil sources. It is the ratio of Omega- 3 to Omega – 6 levels that are important as well as the need to eat a moderate amount of each. A diet of  4  servings of Omega 3s to one serving of Omega 6 is considered ideal. So one would have 3 servings of cold water fish, and 2 or 3 servings of walnuts, flax seeds (1 or 2 tablespoons) or cold pressed organic vegetable oil each week. (See the Food section in the coming months for some super good ways to meet these brain needs.)

Low DHA levels were found in boys with impulsive behavior and later alcohol dependency

In observational studies done by Hibbeln et al. 1998a, 1998b it was suggested that low plasma DHA levels may increase the predisposition of some people to impulsive or violent behavior. This was seen especially in boys who become alcohol dependent before the age of 20. This suggest that they are probably attempting to self medicate with alcohol.

Raising DHA reduced stress levels

In another study done by Hamazaki et al. 1996, students taking DHA during periods of academic stress did not show the same rise in aggressive behavior exhibited by their peers who did not take DHA. This indicates that supplementing what the brain is missing to function normally and activate self control allows the body to calm itself naturally. Supplementation with omega-3 EFAs, vitamins and minerals were found to reduce violent behavior in prison populations by an average of 35% (Gesch et al. 2002). The results of this study and others which achieved similar results implies readily available solutions for communities where nutritional needs are not met and child behavior and learning are below potential.

High meat intake associated with violent behavior

A diet high in meat may cause an imbalance of essential fatty acids which are essential to brain health. Low levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) are associated with a number of brain health problems such as depression, anxiety, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS) and ADHD. In children low DHA levels are associated with ADD, ADHD, behavior problems, sleep problems and distractibility.  We can improve behavior and learning by supplementing our children’s diets with a high quality fish oil (wild arctic salmon or cod) supplement.

In supplementing with fish oils, care should be taken to obtain the highest quality fish oil supplement by looking for those that are free of toxins and made from wild caught Arctic fish. (See VitalChoice.org for more info or see our FooD section in the coming weeks.)

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“Diabetes is a disease of nutritional ignorance”

“Diabetes is a disease of nutritional ignorance”. That’s the first thing  I heard this morning when I turned on the TV.  Joel Fuhrman, M.D. seemed to be calling out my relatives with that line. Hearing it said that way, I thought, maybe they would listen.

For years now, I’ve been banging the same drum about how many of the problems clients present with: diabetes, bipolar disorder, MS, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, low blood sugar, stroke, arthritis and even Parkinson’s – these problems are caused primarily by what we eat.

We are poisoning ourselves, voluntarily, because it tastes good. We are committing mass suicide while making food manufacturers wealthy and making our families miserable. But Dr. Furhman was so convincing this morning that I couldn’t help sharing his message with you and here’s a story he told:

He had a patient whose 80+ year old mother was diabetic, had a stroke and was suffering in the hospital.  He had gotten her daughter to change her diet and lose, I think he said, 100 lbs. Even though the mother had watched her daughter’s gradual success, she felt that she couldn’t do it. So she had continued eating the bread, cereal, potatoes, fried foods and all the other addictive foods that we’re told we can’t walk away from. Now, finally, there she was incapacitated, stuck in her bed and just waiting to die – from her decision. How many of us have relatives like that? So what happened with her?…………

Lo and behold, she wasn’t ready to die. She adopted a new way of eating – went back to the real old way – you know, real food – fresh veggies, nicely seasoned, peas, beans & greens with a little meat and fish, sugar no more than once a week AND SHE LOST THE WEIGHT,  IS NO LONGER DIABETIC, IS NO LONGER SICK, IS OUT AND ABOUT AND ENJOYING HER 80+ YEARS!!!! What about the people you love? What about you?