Tag Archives: Health

Feel-Good Food That’s Good for your Brain

Let’s face it,,,,,everytime you feed your body, you feed your brain. A well-fed brain can think clearly, make great decisions, handle stress and remember well.

A poorly-fed brain can’t remember, is impatient, is stuck in a cloud and can’t make decisions. Everything you eat affects you, so don’t you want to pick the best foods?

What’s really the best food?
Who knew that the best foods for you, now that you know the food pyramid misses the mark, are, u name it:  good ole greens, beans and veggies as close to fresh picked as you can get them. Organic produce is important because pesticides are potent cancer causers. With the widespread marketing of GMO foods (genetically-modified (Frankenfood) fruits and vegetables), it is doubly important that black folks and urban neighborhoods don’t become dumping grounds for pesticide-laden, old, poorly regulated and nutrient poor foods.

Food distributors know that they can unload lower quality foods in urban and immigrant neighborhoods. (Check the expiration labels on the food products that you buy. For unpackaged foods use your eyes and your nose. If you can smell the fish counter or the meat section from the front of the store, maybe you should go somewhere else. )

What to look for
Now is the time to look for the stickers on fresh produce that says “Organic” or has a five digit code that begins with a number 9.  Let the manager at your local market know that you want high quality, organically grown, fresh produce. If a few people ask, they can order it for their produce section. Look for farmers markets with produce that is often picked the same day or the day before. Pay a little bit more or check out your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to buy a “farm-share” where you’ll get weekly deliveries of freshly harvested veggies from May to November for a lump sum payment. Check the prices of several farms but this usually averages $40 a week for the growing season for a family of four. They usually deliver to a drop off point like a church,  school or farmers market.

In the end, it’s less expensive
Fresh produce can be quickly cooked into a meal for 25% of the cost of processed, prepared foods and have four times the nutrition because it hasn’t been processed, baked, boiled, colored, preserved and sometimes, dried for packaging.

Follow health-conscious sister/brother bloggers
Vegan and healthy food bloggers, like Tracye McQuirter, will give you the details, recipes, facts and motivation for cooking up delicious, nutritious, “skintastic” and age defying meals!

Coconut oil for alcoholism

A former alcoholic who researched a solution to the unbearable cravings for alcohol that ruined his personal life, Dr. Robert Hershline, found relief from a simple, natural nutrient.

“He started taking coconut oil daily and within four days experienced the same sense of relief from symptoms that he got from alcohol.”

In his book, The Coconut Oil Miracle, he shares his insights into the conversion of medium-chain fatty acids (essential to brain function) in coconut ketones into fuel for the brain. Through the regular consumption of coconut oil, “the brain’s conditioned dependence on acetic acid and desires for alcohol can be broken”.

In a recent study review in The Well Being Journal, Bruce Fife, ND and certified nutritionist, stated that blood ketone levels can be raised to therapeutic levels by taking 5 to 6 tablespoons of coconut oil daily.  Consumed with foods, three 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons doses could be consumed daily.

Consumers of coconut oil stress that one should look for extra virgin, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil. Try coconut oil spread with nut butter on sprouted bread or on steamed carrots, added to a smoothie or used in low temperature cooking to saute vegetables.

References

1. Hershline, R. Why Do I Drink?: The Role of Brain Metabolism, Published by Robert Hershline, Hilton Head Island, SC 2013

2. Fife, Bruce. “Coconut Ketones: A New Approach to Alcoholism“.  Well Being Journal, November/December, 2013: 9-14.

No Amount of Alcohol is Safe

The 2014 World Cancer Report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concludes that no amount of alcohol is safe.  This, despite the fact that consumers have come to believe in the concept of “Responsible drinking”.

Even Light Drinking Puts You at Risk
Most people think that a couple of drinks nightly are good for heart health and overall well being but that appears to be a misconception. While research shows that the more alcohol a person drinks, the higher the risks of cancer, even one glass a night, especially when combined with smoking, is associated with breast cancer, for example.

In a meta-analysis of 222 studies comprising 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 nondrinkers with cancer, it was estimated that in 2004 worldwide, 5000 deaths from oropharyngeal cancer, 24,000 from esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 5000 from breast cancer were attributable to light drinking. Light drinking was not associated with cancer of the colon-rectum, liver or larynx.

Trace the trail
Actually, due to the carcinogens in alcohol – some which are formed naturally in the process of creating alcohol – sites in the body which are more likely to develop cancer are exactly the sites that alcohol reaches first as it travels through the body. While hard liquor was most damaging to the esophagus where fine cilia are most sensitive to ethanol found in hard liquor, the further alcohol travels through the body, the less the effects.

Other cancers that were found to be directly caused by wine, beer and spirits, along with hard liquor are cancers of the: mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver and female breast. A significant connection was found between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.

Strong links have also been made between drinking and leukemia, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and skin. Researchers note that fewer studies have looked at those connections. Dr. J. Rehm, the lead on the IACR study says, “For the cancers that have been identified as being causally (not casually) linked with alcohol, we are absolutely certain that alcohol causes these cancers.

Alcohol contains lots of carcinogens
Alcoholic beverages can contain at least 15 carcinogenic compounds, including acetaldehyde, acrylamide, aflatoxins, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethanol, ethyl carbamate, formaldehyde, and lead. Ethanol is the most important carcinogen in alcoholic beverages. How the body breaks down ethanol is determined by your genetic profile.

There are many other factors that determine how and whether alcohol leads to cancer in individuals. For example, in some people due to their genetic profile, the ethanol in alcohol interferes with their ability to obtain folate from their diet. In breast cancer, alcohol increases estrogen levels and overstimulates breast cells. It is also thought that alcohol may increase the absorption of carcinogens in cigarettes. Because of this smoking and drinking is considered “a particularly dangerous mix”.

Avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol could prevent up to 80% of oral cancer cases and 90% of laryngeal cancer cases.

The amount counts
When it comes to the notion of one glass with dinner being helpful to heart health, more is not better; in fact, more is dramatically worse. Heavy alcohol use causes hypertension, atrial fibrillation, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, and nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy.

This is a special concern for young drinkers where “binge-drinking” is popularized. The young more  frequently suffer the adverse consequences of acute intoxication (accidents, violence, and social problems). In fact, among males aged 15-59 years, alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor for premature death.

With what is known now about alcohol causing so many cancers, the question should be similar to that for lung cancer. When we hear of someone dying of lung cancer we almost automatically ask, “Did they smoke?” When we hear of someone getting breast cancer now, perhaps we should also ask, “Do they, or did they, drink?”

While this may be disheartening news for those of you who feel the work week was created so that you can hit the bars on the weekend, there are other options. Researchers have found that people respond well to knowledge about their risks and begin changing habits. One of the best options can be found in the other activity that many clubs provide: dancing. Great for the heart and great for the spirit. No alcohol required! Music alone is known to effect the brain and start the endorphins flowing (free, too!). Many alcohol screening tools are available. Behavior change and positive effects have been observed in adolescents, adults, older adults, and pregnant women following alcohol screening and brief interventions aimed at reducing alcohol intake.

While physicians were recommended to “Investigate new drugs that mimic the milder effects of alcohol”, we’ve heard of some things even closer and more natural to Mother Earth. No, not marijuana, but natural, non-addictive herbs that are not known to damage brain cells – herbs like lemon balm, chamomile, mint, etc. or herbal preparations like Perfect Calm or St. John’s Wort (Read up on combinations to avoid and don’t use if you are taking antidepressants,  psychotropic medications, etc. Be aware that in the same way that alcohol affects each person differently, so do herbs.) Check our posts for more articles on natural relaxants – coming up.

References
Rehm J, Shield K. Alcohol consumption. In: Stewart BW, Wild CB, eds. World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014.

Lachenmeier DW, Przbylski MC, Rehm J. Comparative risk assessment of carcinogens in alcoholic beverages using the margin of exposure approach. Int J Cancer. 2012;131:E995-E1003. Abstract

Seitz HK, Becker P. Alcohol metabolism and cancer risk. Alcohol Res Health. 2007;30:38-41, 44-47.

Hamid A, Wani NA, Kaur J. New perspectives on folate transport in relation to alcoholism-induced folate malabsorption-association with epigenome stability and cancer development. FEBS J. 2009;276:2175-2191. Abstract

Al-Sader H, Abdul-Jabar H, Allawi Z, Haba Y. Alcohol and breast cancer: the mechanisms explained. J Clin Med Res. 2009;1:125-131.

O’Keefe JH, Bhatti SK, Bajwa A, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ. Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89:382-393.

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.