Easy 3-Day Holiday Cleanse

This easy cleanse can be done between the parties, feasts, and treats that define the holiday season. The cleanse is based on fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, and raw nuts – all prepared in a way to leave you feeling warm and nourished even on the coldest of winter days. Take a look at the menu plan below: you will have cooked fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, and soup for dinner. I also like to call this the “soup and salad cleanse.” After three easy days, you will feel light, refreshed, and ready for the next holiday party!

Time of Day Food Options Cleansing Benefits*
Upon Waking Warm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant to help neutralize toxins in the body.
Breakfast Steamed apples or pears and prunes. Top with cinnamon and raw walnuts or pecans. Prunes are high in fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and prevents constipation. Prunes are also high in phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants.
Mid-morning Green tea or herbal tea with raw nuts and seeds Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the small intestine, liver, and lungs.Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids, vitamin E, protein, and minerals. Nuts are an excellent source of arginine, an amino acid that plays an important role in detoxification. Nuts keep blood sugars balanced.
Lunch Mixed greens salad topped with chopped vegetables, your choice of beans, and sunflower seeds. Make a dressing with olive oil or flax oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mixed greens are high in chlorophyll and vitamin K. Bitter greens like dandelion stimulate digestion and may improve liver function.Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which protects against the toxic effects of cancer-causing chemicals.
Mid-afternoon Raw vegetables or fruit Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber to promote elimination, potassium to balance electrolytes, and antioxidant vitamins to neutralize toxins.
Dinner Your choice of soup (see suggested recipes below). If choosing a bean or lentil soup, serve with a steamed vegetable. Lentils are a good source of protein, fiber, and trace minerals. They promote healthy elimination and good blood sugar balance.Vegetables in the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale) contain compounds that increase detoxification enzymes and exert antioxidant effects.
Evening Cup of herbal tea with optional piece of fresh fruit. Numerous herbal teas are available. Many are specifically formulated for detoxification. Choose one that you enjoy!

Suggested soup recipes:

SAM_0720Choose any soup recipe that fits your fancy, but I most highly recommend bean, lentil, or vegetable soups. If you feel best eating meat, you can certainly do a homemade chicken and vegetable soup or beef stew. Here are three of my favorites:

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Curried Lentil Soup with Carrots

White Bean and Kale Soup

 

*The information on cleansing benefits of the foods is taken from The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND. 

Trends of the American Diet: For Better or Worse?

Source Article: The Changing American Diet

Since 1970, the USDA has been monitoring dietary trends of Americans. They have the data complete with graphs to show the changing trends. A great summary of this data was published in the Nutrition Action Healthletter in September 2013.

With increasing rates of chronic disease such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, it is reasonable to conclude that the changing trends of the American diet are not good ones. While we could argue whether any given trend is for better or worse, I would suggest that most are for the worst. Here are some highlights:

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image25364089Total caloric intake per day is 450 calories greater than it was in 1970 (2,535 vs. 2,075). The majority of these calories are coming from flour, cheese, oils, and sugar.

White and wheat flour outpace all other grains for current consumption. In fact the average American eats 109 pounds of flour per year, primarily from wheat. In 1970, this number was less than 80. Sugar consumption also remains high, at 78 pounds per person per year. As beef consumption has dropped, chicken consumption has climbed. Although we started eating more vegetables in 1980, that came to a rapid plateau. Both fruit and vegetable trends are virtually a flat line.

Dairy trends are curious. While whole milk consumption has dropped from 18 gallons per person in 1970 down to 4 gallons per person today, cheese consumption has filled that gap and then some. Cheese intake, in fact, is on an upward trajectory that does not appear to be leveling out. Yogurt consumption is also on a rapid rise. While yogurt is generally considered a healthy food, this is likely another source of added sugars in the American diet.

The trend that stands out as the most dismal is the category of fats. Total fat intake has climbed steadily since 1970. Over the last 10 years, the increase in fats has come entirely from “salad and cooking oils” while butter consumption has dropped. Salad and cooking oils are typically vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oils that have been chemically extracted, bleached, and deodorized. They provide too many omega-6 fatty acids and are sourced from GMO seeds.

Where have these trends landed us? Nearly 75% of adult Americans in 2010 were overweight or obese compared to less than 50% in 1970. Diabetes now affects nearly 7% of our population compared to less than 1% in 1958. The two leading causes of death in our country are cardiovascular disease and cancer.

We may all be better off if we returned to dietary trends that more closely resembled those of 1970 or before.

 

Dirtier than the Dirty Dozen: What Parents Need to Know about GMO

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image11269799

This article is intended for all moms and dads who have heard of GMO’s but just haven’t taken the time to figure out why they matter. It is for those of you whose children eat bread, crackers, or cereal that are not certified organic. It is for those of you who have never thought twice about what brand of corn chips you have in your kitchen. If this does not describe you, then stop reading now.

You may have heard of the “dirty dozen” list of most contaminated produce. You may buy your children organic strawberries and apples. But pesticide residues are rapidly becoming the least of my worries.

There is a category of toxic foods that has been creeping into our food supply since the mid 1990’s. The safety of these foods has never been proven. They are called GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms.

GMOs are made by forcing DNA from one organism (such as bacteria or viruses) into the DNA of another (such as soy, corn, or canola). This creates a food never before in the human food supply.

Two of the most prevalent genetically modified foods are soy and corn. They were introduced to the market in 1994 and 1996 respectively. How old were you then? I was 18 years old. And over the ensuing 18 years, the prevalence of these GMO crops has grown exponentially.

Currently more than 88% of all corn grown in the United States and 94% of all soy is genetically modified. This means that if you or your children are eating any foods containing corn or soy ingredients, you are eating GMOs.

But so what?

There is no requirement for long-term safety studies on either animals or humans before GMO foods appear on our grocery store shelves. Despite this laxity in regulation, the research that is available is enough to make anyone clear half of their pantry directly into the dumpster.

Here are a few things that we know about GMOs:

  • GMO foods contain proteins not found in natural foods that trigger allergic reactions. In fact soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK after GMO soy was introduced1.
  • GMO foods may also make you allergic to other foods. Mice fed genetically modified peas started reacting to a variety of other foods1.
  • The Bt toxin produced by GMO corn acts as a pesticide by puncturing holes in the stomachs of insects. It is now known to kill human kidney cells2.
  • This same Bt toxin produced in every cell of GMO corn has been found in the majority of pregnant women’s blood tested3.
  • GMO corn contains startling levels of formaldehyde4. Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
  • The only human study on GMO foods showed that genetically modified DNA could transfer to human gut bacteria and continue to function1. That’s right.  Our gut bacteria can become genetically modified. We do not know if this is ever reversible.
  • GMO foods have higher levels of pesticide and herbicide residues, especially the most commonly used herbicide, Roundup®5.
  • Roundup® cannot be washed off the food. It is sprayed on the fields and taken up into the edible parts of the plants.
  • Roundup® kills beneficial gut bacteria in humans6.
  • Roundup® may be linked with inflammatory bowel, obesity, depression, cancer, and even autism5.

If you want to eliminate genetically modified foods from your child’s diet, you have to start by trashing all of the non-organic processed foods including Cheerios®, Goldfish®, Capri-Sun®, and even Nature Valley® Granola Bars. A partial list of GMO ingredients commonly found in kids’ food is here:

  • Sugar (cane sugar and organic sugar are ok)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup / Corn Syrup / Other Corn-derived ingredients
  • Soybean oil / Soy protein / Other Soy-derived ingredients
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil

Other ways to avoid GMOs is to purchase the following:

  • Certified Organic products
  • Products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal

Today our children are part of a great experiment by biotech companies. They are the first generation to be born and raised on genetically modified food. What is their fate? I would rather not wait to see.

For more comprehensive information, please visit the following websites:

References:

  1. Smith, J.M. (2007) Genetic Roulette. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. Pp. 50, 56, 130.
  2. Sirinathsinghii, Eva. “Bt Toxin Kills Human Kidney Cells” ISIS March 14, 2012. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Bt_Toxin_Kills_Human_Kidney_Cells.php
  3. Aris, Aziz and Samuel Leblanc. “Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.” Reprod Toxicol. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623811000566
  4. Honeycutt, Zen. “Study Reveals GMO corn to be highly toxic.” April 15, 2013. http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/stunning_corn_comparison_gmo_versus_non_gmo
  5. Samsell, Anthony and Stephanie Seneff. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416
  6. Smith, Jeffrey. “Roundup Damages Beneficial Gut Bacteria, Promotes Botulism and other Pathogens.” Spilling the Beans Newsletter May 8, 2013. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/roundup-damages-beneficial-gut-bacteria/

Marshmallows and Early Childhood Education

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image15867404I started my two boys at a new daycare center last week. Although the school does provide meals for the kids, I had secured a doctor’s note to allow me to bring all of their snacks and meals from home. My children and I eat gluten free and my oldest just tested to be allergic to corn and food dyes. With these food restrictions, I felt confident that my boys would be exempt from the majority of junk foods that may be presented in the classroom. I was apparently completely naive.

On the first day of class, as part of an activity to learn about mixing colors, my son was fed three jumbo marshmallows dipped in food coloring. This means that he was given the following ingredients:

 

  • Corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Dextrose
  • Water
  • Gelatin
  • Artificial Flavor
  • Tetrasosodium pyrophosphate
  • FD&C Blue No. 1
  • FD&C Red No. 40
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5

If you would like to know about where these ingredients come from or their health effects, you should visit Center for Science in the Public Interest. They maintain a food additive database and also have app available called Chemical Cuisine.

On the second day of class, I had noticed on the class calendar that they would be celebrating an “un-birthday.” Preemptively, I packed a gluten-free cupcake in his lunch box in case the class would be having cake. That morning I had a more direct conversation with the teacher about the foods that my son needs to avoid. She seemed very accommodating and assured me that whenever they were going to have food in the classroom, I was welcome to bring a substitution.

At pick-up that afternoon, my son reported that he had been given “icing that he could have.” When I asked him what color it was, he said, “It was white so I could have it.” It turns out that what he was given to spread on his organic gluten-free cupcake was, in fact, Cool Whip®. This means that on day two he was given the following ingredients:

  • Water
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Skim milk
  • Light cream
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Natural and artificial flavor
  • Xanthan and guar gums
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Sorbitan monostearate
  • Beta carotene

On the third day of class, I asked to speak with the school director. I expressed my opinion that the use of sugar-laden junk food for classroom activities was not only unnecessary but also unacceptable. She graciously allowed me to say my piece. But in the end she made no gesture even to acknowledge the most simple of nutrition arguments: that sugar is bad for kids. Instead she explained that every family feels differently about these things and they will do their best to accommodate my needs. Again she resorted to the solution that I am always welcome to “bring in substitutions.” And exactly what substitutions would she suggest I bring in for marshmallows, food coloring, and Cool Whip®? I didn’t bother to ask.

As I walked out of the school that day, I saw a cart of animal cookies being rolled down the hallway for snack. I looked again at the weekly lunch menu posted by the door. The lunch was scheduled to be soup served with saltine crackers, a brownie, and milk. I walked out the door relieved that my boys each had a bag filled with nutritious food for their day.

But I also walked out deeply saddened by the food culture that has permeated all levels of our society down to the places where we care for, nurture, and educate our babies.

I knew that I was not going to change the environment of food at that daycare center. The director had made that more than clear. My remaining options were to either police the food allowed to touch my children’s lips on a daily basis or just get out.

I decided that my job as a mom trying to teach her children about nutrition would be much easier if that message were reinforced (or at least not contradicted) in the school.

So I spent the morning touring other childcare centers. Not a single one was free of all processed, GMO-laden, refined and sugary foods – not even the Montessori school with a tuition rate of $95 per child per day. Apparently the only way to keep your children away from these foods is to keep them at home.

But what fun is that?

In the end I found a center that seems to be much more in line with my  values. While they are not entirely junk-food-free, they are significantly more aware of the importance of nutrition and the value of teaching our children to eat right.

We will have a “first day of school take two” next week. I know that there will be ongoing discussion with my children and their schools about food and nutrition.

If you are a parent who also cares about what your children eat, please speak up! If we as parents stay silent on these issues, nothing will ever change.

My only hope now is that that the foods I see pass my little boys’ lips in the days, weeks, and months to come, have no resemblance to marshmallows, food colorings, or Cool Whip®.

Welcome!

Welcome! The purpose of this blog is to share information about food, nutrition, cooking, natural medicines, and social and environmental issues as they relate to food and health. My hope is that I will inspire others to make choices every day that will improve their health, bring happiness to their families, and preserve what we have left of our wonderful Mother Earth.