Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I am gluten intolerant. It’s not that I hate Ralph Gluten who lives next door to me. I just can’t eat wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut or oats. These grains contain gluten, the protein that makes bread rise. I have an inability to digest gluten, so it’s not absorbed in the small intestine and therefore leads to many of the following gastrointestinal symptoms: stomach pain, bloating, distention, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, foul stools, weight loss, and flatulence. Other nonintestinal symptoms are: irritability, back pain, depression, hair loss, vitamin deficiency, anemia, bone pain, fatigue, weakness and more.
Gluten intolerance is specifically known as Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease damaging the vilii (the small projections) of the small intestine. This injuring of the vilii leads to years of recurrence of the symptoms I have already outlined. The disease can rear its ugly head any time, from infancy to late adulthood. Today this often misdiagnosed disease is becoming more and more prevalent as evidenced by expanding gluten free sections of most major supermarket chains across the country. One out of every 133 people has Celiac. So there are more than 2,000,000 people walking around with the disease, 97% of which are still undiagnosed. In addition to the symptoms I’ve already enumerated Celiac can lead to arthritis, systemic lupus, certain intestinal cancers, Down’s syndrome, lactose intolerance, infertility, headaches, psychological dysfunctions, thyroid disease and diabetes. Celiac is primarily a disease in Caucasians and those of European ancestry. Women are more prone to inheriting it than are men.
I am 69 years old and was diagnosed with Celiac at a very early age. My parents put me on a gluten free diet during the Second World War when gluten free foods were almost impossible to secure. I was told I survived, for years, on lettuce, chicken and bananas. My symptoms went away for decades and I ate anything I wanted; lately however, my Celiac has begun to take its revenge: digestive issues, bloating, gas, depression, weakness, fatigue and high blood pressure. Sometimes, I think I can cheat because a little white wheat flour doesn’t affect me immediately. Now I realize, I’m just fooling myself. If I eat gluten I hurt, I’m depressed, my bones ache, can’t focus, can’t lose weight, can’t get on with my life. So that’s that. But there are enough really good gluten free substitutes in the market today, for anybody to find whatever they want. So ENJOY, BE HEALTHY!
Jay B. Ginsburg

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Falling Down

Climbing the stone steps to the Peterborough Unitarian Church, I fell. Suddenly I was down, lying still, reorienting. Heather came behind me and helped me up. I said I had to get Arnica, and walked across the street to open the trunk, find the bottle, and put four little white pills in my mouth. I went into the church to join the rest of Animaterra, ready to warm up, ready to sing. Nothing else is so good for me to bring me into the moment and set my troubles aside. Warmup over, I looked down and saw blood on my left foot and knee. Set that aside, a third dose of Arnica, and set my attention to singing for half an hour. How beautiful, such joy! Leaving, I felt the stiffness setting in. At our circle meeting which followed, Kathy provided the bandaids and wash cloth I asked for. More Arnica, a good meeting, moving slow, then drive home to Traumeel Gel. Now, three days later, still sore and stiff, but there was no bruising, and the scraped skin is healing over. So what is the lesson here? Be a Girl/Boy Scout, be prepared? Yes! My purse is a mobile natural first aid kit. At the moment, I see seven homeopathic remedies and two herbal salves. Bandaids are missing and need to be replaced. That covers most emergencies I meet. What I carry changes, evolves, but here's what I have now: Euphrasia (allergy, burning/tearing eyes) Nux Vomica (indigestion) Apis (insect bites and stings, red/hot) Cocculus Indicus (motion sickness) Ipecacuanha (nausea, vomiting) Arnica Montana (muscle soreness, bruising, trauma) Five Flower Remedy (a Rescue Remedy, physical and emotional) TheraNeem Neem Stick (for lips, for any kind of boo-boo) a tin of herbal salve They sit in a little pocket handily set on the side of the purse, with a secure flap and snap closure. The remedies are in very small tubes + a tiny bottle + a small tin, so they all fit. I haven't needed them often, but I would feel unprepared without them. Sunday I was very relieved to know I had what I needed.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Language and Health

‘Corn Sugar’ No More: HFCS Name to Stay

6:55AM PDT on Jun 2, 2012
There are many ways that a product can contain any kind of sweetner but the whole truth is your body neither knows or cares whether a sweetner is liquid, powder or granulated. The problem is not what the sweetner is. It is how much of it you put into your body. Lables are not going to change that. It is using less that will change the way people the way people treat their own bodies. If people can't change it themselves, neither will a name. Less is more!!! As in a sauge - use one instead of two or a half instead of a whole. The only way obesity will end is when everyone who cares about theie bodies enough, changes the amounts they put into theor body. It isn't up to government policy, it is up to each family cook to change the way their own family treats the food they eat.
Comment on care2.com from Janet W. (typos and all)

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/corn-sugar-no-more-high-fructose-corn-syrup-name-to-stay.html#ixzz1we33YFn6

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT -- The FDA will not allow 'high fructose corn syrup' to rename itself as 'corn sugar.'   'Sugar,' by definition, must be granular.  So, a technicality, but the fact is, the Food and Drug Administration did not cave in to the sugar manufacturers.

Now, how about labeling for dairy hormones?  How about the simple truth on a label for genetically modified plants and animals?  Let consumers make informed decisions, through information only available on labels.  (Consult those little produce stickers.  But, have you ever found the one that means 'GMO'?)

ABOUT THE COMMENT I copied above...  What Janet W. has said makes so many good points!  Yes, sugar is sugar.  The qualifications:  there is evidence that HFCS is particularly agressive when consumed.  A carb is a carb, but whole foods treat the body more gently than refined, and bring with them the benefits of the nutrients they carry.  Sugars have a range on the glycemic index and differ on the -ose composition, and (to a far lesser degree  than grains) can bring along some nutrient buffers to their pure hit.  Choose your sweeteners with attention.

Then, the issues of quantity... Valuable information you can learn from labeling is the breakdown of carbohydrates on the nutrition label.  If you are about to buy a manufactured product, compare items for the amount of sugar.  Check portion size too -- they may not be computed on the same amounts, or the portion size may be unrealistic. 

Following a recipe?  Here it's all in front of you, no secrets!  I just saw a cake recipe -- 2 9" layers, 2 cups maple syrup in the layers, 1/2 cup in the frosting (made with 1 pound of cream cheese), 1/4 cup in the 'healthy' fruit filling!  And the author of the recipe had reduced the sugar when she converted to maple syrup.  Common sense, anyone?

Janet says, "...when everyone cares about their bodies..."  Such a paradox in this country with its bountiful food supply, food costs still at a historically low level, mostly good information about nutrition easily accessed!  We're also a culture of rampant plastic surgery and Botox, anorexia and bulimia, skinny models and weight loss fads.  Too many people care about their bodies in strange and sometimes destructive ways, when the slow simple answers should be on our plates.

FOOTNOTE ABOUT SODIUM  I recently bought a package of English wholemeal biscuits.  I had a choice of 2 brands, with similar ingredients.  Checking the nutrition information panel, I found one had 4 times more sodium than the other.  Without that information, I would have ignorantly bought the other brand and ignorantly enjoyed it.  Another very sneaky excess in packaged food.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Need an Intestinal Workout?

I can hear myself quoting myself:
Fiber is a sponge and a broom. A sponge because it will pull toxins from the intestines, and a broom because it will sweep the toxins out of the intestines.
That was a handy analogy so that people who came to VitaSource could see a vivid picture of how fiber can work. Some people like to take seasonal change as the time for a dramatic internal cleanse. Simplify what you eat as a modified fast, concentrate on herbs and fibers in liquid meals. Some of the cleanse plans promote agressive, even explosive elimination. (The most common question was, Do I have to stay near the bathroom?) I prefer to advocate a more gentle approach. What you eat should be easy on the gut -- that food is assimilated. What you eat should be a pleasure -- that's better for you too. Fibers can be incorporated in a daily routine, in a simple drink with greens for gentle ongoing cleansing. Happier gut bacteria, happier elimination, better energy, better health. Now, quoting Carol Steadman:
Fiber without water is called a cork.
Fair warning! Plentiful water from pure sources makes everything work together.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Minor Angst

Daunted by technology, I plunged in and followed the prompts, filled in the blanks: I think I just set up a Facebook page for VitaSource. It has no photo: how do you do that? Have to import some kids (my own) to do it for me. Started a discussion, Resolutions 2010. Let's see where this goes.

Then I came to Blogspot to dump the spam comments, reset settings to try to prevent it. More tussles with technology. You start to feel OLD when you jump into new waters and find them cold --- and do I care?

There is weariness on me. Old year ending, no good books to read; that is, no mysteries. There are books aplenty piled up next to my bed. One that is fascinating is a history centered on the spice trade -- but I can only get through two or 3 pages at a time. Another is the next alumni seminar reading (Mind and Matter, Erwin Schrodinger): heavy, have to get going!

Knitting socks, slow work on #3 needles, and when I finish the first one I'll have to make another one if I want to wear them. I'm not a one sock person! I can't do my usual read and knit with this one, a definite restriction on my doing either one. At least when they're done they will be stunning!

Soon I will really have time to manage meaningfully. I can see that challenge, need to meet it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eat, Chew, Digest

Long ago I learned the mantra "Eat your liquids, chew your solids." This is probably the most valuable lesson I learned from Macrobiotics. It opens up the whole conceptual view of digestion. First, digestion begins in the mouth. We have teeth to masticate, we have saliva for the chemical action it performs (breaks down starches). There are nerve endings and taste buds to send messages to the brain, the liver and the whole chain of the digestive tract.

First, the sensual experience helps us slow down, enjoy our food, perhaps trains us to eat less because satisfaction is a byproduct of the experience. Then, our organs prepare the way -- secrete digestive enzymes and adjuncts, and the substantial quantity of fluid that is required for the process.

How common is it to see someone inhale a meal, gobble up food, bolt his dinner? Sadly some people choke, even die because of swallowing barely chewed food. Instead of calling for the Heimlich maneuver, chew! How many people scarf down food until they are stuffed, eating too fast for the brain to register the message of satiety? Think obesity... In this land of plenty (or excess), how often are the overfed the undernourished? Without the first step in the digestive process, how well can we assimilate? In extreme conditions, the knowledge of how to chew can be lost. At the risk of being totally corny, let's chew as if our lives depend on it -- because they do.

Mitch S. was in VitaSource today and told me that he was following my chewing recommendations, and impressed by how this changes his experience of eating. Wow, one convert!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Preventing deficiencies or promoting optimal health?

Concerns about Vitamin D deficiency may bring up an interesting dilemma. Those of us who live outside the tropics, don't eat enough of the foods that naturally have Vitamin D in them, spend little time outside four walls, use sunscreen or even have factors that inhibit normal absorption -- may be deficient in Vitamin D.

RDA's were set to define minimum levels to prevent deficiency conditions -- short on D = rickets. Who would have thought that Vitamin D's functions go far beyond bone health? Studies are piling up with benefits for high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, and cancer and diabetes prevention, to name a few. Other studies show that low levels of D are common.

So what do we do? Eat fatty fish and egg yolks, take cod liver oil, and cautiously get just enough sun. It would be hard to get too much D from food or the sun, but what about supplements? Canadian advisers have already increased the recommended daily intake from 400 IU to 1000 IU, and experts in the US want the FDA to do so too. "Upper levels" have been set higher already. Supplements can fill that gap.

All this seems to be a good move. Increase Vitamin D intake, understand the crucial interaction of D, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin K, and other co-factors and make sure we're getting enough (but not too much). Now my question is -- are we changing the meaning of the RDA (or whatever incarnation it's in now)? Are we proposing a move from minimum nutrition to prevent rickets (or whatever) to a new view that would realistically promote real health?

Another possibility: if Vitamin D can prevent a specific condition, or improve a condition, does that qualify that condition as a deficiency disorder? Cancer? Arthritis? Alzheimers? At the very least, we are certainly reinforcing this truism: Eating well is the best revenge!

THINK AGAIN -- Recommendations for Vitamin D usually specify D3, the natural form found in fish oils and lanolin. D2, either synthetic or from other natural sources, is said to be absorbed only about 1/2 as well. Or is it? A recent study from Boston University found that blood levels are the same when either form is used. In Australia, a study showed fewer falls in elderly women using D2. Stay tuned...