Monday, February 28, 2011

Healthy Kid-Friendly Lunches

"Many days at school, I see a lot of other kids have unhealthy lunches. Their lunches include dye filled chips like Cheetos, Lunchables (Did you ever look at the ingredient list of Lunchables?!), candy, soda, and or white-breaded sandwiches. The school lunches aren’t any healthier either. The school sells pizza, nachos, burritos, and pasta (alternating between marinara sauce spaghetti and meat macaroni), as well as french fries, milk, orange or apple juice, and Gatorade. For snacks, the school sells slushes, cookies, and pudding, Cutie Pies, or Hostess Fruit Pies (sometimes all three). Vending machines provide chips, flavored water, pretzels, candy, and other junk food. Kids receive money from their parents to buy a filling lunch from the school snack bar, but instead of buying pizza or a main dish, they buy candy, slushies, junk from the vending machine, and/or any other junk the school may be selling that day. These options are training kids to eat unhealthy. I try to encourage my friends to pack their own healthy lunches to bring to school, eat their fruits and vegetables instead of throwing them away, and to use reusable containers instead of plastic bags to pack their lunches.

Leftovers make a great lunch (soup, pasta, rice, etc.) as well as good old PB and J (non-hydrogenated PB and fruit sweetened jam). Some healthy lunches that I love (and you or your kid(s) may too!) are listed below. Enjoy!

1. Homemade pizza with organic ingredients
2. Soy meat sandwich with whole wheat bread and vegan mayonnaise (see recipes in sidebar). You can put organic tomatoes, lettuce, avocado on this sandwich, as well as any other item you like that is nutritious.
3. PB and banana (non- hydrogenated PB)
4. Left over homemade vegetable soup
5. Left over stir-fry veggies with noodles (good even cold)

Here are some ideas you can try for at-home lunches.

1. Boca or Garden burgers
2. Grilled cheese sandwich with Swiss, jack, or cheddar cheese slices (organic or hormone free) and grated Parmesan cheese (organic or hormone free) on whole wheat bread with Dijon mustard (optional).  I grill my sandwich with Earth Balance vegan butter.   
3. Grilled sandwich of tomato, avocado, and organic or hormone free cream cheese on whole wheat bread with Dijon mustard (optional) and vegan mayonnaise. Another way you can make this sandwich is to toast the bread instead of grilling the sandwich if you are in a hurry or want a less fattening sandwich.

Feel free to change any of these lunches around to your liking.  I encourage you to try and make up any other healthy lunches.  If you have any kid-friendly lunch ideas, please write them in the comment section.  I would be happy to post them."

By Katelin Gagnon  :)
Age 11

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh No! It's GMO!

I found some interesting, but not surprising, information regarding Kraft.  See link below posting for full story.  Apparently, Kraft admits to using genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH/rBST) in it's products.  rBGH/rBST was developed by Monsanto and is now marketed by Eli Lilly (a pharmaceutical company).  rBGH/rBST was the first genetically modified organism to become part of the food supply.  Federal regulators are aware that GMO bovine growth hormone produces milk that is less nutritious, contaminated with pus, and has elevated levels of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) which is associated with increased rates of cancer.

Kellogg's also admits it uses GMOs in it's products.  You can probably count on any processed cereal with corn or soy in it's ingredient list to have been genetically modified.  So cheerio to Cheerios!

Well now you know.  Boycott Kraft products.  Why just boycott Kraft products when they were honest enough to admit the truth?   Boycott ALL companies that use GMOs in their products.  How do we know which companies?  Probably all food producers use GMOs to some extent.  So instead of stopping shopping altogether, we can stop eating products that we know for sure have a high risk of being genetically engineered.  Those products include dairy, soy, corn, canola oil, and potatoes.  Do not eat any of these products unless they are labeled USDA organic.  As it stands now, unless a product is labeled USDA organic, we have no idea if it has been genetically modified. 

If you want to join the OCA's truth-in-labeling campaign, go to the see the link below for more information: 

Here is a great video from one of my favorite people, Mike Adams, Health Ranger, from  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How Much Water Do We Need?

What are the Functions of Water in the Body?

Your body is estimated to be about two-thirds water. The bloodstream and the brain are 75% and 85% water, respectively. Every process in our body is dependent on water. If you do not supply enough water to your body, your brain cannot function well. The next time you have a headache; it may be a sign of dehydration, so go drink some water before you grab the meds.

The functions of water in human body are as follows:

• Transports nutrients and oxygen to every cell
• Helps the liver break down and release more fat
• Helps our organs to absorb nutrients better
• Regulates body temperature
• Detoxifies-removes waste and toxins from all cells
• Protects and moisturizes our joints and organs

How is Water Lost from the Body?

Water is lost through urination, sweating, and respiration. You lose additional water by using diuretics such as caffeine, caffeine pills, alcohol, and some medications.

What are Symptoms of Dehydration?

Symptoms of dehydration may include one or more of the following:

 Bloating
 Chronic pains in joints and muscle
 Constipation
 Dry skin
 False hunger
 Fatigue
 Headaches
 Itchy skin
 Lower back pain
 Thirst

You need water long before you feel thirsty. A strong odor to your urine, along with a yellow or amber color indicates that you may not be getting enough water. Note that riboflavin, a B vitamin, will make your urine bright yellow and give it a strong odor also.

Long-term dehydration has been linked to many chronic health problems including adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, asthma, back pain, cataracts, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, depression, heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney stones, lupus, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy.

How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?

The following calculation is an estimate of how much water you should drink.

 Take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink at least 60 ounces of water per day.
 If you exercise you should drink an additional six to eight ounces of water for every 30 minutes you exercise.
 If you drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, you should drink an additional amount of water equal to the beverage you drank.
 If you are traveling on an airplane, you should drink six to eight ounces of water for every hour you are on board the plane.
 If you live in an arid climate, such as in Nevada or Arizona, you should add another 12 – 16 ounces per day depending on your weight.

So a person weighing 120 pounds, exercising 30 minutes per day, and living in Nevada should drink 78 to 84 ounces of water per day or approximately 10 to 11 cups. Please keep in mind that excessive amounts of water can deplete your body of nutrients and even kill you if done in a short period of time.  This is never advisable so it is best to drink your day’s requirements spread throughout the day.

What are Acceptable Beverages for Meeting Water Needs?

The following are acceptable beverages for meeting your daily water consumption needs:

 Water is the best choice – filtered or spring water only.
 Herbal teas without caffeine.
 100% fruit juices – even better if you dilute with 50% water.
 Electrolyte drinks – stay away from high sugar ones.

Minimize alcohol, coffee, and black tea as they act as diuretics. Dairy milk is not an acceptable substitute either as it increases water needs. Sodas as a beverage should be eliminated completely as they are not only devoid of any nutritional value but are detrimental to your health.

To Your Health!
Image: Suat Eman /


Haas, E.M., M.D., (2004). The New Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.

Jegtvig, S. (2007, March 15), Drinking Water to Maintain Good Health. Retrieved April 20, 2010 from

Page, F., N.D., PhD., Detoxification: All You Need to Know to Recharge, Renew and Rejuvenate Your Body, Mind and Spirit. Carmel Valley: Traditional Wisdom.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strokes - Signs To Recognize That Could Save Someone's Life

Signs of a stroke can be missed.  After reading the following, maybe your own life or the life of someone you know will be saved by paying more attention to the warning signs.

Here is a typical sad story (sent to me by a friend) of a stroke that went unrecognized:

"During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics).  She said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.  They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food.  While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ.  Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today." 

First of all what is a stroke?  A stroke is a blood clot or other blockage in an artery that keeps blood from reaching the brain. About 80% of strokes are caused by blood clots.  If a blood vessel bursts, it is called a hemorrhagic stroke. When blood, and the crucial nutrients and oxygen it carries, can't reach the brain, brain cells can quickly die, leaving permanent damage.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?  The most common warning signs of a stroke include the following:

  1. Visual problems like a sudden change in vision or sudden double vision.
  2. Numbness of the face, weak arms or legs, weakness on one side of the body.
  3. Disorientation, problems with speech (e.g., slurred speech), and/or trouble understanding others.
  4. Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Painful headache that comes on suddenly and have no known cause.
A neurologist has a much greater chance of reversing the effects of a stroke caused by a blood clot the sooner he/she can get to a stroke victim.  The trick is getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within the first few hours.

If a person does not recognize the signs of a stroke in themselves, a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions.  The 3 questions are based on the first 3 letters of the word STROKE as follow:

S - ask the individual to SMILE.

T - ask the person to TALK and speak a simple sentence coherently (i.e. It is sunny out today).

R - ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with any ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE: Another sign of a stroke is this: Ask the person to stick out his tongue. If the tongue is crooked or if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

Hopefully, this does not happen to us or anyone we know. Doing our best to prevent a stroke or heart attack is, of course, preferable. Exercising (with your physician's approval), cutting down or cutting out red meat, sugar (including artificial sweeteners), alcohol, hydrogenated fats, and processed foods. And if you smoke, stop. I will be blogging more on tips to stay healthy in future blogs and include recipes from time to time.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment. I will answer all questions except spam.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


In this crazy, fast-paced world, more and more people are having difficulty getting a good night's sleep or have insomnia.  Here are come tips to help you sleep better.

1)  Go to bed at the same time every night, preferably before 11 p.m., and wake up at the same time every day.  That means weekends, too.  Burning the midnight oil on the weekend will affect your sleep during the week.  Melatonin production is best before midnight so going to bed after midnight is best left to owls.

2)  Do not eat or exercise within 2 hours of bedtime.  If your body is busy digesting food, it can't relax enough for sleep.  And if your body is warm from exercise, it will take hours to cool down enough for sleep. 

3)  Exercise during the day.  Working away excess energy during the day will help you sleep calmer at night.

4)  Plan the next day on paper before going to bed otherwise you may be planning your next day in bed in your mind.

5)  If you are angry at someone, make a resolution to address your anger with that person the next day.  If it is someone from your past, then forgive them.  Write a note to them and then shred it or burn it if you have a fireplace.  Holding on to grudges only hurts you.

6)  Sleep in complete darkness.  Even lights from alarm clocks can keep you from falling into a deep sleep.  Invest in a good sleep mask if needed.

7)  If you have annoying noises outside your dwelling that keeps you up at night, buy a machine that makes a white noise to block out surrounding noises.  Place the machine at least 5 feet from your bed.  You don't need the additional EFT.  You can also put on a fan if it is summer.

8)  Do not drink coffee or black tea after lunch and do not drink alcohol directly before bed.  Caffeine in the afternoon can keep you from a deep sleep.  One and I mean one (one beer or 4 ounces of wine) alcoholic beverage with dinner shouldn't affect your sleep as long as you are having dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.  Having an alcoholic beverage right before bed such as a night cap will help put you to sleep but you will be waking up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep.  Trust me on this one.

9)  If your mattress is too soft or old, get rid of it and buy one that is comfortable.  You spend 1/3 of your life in bed, buy a good quality mattress, bedding, and night wear. 

10) Lower the temperature in your house at night to no higher than 68 degrees.  I set mine at 65 degrees.  Cool air is better for sleeping.  Better to throw on covers than to sleep in a stuffy room.  You will also save significantly on your heating bill if you are currently setting your thermostat at 70 to 72 degrees.  Also, air out your bedroom everyday, even in the winter, if only for 5 minutes.  Our bedrooms tend to get stuffy in the winter, especially if you have pets.

11) You can also try the herbs Valerian (pill form) or Chamomile (tea form).  I haven't tried Valerian but I do use the homeopathic remedy Aconite Napellus (pellet form).  Aconite is for anxiety so it does calm me enough to sleep.  I do drink Chamomile tea occasionally.  Tryptophan is also known to help with sleep and is found in turkey and milk.  I don't drink milk or eat much turkey but if you do, please use organic for your health.  A small glass of milk before bedtime or turkey with dinner may help. 

12) 10 minutes of stretching or yoga just before bed helps me unwind and relax. 

13) No electronics 2 hours before bed (2 hour rule again!).  That means no TV, telephone, or most computer.  Computer is fine as long as you are just reading and writing.  Playing games or watching videos are a no no!  These activities stimulate your brain for hours after you stop.

14) If you've tried everything above and are still staring at the ceiling, you should see your physician.  You might have a sleeping disorder like sleep apnea or sleep walking.  If you have unresolved emotional issues and can't resolve them on your own, seeing a family therapist (psychologist or licensed family therapist) might be very helpful.

If anyone has any suggestions they have tried, please let me know and I will add them to my list. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Getting a Tan and Cancer Risks

With all the snow we are getting this year, if you can't fly to Florida or Hawaii, tanning beds sound like a good alternative.  Think again. 

For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as "probable carcinogens."  That was prior to July 2009.  The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced July 2009 that it moved UV tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category -- "carcinogenic to humans."  A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of melanoma skin cancer jumps by 75% when people start using tanning beds before age 30.

So what about going back to natural sun tanning? Research has also shown that many of us have vitamin D deficiency from insufficient UVB exposure or NOT going out and exposing our skin to the sun. Natural sunlight creates active vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption so it is good for bone health. Vitamin D also helps ensure proper function of the heart, nervous system, clotting process, and immune system. Thousands of cancer deaths each year are linked to vitamin D deficiency. So what are we to do to get our daily dose of vitamin D and not increase our risk of cancer by sun exposure? (Roizen and Oz, 2007, pp. 254-256) Here are some options:

1. Don't wear sunscreen at all when in the sun. Life's to short for all this worry.

2. Apply sunscreen when going in the sun and take a vitamin D supplement. Health is more important than a tan.

3. Go out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes per day 4 to 5 days per week to get enough vitamin D. If you stay out longer apply sunscreen.

Option 1 is not a good option if you are out in the sun for many hours. You may get enough vitamin D but you are increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature wrinkling.

Option 2 is better. Just make sure you use an organic sunscreen. The chemicals in the non-organic brands can be toxic and irritating to sensitive skin.

Option 3 is best. Get 15 to 20 minutes of sun 4 0r 5 days per week will supply enough vitamin D for the week. Use organic sunscreen if you are going to stay out in the sun for an extended period or you are going swimming. Plenty of vitamin D will be absorbed if you are swimming because the best of sunscreens do not stay on for long periods of time even if you reapply every hour. And let's be realistic, when we are having fun, we are not always diligent about reapplying.

Unfortunately if you live where it gets cold and snowy like I do then what do you do in the winter?  What about self-tanning products? These products are loaded with chemicals and can irritate skin. I would not use them on a regular basis. See the list at the link in the list of resources below if you want to try them some of the better products. In the summer, some of the ingredients in these products may actually increase your risk of sun burn; therefore, you should apply sunscreen if going in the sun for an extended period of time.

Spray tans at salons are also an option but can be costly at $20 - $30 on average per application and last 7-10 days. These are best saved for special events and can be loaded with chemicals, too.

What do I do? I try to get out in the sun every day for 15 to 20 minutes doing my gardening and yard work with no sunscreen.  I am not obsessed about getting a tan, just some color. I wear an organic sunscreen when I go swimming.  On days that I do not get out in the sun, I take a vitamin D supplement.   In the winter, I just try to out in the sun when I can, supplement with Vitamin D, and embrace my tanless skin.


Roizen, M.F., M.D. & Oz, M.C., M.D. (2007), You Staying Young: The Owner's Manual For Extending Your Warranty, New York: Free Press.

Boyles, S. (2009, July 28).  WHO: Tanning Beds Cause Cancer.  Retrieved February 18, 2011 from
For a list of safer tanning products:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pet Health

Pet health is dear and close to my heart as I have two great dogs.  Both have had their share of health problems.  The most important thing you can do for your pet's health as your own is to feed them good quality food.  The best food for dogs is a combination of organic chicken breast, brown rice, and vegetables.  For one cup of chicken, you would add two cups of cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, and 1/2 cup of broth or water.  If you boil the chicken, I would add a tablespoon of olive or good quality vegetable oil for every cup of meat before serving.  I usually cook up a batch for 3 days.  If you can't afford all organic, then buy non-organic rice and vegetables.  However, I would not compromise on the organic chicken unless you get your chicken from a local farmer who does not use hormones when raising chickens.  If you use factory farmed chicken, you are subjecting your dog to the risk of the added hormones used in factory farmed animals.  These risks include but are not limited to higher risk of cancer just like you would if you ate factory farmed chicken every day.  It is wise to add supplements to your dogs food if it is home prepared.  There is a good recipe in Dr. Pitcairn's book Natural Health for Dogs & Cats.  You can also buy good quality supplements online through Balance It.  For Balance It you may need a code from your veterinarian to purchase.  Your veterinarian can also help you choose the right one for your pet.  

If you don't want to go through the trouble of cooking your dogs food or you are financially unable to at this time, I would suggest buying a good quality organic dog food.  The one I like and keep on hand for when I can't cook is Organix.  It is USDA certified organic.  Yes, it is more expensive than other canned dog foods but well worth the price.  I usually wait until it goes on sale (which it does frequently at Petsmart) and stock up.  My dogs never get kibble except for treats.  Yes, I use the kibble for training them and I only use organic. 

Whatever you choose to do, do not feed your pets highly processed commercial food with byproducts, dyes, preservatives, and refined sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup or sugar).  All non-organic commercial pet food is risky.  Much of it is coming from China with additives deadly for our pets.  Remember the melamine scare.  Melamine, a chemical found in wheat gluten, was at the center of a recall of 60 million packages of pet food.  Many pets got very sick and some died.  Don't let your pet be one of them. 

We've had many very cold temperatures across the country this winter. Please don't leave your pet out at night, especially, when temperatures drop below 50 degrees or rise above 80 degrees.   It's inhuman to leave pets outside during severe weather, especially it they are on a leash.  We wouldn't want to be outside (on a leash) so our pets shouldn't be outside in severe weather either.  In my opinion, there is no such thing as an outside dog, unless you mean outside the bedroom.  My dogs are great watch dogs and keep me aware at night of any strange noise so they stay in my bedroom.  I understand if some people want their dogs in another room at night but I can't understand putting them outside the house.  Pets who get little interaction with their owners live shorter and less healthly lives.  They love YOU unconditionally, protect you, and play with you.  Please do the same for them by feeding them well, playing with them, cleaning them, bringing them for annual vet exams, and protecting them.  The love you give them will come back ten fold.  Your pets will be happier, healthier, and live longer.       

If there is any health or fitness topic you would like me to write about, please let me know.  All relative comments are welcome except spam.  Spam will be deleted.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Excitotoxins: Dangers of Aspartame and MSG

What are excitotoxins?
As stated Dr. Russell Blaylock on the back cover of his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills (1997), an excitotoxin is “a substance added to foods and beverages that literally stimulates neurons to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees. Can be found in such ingredients as monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame (NutraSweet®), cysteine, hydrolyzed protein, and aspartic acid.”

What is the risk of neuron cells dying?

You have a limited number of neurons in your brain. The neurons in your brain stop reproducing shortly after birth. Therefore, whatever neurons are lost or destroyed are gone permanently.
The destruction of neuron cells, depending on the location in the brain, is evident in many modern day diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. There is growing evidence that excitotoxins play a role in these neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, other diseases of the nervous system are being linked to excitotoxin buildup including AIDS dementia, brain damage, brain injury, migraine headaches, and seizures (Blaylock, 1997, p. xxi).

The number of people getting these diseases is increasing, especially Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Part of the reason for the increases, of course, is related the aging population. I remember reading an interview (I believe the year was 1987) in Rolling Stone magazine with Michael J. Fox. If you are old enough, you might remember that Michael did Diet Pepsi commercials during that time. The interview asked Michael if he actually drank Diet Pepsi. He answered yes and not only did he drink Diet Pepsi, he drank a couple of liters a day. Ever of the aspartame in the Diet Pepsi did not cause Parkinson’s disease in Michael, it may have triggered the disease much earlier than he would have gotten it otherwise. Personally, I would rather not risk it.

What exactly is aspartame?

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in most diet soft drinks and low calorie or diet food products. Aspartame has three major components including methanol, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine (Evangelista, 2004). Here is a description of the components of aspartame:

1. Methanol - methyl alcohol (wood alcohol) is a colorless, poisonous, and flammable liquid. It can be inhaled from vapors, absorbed through the skin, and ingested. Its breakdown components are formaldehyde (used for embalming fluid and linked to ALS) and formic acid. Methanol is used for making embalming fluid, acetic acid, methyl t-butyl ether (a gasoline additive), paint strippers, carburetor cleaners for your car's engine, and many other products. Methanol is a dangerous neurotoxin (a known carcinogen) that can have widespread and devastating effects. It causes retinal damage in the eye, interferes with DNA replication, and causes birth defects. Methanol is the type of alcohol you read about when people become blind from drinking it. Methanol is especially damaging when introduced with toxic, free-form amino acids, called excitotoxins. Methanol is quickly absorbed through the stomach and small intestine (Evangelista, 2004).

2. Aspartic acid - is a non-essential amino acid. Used as an isolate, an extremely harmful substance excites or over-stimulates nerve cells. This occurs in the brain, as well as the peripheral nerves, because aspartic acid, in free form, is an absorption accelerant & easily crosses the blood-brain barrier (Evangelista, 2004).

3. Phenylalanine - an amino acid. Amino acids are good for us and keep us healthy when in a protein chain but this amino acid in aspartame has been separated and used as an "isolate" or by itself (Evangelista, 2004). Phenylalanine can cause brain damage in children with PKU (sensitive to phenylalanine) (Hull, 2002).

Does that sound appetizing? Simply, you should stop consuming these products. Not only are most devoid of any nutritional value, they are detrimental to your health. There are significantly more obese people in America subsequent to the approval of aspartame by the FDA. Aspartame was approved in 1981 for dry food and 1983 for soft drinks (Evangelista, 2004). Diet food products do not satisfy nutritional needs and therefore create more hunger than if you ate healthy in the first place.

What is monosodium glutamate (MSG)?

Monosodium glutamate or MSG is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, sauces, processed meats, and diet foods (Blaylock, 1997, p. xxi). MSG was isolated from kombu, a seaweed (Baylock, 1997, p. xviii). The use of MSG is controversial. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that is "generally recognized as safe". MSG has been frequently disguised in products with names like "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" or "HVP", "yeast extract" or "autolyzed proteins". MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. During that time, the FDA has received many reactions from MSG including the following (Zeratsky, 2010):
  • Headache 
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Facial pressure or tightness
  • Numbness, tingling or burning in face, neck and other areas
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Weakness 

Below is a list of major sources of MSG as provided by Dr. Blaylock (1997, p. 255):
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (1)
  • Hydrolyzed Protein (1)
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (1) 
  • Plant Protein Extract
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Yeast Extract
  • Textured Protein
  • Autolyzed Yeast
  • Hydrolyzed Oat Flour

(1) Hydrolyzed protein is protein that has been broken down (hydrolyzed) into its component amino acids. According to the FDA, hydrolyzed protein is used to enhance flavor in a wide variety of processed food products, such as soups, sauces, chili, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings. It is often blended with other spices to make seasonings that are used in or on foods. The chemical breakdown of proteins may result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG. When added this way, the FDA does not require the labels to list MSG as an ingredient unless it is 100% pure MSG (Blaylock, 1997, p. 218).

What is cysteine?
Cysteine (l-cysteine) is a non-essential amino acid used by food manufacturers as a flavor enhancer for chicken stock and a conditioning agent for flour and bakery products. In large quantities, it acts as an excitotoxin. In laboratory tests, it showed the same pattern of neuron destruction as glutamate when injected in rats (Blaylock, 1997, pp. 182-183).  

Homocysteine, a metabolic derivative of cysteine, is also an excitotoxin. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine have been shown to be a major indicator of cardiovascular disease. Several studies have been done in which it was found that all Alzheimer's patients examined had elevated levels of homocysteine. (Blaylock, 1999).

Conclusion:  For good brain health, you are wise to completely avoid artificially sweetened products and most processed foods as these products are high in aspartame, MSG, and cysteine.  Check labels carefully.  

Note: If you would like to purchase Dr. Baylock's book, click on


 1. Blaylock, R.L., M.D., (1997). Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Santa Fe: Health Press.

 2. Blaylock, R.L., M.D., (1999) Food Additives, Excitotoxins and Degenerative Brain Disorders.        Retrieved June 7, 2010 from

 3. Evangelista, A.M., (2004, March). History of Aspartame. Retrieved May 20, 2010 from
 4. Hull, J., (2002), Dangers of Aspartame Poisoning. Retrieved May 20, 2010 from

 5. Zeratsky, K., R.D. (2010), Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Question: Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Is It Harmful? Retrieved June 7, 2010 from

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vegan Mayonnaise

Here is a great recipe for vegan mayonnaise.  I used to buy Nayonnaise at Whole Foods but at over $4 a bottle, it got to be very expensive.  This one tastes great and lasts a few weeks.


4 ounces of silken tofu
1 tablespoon of canola, sunflower, or olive oil
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of ground mustard seed (use 1/2 of grinding whole seeds as I do)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Optional - turmeric, paprika, and/or garlic powder to taste

Blend all in a blender.  A hand blender works fine.

Note:  When I can't find 4 ounces of silken tofu, I buy 8 ounces.  You can either double the recipe or use the extra silken tofu for a smoothie.  I add frozen strawberries, banana, maple syrup, and juice (save the juice from canned or frozen fruit).  My daughter usually has it with breakfast.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Homeopathy is a great for many ailments.  I've used Nux Vomica for headaches and upset stomachs, Pulsatilla for congestion, Thuja for vaccine detox, Belladonna for fevers, Rhus-Tox for joint pain, Aconitum Napellus for anxiety, all with great success.  Homeopathy does not interfere with any prescription drugs but unfortunately it prescription drugs, acid in coffee, and strong herbs such as peppermint or winter mint (found in toothpaste) can neutralize the remedy.  So when taking homeopathic remedies, you want to take it as far away from this items as possible.  The cleaner your system the better.  You also want to take remedies at least 30 minutes after and before eating or drinking including water.  The pellets must go into the remedy cap and directly into your mouth to dissolve.  It should not touch anything. 

A good article today on homeopathic remedies is at Natural News link below:

Happy Valentine's Day!  If you eat too much chocolate, try a Nux Vomica.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Deregulation of GE alfalfa. Has organic food ended as we know it?

Big news of the year for those interested in keeping our organic food supply free of genetically modified (GM) contamination is the deregulation of GE alfalfa. Earlier in the year, the Organic Elite tried to work on a compromise with Monsanto and the USDA in regards to regulation of GM alfalfa. The Organic Elite includes but is not limited to Whole Foods, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farms.  Whole Foods claims they had no choice but to agree to a coexistence with Monsanto on GE crops.  They claim that total regulation was not an option.  See link 2 below for more information.

The deregulation of GE alfalfa could have devastating consequences on all organic crops and animal feed. Alfalfa in the United States comprises 15% of all crops grown. Alfalfa is a primary food source for dairy cows and beef cattle. Alfalfa is an open-pollinated crop, which means bees, birds, and other insects freely pollinate it in an uncontrolled way. Its seeds and pollen can be spread far and wide all year long, which cause every future generation of alfalfa to have differing genetic traits. So once an alfalfa plant is cultivated, whether natural or GM, there really is no stopping either its spread or mutating effect on both nearby plants and future plantings of new alfalfa. 

The long-term effect of growing GM alfalfa is the eventual contamination of all non-GM and organic varieties of just about all crop varieties with which it comes into contact. And once all those other crops are contaminated so will be the entire food supply for people and animals.  Organic and non-GM crops will become extinct.  So, can coexistence between GM and non-GM plants really exist?  The saddest fact is that most of the alfalfa grown in the U.S. does not require pesticides or herbicides.  So Monsanto will take a perfect crop and GM it.  For what reason?  Control?  Power?  Money?  You decide. 

To contact the USDA, email

To contact the White House, call:
(202) 456-1111

To contact Congress, visit:


See posting dated January 28, 2011 and titled Urgent Action Needed to Support Organics and Non-GE Crops

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day

Please eat your breakfast every day whether you are trying to lose weight or not. This meal jump starts your metabolism and gives you energy to work more efficiently. Your breakfast should include a protein such as eggs, nuts (peanut butter is acceptable), or plain yogurt. I don't eat meat but if you do, nitrite free turkey bacon would be good. Some suggestions for a great breakfast are follows:

1) Eggs, whole wheat toast with butter (yes butter!) and fresh fruit on the side.
2) Slow cooked oatmeal (steel cut is the best but rolled oats will do fine) with raisins and walnuts.
3) 1/2 plain yogurt with a teaspoon of low sugar jam (no artificial sweeteners) and maple syrup to taste, and whole wheat toast with butter (yes!).
4) A slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, a glass of soy milk, and a piece of fresh fruit.

Some people don't do well with fruit and proteins. If you are one of them, save your fruit for a mid-morning snack. Also one cup of coffee or tea with milk or half and half is acceptable.