by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, BCIH
Politicians and world leaders have used food sources to manipulate populations leading to wide spread famine and population control for centuries. For the history buffs check out the book “Taste of War” by Lizzie Collingham.
We are at a crossroads in history with food. For the first time we have gone from selective breeding and hybridization to Genetic Engineering. This has been done under the belief “we can feed the world through science” The most impressive advance in agriculture was the advent of fertilizer that allowed for more nitrogen to be available than what was naturally occurring from nature. This advance allowed for more to be fed from smaller areas of land, until this time the farmland/population balance could only advance so far due to soil health. Think back to farming events that led up to the great dust bowl, and the understanding of crop rotation for soil health.
Our cross road today is the battle over genetic modification/engineering food labeling, not over the development, sale or use. I personally believe I have the right to make food purchase based on my beliefs, one of those is the importance of buying local produce and fruits, keeping more of my moneys here at home. The other is my ideological concerns over messing in Gods cookie jar – DNA and RNA manipulation for profit.
Currently we have Oregon HB 2175 & 2532 in the works that would require the labeling of GMO foods sold in Oregon.
While some may feel this is a small issue, I ask you to think further. What happens when squash, tomato, and potatoes from GE sources escape into non GE crops? How do you feel about receiving your vaccines through your potatoes? Won’t happen the experts say – ya right I have a bridge for sale too.
In fact it already has with squash, potatoes and tomatoes, the loss of native, heirloom and the most important part fertile food crops will be devastating on local economies, food stores, populations and health. The potatoes was an easy convert to carrying cholera vaccine, they are working out the kinks in transportation methods now. Tomatoes were GE to carry antibiotics and the FDA halted the sales, but it is being revisited, GE squash fled the field along with rice quickly after its first planting.
Additionally Monsanto is busy in Washington as we speak; a Continuing Resolution (CR) for the big Appropriations funding bill (H.R. 933) is being debated in the Senate. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, has included a dangerous GMO rider that has no place in a funding bill. Fortunately, Senator Tester, Senators Boxer, Gillibrand, and Leahy, have introduced amendment #74 to strike the dangerous rider from the CR. Tell your member of Congress to support the Tester amendment and dump the dangerous biotech rider.
“…Government scientists have stated that the artificial insertion of DNA into plants, a technique unique to genetic engineering, can cause a variety of significant problems with plant foods. Such genetic engineering can increase the levels of known toxicants in foods and introduce new toxicants and health concerns…
Genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences…
(f) Fifty countries—including the European Union member states, Japan and other key U.S. trading partners—have laws mandating disclosure of genetically engineered foods. No international agreements prohibit the mandatory identification of foods produced through genetic engineering. …
In addition, 26 years of research and 19 years of commercialization reveal that GE has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields. The actual accomplishments of GE have been to make farmers buy more pesticides and to drive up the price of patented seeds.
Current FDA policy is that genetically engineered foods do not need to be labeled, arguing genetically engineered foods are “substantially equivalent” to non-GE foods.
To Your Right to Know and Taking Back Control of your Health
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
If you are the cook in your family, you know how it feels to be in someone else’s kitchen or at a motel with a kitchenette and not have, those essential utensils to cook with that you are accustomed to. While in sin city, we were fortunate to stay in a hotel that was not a casino and did have a kitchen in our room. While this made our stay more bearable, the kitchenette was filled with Teflon coated pans and plastic serving utensils.
For home cooks like me, it was a visit to the haunted kitchen – the Spector’s of Teflon poisoning, radiation from the microwave, poisons in the water, the noise, smoke and lights…eeehhhhhh For those who are informed or nuts depending on how you look at it – it is scary what consumers are ingesting, and exposing themselves, pets and children to, not to mention the poor canaries.
Yup, the canary in your kitchen works just like those sent into a mine. When toxic chemicals are released from Teflon/non-stick cookware, bird lovers all over the country have reported their tweeties face planting in the bottom of the cage – dead as a door nail.
“The federal government announced in 2006, enough health concerns have been raised to virtually eliminate continued exposure to the key chemical used to make Teflon.” Evidence is piling up that emissions from the production of synthetic compounds in non-stick cookware, cleaning products, and a host of other common products may cause cancer and other health problems.
“Better things for better living — through chemistry.” From the 1940s to the 1980s, E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. wooed customers with that slogan, one of the most memorable in American advertising. But today, two groups of DuPont products developed during that era — fluorotelomers and fluoropolymers — are showing how chemical-dependent “better living” can come at a high price.
DuPont and other companies use those synthetic compounds to make an extraordinarily wide range of products, including nonstick cookware (e.g, Teflon), grease-resistant food packaging (e.g., microwave popcorn and pizza boxes), stain-resistant fabrics and carpets (e.g., Stainmaster), shampoos, conditioners, cleaning products, electronic components, paints, firefighting foams, and a host of other artifacts of modern life.
Teflon is a $2 billion-a-year business and one of the country’s best-known products. DuPont once called it the housewife’s best friend. However, like many “better things” produced by industrial chemistry, these products can have disastrous side effects.
In 2006, the federal government said DuPont had voluntarily agreed to eliminate by the year 2010 any new emissions of the key Teflon chemical from its factories.
Really did you hear about this in the news, get a recall postcard or see any warning labels?
Non-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminum) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon, a DuPont brand trademark.
Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called “Teflon Flu” or, as scientists describe it, “Polymer fume fever”). Some early studies have suggested that higher PFOA blood levels in humans may be linked with higher than normal cholesterol levels, thyroid disease, and reduced fertility.
Readers this is a real horror story, not a modern myth – how many Teflon pans do you own or coated product do you use, your kids and grand children? All for the sake of convenience, we have taken into our homes monsters.
Manufacturers’ labels often warn consumers to avoid high heat when cooking on Teflon. But EWG-commissioned tests conducted in 2003 showed that in just two to five minutes on a conventional stove top, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases.
When reading through cancer risk information on the American Cancer Society’s website the following information caught my attention: Teflon itself is not suspected to cause cancer. PFOA may be more of a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. It seems to be present at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood. It’s not clear how people are exposed to it, although it has been detected at low levels in some foods and drinking water systems and in household dust.
The possible effects of PFOA on cancer risk in humans are not completely understood. Studies in lab rodents have found exposure to PFOA increases the risk of certain tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and pancreas in these animals.
Although DuPont has never conceded that PFCs might cause health or environmental problems, the company has bowed to relentless and rising public pressure in recent years and moved to rein in its emissions. But whatever action is taken at this point, a class of molecules that did not exist on the planet before the 20th century is now here to stay.
What are my choices?
Stainless steel is a terrific alternative to a non-stick cooking surface. Most chefs agree that stainless steel browns foods better than non-stick surfaces.
Cast iron remains a great alternative to non-stick cooking surfaces. Lodge, America’s oldest family-owned cookware manufacturer refers to its cookware as “natural non-stick.” Cast iron is extremely durable and can be pre-heated to temperatures that will brown meat and will withstand oven temperatures well above what is considered safe for non-stick pans.
Glass pans and baking dishes conduct heat efficiently and are easy to clean.
Stoneware is also very popular for backing on to achieve that perfect crust on breads and pizzas.
Beware of the scary monsters in your kitchen.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
As I write this article, I am getting ready to head off for a medical conference and a few days of camping along the way. This is also fall hunting season in the Pacific NW, hunting season does not always involve a gun, but it always involves food… What is it we take to go camping with for food these days??? Pork and beans, stew, potatoes, freeze dried food packs, canned soups, lunch meat and peanut butter. As I drove through the forest it occurred to me the foods I was accustomed to taking camping and hunting grub were more than likely far from the norm…. imagine that, who would have guessed.
My husband and son look forward to the fall – it means the end of a grueling fields season sometimes involving forest fires and sometimes not. What they look forward to is not only the cooler temperatures, but also the time to get back in touch with each other and with time. What goes through a man’s mind as he holds a rod or rifle in his hands, the quiet, the walk, the connection with nature, hunters and providers throughout history? OK that is from the mind of a woman, we could have ended at quiet.
The fall is about the hunt, the hunt for the salmon returning to Pacific NW waters, the hunt for the buck deer or bull elk and for those who are not afraid of what is on the ground the ever-elusive mushroom. With fall’s first rains come the Chanterelles and Matsutake mushrooms. These shrooms are as sought after by the Elk and Deer as they are after by the human hunters who seek them. We may think of the flavor and texture, the animals may not think at all but just know these foods are essential for winter survival. They help the animal rid itself of parasites, replace lost minerals and build immune systems.
Mushrooms convey a fifth taste sense called unami in Japanese, translated – “savory or meaty”
Not all edible mushrooms are used for cooking; many have been found over the century’s to contain medicinal benefits and are sold as supplements, teas or herbs. Mushrooms in one variety or another have been part of human culture since the start. Eastern cultures have used mushrooms for both food and medicine for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians believed that eating mushrooms would make you live forever. France became one of the first counties renowned for the cultivation of mushrooms. After King Louis XIV’s reign, mushrooms gained popularity in England, and in the late nineteenth century, cultivated mushrooms came to the United States.
China accounts for 32% of worldwide mushroom production and the US cultivates 16% world production.
Chanterelles are common in northern parts of Europe, North America, including Mexico, in Asia including the Himalayas, and in Africa including Zambia. Chanterelles tend to grow in clusters in mossy coniferous forests, they can be found in mountainous birch forests and among grasses and low-growing herbs.
Though records of chanterelles being eaten date back to the 1500s, they first gained widespread recognition as a culinary delicacy with the spreading influence of French cuisine in the 1700s, where they began appearing in palace kitchens. Nowadays, the usage of chanterelles in the kitchen is common throughout Europe and North America. In 1836, the Swedish mycologist Elias Fries considered the chanterelle “as one of the most important and best edible mushrooms.”
Chanterelles as a group are described as being rich in flavor, with a distinctive taste and aroma difficult to characterize. Some species have a fruity odor, others a woodier, earthy fragrance and others still can be considered spicy. The golden chanterelle is perhaps the most sought-after and flavorful chanterelle, and many chefs consider it on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles and morels.
There are many ways to cook chanterelles. Most of the flavorful compounds in chanterelles are fat-soluble, making them good mushrooms to sauté in butter, oil or cream. They also contain smaller amounts of water- and alcohol-soluble flavorings, which lend the mushrooms well to recipes involving wine. Many popular methods of cooking chanterelles include them in sautés, soufflés, cream sauces, and soups.
Chanterelles are also well suited for drying, and tend to maintain their aroma and consistency. Some chefs profess reconstituted chanterelles are actually superior in flavor to fresh ones, though they lose in texture whatever they gain in flavor by becoming more chewy after being preserved by drying. Dried chanterelles can be crushed into flour and used in seasoning in soups or sauces, chanterelles are suitable for freezing, older frozen chanterelles can develop a bitter taste after thawing.
As we head out the door the food we take with us is not all that much different from what we eat at home. We are traditional campers – on our way, we live simple without the luxury of a high dollar camp trailer or coach, no flat screen TV, microwave, generator or shower. Our food is not all that much different from our family crossing the plains – beans, potatoes, coffee, and meat. Foods we collect along the way… Ok they did not braise their buffalo in chanterelles, garlic and wine or add sweet peppers and onions to the potatoes – so sue me; it still does not come out of a can, box, bottle or bag. The flavors are real, the campfire is too, for just a few brief moments in time life is simpler, and the hunting stories are still as exciting as the ones told in times past.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
On Aug 14 2012, a study was released that stated “Eggs Are Nearly as Bad for Your Arteries as Cigarettes”, this study was quickly disseminated over the vast media waves as “the gospel according to medicine and science”. I’m about to illustrate to you hopefully this study is full of — hummm, bird doo doo.
The study starts with the following statement;
“PROBLEM: Last year, the average American consumed 247 eggs — over 40 percent more than the world per-capita average. Because egg yolks are high in cholesterol, eating whole eggs increases cholesterol, a known risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks. Previous research also links CAD with cigarette smoke.”
Does it?? Researchers willing to publish the unpopular like MIT researcher and senior scientist Stephanie Seneff, have a different opinion. “I think it’s dangerous to look at just one food and deduce that the trend you see is caused by that food”
The study goes on to say;
METHODOLOGY: Canadian researchers examined 1,231 patients at London’s Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital. The average age of all the patients was 62. Ultrasound measurements of the carotid arteries established the presence and quantity of atherosclerotic plaque, and the scans were accompanied by lifestyle surveys. Smoking was measured in pack-years (number of packs per day multiplied by the number of years spent smoking). Egg yolk consumption was measured in egg yolk-years.
RESULTS: Aging was associated with a linear increase in arterial plaque after age 40, but smoking and egg consumption were each independently associated with an exponential increase in plaque. Egg consumption had two-thirds of the effect of smoking.
CONCLUSION: Egg yolks are almost as bad for your carotid arteries as smoking.
Sounds impressive and compelling doesn’t it….??? The study was based on recall questionnaires, which are notoriously unreliable. More importantly, the authors singled out one food from the patients’ diets and determined this caused the trend towards atherosclerosis. They could have picked another food at random — say the toast or tomatoes eaten with the eggs — and drawn an associative relationship between toast or tomatoes and atherosclerosis.
Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote “[The study] did not measure or control other aspects of diet such as intakes of meats, fruits, or vegetables and did not control for lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity. The data could be useful for generating some hypotheses, but it is difficult to draw any causal conclusions.”
“It’s very worrisome that these authors of the egg-yolk-is-bad article have managed to come up with a fairly simple and relatively compelling story which will scare a lot of people away from eating egg yolks. The study has potentially serious consequences for people trying to improve their health and reduce their risk of stroke and heart disease — and that’s because most people should be eating more eggs, and particularly the yolks, not fewer.”
Seneff and her team at MIT are working on some compelling new research about the role of dietary fat and cholesterol and our health. Her research is so counter to the current dietary dogma that it sounds shocking at first: Seneff believes that Americans are actually suffering from a cholesterol deficiency rather than excess. She’s concerned that studies like these only serve to confuse the public more about the role of dietary cholesterol. Seneff believes that cholesterol has been wrongly vilified and in fact, foods that contain high amounts of cholesterol — like egg yolks and other animal proteins — are key to improving heart health, maintaining a healthy weight, and staving off many diet-related diseases.
“Much of the cholesterol in the blood is produced endogenously,” Dr. Frank Hu, in an interview about this topic wrote, “However, dietary factors (fats and cholesterol) can influence serum cholesterol levels.” An article about eggs on the Harvard School of Public Health’s website reads, “While it’s true that egg yolks have a lot of cholesterol — and so may weakly affect blood cholesterol levels — eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate.”
It’s worth pointing out that many of the nutrients found in eggs are found in the yolk. Egg yolk contains lecithin, which helps the body digest fat and metabolize cholesterol; betaine and choline which lower homocysteine levels; glutathione, which helps fight cancer and prevents oxidation of LDL; lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to prevent colon cancer; and biotin, a B vitamin crucial for healthy hair, skin, and nerves.
The picture becomes even more complicated because elevated cholesterol levels do not necessarily mean one is at greater risk for a heart attack. More than 60 percent of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels and the majority of people with high cholesterol never suffer heart attacks.
Many studies now show that high LDL (the so-called “bad cholesterol”) and heart disease are not linked. In 2005, the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons reported that as many as half of the people who have heart disease have normal or desirable levels of LDL. Also in 2005, researchers found that older men and women with high LDL live longer.
So for my part I will say again — eat real foods, do so in moderation, don’t smoke, limit your eating out and consumption of fake fats from fast food vendors, get regular exercise of 30min or more at one time, and find something to laugh about every day even if it is over something you have done. If it is in a bag, box, can or jar it is likely to be more dangerous to your health than sunny side up eggs and good farm bacon once a week.
To your good health and good foods.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCIH, BCHN
Family traditions are strange and sometimes wonderful things. As a kid the night of St. Patrick ’s Day meant putting out a saucer of milk for the little people, so we would have good luck and no mischief through the spring and summer months. Now this was not a tradition outside of our household, my grandparents would have been appalled being of a different denomination than us. This tradition which I have carried on in our family was something my mother learned from the Irish sheep herders’ fresh over from the old country. It is hard to say if she was gullible and easily swallowed blarney from real Irish mischief makers or if it was a true tradition in some counties in Ireland. Any way you look at it a cat is smiling on the porch.
This year as we planned out our traditional St. Patrick’s day feed –my husband and I decided to do real Irish foods instead of the standard corn beef and cabbage, which is an American invention. Many have the misconception that food in Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland is bland, tasteless and boring; all fish and chips, potatoes, cabbage and grease mutton. There is a certain amount of truth to this, but all of these countries also have a rich culinary history loaded with flavor and tradition.
The humble blackberry is found in early archeological evidence dating back to 150BC., crabapples, Elderberries, Sloe (a tart fruit that resembles tiny plums) where the name for sloe gin comes from, rhubarb, gooseberry, blackcurrant, strawberry’s, damson plums are all native foods found in Ireland. Cabbage and many forms of the braccus family grow wild as does asparagus and watercress legend says, is why St. Brendan the Mariner lived to be 180.
The potato is a new comer to Ireland, after Sir Walter Raleigh almost poisoned Queen Elizabeth and her court with potato tops; potatoes were fed to livestock or forgotten until the 1800’s. Before and during this time the turnip and carrot root crops made up the staple of Ireland and most of northern Europe’s root cellers.
Other traditional foods include eggs, pheasant introduced in Elizabethan times, venison, boar or pork, lamb, beef, sheep and goat dairy and later cow dairy, salmon, trout, shellfish, sea vegetables, wild mushrooms, herbs, buckwheat, millet, oat, and wheat, rye and barley after the Romans introduced them. Every manor house and cottage had an herb garden- herbs were the medicine cabinet, preservatives and used by the skilled to flavor foods.
The herb garden was home to shallots, leeks, rosemary, lavender, basil, parsley, fennel, caraway, thyme, edible flowers, chives, onions, and many more.
Most of these foods are loaded with anti-oxidants, vitamin C, essential fatty acids and minerals. The herbs also aid in digestion and helped the immune system. Cooking methods were simple; many dishes are prepared on the stove top, as cottages in antiquity did not have ovens. I have found simple well prepared foods are rich in flavor and nutrition. We will be in the kitchen for hours preparing these dishes for friends and family, not because they are hard, only new to us – reading directions required on first tries.
So what does a traditional Irish menu look like? Here is what we came up with after looking through old and new cookbooks: Irish Old Fashion Salad with Shannagary Cream Dressing, Creamy Watercress Soup, Poached Salmon with Irish Butter Sauce, Roasted Pheasant with chips, Butter Cabbage, Asparagus, Scones with Honey Butter, Baked Apples with Cream and it wouldn’t be St Patties Day without Irish Coffee made with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. Hardly bland and boring is it. Oh and a saucer of cream, just in case.
For more traditional Irish foods check out “Irish Traditional Cooking” by Darina Allen
May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings, Slow to make enemies and Quick to make friends. And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward. Irish Blessing
By Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, BCIH ©2012
The pig dates back 40 million years to fossils which indicate wild pig-like animals roamed forests and swamps in Europe and Asia. By 4900 B.C. pigs were domesticated in China, and were being raised in Europe by 1500 B.C. On the insistence of Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus took eight pigs on his voyage to Cuba in 1493.
It is suggested that as man traveled he domesticated wild boar as he found them, rather than bringing pigs along for the journey. Food historians believe human consumption of pork is ancient. So is cured (smoked, salted, dried) pork, aka ham. Pigs were first commercially slaughtered in Cincinnati, Ohio, which became known as Porkopolis. More pork was packed there than any other place in the mid-west. Now I admit it, I love smoked ham and lean bacon, especially like what I grew up with, made from apple wood smoke in an old smokehouse – there wasn’t a high Tec robotized system injecting gallons of smoke concentrate, salts, sugars and preservatives into the fat and flesh like today.
My dad would carve off slices of jowl or cheek bacon to fry up on Saturday, he also sliced the rind to make cracklings, and I especially liked the hard chewy smoky goodness. Ok I just described one of Sadie’s rawhide chew bones… hum I wonder, was I a taste tester for pup treats?
Back to Bacon… The side of a pig cured with salt in a single piece. The word originally meant pork of any type, fresh or cured, but this older usage had died out by the 17th century. Bacon, in the modern sense, is a product from the British Isles, or is produced abroad to British methods. Preserved pork, including sides salted to make bacon, held a place of primary importance in the British diet in past centuries. The first large-scale bacon curing business was set up in the 1770s by John Harris in Wiltshire, England. Wiltshire remains the main bacon-producing area of Britain.
For years Bacon, pork and sometimes any meat that isn’t turkey or chicken has been deemed bad for your health. Many will argue it isn’t the meat that is bad it is the processing, and commercial feed lots that are the problem. Interestingly Bacon is considered the food tipping point for vegetarians. It seems that bacon has a way of awakening carnivorous desires within even some of the preachiest of vegetarians. Because bacon is one- to two-thirds fat and also has lots of protein, it speaks to our evolutionary quest for calories. And since 90 percent of what we taste is really odor, bacon’s aggressive smell delivers a powerful hit to our sense of how good it will taste.
A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds daily consumption of red meat — particularly processed meat — may be riskier than carnivores realize.
“The statistics are staggering,” study author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public health said. “The increased risk is really substantial.”
He found people who consumed about one serving of red meat (beef, pork or lamb) per day had a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, compared with those who were eating very little meat. And processed meats raised the risk higher, to about a 20 percent increased risk of death from diseases including cancer and heart disease.
Once again I think back to family members who ate piles of bacon, sausages, and chops for breakfast before heading out for a day of building fence, moving cows, falling timber or working in the fields. Many of these individuals worked up till their 70’s and 80’s, doing what they loved. But the pork foods they enjoyed had never seen a stock yard, GMO corn, wheat and antibiotic baths.
The FDA has stated that salt is not a food preservative – they do however recognize sodium nitrates and nitrites as acceptable meat preservers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t salt curing one of the oldest forms of preserving meat? Today our food contains so many chemicals it is almost imposable to read the label on a food so simple as bacon.
So where does that leave meat lovers like me, the key to all things is moderation. I may not eat as many vegetables as I should or could, but I can be discerning about my meat, no longer do I even consider purchasing commercial meats or preserved meat products like lunch meats. For me I am fortunate to have family still ranching in eastern Oregon, a husband and son who hunt and fish and for those times the freezer is running low; locally owned meat markets like Nicabobs who only carry antibiotic, hormone free meats.
You see I think it is the chemicals and government regulations that lead to many of our health problems – not the meat we consume. If we return to natural foods both plant and flesh, get off the couch and push away from the computers, we will lower our stress levels, and that has been proven to be more indicative of good health than living off bean curd.
There is more to good health than the Status Quo.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, BCIH
In 2005, I thought I was developing hypothyroidism; I was tired, overweight, with high triglycerides, and muscle pain, all symptoms. I was eating real food, but I was under a lot of stress. Remember I have said several times over the last three years that stress is the number one cause of illnesses, and can kill you.
I saw a doctor I had confidence in, had her run a battery of tests and found out – nothing. So I cut back on salt, red meat, grains, and cut all sugar out of my diet. By 2006, I was running very high heart rates, triglycerides as well as my LDL’s were still elevated, I felt like crap, and my stress had doubled. Now my thyroid test began showing elevations in my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), my free T4 and free T3 numbers changed also.
This scenario would have continued to escalate and in fact did – my TSH levels reached 8, my doctor told me I was too difficult of a patient and I needed a specialist, I couldn’t tolerate thyroid medication due to my elevated heart rate, and refused to take medications to slow my heart rate for the rest of my life.
I kept looking till I found the answers that made sense to me, and am very pleased to say today my thyroid numbers are all perfect without medication. My current nurse practitioner, when reviewing my labs from the last 7 years, admitted she had never seen anyone turn their thyroid around. Oh and my heart rate is normal again!
Dr. James Wilson told me in 2006, “If you don’t treat the Adrenal Glands before the thyroid, the client will never get better.” I went back to eating Celtic sea salt, lean red meat, and took supplements for thyroid support and stress. The hardest part was acknowledging what the major stress triggers were, and over time cleaning house so to speak.
In 2011, the medical communities called on food manufactures to cut sodium in commercial foods. GOOD, why, because the forms of salt used in commercial foods are nitrates and nitrites, not natural salt with all the trace minerals for health.
A study released October 2011, in the American Journal of Hypertension, brought into question the time honored belief salt is bad for you. When I first viewed this article on Medscape the opening sentence was, “critics don’t believe study findings”, and of course after reading the conclusion of the study I can see why – it is throwing salt in their eyes. The study titled – Effects of Low-Sodium Diet vs. High-Sodium Diet on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides.
At this point I need to tell you several of the aforementioned named in the study title are either manufactured in the adrenal glands or in the liver –salt, is a detoxification agent for several glands and organs. Cholesterol and triglycerides are also elevated by poor thyroid function. Beginning to see the connection here? This is what the study found to my hearts delight.
“sodium reduction resulted in a significant increase in plasma cholesterol (2.5%) and plasma triglyceride (7%), which expressed in percentage, was numerically larger than the decrease in blood pressure of 1%. These results do not support that sodium reduction may have net beneficial effects in a population of Caucasians.”
Aldosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the outer-section of the adrenal gland, and acts on the functioning unit of the kidney, to cause the conservation of sodium, secretion of potassium, increased water retention, and increased blood pressure. The overall effect of aldosterone is to increase reabsorption of ions and water in the kidney — increasing blood volume and, therefore, increasing blood pressure. So if this hormone goes up, so does your water retention and BP, salt prevents this from happening according to the study.
Renin is an enzyme released by the kidneys that breaks down proteins and helps regulate blood pressure. This enzyme is the key to activating a complex process in which it increases the secretion of aldosterone, and stimulates the hypothalamus to activate the thirst reflex, each leading to an increase in blood pressure.
Catecholamine is a compound that acts as a neurotransmitter or hormone; neurotransmitters are used in the brain. They include dopamine, as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones adrenaline. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter lacking in Parkinson’s patients, and when under stress our fight or flight hormones increase. That’s why Dr. Wilson and Dr. Brownstein believe salt to be critical for adrenal health, when under constant stress the adrenal glands dump salt through the kidneys, creating an imbalance in electrolytes. When potassium levels elevate, tachycardia can result. (an excessively rapid heartbeat, typically regarded as a heart rate exceeding 100 beats per minute in a resting adult)
Cholesterol, is painted as the evil one, in fact it is far from it. Without cholesterol we would not be able to think or make hormones. All forms of cholesterol are important to the body as a constituent of cell membranes, and involved in the formation of bile acid. Cholesterol is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D and the steroid hormones, including the adrenal gland hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
Now this doesn’t mean you can eat all the salt you can stuff in, but the reasonable use of high quality salts from Selina Naturally and Redmond, are indeed a recommendation for everyone living with stress. It won’t fix all of your health challenges; you will have to take back control of your health just as I did with the right supplements and dietary changes.
There is more to good health than the Status Quo.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Fall and early winter are the time of year root crops like carrots, turnips and beets come into their own. I never have thought much about beets… the only thing I found appealing about them was their exquisite crimson red color. This year however I decided to look at this root food a little closer and here is some of what I found.
Beets, are native to the Mediterranean. Although the leaves have been eaten since before written history, the beet root was generally used medicinally and did not become a popular food until French chefs recognized their potential in the 1800′s.
Beet powder is used as a coloring agent for many foods. Some frozen pizzas use beet powder to color the tomato sauce, as well as jams, jellies, juices and soups. It is estimated that about two-thirds of commercial beet crops end up canned.
There are four main beet types: the garden beet, whose root and leaves are eaten as a vegetable; the sugar beet; the mangel-wurzel, which is stored and used for livestock feed; and Swiss chard, which is cultivated for its edible leaves. About thirty percent of the world’s sugar production comes from sugar beets.
Beet remains have been excavated in the Third dynasty Saqqara pyramid at Thebes, Egypt, and four charred beet fruits were found in the Neolithic site of Aartswoud in the Netherlands. The earliest known written mention of the beet comes from eighth century B.C.E. Mesopotamia, Roman and Jewish literary sources indicate domestication by 1st century B.C.E., domestic beet was represented in the Mediterranean basin by leafy forms (chard) and very probably also by beetroot cultivars.
The Romans used beetroot as a treatment for fevers and constipation, and considered beetroot juice to be an aphrodisiac. Beets are a rich source of the mineral boron, which plays an important role in the production of human sex hormones. Apicius in De re coquinaria, gives five recipes for soups to be given as a laxative, three of which feature the root of beet. Hippocrates advocated the use of beet leaves as binding for wounds. From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for illnesses relating to digestion and the blood.
In 1747, German chemist Andreas Marggraf identified sucrose in beet root and eventually his student Franz Achard built a sugar beet processing factory at Cunern in Silesia. This plant operated from 1801 until it was destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon, banned sugar imports in 1813. This cut off supplies of sugar produced from sugar cane to much of Europe. The beet sugar industry emerged and thrived.
Today the beetroot is championed as a universal panacea. One of the most controversial examples is the official position of the South African Health Minister on the treatment of AIDS. Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Health Minister under Thabo Mbeki, had been nicknamed “Dr Beetroot” for promoting beets and other vegetables over antiretroviral AIDS medicines, which she considers toxic.
Beets contain vitamin C, while the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A. Beets are among the sweetest of vegetables, containing more sugar than carrots or sweet corn. The content of sugar in garden beet is 10 percent, in the sugar beet it is typically 15 to 20 percent.
Another nutrient in beets is betaine, named after its discovery in sugar beets in the nineteenth century. This nutrient is benificial for the cardiovascular system. Betaine supplements, manufactured as a byproduct of sugar beet processing, are prescribed to lower potentially toxic levels of homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid that can be harmful to blood vessels thereby contributing to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Blood Pressure: An American Heart Association study indicates that drinking 500 milliliters of beet juice can measurably reduce blood pressure within one hour after drinking it. This effect is measurable for 24 hours.
Cancer: In Europe, beets are commonly used to treat cancer. They contain an antioxidant, betacyanin, which both inhibits tumor growth and prevents the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.
Digestion: Beet root is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which aid in the proper function of the digestive system. Because of the high levels of fiber, beet root is used as a treatment for constipation.
An average sized cup (225.8 grams) of sliced beets will contain:
31 Calories – Carbohydrate 8.5 g
Dietary fiber 1.5 g
Folate 53.2 µg
Phosphorus 32 mg – Potassium 259 mg
Protein 1.5 g
èBeets, like kale, spinach, carrots, and turnips, can be a source of nitrates and should not be fed to infants under 6 months of age. All parts of the beet plant contain oxalic acid. Beet greens and Swiss chard are both considered high oxalate foods which have been implicated on the formation of kidney stones.
The color of red beetroot is due to a purple pigment betacyanin and a yellow pigment betaxanthin, known collectively as betalins. Beetroot cells are quite unstable and will “leak” when cut, heated, or when in contact with air or sunlight. Leaving the skin on when cooking, will maintain the integrity of the cells and minimize leakage. Betacyanin in beetroot may cause red urine and feces in some people who are unable to break it down.
So all in all we find natural foods like beets are not only loaded with nutrients and provide health benefits in the forms of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – just don’t let the government know or they will ban them as unlicensed drugs. I don’t encourage diabetics to consume beets because of the high sugar content. But if you love this food, eat it in moderation with lots of other healthy foods. Then get up and go for a walk to burn the sugar off.
 Beet (Beetroot) History – Beets as a medicine and food coloring – By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, About.com Guide
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Growing up in rural America you find yourself aware of the self-sufficiency of your neighbors. Especially as the dog days of summer weighing into the vivid days of autumn, the need to dry, freeze and can, becomes as evident as the seasonal changes.
Food preservation is a sign of independence, preparation and for some freedom. I like knowing where my food has come from, what is on it and how it has been handled; as you already know I’m a bit of a health nut and object to wasting my money on poor quality foods ladened with chemicals. But what is the best food preservation method? Well there are countless resources out there from your grandmother to the local extension agent. And there are more than a few ideas that make even me shake my head. Let’s put it this way – If your using your dishwasher to can fruits, STOP IT.
Preservation of food permeated every culture at nearly every moment in time. To survive ancient man had to harness nature. In frozen climates he froze seal meat on the ice. In tropical climates he dried foods in the sun. In moderate climates he smoke cured meats over a fire.
And the FDA says we have no Innate Right to select our food…. But I regress.
Food by its nature begins to spoil the moment it is harvested. Food preservation enabled ancient man to live in one place and form communities, and cultures. Each culture preserved their local food sources using the same basic methods of food preservation. Middle East and oriental cultures actively dried foods as early as 12,000 B.C. in the hot sun.
The Romans were particularly fond of any dried fruit they could make. In the Middle Ages purposely built “still houses” were created to dry fruits, vegetables and herbs in areas that did not have enough strong sunlight for drying. A fire was used to create the heat needed to dry foods and in some cases smoking them as well.
Preservation with honey or sugar was commonplace in the earliest cultures. In ancient Greece quince was mixed with honey, dried somewhat and packed tightly into jars. The Romans improved on the method by cooking the quince and honey producing a solid texture. Whalla jam! The same fervor of trading with India and the Orient that brought pickled foods to Europe brought sugar cane, housewives learned to make preserves—heating the fruit with sugar.
The earliest curing was actually dehydration. Early cultures used salt to desiccate foods. Salting was common and even culinary by choosing raw salts from different sources (rock salt, sea salt, spiced salt, etc.). In the 1800’s it was discovered certain sources of salt gave meat a red color instead of the usual unappetizing grey. In this mixture of salts were nitrites (saltpeter). As the microbiology of Clostridium botulinum was reviled in the 1920’s nitrites were found to inhibit this organism. The FDA does not approve the curing of foods with table salt – that is why your favorite jerky or lunch meat contains sodium nitrates and nitrites.
Fermentation not only preserves foods, it creates more nutritious, palatable foods from less than desirable ingredients. Microorganisms responsible for fermentations produce vitamins as they ferment. The skill of ancient peoples to observe, harness, and encourage these fermentations are admirable and humbling – they had an ability to reason and simply believe, we seem to have lost. Anthropologists believe mankind settled from nomadic wanderers into farmers to grow barley for the making of beer in 10,000 BC.
Any geographic area that had freezing temperatures for even part of a year made use of the temperature to preserve foods. Less than freezing temperatures were used to prolong storage times. Cellars, caves and cool streams were put to good use for that purpose. In America communities built icehouses to store ice and food on ice. Soon the “icehouse” became an “icebox”. In the 1800’s mechanical refrigeration was invented and quickly put to use. In the late 1800’s Clarence Birdseye discovered quick freezing at very low temperatures made for better tasting meats and vegetables. (Freezing preserves the most nutrients in foods as well as enzymes.)
Canning is a process were foods placed in jars or cans is heated to a temperature that destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. (remember no enzymes no life, canning is the least beneficial method for nutrient content – but one of two method available to use without electricity) This heating and later cooling forms a vacuum seal. The vacuum seal prevents other microorganisms from recontaminating the food.
Canning is the newest of the food preservations methods pioneered in the 1790s by French confectioner, Nicolas Appert, he discovered the application of heat to food in sealed glass bottles preserved the food from deterioration. In 1806 Appert’s principles were successfully trialed by the French Navy on a wide range of foods including meat, vegetables, fruit and even milk. Englishman, Peter Durand, used tin cans successfully in 1810.
In 1864, Louis Pasteur discovered the relationship between microorganisms and food spoilage/illness , it become clear that preservation involved not only the elimination of air but the destruction of micro-organisms’. Just prior to Pasteur’s discovery, Raymond Chevalier-Appert patented the pressure retort (canner) in 1851, allowing canning at temperatures higher than 212ºF. It was the 1920’s before the significance of this food preservation method and Clostridium botulinum were understood.
To Your Good Health and Independent Preservation
References and Sources
Mc Govern, P. The Origins and Ancient History of Wine at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology. Available at http://www.upenn.edu/museum/Wine/wineintro.html. Accessed 2002 Feb 12.
Shephard, S. 2001. Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World. Simon & Schuster. 366pp.
Eden T. 1999. The Art of Preserving: How Cooks in Colonial Virginia Imitated Nature to Control It. Eighteenth Century Life 23(2):13 23. Also available from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ eighteenth century_life/v023/23.2eden.html Accessed 2001 Sep 30.
Mack L. 2001. Food Preservation in the Roman Empire. Chapel Hill, NC. University of North Carolina. Available from: http://www.unc.edu/courses/rometech/public /content/survival/Lindsay_Mack/Food_Preservation.htm. Accessed 2001 Sep 30.
C. Anne Wilson. 1991. Preserving Food to Preserve Life: The Response to Glut and Famine from Early Times to the End of the Middle Ages in “Waste Not, Want Not”: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present, C. Anne Wilson. ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Did you grow up with cast iron skillets in your home? Well I did, and still use them daily. This summer I had the opportunity to chat with two colleagues, one of them came to America from Hungary; Agnes recounted the story of throwing away her mother-in-laws cast iron when she got married. As I sat in horror, she continued to tell how she was convinced the oil was rancid and she couldn’t get it clean. This brought to mind my mom and all the varied ways I saw her clean her cast iron. My dear friend has been forgiven her crime, but I will be watchful of my precious cast iron when she comes to visit.
Mom loved cooking with cast iron, not only could she fry, sauté, bake and simmer in it, but it went camping, fishing and to the branding pens. If there was no water around then a hand full of salt was tossed in the pan and scrubbed around. Soap was rarely used, if food was stuck on the bottom, mom would warm it on the stove top with water and use a turner to scrape it clean. On occasion it may have even been used as an instrument of enforcement. This may explain the odd shape to my brother’s head.
For me cast iron is the first and perfect non-stick cookware. And somehow it feels American.
Where did it start?
Cast-iron vessels have been used for cooking for hundreds of years. Ancient China, around 513 B.C., is the earliest known development and use of cast iron. It was the Chinese who invented furnaces capable of producing the intense heat required to melt and work iron.
The same process for creating cast iron arrived in Europe about 1100 A.D., cast iron was so valuable during the medieval age that cast iron implements, including cookware and utensils, were bequeathed in wills, estates and listed as part of the estates assets. Cast iron cauldrons and cooking pots were treasured as kitchen items for their durability and heat retention, thus improving the quality of meals. Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the middle of the 19th century, meals were cooked in the hearth or fireplace, and cooking pots and pans were designed for the hearth. One of the very first manufacturing industries in North American was the production of cast iron cookware. The Lodge Manufacturing company is currently the only major manufacturer of cast iron cookware in the United States, the rest are made in Asia or Europe.
Is it good for you?
Researchers have found cooking in iron skillets increases the iron content of foods. Acidic foods generally have higher moisture content, foods like applesauce and spaghetti sauce, were found to absorb the most iron. The study showed for 100 grams of each (about 3 oz.), the applesauce increased in iron content from 0.35 mg. to 7.3 mg., and the spaghetti sauce jumped from 0.6 mg. to 5.7 mg., a scrambled egg went from 1.49mg. to 4.76 mg., chili with meat and beans went from 0.96mg. to 6.27 mg. of iron.
Foods cooked for longer periods of time absorbed more iron than food heated quickly. Researchers found foods prepared with a newer iron skillet absorbed more iron than those cooked in an older one. Hamburger, corn tortillas, cornbread, and liver with onions didn’t absorb as much iron. This was probably due to the shorter cooking times, and the fact that they were either turned once or not at all, resulting in less contact with the iron.
It’s all in the Seasoning: A seasoned pan has a stick-resistant coating created by polymerized oils and fats. Seasoning is a process by which a layer of animal fat or vegetable oil is applied and cooked onto cast iron cookware. The seasoning layer protects the cookware from rusting, provides a non-stick surface for cooking, and prevents food from interacting with the iron of the pan.
How to season your pan? After a good cleaning to remove the factory coating, I set my new skillet on the stove top or in the oven on 3500, I add a heavy layer of olive oil to the inside bottom and sides and let the oil soak into the pores of the pan. I wipe out the extra oil after 1 hour of cook time and additional cooling time – a favorite storage place is in the oven. I will only use this pan for frying hash browns, potatoes or bacon for the first few uses to add to the seasoning.
Health Warning: If you have hemochromatosis or hepatitis C you should avoid cast iron as the increase in iron exacerbates damage to the liver.
If you can’t bring yourself to use the ol’ cast iron, take some time to check it out on eBay, many of the older pans are going for some serious money, they are almost as valuable as gold!
To Your Good Health and Old Fashioned American Cookware.