Thursday, July 16, 2009

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup: Top 5 Foods to Avoid

It would be a great mistake on my part to write about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) without first addressing the problem of Type 2 Diabetes. As you will see, this condition and HFCS are deeply related.

Type 2 Diabetes aka Adult Onset Diabetes aka Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes effects 23.6 million Americans(1). New Diabetes cases have doubled in the last decade, and many scientists are calling it an epidemic (2). Type 2 Diabetes is brought on by poor lifestyle choices. Too much sugary, processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle are huge risk factors. It should be noted that Type 2 Diabetes is both preventable and manageable WITHOUT medication or insulin injections.

In order for glucose to enter our cells it must have insulin, which acts as a key it to open the cell door. However, after years of a diet high in sugar and processed foods, the cells become more and more unresponsive to insulin. Insulin knocks on the cell’s door so frequently, the cell decides that insulin is essentially “crying wolf”. Since the sugar cannot get into the cell, it continues to float around in the bloodstream, causing damage to the small capillaries in the eyes, kidneys, heart, and brain.

If you breakdown the names listed above, the reason this form of Diabetes is a called Adult Onset is because it was previously thought that this condition could only develop in adults. However, frightening statistics have been emerging regarding Type 2 cases in younger and younger adults. According to National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 200,000 young people under the age of 20 have Type 2 Diabetes. This is not surprising when obesity is the number one risk factor for diabetes and 1 in 5 teens between the agea of 13 and 19 are obese(3).

Now, how does HFCS fit into this Diabetes mess? In the early 1970’s food manufactures discovered that HFCS was both cheaper and sweeter than regular old table sugar. In a way, the U.S. government supports the use of HFCS because of massive corn subsidies. Cheap corn is primarily used to make HFCS and to feed American cattle. So, the food industry started putting it in massive amounts of products.

HFCS contains substances called reactive carbonyls, which have been proven to damage tissues and accelerate the process of insulin resistance(4). HFCS does not stimulate insulin secretion, which at first may seem like a good thing for diabetics. However, insulin stimulates other hormones like leptin to tell the brain you are full after a meal. If this hormone is not released, the “I’m Full” message never gets to your brain. Ever wonder why you can eat a whole bag of chips or a package of cookies?

High fructose corn syrup converts to fat more rapidly than any other sugar molecule (4). Other sugars like glucose go through a longer process before turning into fat, whereas HFCS bypasses these steps and goes straight into fat storage. With this direct fat storage phenomenon, it is only prudent to conclude that HFCS is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic. Let’s keep in mind that obesity is strongly linked with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

To conclude, I would like to illustrate my point here with a case study. The Native American Indians have the highest prevalence of diabetes of any ethnic group in America. Among adult Pima Indians, half of them have Type 2 Diabetes. This is largely due to the fact that for generations they relied on hunting, fishing, gathering, and farming for food. They ate a pure diet from the earth and thrived from it. Then as times changed they began living on fast food, vending machine products, and convenience store goods. These establishments are located all over the reservations. These cheap foods contain HFCS and are largely empty calories, which the Pimas simply cannot live on. Their genes were designed to resist famine, so when food was plentiful, their bodies stored it in anticipation for the next famine. Now, calories are more than plentiful, and many Native Americans are suffering from their new Western diet.

The largest source of HFCS is from soft drinks. In fact, soft drinks provide the most calories to Americans than any other one food. Other sources of HFCS include

·yogurts (certain brands)


·fruit juices

·canned fruits

·baked goods




1. National Diabetes Statistics 2007. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

2. Reinberg, Steven. Rate of Diabetes Cases Doubles in 10 Years: CDC. U.S. News and

World Report. October, 2008

3. Childhood Overweight and Obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA.

4. Mercola, Joseph and Droege, Rachael. Six Reasons Why Corn Syrup is Making You


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Trans Fats: Top 5 Foods To Avoid

I hear it all the time.  “Nutrition and Food is such a young science.”  I couldn’t disagree more.  Eating food should not be scientific at all; in fact people don’t need scientists to tell them that a brand new study came out claiming eating more vegetables is linked with lower cancer rates.  We know in our hearts (and our DNA) which foods are healthy and which aren’t.  Our earliest ancestors were food scientists.  They experimented with the plant growth around them and through trial and error found choices that made them stronger and healthy.  They even found medicinal plants that could heal. 

I bring up science only because the next additive I am going to talk about is a product of food scientist’s altering nature and “improving” food products.  Food processing is the ultimate manifestation of food science and has caused countless more problems that it set out to alleviate.   My question is what is wrong with the food God gave us and our ancestors to eat, and why is it so imperative that we alter these foods? 

Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHO’s) aka Trans Fats is one of the food industry’s greatest Frankenstein creations to date.  By infusing hydrogen in large oil vats, scientists found a way to turn a liquid into a solid.  They are dubbed “trans fats” because they aren’t quite a true liquid or a true solid.  Sounds a little strange right?  Our bodies definitely agree, because these man-made fats are causing all kinds of problems within us. 

The main reason these fats were created was to extend the shelf life on perishable products.  Another factor was the research about saturated fats increasing cholesterol, so the food industry thought they could make a better fat in a lab that would replace those “dangerous” saturated fats.   What they did instead was create an even more dangerous fat.  Even the FDA recognizes this.  In 2004 they released a statement saying trans fats are more likely to cause heart disease than saturated fats.  Yet, these fats remain on the market.

Cholesterol is a major predictor of heart disease.  LDL is considered to be the “bad” cholesterol and HDL the “good”.  Trans fats increase LDL numbers by 14% and decrease HDL by 12% (1).  This ratio of LDL to HDL is something doctors monitor very closely in those at risk for a heart attack.  Trans fats widen this gap, essentially knocking out the good and increasing the bad, a double whammy for your health.  It is no wonder why cholesterol levels are higher than ever in this country. 

A Harvard study from their Public Health Department revealed that if trans fats were eliminated from the U.S. food supply 1 in 5 heart attacks would be prevented.  This translates into 250,000 less heart attacks a year simply by eliminating PHO’s (2).  In another Harvard study with women, those with the highest blood levels of trans fats had the most heart attacks and those with the lowest were at the lowest risk.  Study after study confirms that consuming trans fats damages our coronary arteries (which feed our hearts blood) and puts us at greater risk for heart problems. 

Heart disease and trans fats have the strongest link in research, but cancer is also implicated in trans fat consumption.  Trans fats have been shown to adversely effect enzymes that neutralize carcinogens (3).  These fats have also been shown to block the uptake of insulin, which can cause complications in diabetics.  Finally, trans fats compromise the immune system by disrupting the balance of immunity cells.  These man-made fats are something our bodies have never seen before, so an immune response is initiated when these fats are ingested.  An overactive immune system can lead to a decreased immune response when a real invader enters the body.

Trans fats are still very widespread throughout our food supply, but people are starting to become educated on this subject.  New York City recently banned trans fat from all restaurants.  Philadelphia and Chicago followed suit, and other big cities are getting in the mix.  Nestle and Frito Lay are taking the steps to remove trans fats from their products.  In 2006, trans fats were required to be put on food labels by the FDA (4).  However, trans fat hide under the names shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable, soybean and cottonseed oil. 

Here lies the problem with science entering our food preparation.  The food industry finds a way to extend shelf life and make a tastier product, yet 20 years down the road researchers find these “advancements” are slowly and prematurely killing us.  This is why I believe food should be eaten in its truest form, untainted by industry and enjoyed the way in which it has been for thousands of years.


 1.    Mensink, RP and Katan, MB.. Effect of dietary trans fatty acids on high-density and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in healthy subjects.  The New England Journal of Medicine.  Volume 323:439-445.  August 1990.

2.   Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2006 Apr 13;354(15):1601-13.

3.     Enig, Mary interviewed by Richard A. Passwater.  “Dangers of Trans Fats.” 

4.     Mercola, Joseph and Droege, Rachel. “Trans-Fat: What Exactly is it, and Why is it so Dangerous.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MSG: Top 5 foods to avoid

I first heard of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) when I was 5 years old.  Our family ate at a local Chinese restaurant and for the rest of the night my mom was bedridden with excruciating stomach cramps and vomiting.  As a little kid I had no idea that a food additive could cause such misery to anyone, and I was freaked out by her condition.  MSG is like poison to her and for me, it causes intense headaches for up to 3 hours. Although these are more extreme symptoms, MSG is one nasty customer and affects every person in different ways. 

MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in packaged, canned, and processed foods, in some Asian restaurants and in many fast food restaurants.  It started being used in foods in the late 1940’s but it wasn’t until 1968 when adverse affects began being researched.  Dr. John Olney found that MSG killed retinal cells and neurons in the brain when rats were given a dose of this chemical (1).  Now thousands of products contain MSG. 

Like aspartame, MSG is an excitotoxin, meaning it mimics neurotransmitters in the brain and excites these cells until they are exhausted and die.  Glutamate is an actual neurotransmitter and is needed for normal brain function, but with MSG being introduced to our diet it is now present in toxic levels in our brains and bloodstream. 

When children begin developing their brains, trillions of neurons become organized and the brain starts to form into a highly functional organ.  In fact, young brains have more circuits and connections than they can effectively use, and in order to consolidate and become more efficient, the brain creates a surge of glutamate, which eliminates unneeded connections.  Now, this mechanism normally works in perfect harmony but when it doesn’t, in for instance, Down’s Syndrome, not enough circuits are sheared off and the brain is overwhelmed.  When too much glutamate is released, too many circuits are cut down, and problems like learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism are found.

Knowing this information, try to imagine what happens when a child is on a steady diet of MSG-containing snacks and getting a LARGE dose of glutamate to their fragile brains.  They are getting a chemical dose of a substance that naturally eliminates excess neurons.  A child’s brain is 4 times as sensitive to MSG than an adults brain, so it was no surprise to researchers when they observed erratic and aggressive behavior immediately after children were given an MSG containing lunch (1).  Doctors will tell you that the rise of learning disorders is a mystery, while I and others believe that chemicals like aspartame and MSG are dumbing down these poor children.

The implications of MSG and children are tragic to say the least.  Adults also experience countless symptoms from MSG consumption. Commonly reported problems with MSG intake include migraines, memory loss, epilepsy, early onset of Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, and obesity.  There are even glutamate receptors in the heart, that if over-stimulated can cause arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) in the elderly. 

MSG injected into the hippocampus of rat’s cause them to have outbursts of extreme rage.  Glutamate affects both our hippocampus and amygdala, the latter being involved with emotions including fear and anger.  When prisons take out high sugar foods and MSG foods they see drastic changes in inmate behavior.

MSG, like clockwork, causes obesity in test mice.  In fact, after this astonishing discovery was unearthed in 1968 by Dr. Olney, scientists today use MSG to purposely make rats obese for various tests.  It’s the fastest and cheapest way to do this.  As a side note, I realize I am using multiple animal studies but it is important to note that human brains are 5 times more sensitive to MSG than mice (1). In the last 50 years, childhood obesity rates have quadrupled (1).  MSG intake at a young age has been shown to increase cravings for high carbohydrate, sweet, and high fat foods.  Also, researchers have discovered that MSG given to children makes them eat like teenagers.  MSG, being a manmade taste enhancer, acts like a drug and causes us to crave more food, especially MSG rich foods.  There are hundreds of explanations for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. but it is my belief that MSG is huge contributing factor to this massive problem. 

MSG does not always appear on the label as Monosodium Glutamate.  It has numerous aliases including casein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed soy, yeast extract, and rice syrup.  Check food labels.  I know at first it can be a pain but then you can start to archive what foods have what chemicals and avoid them.

If you manage to avoid these MSG foods you are doing a huge service to your body, especially your brain.  I have said this before:  as we age, it is not normal to get Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.  Sure, with aging we may forget things we once remembered but there is no reason we can’t stay sharp.  I’ve heard so many people say they don’t want to live to the point where they don’t know who their family members are.  Avoiding MSG and other chemicals will surely contribute to that sad story from not happening. 

As a final note, for those working in the school systems or have kids, its time we started getting proactive in making sure kids do not have access to MSG, aspartame, and other chemical-laden foods.  We cannot continue to allow young kids to be punished because the food industry wants to make an extra buck.  Every child deserves to reach his/her potential and that cannot happen when they ingest brain-damaging chemicals.


Thanks for Reading,



1. Blaylock, Russell.  Health and Nutrition Secrets.  Health Press. Albuquerque, NM.  2006.




Monday, March 23, 2009

Aspartame: Top 5 Things to Avoid

There are thousands upon thousands of man-made chemicals that get into our food supply on a daily basis. Pesticides, toxins, additives, and environmental irritants have become a mainstay in our food, and most American’s either accept this fact or do not know they exist in food. I have narrowed down the list of thousands to five. My list is based on a) PREVALENCE- how much these substances appear in the food, b) PHYSIOLOGICAL DAMAGE- how much these substances change our body chemistry, and c) ELIMINATION/HEALING- how often people eliminate these substances and are alleviated of chronic conditions/symptoms they may have. With that said, lets find out what’s in our food that is making us tired, sick, inflamed, sluggish, and feeling less than our best. 

1. Aspartame

Aspartame aka Equal, Nutrasweet, Spoonful, and Equal Measure is a sugar substitute that was approved in 1983(1). It exists in over 4,000 products and the most commonly consumed are diet sodas. It is said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. The food industry markets aspartame as a sugar substitute that is safe for diabetics and good for weight loss. This is complete rubbish. Piles of studies tell a different story, and the FDA continues to be the class dunce when it comes to food safety.

In 1988, 80% of all complaints by consumers to the FDA involved aspartame (2). Aspartame was once on the Pentagon’s list of biowarfare agents. It is used in laboratory settings to induce brain tumors in rats. In fact, aspartame can be used as rat poison. 

There are 90 different symptoms that have been documented due to aspartame consumption. A few I feel are particularly significant are seizures, insomnia, depression, joint pain, memory loss, migraines, and weight gain. There are also a number of illnesses that can be worsened or even triggered by aspartame consumption: Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, mental retardation, diabetes (remember, people are using aspartame as a sugar substitute), and Parkinson’s (1). 

Out of all the major organs in the body, aspartame most negatively affects our brains. When aspartame is consumed it enters the brain (like everything else we ingest, think alcohol) and acts as a neurotransmitter. Hank Blaylock, M.D. explains that aspartame acts as a neuro-excitotoxin, meaning it excites the neurons to the point of cell death. In other words, consuming aspartame kills brain cells. Once a brain cell is gone, it’s gone for good. 

When aspartame is metabolized in our bodies', one byproduct that rears its ugly head is DKP. There is a direct link between high levels of DKP in the brain and brain tumors (2). Ten percent of aspartame’s make up is methanol aka wood alcohol. When methanol is broken down in the body it results in the formation of formaldehyde, a carcinogen. It also disrupts DNA replication, causes vision problems, and behavioral disturbances (1). 

A quick note on children and infants: There is a link between aspartame and learning disabilities, mental retardation, and autism. Children should NEVER consume aspartame products. 

You might be wondering, “If aspartame is so bad, why is it still in over 4,000 products on the market.” The story is both complex and corrupt and to read more check out this article:

If you get frequent headaches, have trouble remembering things, or find it difficult to sleep at night, try eliminating diet sodas and other aspartame containing products. Many people think they are doing themselves a favor by grabbing the diet Coke instead of regular. However, diet soda is arguably worse than regular, and what they are really grabbing is a large dose of aspartame. It may have less calories and sugar, but ask yourself why this drink tastes so good without sugar? The answer is artificial chemicals that our bodies simply cannot handle.

The truth is, researchers have only scratched the surface of the short-term problems and symptoms of aspartame consumption. Long-term usage has not been studied in depth. My biggest worry about aspartame involves children and adolescents. Hundreds of snacks children consume have aspartame and the vending machines lining the walls of high schools are riddled with aspartame “foods.” Developing brains cannot handle the aspartame neurotoxicity I discussed earlier. It is my belief that aspartame is contributing to the many abnormal conditions teachers observe in their classroom like hyperactivity, ADD, memory loss, and behavioral issues. 

1. Aspartame: What You Know Can Hurt You. 

2. Roberts, H.J. Aspartame: An FDA Approved Epidemic

The Milk Controversy

I, like many of you, grew up with jugs of milk in the refrigerator and drank it daily. We’ve all heard the slogan that it “does a body a good.” There are even commercials comparing milk to performance enhancing drugs, trying to make light of the steroid era, but nevertheless making a big impact on consumers. Celebrities are seen touting their mustaches in prominent magazines. It is provided for free or for a small price in elementary schools. For our entire lives we have been led to believe that milk is good for us. The following is some information that hopefully helps level the playing field. 

Let me clarify that throughout this note that when talking about milk I am referring to cow’s milk. Mother’s milk is the perfect food for human growth in infants. It contains all the amino acids and enzymes needed for the baby to digest.

First let’s talk about how powerful the dairy companies are. In 1991, Luise Light, along with agricultural scientists and medical doctors convened to create the first government sponsored nutritional guidelines. After extensive research and considering ONLY the health of Americans, this team created a sound pyramid, designed to reduce obesity and western disease. It was rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It limited meat, dairy, sweats and sodium. The USDA was all set to release this pyramid until it was recalled due to strong lobbying by both the National Milk Producers Federation and the National Cattleman’s Association. Fearing that this document would cause people to eat less meat and drink less milk, it was recalled and revamped to accommodate these big businesses. Luise Light and her associates barely recognized the pyramid when it was released to the public.

The reason I bring this up is to illustrate how the government censors nutritional information. Here you have the brightest nutritional minds of their time, with the best research available, coming up with an unbiased pyramid that was developed to improve health. They said drink less milk for a reason. Then, vested interests get involved and money is thrown around and it becomes easy to forget about the people who suffer: you and I. 

In order to fully jump into this issue it is important to start with the original source: the cow. The current state of the cow is a sad one to say the least. With the induction of CAFO’s (confined animal feeding operations) the cow went from a roaming animal to a food-producing prisoner. I’m not here to talk about animal rights. But the CAFO system has created an inferior animal and therefore inferior milk. Here are some problems with this new mass production of cows:

1. The CAFO’s create an environment in which the cows are in extreme close proximity to each other. In open land, cows will congregate, but not be anywhere near as close to one another as they are in the CAFO’s. As a result, disease manifests and is spread like wildfire throughout the stock. At first, the farmers would treat each individual sick cow once they became ill. Now, with cheap antibiotics, CAFO’s put antibiotics in ALL of the feed. Sick or not, Betsy is getting a dose of antibiotics with every meal. These antibiotics get into the milk and create digestive problems in humans. Not to mention, many of the cows are milked when seriously ill.

2. In the natural order of things, animals get pregnant and then produce milk. But it isn’t very cost effective to only milk cows when they aren’t pregnant. So, hormones are injected into cows which keeps production of milk a year round affair. In addition to the artificial hormones, the cows produce significant amounts of their own hormones during pregnancy that alter their milk. These hormones subsequently get into to milk we drink and are linked with breast cancer in women, among other problems. 

3. One of the more graphic issues in modern milking involves the milking itself. It used to be the farmer hand milking his cows into bottles and carrying them fresh to the community. Now metal suction devices are put on the cows in a mass milking procedure. The cow’s udders become irritated and infected by these devices. Also, with the induction of growth hormones (see #4), the udders become so filled with milk they drag on the ground. Puss and blood has been found in randomly tested milk. 

4. In the natural order of things, a cow slowly grows to an age where eventually she can reproduce and milk her young. This process is far too slow for the dairy industry. To combat this ever-to-slow growth period, they administer steroids and growth hormone to make bigger cows that will give more meat and produce more milk. Cows udders get so large they drag on the ground, infecting the udders. Again, a great opportunity to administer more antibiotics. There are other consequences of these growth hormones. The most common accelerator of growth given to cows is called bovine growth hormone (BGH). This hormone triggers cows to naturally produce another hormone called Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in large amounts. In humans, IGF is needed in childhood for normal body growth. However, adults produce only little or no IGF. Milk is rich in IGF and adults who consume milk are at increased risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer because of this rogue hormone entering their bodies.

5. In the natural order of things, cows roam free and eat grass. They get exercise and eat their designed diet. They have four chambered stomachs called rumen, which evolved to digest grass. In CAFO’s, cows are fed grain which creates a fattier milk and meat, but better tasting. No one knows for certain the consequences of this grain diet except that it adds omega 6 (from the corn) and takes out Omega 3’s (from the grass). 

As you can see, the dairy industry loves to alter nature to increase profit. I believe this has led to an inferior product. The cows today are nowhere near as healthy as they were 50 years ago. Our grandparents drank milk that was much different from what we are drinking today. The milk man came weekly to deliver fresh milk from cows that roamed free and ate grass. Artificial hormones didn’t exist yet. What you thought you were getting was what you got. Now, milk has been stripped from its original form and a completely different product.

After all the antibiotics, hormones, unnatural diet, disease, and lack of exercise you would think that’s about all the industry could do to the cows to make milk a strange new product….for the worse. But, they weren’t done yet.

Homogenization and pasteurization were two processes that were a miracle for the dairy industry. Both essentially eliminated the milk-man, and allowed milk to sit on grocery shelves for weeks before spoiling. However, these breakthroughs may be doing more harm than good. Pasteurization causes the vitamins in milk to be lost, especially vitamin A, D, E, and B12. Homogenization involves spinning the milk at high speeds, which creates fat globules that are difficult for the body to digest. Studies have shown correlations between homogenization of milk and heart disease (1).

The final thing I want to discuss is lactose intolerance. These people’s bodies do not produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the milk sugar, lactose. Worldwide, around 65-75% of adults are lactose intolerant. This means their bodies are not capable of properly digesting milk. Interpret this as you may, but this tells me that the majority of the people on earth are not meant to drink cows milk. After all, cow’s milk is meant for baby cows.

All of these technological changes to the cows and to milk itself have altered it to something further and further away from food. Mass production is one of the biggest enemies of quality food, and milk is no exception. To be frank, I believe the standard milk found in grocery stores should be avoided by all adults. It has just gotten to the point where it is so far from its true form. There are farms that offer raw milk where cows are treated humanely and free to roam and eat grass. If you enjoy milk I would recommend seeking out these products. 

Thanks for reading,

More information:


1. Haas, Elson. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Celestial Arts. Berkeley, Ca, 2006.

Acid/ Base: Back To the Base(ics)

In order to become familiar with this important balance, some chemistry must be discussed.  Don’t get too put off, if I can learn it anyone can.  Chemists use an acid/base measurement called the pH scale, which they use to determine how acidic or alkaline (basic) a solution is.  The terms base and alkaline are used interchangeably.  The scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline.  Our bodies like to operate at about 7.5 pH.   Any fluctuating up or down from that number is going to lead to a more basic or acidic state and physiological changes will occur. 


Every food we consume besides water is broken down in the body into either an acid or alkaline ash.  Our diets today are far from balanced and individuals tend to consume a largely acidic diet.  This can lead a number of problems, but first lets look at what foods are what when talking about the acid/base problem.


As a general rule dairy, meat, grains, and nuts are acid forming in the body. Cheese and meat are the most acidic.  Nuts and grains tend to be more neutral but slightly acid forming. Here is a list of foods ranked from most acidic to least acidic:

Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, egg yolk, salami, brown rice, turkey, chicken, peanuts, beef, pork, fish

As a general rule fruits and vegetables are all alkaline forming.  Here is a list of foods that have high alkaline ratings:

Raisins, spinach, bananas, celery, carrots, apricots, kiwis, potatoes, cherries, eggplant, oranges, cauliflower.  I should also mention that the amino acid supplement Glutamine is strong alkaloid.  In fact, after a highly acidic meal, glutamine is pulled from the muscles to neutralize the acid load. 


Remember, its not that acid foods are the “bad guy” in all this.  Like Omega 6’s and 3’s there needs to be a proper balance here.  Protein and acidic foods have never been so prevalent and cheap.  The government (Bush Administration) subsidizes corn making it an extremely cheap feed for cattle, therefore making meat very affordable.  It is very difficult to sick on an alkaline diet whereas, a high acid diet is known to increase mucous, a sign that the body is congested and out of balance. 


This leads me into a very specific acid/alkaline imbalance that can lead to osteoporosis.  Doctors/Nutritionists will tell you to increase your calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and have strong bones, and they are right in saying that.  However, when we think of calcium sources, that picture of Derek Jeter with a white stache immediately comes to mind (for me it’s Misty May).  The problem with milk is that yes, it does contain calcium, but it is also a protein dense food.  When we drink milk or eat other high protein foods, the blood becomes highly acidic.  To maintain homeostasis and the proper blood pH, the body taps into our bones and pulls an alkaline mineral, calcium, directly from our skeleton.  Calcium counteracts the acidity of the blood.  This is now a big problem because not enough calcium ingested from milk can make up for the subsequent bone loss. 


Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, has studied the link between high consumption of animal protein and disease for over 30 years.  The U.S., Sweden, New Zealand and Finland are largest milk consuming countries in the world.  The U.S. and NZ currently have the highest incidence of hip fractures of any other country(2).  I know I have strayed away from the acid/base subject for a moment, but it is important to understand that milk is not the answer for strong bones.  In fact, it may do more harm than good. A discussion for another day. 


I think most can see the underlying theme here: eat less meat, eat more fruits and vegetables.  For me personally, just hearing that statement was never enough, I needed science and facts behind it to make a change.  I hope this physiologically based give-and-take system makes it clear that there are consequences for the typical high acid American diet.  Our bodies like an alkaline environment; things just simply work better.  The reason I chose the Omega issue and this acid/base issue so early on in these notes is because I believe if we can balance these two out, we are going to feel better, get sick less, and live longer. Period.  If we can calm down the inflammation and get away from the chronic state of acidosis, we are all on the way to better health.  

1. Berardi, John. "Covering Nutritional Bases." 2003.

2. Campbell, T. Colin. The China Study. Benbella Books, Dallas Texas. 2004.

Omega 3's

There are a few theories that scientists have for why humans headed on a different evolutionary path than other animals when it came to our large, complex brains.  One fact we know is that some of the earliest settlements of civilized people lived in coastal regions, and they fished, a lot.  Later settlements began moving inland, chasing herds of big game.  Some stayed and fished for life.  Over time, these early humans developed a diet high in lean protein, vegetables, nuts and fruits, which in combination began to fuel a more complex brain.  So what does this have to do with nutrition and health for modern humans?

Our brains are made up of 60% fat, more specifically, an Omega 3 fat called DHA.  DHA also makes up the sheaths that surround and protect our nerves, which network throughout our entire body.  Back to our fishing villagers, fish is the best source of DHA on the planet.  Some scientists believe that one factor in our brain development came from early people getting high doses of DHA.  So if eating fish and other Omega 3 fats had a part in catapulting us from cave paintings to rocket science, lets see what it can do for us today.

The Omega 3 family consists of previously mentioned DHA and EPA (both are long chemical names).  When we eat fish we get good doses of both of these fats. 

First here are sources of Omega 3’s :

 Animal: fish (especially salmon, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies), eggs, and grass feed meat

 Vegetarian*: flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, hemp, and walnuts

*These come in the form of alpha-linolenic acids which must be converted in the body to DHA and EPA.  Only about 10% gets converted.

Omega 3 fats have been proven to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and even triglycerides in the bloodstream.  This fat has been shown that Omega 3’s can raise the good cholesterol, HDL.  It can help children with autism and ADD as well as improve adults with depression.  The most interesting Omega 3 marvel is its anti-inflammatory qualities.  In order to understand the full effect of this benefit, Omega 6 fatty acids need to be quickly discussed. 

Omega 6’s have very important functions in the body including thinning the blood and helping the nervous system function properly.  The problem is, in the U.S., we over consume this nutrient everyday. 

Omega 6 sources:

Safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil

You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t eat any of these oils.”  However, these oils exist in nearly every packaged food.  When you eat in restaurants, these are the most common oils your food is cooked in.  I’m not saying these oils are bad, for you they are just over used.

Many Americans are in a chronic state of inflammation.  When we eat too much of a certain Omega 6 (Arachidonic Acid) found in beef fat, it will get stored as fat in the body.  Then when we tap into our fat stores for daily energy this fat gets released and creates a slight inflammation throughout the body.  Our immune system sends out anti-inflammatory agents, leaving us more susceptible to infection/illness.  In other words, too much Omega 6 weakens our immune system and can eventually leave us open for more serious diseases.

There is a simple solution to this problem.  Omega 3’s and 6’s are partners in this fatty world.  They are about as yin and yang as it comes.  While Omega 6’s are pro-inflammatory, Omega 3’s are just the opposite.  They calm the cellular fire by displacing the previously mentioned Arachidonic Acid from the cell.  Currently, many people in the U.S. are eating a ratio of 6 to 3’s as high as 50 to 1.  Studies show the average ratio is about 15:1.  Our ancestors, with a diet plentiful in fish and wild, grass-eating game, ate a ratio of 1:1.  Today, in order to avoid that state of chronic inflammation we should be consuming a ratio of around 3:1. 

Other than inflammation and illness, this delicate ratio is important in preventing heart disease, cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, weight gain, and chronic fatigue.  Some researchers have found this ratio is one of the single most important health factors in our diets.  This ratio is out of whack mainly because our livestock is now fed grains instead of grass, which puts more Omega 6’s in their blood.   Also, the Omega 6 oils are cheap, and therefore used much more in cooking food in restaurants. 

Eating more fish is one way to alleviate this problem.  Adding some of the Omega 3 sources listed above is also a great start.  If you wish to supplement fish oil, Patrick Holford, founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, recommends 350mg of both DHA and EPA.   The other way to shorten the ratio is eating less fatty beef and using alternative oils like olive, rice bran, or flaxseed oil. 

 Thanks for reading,