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. Mercola.com. 

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: notmilk.com


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." johnberadi.com. 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,



Vita "For Life"

In the 1500’s the British Royal Navy was entering a time of sea exploration and the race to reach new lands was on.  Their provisions consisted of meat, fish, biscuits and cheese.  These men were out to sea for months and sometimes years.  In a 20-year span, 10,000 men died of a mysterious disease where they had frequent bruising, rotten gums, and painful bodies (1).  James Lind, a surgeon, found that giving the sailors limes cured them of this awful disease.  Of course, Vitamin C was the missing link here, and is needed to synthesize collagen as its most basic functions.  This story is one of the earliest, most well documented cases of vitamin deficiency.  From it was born the idea that these small substances can help our bodies accomplish hundreds of normal functions, most importantly, keep us alive.

Fast forward to the year 2009, and there are thousands of products lining health food store shelves and vitamin shops across the nation.  There is no reason we should be deficient in ANY vitamin right?  The problem in this country is certainly over-nutrition, whereas many third world countries struggle to get the basic nutrients essential to life.  The point is we have plenty of food available and even more supplement choices.  This can overwhelm in the most seasoned consumer.  I am not going to try and attempt to weed through all nonsense being sold out there.  There are a few products I do believe in and will mention.  However, first and foremost I will try to convince you that FOOD is the only vitamin supplement you need.

When scientists began studying food and vitamins at great lengths they became obsessed with isolating particular substances and matching those with diseases/ailments.  As each new vitamin was discovered, and its function slowly realized, scientists figured we could basically survive on vitamins alone, with food merely a delivery system for them.  As vitamin pills began to hit the shelves, people were excited to get these magic chemicals into their bodies and enjoy great health.  Today, you can’t go to the grocery store without seeing slogans like, “Omega 3’s added” or “No fat” or “Rich in vitamin C.”  The food industry has found brilliant ways to add and subtract nutrients from our food.   The problem is, those foods were fine just the way they were.  In fact, they have been promoting human health for thousands of years.

I think its great we can isolate individual nutrients and give them to people in concentrated doses like multi vitamins.  However, the value I see in it is mainly for therapeutic uses, not general health.  For example, if someone has high blood pressure they can improve with larger doses of magnesium, which would be nearly impossible to obtain from food alone.  For the normal, healthy person though, I am a huge advocate from obtaining all the vitamins and minerals you need from food sources and here’s why:

-Nutrition is a very young science.  In my opinion, there is no way we have discovered and isolated every single important vitamin.  So, that orange you are eating has vitamin C for sure, but what about hundreds of other chemicals that interact in our body and undergo important jobs that improve our health.  Skipping the orange for a vitamin C supplement limits your vitamin potential. 

-Our ancestors and even a few native cultures today eat a variety of whole foods and are perfectly healthy.  They are active, disease-free, and never take vitamins.  Everything their body needs is provided for them in nature.  Along these lines, religious or not, it is my belief that god didn’t make a mistake and forget to provide us with everything we need to thrive.  We didn’t evolve to take pills, we evolved to eat food.

 -Research is a bit inconsistent here, so we still don’t know exactly how well we absorb vitamins via supplementation.  We do know that our bodies recognize food and can absorb and assimilate (meaning cells take up) all the important substances needed for functioning.

-Synergy. “The sum of the parts is bigger than the whole.”  Let’s say we eat a dozen blueberries.  All the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals within this food combine in the stomach and work together to promote health.  Many antioxidants like Vitamin C and E work side by side replenishing each other to continue to fight free radicals.  We just can’t be certain this is as effective when supplementing the two together. 

Having said all this let me now tell you vitamins are important:

-We are not perfect everyday.  We may miss out on certain vitamins on a daily or even a weekly basis, and a multi vitamin ensures we pick up all the pieces.  Vitamins are a great insurance policy even when we are eating well

-As I mentioned before the food industry has stripped many vitamins from products, especially bread.  They try to add them back in but it’s not the same.  White bread is wheat bread minus the B-vitamins.  In addition, some argue that our soils are being depleted of vitamins/minerals and an apple today is not as nutritious as an apple 50 years ago.  A supplement can help make up for this depletion

-Conventionally grown produce (that uses pesticides) has less nutritional value.  When you spray a crop to keep insects away, you are taking away the chance for the produce to use its own defense mechanisms to fend off its foes.  Organically grown produce is said to have thicker outer membranes, which exist because it had to naturally protect itself from the elements.  The result, more nutrition and antioxidants in these plants due to its heightened defense activity.

I’ve kind of played devils advocate with myself so let me say a few bottom line statements about vitamins:  Never let vitamins become an excuse not to eat a vitamin-rich food diet.  Let food be your vitamins and supplemental vitamins be your insurance policy. 

What I do is buy a multi vitamin that recommends taking 3-a-day.  I only take one a day though.  If that day I ate particularly terrible, I’ll take 2 to cover my bases.  Shop around for quality multi’s.  Typically the cheaper they are, the less they resemble something in nature.  I also supplement things that are hard to obtain in the diet.  For example, I take Milk Thistle Seed (for the liver, lets face it some of us have been cruel to this organ), Turmeric (anti inflammatory and heart healthy), and cod liver oil (because I can’t eat liver).   Listen to your body.  If taking extra calcium makes you feel better, it’s probably helping.  If you have individual questions about herbs or any other supplements, message me and I’ll try to answer them.


Here are all the vitamins/minerals listed a few good sources of each:

Vitamin A:  retinol-fish, egg yolks, milk   beta carotene: yellow/orange vegetables

Vitamin D: sunlight, fish liver oil, mushrooms, dark green veggies

Vitamin E:  safflower oil, nuts, seeds, wheat germ

Vitamin K: dark greens, kelp, alfalfa (K is normally made in the gut by good bacteria)

B1 (Thiamin): wheat, pecans, pine nuts, oats

B2 (Riboflavin): fish, eggs, wild rice, sunflower seeds

B3 (Niacin): fish, peanuts, meats, avocados, whole grains

B5 (Pantothenic Acid): egg yolks, fish, chicken, sweet potatoes, green peas

B6 (Pyridoxine):meat, whole grains, walnuts, garlic, cabbage, bananas

B7 (Biotin): peanuts, almonds, egg yolks, carrots (intestinal bacteria make most of it for us)

Choline: soybeans, potatoes, lentils, oats, egg yolk, fish

B9 (Folic Acid): green leafy vegetables, oranges, pineapple, strawberries

Inositol: whole grains, citrus fruits, raisins, peanuts

B12 (Cobalamin): meat, fish, egg yolk, shrimp, yogurt

Vitamin C: citrus fruits, red and green peppers, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus


Calcium:  milk, dairy products, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, almonds, pinto beans

Magnesium: dark green vegetables, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts

Potassium: spinach, tomatoes, peas, broccoli, oranges, bananas, whole grains

Sodium: we get enough, its everywhere

***The Image above is that of organic orange juice.  The picture was taken with a Kirlian image capturer that picks up electromagnetic energy.  It is said to show an objects "aura."  All I can say is no vitamin can emit that kind of energy!

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




What is Food

The definition of food in this country has become more ambiguous than ever.   When we walk into a grocery store we are expecting to purchase food, but let me say that this notion is now skewed.  Shelves are lined with countless processed “foods” with brilliant advertising schemes, colored wrapping, and promises that they are “natural” or “heart healthy” or “fat free.”  On a side note, any item that makes these promises is probably not the best thing for us.  An orange does not need a giant label saying, “Helps the immunes system function while cleansing our organs leading to greater energy levels.”

Ask yourself this the next time you walk into the market:  what in this place wants to be eaten?  The reason plant based foods evolved and thrived alongside us is our symbiotic relationship with them.  When our ancestors ate fruits they either dropped the seed remains on the forest floor or it came out the other end, and those seeds developed into a new plant furthering the circle of life.  The point is, we are designed to consume plants.  They have nourished us and us them for as long as people walked the earth.  Our bodies know exactly what do with them; they have for thousands of years.  

On the other hand, processed/packaged foods are dominating market shelves. Our bodies are currently having a lot of trouble dealing with these other “foods”.  Chemicals, additives, colorings, preservatives, etc create a unique problem for us, mainly because our cells have never had to deal with such substances.  Some of the more potent chemicals, which will be discussed later, cannot be used up by our cells, so we store them as fat, they accumulate in our arteries and even end up in our brains.  You may ask, why then are these chemicals added to our foods if they cause so many problems?  Like many other answers in this world, the answer here is money. The sad truth is, most of these food corporations could care less about our well- being as long as their bottom line looks good.  Food companies have found ways to extend shelf life through chemicals additives.  Cheap crop commodities like corn and soybean oils are added to processed foods to make them taste better and get you addicted to them.  They have taken out many nutrients and vitamins, which prevent foods from going rancid. Any food that won’t spoil is suspect. 

Now back to nature’s food.  Plants harness the suns rays into their own form of energy, making them grow.  When we eat these plants we are indirectly getting the sun’s energy into our bodies.  When you think about it, this is truly the way in which the sun sustains life on this earth.  What better way to increase our energy levels than to eat from the sun?  If you are trying to make this connection, think about the last time you spent time indoors and then went outside into the sun.  I know I instantly feel more energy.   Plants are the perfect food to thrive.  They provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, heal the body, cleanse our organs, and many studies point to cancer prevention.

It is important to keep in mind which foods got us here.  We did not develop our complex brains by eating frozen dinners and cheese its.  America’s 3 most consumed vegetables are potatoes (fries), tomatoes (ketchup), and iceberg lettuce.  These "vegetables" certainly are not going to help our bodies fight off cancer and heart disease.  

Back to the market, a good general rule is to stick to the perimeter, where more produce is located.  Ask the dude/gal in the produce section what is grown organically or locally.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vegetables/fruits. 

Let’s start rejecting the industries idea of food and going back to what the earth has given us. 


Thanks for reading,