Why Gluten-free is Here to Stay!

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Sensational journalism is wreaking havoc in the strides many people are making to improve their health by eating gluten-free.  Case in point are recent articles posted by the National Post entitled Farewell to Gluten free Why We Are So Easily Fooled by Pseudoscience and another by Maclean’s entitled The Dangers of Going Gluten-free.

Both articles are written from the negative viewpoint that eating gluten-free is an expensive fad and people are jumping on this bandwagon looking for quick answers to weight and health issues. Buried in amongst the double speak and overemphasis, are a few good points.  I will agree the gluten free food market has expanded immensely and manufacturers are profiting from this trend.  I also agree most gluten-free foods aren’t any healthier than those containing gluten (see my article here).  A processed product whether gluten free or not is often highly refined, high in sugar, bad fats, chemicals and preservatives.   Finally, they make the point no one should start a gluten-free diet without being tested for celiac disease, as it is antibodies found in blood that begin this diagnosis process and they won’t be there if you don’t eat gluten.  There is no test, however, for gluten intolerance.

That is where my agreement with these articles ends.  These articles go on to say those who follow a gluten-free diet are elitists, gurus, even zealous and there is little proof or even science backing gluten intolerance as a cause of symptoms and finally disease.

According to Dr. Mark Hynman gluten sensitivity can be classified as an autoimmune disease caused when your body fights to remove the offending gluten protein molecules from your system, creating inflammation in any organ system including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more.  (see my article here)  According to a review paper written in the New England Journal of Medicine there are 55 diseases that can be caused by consuming gluten. These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, neurological symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and many autoimmune diseases.  This is far from the pseudoscience the newspaper/magazine articles claim. 

Eating gluten-free advantages - NourishWithKaren

If you remove gluten, you remove the cause of disease.  You won’t just be treating the symptoms of the disease.  What if the answer to your health problems is as easy as eliminating gluten from your diet?  What if eating bread and buns is contributing to the disease you suffer from?  Or eating gluten-free eliminates the need for medications you taking?  What do you have to lose by trying an elimination diet to see if your symptoms vanish?  Why not look for a simple solution?

Remember, if you decide to try eating gluten free to alleviate any health symptom, you should consult your doctor first.  You should be tested for celiac disease, but don’t let your doctor discourage you from trying a gluten elimination diet.  Remember these are uncharted waters, your doctor may have gone to school 20 years ago and didn’t learn about gluten intolerance.  Your doc may not be on board.

Thousands of people have found relief of symptoms and lost weight eating gluten-free.  This is not a fad.  It is not going away. Those who find relief from negative health symptoms will continue to eat gluten-free regardless of media’s take, having to turn down delicious baked goods, the inconvenience of not grabbing a sandwich at lunch or the cost.  Their good health is worth so much more!

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet or caveman diet is the latest and most popular diet craze to hit North America.   It is based on the premise that although human lifestyle has changed over the last 40,000 years our genetic make-up is unchanged; therefore, our dietary needs are the same as those of our early ancestors.

Benefits of eating Paleo 

Loren Cordain M.D., compiled hundreds of studies regarding the eating habits of paleolithic man and found the early hunter-gatherers ate no dairy, cereal grains, refined sugar or bad fats.  They ate a diet of lean meats, non-starchy wild vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds and healthy fats.  These studies also show this population did not suffer from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes or other chronic disease.

Adopting the Paleo Diet can be quite an undertaking in our carb-addicted society.  We have been sold on a diet rich in cereal grains, bad fat, sugar and salt, especially in combination as processed foods, which we love because the human palate loves the combination of fat, sugar and salt.  It is an addictive combination that leaves us hungry for more! Problem is, processed foods are nutritionally devoid, stripped of vitamins and minerals and easily metabolized into fat. These foods, according to Dr. Cordain, are like diesel poured into a gas burning engine.  They clog our arteries, make us fat, cause inflammation, disease and even death.  

Right off the hop, it is easy to see that eating Paleo has benefits!  By eliminating processed foods, grains, dairy, bad fats and refined sugar you reduce caloric intake, which in turn promotes weight loss.   Paleo is a diet high in lean protein, good fats, fruits and vegetables which many of us do not get enough of.   When we consume real food, we get more of the nutrients our bodies need to fuel our systems and prevent disease.   Most people will find they lose weight, feel better and become more energetic while following this diet.  The lack of energy often felt by many in mid-afternoon and following dinner magically disappears as blood sugar stabilizes.

I do, however, have some concerns regarding the way the Paleo lifestyle can be interpreted and implemented which I will discuss in an upcoming post.

Have you tried eating Paleo?  Tell me about your experiences!



Did You Know There's Coal Tar in Your Candy?

Artificial Food Colour and Candy

As humans we are drawn to bright colours and have found ways to make our food any colour of the rainbow.  Children especially, delight in brightly coloured beverages, candy, popsicles, jello, fruit snacks, breakfast cereal, and other food products.  Notice, I didn't say food!  Artificial colours are also found in products from salad dressing, to nacho chips, to cheese and yogurt for a more pleasant appearance.  We use them to make our icing colourful and our cookies pretty!

Many Artificial Food Colouring s  are derived from coal tar by combining aromatic hydrocarbons like toluene, xylene, and benzene, which are obtained by distillation of bituminous coal.  These dyes are petroleum based products.

Artificial food colours were known by an FD&C numbers such as FD&C  blue#1 (FD&C meaning approved for Food, Drugs and Cosmetics), and are more commonly known by a more international labelling method using the letter E, followed by an identifying number such as 102.   Commonly ingredient lists will just say artificial colour or colour.

Artificial Food Colouring & ADHD

While artificial food colouring has been suspected as a source of hyperactivity in children, a study at Southampton University in the UK has linked the mixture of some artificial food colours in combination with sodium benzoate to hyperactivity in children.  Both of these ingredients are commonly found together in soda and other products.  Researchers from this study estimated that approximately 30% of all ADHD could be eliminated by removing the offending colouring from beverages and food products. Sodium Benzoate is a preservative that is too difficult to replace, so it's removal has not been considered.

Tartrazine, known as FD&C Yellow #5 and E102 appears to cause the most allergic reaction and intolerance reactions.  It is noted that people with asthma and aspirin intolerance are most strongly affected and reaction symptoms may appear within minutes to 14 hours after ingestion.  It is found in a host of food products including popular brands of macaroni and cheese, nacho chips, candy, etc.

Symptoms of reactions can include anxiety, blurred vision, itching,sleep disturbance, and hyperactivity among other things.

Children are not as well equipped as adults to rid their bodies of these chemical dyes, because they are small, more frequently exposed and they do not have mature detoxification systems.   Eating real foods will limit your child's exposure to these chemicals which are prevalent in the foods marketed to children.

Strange that we give candy as a sign of affection, but when we know better, we can do better!  

Do you avoid food colouring? 

Shared at Frugally Sustainable's Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!



The Most Prevalent Form of Cancer

Today I am featuring a guest post from a great writer.  It is interesting and very informative.  I hope you take away some great information.

Skin Cancer Prevention Guide: How to Play it Safe and Protect Yourself

It’s the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States, and each year, more than 3.5 million cases of it are diagnosed among 2 million people.  In fact, 1 in 5 Americans will develop it in the course of their lifetime.  It’s skin cancer, and here’s what you need to know to play it safe and protect yourself from this serious health threat.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells.  It happens when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (typically caused by UV radiation from sunlight or tanning beds) causes mutations or genetic defects, prompting the skin cells to multiply quickly and form malignant tumors. 

There are five different forms of skin cancer, and they include: Actinic Keratosis, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Melanoma, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, and Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  Of these, the most common are Melanoma, Basal Cell, and Squamous Cell.  For more information, visit the website for the Skin Cancer Foundation here.

Prevention Tips

  • Stay in the shade, especially from 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
  • Apply a broad spectrum (UVA/ UVB) sunscreen with SPF15 or higher each day.
  • If you’re going to be outside for an extended amount of time, use a water-resistant broad spectrum (UVA/ UVB) sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.
  • Apply 1 oz (2 tbsp) of sunscreen to your whole body 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply every two hours or right after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Cover up with clothing and the right accessories, such as a broad rimmed hat and sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays.
  • Newborns should be kept out of the sun, and babies six months of age or older should have sunscreen applied before being outside.
  • Perform a head to toe skin check every month, noting any moles that appear abnormal or any changes you see.
  • See your dermatologist every year for a professional skin exam.
  • Avoid tanning for long periods outside and in tanning beds

Dietary Prevention: Foods, Drinks, Nutrients, and Flavonoids that Lower Risk

Coffee- Java lovers rejoice!  Finally, there’s a great reason to down your morning cup of joe: research suggests that for each cup of caffeinated java that you drink each day, there’s a 5% decline in your risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer later in life.  Researchers believe that antioxidants found in coffee and tea could help to protect against skin cancer. 

Fruits and Veggies- Certain fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids that are thought to prevent skin cancer.  Good cancer-fighting foods to include in your diet include: broccoli, celery, onions, tomatoes, apples, cherries, grapes, and grape skins.

Red Wine- Red wine is a good source of resveratrol.

Tumeric- Tumeric is a spice with flavonoids that fight cancer.

Green Tea- This type of tea contains polyphenols, which are chemicals that are powerful antioxidants.  Free radicals in the body that change DNA are thought to cause cancer, and scientists believe that antioxidants, which function to remove free radicals from the body, play a significant role in fighting cancer.  The EGCG in green tea is a polyphenol that may prevent skin tumors from forming or growing.

Other Herbal Supplements- These include Gingko Biloba, milk thistle, ginger, and hawthorn.

Sunscreen 101

Sunscreen plays a key role in skin cancer prevention.  Here’s what you should know about SPF levels, how much to apply, and what kind of sunscreen you should select.

Level of SPF

For most people, SPF 15 is fine.  However if you have very fair skin, a family history of skin cancer, or conditions that involve sensitivity to sunlight such as Lupus, you should choose SPF 30 or higher.

Contrary to what you might assume, SPF 30 isn’t twice as effective as SPF 15.  SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB rays while SPF 30 filters out 97%, which is a very small increase in protection.

Types of Sunscreen

Most sunscreen formulas contain chemicals that don’t stay on the skin; they are absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream.  Once in the blood stream, they spread throughout the body without being detoxified by the liver, and unfortunately, these chemicals can be dangerous. 

The FDA has approved 17 chemicals for sunscreen.  Fifteen are clear chemicals that absorb UV light, and of these fifteen, nine are known endocrine disruptors.  These endocrine disruptors interfere with hormonal function, resulting in a wide range of complications that include: abnormal development of fetuses and growing children, low sperm counts and infertility, and they can even cause breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

It would be tough if we were forced to choose between wearing sunscreen and going without it.  The good news is there’s a great alternative: using natural sunscreens.  Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two key ingredients in natural sunscreen that work by scattering light particles as they hit your skin, giving you protection from damaging UV rays.  Since these natural sunscreens perform the same job as regular, chemical-filled ones without being absorbed into your bloodstream, they pose no threat to your endocrine system and are therefore a much safer choice.  More information about the benefits of natural sunscreen can be found here.

Here are some great products if you’re looking for a natural sunscreen to try (all of these can be found online at Amazon):

  • Nature’s Gate Mineral Sportblock ($9.35 for a 4 oz. tube)
  • Alba Botanica Mineral Sunscreen ($19.99 for two 4 oz. bottles)
  • Jason Mineral Sunblock ($11.49 for a 5 oz. tube)
  • Earth’s Best Mineral Sunblock ($12.43 for a 4 oz bottle)

Make it a habit to put on natural sunscreen every day after your shower, even in the winter.

Applying the Right Amount

You should be applying roughly 2 milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin.  Basically, that means you should apply the equivalent of a shot glass (about 2 tbsp.) of sunscreen to the areas of your face and body that are exposed.  For your face alone, you should apply a nickel-sized amount.

Signs and Symptoms to Watch for

When it comes to catching skin cancer, it’s important to look for the ABCDE’s and something called “The Ugly Duckling:”

Asymmetry- Both halves of a mole should match.  If they don’t, that’s a red flag.

Border- The borders of early stage melanoma tend to be uneven, with edges that are scalloped or notched.

Color- Moles should not be a variety of colors.  Different shades of brown, tan, or black signal a red flag.  Melanoma could also become red, blue, or another color.

Diameter- Moles should have a diameter no bigger than the size of a pencil eraser.  Anything larger could be melanoma. 

Evolving- Changes in size, shape, color, elevation and new symptoms such as bleeding, itching, and crusting could be dangerous.

“The Ugly Duckling” Sign- This theory is based on the idea that melanomas look different, making them “ugly ducklings” compared to other nearby moles.  The theory goes that your normal moles should resemble each other, while the potential melanoma is the “outlier,” a lesion that looks or feels different or changes differently than other moles.

What to Do if You’ve Been Diagnosed

Skin cancer is very common, and most cases can be cured surgically.  Make sure that the person interpreting your biopsy is a board certified dermatopathologist to ensure that you’re getting the correct information. 

Some forms of skin cancer can be treated topically with creams while others require surgical removal.  If you require surgery on a sensitive area such as your nose or ears, ask your doctor about Mohs surgery.  This is a specialized surgery that removes the dangerous lesion while sacrificing a minimal amount of skin.

There’s no denying that skin cancer can be scary, but the good news is it doesn’t have to be.  Armed with the facts, tips for prevention, and a tube of natural sunscreen, together we can make progress towards eradicating what has become the world’s most common cancer. 

BIO: Alicia is a content coordinator for WebpageFX design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking healthy meals, and blogging about health, tech and communication.Her articles have been published by Her Fitness Hut, Examiner.com, and Ask Miss A.


Breast Cancer Prevention

Angelina Jolie’s announcement of a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer is a hot topic and it leaves us with unanswered questions regarding our own health. I think it is important to pause in light of Angelina Jolie’s decision and take a look at the facts that surround breast cancer and prevention.

Breast Cancer Prevention

According to the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force, the mutated BRCA1/BRCA2 gene is found in only 1%-2% of all U.S. women.  While it is true that those who carry the gene are 5x more likely to develop breast cancer, it doesn’t mean they will develop breast cancer.  So, who may want to be tested for the mutated BRCA1/BRCA2 gene?

For women who are not of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, the National Cancer Institute recommends genetic testing if you have:

  • Two first-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer, with one of them before age 51. First-degree relatives include your mother or sister;
  • Three or more first- or second-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer. Second-degree relatives include your grandmother or aunt;
  • A combination of first- and second-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer or ovarian cancer;
  • A first-degree relative diagnosed with cancer in both breasts;
  • A combination of first- or second-degree relatives diagnosed with ovarian cancer;
  • A first- or second-degree relative diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer;
  • A male relative diagnosed with breast cancer.

For women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, who are more likely to carry a specific BRCA2 defect passed from generation to generation, the National Cancer Institute recommends genetic testing if you have:

  • A first-degree relative diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer;
  • Two second-degree relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.

About 2 percent of adult women have a family history pattern described above but, again, less than 1 percent of women will have a BRCA mutation.

Regardless of whether you or I carry the mutated gene which may cause breast cancer, the statistics are that 1 in 8 women, will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.  Gene or no gene.  Those statistics evoke a sense of helplessness and may make us regard our breasts as the enemy.  

It is important to know that a radical double mastectomy is not the only way to work toward preventing breast cancer.  In fact, there are many ways to help prevent breast cancer:

1.      If you smoke, stop.

2.      Increase your vegetable intake to 5-8 servings a day, including all of the colors of the rainbow.  Eat more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and collard greens.  These contain IC3 which make estrogen less toxic to breast tissue.

3.      Choose organic foods as there are certain herbicides and pesticides on produce, as well as hormones in meats which have been implicated in breast cancer.

4.      Eliminate hydrogenated fats and choose organic butter instead of margarine.  Use olive oil, flax oil and coconut oil instead of vegetable oils.

5.      Exercise.  Four hours of exercise/week can reduce the incidence of all forms of cancer.

6.      Decrease or avoid sugar as it suppressed the immune system.

7.      Use a high quality multivitamin for increased immunity.

8.      Take Vitamin D.  It reduces the risk of many types of cancer by 77%.

9.      Limit your use of alcohol.  The consumption of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

10.  Take off your bra.  Let the girls free.  Wearing a bra for more than 12 hours/day increases breast cancer risks.  Underwire bras do not allow free movement of lymph and toxins from the lymphatic system so wear cotton, stretchy bras which allow movement.

11.  Know your breasts, gentle massage and self breast exam are important.

12.  Limit radiation exposure as repeated x-ray exposure may increase the risk of breast cancer.

13.  Practice self-love.  As women we are busy taking care of everyone else and forget to take care of our own needs.

There is also a method of early functional detection that is becoming more well known called Thermography.    It uses a digital infrared camera and sophisticated computer programming to take pictures of breast tissue.  Thermography is able to detect abnormal heat patterns within the breast which signal changes occurring in cellular function that can predate the formation of lumps by as long as 5 to 8 years.  More info here:  www.medthermonline.com and www.thermascan.com

If you would like to know more I recommend reading  The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Breast Cancer, A practical Manual for Understanding, Prevention & Care by Sat Dharam Kaur.

Shared at:   smallfootprintfamily.com and frugallysustainable.com


Stop Dieting: Eat for Health not Weight

Stop dieting and eat for health and not weight

The way we approach eating and activity goes a long way when it comes to our health and weight.  When you concentrate on "health" in this equation weight will follow.  We have all heard that diets don't work in the long run and that often times the weight lost through hurculean effort is gained back and more!  It is my belief that changing what we eat to become healthier impacts weight, so here are some ideas eating healthier. 

Steer clear of sugar.  Not just the stuff on the spoon, but the sugar found in processed foods: cookies, crackers, salad dressings, etc.  Don't drink your calories in any form, from soda to 100% fruit juice to sugary coffee drinks which can pack a whopping 500 calories.  Simplified, sugar leads to a blood sugar surge and then a crash.  It is the crash that causes cravings for more sugar and consequently more calories to be consumed.   

Don't eat fat-free, eat "good" fats in moderation (see here for good fats) .  Good fat does not make you fat!  You need fat in your diet to absorb fat soluble vitamins, nourish your brain and produce hormones.  Fat-free foods are loaded with sugar and may contain more calories than their full fat counterparts.  Fat satiates hunger, makes us feel full longer and doesn't contribute to a spike in blood sugar.  Eating fat-free leaves you feeling hungry more quickly and headed back to the fridge! 

Eat more protein.  Protein takes more energy to digest and your body works harder to digest it.  It keeps you full longer than carbohydrates because it doesn't contribute to blood sugar levels, so there is no craving attributed to consuming protein.

Whole grains are where it's at.  White bread, donuts, cookies, cake, and other white fluffy carbohydrates also lead to a sugar rush and crash.  Besides, who ever felt full eating a rice cake?  Whole grains like whole wheat, quinoa, and brown rice all contain fibre which slows down the absorption of sugar again keeping blood sugar levels more stable.  Fibre also helps the body rid itself of waste.

Eat your veggies and fruit.  Mom was right, they are good for you!   Vegetables and fruit contain the vitamins and minerals vital to promoting and sustaining good health.  They are low cal, full of fibre and delicious.  Fruit and veg are free cards.  Eat as many as you want!

Know what you are going to eat next.  Plan meals and snacks.  If the munchies hit, be ready with alternatives:  fruit, nuts, etc.   Don't just grab something and think about it later.  If you have planned a snack the thinking has been done already.

Do not eat on the run - in your car, watching TV, over the sink, making dinner, working on your computer or reading a book.  Get the idea?  Set the table, light a candle, sit down and concentrate on eating only.    Eat slowly and consciously.  Enjoy every bite.  This boosts the hormones which make you feel fuller.  It makes you aware of how much you are eating as well.

Incorporate activity into your everyday life.  Choose activities that get you away from your desk at lunchtime or off of the couch in the evening.  Take the stairs over an escalator, park further from a store entrance, go for a walk, wrestle with the kids.  Get moving.

I hope you find these ideas helpful.  What do you do to eat healthier and get moving?

Shared at the Frugally Sustainable Blog Hop


The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen

EWG Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen

Have you ever wondered about the amount of pesticide on and in the produce you purchase at the grocery store?  Yesterday, while shopping a perky young lady was wondering out loud about the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen in the produce aisle.

Studies have shown there may be two or more pesticides on produce we purchase and some may have upwards of four types.  It has also been found that infants and children may be affected by pesticides to a greater degree than adults because of their lower body weight, growth and lack of efficiency by their bodies to detoxify pesticides.

Now, scientists have found when we don’t consume fruits and vegetables grown using pesticides, we do not have high levels of pesticide residue within our bodies and we are quick to eliminate these chemicals when they are consumed.  Chemicals that may cause certain kinds of cancer,  interrupt hormones, and cause birth defects.

It has been found that washing fruit and vegetables eliminates only a small amount of the pesticide from conventional produce and that it is beneficial to peel the skin from this produce.  It is also important to realize pesticide is absorbed by produce and is found throughout the entire fruit or vegetable, not just on the skin.

While buying organic produce can be more expensive than conventionally grown, the cost difference is often negligible (say 10 cents/kg of bananas).  I think of the added cost as an investment in my health and well-being.

It is important to note that the EWG's lists do not take into consideration the nutrient content of organic vs conventionally grown produce, which is also something to consider.  Conventionally grown produce often comes from soil amended only with the use of synthetic fertilizers.  After years of cultivation this soil is depleted of natural minerals and matter, the produce grown there will in turn be lacking in nutrients as well.  Produce grown organically, however, is grown in soil which must be amended by natural means and will be richer in nutrients.  This is another post for another day!

The Environmental Working Group has come up two lists of fruit and vegetables.  The Dirty Dozen is a list of the most highly contaminated conventionally-grown produce and the Clean 15 is a list of the least contaminated conventionally grown produce.  It is a great guide for purchasing the safest produce possible.  When grocery shopping I buy only those things on the Dirty Dozen list organically grown, but will buy conventionally grown produce from the Clean 15.

 The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)

Sweet bell peppers

The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination)
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes

This information and a handy carry tag listing the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen can be found at the Environmental Working Group's website.

What are your produce buying habits?  Do you try to purchase organic produce when possible? 


What the Cluck? An Egg Primer: Omega-3, Free Range, Organic

I’m sure you’ve heard the news?  Eggs are good for you.  Yup, word is slowly leaking out!  Eggs are a great source of protein which fills us up and keeps us feeling full longer.  They are a good source of vitamins A, B2, B12, E, phosphorous, iodine and selenium and contain just 70 to 85 calories per medium egg.  To top it off they are inexpensive, versatile and easy to prepare!

Noble Farms Eggs

While eggs, especially yolks get a bad rap, their ability to raise cholesterol levels is unfounded.  Sure there was research which pointed to high cholesterol after consuming eggs, but this research was done on rabbits. Since when do rabbits eat eggs?  Rabbits are  vegetarian and unable to metabolize ingested cholesterol.  It’s no wonder they had high cholesterol levels after eating eggs!

There has been a trend toward eating just egg whites to avoid the calories, fat and the cholesterol found in egg yolk, but eating whole eggs is important as many important nutrients like folate, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D are found in the yolk.  According to a University of North Carolina study in 2008, choline, which is also found in egg yolk, reduces the risk of breast cancer. 

If you are like many people, you can stand in front of the egg cooler for a long time trying to decide which eggs to buy:  omega-3 eggs, free range, free run, organic, brown, white or plain old regular eggs.  I looked into the different kinds available, so you can make a more informed choice!

Conventional eggs without specialized labeling likely come from factory hens which are confined in battery cages that leave them all but immobilized.  According to the WSPA, 6-8 hens are kept in a cage the size of a microwave oven.  This would be like 10 people living in a space the size of an elevator.  These hens are reduced to egg-laying machines which can’t even spread their wings. 

Free range chickens

According to the Get Cracking Website, free run eggs are produced by hens that roam in open-concept barns with slat or litter-covered floors equipped with nests and perches. Free range eggs are produced in a similar environment to free run eggs but the hens have access to outdoor runs as well. Due to the severe Canadian climate, outdoor access is only seasonally available.

Organic eggs are laid from hens that may be kept in any kind of caging system, but generally are cage free. They eat an organic feed free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and gmo’s and don’t receive vaccines or antibiotics.

Omega-3 eggs come from chickens that are fed feed containing 10-20% fax seeds which are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  The yolks of these eggs, therefore, are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which we don’t get enough of.  These can be free run, free range, conventionally raised or organic, depending on the producer.

Recent findings from Penn State University revealed that the eggs of organically raised chickens which were allowed to forage had three times more omega-3 fats than their confined counterparts, along with 40 percent more vitamin A and twice as much vitamin E.

In case you are wondering, colour doesn’t matter!  Brown, white, green or cream, no egg colour offers better nutrition than the next.

When I was little, we would visit my Grandma’s house and she would serve eggs with bright yellow yolks.  These eggs came from chickens that were able to run around outside, pecking at grass and bugs.  The yolks tasted strong to me and weren’t my preference.  Little did I know that these were the most nutritious eggs, produced by chickens with a variety of feed, exercise and sunshine!  Living in town, I usually buy eggs at the farmer’s market from free range organically raised hens.  I like to think that happier hens produce happier eggs!

What's your favourite way to eat eggs?  Mine is poached, but they take a little longer to prepare and clean up after, so I usually fry/steam mine!  

This post has been shared at The Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday Blog Hop.  Hop on over and check it out!  frugallysustainable.com




White Button Mushrooms May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Superfood is the buzz word in nutrition.  Superfoods are foods which are high in nutrients or phytochemical content and may have health benefits, with few negative properties.  The term is used to describe goji berries, mangosteen, kale and other often exotic fruits and vegetables.  

White Button Mushrooms to Prevent Breast Cancer

There is still so much to learn about nutrients and their interaction within our bodies and scientists are making exciting discoveries all of the time.  While we can try to incorporate some so called superfoods into our diets, it is important to remember that through eating a diverse diet, we obtain the widest range of nutrients.  Don't think you have to hop on the goji bandwagon, or eat a kilo of kale everyday for optimum health, some of the healthiest foods have always been right in front of us.

A study in the Journal of Nutrition December 1, 2001 vol. 131 no. 123288-3293, entitled "White Button Mushroom Phytochemicals Inhibit Aromatase Activity and Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation", tested the effectiveness of flavone and isoflavone phytoestrogens found in seven common vegetables in the inhibition of cancer cells in breast tissue.  The winner in this study was the white button mushroom not celery, carrots, broccoli or exotic mushrooms like reishi or shitake, but the plain white button mushrooms that I remember my mother cooking with.  

Funny how that is, I recall a baby food cookbook dating back to the 90's saying there is little or no nutritive value in white button mushrooms.  Twenty years later, they may be coined a superfood. 

Now, that isn't to say that the other vegetables I have mentioned do not play a part the prevention of breast cancer or other disease, because they do.  White button mushrooms act to inhibit aromatase activity, while broccoli contains, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which seems to alter estrogen levels and may also raise levels of protective enzymes in the body, slowing or stopping the growth of breast, prostate, and other cancer cells (another blog for another time).

The bottom line here is:  the body is very complex and prevents disease on many levels, so we need to eat a variety of foods on a daily basis, for the greatest protection against illness and disease.  

Throwing a handful of mushrooms into sauces, stews or even your burger patties may not be such a bad idea!  How do you like to use mushrooms? 

I have shared this at the  Frugally Sustainable Blog Hop..


Are You Magnesium Deficient

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is a necessary co-factor to over 300 enzymes in our body.  Simply put, it powers enzyme function, drives fuel sources, protects DNA and regulates our electrolyte balance.  It is extremely important to our health and well-being.

Magnesium Deficiency

The NIH states “Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines. Magnesium is excreted through the kidneys.”

According to the USDA, between 60-80% of Americans are magnesium deficient.  One can safely assume that this number is transferable to Canadians as our lifestyle and eating habits are much the same as our neighbors to the South. 

Studies have shown that low magnesium levels may be responsible for a multitude of symptoms:

- Muscle spasms             - Back pain                               - Insomnia or restless sleep

- Headaches                    - Constipation                           - Stiff and aching muscles

- Stress                              - Kidney stones                        - High blood pressure

- Angina                           - Osteoporosis                         - Muscle weakness

- Stroke                            - ADD/ADHD                             - Irregular Heartbeat

- Anxiety                          - Heart palpitations                  - Restless Leg Syndrome

- PMS                                 - Insulin Resistance                 - Muscle twitch or tic

- Depression

And according to Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., author of The Magnesium Miracle, magnesium is useful in the treatment of the following:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Asthma
  • Blood clots
  • Bowel disease
  • Cystitis
  • Depression
  • Detoxification
  • Diabetes, Syndrome X, and Metabolic Syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Migraine
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Nerve problems
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology-PMS, dysmenorrhea (cramping pain during menses), infertility, premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy, lessens the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Raynaud's Syndrome
  • Tooth decay

There are a number of reasons we are suffering from magnesium deficiency:

Firstly, our crop lands have depleted magnesium levels.  After growing crops in the same soil for many years, and not replacing the minerals found there, the soil is tired.  Depleted soil equals depleted crops.

Secondly, one can appreciate that if magnesium is necessary in so many reactions within the body, it is rapidly depleted by the regular processes within the body.  Add to that, accelerated depletion due to a number of factors:  physical and mental stress; alcohol use; prescription drug interference with magnesium uptake; consumption of foods which hinder the absorption of magnesium (tea, foods high in oxalic acid such as spinach), phosphate containing foods (such as soda pop); and exposure to toxins.

Lastly, the diet which we consume is low in magnesium.  Processed foods make up a large part of the North American Diet.  It is a diet with low nutrient content and lacks the minerals and vitamins necessary for healthy body function.

The recommended daily intake of magnesium for men is approximately 400 mg and for women 300 mg and there are indications that these numbers may be low.  In order to consume enough magnesium, we need to up the consumption of plant foods that we eat.  Good sources of magnesium include nuts, oatmeal, cocoa, beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds. 

If one considers supplementing their magnesium intake it is important to note that magnesium is most absorbable if combined with ascorbate, citrate or glycinate.  Other forms are not as easily absorbed.