Homogenization is a recent process, widespread since the 1940s or so, where the fat globules in dairy products are forcibly broken up in order to make them smaller & uniform (homogenous) in size.

If you put regular milk, straight from the cow, in your refrigerator the cream will rise to the top. You will have a layer of cream on top of what is essentially skim milk. Homogenization prevents cream from rising to the top by making its particles smaller & less likely to float. This is what allows us to buy 2% milk, instead of just whole or skim milk.

The potential problem is that because the fat globules are so small they may scar your arteries. Scarring of the arteries means the arterial walls are no longer smooth, and therefore easier for plaque or cholesterol to attach itself and begin to clog your arteries. This can eventually lead to a heart attack.

There are other potential problems related to homogenization (cancer, diabetes) as well, so I suggest reading the links below, doing a search on “homogenized dairy products,” and decide for yourself.

As with many health topics nowadays there are the group or doctors and experts that say “this” is true, and another group that says “that” is true. I, for one, have decided to pretty much eliminate dairy from my diet—milk anyhow. I still enjoy cheese & yogurt, but have reduced my intake, and will be doing some research & reading on these as I have heard contradictory info on the health benefits/risks of these as well.

One other interesting point that was made on one site that I read was that humans are the only mammals that drink the milk of other mammals. And we do it into adulthood. Even cows don’t drink cow’s milk very long after they are born…

Pasteurization is a process where dairy products, among others, are heated to kill potentially disease-causing bacteria. The problem here is that it also reduces much of the nutrient content of dairy products and destroys its live enzymes. Because much of the good bacteria that actually fight contamination are killed off during pasteurization, pasteurization itself becomes even more necessary! Pasteurization is probably not as problematic as homogenization, but it is something to be aware of.

Today it’s illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in many areas due to the belief that raw milk causes or carries sickness. However, if you read the article below at westonaprice.org you may want to reconsider drinking commercial milk at all, given the environment in which commercial dairy cows live.

Again, I encourage you do to do further research & reading on your own & make you own decisions. I had no idea there was even a possible health hazard from milk or dairy products until a couple months ago, and what I have learned since is disturbing. I only hope to let you know of the possible health threats in everyday practices that we are often unaware of—things we think are healthy are often not. I thought drinking milk was a healthy habit, but I now avoid it. I shop for unpasteurized, organic, unhomogenized dairy products now if I can find them.

Some further reading:

http://health101.org/art_milk_cancer_fuel.htm

http://www.westonaprice.org/transition/dairy.html

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Plastic bottles

Do you drink bottled water out of a plastic bottle? Ten years ago many would have laughed at the idea of paying for water, yet today I know hardly anyone (city dwellers anyhow) who drink tap water.

I don’t drink tap water either, unless I am way out in the countryside. Tap water is full of chlorine & fluoride in most cities, and neither of these is good for you (see my post on show filters for more about chlorine). I drink filtered water at home & often buy a plastic bottle when out & about. Many of you will no doubt have a reusable plastic bottle you use when at the gym, out for a walk, etc, and I used one for years. The need for clean, pure water is obvious, and many of us can’t get this from our taps, but bottled water, meant to meet this need, is a good idea poorly executed.

A few months ago I met a lady who owns her own water company. In getting to know her and what she does and why, I have learned some interesting and disturbing facts about bottled water. Here are a few of the most important related to health.

Most bottled water comes in a PET bottle (polyethylene terephthalate (PET #1 plastic). These bottles have been approved for one-time use only, yet it is common practice for many to reuse them, often for convenience, money saving, or environmental reasons. This may be a very unhealthy thing to do, however. Plastics Are Toxic. Studies show that bacteria easily breeds in PET bottles when reused and that reuse may cause DEHA, a carcinogen, to leach from the plastic into water in the bottle. A 2006 study revealed that significant levels of antimony, a toxic chemical, seeps into water sold in PET plastic bottles. This is one of the reasons why bottled water has an expiry date.

Bisphenal-A is a toxic compound found in polycarbonate (#7 plastic), the translucent, hard plastic used in Nalgene water bottles and many baby bottles. It is a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen and is linked to early-onset puberty, declining sperm counts, obesity, and breast and prostate cancer. Due to the alarming toxicity of this chemical, in March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was filed in Los Angeles against five leading manufacturers of baby bottles containing Bisphenal-A.

So we can see that plastic bottles may be unhealthy, but there is also the environmental angle to consider. The pollution and energy consumption involved in the production, shipping and disposal of plastic bottles is staggering. According to Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, the production of one kilogram of PET plastic requires 17.5 kilograms of water and sends over half a dozen significant pollutants into the air. In other words, the water used to create one plastic bottle is significantly more than that bottle can hold.

Plastics are the fastest growing form of municipal waste. They do not biodegrade, and an estimated 88% of water bottles are not recycled. And because they float, and bottles that make it to the ocean can be mistaken as food by birds & fish. If they eat them, they are in the food chain and have the potential to harm those who don’t or can’t afford to drink from plastic bottles.

So, what to do? There are alternatives. Replace your Nalgene or other plastic bottles with a reusable stainless steel water bottle. No chemical leaching to worry about and much better for mother earth. At home, you can keep your filtered water in glass bottles. A quick internet search and you should be able to find some, or your local outdoor or health store may have some as well.

Got a nasty pop habit? Might wanna kick it ASAP. One of my friends brags that he drinks a Coke a day, can’t wait to tell him what I just learned…

Fizzy drinks are bad for you. Shocker, I know. Fizzy (carbonated) drinks were #1 on Dr Gillian McKeith’s top 10 worst foods list on her TV show, You Are What You Eat.

Kevin Trudeau (Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About) also advises avoiding fizzy drinks as well. Why?

Well, first of all they are loaded in sugar. A can of Coke has about 40 grams (roughly 13 teaspoons) of the nasty white stuff. Don’t think sugar is all that bad? Check out my May 16 post “Avoid white sugar…” to see how wrong you are.

Secondly, fizzy drinks have no nutritional value. At least beer (http://beer.about.com/od/beernutrition/a/beernutrition.htm)  or wine (antioxidants)have some redeeming qualities. Pops really are all negative.

The diet ones are even worse. Aspartame, Splenda, etc, may have few or no calories, but according to Kevin Trudeau, they are just toxins, or man-made poisons.

Fizzy drinks also may block absorption of vitamins & minerals. According to Kevin Trudeau they can prevent calcium absorption which can lead to conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis. My Coke-a-day friend was diagnosed with juvenile-onset arthritis about about age 14. May just be a coincidence…or maybe not. He certainly isn’t doing himself any favors. Drink water (filtered), and do one for your body.

Recommended reading:

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You Are What You Eat

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Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About

A nice simple thing you can do now to improve your health: drink a warm cup of water each morning first thing with a little lemon juice in it.

According to Dr Gillian McKeith, among others, this will give your metabolism a boost, helping you possibly lose weight, and also act as a “mini detox” each morning. You can also try it at night too just before you go to bed.

Why warm water? Well, apparently very hot or very cold foods & drinks “shock” your body (slurpee headache anyone?), so probably not the best thing to do.

Recommended reading:

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You Are What You Eat

We all know sugar is bad for us right? But why is it really bad? We all know it makes your teeth rot & causes us to gain weight, but is that really it?

Recently I read You Are What You Eat by Dr Gillian McKeith, as well as Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau (actually I am still reading the latter & will post about in the future).

If you have been reading my blog regularly you will know I am a big fan of You Are What You Eat. In fact, I even gave it to my mom for Mother’s Day. She loves the book too & was very excited & happy to have such an easy to read, valuable source of info at hand. I am sure it will make the rounds in my family, or maybe even another copy or two will be purchased. My sister in law suffers from eczema, and there is a whole section in there on that as well.

But I digress. Kevin Trudeau is controversial to say the least. If you read the reviews of his books on Chapters.ca or Amazon you will see that many, while not bad, are less than stellar. I will withhold judgment on Natural Cures until I have finished, but I would say it’s at least worth getting from the library.

The one thing I have noticed so far is that there are alot of similar points in the two books. To me, hearing Kevin say something Dr McKeith also said just gives him more credence. One of the most noticeable points for me was they both strongly recommend avoiding white sugar.

Sugar does all of the things we all know, sure, but that’s not the worst of it. Sugar, especially the refined white variety we put in coffee etc, has virtually no nutritional value. Worse, it causes your insulin levels to spike. Some of you will have heard of the glycemic index, the theory behind of which is that foods that cause insulin spikes will cause you to gain weight, and, taken to the extreme, lead to type 2 (the kind you do to yourself)diabetes.

Whats so bad about insulin spikes? Well, this phenomenon is what causes you to “crash” a few hours after a high carb meal (Chinese anyone?). White sugar has the same effect (insulin spikes) as simple refined carbs such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, baked goods such as donuts, etc, but is even worse since it has zero nutritional value–the others at least have some (well maybe not the donuts).

When you “crash” this is your insulin levels (or more properly, your blood sugar levels), dropping after a spike. Insulin regulates blood sugar & if your blood sugar is high after a high carb/sugary meal, insulin levels have to rise to counteract this. This is when you feel sleepy or even hungry again. This is why people joke about being hungry an hour after a big Chinese meal. You are not really hungry, but because your insulin levels have dropped from their unnatural peak, you feel hungry, sluggish, & maybe lightheaded. Many will often have a snack, and this leads to overeating (since you are not really hungry) & weight gain. This is why carbs are often viewed as “bad” nowadays & hence the popularity of diets like Atkins.

If this cycle (simple carbs/sugary food intake, insulin spikes) continues, eventually your body will become insulin resistant—aka type 2 diabetes. Your pancreas will not be able to produce enough insulin, or your body will have become so tolerant to high levels of it, that it no longer has the needed effect: regulation of blood sugar.

This vicious cycle is also addictive. A diet high in sugary foods will knock your blood sugar levels out of balance, and this will cause cravings for…you guessed it, more sugar. Any coincidence it’s a white powder…? Once your body has more sugar in it than it can deal with, it will be stored in the liver as glycogen. If there is more than your liver can deal with, it becomes fat. Sugar also slows your metabolism, so not only do you have more fat, but you actually burn calories at a slower rate, a negative double whammy.

Additionally, white sugar is highly processed & grown with chemicals. There is nothing “live” about it, so how can it be good for you?In short, sugar is the worst of the simple refined carbs because it has all the bad & none of the good.

So what to do? Well, brown sugar isn’t any better, it’s just white sugar with molasses in it. And also stay away from artificial sweeteners. They are not natural, are made from chemicals, & are linked to many health problems & even some diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Kevin recommends a few things, such as pure organic, unpasteurized honey, stevia, evaporated cane juice, or turbinado sugar, the granulated juice of raw sugar cane. Make sure it’s organic & unpasteurized as the pasteurization process kills pretty much all of the good things in any food. I put away my sugar bowl yesterday & bought some honey.

Dr McKeith has many suggestions, from small to large changes you can make to kick the sugar habit if you are already addicted (an how to find out if you are). In fact, she has too many to list here. Buy or get her book from the library & prepare to go cold turkey!

Also, try to avoid or limit simple refined carbs. Fiber is one of the best ways to counteract blood sugar spikes as it slows digestion of food and “flattens out” the spikes. This is why brown bread, brown rice & whole wheat pasta are better choices.

Recommended reading:

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You Are What You Eat

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Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About

I just bought a juicer. It’s a Breville Juice Fountain JE900. It works just fine & is powerful & easy to clean. A friend has a Hamilton Beach 67800, which is what I was looking for but couldn’t find. I think either is a good choice, but the HB is cheaper.

Why did I buy a juicer? Well, for 1 thing, I read somewhere that 95% of all the nutrition in fruit or vegetables is in the juice.

Second, its alot easier to drink juice than it is to eat 7 servings (or whatever it is) that they say we need each day. I mix several different fruits & vegetables together & drink a glass or 2 and I am doing better than I did before in terms of eating healthy. I actually went out & bought $50 or so of fruit & vegetables yesterday, most of it will be juiced, and I have never done that before.

Also, Dr Gillian McKeith, in You Are What You Eat, recommends fruit & vegetable juice as one of the top detox foods. We all know fruit & vegetable are good for us, but most of us don’t eat near enough with our busy lives, so juicing up a pitcher or 2 a week of fresh, homemade juice can sure help.

If you have certain health problems, many of them may be due to poor eating. Eating too much of this, not enough of that, or the wrong combination of foods (something I will post about soon) can be the cause, or at least exacerbate the problem. So if you struggle with skin, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar (read more on this too in an upcoming post) problems, I recommend reading the book You Are What You Eat, and see what changes you can make to feel better.

You know what? The juice tastes good too! I was really surprised. And it makes you feel better instantly knowing that you are doing something good for your body & to improve your health.

Try it yourself & good health to you.

June 1 update: Just learned something else about juice–you should try to drink it within a few hours of making it. Apparently fresh juice begins to oxidize (even in the fridge) quite quickly and lose some of its nutritional value. So, while making a big pitcher & drinking a little all week may be convenient, and probably healthier than drinking none at all, to get the maximum health benefits be sure to drink your juice as soon as you make it.

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

May 6, 2007

I recently read the book You Are What You Eat by Dr. Gillian McKeith. This is the British lady doctor that examines people’s stools (among other things) on a TV show by the same name on some cable channel. I have seen the show a couple of times, but found it to be a bit over-dramatic with people that drink 10 Cokes a day & that kind of thing. The book is much better, and is one of my recommended reads.

You can read it cover to cover, or you can just read & refer back to sections that pertain to you. One of the most interesting parts is where she talk about examining various body parts (tongue, nails, skin & yes, stools) & letting you know where you need to improve your health before you experience problems. For example, if you have a crack down the middle of your tongue you may be nutrient depleted & have less than ideal digestion. If you get leg cramps you may be lacking calcium and/or magnesium. If your urine is cloudy you may be eating too many acidic foods. If you have trouble losing weight it may be due to eating certain combinations of foods. All of these are early indicators of future potential health problems, which if you know about now, may be able to prevent.

Dr McKeith then goes on to list foods that cause & also “cure” the various problems listed, and suggest ways to improve your overall health & energy levels. One suggestion is to eat as much raw food as possible, another is to practice combing (or not combining) certain foods to aid digestion & nutrient absorption. She also lists various “super foods” that she says are among the most nutritious around, and can do wonders for improving your health.

I have taken some of her advice to heart & incorporated some of her ideas (little by little) into my life. I now drink warm lemon water at least once a day. I recently bought a juicer & plan on having fresh fruit & vegetable juice often–my dose of raw foods. Am also trying some of her super foods & will post on here what kind of results I see, if any.

I have read lots of diet, health & nutrition books over the years & this is one of the best. Look for info on some of the others in future posts.

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You Are What You Eat