Sunday, October 10, 2010

GTS Kombucha is BACK!

It was a great weekend. Before I spent my Saturday in Colts Neck apple picking, my friend brought me a Synergy from Dean's because they're slowly making their way back to our shelves!!!! I enjoyed every sip of it this morning as I ate my delicious breakfast burrito from the Cinnamon Snail at the Red Bank farmers market. Then drank the rest tonight as I cooked up the apples, Brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash that we picked fresh yesterday. Life is good.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

CYH's Song of the Moment: Carmensita, Devendra Banhart

This album rules, Devendra is my favorite, & Natalie Portman is the prettiest girl in the whole wide world.  Also, I <3 this video!

Breast Cancer: Risk Factors Rarely Mentioned

Annemarie Colbin was one of my favorite guest speakers while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This information was in her October e-newsletter for cancer awareness month and I thought it was worth sharing.

Breast Cancer: Risk Factors Rarely Mentioned
By Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.

We have been told that women have a 1-in-8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. To the statistically naive, that appears to mean that one in eight women will be stricken at some point in her life. Scary? Well, it's not that simple. Here is a more accurate description of the statistical chances of contracting breast cancer according to ages:

At age 20: 1 in 2500
At age 30: 1 in 233
At age 40: 1 in 63
At age 50: 1 in 41
At age 60: 1 in 28
At age 70: 1 in 24
At age 80: 1 in 16
At age 90: 1 in 8

Looks quite different, doesn't it? The risk increases with age, and 1-in-8 figure applies only if you live to be 95. That gives us some time. As Mark Twain once said, "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Let's now look at the variables that affect breast health, and I'm going to focus on some of the lesser discussed ones:

Number of children. Having children is protective against breast cancer; in fact, the more children, the higher the protection. One study found that women who have seven or more children had a 47% less chance of developing the disease than women who'd had only one child. This probably has to do with the fact that with more children a woman has less menstrual periods, thus less up- and-down estrogen fluctuations.

Breast-feeding. The function of a woman's breasts is to secrete milk for her newborn, especially if she has actually been pregnant. Pregnancy initiates changes in the breasts, preparing them for lactation. If that process is interrupted or not allowed to proceed, through miscarriage or by bottle-feeding, the body has to deal with the aftermath. Plugged milk ducts can result in lumps; while these would start off generally benign, over time, with other risk factors, they could become cancerous. In fact, all breast cancers arise in the milk ducts. Short breast-feeding has not shown any protective effect; what counts is the accumulated time of breast-feeding during the whole of a woman's life. In the study mentioned, women with a lifetime total of 25 or more months of breast-feeding had a 33% lower risk for contracting breast cancer as compared to women with natural children who had never breast-fed. I will assume that suppressing lactation with drugs can also have serious adverse effects on the breast.

Environmental causes. There are a number of external factors that may affect a woman's hormonal health. The main ones are pesticides, particularly organochlorides, and living near nuclear reactors. Many petroleum-based pesticides imitate the form of estrogen, and confuse the body into accepting them into their cells. They are sprayed on fruits, vegetables, and animal feed; when these are consumed, the pesticides then are stored in human and animal fat, which, according to Connecticut nutritionist Phyllis Herman, may explain the link between a high animal fat diet and breast cancer. A 1990 study in Israel found a strong link: between 1976 and 1986, the rate of breast cancer declined 20% after a number of organochlorine-type pesticides were banned. Industrial countries where breast cancer mortality declined between 1971 and 1986 had no large commercial nuclear reactors operating within or near their borders; the other 12 industrial powers did, and breast cancer rose in them all. It is thought that low-level radioactive contamination enters the groundwater, affecting produce, and is also carried downwind, affecting both animals and people. These environmental reasons are perhaps why breast cancer mortality rates for Long Island went up 39% between 1970 and 1989.

Use of antiperspirants. Here is a very intriguing thought. Kerri Bodner, publisher of the excellent Women's Health Letter, points out that 50% of breast cancer tumors appear on the upper quadrant of the breast closest to the underarm. Antiperspirants are strong chemicals, usually containing aluminum, which prevent sweating. Now sweating is a way for the body to eliminate toxins and unwanted materials with the help of the lymphatic system. Preventing this activity is, in Bodner's words, "like damming up a river." Sweat backs up into the lymphatic ducts, and the toxins become trapped in the under-arm lymphatic area. The fatty breast tissue allows for efficient storage of these unwanted toxins. Breast cancer often involves the lymph nodes. Could there be a connection?

Tight and underwire bras. I remember reading an article that pointed out an increased risk of breast cancer for women who used tight bras, particularly if they wore them for more than 12 hours. Tight bras also interfere with breathing, which may in turn cause oxygen deprivation in the cells. I personally have great antipathy to underwire bras: the metal in them crosses the body's acupuncture meridians, and so can block the normal flow of Chi which in turn can cause stagnation and disease. Why do women through the ages feel they have to mold themselves into some shape dictated by social whim?

The use of oral contraceptives. Numerous studies have shown the direct correlation between hormone-based drugs and female cancers. The latest is a study published in The Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, on the effects of The Pill on 150,000 women. It found that all users face an increased risk, even 10 years after stopping. Women on the Pill had a 25% higher risk of contracting breast cancer. A study in 1994 had found that women who started on the Pill before the age of 20 had a 3 ½ times higher risk, while 97% of the women who got cancer before the age of 36 had used birth control pills at one time or another of their lives. Note that this does NOT mean that 97% of the women who took birth control pills got cancer; it's the other way around. Obviously there are other variables triggering the disease.

Diet. Fat is suspect, but studies give conflicting results and the issue is not conclusive. It is often mentioned that Japanese women eating their traditional low-fat diets have little if any breast cancer, but when they come to the US they soon catch up. I maintain that fat is not the issue: milk products are. The Japanese diet has no milk products, but now that they are picking up "Western" dietary habits, their use of these products is going up and so is their breast cancer. The highest rates of the disease are in Northern Europe (Finland, Sweden, Holland), the UK, the US, and Canada -- all countries where cow's milk is a major food. Frequent consumption of whole milk has been found to be a risk factor in cancers of the lung, bladder, breast, and cervix; even more interesting, breast cancer patients were found to have twice as high a consumption of Vitamin D (usually added to milk) as cancer-free controls.

What foods protect against cancer? Cruciferous vegetables clearly do: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi. Soybeans have also been developing a good reputation as anti-cancer foods. Miso and tofu are excellent additions to your diet.
Here is a simple recipe:

½ block soft organic tofu, steamed for 3 minutes and cooled (about 5 oz)
1 tablespoon brown rice or barley miso
1 tablespoon flaxseed or extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated onion

Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl, and serve on wholegrain bread or rye crackers.

About Annemarie Colbin:
Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D, founded the Natural Gourmet in 1977 and is currently its CEO. She has been called a "maverick nutritional theorist", and is an internationally recognized health educator, author, consultant and speaker, specializing in food and its effects on health. She is the author of Food and Healing, which has been translated into six languages, The Natural Gourmet (both from Ballentine Books) and her latest book, The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones (New Harbinger Publications, 2009).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Doggies Like Healthy Foods Too!

It happens all the time when I'm visiting my parents house - I sit down to eat and Stanley sits quietly next to my chair and stares up at me with his big brown eyes longing for my food. Since what I'm eating is almost always healthy foods, I can't help but save a few small pieces for him. When I'm finished, I slowly feed him what's left. The picture of him on the right is exactly the face and position of him in full begging-mode. He's sitting on his hamburger bed (yes, he's a hot dog with a hamburger bed) and waiting anxiously for me to feed him some carrots. Wouldn't you cave too?!

I'm a big believer that if you’re going to feed your dogs “people” food, you should feed them something that’s actually good for them. Here are some healthy, easily obtainable options straight from the food store that can be added to spice up your doggies regular fare. There are, of course, a few cautions to keep in mind. First, none of these items by themselves constitutes a “complete and balanced” meal, and if your dog has health or weight issues, check with your vet before introducing them. Next, considering that many dogs are willing to eat almost anything they find, they can be surprisingly fussy about new things in their food bowls; start with a small portion to see if it’s a go… or no. And finally, always introduce new foods gradually.

10 Healthy "People" Foods for Doggies

1. Banana
. High in potassium (great for muscle and blood vessel function as well as for regulating the acidity of body fluids), fiber (a handy home remedy for the occasional bout of doggy diarrhea or constipation) and magnesium (important for energy transport and protein building in the body). Bananas have lots of pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), which helps metabolize proteins and regulates blood cell function so the blood can bring more oxygen to the brain and muscle. They also contain Vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and helps build cartilage. Pup Prep: Mash a banana and mix it in with your dog’s food. Be forewarned that the compounds in bananas that make them smell banana-y are offensive to some canines.

2. Sweet Potato. 
Loaded with nutrients, such as the carotenoids and Vitamin C, in addition to some lesser known antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are high in pyridoxine, potassium, fiber and magnesium. They also are good sources of copper, iron and manganese–all essential minerals that perform myriad functions in cells, from transporting oxygen to assisting in the assembly of proteins. Pup Prep: As with rutabaga, boil, mash and add a bit of good oil.

3. Flaxseeds
. Small seeds–known for their alpha linolenic acid (ALA) content and benefits to coat, skin, bone and brain function–that pack a big nutritional punch. These seeds are also high in fiber and lignans (a fiber type), which may be beneficial for insulin action. They are a great source of manganese, pyridoxine, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. They also contain the B vitamin folate, which is important for cell regulation. Pup Prep: Grind fresh flaxseeds, which are nutty and crunchy; flaxseed oil is also available in most health food stores and contains a more concentrated amount of ALA. Add the ground seeds or a teaspoon of oil to your dog’s food and increase the nutrient density of any meal. (Note: Store in refrigerator to maintain freshness.)

4. Yogurt. 
Active cultures known as probiotics (necessary, friendly bacteria) help keep the bad bacteria away. Yogurt, which may improve gut function, contains a number of nutrients, including protein, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B12, potassium, zinc and iodine. It is also a fair source of other B vitamins such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid (required for enzyme action and energy production, as well as other cellular functions). Pup Prep: A dollop of plain yogurt (with very little sugar of course) is a great way to disguise some yucky medicines.

5. Salmon. 
Bursting with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s do wonders for skin, coat and brain as well as limit inflammatory processes that cause arthritic pain and other chronic canine conditions. (If your dog has any of these conditions, ask your vet if fish oil in capsule form might help.) Salmon is also an excellent protein source, with many essential vitamins and minerals. Pup Prep: When you’re cooking salmon steaks for yourself, toss a few extra on the barbie for your dog. Refrigerate or dehydrate the grilled chunks and serve them cold.

6. Nori. 
Dried edible seaweed (red algae species), a Japanese staple. Often associated with sushi, nori is available in some supermarkets, and certainly in those with Asian food items. It has protein, galactans (a soluble fiber), Vitamins C, E and all the Bs, and minerals such as zinc and copper. It also contains some lesser-known sterols and chlorophyll, which have been investigated for their effects on regulating metabolism. Nori may have beneficial effects on fat metabolism, immune function and anti-tumor response. Pup Prep: Nori does not have a strong odor or flavor, and the paper-thin sheets can be torn and soaked in broth, then added to food, or just added dry. Puppy sushi, anyone?

7. Blueberries. 
Member of the Heath family and loaded with phytochemicals. Available year round either fresh or frozen, blueberries are a great treat for your dog. The deep blue color comes from anthocyanidins, which are potent antioxidants, and the berries also supply Vitamin C, Vitamin E, manganese and fiber. Slow introduction in small quantities is particularly essential here; as anyone who has ever gorged on this tasty fruit knows, the blueberry “trots” are most unpleasant (and you’re the one who will be cleaning up!). Be judicious. Pup Prep: Rinse and serve whole, or mash lightly.

8. Swiss Chard.
 A pretty veggie known as a “green.” Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and has tons of nutrients, which are best maintained by blanching and not boiling the leaves and stalks to mush. (Some feel that, in order to lap up any leeched nutrients, the water in which chard is blanched should be consumed too.) Blanching sweetens the leaves and frees up some of the oxalates, which can bind minerals. Chard’s nutrients have the potential to maintain bone health, blood vessel integrity, eye health and immune function and benefit optimal muscle function and energy production. Pup Prep: Offer your dog some blanched, chopped chard enhanced with a bit of olive oil; if you’re lucky, your best friend will want the blanching water too!

Information adapted from

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lunch N' Learn with 3 Healthy Chicks: Nutrition 101

3HC's Lunch N' Learn will be this Friday, October 8th at 12pm at Fair Haven Yoga Studio and it will be on Nutrition 101.Confused about health and nutrition? 3HC's can help!
Come and learn everything you need to know to get started with a healthy lifestyle.
Bring a healthy (teehee) bagged lunch if you'd like!