Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some Fruits are Better Than Others...

Blueberry Data
In the headlines this month:
"Some Fruits Are Better Than Others"
Our local Toledo Blade picked up on the story today and here's Dr. Mercola's take on this research.
 The "reader pick" comments on the NYTimes article are interesting, but they all miss a vital point - the quality of the fruit makes a big difference. Quality is something that is seldom mentioned in an intelligent way - that is, more than just 'it looks good and is nice and big.' Some folks lift the fruit to get a feel for the 'heft', feeling that density reflects better fruit. And of course the taste is important to quality, but far too much fruit is poor in that respect. Those big huge strawberries they may have tested were probably nearly tasteless.

Some folks have been digging into the genuine source of quality, and have found that mineral content is an important factor. Jamil, in his blog, High Nutrition Blueberries Nutrition Analysis: Why Are They Better Than Wild/Organic?, has been looking at this aspect and has an a chart showing the mineral content of various blueberries, including some by a farmer who has been working to remineralize his soil, so as to get top quality and high nutrition. The chart above from this blog shows higher levels of most minerals and a couple key vitamins in the high nutrition blueberry.

Why is this so important? The research highlighted in the NYTimes article says eating apples, grapes, grapefruit, and especially blueberries was associated with decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. One comment claims that to avoid diabetes cut down on carbs. Another says cut out processed foods. Another comment says 'no, it's a matter of insulin resistance,' but he's not sure what causes that. Well, minerals have a lot to do with that! People eat large quantities of refined carbs (you know, white bread, pasta, white sugar), which have had the minerals stripped out of them. Processed foods contain refined carbs and modern vegetable oils, which add another piece to the puzzle, as these modern oils are highly subject to oxidation. Oxidized oils create all kinds of problems in the body, including contributing to insulin resistance. In addition, Dr. Mercola highlights the problems with too much fructose in fruit.

But, in truth, those missing minerals are key to proper body function. We took them out because white flour is nicer, and so much easier to work with, figuring we'd just get the vitamin and minerals from elsewhere or by 'fortifying' the flour.  But now we see that "elsewhere" is also low in vitamins and minerals. (see Food Quality Issues) As a result, between refined foods and low quality unrefined foods, mineral deficiencies are common in American today. Diabetes is just the tip of the iceberg. Heart disease, cancer, and a host of chronic disease conditions are caused by or made worse by mineral deficiencies. Eating blueberries instead of strawberries is only going to get us so far.

So where do we go from here? Start thinking about quality. Pay attention to taste - high quality tastes better. Pay attention to keeping quality - high quality keeps better. Get yourself a refractometer and do some actual testing. Buy from a farmer that has better quality produce - and let him know you appreciate his efforts. Grow some of your own food and learn how to garden for Maximum Nutrition.

It's not simple like taking a vitamin/mineral tablet, but likely to be much more effective!

Monday, February 4, 2013

That "Flu Epidemic" - What to do about it.

With all the hullabaloo about a flu epidemic and "get your flu shot" (of questionable value), why is there so little emphasis on how to boost the immune system so you don't get sick in the first place, and why are some simple proven means to beat the flu never mentioned, except to scoff at them? Part of the reason is that there is no one simple answer and research rarely uses an effective multi-faceted approach. So what is involved? What should you do to avoid and deal with colds and flu?
1. Limit refined sugars. Refined sugars tend to depress the immune system. That includes high fructose corn syrup that is in so many processed foods  They also deplete nutrients as the body has to pull nutrients from elsewhere to process the sugars and other refined foods in the typical American diet, such as white flour. Eat whole unprocessed foods.
2. Avoid modern vegetable oils. They tend to be pro-inflammatory, contributing to disease, and are usually damaged in processing so they contribute to body dysfunction. Use plenty of good fats, like good butter (vitamin A), grass-fed lard (vitamin D), coconut oil (antibacterials), real olive oil.
3. Have chicken soup. Grandma was right about chicken soup. Get a good Amish chicken, put it in your crock pot, cover with clean water, some chopped onion, a bit of vinegar to acidify and pull out the minerals, set it on low to simmer for several hours. Pull off the meat when it is very tender and continue simmering the bones to make wonderful healing bone broth. Add vegetables, herbs, pepper and unrefined sea salt along with the reserved meat to make a nourishing and flavorful soup. No, salt does not cause high blood pressure - it's the missing minerals in our refined diet that is a major cause.
4. Drink plenty of fluids - purified and remineralized water, green tea, more broth.
5. Nourish healthy gut flora - have fermented foods, such as raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, or maybe a good probiotic supplement. By eating whole plant foods you nourish the healthy gut flora.
6. Vitamin A plays a vital regulating role in the immune system, needed to fight off flu and other infections. Vitamin A is key for many other body functions, so it's important to include vitamin A rich foods daily. Best sources of vitamin A - liver, high vitamin cod liver oil, butter & cream, eggs. Plants  do not contain vitamin A, but the precursor, carotenes, which the body must convert to A, and not everyone converts it well.
7. Vitamin D is also important for a healthy immune system that fights of colds and flu. Get plenty of sunshine in the summertime. High vitamin cod liver oil is the best source the rest of the year.
8. Get plenty of rest & relaxation. Lack of sleep & stress increase vulnerability to infection. Be sure to get adequate sleep, and deal appropriately with stress. If you feel lousy, have some chicken soup and go to bed. Over-the-counter drugs may be counterproductive. A moderate fever indicates your body is fighting the bug.
9. Zinc decreases adhesion molecules where viruses attach. At the first sign of the sniffles or achiness, take extra zinc, preferably as gluconate or acetate (but without citrate which binds up the zinc). Zinc is an antioxidant, works as an anti-inflammatory agent, and has a direct effect on immunity. Zinc is found in many whole foods, especially oysters, organ meats and nuts. But zinc levels in foods are down because of soil depletion, so ecological farmers are learning to include zinc in their soil amendments.
10. Take vitamin C in high doses and often (several times a day). Natural forms of vitamin C with bioflavanoids are more effective, as they are better absorbed by the cells. Most animals can make their own vitamin C, and they rev up production very high when fighting an infection, but humans have lost that ability, so we must get what our body needs through food and supplements. Doctors who understand this have effectively treated very serious infections with high dose IV vitamin C along with other nutrients. Excess vitamin C tends to cause loose stools, so back off if that happens.
11. Herbs & spices - For more suggestions, and helpful herbs and spices, check out Dr. Mercola at

Stay Well!