Saturday, March 31, 2012

Glycemic Index Explained

Glycemic Index Explained

There have been diet fads after diet fads, but I think this Glycemic Index (GI) is one of the best diet ideas that’s come around since the 1970’s. As you may know, the Glycemic Index is a way to test the amount your blood sugar goes up after eating a certain amount of a certain food. For instance, in most of the older studies the researchers used a slice of white bread as the basis of their studies, stating that the amount a persons’ blood sugar goes up after eating one slice of white bread (which is almost completely pure carbohydrates) is a GI score of 100. All other foods are compared to that. Today they use the same test using a certain amount of drinkable glucose, which is a more precise serving than a slice of bread.

What does this matter? Well, I have at least 4 books on low carbohydrate eating, and “The New Glucose Revolution: Shopper’s guide to GI values 2006” by Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powel said it best. “…Could carbohydrates be implicated in the development of obesity, are all carbohydrates the same, are all starches good for health and all sugars bad? To investigate, they began to study the effects of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. They wanted to know which carbohydrate foods were associated with the least fluctuation in blood glucose levels and the best overall health, including reduced risk of diabetes and hart disease.”

They go on to explain that bad carbs are digested quickly in the stomach and release glucose into the bloodstream very quickly, while good carbs are digested more slowly and cause a more gradual raise in blood glucose.

There is more and more evidence that all of the major chronic diseases, including type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and even neurological diseases of the modern age are caused by the effects of a highly processed high carbohydrate diet, not from a high fat diet.

What is all this talk about whole foods? This is actually related to the Glycemic index, and this is actually the point I really want to make today: The more “whole” or unprocessed the food you eat the lower GI it has. The more processed the food you eat the higher the GI value usually is.

Case in point: from the “New Glucose Revolution” book mentioned above, let me list the same foods, just processed differently.

All breads list that the serving size is one slice, even to the pint that the serving size of a hamburger bun is ½ bun. Generally, the more fiber a food has in it the slower it is digested, and thus the lower the GI value.

White bread GI value 71
9 grain multigrain bread 43
bagel 72
Pumpernickel 50
Whole wheat 71
Whole wheat, stone ground 59
Sourdough wheat 54
Rye bread 51

Oatmeal (all made with water)
Instant oatmeal 82
Old-fashioned oatmeal 58
Steel cut oatmeal 52

This is an excellent case for eating the least processed variety.

White rice, depending on the type: Average GI 60 – 65
White rice, instant 87
Brown rice, quick cooking 80

This makes it look like the instant rice has a much higher GI value than the regular cooking rices, which makes sense if you think the instant rice is more processed and thus breaks down in your stomach faster. I have to note that the books also lists “glutinous rice, white, cooked” as having a GI value of 98 and Jasmine rice as having a GI of 109. No wonder I’ve always loved Jasmine rice! It’s insanely high in carbohydrates. And this simply makes the point that all carbs are not created equal, and even putting a GI value to foods doesn’t make eating and shopping that much easier. Although I do hope this article makes your understanding of the GI factor easier.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Real Mediteranean Diet

I found myself on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. It was an amazing spring day and my dear husband and I were walking through a flea market near a marina. Yes, there were the typical flea market vendors, lots of touristy clothes, some really nice handmade jewelry, sandals and hats… and then we got to the farmers market.

Oh, if only we had something like this every day at home! At home we have too many vendors selling the same vegetables and fruit each weekend. But here on this rather remote island we had (count them) three different kinds of artichokes! Two different kinds of radishes, eggplants of many sizes and colors including striped, 4 or 5 varieties of tomatoes, countless greens, celery with their roots, citrus galore, onions aplenty, bounties of beans both dried and string, … I had found farmers market heaven.

But then there was the spice merchant and I think my vision got tunneled and my ears began to buzz. The local citizens buy their spices fresh ground, used them liberally, knew how to use them, and bought them fresh weekly. Epiphany!

It was at that moment that I realized that the magic of the commonly discussed health benefits of “the Mediterranean Diet” is not in simply drinking an occasional glass of red wine, eating pasta, lots of olive oil, and don’t forget the fish. The real power might just come from the fact that the people of these temperate locales bought their veggies and meats fresh daily and cooked them right away. There were no grocery stores to spray their foods with preservatives, no food factories. Their foods were not grown a continent away, picked long before ripe weeks ago, wrapped in plastic, air freighted and trucked to the local store. They bought their meats from the butcher two blocks away, their bread daily from the bakery, and their vegetables at this market.

The food was, in a word, fresh.

I went home from that trip and threw out all of my old spices, went to a local store that sold fresh spices by the ounce, and started my culinary life over again fresh. Pink Himalayan salt? Into the pasta sauce with you! Cumin? On eggs? You betcha! Cinnamon in my chili instead of sugar? Why didn’t I try it sooner? Dill and oregano on my salad? Mmmm. And I just munch away and imagine those healthy spices and fresh vegetables working their Mediterranean spell.

Monday, February 22, 2010

California forcing fluoridation in small town.

After reading this I am going to my own small town hall and asking if our public water system is fluoridated. Please remember that fluoride is simply a toxic chemical byproduct of fertilizer and other industries that aren't allowed to dispose of it in normal waste dumps. For more information on the dangers and history of Fluoride see this website:

State mum on plans to enforce fluoridation in Watsonville
By DONNA JONES - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 02/19/2010 07:53:11 PM PST
Updated: 02/19/2010 08:00:38 PM PST

WATSONVILLE - The state health department is keeping tabs on the city's progress toward water fluoridation, but declines to say what action it will take if Watsonville doesn't move forward with the project. The health department could impose daily fines if Watsonville fails to comply with a court order to fluoridate.

But Ken August, a spokesman for the California Department of Health Services, declined to respond to a Sentinel question about potential state actions. "The department is currently awaiting a response to our letter from the city of Watsonville," he said, adding that's all he could say.

The letter he referenced, penned by Jan Sweigert, district engineer for the state health department's Monterey Drinking Water Field Operations Branch on Feb. 9, asked for a status report by Feb. 16.

The city is in negotiations with the California Dental Association Foundation over a contract for a nearly $2 million grant to install fluoridation equipment and operate the system for two years.
Fluoride foes, including at least one city councilman, Greg Caput, say Watsonville should wait to see if health officials try to enforce a state law requiring cities to fluoridate if an outside agency is willing to cover the cost.

The City Council delayed a decision on the grant in January, and established an ad hoc committee to study contract issues and return with recommendations. City Manager Carlos Palacios replying to Sweigert in a letter dated Thursday, blamed his tardy response on budget-imposed furloughs and staff's heavy workload. He said the ad hoc committee had met twice and planned at least two additional meetings before bringing the contract back to the council in March or April.

Watsonville voters rejected fluoridation by a narrow majority in 2002, and the city fought the state order in court for several years. Contract negotiations over the grant have been ongoing since the city lost its legal battle in 2006.

Most health experts say fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay and has been used safely in water systems serving millions of people across the United States for decades.

Opponents questions the safety and effectiveness of the practice and say putting fluoride in public water supplies amounts to forced medication.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Coca-Cola Shrinks Cans to Fight Obesity"

Does anyone else find this October 20, 2009 headline laugh out loud funny? I did!

What are they trying to do? Say that they are "saving" the American Public from obesity by making the can an actual serving size instead of 2 serving sizes?

But wait! There's more!

"Drink can size hit the headlines several weeks ago when the American Heart Association (AHA) released strict added sugar guidelines that put a woman well over the daily limit for drinking just one 12-ounce can of regular soda. By offering smaller can sizes Coca-Cola can allow people to drink a fizzy drink without breaking these recommended limits."

Now we're getting somewhere; they were afraid that all the women who go on the new AHA diet would stop drinking Coke. This way all those women can pay close to the same price for 7.5 oz cans that they do for 12 oz cans, but because Coke assumes that we have no self control we'll bite.

"Coca-Cola has also joined other leading companies including PepsiCo and Kellogg’s to create an industry coalition called the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation."

What a great group of Health committed people. Soda and cold cereal want to make us healthy? The only way the current Kellogg's corporation can suggest that there are any health benefits to their cereals is by adding fiber and some artificial vitamins back into them. They've already stripped any healthy aspects out of the extremely processed flour/corn/rice/etc to such a level that they have to add it back into the products to give them any health value whatsoever. The majority of cold cereals are nothing more than flour and sugar in a box. Did you ever notice that the average cereal serving size is either 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup? We should be eating them out of a coffee cup, not a bowl. And they have the gall to crown themselves "Healthy weight Commitment Foundation"?

That's my rant for today. I'm not laughing any more.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shrimp Shiitake Pasta

Shrimp Shiitake Pasta

3 lbs. peeled uncooked shrimp (1/2 lb per person, this feeds 6 people)
2 large onions, diced
1-2 tsp Fresh grated ginger root
1 clove fresh garlic
2 Packages (4 to 6 oz. each) of fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced.
2 tsp “better than Bullion” mushroom bouillon, in 2 cups hot tap water.
Also a little: Salt, pepper, flour, oil, and a splash of wine out of your glass.

Now get 1 pot of water to boiling for the pasta, 1 sauce pot for the mushroom sauce, and a large fry pan for the shrimp.

Mushroom sauce: Get the 2 cups of mushroom broth to a good simmer or low boil, add mushroom slices. Shake the following vigorously in a container; 2 tbsp flour in about ½ cup cold water. Add this to mushrooms slowly, while stirring continuously. This will make a THIN gravy.

In large fry pan: Sauté onions, garlic, ginger, salt & pepper, in butter and oil until no longer translucent, about 4 minutes. Add shrimp on top and cover. At this time put the pasta in the boiling water and put the timer on 4 minutes, which is how long most angel hair patas need to cook (check your package directions). Stir the shrimp once or twice. When the timer goes off, drain the pasta and the shrimp should just be done. Never cook shrimp longer than 5 minutes. Smaller shimp can take only 2 minutes, while prawn might take as much as 5 minutes. The second that they are no longer transleucent they are done. Please don't walk away from the shrimp!

Put pasta on the plate first, then shrimp/onions, then mushroom sauce on top. If your noodles get a little sticky the sauce will un-stick them.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Better with age

I am 43 years old. I am a woman and proud to be 43 years old. Driving in my car this morning I realized that I am more beautiful today than I was when I was half this age. I am happier than I was when I was 21 or so. I am more confident, healthier, eat better, care about myself and my family and my friends much more; love more. I am certainly smarter.

I may wear reading glasses and I may have laugh lines, but I am close to the same size that I was when I was 21. I seem to have better control over my limbs. I took Tae Kwon Do in College and was in fabulous physical shape. It gave me a control over my body that I never had before. But now it seems that I know my limbs, my hands and feet, my digits, my backside, much better than I did back then. We are comfortable working together towards the same goals. Back then I had to convince my body parts to do things, even whip them into doing one more set of sit ups. Now I have a rapport with them and they tell me when they’ve done enough. I know when I just can’t go out tonight because my body just has to sit on the couch and rest. I know when I’ve rested too much and I have to burn off some nervous energy outside.

I did not know these things when I was younger.

At 43 I have a sense of humor. As a child I had a child’s sense of humor. You know; fart jokes. In my teens and twenties I couldn’t even tell a joke right. In my thirties I worked very hard memorizing long complicated jokes and loved telling them over and over again. Now in my 40’s I have a sense of humor. I see humor in everyday occurrences. I tell others self-deprecating stories that we all find hysterical. I point out funny little tidbits to others so that we can laugh at the sublime absurdity of politics or business or other drivers.

At 43 I am more beautiful. My skin may not be as tight, but my body is healthier, my mind is sharper, and my soul is happier. Thank God!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Splenda may not be so splendid after all

25-Sep-2008 -
Consumption of the sweetener Splenda at doses within the US FDA’s Acceptable Daily Intake may suppress beneficial bacteria in the gut, and cause weight gain, says a new rat study.
According to findings published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, a 12-week feeding study with the sweetener also affected the expression of certain enzymes known to interfere with the absorption of nutrients and pharmaceuticals.

The study, performed by researchers from Duke University in North Carolina and co-sponsored by the Sugar Association, raises questions about the safety profile of the sweetener, reported to be used as an ingredient in over 4,000 products worldwide.
Professor Abou-Donia and his co-workers report that, at the end of the initial 12 weeks, significant reductions in the levels of so-called beneficial bacteria were observed. Specifically, the numbers of total anaerobes was decreased by 50 per cent, relative to the control animals, while bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and Bacteroides were reduced by 37, 39, and 67.5 per cent respectively. (Good Good Ya-all! That's as bad as taking penicillin long term!)

The body weight of the animals in all the groups increased, but significant increases were observed in animals receiving Splenda, said the researchers. Control animals experienced an increase in body weight of 93 per cent over the 12 weeks. Body weight increases in the 100, 300, 500, and 1,000 mg of Splenda per kg per day groups were 104, 101, 102, and 88.5 per cent, respectively.

“The lack of a dose-response effect of Splenda on body weight is likely due to the combined elevation of both intestinal P-gp and CYP that affected the bioavailability of Splenda,” stated the researchers. “At the higher concentrations, less Splenda was absorbed due to the increase in the expression of both P-gp and CYP proteins.”

(They talk some scientific gabbly stuff, then...)

Low beneficial bacteria levels, and elevated P-gp and CYP levels were maintained after the 12 week recovery period, said the researchers. (So they ate Splenda for 12 weeks, then didn't eat it for 12 weeks and still hadn't recoved their healthy gut bacteria. I wonder if people to use Splenda get a lot of yeast infections?)

“Evidence indicates that a 12 week administration of Splenda exerted numerous adverse effects, including a reduction in beneficial faecal microflora, an increased faecal pH, and enhanced expression levels of P-gp, CYP3A4, and CYP2D1, which are known to limit the bioavailability of orally administered drugs,” concluded the researchers.