Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vitamin D

Here is a vitamin that used to receive a large amount of criticism and negative publicity, but recent studies have shed some light on this controversy. In the April 2000 Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. Anu Prabhala reported that he noticed that several of his patients confined to wheelchairs were severely deficient in vitamin D. He administered 50,000 I.U. and within 6 weeks, they were mobile.

Weston A. Price, a Canadian dentist and author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, spent his life researching primitive societies and fats. He knew of the incredible benefits of vitamins A, D, and K (which he had dubbed the X-factor, since vitamin K was not known then). He noted that ancient civilizations consuming diets rich in these fat-soluble vitamins had a high immunity to tooth decay and were disease resistant. The amount of vitamin D, of these societies, was greater than 10 times the 200-400 I.U. recommended today.

Interestingly enough, another Canadian researcher, Dr. Reinhold Vieth, concurs that the RDA's are inadequate for optimum health. Of course, health conscious individuals have known this for years. The Recommended Dietary Allowances have never been for ideal health, but rather just enough to keep from dying and even that may be changing. Now, the FDA is about to change the daily dose from 400 I.U. to 1,000 I.U. per day, simply because they found a huge body of evidence proving that 400 I.U. will not even prevent rickets in children.

Now, I live in California, shouldn't I be getting enough vitamin D from the sun? I hear this question often, but I cannot stress enough how inaccurate this is. Yes, we make vitamin D from cholesterol by the skin's exposure to sunlight. However, only ultraviolet B light penetrates deeply enough to stimulate the production of vitamin D. It just so happens that these UV-B rays are present only during midday hours and at higher latitudes. In addition, smog, glass, and clouds act as filters, allowing a mere 5 percent to actually get through.

In order to maintain enough essential vitamin D, you would need to sunbathe between the peak hours of 10 am to 2 pm during the summer months, for 20-120 minutes, depending on skin color and type, before the skin burns. Think you can still get enough? Okay. 85 percent of the body, at least, needs to be exposed to direct sun (not just arms and legs like previously suggested). Then, it takes 30-60 minutes for the body to absorb the oils for the conversion process to occur, so you cannot shower during this time or the oils will be removed. Finally, it takes around 24 accumulated hours of this to achieve optimum amounts of vitamin D in the blood (which is more like 2000 to 5000 I.U.).

I think most of us can read this information and realize that it is absurd to think that we can (or should) get all we need from the sun. One major think I take from this research, is that nutritional intake of vitamin D is more necessary than ever before. Yet, Americans are still convinced that eating fat is bad (ironically, we are fatter than ever). We consume egg whites but the vitamin D is found in the yolk. We avoid eating the skin of poultry and fish, when the skin contains the highest amounts of D. We have an aversion to eating organ meats, like liver, but it is high in natural D!

Farm-raised, free range poultry (skin on), fatty fish, like kippers and herring, raw (real) butter, egg yolks, and organ meats are all rich sources of vitamin D and should be consumed on a regular basis. Pregnant or nursing mothers and children are especially at risk. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a wide range of disorders, most importantly autoimmune diseases. As always, it is time to take back our health, what are you doing to fix it?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stress Adaptation

Today, in my Motor Development class, we had an interesting discussion about how the body does not grow without some level of stress. Oftentimes, we hear how bad stress is for us and how we need to avoid it at all costs. In fact, it is often pointed as the culprit to many of our ailments. However, our bodies need a certain amount of stress in order to be able to handle more difficult situations when the occasion arises.

In terms of muscular strength, stress like working out, triggers an adaptation process. Without this process, the muscles will literally begin to atrophy over a period of time. In turn, the body becomes weaker and weaker. The same applies to the brain. This principle is why doing crossword puzzles, knitting, trivia, etc. helps keep the mind young.

The human body's ability to adapt is unique. Remembering this might push us to look at stress, in our lives, a little differently. If we continuously refuse to challenge ourselves (both mentally and physically), then we are inhibiting the opportunity for growth and allowing for mental and physical weaknesses to overcome us.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nutty Snack Bar Recipe

Here's a recipe for the Nutty Snack Bar I mentioned in the What's For Lunch article.

1 cup nut butter of choice (preferably homemade from crispy nuts)
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup crispy almonds, chopped into small or large pieces
1 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup crispy sunflower seeds
1 cup carob or chocolate chips or dried fruit of choice (such as dried cherries or raisins)

Mix everything together and press into a baking dish. You can leave this recipe raw and place it into the refrigerator as is or allow the flavors to meld and the chips to melt by baking it for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Good stuff!

What's for Lunch?

I don't know if any of you are like me and have a difficult time balancing packing a healthy lunch for your kids and making it fun for them as well. Sometimes it seems like thre are so few choices to pack, so they're left with the same things over and over. Or maybe you just don't have the time to prepare something truly nourishing and you settle for the convenience of pre-packaged itmes or the dismal hot lunch the school provides.

For those of you in this rut, I found some great ideas on the Weston A. Price Foundation website in an article by Jen Allbritton, a certified nutritionist, called Packing the Perfect Lunch Box.

Main Lunchbox Items

Dinner Leftovers: This is often the easiest food to add to a lunch. Last night's meat loaf makes a bomb sandwich.

Sandwiches, Roll Ups and Pitas: Sandwich "holders" can come in many shapes and sizes, such as pita pockets, tortillas (I make a batch of 20-30 at a time), and sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel. Fill these with-

  • Turkey meat slices with pesto and tomato

  • Good quality salami with mustard and lettuce

  • Homemade chicken liver pate with pickles

  • Apple slices, bacon, Dijon mustard, and cheddar cheese

  • Grilled cheese embellished with bacon bits, shredded meat or chopped veggies

  • Chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo

  • Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew) with sliced bananas

  • Meat or turkey loaf with mayo and lettuce or sprouts

  • Cream cheese with salmon, capers and red onion

  • Chicken salad made with crispy pecans, grapes, celery and mayo

  • Mashed avocado mixed with a drop of lemon juice in a pita stuffed with spincach, grated carrots, tomato slices, cucumber slices and provolone cheese


  • Raw cream cheese sprinkled with grated carrots, grated zucchini, grated apple and topped with a lettuce leaf

  • Mix cream cheese, chopped apple, nuts, vanilla, cinnamon and raw honey

  • Refried beans (seasoned with cumin, garlic and salt), lettuce, cheese and salsa

  • Hummus with shredded carrots, cucumber strips and sliced avocado

  • Use a slice of deli meat to roll up a stick of cheese and add in some pickles or sauerkraut (preferably fermented and homemade), onions, a little squirt of mustard and mayo


Good on cold days, use a thermos to fill with family favorites. Chili is a great idea. My kids love a Thai-inspired coconut chicken soup I make. Use a homemade bone broth or chicken stock as the base to add additional vitamins and minerals.


  • Crispy nuts and seeds (recipes found in Nourishing Traditions)

  • Trail mix made with crispy nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit and a splash of carob or chocolate chips

  • Nutty snack bars

  • Fruit salad made with chopped fruit with a dab of sour cream or creme fraiche with a touch of maple syrup

  • Homemade fruit leather

  • Olives, green or black

  • Jerky (homemade)

  • Hard boiled egges with a dash of sea salt

  • Cheese, preferably raw
  • Popcorn
  • Yogurt Dough crackers

  • Muffins

  • Baked tortilla chips with bean dip or salsa

  • Raw veggies with hummus or guacamole

  • Fermented veggies, especially homemade pickles


  • Raw whole milk

  • Kombucha

  • Lemonade made with stevia or raw honey

  • Hot cocoa made with coconut milk

  • Iced herb tea with stevia or honey to taste

  • Fresh pressed organic apple juice

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pre and Post Natal Motor Development

This quarter, I have some great classes. One I am especially excited about, is my Motor Development class. The first few weeks of discussions are devoted to pre and post natal motor development, which happens to be of great interest to me. I wanted to share the first topic we discussed, and that is the importance of lipids, or fats, in pregnant women and newborns.

Just prior to delivery, lipid count is at its highest in women. This is due, primarily, to develop the myelin sheath around nerves. 80% of myelin is made from these lipids. Subsequently, without adequate consumption of dietary fats, there is a very real danger of lowered myelin production in the unborn fetus. Thus, nerve connections, neural junctions, signals, etc. are at risk of misfiring. In addition, psychological and physical complications can arise, such as, autism, ADD, ADHD, Tourette's, seizures, and so on.

Innervation is required for muscles to work properly, since they are electrical conductors. Myelin's job is to compartmentalize the electrical signals. Without these compartments, the electrical currents trigger the entire body, rather than a particular area. The brain, especially, needs many compartments in order to relay messages accurately to the rest of the body and maintain a level of control.

Studies introduced to this discussion, postulate that the spike in neurological and neuromuscular disorders are due to the low and non-fat craze. We went from being a society thriving on rich fats in good quality butter, cream, milk, cod liver oil, and so on, to one obsessed with getting rid of fat in everything. Margarine, skim milk, vegetable oils, low fat snacks...all of these substandard products swarmed the shelves of local supermarkets and landed in American pantries.

I think it's important for all of us to remember that nature is complex. Mankind still underestimates nature and overestimates its own abilities to mimic it or even to improve upon it. We are constantly patting ourselves on the back for advances made, like with baby formula. It was not too long ago that a concoction of powdered milk and caro syrup was used as a substitute for mother's milk and was considered adequate nutrition of newborns. Now we understand that many other nutrients are necessary for the development of a complex human being.

While the store-bought formulas have come a long way since the first rudimentary ones, we should never stop asking ourselves what will mankind find out tomorrow that they didn't know today? What have we overlooked? As usual, we rely too much, suppose too much, to our own detriment. Let us break that cycle, learn from our mistakes, and always remember to embrace nature.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Fresh Kombucha Batch new batch is ready. Just the way I like it, tangy but not too sour. This is the container I make my kombucha tea in (glass). I ran out of cheese cloth, so this time I used a paper napkin with a rubber band seal. I let it sit for 10 days in my pantry. It is dark in there and still airy enough to allow for growth and fermentation. If you look closely, you can see the mushroom resting on the bottom. I have since placed it in a smaller mason jar with one cup of reserved liquid for my next batch. Kombucha, the living probiotic tea, a much better way to rejuvenate and energize (than coffee)!

Here's to a New Year!

I have never been big on new year's resolutions. I never really understood the mindsight behind them. It's really just one day from the need to make a spectacle about it. I am trying something different this year. I am changing my outlook; after all, I believe in being positive and open-minded. So what do I want to work on? I pledge to myself to be more organized. Organization helps focus the mind, eases stress, and frees up precious time. I know it is a weakness of mine and I am ready for a positive change!

What is it that you are ready to work on? I say, make your resolutions, stick to them, and make them positive. Cheers!