Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fast-Food Frustration

I don't want to be the customer from hell. I'd like to treat everyone with respect and make them feel good. But sometimes people make it hard. And my frustration over food issues makes it difficult to maintain patience.

Today we had our dog in the car because we had taken him to the vet. My husband did some shopping while I waited in the car and we both got hungry. I didn't want to leave the dog alone in the car while we ate in a restaurant so I drove to a fast-food drive-thru. My husband loves fast food. I tried to order a low-carb burger because I'm allergic to wheat. I don't tolerate dairy either. I told the unseen clerk on the other side of the intercom that I wanted a low-carb burger and asked "Do you know what that is?"

She mumbled something unintelligible. I don't like talking down to people but half the time my orders come out wrong so I try to be very clear. "I only want the burger patty and lettuce. No cheese, that's important. No bun, no sauce."

She did not read our order back to us and of course, when I opened the bag, my order was wrong. It had a bun. "Can't you just take it off?" asked my husband, although he knew the answer. With allergy, a few crumbs can cause a reaction. I took the sandwich into the restaurant so I could communicate face-to-face. After a short wait in line, I explained what I needed again. The man at the register relayed my instructions to the clerk, who appeared to have a limited command of English. In about two minutes the man gave me a cheeseburger patty with lettuce.

"This is wrong. I can't have cheese. Please get me a burger patty and lettuce ONLY." He did and I thanked him. But I'm sure he could tell I was upset. I was close to tears.

I felt sorry for myself. But we had one more stop, the hardware store. Again I sat in the car while my husband shopped. I listened to a program on public radio about a photography exhibit on hunger. Soundbites from several people were played, people who suffered from hunger. A woman talked about how hard it was to go to bed hungry. I stopped feeling so sorry for himself. At least I had found something to eat.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Agave Syrup: Not So Good for You

Why is agave syrup NOT a good idea? It's very high in fructose... but there are other problems with it. Dr. Mercola writes that agave syrup is worse than HFCS.

Well, I haven't tried this syrup and since I have a limited ability to handle sweets, I don't plan to try it. But I am concerned about insulin resistance and I was especially interested in some of the points Mercola makes in the article:
  • While fructose does not increase insulin levels, what it does do is radically increase insulin resistance, which is FAR more dangerous because it’s normal for your insulin levels to rise; you just don’t want these insulin levels to remain elevated, which is what insulin resistance causes.
  • Fructose is not intrinsically evil -- it is just the MASSIVE DOSES you are exposed to that makes it dangerous. Because it is so cheap and makes foods taste better, it is added to virtually every processed food. People are consuming fructose in quantities that are 400-800 percent higher than they were 100 years ago.
  • Fructose is broken down in your liver just like alcohol and produces many of the side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the "beer belly."
  • Fructose also elevates your uric acid levels, causing chronic, low-level inflammation.
  • Fructose activates its own pathways in your body—those metabolic pathways become "upregulated." In other words, the more fructose you eat, the more effective your body is in absorbing it; and the more you absorb, the more damage it can do.
  • You become "sensitized" to fructose as time goes by, and more sensitive to its toxic effects as well.
  • Exercise can help modulate the negative effects of fructose.
See the article on

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ever heard of Senomyx?

I hadn't heard of Senomyx until I saw it mentioned on Natural Health News blog. Senomyx is a food additive that got approved very quickly. It can enhance flavors and even block bitter flavors. I looked up Senomyx on Wikipedia and found no comfort there. Companies can include put it in food without saying so!
"Senomyx has identified the receptors in the mouth responsible for sensing bitter taste (nature’s way of warning us against ingesting poison) and developed a chemical additive to knock out these receptors..." How's that for a bad idea?
As a person with food allergies and sensitivities, I object to any additive being allowed without being identified. If I should be have a reaction to the additive, how could I identify it and later avoid it?

Could Senomyx be one the secret "natural flavors" in Truvia? Could it be the one that has caused gastric distress in the dozens of people who have complained about Truvia here?

Link Explored: Insulin Resistance and Free Radicals has an article explaining how antioxidants are helpful in fighting diabetes.
Managing insulin resistance is not a single-step process. It’s clear that slowing the descent toward full-blown diabetes—not to mention the long list of other complications linked to insulin resistance—requires both superior antioxidant support and blood sugar control.
VRP markets supplements so naturally the article discusses nutrients and herbs that help control blood sugar, including NAC, grape seed extract, rosemary, goat's rue, cinnamon, chromium, quercetin, and vanadyl sulfate.

New Study on High-Fructose Corn Syrup - AOL News

New Study Fuels Bitter Debate Over Use of High-Fructose Corn Syrup - AOL News

The researchers found that rats fed HFCS were far more likely to gain weight and exhibit signs of obesity, even when their overall caloric intake was the same as the rats consuming table sugar.

NOT ALL CALORIES ARE EQUAL! Evidence that our commonly-accepted knowledge on weight loss is false.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coffee researchers consider blocking hydrochloric acid

Coffee researchers identify stomach friendly ingredient: Beverage Daily says "New research into the causes of stomach problems sometimes experienced by coffee drinkers has uncovered an ingredient that could pave the way for gentler brews."

The article goes on to discuss how N-methylpyridium (NMP) in coffee seems to block the ability of the stomach cells to produce hydrochloric acid and could provide a way to reduce or avoid stomach irritation. The researchers seem to assume that blocking hydrochloric acid is a good thing. Perhaps for some people... but for some of us, we already produce too little acid to digest protein and break down minerals, so the special coffee being proposed could interfere with digestion at mealtimes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Comment on Health Care

I don't know what will happen with Congress and the health insurance debate but this is what I do know:
  1. Health insurance has become unaffordable for many working people. My own policy went up a hundred dollars last month and is now costing me over $400 monthly! Yet I have a $1200 deductible to meet before I collect anything.
  2. Executives at health insurance companies are paid huge amounts of money.
  3. Health care in the US is not as good as it should be.
Part of our medical problems are due to lifestyle choices, and another part is due to greed - greedy insurance execs, greedy pharmaceutical corporations, and no doubt other groups too. Something needs to change and soon.

Too Much Cortisol

A lab test for adrenal function shows that my adrenal glands are over-active. The doctor says they are pumping out too much cortisol and I should take vitamin B5 to support them. He believes I am under too much stress.

I looked on the popular Mercola website and found these effects listed from excess cortisol:
  • Diminished cellular utilization of glucose
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Decreased protein synthesis
  • Demineralization of bone that can lead to osteoporosis
... and more (see Mercola's article on adrenal function).

My doctor previously talked to me about blood sugar and the importance of avoiding glycemic overload. Mercola offers some additional tips such as having a little fat with every meal and:
  1. A small meal or snack every three to four hours
  2. Eating within the first hour upon awakening
  3. A small snack near bedtime
  4. Eating before becoming hungry.

Also worth reading: Causes of Excess Cortisol in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pine Nuts may leave bitter taste...

What is that bitter taste? Maybe it was those pine nuts you ate - San Jose Mercury News
I've had that bitter taste but did not associate it with pine nuts... next time I will look back at what I've eaten. I wonder if other foods can cause this?

I've heard of metal poisoning causes a bad taste, and have experience a bitter taste after taking Flagyl (yuck!).

See also's list of causes of a bitter taste, which include insect bites.

Pain Relievers May Cause Hearing Loss

The new study by researchers at the Channing Laboratory and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston published in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Medicine suggests that men under 50, in particular, who took acetaminophen two or more times weekly showed more than twice the risk for hearing loss when compared to men who are not regular pill poppers.

The active ingredient in Tylenol and numerous other OTC painkillers, acetaminophen wasn't the only culprit. The study also showed that men under 50 who regularly took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such asibuprofen -- the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, also had an increased risk or hearing loss. Aspirin users had about a third increased risk.
Read the rest here

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Necator americanus

Sounds almost patriotic: Necator Americanus. Unfortunately the name refers to a parasite, a species of hookworm that infests people.

When a laboratory sent test results to my doctor saying that I have this parasite, I was taken aback. I always associated hookworm with barefoot children walking in mud in warm climates. I don't fit that profile at all.

I looked up hookworm on Wikipedia and other sites and did not find that I was wrong, except that hookworm used to be common in temperate climates such as in Virginia. But I don't go barefoot except at the beach, and the last time I went to a beach was one time in August. I really don't know how I contracted this parasite!

The doctor prescribed medication which I took as directed. It works 80% of the time, so I don't know whether it worked for me. I guess I'll be retested somewhere down the road.