Wednesday, September 26, 2012


In August I went to a party where I didn't know anyone but soon ran into a chatty young woman --

Me: What do you do?

Her: I just went back to school and got my nursing degree. Now I'm looking for a job in cardio care.

Me: Really. Why cardio?
Her: Heart disease is on the rise, so I know I'll always have a job. Heart disease and diabetes are huge growth areas.

Me: Don't you think that's sad?

Her: It is sad, but it's good news for me.

I asked her if she'd studied the effects of sugar on obesity and heart disease in school. No, the sugar/obesity connection hadn't come up. I thought that was interesting.

Last weekend I went to a party and ran into a friend who I didn't recognize at first because he'd lost 84 lbs.!

Me: Wow! How'd you do it?

Him: I gave up sugar and started walking. 

My partner ate so many sweets, and I used to keep him company. But after he died, I quit, and I started walking up the hill outside my house every day. I couldn't go very far at first, but I'd put a rock at the point where I had to turn around, and every few days I'd move the rock a little further. Now I can walk that hill five times a day if I want. But I started very slowly. 

I am a true believer in this method. It is nothing new of course, but quitting sugar and adding exercise, lots of it, is the key, in my opinion, to success in creating and restoring health.

Now if I could just have a party where that friend meets the woman becoming a nurse. Of course, if she filled patients in on the sugar thing she might screw up her job security. It's a tough problem.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Just got this nice letter from one of my friends who gets my health lover emails:

I wanted to let you know that after I read your email about sugar, I decided to take sugar out of my diet to try and lose those extra pounds that I always blamed on menopause. Well the sugar got me reading labels. I was shocked to find that sugar was in everything. So that led me to taking wheat out of my diet.(Have you read Wheat Belly? Really interesting.) 

So now what to eat!? And you know how much I love to eat and cook. I had an old copy of Eating Well, a pretty good healthy cooking magazine. In it was an article about green soups. The gist of the article was about how important green vegetables were to our diets; and how easy it was to create green healthy soups by going to you farmers' market and gathering whatever was in season. I clearly made a green soup and will be eating it every night this week. Next week I will make another one and I'll keep going until I've tried them all. All this eating healthy got me thinking about you and how much I appreciate your healthy tips. So keep them coming . Also I thought you might want to add a recipe or two to your emails. It is hard to always come up with what to eat that is healthy and interesting to eat.  The magazine has some great helpful tips. Like baking corn tortillas to make a healthier snack and that salsa made with fresh ingredients has practically no calories. OK I've gotten a bit obsessed, but I feel so much better ( a bit hungry) but better and I may have lost some weight. Anyway thanks and keep the emails coming. 

NOTE: Since receiving this letter I've had a friend come live with me while she recovers from emergency surgery. She LOVES the green soups! Lisa turned me on to them just in time! It's green smoothie for breakfast and green soup for lunch here at Hospital Cyndie. The patient is recovering nicely! Thank you Lisa!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Have you ever wondered why some people are lactose intolerant and others aren’t? I have. So I was grateful to come across Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, the Science and Lore of the Kitchen with a great explanation. Here’s a slightly paraphrased excerpt:

People who drink milk after infancy are the exception within the human species (no other mammals drink milk as adults). The obstacle is the milk sugar lactose, which can’t be absorbed and used by the body as is; it must first be broken down by the digestive enzyme lactase in the small intestine. 

Lactase reaches its maximum level in the human body shortly after birth and then slowly declines to a minimum level at between two and five years of age -- probably because It’s a waste for the body to produce an enzyme when it’s no longer needed and, once weaned, most mammals never encounter lactose again. 

If your body doesn’t produce lactase and you consume a lot of lactose, the lactose will pass through the small intestine and reach the large intestine where bacteria will metabolize it and in the process produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane, causing a bloated feeling or diarrhea. 

Low lactase activity and its symptoms are called lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is the rule for adults, not the exception. However, several thousand years ago, peoples in northern Europe and a few other regions underwent a genetic change that allowed them to produce the enzyme lactase throughout life, probably because milk was an exceptionally important resource in colder climates. 

About 98% of Scandinavians are lactose-tolerant, 90% of French and Germans, but only 50% of southern Europeans and North Africans, and 30% of Aftrican Americans. 

Fortunately, even lactase-less adults can consume about a cup of milk per day without severe symptoms, and even more of other dairy products. Cheese contains little or no lactose (most of it is drawn off in the whey, and what little remains in the curd is fermented by bacteria and molds), and the bacteria in yogurt generate lactose-digesting enzymes that remain active in the small intestine and work for us there. 

Wondering about the calcium-from-milk-for-bone-health issue? McGee has an answer for that too.

Various aspects of modern eating increase calcium excretion. A high intake of salt is one, and another is a high intake of animal protein, the metabolism of which acidifies our urine and pulls calcium salts from bone. The best insurance against osteoporosis appears to be frequent exercise of the bones we want to keep strong and a diet moderate in salt and meat but rich in dried beans, nuts, corn tortillas  and tofu (both processed with calcium salts), and several greens -- kale, collards, mustard greens.

These days I’m exercising my bones  carrying my huge copy of On Food and Cooking around. It’s just too fascinating to put down!

You can find Harold McGee at

12/28/12 update: Just found this new article about how lactose tolerance came about: