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Amazing Information concerning Immunizations, Auto-Immune Disease and Autism

I'm reading another fascinating book in preparation for my next session of classes - these are on weight loss.  The book is Mastering Leptin by Byron and Mary Richards. Most of what I've read so far is quite interesting, a little complicated and appears to be very useful for helping future students with their weight loss and health goals. However one section jumped out at me today - just exploded off the page - that after I read it I just sat there mouth agape, eyes glazed.  

I want to excerpt it here mostly to help me digest this information more fully, but also to get you all thinking about the greater ramifications it entails. I hope that even without the previous 20+ chapters you will still be able to understand the gist of what is being said. Briefly to get you up to speed: leptin is a powerful hormone that is manufactured by our white adipose tissue (the body fat that makes many of us so frustrated and depressed when we look in the mirror). Leptin was only discovered about 15 years ago and not all doctors know about it or know what it does. Leptin works in synergy with insulin and adrenaline to keep us healthy and keep our metabolism running efficiently.  We become leptin resistant when our brains lose the ability to communicate with our adipose tissue (fat) and ignore the signals sent by the leptin. 

Ok, hopefully that's enough background information to get your through this section titled "AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE":

p. 234-235 Mastering Leptin
"Americans are mostly prone to overeating. As we pointed out, this leads to excess production of TNFa (tumor necrosis factor alpha) and IL-6 (interleukin-6) from the extra pounds of fat. The resting metabolic situation is already inappropriately hyper in terms of immune status. Researchers have identified excess leptin due to excess food consumption as a key factor behind the increase in autoimmune problems in affluent countries.
    This information sheds light on why some children may experience debilitating response to immunizations. A recent animal study shows that autoimmune nerve inflammation occurs as a result of immunizations given in the presence of excess leptin.  Baby girls have higher leptin that baby boys, placing them at higher risk.  Any child that is overfed, overweight, or born to leptin-resistant parents is at a greater risk for such immunologic complications from immunizations.
    This information also applies to leptin-resistant adults given flu shots.  Once again, we find that  public-heatlh officials do not keep up with the current, available science and act on it in a proactive manner. Their focus seems to be on immunizing everyone, not on proving that immunizations are safe or figuring out who might be at risk for serious nerve damage from immunizations. 
    We learned in chapter 8 (chapter 8 was about drugs and leptin) that when there is low leptin in the brain, either due to generally low leptin or to leptin resistance, the brain is much more likely to experience nerve damage. In leptin resistance, the low leptin in the brain is combined wtih high leptin in the circulation, which overheats the imnmune system causing a hgh level of risk for autoimmune disease.  This creates a metabolic risk profile of an overly hyped up immune system in the body and a brain more susceptible to damage. The fact that so many people are leptin resistant calls into question the safety of any broad-based immunization campaign. This information creates a link between the societal trend of increased obesity and the dramatic increase in autism in infants." 

My interpretation of this information is that if parents are struggling with leptin-resistance issues during conception and pregnancy then their children are likely to a)be leptin resistant and b)more susceptible to damage from immunizations. Chapter 9 was all about pregnancy and talked about research showing that babies are programmed IN THE WOMB to be leptin-resistant simply by how the mother eats during pregnancy. 
  I understand and agree there are myriad problems surrounding our current vaccination schedule and production of the vaccinations themselves, however I do think that at least some of the attacks on the vaccines themselves may be misplaced. The problem lies not only with the vaccine but with the patient. Far too many vaccine patients are simply not healthy in the first place! Issues with leptin resistance, insulin resistance, gluten intolerance, digestive disorders, allergies, asthma and any other number of modern conditions make the general population weak with immune systems unable to withstand the demands vaccines place on their bodies. But the medical community and the government do not see these as linked. Therefore we must TELL them! AND we must take control of our own health!  Educate your family and friends, let them know that they need to be healthy BEFORE they have children. Let them know that what they eat absolutely has everything to do with whether they are healthy or not and the same goes for what they feed their children.  
  Ok, stepping down off my box. What are your thoughts?


Hillary Clinton's Condition A Reminder About Stress

My newspaper reports that Mrs. Clinton has been hospitalized after doctors discovered she had a blood clot in her brain. They surmise this was caused by the concussion she received when she fainted at home.  She may have fainted due to weakness from a stomach virus she's been battling for part of December. Prior to her illness she had been heavily involved in a high-level investigative panel report blaming her office for security issues relating to the September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.  

I don't intend to get into a political discussion at all here! Rather I want to look at how this high-profile woman's lifestyle is probably at the heart of her current health woes.

                                    
                                      
Stress is at the very center of this particular scenario. A high-stress job such as that of Secretary of State takes a toll on the entire body unless steps are actively taken each day to deal with the stress and to support the body's immune system, detoxification system, and adrenals. I don't know what Mrs. Clinton eats every day but I would bet money it isn't very nourishing most of the time. 

When stress takes hold our body responds with a flood of adrenaline which raises inflammatory substances in our body. Stress also causes our immune systems to weaken and we are vulnerable to any and every virus and infection that comes along. Intestinal viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea are particularly tough as they directly affect the intestinal flora eliminating the good with the bad and causing an imbalance which then leads to poor digestion and sets up a vicious cycle of poor health. 

Dealing with the stomach virus and the stress surely drastically depleted Mrs. Clinton's body of key minerals especially magnesium.  Deficiencies in magnesium, which were already depleted during the adrenaline response to stress, continue to drop. This means there is not enough magnesium available to protect the brain and the blood circulation system. This sets her up for a much greater risk for stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Any injury to the head calls for supplemental magnesium in order to reduce brain swelling after the injury (a fall, a sports injury, a car accident). Magnesium also prevents injury to blood vessels and promotes healing of neurons in the brain. 

Eating out (which is a common occurrence for politicians), eating on the run, eating lots of processed foods, and too much stress all combine to deplete the body of vital nutrients and the all-important healthy gut flora.  This chain of events has put our Secretary of State into the hospital and it can do the same for you!

Looking forward to the New Year is a good time to make positive lifestyle changes to reduce stress (and improve appropriate responses to the stress we still have) and increase high-mineral and high-vitamin whole foods into our daily diet. 

Violence and Aggression - A Dietary Link?

In light of the tragedy in Newtown, CT I feel compelled to start a discussion about the role of nutrition and nutritional deficiencies with violence and aggressive behavior.  

There are many studies going back for decades linking nutritional deficiencies with aggression, violence and impulse-control issues. I blogged recently about Julia Ross' book The Mood Cure. She gives clear evidence from her own experiences about how nutritional deficiencies can alter our personalities and behavior. She also gives specific advice on how to correct these deficiencies to give people back their lives and families that have been torn apart by stress and anger.  

Low cholesterol (below 160) was the focus of a meta-analysis done by the University of California San Diego which showed an increase in violent death and violent behaviors among people with low cholesterol. Of interest especially was the discovery that men who did NOT have heart disease but still received cholesterol-lowering therapy have died more violent deaths than those not receiving therapy.  The study author hypothesizes this to be due to reduced serotonin activity. Serotonin is a regulatory hormone made by our adrenal glands that helps us feel good and sleep well.

A 2004 study from USC links malnutrition in childhood with aggressive behavior throughout adolescence and late teens. The children in the study exhibited anti-social behaviors and picked fights with other children during primary school years. By middle school age they were lying, bullying, using obscene language and destroying property. At age 17 the children were found stealing, using drugs and being deliberately cruel to others.  The malnourished children were found to have a 51% increase inviolent and antisocial behavior by age 17 over the control group. The study linked deficiencies in zinc, iron, B vitamins and protein to the behaviors observed. All of these nutrients are linked to brain development.

Studies from 1990 and 1986 show that trace vitamins and minerals play an important role in brain function and behavior. Vitamin and mineral tests can be an indicator of violent behavior. There are historical associations with iron, copper, manganese and zinc deficiencies causing confusion, violence, and death. A 1991 study done in state prison facilities showed that the simple act of supplementing prison diets with nutrient dense foods significantly improved the conduct of the inmates and promoted less violent behavior.

A study published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility December 2011 found that gut bacteria (intestinal flora) affected behaviors. A toxic or imbalanced gut flora encouraged "high-risk behaviors" and actual changes in the brain.  Not only that but toxic gut microorganisms can permanently alter gene expression in infants and children.  Gut bacteria are closely tied to early brain development and later behavior. 
   Dietary dependence on processed foods and soft drinks can destroy the healthy microflora in your gut, as does repeated use of antibiotics, pesticides, and even Genetically Modified (GMO) foods.

From a biological point of view a low-fat diet (or a diet of the wrong kinds of fats) directly influence brain development and function. From before birth our brains need fat to grow and develop. About 2/3 of the brain is made of specialized fats. Myelin, the protective covering for our nerves and spinal chord, is 70% fat and 30% protein. Damaged or incomplete myelin covers cause many kinds of behavioral problems.  Healthy human breast milk contains just the right amount of the right kinds of fats for brain and nervous system health. Later our diets supply these fats if we eat plenty of animal fats (from healthy animals) and from certain nuts, as well as DHA from seafood and cod liver oil.

Research shows that an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 can lead to a variety of mental disorders including hyperactivity, depression and schizophrenia. A healthy brain needs about a 1:1 ratio but Americans tend to have 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3 in our diets. Our factory-farmed chickens, our soybean and corn oil laden processed foods and our mistaken belief that unsaturated fats are better have all ended up giving us horribly skewed omega-6:omega-3 ratios.  Eating more grassfed meats, pastured eggs, and wild caught seafood; and avoiding conventional vegetable oils and the foods made with them can do a lot to restore balance to our bodies and brains.  

While we cannot do anything to change the tragic events of the past we CAN make important and lasting changes now to affect the future and help avoid these events as much as possible. Be an advocate for real food nutrition in your community. Teach your friends and workers at your schools about the need for true nutrition for all children,  and not dependence on packaged processed refined "foods", for best health and development. Feed your own children or grandchildren clean, nutrient-dense foods from trusted sources and limit processed foods and snacks to just an occasional thing. Talk to your lawmakers at the state and national level and get them to fight for small local family farms and markets rather than bowing to large processed food companies.

Prayers and love continue to go out to all of those affected by the recent tragedy. Blessings to all of you and your families from Well Fed Family.

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some resources:
http://www.hriptc.org/content/aggressive.php

Stuffing Bread: Great for Thanksgiving Turkey sandwiches

 I discovered this recipe 6 years ago in an old King Arthur Flour catalog. They no longer have the recipe on their website having replaced it with a different one that calls for a pacakged seasoning mix.  I changed this recipe a bit, it originally called for chicken boullion cubes, but since those are full of MSG (neurotoxic stuff!) I deleted it from my version. Instead it is easy enough to just use homemade stock! Since you'll be making stock (bone broth) from your turkey carcass you will have plenty to use in this bread too!
 
This recipe makes one loaf of sandwich bread that is perfect for using with Thanksgiving leftovers.  I have tried it with whole wheat flour in the past and it only works with part of the flour being whole wheat, the rest needs to be all-purpose or bread flour.  You can do this in your bread machine if you have one. If not it is simple to do by hand as well. 

Stuffing Bread

2 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup onion diced very finely
1/4 cup celery diced very finely
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken stock (depending on how much moisture your veggies add to the dough)
1 pkg (about 1 tblsp) instant yeast
1 large egg
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or bread flour - OR you can use 1 cup sprouted whole wheat flour and 2 cups white)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp celery seeds (optional)

 Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat; add the onions and celery and cook slowly until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

Place the remaining ingredients in the order listed into your mixing bowl or the bucket of your bread machine. Start with the smaller amount of chicken stock and then add more if your dough is too dry. Stir to combine. Once the dough begins to come together, add the cooked vegetables to the dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes; the dough may seem dry at first but the vegetables will release some of their moisture. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel (or let it rise in your bread machine) and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.

   After the first rise, gently deflate the dough, form it into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise again until it domes an inch above the edge of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slash the top of the dough down the center with a sharp serrated knife and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, turn the loaf out of the pan onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf (about 16 slices)

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Thanksgiving Recipe Links

Whether you are a first-time Thanksgiving hostess or just looking for a way to make your family favorites even healthier here are links for some delicious holiday meal recipes. 

All of the recipes listed here use only real food ingredients. You won't find hydrogenated or industrially-processed oils, evaporated milk, condensed soup, or anything else with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

The centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is Roasted Turkey. This recipe gives basic instructions for first-timers who may be overwhelmed with the thoughts of cooking such a large piece of meat. 

A favorite accompaniment to turkey is Dressing. Here's a recipe with a bit of a southern accent. 

My husband's all-time favorite side dish is the sweet potato casserole recipe given on this page. 

I love cranberry sauce when it's made with fresh cranberries. 

Mediterranean green beans make a beautiful and tasty side dish, both low carb and gluten-free/dairy-free!

You will find many easy and delicious recipes in the Healthy 4 Live .pdf cookbook from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Thanksgiving favorites include these recipes: corn medley, mashed potatoes, applesauce, real whipped cream and ice cream to top your pies.  In addition you will find recipes for new side dishes such as ginger/carrot salad, roasted root vegetables and coconut macaroons.

When Thanksgiving is over don't forget to make turkey bone broth and this Turkey Pot Pie     

Well Fed Family wishes you and your family a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. 
                        
                        

In Season: Pumpkin and other Winter Squash (plus a pie crust recipe!)

They've had all summer to grow and now the big winter squash are ready. Their appearance in the grocery store and roadside stands signals fall and turns our thoughts to fragrant pies, warm muffins and other comfort foods.
                       
                                     The Great Pumpkin?

   Cans of pumpkin offer convenience but if you've never tried the real thing you are missing something special.

   Pumpkin, butternut, acorn, delicata, hubbard, buttercup, kabocha and many more - the winter squash are characterized by hard protective skins that are difficult to pierce and by a hollow inner seed cavity. Their hard skins make these squash easy to store so they can keep for up to six months after harvesting. Most of the winter squash contain off-the-chart levels of beta-carotene, the precursor for vitamin A. They are also rich in other nutrients such as potassium, and some B vitamins. Choose your squash carefully as an injured squash is prone to decay. Choose ones that have firm, not glossy, rinds. They should feel heavy for their size. Buy several now while they are in season and the price is good. Store them away from direct light at cool but not cold temperatures. 50-60 degrees is ideal. Cut pieces should be refrigerated for up to two days.

                          
                                          Choose your pumpkin carefully!

   Pumpkin and Butternut squash are two common winter squash that are readily available this time of year. Read on for details on how to prepare these squash for use in pies, muffins, cakes and soups. There are also a couple of recipes to try with your family. The high quantities of beta-carotene in these squash mean they should be eaten along with some healthy fat so that your body can most easily metabolize the beta-carotene into that all-important vitamin A. Remember, however, that children cannot make this transformation - only healthy adults have the necessary enzymes and mechanisms for transforming beta carotene into actual Vitamin A! So be sure your children are getting enough real Vitamin A through animal foods such as eggs from pasture-raised hens, and butter from grassfed cows. 

Preparing Homemade Pumpkin or Squash Puree

Wash the squash and then use a large, sharp knife on a steady work surface to cut the squash in half. Use a metal spoon or ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and fibers from the cavity.

                           

Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish large enough to let it rest flat. Add about an inch of water to the pan and place in a 350 degree oven. It depends on the size of the squash how long it will take but count on at least 30 minutes for a small pie pumpkin and up to an hour for a large, heavy butternut. The squash is done when it pierces very easily with a knife. It is just as easy to do several squash as it is to do one, so I usually do three or four at a time filling up all my baking pans.
                          

   If you don't think you can get the squash cut in half you can bake it whole. Be sure to pierce the squash in a few places to allow steam to escape. This method takes about two to three times longer but some find it easier. You will still need to scoop the seeds out afterward.


When the squash is done remove it from the oven and allow it to cool until you can touch it. Working with one half at a time, turn it out onto a cutting board. Use a small knife or spoon to separate the flesh from the thick skin. Place the flesh in the work bowl of a food processor. Process the flesh into a puree and pour into a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining squash halves until you have a bowl full of pureed squash.
 
                               

Now you can transfer the puree to freezer containers. I freeze mine in half cup, one cup and two cup portions so that I'll have the amount I need for most any recipe.

                                
                                                ready for the freezer

The pureed squash is delicious served warm with a little cream and maple syrup stirred in and  sprinkled with cinnamon. You can use the fresh puree in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin. I mix my butternut and pumpkin together as they are similar in taste and texture.

Visit Well Fed Family on Facebook for a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe.

Read on for our family's favorite pumpkin pie recipe.

Pumpkin Pie

1 9" crust made with butter or lard*
1 cup sucanat
1 Tblsp all purpose flour or arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 large eggs preferably from pastured hens
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 cup cream, not ultra-pasteurized

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients, sucanat through cloves. If you are unfamiliar with sucanat it is an unrefined sugar containing several vitamins and minerals. It is a much better choice over refined white sugar but remember, any sugar is still something to eat sparingly. Sucanat is available in health food stores and many grocery stores.

    Add the eggs to the bowl of sugar and spices and mix well with a wire whisk or fork. Add in the pumpkin puree and the cream. Since the pie will be cooked you don't need to use raw cream but be sure not to use ultra-pasteurized cream. Many local dairies carry cream that has not been ultra-pasteurized. One national brand is Natural By Nature. Blend the pumpkin and cream well with the egg and spice mixture until it is smooth.

    Carefully pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust. Gently transfer the pie to the preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes. The pie is done when a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow the pie to cool on a cooling rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or homemade ice cream. If you have access to raw cream this is the place to use it!

*Store bought pie crusts are a nutritional disaster. They usually contain hydrogenated fats, chemical preservatives and artificial colors. There is no need to resort to refrigerated or frozen pie crusts when it is simple to make your own from just a few easily found ingredients. This is one area where it is ok to use white flour, it is hard to find whole grain pie crust recipes that taste satisfactory. There is one in Nourishing Traditions, the yoghurt dough, that is quite good but the recipe makes more than double the amount needed for this pie recipe. Instead I am going to give you one of the easiest and tastiest pie crust recipes I've ever had.

Basic Pastry for Pie Crust 

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 stick very cold unsalted butter cut into 8 slices
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup ice cold water

Place the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process about 8 seconds until the mixture is like coarse meal. Add the ice cold water and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. Do not let it form a ball. Remove the dough from the processor, squeeze it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Press into a flat disc shape.

   Refrigerate the dough for about an hour.

   Prepare your work surface by laying out one large sheet of plastic wrap on a clean counter. Remove the dough from the wrap and place it in the center of the plastic wrap. Place another sheet on the top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle about 1/8" thick. The plastic wrap will keep it from sticking to the counter or the rolling pin. When the dough is slightly larger than the pie pan you will be using you have rolled enough. Carefully remove the top plastic wrap sheet. Lift the remaining plastic wrap sheet with the dough still on it and turn it over so that the dough is in the pie pan. Center the dough and then carefully remove the second sheet of plastic wrap.

                             

To make the decorative edge on the crust use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the dough around the pointer finger of the opposite hand into a little V shape. Repeat this around the edge of the crust.

More recipe links
Nourished Kitchen has a nice recipe for Pumpkin Custard. The most delicious Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe can be found on the Well Fed Family blog. Kitchen Stewardship has a recipe for Grain-free pumpkin/squash pancakes for those of you going gluten-free.

Enjoy the flavors of fall with your own homemade winter squash goodies!
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8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Book Review

The Summer 2012 Wise Traditions Journal has a thorough review of Esther Gokhale's book. 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Remember When it Didn't Hurt was given a "thumbs up" and Mrs. Gokhale was invited to speak at the Wise Traditions conference this year.  As part of my conference-at-home I picked up a copy of her book at the library to read since I can't go to her session at the conference. 

Esther Gokhale is to back health what Dr. Weston Price was to nutrition.  She wanted to know if there were healthy populations living today that do not suffer from back pain the way almost 90% of American adults do.  She visited remote areas of the world and studied the people in Burkina Faso, rural Portugal and fishing villages in Brazil.  She took copious photographs and carefully studied the movements of the workers such as weaver, millers, farmers and fishermen and noticed how these populations gently taught their children from birth the correct ways to stand, sit and move so that they can work hard and yet not become injured. 

Esther Gokhale first used this new knowledge of posture and movement to help herself recover from crippling back pain and then she developed her own method in order to teach others this same technique to free themselves from pain and avoid surgery.  Her website, The Gokhale Method, gives more information about her classes and her method.

I particularly enjoyed the photographs abundantly placed throughout her book showing clearly the healthy postures of the traditional people and constrasting them with the painful postures of other modern people. Each section contains step-by-step photographs and instructions to treat yourself and, over time, relearn the correct posture and eliminate your own back problems.

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The Blues, Blahs and Blechs - Are Your Moods Real or False?

Just this morning on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel was a story about a young child dying from an angry, abusive parent. This week also begins the 40 Days of Prayer sponsored by Orange County Sherriff Jerry Demings who has called upon the area's faith community to help stop the plague of gun violence in metro-Orlando.  And these are just a few stories from my state.  Look to the national and world news - the stories of anger, violence and hatred become overwhelming.  Why?  Why are so many people so angry? So depressed? So violent? So stressed?  

Are there justifiable reasons for being sad, being depressed, being angry or being afraid? Yes, certainly there are very real reasons for these emotions.  But when these emotions become common, when they happen every day, when they become the new normal then it is time to assess WHY!  

Julia Ross is a clinical psychologist and the executive director of Recovery Systems, a San Fransisco-area clinic treating mood disorders, eating disorders and addiction problems not only through counseling but also through nutrrition.  Ms. Ross has written several books including The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure.  She is a featured speaker at the Wise Traditions 2012 conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation held this year in Santa Clara, CA.  I chose this book because I couldn't go to this year's conference and I decided to have my own "reading conference" and began to get books written by conference speakers.  

Julia Ross' book, The Mood Cure, has been super-educational - a conference within its covers.  I want to share with you some things that I have learned about false moods and nutrition. It has been a good fit with the Gut And Psychology Syndrome book and also articles on the gut/brain connection and foods and behavior by Dr. Mercola.  All of these authors agree that what we eat and how we nourish our bodies has a direct effect on not only our physical health and well-being but our mental health and our ability to cope appropriately with life's troubles, disappointments and frustrations.  In fact the number one cause of flase moods is due to the breakdown of the brain/gut/heart connection that transmits our feelings.

                                     

Even if you are a veteran real food advocate you might be surprised to learn that there are four specialized kinds of "mood molecules" or transmitters. If your body cannot manufacture these molecules then your brain, gut and heart run low on the fuel necessary to keep your emotions true.  The four specialized neurotransmitters are serotonin, catecholamines, GABA and endorphins.  All of these are built from amino acids. Our bodies can make some amino acids but others, essential amino acids, can only come from eating protein.  When our brains have a plentiful supply of these protein-based neurotransmitters they produce true emotions, and thankfully these emotions are usually positive.  However, a brain running on empty produces false moods and usually these moods are negative - sometimes violently so.

Looking closely at the specialized neurotransmitters we see they have some very important effects.  Serotonin in abundance makes us feel positive, confident, flexible, and easy-going. Without it we can be obsessive, worried, irritable, sleepless and have low self-esteem.  The catecholamines help us feel energized and alert and their absence leaves us flat and lethargic.  GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) keeps us relaxed and stress-free, but without it we can be wired up and easily overwhelmed. Finally, the endorphins are probably familiar to many athletes who enjoy the endorphin rush after a hard workout, but endorphins should be present all the time and give us comfort, pleasure and even euphoria. Without endorphins we find ourselves crying at TV commercials, overly sensitive about the least little thing.

Now that we know how important these molecules are to our day-to-day happiness the big question is "Why are we running low all the time?"  The answer to this question fills the rest of the book.  I'm going to hit the high points but I highly recommend you find a copy of this book and read through it yourself to get the in-depth answers necessary for making a lasting impact on your family - maybe even for generations to come!

First of all note again that all of these important neurotransmitters are made from amino acids and know that amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  Take it one step further and remember that animal sources of protein are the only complete proteins.  Complete proteins are those that contain ALL 22 amino acids.  Plant foods like beans and corn do contain protein but theirs is called "incomplete" because it lacks one or more of the 22 amino acids.  Serotonin is made from tryptophan and is especially hard to get from plant sources as all plant sources are extremely low in tryptophan.  Unfortunately the common practice of feeding grain to our meat animals means that even our meat is low in tryptophan these days unless we are buying pasture raised turkey, beef, pork, dairy, chicken and eggs. Wild game is actually the best source for tryptophan simply because these meat animals are living naturally and eating correctly.

In fact all of these mood-enhancing molecules are best built by our bodies when we eat enough of the right kinds of proteins.  Low calorie diets, high carbohydrate diets, soy-rich diets, and diets high in refined sugars and refined flours all drastically deplete our ability to assimilate enough nutrients to make these neurotransmitters. 

Ms. Ross is just one more expert bringing us the message that I hope we are hearing and heeding - it is important to eat real food, to eliminate processed foods and to embrace wholesome, healthy fats, and this includes animal fats.  Ms. Ross' name for the saturated fats like coconut oil or butter and lard from healthy animals living outside is "Satisfying Fats".  She describes how healthy saturated fats (not to be confused with trans fats) actually work synergistically with the essential fatty acids like omega-3 to help our bodies get the most value out of every drop. 

The Mood Cure includes a chapter on the top 5 mood busting foods with special honorable mentions going to foods most likely to cause allergies.  There is also a list of Good Mood Foods of which protein tops the list followed closely by good fats.  I was surprised to learn this tidbit about using flaxseed as a source of Omega-3 fats: The Omega-3 fat found in flaxseeds and some other seeds and nuts "is a shorter form of omega-3, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which has to be worked over by certain enzymes that two-thirds of us don't have and that decline with age."  Yep, more than 66% of us cannot digest flaxseeds - and up to 80% of the elderly cannot.  So relying on flaxseed for your Omega-3 supplementation is iffy at best.  Better sources usable by everyone are found in fish. 

The Mood Cure includes a Mood Questionnaire to help you pinpoint which of the four neurotransmitters you may be lacking. There are chapters detailing each one and specific nutritional supplements are included to help rebuild your body's store of amino acids and rid yourself of false moods.  Homeopathic and herbal remedies are also explored. 

There are sections in The Mood Cure that tackle very tough issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and drug addiciton as well as eating disorders, sleep disorders and bipolar and manic/depressive.  Several special sections detail what to do about thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, sex hormone imbalances and food cravings and addictions.  Each topic is dealt with in Julia Ross' cheerful, positive style so that you feel encouraged that you can indeed find help and resolution to any trouble you have. Working through this book you can eliminate your false moods and begin to deal more appropriately with your emotions.

                            
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News

When I logged on the other night to start a new blog I was surprised to see it had been so long since my last blog. We've been busy but just not blogging!  So I wanted to tell you some of the things Well Fed Family has been doing.

Twice in September we hosted a Nourishing Our Children presentation.  (For a review of the DVD go here)  I was so glad to meet so many new folks who were interested in learning more about real food.  Longwood/Altamonte Springs WAPF chapter leader Steve Moreau also came to the presentation and shared some great news for the Central Florida area. 

Steve announced the opening of a new classroom/meeting space for our local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter!   Longwood Healing Center is opening up a space for chapter meetings, Farm Fresh Direct2U food pickups, cooking classes and other educational classes.  We hope to begin offering our first classes there within the next month. If you have suggestions for classes you'd like please let us know. You can contact us via Well Fed Family on facebook or using the email links on the website home page and About Us page.  Or leave a comment at the end of this blog!

I have also been asked by Jen at Merry Heart Farm to come out and do classes at the farm once every other month. We hope to have our first class at the end of October, probably the 26th.  Jen runs a CSA at Merry Heart Farm and would like to be more active in getting the word out about healthy living and real food. Some of the topics we are looking at for these classes include weight loss, immune boosting and making cultured dairy.

Coming up on the 16th of October I am going up to Auburn, AL, to host another Nourishing Our Children presentation along with the Auburn WAPF chapter and the Auburn Church of Christ ladies' ministry. More details including time and address can be found in the Events section of Well Fed Family on Facebook. 

Coming up in November on the 17th is the Winter Park Harvest Festival where we will help with the Weston A. Price Foundation booth.  Come out and say "hi" to me and meet Steve and Tom - your friendly WAPF chapter leaders.

I've also been doing an awful lot of reading. I hope very soon to get up some book reports for you on some of the great books I've discovered!  I wish I was going to the Wise Traditions 2012 Conference in California this year. Since I can't go I decided to check out all of the great speakers and their websites and books. I have learned a so much this way, kind of a personal conference where I stay at home.  

I hope to get a couple of recipe blogs up soon, too. I found a yummy flatbread recipe that we've had several times - grilled flatbread!  The weather here in Central Florida still feels like summer. I hope wherever you are that you are having an enjoyable fall. Please let us hear from you!

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Taste Testing Supermarket Chicken

America's Test Kitchen has a reputation for attention to detail.  They are always testing and retesting recipes, methods and equipment. They also conduct frequent taste tests in their quest to find the best ingredients possible.  Their only criterion for taste tests? Choosing the best tasting item.
     (If I was conducting the testing I would also take points off for artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and other non-food items like that.)  

 

A while back America’s Test Kitchen conducted a taste test to find the best fresh, whole chicken.  I was pleased to see that this particular testing activity departed from their standard procedure by pointing out quality and health-related differences in the products tested. They took the time to educate their audience about current farming practices involving poultry and to encourage their readers to learn more about where their meat comes from and how it is produced. 

The article accompanying the taste test included some eye-opening statistics.  America’s Test Kitchen said that the U.S. poultry industry (notice the word industry rather than farm) is the largest in the world processing more than 8 billion (that is 8,000,000,000,000) chickens each year. This adds up to about 84 pounds of chicken per person per year.

                            

These statistics remind me of Herbert Hoover’s campaign promise from the 1928 “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage”. People during Hoover's time knew chicken was a luxury.  Joel Salatin says in his book Folks This Ain't Normal that chicken was once the food of royalty.  He explains that throughout history peasants could not afford to eat chicken whenever they wanted. It was reserved only for festive occasions. Commoners ate cow, sheep and goat.  The chickens, and sometimes pigs too, were used for helping out around the farmstead. Chickens ate the kitchen scraps, kept the bugs out of the garden and the yard, and laid eggs. Eating the chickens for meat meant more garbage, more bugs and no eggs.  The cattle kept the fields fertile for crops plus each year brought a new calf to raise giving a year’s worth of meat to a family plus milk. The milk was made into cheese or skimmed and the cream made into butter. The pigs were fattened on the skimmed milk that was leftover. One pig could add bacon, lard and ham to the family larder each year while fulfilling special roles on the farm.

                                  

Back to ATK’s taste test…Next they remarked that “the ability to pick up a chicken at any local market doesn’t make shopping easy.” They were quick to note there are alarming news reports raising concerns about health, conscience and politics; as well as the confusing labels claims of “all natural”, “free range”, “organic” and “vegetarian fed”, and oh-by-the-way, just what does “vegetarian fed” really mean? If the other birds AREN’T eating vegetarian meal just what ARE they eating? 

Turns out the taste testing part was the easiest part of this whole process. In an effort to get answers they compared the labels on each of the eight brands of chicken tested; they investigated processing methods; they sent chickens to an independent lab to analyze protein, fat, sodium, moisture and other characteristics that might affect taste.

Now in case you weren’t aware, all of the supermarket chickens are just one breed: the white-feathered Cornish Cross. This modern breed has been selectively bred to grow rapidly (in just five to eight weeks), eat as little as possible, and have larges breasts and stumpy legs so the ratio of white meat is greater than dark. These meat machines are only part of the reason poultry is now so cheap compared to other meats.

                                                                     
 
ATK discovered that most of the big poultry companies are “vertically integrated” which means every last variable is controlled from breeding and feeding birds, to medical care, to slaughter and processing, transportation, sales and marketing. Costs are kept as low as possible and production is as high as possible. This is how the U.S. is able to produce those 8 billion birds.

What does all of this streamlining of production mean to the consumer? Or to the birds?  Or the farmer?  Those are loaded questions and they are all related to each other.  Conventionally raised birds are pumped with antibiotics from the moment they are laid (yes, some producers inject antibiotics into the eggs!) all the way to the end.  All of these excess antibiotics aren't killing all the bacteria. The bacteria are smarter than that. Over five years ago reports began coming in of MRSA (antibiotic resistant superbugs) being transferred from farm animals to farm families and their workers in Europe. Studies also show this occuring in Canada. The US is like the ostrich with its head in the sand - we aren't testing our farm animals that way we can't say that it is happening here. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_9285.cfm  In addition to antibiotics, the conventional birds are routinely fed soy and corn (always GMO) ground into a meal along with ground-up chicken feathers and other animal byproducts leftover from slaughterhouses and even scraps from commercial bakeries (Twinkies anyone?).  This is probably why they need the antibiotics – the birds are always sick.  When processing time comes the whole thing is done by machine with a big conveyor system, including the evisceration. Then the birds are dumped into a giant cold water tank in order to chill them quickly. 

The chill tanks are one of the areas that had great effect on the taste test results. In the chill tanks, which are chlorinated to help kill bacteria (with all those antibiotics there are still plenty of bacteria left), the chickens absorb a lot of water – sometimes up to 14% of their body weight. This plumps up the chickens but since it is just water, not meat, you are paying for this added water weight. Sometimes processors go even further and “enhance” their chickens with an additional injection of salt water and flavorings to further enhance the weight (and price).
  
                                               

If you want more details on industrial chicken processing you can get the whole story from Joel Salatin’s book, Pastured Poultry Profits.  Some of the notable highlights feature the fact that machine evisceration causes fecal material to pour over the inside and outside of the carcass contaminating the birds. That accounts for the several inches of fecal sludge in the bottoms of most industrial chill tanks.  Salatin comments on the plumping effects of the water chill tanks with this colorful description: “In fact, about 9% of the weight on department store chicken is fecal soup. The soft muscle tissue is more conducive to in-soaking, and the carcass sponges up the fecal-contaminated chill water.” In addition to the chlorinated chill tanks Salatin reveals conventionally processed birds receive as many as 40 chlorine baths in order to remove the filth. He also notes that the FDA has approved irradiation of chicken to control Salmonella and other bacteria that are a direct result of automated processing.

As I said, ATK’s taste tests aren’t usually concerned with the healthfulness of the testing subjects, merely the taste. So now that you have traveled behind the scenes of America’s chicken industry it may not surprise you to know that of the 8 chickens tested there were 6 that came from processing that included the water chilling process. It also shouldn’t surprise you that the taste testers found the meat from these birds to be “unnaturally spongy, with washed-out flavor.” 

So what about the other two birds?  They were still raised on industrial-sized farms but the birds on those farms are treated a bit differently.  They were not given antibiotics, their feed often organic and always free of pesticides and animal byproducts. The birds are given access to the outdoors (although probably limited) and their processing methods are more humane and even include the latest methods developed by Temple Grandin, animal rights activist and scientist, that administer anesthesia before slaughtering.  Lastly, rather than plopping the carcasses into the “fecal soup” tanks these birds are air chilled. Air chilling is a method popular in Europe but only recently catching on in the U.S.  According to experts the air chilling method doesn’t dilute the flavor like water chilling and it gives the meat a better texture.

For a photo comparison of air vs tank chilling go to http://maryschickens.com/Airchilled.htm


Are you curious now as to which two birds won the taste test?

                        
Number One was Mary's Air Chilled (Free Range) Chicken (sometimes sold as Pitman’s).  Number Two was Bell & Evans Air Chilled Premium Fresh Chicken. Both of these birds also had a larger percentage of fat which adds to the flavor and texture of the meat. The fat on the other birds was diluted from all that added water.


                        

If I was conducting this taste test I would also include test subjects from local small family farm producers. Since we now know all of the factors from hatching to processing will affect the flavor of the meat it is easy to assume the birds raised in optimum conditions, out of doors on green pastures eating the foods of their choosing, and processed in small batches often by hand, will have the cleanest, freshest tasting meat of all. 

I emailed the good folks over at Lake Meadow Naturals as I was writing up this blog and asked them about their processing. I already know they raise their birds out of doors and take great care with the feed. Farmer Dale replied that he often goes with the birds to the processors to oversee the processing and make sure they meet Lake Meadow’s standards for handling and processing. He says they do not add water to their broilers and never dip their birds in chlorine. As for chilling, he says that the birds are frozen within hours of processing.  That is one of the advantages of keeping things on a smaller scale. 

If you have access to local poultry by all means support those local farms.  If your only choice is grocery store chicken then you are now armed with plenty of information to make informed choices. There are other brands that follow humane animal care and practice air chilling, ask your grocery meat department manager to carry at least one of those choices in your store.

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