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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Wheat is totally inGRAINed in my life

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup (Photo credit: Kevin H.)

Imagine if you were from an Asian cultural background and you had to remove rice from your diet. Sounds nearly impossible, right? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I had been doing very well removing wheat from my diet until I got sick last Friday night. I’ve been battling a combination of bronchial and sinus infections ever since. I have noticed that since I’ve adopted a more hydrated attitude, I do get sick less often and when I do, it is over more quickly. Thank the detox for that! However, when I’m not feeling well, I really notice how I waiver back on to wheat.

On Saturday, I didn’t feel hungry at all. I was coughing, sneezing, boucing from warm to cold and food was the last thing on my mind. Until my husband asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. The only thing I could think of stomaching was Lipton chicken noodle soup and some saltine crackers. Once I started to eat, I felt so comforted I was able to carry on a conversation with my husband’s best friend and even watch a little tv with them. Before that, I had been lying in bed, hoping to pass out.

Our comfort foods are usually chicken noodle soup when you’re sick and saltine crackers when you are nauseous. When we’re depressed, we turn to cakes and cookies. Hard to avoid wheat in all these things. My ‘detoxed’ brain was saying that I should be drinking some nice, fresh juices to load myself up with nutrients and fight off this sickness. I still think, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ But even the thought of having them instead of my soup made me queasy. Wheat is so ingrained in our lives, it is hard not to fall back on old habits, especially when in crisis.

I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The little germies that waged war on me all week have done a good enough job already. Craving something comforting when you feel vulnerable to the extreme is only natural. It just made me stop and wonder about how heavily wheat has factored in my life. How emotionally attached I am too it on some levels. It is like the culinary equivalent of a hug from your mother when you aren’t feeling well.

What did your mom give you when you were a kid with a cold?

I wonder what mothers feed their sick children in Asian countries…maybe I should try somma that!

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Tanning beds, vitamin D and Quebec

English: Woman uses a tanning bed.

English: Woman uses a tanning bed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a year ago, I was driving in Montreal and I heard an ad on the radio. It was someone from a tanning salon, enumerating the virtues of using a tanning bed. They said something to the effect of, “Look great! Feel great! Help up your vitamin D during the winter months!” I couldn’t believe it! They were actually touting the ‘health’ benefits of using tanning beds.

The reason that I bring this up today is because I heard on the radio this morning that Quebec has legislated an age limit on the use of tanning beds within the province. I think that is fantastic. If I were less informed about the risks of using tanning beds in regards to cancer risks, I would have thought it was a great idea to get some extra vitamin D. While there is evidence that specific types of tanning beds can help us Canadians up our vitamin D levels, it is my opinion that the risks far outweigh the benefits. If you do decide to use tanning beds to get some vitamin D, make sure you do your research.

Make sure the tanning salon bed puts out UVB. That’s done with medium-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps only put out UVA, which will not make any vitamin D. With UVB rays, you won’t get a burn, you won’t even get much of a tan, but you’ll get lots of vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (cbc.ca)

Considering that the tanning salon that was advertising on the radio was also talking about the wonderous glow you would have after the sessions, I doubt they were using UVB rays in their beds. It’s a tough time to be a consumer out there, reading between the lines when the lines are so skewed.

Quebec is putting a ban on use of the beds for anyone under the age of eighteen. This follows suit with many other provinces and countries who have already initiated similar age bans. Ontario (yay us!) and British Columbia are planning to do so as well. Studies have shown that the risk of getting skin cancer is significantly increased when people below the age of 25 use tanning beds, so we may be able to decrease the risks in many teens.

“…people who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who never used them. This risk was highest among people who started to tan before their 25th birthday.” (Webmd.com)

The good ole Nova Scotians are doing even better, their age ban starts at 19 years of age. Unfortunately, there is still the fact that most people have no idea that tanning beds can be bad for them, so many people will flock to the salons as soon as they are of age.

It is unfortunate for us Canadians, and many residents in the United States, that we suffer from a big loss of vitamin D in the winter time. Some people might think that going outside in the winter time with their faces exposed will help them produce some vitamin D. The amount of D your face produces is minute and a recent study shows that even if you were completely uncovered, it wouldn’t matter.

Above Atlanta Georgia [in latitude], you can’t make vitamin D in your skin in the winter time. We did a study involving Edmonton residents. For six months of the year, they were unable to make vitamin D in their skin. Stand naked outside from the time the sun rises until it sets, freeze every appendage on your body and you will not make vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (Cbc.ca)

Thank goodness we’ve disproved another health reason for winter nudists! Hee hee. My vitamin d source of choice is just to use a good supplement. For more information about how much you should be taking in oral form, see my Vitamin D blog entry.

Do you use tanning beds? Have you ever asked about UVA versus UVB bulbs on one of your visits?

Expensive knowledge, vegetarians and heart disease

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism (Photo credit: Marius!!)

I’ve been doing more reading than writing lately, life has been all over the map. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Now that my detox is over, I admit, I’ve lost some momentum. Forgive me?

I was reading an article summarizing some findings of a study done in the UK about the health of vegetarians versus meat eaters. If you’re interested, the article is located at theatlantic.com , if you’d like to take a look. Basically it tells us that vegetarians have a lower risk of many health issues.

RESULTS: The self-proclaimed vegetarians had a 32 percent reduced risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart disease, accompanied by lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels, as compared to non-vegetarians. They consumed, on average, more cheese, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less milk. ” – theatlantic.com

I tried to gain access to the study itself because I had a nagging question, however the journal in which it was published wanted me to pay $40 USD for temporary access. As much as I want to inform myself and all my readers…$40 USD? Ya, I don’t think so.

My question was this, did the authors of the study take into account that part of this correlation may simply be due to the fact that vegetarians tend to be more conscious of their health overall? Think about it. The vegetarians that I know, most of them anyway, are much more concerned with having a balanced diet. They actually need to make sure they are getting the proteins that they require for their bodies to survive. It’s not like McDonald’s is serving lentils with fries, so if they eat fast food, they’ve often lost the opportunity to feed their need for non-meat proteins.

I completely agree that for the most part, especially in North America, we eat a LOT more meat than we need to. Absolutely. I’m sure the UK also has their fair share of over indulgent carnivores.  However, I wonder if they re-did the study with more attention to the type of meat eaters they selected and the type vegetarians they selected, if they would find the same results. For example, what if they screened participants to find meat eaters that ate lots of vegetables and had similar physical activity habits to the vegetarians. Wouldn’t that be more informative? Their group participation size is impressive, certainly, but often I find the quality of study participants more impressive than the quantity.

Just a little food for thought.

Having said all this, I do believe that a diet rich in vegetables and non-animal protein is very healthy. Vegetarian or not, you can reduce your risks of many ailments by upping these enzyme-rich parts of your diet. If you choose your meat from places that don’t use antibiotics or hormones and you don’t overdo it, it’s my opinion that the health disparity shown in this study would shrink dramatically.