Category Archives: Food production

Buy local, support my neighbours.

I made a trip to our recently(1-2 years ago)opened farmers market. In Calgary, Alberta, it is the Symons Valley Farmers Market. We have been so happy with the retailers and the people are so helpful and friendly.

I went specifically to buy some grass fed beef and organic chicken. We get alot of those things from Sunworks Farm. They are an Alberta company and they had celiac issues with their children many years ago and started the farm so that they could eat! Wow. That is dedicated.

I went downstairs to see some of the newer vendors there. As soon as I came down, I was greeted by Dawn at her new booth. She was so excited to show me her greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, I couldn’t help but buy some to support someone that passionate. The kids and I all got to sample the Non-GMO yumminess that she was selling.

If I hadn’t mentioned it before, I love to support passionate people and the projects that they work on. Shirley’s Greenhouses(that is Dawn and her husbands, business name) are out of Didsbury and they sell to locals through farmers markets and small grocery stores.
Vive le small grower!



Why You Should Probably Stop Eating Wheat

Wheat and grain-based foods are all around us. We love our bagels, pasta, bread, and breakfast cereals. For many, the thought of eliminating these staples from our diets seems wholly unreasonable, if not ludicrous. But a growing number of people are switching to wheat-free diets — and for very good reason. As science is increasingly showing, eating wheat increases the potential for a surprising number of health problems. Here’s why you should probably stop eating wheat.

Without a doubt, wheat plays a major role in our diets. It supplies about 20% of the total food calories worldwide, and is a national staple in most countries.

But as is well known, some people, like those with celiac disease, need to stay away from it. The problem is that their small intestine is unable to properly digest gluten, a protein that’s found in grains. But wheat is being increasingly blamed for the onset of other health conditions, like obesity, heart disease, and a host of digestive problems — including the dramatic rise in celiac-like disorders.

So what’s going on? And why is everybody suddenly blaming wheat?

The answer, it appears, has to do with a whole lot of nastiness thats present in grain-based foods. Wheat raises blood sugar levels, causes immunoreactive problems, inhibits the absorption of important minerals, and aggravates our intestines.

And much of this may stem from the fact that wheat simply ain’t what it used to be.

Hybridized wheat

Indeed, today’s wheat is a far cry from what it was 50 years ago.

Why you should probably stop eating wheat

Back in the 1950s, scientists began cross-breeding wheat to make it hardier, shorter, and better-growing. This work, which was the basis for the Green Revolution — and one that won U.S. plant scientist Norman Borlaug the Nobel Prize — introduced some compounds to wheat that aren’t entirely human friendly.

As cardiologist Dr. William Davis noted in his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health, today’s hybridized wheat contains sodium azide, a known toxin. It also goes through a gamma irradiation process during manufacturing.

But as Davis also points out, today’s hybridized wheat contains novel proteins that aren’t typically found in either the parent or the plant — some of which are difficult for us to properly digest. Consequently, some scientists now suspect that the gluten and other compounds found in today’s modern wheat is what’s responsible for the rising prevalence of celiac disease, “gluten sensitivity,” and other problems.

Gluten and Gliadin

No doubt, gluten is a growing concern — and it’s starting to have a serious impact on our health, and as a result, our dietary choices.

Gluten is a protein composite of gliadin and glutenin that appears in wheat as well as other grains like rye, barley, and spelt. It’s also what gives certain foods that wonderful, chewy texture. Gluten also helps dough to rise and keep its shape.

Why you should probably stop eating wheat

The problem, however, is in how it’s metabolized. According to Alessio Fasano, the Medical Director for The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, no one can properly digest gluten.

“We do not have the enzymes to break it down,” he said in a recent interview withTenderFoodie. “It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.” His concern is that the gluten protein, which is abundant in the endosperm of barley, rye, and wheat kernels, is setting off an aberrant immune response.

Specifically, the gliadin and glutenin are acting as immunogenic anti-nutrients. Unlike fruits, which are meant to be eaten, grains have a way of fighting back. They create an immunogenic response which increases intestinal permeability, thus triggering systemic inflammation by the immune system — what can lead to any number of autoimmune diseases, including celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and so on. And this holds true for people who don’t have celiac disease.

Davis also believes that gliadin degrades to a morphine-like compound after eating, what creates an appetite for more wheat; his claim, therefore, is that wheat actually has an addictive quality to it.

Gliadin, what scientists call the “toxic fraction of gluten,” has also been implicated in gut permeability. When someone has an adverse reaction, it’s because gliadin cross talks with our cells — what causes confusion and a leak in the small intestines. Fasano explains:

Why you should probably stop eating wheat

Gliadin is a strange protein that our enzymes can’t break down from the amino acids (glutamine and proline) into elements small enough for us to digest. Our enzymes can only break down the gliadin into peptides. Peptides are too large to be absorbed properly through the small intestine. Our intestinal walls or gates, then, have to separate in order to let the larger peptide through. The immune system sees the peptide as an enemy and begins to attack.

The difference is that in a normal person, the intestinal walls close back up, the small intestine becomes normal again, and the peptides remain in the intestinal tract and are simply excreted before the immune system notices them. In a person who reacts to gluten, the walls stay open as long as you are consuming gluten. How your body reacts (with a gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or Celiac Disease) depends upon how long the gates stay open, the number of “enemies” let through and the number of soldiers that our immune system sends to defend our bodies. For someone with Celiac Disease, the soldiers get confused and start shooting at the intestinal walls.

The effects of gluten and gliadin clearly vary from person to person. But as a recent studyshowed, nearly 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease, and another 1.4 million are likely undiagnosed. And surprisingly, another 1.6 million have adopted a gluten-free diet despite having no diagnosis.

In addition, it’s estimated that about 18 million Americans have “non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” which results in cramps and diarrhea.

High glycemic index

Wheat also raises blood sugar. As Davis notes, the glycemic index of wheat is very high (check out this chart from Harvard to see how various foods rank). It contains amylopectin A, which is more efficiently converted to blood sugar than just about any other carbohydrate, including table sugar.

Why you should probably stop eating wheat

Consequently, two slices of whole wheat bread increases blood sugar levels higher than a single candy bar. Overdoing the wheat, says Davis, can result in “deep visceral fat.”

Wheat can also trigger effects that aren’t immediately noticeable. Small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles form after eating lots of carbohydrates — which are responsible for atherosclerotic plaque, which in turn can trigger heart disease and stroke. And in fact, it has been shown that a wheat-free diet can improve glucose tolerance in individuals with ischaemic heart disease.


Lectins, which are a class of molecules, can be found in beans, cereal grains, nuts, and potatoes. And when consumed in excess, or when not cooked properly, they can be harmful.

Now, most lectins are actually quite benign, and in some cases they can even be therapeutic —like fighting some forms of HIV.

But the problem with some lectins, like the ones found in whole grains, is that they bind to our insulin receptors and intestinal lining. This increases inflammation and contributes to autoimmune disease and insulin resistance. It also facilitates the symptoms of metabolic syndrome outside of obesity.

Phytic acid

Phytates are also a problem, a compound that’s found within the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains. Phytic acid cannot be digested by humans. And worse, it binds to metal ions like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. In turn, these minerals cannot be properly absorbed after eating.

Consequently, any minerals that might be provided by consuming grain-based foods are not well metabolized. So phytates, combined with gluten, make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients — which can lead to anemia and osteoporosis.

The Fiber myth

Lastly, a common argument in favor of continuing to eat whole grains is that they provide necessary fiber. This is actually a bit of a myth. As nutrition expert Mark Sisson has noted, “Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations and obtaining cheap sugar calories, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains.”

And indeed, we can get adequate amounts of insoluble fiber simply by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Images: Top Morgan Lane Photography/Shutterstock. Inset: Zeljko Radojko/Shutterstock, JulijaSapic_Portfolio/Shutterstock, MedicineBulletin.

Question: Are mushrooms gluten-free?


Plain mushrooms ought to be gluten-free — after all, they’re a fresh vegetable, right? But unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story for mushrooms if you’re particularly sensitive to trace gluten.

You see, mushroom spores are grown on gluten grains — most commonly on rye, but also on wheat and occasionally on a combination of the two grains. And this cultivation method leads to some gluten cross-contamination on the finished fungi.

How much gluten? It’s tricky to say, although it almost certainly comes in far lower than the less than 20 parts per million standard that’s considered “gluten-free” in the United States and some other countries.

However, it’s also enough to cause reactions in those of us with celiac disease and gluten sensitivitywho are quite sensitive.

More on sensitivity levels:

But Won’t Washing Get Rid of the Gluten?

Okay, so mushrooms are grown on gluten grains, which does sound a little scary. But you’d think washing your mushrooms well would get rid of any stray gluten-containing growing medium.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to do the job. Washing works for the less sensitive (who might not react to unwashed mushrooms, either). But for those who are sensitive to lower levels of gluten, washing really doesn’t seem to help enough to prevent a reaction.

I speak from experience on this: I definitely react (although not badly) to conventionally grown mushrooms, including Portabella mushrooms and the button mushrooms you buy at the grocery store. And yes, they’ve been washed. When I can source wild mushrooms (a woman at my local farm market sold them for a while), I have no trouble eating mushrooms.

Is this something you need to worry about? Very likely not, unless you react to mushrooms yourself or if you want to eliminate every possible gluten exposure, regardless of whether you react. Most people consume mushrooms just fine.

But if you repeatedly find yourself glutened following a meal that features mushrooms, then you may want to look around for a source of wild mushrooms. Here’s a list from’s Guide to Gourmet Food: Where To Buy Wild Mushrooms. If you ask around at your local farm markets, you may also have success in finding someone who grows mushrooms on sorghum or millet, two gluten-free grains that occasionally are used to cultivate mushrooms.

5 Things To Look For In Every Egg You Eat

An Egg-to-Egg Comparison

Last week we ran out of eggs, which, according to my wife, is similar to the satellite going out during the finale of True Blood. A show I will never understand, but apparently there’s a vampire named Bill.I couldn’t get to the farm, so I bought some from the local grocery. When we finally got more pastured eggs, I took this rare opportunity to do a comparison. A little Egg vs. Egg; a yolk-to-yolk death match. And I wanted to show you 5 things I know to look for, and ones you can look for too.So which egg will crack first? Will it be a scramble to the finish line? Or will this one be over easy? Let’s boil it down. (I sincerely apologize for all this – it’s been a long week)

Our Contenders: Pastured Eggs vs. The Rest

The upper box is the one we get from pastured chickens at the local farm run by Jordan & Laura Greenwho learned from none other than Joel Salatin at Polyface (I love that we live just 40 minutes from there). The chickens are allowed to roam mostly free in very large sunny areas, make nests and lay eggs where they want, and eat their species-specific diet of mostly bugs, rodents, and grasses. They are supplemented with a very small amount of feed. I buy them for $3/dozen.

The lower box is from the store. I should point out I didn’t buy the cheap ones. The box promotes all the current “buzz” words to make health-conscious people pay extra for them — they are “USDA organic,” “Grade A,” “cage-free, hormone and antibiotic free,” and “vegetarian fed” (even though chickens aren’t vegetarians). They were the most expensive ones in the store (about $4/dozen).

From that steep price and all the marketing on the box, you’d think they were also blessed by the Pope and sprinkled with holy water. But are they really that good?

The Five Signs of a High-Quality, Highly Nutritious Egg

In general your best and maybe only chance of finding a highly nutritious egg is to know where it came from. Find a local producer who raises “pastured” chickens on their species-specific diet (as opposed to just cage-free or vegetarian fed). Chickens love lots of open space, sunlight, and grazing on bugs and grasses, and even small rodents.

Whatever you do, don’t believe that just because the eggs are from “cage-free” or “organic” chickens that they are high quality or as nutritious. Yes, they are better and you’re getting few synthetic hormones, chemicals, and antibiotics, but they should not be considered high quality because the chickens are not eating what chickens eat. And very often “cage free” means nothing more than they are in a barn running around — they have no access to grass, bugs, and very little access to natural sunlight.

But what if I don’t know where the egg comes from? Thankfully, you can tell the quality of an egg with a high degree of accuracy just from looking at them. A properly fed, healthy egg will show five distinct features:

  • A Strong Shell. If you tap the shell once and it easily breaks, it can be a sign the chicken who laid it was not in optimal health. This often relates to the amount of protein in the hen’s diet as well as their age. Shell color is not a good indicator — it just denotes the breed of hen.
  • A Dark Orange-Yellow Yolk. This is the big one and is indicative of what the hen ate during the time it laid that egg. The darker orange it is, the more grasses, bugs, grubs, and worms it ate. The color is from beta-carotene (yep, the same thing that makes carrots orange) and related substances called lutein and zeaxanthin — all beneficial anti-oxidants that are associated with eye health, brain health, and lower cancer rates. A study in the Journal of Nutrition (Aug 2004) showed Lutein to be best absorbed from egg yolks over vegetable sources, likely due to the fact that it is fat-soluble (meaning it needs fat to be absorbed). Some commercial egg producers are feeding chickens with food coloring or other by-products to make yolks more yellow, but they don’t yet have to put it on the label (as in the case of farmed salmon). It’s interesting that one of the ingredients they use to do this (astaxanthin) is actually associated with eye problems in humans — the complete opposite effect of pastured eggs!
  • A Tall, Domed Yolk. A high quality egg’s yolk should hold it’s shape as a nice, tall dome. If the yolk is more flat and kind of spread out, you’re looking at a lower quality, less nutritious egg.
  • A Clear Egg “White.” If the clear (what some refer to as the “white”) has any color to it, from a little yellow to green, you’re probably looking at a poor quality egg from a chicken who was not optimally healthy. This part of the egg should be perfectly clear prior to cooking.
  • Less Running of the Clear. You’ll notice that the clear of the egg will have a more distinct shape and then around that will be some runoff that just spreads around the pan. A high-quality egg from a pastured chicken (which again is different from free range and cage free) will not have as much run-off. The less there is, the better quality your egg.

Warning: Store-bought eggs will also go through a “sanitizing” wash. These washes remove the egg’s natural defensive coating so they don’t last as long as new bacteria and oxygen can more easily enter the egg.

Are pastured eggs more nutritious? Some other bloggers and nutritionists will say that a pastured egg with a darker-colored yolk is no more nutritious than any other egg. These claims are flat out nonsense. A 2007 study showed that pastured chickens eating their species-specific diet had 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more Vitamin A, 2x the Omega 3′s, 3x times the Vitamin E, and 7x the amount of beta carotene. They also have higher levels of other non-vitamin anti-oxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin as stated above.

Now that you’re an Egg-spert, Let’s compare our Two Eggs…

While my camera skills and the lighting isn’t the best, you can probably spot the store bought, supposedly “USDA organic” “cage free” “healthy” egg on the left — it’s got a bright yellow yolk, slightly dis-colored “clear” part, and what you may not be able to tell is that while it has a distinct shape to the clear, it was also far more runny.

The pastured one on the right has a large domed, dark orange yolk, a very clear “clear,” and was well-shaped and less runny. And I have to say the yolk of the pastured egg tasted awesome, while the bright yellow one tasted a little bit like nothing.


These are just a few of the reasons to buy eggs from local pastured chickens. If you can’t find these in your area, there are a few companies I trust. One is FRENZ, which are sold at Whole Foods, but there are several others.

But the point is this: Never trust labels or buzz words on egg packaging. Words like “cage free” “vegetarian fed” and even “omega 3 enriched” mean almost nothing.

Just know where your eggs came from, know what the chickens ate and how they live, and look for the 5 signs I’ve shared above. If you do that, you’ll never go wrong eating eggs. I personally enjoy up to a dozen per week.


“I wanted to add this comment from the original website, since it was very relevant to this article”

Chris Beasley • 5 months ago

Couple errors. Shell strength is a factor of minerals, not protein. Chickens are often fed supplemental minerals (azomite) to increase shell strength, small scale flocks sometimes are fed ground up shells to recycle the minerals back into the chicken. Technically, a factory chicken should have a stronger egg, commercial egg production companies care about egg strength, because the eggs must be handled by machinery, and broken eggs cost money. So the use of mineral additives (which are natural) is ubiquitous. Your family farm source could also be supplementing with this (they use a “Small” amount of feed, subjective statements which always make me suspicious, afterall). But egg strength isn’t going to be a factor of egg health, since usually factory eggs are in fact stronger. Second error is with the viscosity of the yolk and white. It isn’t health or diet of the chicken, it is the age of the egg. Your store bought eggs are almost always going to be much older, even if you buy them on the same day, and in your test you bought them days (weeks?) apart. Give your other eggs a month to mellow out and they’ll get saggy too. You’re right on the yolk color but for a proper comparison you need to make sure the chickens are the same breed (and they aren’t). A good experiment, take two chickens of the same breed, perhaps from the same mother, segregate them, put one on the free range forage diet, the other on corn and soy commercial feed. You’ll probably get the same result on yolk color, and you’ll have removed remaining uncontrolled variables.

Genetically Engineered Food and Engineering

From Ron Hamilton
Sunworks Farm

Last December when I was in Ottawa for the Canadian Organic Technical Review Committee the consumer representative on the committee asked us to use the term Genetically Engineered (GE) when we were talking about Genetically Modified Organisms. Since then I have been thinking a lot about the term genetically engineered and its similarities and differences to engineering.
Engineering is not infallible.
Around us there are a multitude of examples of engineering with magnificent buildings, bridges and technology as examples. The engineering that has been used in these structures has had centuries of research and knowledge behind it and we use some of the most sophisticated technology to build our world, but we still have buildings and bridges that fall down. We have recalls on cars and products because the engineers hadn’t foreseen a problem. Engineering isn’t infallible. There are multiple processes in place to make the engineering as fail safe as possible and the industry and government have set in place regulations that help protect us and yet problems still arise.
We are told by the corporations that make GE products that there is absolutely no risk in their engineering and their practices are fail safe. If we can have engineering challenges in the world of physical engineering, nonliving structures, it would make sense that we could also have problems in genetically engineering living organisms which are infinitely more complex than a bridge. The engineering and research behind genetically engineered products is just decades old and we have only had this technology available for a short time. If a person has done any research into how a GE product is made they will realize that there isn’t a huge amount of engineering done but it is a huge factor of good luck. If part of your engineering is good luck I don’t think I would want to drive on that bridge.
The consequences of bad engineering.
When bad physical engineering happens there can often be dire consequences. However the consequences for the environment and the world as a whole are often temporary. A pile of rubble, a diverted stream or river, pollution in the river, killed fish and aquatic life are all environmental consequences if a bridge fails. They are damaging but can be cleaned up and put back together, fish can be restocked, pollution can be cleaned up and a diverted stream or river can be returned to its natural course.
Genetically engineered foods are different from this in that when they fail there is no way to clean up the mess and restore the world to the way it was. Natural systems have over many thousands of years adapted to their surroundings but by engineering living organisms we are taking engineering short cuts that will have long term consequences. Plants that are genetically modified can spread from wind, birds, bugs, bees and water. We are releasing something that we cannot take back. Cross pollination can happen with non-genetically engineered as well as wild plants. Already there has been shown to be contamination of non GE corn with GE corn genes even though the GE corn was not planted near non GE corn fields.
The ability to fix the problem.
In physical engineering if there is a problem with a bridge swinging in too much wind, a building that is found to be extremely inefficient, or a car that has a bad part, the problem can be fixed. Bridges can be reinforced, buildings can be reinsulated and cars can be recalled and the part replaced. Problems that arise can be fixed. It is not the same with the genetic engineering of our food.
When a problem arises in our genetically engineered food the problems are not fixable for there is no way to isolate the problem. The bridge can be shut down until it is fixed. GE crops cannot all be destroyed when we realize that they are affecting the environment. An inefficient building can have extra heaters added to it to fix the problem until a long tern solution is available. GE foods cannot be reengineered once they are in the food system. A car affected by the bad part can have the bad part removed and can be returned to the road. The GE genes in a plant cannot be removed and the plant returned to the market, when they start to cause harm to human health and the environment.
For me the fact that we use the word engineering to describe genetically modified organism highlights some of the dangers of this technology. The way to combat this is to buy organic products and products that do not contain genetically engineered ingredients. If we refuse to buy these products then there will be no market for them. We need to push for the labeling of GE foods so that consumers have the ability to choose what they want to eat and how they want to vote with their dollar.
One of the fundamentals of organic agriculture is to work in and with natural living systems. We believe there are no engineering shortcuts to feed our customers the cleanest, purest and best food in the world.
Ron Hamilton

Are you sure you want to eat that?

It has been about three years since finding out that our daughter is celiac. In this time we asked “why us”? Became frustrated at the lack of “good” information, considered not eating anymore… We(as anyone that has to make drastic dietary changes goes through) struggled when told that certain things were not available to us anymore. We were pained by the decision that we still work through today.

Whether the whole family should eat the same way or just those affected??
When one person has dietary needs(outside of societies version of normal) the whole family is affected to a certain degree. We try not to let it change relationships, but that really can’t be helped.
In the process of finding our way to health for H, we have learned much about food and the processes that our society has become familiar with, not necessarily the best decisions, but familiar!
I call this Easy-fast-processed-manipulated-itis.

fast food collection on on white background
I know that making good health choices is hard! This is even harder because our governments, medical professionals, dietitians, etc. are spreading poor information and promoting it!
Have you seen or heard any of the horror stories of illnesses in our families and friends? It is epidemic!

In my family alone, there is celiac disease, gluten/dairy intolerance, fibromyalgia, prostate cancer, MS, gout, arthritis, high blood pressure…I would consider our family pretty healthy compared to some.
The Canada food guide is so misleading and based on poor information. It seems that their reason to promote dairy and grain is based on economics as opposed to overall health.

Do governments think that it is too disruptive to actually look into why we are becoming more sick and this next generation will be the first in our known history to have a shorter life span than the previous one?

How bad does it have to become before we make changes to our food systems?

Why is it that people who want to grow healthy, simple crops(organic) have more hoops to jump through, than a farmer that wants to use pesticides and chemicals?


Obesity Threatens to Cut U.S. Life Expectancy, New Analysis Suggests

Over the next few decades, life expectancy for the average American could decline by as much as 5 years unless aggressive efforts are made to slow rising rates of obesity, according to a team of scientists supported in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The U.S. could be facing its first sustained drop in life expectancy in the modern era, the researchers say, but this decline is not inevitable if Americans — particularly younger ones — trim their waistlines or if other improvements outweigh the impact of obesity. The new report in the March 17, 2005 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine appears little more than a year after the DHHS unveiled a new national education campaign and research strategy to combat obesity and excessive weight.

The new analysis, by S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, Robert N. Butler, M.D., of the International Longevity Center in New York, and others* suggests that the methods used to establish life expectancy projections, which have long been based on historic trends, need to be reassessed. This reevaluation is particularly important, they say, as obesity rates surge in today’s children and young adults.

“Forecasting life expectancy by extrapolating from the past is like forecasting the weather on the basis of its history,” Olshansky and his colleagues write. “Looking out the window, we see a threatening storm — obesity —that will, if unchecked, have a negative effect on life expectancy.”

Unlike historic life expectancy forecasts, which rely on past mortality trends, the Olshansky group bases their projection on an analysis of body mass indexes and other factors that could potentially affect the health and well-being of the current generation of children and young adults, some of whom began having weight problems very early in life. The authors say that unless steps are taken to curb excessive weight gain, younger Americans will likely face a greater risk of mortality throughout life than previous generations.

“This work paints a disturbing portrait of the potential effect that life styles of baby boomers and the next generation could have on life expectancy,” says Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Associate Director of the NIA for Behavioral and Social Research. Indeed, Suzman notes, obesity may already have had an effect. The sharp increase of obesity among people now in their 60s, he suggests, may be one explanation why the gains in U.S. life expectancy at older ages have been less than those of other developed countries in recent years.

“But it is critical to note that the reduced life expectancy forecast by the study is not inevitable, and there is room for optimism,” Suzman says. “Government and private sector efforts are mobilizing against obesity, and increased education, improved medical treatments, and reduced smoking can tip the balance in favor of reduced mortality and continued improvements in life expectancy.”

For instance, smoking significantly reduces the life expectancy of the average smoker, Suzman says, so obesity is just one of many factors that will need to be accounted for, together or separately, in projecting how Americans will age. The NIA supports several projects on population demography that forecast life and health expectancy, research which is critically important to policy makers looking at the implications of an aging population.

According to the NEJM report, studies suggest that two-thirds of American adults are overweight (having a body mass index — BMI — of 25 or more) or obese (having a BMI of 30 or more)**. One study cited by the authors indicates that the prevalence of obesity in U.S. adults has increased about 50 percent per decade since 1980. Additional research has shown that people who are severely obese — with a BMI greater than 45 — live up to 20 years less than people who are not overweight. Some researchers have estimated that obesity causes about 300,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. In addition, obesity is fueling an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, which also reduces lifespan.

To estimate the overall effect of obesity on life expectancy in the U.S., Olshansky and his colleagues calculated the reduction in death rates that would occur if everyone who is currently obese were to achieve the difficult goal of losing enough weight to reach an “optimal” BMI of 24. The calculation was based, in part, on age, race, and sex-specific prevalence of obesity in the United States from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Based on these calculations, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at birth would be higher by 0.33 to 0.93 year for white men, 0.30 to 0.81 year for white women, 0.30 to 1.08 year for black men, and 0.21 to 0.73 year for black women if obesity did not exist.

The overall reduction in life expectancy of one-third to three-fourths of a year attributed to obesity in this analysis exceeds the negative effect of all accidental deaths combined, and could deteriorate over time, the researchers said.

“These trends suggest that the relative influence of obesity on the life expectancy of future generations could be markedly worse than it is for current generations,” Olshansky and the authors conclude in their report. “In other words, the life-shortening effect of obesity could rise …to two to five years, or more, in the coming decades, as the obese who are now at younger ages carry their elevated risk of death into middle and older ages.”

The projected decline contrasts with estimates by other leading researchers, which predict a continuation of the historic trend of increasing life expectancy in America and Europe dating back to the 1850s, according to Dr. Suzman. In fact, he points out that the experience of other developed nations is instructive as a barometer of how much room might exist to increase U.S. life expectancy. More than 20 other developed nations, including France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have a higher average life expectancy than the U.S. Women in Japan, for example, live about 5 years longer than women in the U.S. There is little evidence that life expectancy in these countries is approaching any kind of limit, Suzman says.

In March 2004, the DHHS launched public awareness campaign, entitled Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention, to encourage American families to take small, manageable steps within their current lifestyle, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, to ensure effective, long-term weight control. The campaign includes multi-media public service announcements (PSAs) and a new interactive website,

In addition, the NIA has developed a free exercise guide for older adults, which is available online at The NIH and other Federal agencies also offer free information about excessive weight and what can be done about it, including the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Consumer Information Center

This research was also supported by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Charles H. Hood Foundation.

The NIA is one of 27 Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The NIA leads the Federal Government effort conducting and supporting research on the biomedical and social and behavioral aspects of aging and the problems of older people. For more information on aging-related research and the NIA, please visit the NIA website at The public may also call for publications describing these efforts and offering health information for older people and their families at 1-800-222-2225, the toll free number for the National Institute on Aging Information Center.

I guess that the only thing to do now is decide. Decide to change our own lives or to continue the way that we have been accustomed to .

It is unfortunate, but such a human trait, to resist change and to not make changes until your life is threatened.

Changes are difficult at first, but if you are motivated you can change anything.

food pill

I can’t help but think, that our grandparents had it right. Simpler time, simpler way=more work.  Our grandmothers(for the most part) spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing fresh, nutritious meals. They gardened, bought fresh meats and vegetables from their neighbours. This takes time and planning. It seems like a lot of work when you consider the alternatives like frozen pizza or fast food.

I am realizing that preparing fresh, nutritious food for your family is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had. I know it will be one thing that I will pass on to my girls so that they can in turn, be healthy and make the world a better place for their families.


I thought it was interesting when I did a google search for “Food be medicine”, my first result was the US food and drug administration!

Do you really think that they have your health as a first priority?

Quote from Dr Mark Hyman

U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide no limit for added sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still lists sugar as a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) substance.

Here are some helpful links if you are interested in healthy alternatives. God bless.


The Dangers of Milk

I know this is a little extreme, but it has some valid points.
We are doing are best to remove dairy from our diets, but it hard to make that transition.
I grew up in a family that sold dairy for a living, so you know that we drank and ate a lot of it! I crave the cheese mostly.
After hearing so many health concerns in our society and our families, I know that change is necessary. I want a healthy long life for me and our family, not just a long life(being sick)!
Here is an excerpt from this article on The Dangers of Milk. This is just one part and you can choose to read the whole thing or not. God bless.


*ALL* cow’s milk (regular and ‘organic’) has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol.

Most cow’s milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels), up to 52 powerful antibiotics (perhaps 53, with LS-50), blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses. (Cow’s milk can have traces of anything the cow ate… including such things as radioactive fallout from nuke testing … (the 50’s strontium-90 problem).


Monsanto Chemical Co., maker of fine poisons such as DDT, agent orange, Roundup and more… spent around half a billion dollars inventing a shot to inject into cows… to force a cow to produce MORE milk (for an already glutted taxpayer subsidized market).

Unfortunately, they created *FIVE* errors in their Frankenstein Posilac (rbGH) shot that direly affected all test animals… but that important report (Richard, Odaglia & Deslex, 1989) has been hidden from everyone under Clinton’s Trade Secrets act. The Canadians read enough of this report (before it was stolen) to reject rbGH for their country.

Monsanto’s Posilac creates additional IGF-1 in milk: up to 80% more.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insists that IGF-1 is destroyed in the stomach. If that were true, the FDA has proven that breast feeding cannot work. Common sense says their “finding” is ridiculous because this growth factor DOES make the baby calf grow (rapidly, as mother natured intended). Visit the Dairy Education Board at to review a DAIRY study that confirms what the FDA has lied about this for years.


ONE cubic centimeter (cc) of commercial cow’s milk is allowed to have up to 750,000 somatic cells (common name is “PUS”) and 20,000 live bacteria… before it is kept off the market.

That amounts to a whopping 20 million live squiggly bacteria and up to 750 MILLION pus cells per liter (bit more than a quart).

1 cup = 236.5882cc 177,441,150 pus cells ~ 4,731,600 bacteria
24 oz (3 glasses) = 532,323,450 pus cells ~ 14,220,000 bacteria
(the “recommended” daily intake)

The EU and the Canadians allow for a less “tasty” 400,000,000 pus cells per liter.

Typically these levels are lower… but they COULD reach these levels and still get to YOUR table.

dangers of milk

Rice is the new cocaine for Euro drug dealers

This is astonishing. We will have to fight for our right to eat healthy, more than we already do.

It’s hard out here for a food eater! Between the rapid desiccation of some of the United States’ most productive farmland, cannibalism and disease on meat farms, and organized criminals in Europe selling long-grain rice as fraudulent basmati, the struggle is real. That last one is not a euphemism.

Departments of Interpol and Europol are beginning to crack down on gangs profiting off of a fairly new form of illegal activity: food fraud. Former drug dealers have hung up their dime bags and moved into the food counterfeiting game because, as it’s still in its nascent stages, legal consequences are almost negligible. The payoff for substituting cheap, low-quality, and often dangerous ingredients for certain in-demand foods and beverages far outweighs the risk — because that makes sense! Welcome to the modern food system; you must be new here.

So there’s now a black market to create additional profits on food that’s already dirt-cheap, thanks to well-oiled industrial food production. Drug runners don’t need to have MBAs to realize that the risks of their old ventures (jail time, turf wars, dead customers) far outweigh those of the new (angry foodies).

As reported by The Independent, some of these substitutions seem fairly benign: Spanish olive oil passed off as extra-virgin Italian; lower-proof alcohol masquerading as vodka; impostor tuna. But consider that the Spanish olives were washed in deodorant, the lower-proof alcohol was mixed with industrial solvent, and the tuna was mislabeled because its mystery-fish source couldn’t be traced … you can see where we’re going here.

The issue has gained some traction in the European press following a study that came out just this month, which found that 40 percent of 900 grocery store samples in the United Kingdom were counterfeit versions of the advertised product.

Who will be affected by this? Well, anyone in Europe who eats food, to start with — and also possibly heroin addicts whose dealers have abandoned the drug trade for greener pastures.

Here in America, ever the land of opportunity and unsustainably cheap food, the counterfeit food market has a lot of potential. But we also love Doritos Locos Tacos, so it’s possible our sky-high tolerance for engineered chemical substances means we might even enjoy a little Old Spice on our olives.

Eve Andrews is a Grist fellow and new Seattle transplant via the mean streets of Chicago, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsburgh, respectively and in order of meanness. Follow her on Twitter.