Monday, November 30, 2009


So many people today are overloaded with work, family and personal demands, often rushing to adhere to a stressful "24/7" schedule. When our lives are packed to the max with busyness, one of the first things that goes out the window along with self care, is our nutrition. Oftentimes, in a busy frenzy we end up choosing meals that are fast, easy and neatly packaged. The thing about fast and easy is...well, you can’t be fast and easy forever and still keep it together. The reality is, your everyday meal solutions don't need to come from drive-through windows or Styrofoam take-out boxes. Even with a busy lifestyle, you can incorporate nutritious choices for every meal with ease. Being time-starved doesn't mean you have to sacrifice nutrition. A few small changes in your meal and snack strategies can yield positive results.

Shop Smart

Supermarkets today offer an array of partially prepared while not overly processed products and other kitchen "shortcuts." When you're busy, you can still put good nutrition on your table without doing all the time-consuming preparation yourself and cutting your self short with additives and preservatives.

  • Always keep fresh greens in the fridge and then add nutrient-rich extras: add nuts and seeds for protein; chopped fresh vegetables; sliced apples, pears, or berries. If you top your greens with flavorful fresh choices, you won't want to drowned your salad with fatty, creamy dressing. Just a splash of olive oil and a dash of vinegar will zest it up.
  • Stock up on seasonal, quality snack foods including fruits, nuts and seeds. Instead of reaching for that bag of chips to satisfy your craving opt for carrot sticks and your favorite flavor of hummus. I happen to love red pepper....and lentil spread is totally growing on me! Try Oasis Classic Cuisine Lentil Dip with some gluten free Mary’s Crackers (flax and onion are the best!).
  • To boost the nutritional quality of your favorite pasta dish, always add additional vegetables. Brown rice pasta tossed with garlic, tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms is a staple in my house. The pasta, vegetable variations are truly endless.

Do It Ahead

When you're doing it all yourself, it's best to do it ahead. Spend some kitchen time on nights or weekends for easy meal prep during the week. And always prepare and try to stick to a weekly meal plan. This will help limit your snacking and you will save money on eating out last minute.

  • Plan - Keep an ongoing shopping list so you always have nutritious, easy-to-prepare ingredients on hand.
  • Pre-prep when you can. Put breakfast cereal and bowls on the table or put together a packed lunch the night before. Assemble tomorrow's casserole while you clean up from tonight's dinner. Wash and slice raw veggies ahead so they're ready for snacking, salads, or a stir-fry.
  • Make double or triple batches. With soup, stew, salads (i.e., pasta salad or bean salad), sauce, or whole grains, such as brown rice, you can make enough at a time for several meals. Or prepare two casseroles at a time - one for now, one to freeze for later.
  • Cook once for two different dishes/meals. For example, each Sunday evening I (try to) make a large batch of brown rice that will last for 3-4 meals. Sunday night dinner is grilled salmon with brown rice, Monday breakfast is a brown rice porridge with almonds, So Delicious coconut milk and dried cherries and Monday night it’s stir fry! Cook once and eat many times. You can also prepare hearty vegetable soup on Sunday; add chicken or beans and rice for variation on Tuesday. Cook plenty of brown rice or whole wheat pasta - some for tonight's primavera, some for tomorrow's pasta salad. The options really are endless.

Simply because life is busy doesn’t mean we can let our nourishment fall short. Besides if you don’t fuel that machine called your body with the proper nutrition, one day it will break down.

Keep it Fresh!

~ Terra

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization, Part VIII

Three Case Studies in Occlusion

In this post, I'll review three cultures with different degrees of malocclusion over time, and try to explain how the factors I've discussed may have played a role.

The Xavante of Simoes Lopes

In 1966, Dr. Jerry D. Niswander published a paper titled "The Oral Status of the Xavantes of Simoes Lopes", describing the dental health and occlusion of 166 Brazilian hunter-gatherers from the Xavante tribe (free full text). This tribe was living predominantly according to tradition, although they had begun trading with the post at Simoes Lopes for some foods. They made little effort to clean their teeth. They were mostly but not entirely free of dental cavities:
Approximately 33% of the Xavantes at Simoes Lopes were caries free. Neel et al. (1964) noted almost complete absence of dental caries in the Xavante village at Sao Domingos. The difference in the two villages may at least in part be accounted for by the fact that, for some five years, the Simoes Lopes Xavante have had access to sugar cane, whereas none was grown at Sao Domingos. It would appear that, although these Xavantes still enjoy relative freedom from dental caries, this advantage is disappearing after only six years of permanent contact with a post of the Indian Protective Service.
The most striking thing about these data is the occlusion of the Xavante. 95 percent had ideal occlusion. The remaining 5 percent had nothing more than a mild crowding of the incisors (front teeth). Niswander didn't observe a single case of underbite or overbite. This would have been truly exceptional in an industrial population. Niswander continues:
Characteristically, the Xavante adults exhibited broad dental arches, almost perfectly aligned teeth, end-to-end bite, and extensive dental attrition. At 18-20 years of age, the teeth were so worn as to almost totally obliterate the cusp patterns, leaving flat chewing surfaces.
The Xavante were clearly hard on their teeth, and their predominantly hunter-gatherer lifestyle demanded it. They practiced a bit of "rudimentary agriculture" of corn, beans and squash, which would sustain them for a short period of the year devoted to ceremonies. Dr. James V. Neel describes their diet (free full text):
Despite a rudimentary agriculture, the Xavante depend very heavily on the wild products which they gather. They eat numerous varieties of roots in large quantities, which provide a nourishing, if starchy, diet. These roots are available all year but are particularly important in the Xavante diet from April to June in the first half of the dry season when there are no more fruits. The maize harvest does not last long and is usually saved for a period of ceremonies. Until the second harvest of beans and pumpkins, the Xavante subsist largely on roots and palmito (Chamacrops sp.), their year-round staples.

From late August until mid-February, there are also plenty of nuts and fruits available. The earliest and most important in their diet is the carob or ceretona (Ceretona sp.), sometimes known as St. John's bread. Later come the fruits of the buriti palm (Mauritia sp.) and the piqui (Caryocar sp.). These are the basis of the food supply throughout the rainy season. Other fruits, such as mangoes, genipapo (Genipa americana), and a number of still unidentified varieties are also available.

The casual observer could easily be misled into thinking that the Xavante "live on meat." Certainly they talk a great deal about meat, which is the most highly esteemed food among them, in some respects the only commodity which they really consider "food" at all... They do not eat meat every day and may go without meat for several days at a stretch, but the gathered products of the region are always available for consumption in the community.

Recently, the Xavante have begun to eat large quantities of fish.
The Xavante are an example of humans living an ancestral lifestyle, and their occlusion shows it. They have the best occlusion of any living population I've encountered so far. Here's why I think that's the case:
  • A nutrient-rich, whole foods diet, presumably including organs.
  • On-demand breast feeding for two or more years.
  • No bottle-feeding or modern pacifiers.
  • Tough foods on a regular basis.
I don't have any information on how the Xavante have changed over time, but Niswander did present data on another nearby (and genetically similar) tribe called the Bakairi that had been using a substantial amount of modern foods for some time. The Bakairi, living right next to the Xavante but eating modern foods from the trading post, had 9 times more malocclusion and nearly 10 times more cavities than the Xavante. Here's what Niswander had to say:
Severe abrasion was not apparent among the Bakairi, and the dental arches did not appear as broad and massive as in the Xavantes. Dental caries and malocclusion were strikingly more prevalent; and, although not recorded systematically, the Bakairi also showed considerably more periodontal disease. If it can be assumed that the Bakairi once enjoyed a freedom from dental disease and malocclusion equal to that now exhibited by the Xavantes, the available data suggest that the changes in occlusal patterns as well as caries and periodontal disease have been too rapid to be accounted for by an hypothesis involving relaxed [genetic] selection.
The Masai of Kenya

The Masai are traditionally a pastoral people who live almost exclusively from their cattle. In 1945, and again in 1952, Dr. J. Schwartz examined the teeth of 408 and 273 Masai, respectively (#1 free full text; #2 ref). In the first study, he found that 8 percent of Masai showed some form of malocclusion, while in the second study, only 0.4 percent of Masai were maloccluded. Although we don't know what his precise criteria were for diagnosing malocclusion, these are still very low numbers.

In both studies, 4 percent of Masai had cavities. Between the two studies, Schwartz found 67 cavities in 21,792 teeth, or 0.3 percent of teeth affected. This is almost exactly what Dr. Weston Price found when he visited them in 1935. From Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, page 138:
In the Masai tribe, a study of 2,516 teeth in eighty-eight individuals distributed through several widely separated manyatas showed only four individuals with caries. These had a total of ten carious teeth, or only 0.4 per cent of the teeth attacked by tooth decay.
Dr. Schwartz describes their diet:
The principal food of the Masai is milk, meat and blood, the latter obtained by bleeding their cattle... The Masai have ample means with which to get maize meal and fresh vegetables but these foodstuffs are known only to those who work in town. It is impossible to induce a Masai to plant their own maize or vegetables near their huts.
This is essentially the same description Price gave during his visit. The Masai were not hunter-gatherers, but their traditional lifestyle was close enough to allow good occlusion. Here's why I think the Masai had good occlusion:
  • A nutrient-dense diet rich in protein and fat-soluble vitamins from pastured dairy.
  • On-demand breast feeding for two or more years.
  • No bottle feeding or modern pacifiers.
The one factor they lack is tough food. Their diet, composed mainly of milk and blood, is predominantly liquid. Although I think food toughness is a factor, this shows that good occlusion is not entirely dependent on tough food.

Sadly, the lifestyle and occlusion of the Masai has changed in the intervening decades. A paper from 1992 described their modern diet:
The main articles of diet were white maize, [presumably heavily sweetened] tea, milk, [white] rice, and beans. Traditional items were rarely eaten... Milk... was not mentioned by 30% of mothers.
A paper from 1993 described the occlusion of 235 young Masai attending rural and peri-urban schools. Nearly all showed some degree of malocclusion, with open bite alone affecting 18 percent.

Rural Caucasians in Kentucky

It's always difficult to find examples of Caucasian populations living traditional lifestyles, because most Caucasian populations adopted the industrial lifestyle long ago. That's why I was grateful to find a study by Dr. Robert S. Corruccini, published in 1981, titled "Occlusal Variation in a Rural Kentucky Community" (ref).

This study examined a group of isolated Caucasians living in the Mammoth Cave region of Kentucky, USA. Corruccini arrived during a time of transition between traditional and modern foodways. He describes the traditional lifestyle as follows:
Much of the traditional way of life of these people (all white) has been maintained, but two major changes have been the movement of industry and mechanized farming into the area in the last 25 years. Traditionally, tobacco (the only cash crop), gardens, and orchards were grown by each family. Apples, pears, cherries, plums, peaches, potatoes, corn, green beans, peas, squash, peppers, cucumbers, and onions were grown for consumption, and fruits and nuts, grapes, and teas were gathered by individuals. In the diet of these people, dried pork and fried [presumably in lard], thick-crust cornbread (which were important winter staples) provided consistently stressful chewing. Hunting is still very common in the area.
Although it isn't mentioned in the paper, this group, like nearly all traditionally-living populations, probably did not waste the organs or bones of the animals it ate. Altogether, it appears to be an excellent and varied diet, based on whole foods, and containing all the elements necessary for good occlusion and overall health.

The older generation of this population has the best occlusion of any Caucasian population I've ever seen, rivaling some hunter-gatherer groups. This shows that Caucasians are not genetically doomed to malocclusion. The younger generation, living on more modern foods, shows very poor occlusion, among the worst I've seen. They also show narrowed arches, a characteristic feature of deteriorating occlusion. One generation is all it takes. Corruccini found that a higher malocclusion score was associated with softer, more industrial foods.

Here are the reasons I believe this group of Caucasians in Kentucky had good occlusion:
  • A nutrient-rich, whole foods diet, presumably including organs.
  • Prolonged breast feeding.
  • No bottle-feeding or modern pacifiers.
  • Tough foods on a regular basis.
Common Ground

I hope you can see that populations with excellent teeth do certain things in common, and that straying from those principles puts the next generation at a high risk of malocclusion. Malocclusion is a serious problem that has major implications for health, well-being and finances. In the next post, I'll give a simplified summary of everything I've covered in this series. Then it's back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Friend Shout Out: Citizens for a GMO Free World

Today's Friday Friend Shout Out is dedicated to Citizens for a GMO Free World. Founded by 15 graduates from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, including our friend and Co-Leader of the Holistic Moms Network of Monmouth County, NJ, Dawne Vrabel. Citizens is an organization dedicated to removing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from our natural food sources. They work tirelessly advocating for the labeling and/or removal of GMOs from our food supply.

According to one estimate, GM foods are present in approximately 80% of dpackaged food products in America. As many of you know, Americans increasingly rely on packaged products for the majority of their meals. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) had called for an immediate moratorium on GMO foods because doctors believe they pose a serious health risk. GM products also cross-polinate with neighboring crops, unintentionally modifying much of our food system and deeply impacting farmers. Unlike pharmaceuticals, GM crops cannot simply be removed from the system, the continued cultivation of GM crops is altering beyond viability the very foundation of our health and society: our food.

Unfortunately, American consumers and farmers continue to be denied the simple, inalienable right to choose what we produce and what we eat because labeling of GM foods is not currently required. In fact, in the US, foods may legally contain up to 10% GMO material and still be considered organic (in the EU, it's 0.9%). In three separate federal cases, US courts ruled that the USDA, specifically the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, violated the National Environmental Policy act by not providing and Environmental Impact Study on the impact to an ecosystem or farmers due to cross contamination. The USDA has admitted that they do not have policy or screening measure to identify, or weed out, a shipment of unapproved GMOs unknown to the regulatory system.

Citizens for a GMO Free World are at the forefront of activism towards the labeling of GMOs and removing GMOs from our food sources. This summer, they reached out to First Lady, Michelle Obama, sending a letter to request her assistance and created a petition to place an immediate moratorium on all GM crops, among other requests.

Citizens for a GMO Free World, you've taken on Goliath and we commend and support you! Keep up the fabulous work!

To learn more about GMOs please click here.

Keep it Fresh!
~ Terra

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization, Part VII

Jaw Development During Adolescence

Beginning at about age 11, the skull undergoes a growth spurt. This corresponds roughly with the growth spurt in the rest of the body, with the precise timing depending on gender and other factors. Growth continues until about age 17, when the last skull sutures cease growing and slowly fuse. One of these sutures runs along the center of the maxillary arch (the arch in the upper jaw), and contributes to the widening of the upper arch*:

This growth process involves MGP and osteocalcin, both vitamin K-dependent proteins. At the end of adolescence, the jaws have reached their final size and shape, and should be large enough to accommodate all teeth without crowding. This includes the third molars, or wisdom teeth, which will erupt shortly after this period.

Reduced Food Toughness Correlates with Malocclusion in Humans

When Dr. Robert Corruccini published his seminal paper in 1984 documenting rapid changes in occlusion in cultures around the world adopting modern foodways and lifestyles (see this post), he presented the theory that occlusion is influenced by chewing stress. In other words, the jaws require good exercise on a regular basis during growth to develop normal-sized bones and muscles. Although Dr. Corruccini wasn't the first to come up with the idea, he has probably done more than anyone else to advance it over the years.

Dr. Corruccini's paper is based on years of research in transitioning cultures, much of which he conducted personally. In 1981, he published a study of a rural Kentucky community in the process of adopting the modern diet and lifestyle. Their traditional diet was predominantly dried pork, cornbread fried in lard, game meat and home-grown fruit, vegetables and nuts. The older generation, raised on traditional foods, had much better occlusion than the younger generation, which had transitioned to softer and less nutritious modern foods. Dr. Corruccini found that food toughness correlated with proper occlusion in this population.

In another study published in 1985, Dr. Corruccini studied rural and urban Bengali youths. After collecting a variety of diet and socioeconomic information, he found that food toughness was the single best predictor of occlusion. Individuals who ate the toughest food had the best teeth. The second strongest association was a history of thumb sucking, which was associated with a higher prevalence of malocclusion**. Interestingly, twice as many urban youths had a history of thumb sucking as rural youths.

Not only do hunter-gatherers eat tough foods on a regular basis, they also often use their jaws as tools. For example, the anthropologist and arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson described how the Inuit chewed their leather boots and jackets nearly every day to soften them or prepare them for sewing. This is reflected in the extreme tooth wear of traditional Inuit and other hunter-gatherers.

Soft Food Causes Malocclusion in Animals

Now we have a bunch of associations that may or may not represent a cause-effect relationship. However, Dr. Corruccini and others have shown in a variety of animal models that soft food can produce malocclusion, independent of nutrition.

The first study was conducted in 1951. Investigators fed rats typical dry chow pellets, or the same pellets that had been crushed and softened in water. Rats fed the softened food during growth developed narrow arches and small mandibles (lower jaws) relative to rats fed dry pellets.

Other research groups have since repeated the findings in rodents, pigs and several species of primates (squirrel monkeys, baboons, and macaques). Animals typically developed narrow arches, a central aspect of malocclusion in modern humans. Some of the primates fed soft foods showed other malocclusions highly reminiscent of modern humans as well, such as crowded incisors and impacted third molars. These traits are exceptionally rare in wild primates.

One criticism of these studies is that they used extremely soft foods that are softer than the typical modern diet. This is how science works: you go for the extreme effects first. Then, if you see something, you refine your experiments. One of the most refined experiments I've seen so far was published by Dr. Daniel E. Leiberman of Harvard's anthropology department. They used the rock hyrax, an animal with a skull that bears some similarities to the human skull***.

Instead of feeding the animals hard food vs. mush, they fed them raw and dried food vs. cooked. This is closer to the situation in humans, where food is soft but still has some consistency. Hyrax fed cooked food showed a mild jaw underdevelopment reminiscent of modern humans. The underdeveloped areas were precisely those that received less strain during chewing.

Implications and Practical Considerations

Besides the direct implications for the developing jaws and face, I think this also suggests that physical stress may influence the development of other parts of the skeleton. Hunter-gatherers generally have thicker bones, larger joints, and more consistently well-developed shoulders and hips than modern humans. Physical stress is part of the human evolutionary template, and is probably critical for the normal development of the skeleton.

I think it's likely that food consistency influences occlusion in humans. In my opinion, it's a good idea to regularly include tough foods in a child's diet as soon as she is able to chew them properly and safely. This probably means waiting at least until the deciduous (baby) molars have erupted fully. Jerky, raw vegetables and fruit, tough cuts of meat, nuts, dry sausages, dried fruit, chicken bones and roasted corn are a few things that should stress the muscles and bones of the jaws and face enough to encourage normal development.

* These data represent many years of measurements collected by Dr. Arne Bjork, who used metallic implants in the maxilla to make precise measurements of arch growth over time in Danish youths. The graph is reproduced from the book A Synopsis of Craniofacial Growth, by Dr. Don M. Ranly. Data come from Dr. Bjork's findings published in the book Postnatal Growth and Development of the Maxillary Complex. You can see some of Dr. Bjork's data in the paper "Sutural Growth of the Upper Face Studied by the Implant Method" (free full text).

** I don't know if this was statistically significant at p less than 0.05. Dr. Corruccini uses a cutoff point of p less than 0.01 throughout the paper. He's a tough guy when it comes to statistics!

*** Retrognathic.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow Down, Be Thankful, Enjoy the Moment....

Who doesn’t feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day? I regularly try to pack 36 into 24. Often we rush through the day, running here and there, and end up exhausted. I have definitely been guilty of this in the past few weeks. Somehow these days full of duties, obligations and busyness have begun to build up and become our lives. We’ve come to believe that being productive and crossing things off our to-do list is the ultimate goal.

The truth is, life on Earth is a brief gift, and our time is too precious to be used like this. The ultimate goal isn't to cross things off our to-do list, but to savor every moment of life. If we want our lives to be balanced and healthy, we need to lessen our load and increase our down time. This means planning less in a day, prioritizing those things that make our hearts sing and de-prioritizing those things that are not imperative.

If we must accomplish many things each day, we can still change the quality with which we do things. How can we transmute that sprint to the train into something delicious instead of the usual gripping and tightening experience? Today, instead of waiting in frustration at Staples for my print job, I treated myself to a sushi dinner. I found ease and enjoyment in the midst of stress. Taking time to enjoy my dinner was one way today I attempted to cultivate the art of going slowly.

Take a few moments before you climb out of bed in the morning to remember your dreams and to think about what you want from the day. Give thanks for all that you have. Leave your watch on the bedside table. Take the scenic route. Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Check email only twice a day. Don’t pack your schedule so tightly that there’s no time for a short walk. Light candles before you start to cook dinner. Enjoy a glass of wine. Add one moment here and there for slowness; it can be done simply and will have a profound effect on your well-being.

Keep it Fresh!
~ Terra

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Friend Shout Out: Gardens For Health International

This friday I would like to give a big shout out to a small organization in Kigali, Rwanda called Gardens For Health.

When I decided to move to Rwanda I knew that I wanted to use my health counseling training to do work here that involved nutritional counseling, but I wasn’t sure what opportunities I would find. So I began searching the internet for organizations that might have opportunities for me, that I could also feel good about working with.

When I came across Gardens for Health I was both impressed and excited, as it seemed a perfect fit for me. To date, GHI (Gardens for Health International) works with 10 different co-operatives in the Gasabo district of Kigali, an area on the outskirts of the urban center of the city. They have teamed up with these co-ops in order to supply land for planting gardens that not only feed households who have members living with HIV/AIDS, but also teach members of those households how to plant, sustain and harvest the crops. With this, they can maintain a level of food security, all while introducing them to healthy foods to support their immune systems, which is essential while being treated with antiretroviral therapy. Most of the crops that are grown on the co-operative land are used directly to feed the households, but they are also starting to grow maize (corn), a main component used in food aid in impoverished countries, that can be sold and used to support the families’ incomes.

GHI also supports 150 individual households by supplying them with seeds and tools to start their own home garden. I will be helping GHI conduct surveys with these households to see how well they are sustaining their gardens and how well they benefit from them.

All pretty amazing right? Even more impressive is that the organization is run in Kigali by country director Julie Carney, a 23 year old fellow New Jersian! Julie leads a team consisting of two agronomists, a nutritionist, and a project coordinator, to make sure that the communities and cooperatives are working together seamlessly, providing security to those in need.

The first time that I met Julie, she was showing me GHI’s demo garden when a beautiful young girl named Francoise came to visit. I took the photo above of Francoise picking dodo, a local green in the demo garden that day. When I inquired about the girl, Julie told me that her mother, a former prostitute who suffers from AIDS, is one of the members that participates in their program. She also told me of 14 year old Francoise’s battle with cancer. She had lived with a massive tumor for many many years that was recently removed and she is now receiving chemotherapy at a local hospital. I was further impressed by Julie’s compassion for helping people when I asked how Francoise's family can afford the medical bills and she admitted that she has paid for Francoise’s operation and chemo treatments herself.

I am so happy to be able to help out Julie and Gardens for Health as much as I can while I stay here in Rwanda. I can not wait to visit the homes of their members and see first hand what they have done to help them!

You, too can help GHI receive funding by voting for GHI as a favorite hunger-related charity. Vote by visiting the following website, clicking on the yellow “give here” button, scroll to the Hunger Charity Poll and vote for Gardens for Health! You will help out Julie and her team and feed the hungry in the process!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Food Safety Modernization Act: Take Action to Protect Fresh Growers

Wednesday, November 18th the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to move forward for full vote. FSMA grants the FDA more power to regulate and oversee the nation's food supply is gaining popular support. Generally, FSMA requires the FDA to step up on inspections and promulgate new rules to improve food quality and prevent contamination in fresh produce. In its call to action, the bill intends to "protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination." The bill was introduced to the House (and passed) last year after the flurry of ecol i scares that ripped spinach, peanut butter and pistachios off supermarket shelves from Maine to California. While government always seems well intentioned, the results of the legislation may inevitably cause more harm to Jersey growers and organic consumers than good.

While it is not my intention to get on an FDA soapbox and their modernization approach to pharmaceutical-health care. I call it Pharmaceutical Health Care because our health care system today is actually a drug care system. FDA's modernization contributes to thousands of drug-related deaths and leads to the fast track approval of many unsafe drugs that are inevitably recalled. Additionally, the FDA is increasingly dependent upon the financial support it receives in the form of registration fees from big pharma. Do we really want corporate farming in the back-pocket along with the pharmaceutical industry? I am quite sure Monsanto does, but that's another blog post entirely.

Modernization is a green light to corporate everything... specifically factory farming. This approach to the age old practice of farming and food supply simply isn't working. Developing an arsenic spray for beef to eliminate e coli isn't the answer. Factory farming is making us sicker. Corporate farming has been the source of the most egregious threats to our food so far. If passed, FSMA will give powerful incentives to large, concentrated food manufacturers. These incentives coupled with imposing burdensome record-keeping requirements on farmers, would contribute to the eventual closing of the already struggling smaller, safer, local, Jersey Fresh farmer. Modernization and corporate farming and further regulation is not the answer. It's bad for the environment and it's bad for our health.

One of the main reasons we Healthy Chicks do what we do and blog about is is to urge our readers and clients to practice healthy, sustainable living by eating locally grown produce. We're very lucky to live in the Garden State and have access to such an abundance of fresh produce. From May through October we are blessed with the opportunity to shop for produce grown by Jersey Farmers at more than 130 farmer's markets and farm stands state wide. Local foods produced by small farms and small-scale food producers benefit both the local economy and consumers.

As with most blessings, you have to work hard to ensure you continue to receive them. Now more than ever we need our readers to reach out to their representatives and let them know that FMSA as written is bad for local growers! TAKE ACTION: Call your U.S. Representative and Senators. If you do not know who represents you, you can find out at or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to the staffer who handles food safety issues.

Talk with the staffer about why you support local foods. Tell them you oppose S510 Ask that they support a food safety bill that focuses on the real threats to food safety, such as lack of inspections of massive slaughterhouses and other factory processing.

Tell them you want any food safety bill to explicitly exempt small farmers. Explain that this issue cannot be left to the agencies' discretion, and you want new regulations expressly applicable to the large factory farms and processing facilities, not small and local producers.

New Jersey State Senators:
Contact Frank Lautenberg (D)
Contact Robert Menendez (D)

hmmm this post got me all fired up! I am ready to take on the step at a time. You should be to! ;-)

Keep it Fresh!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keep it FRESH! Oh yeah!!

Hello all to all of the beautiful followers out there in blog land!! I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for all of you that faithfully follow and read our blog. Your comments and encouragement have helped 3 Healthy Chicks keep loving what we do. AND WE LOVE IT!!!

We have a lot of really amazing things coming up in the next few months that we wanted to let you know about. Our first newsletter will be published and sent out very shortly. If you aren't already on our email list, please join! You can sign up on the safe subscribe button below!

Second, get your Tivo and DVR ready, because 3 Healthy Chicks are going to be on News 12 NJ!!! Well, actually it will be just Lauren and I as Jill is busy being a do-gooder in Rwanda. For those of you that didn't know, Jill is currently volunteering for Gardens of Health in Kigali, Rwanda where she is working with HIV/AIDS clients helping them to make better nutritional choices. So proud of her! But anyway- back to the NEWS!! Tune in on Saturday, December 12th at 9:30am and 1:30pm and Sunday, December 13th at 9:30am and 1:30pm. You'll have 4 opportunities to see us!

We have a multitude of workshops and offerings coming up in the next two months, so please sign up for the Newsletter and find out more!

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Keep it Fresh!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization, Part VI

Early Postnatal Face and Jaw Development

The face and jaws change more from birth to age four than at any other period of development after birth. At birth, infants have no teeth and their skull bones have not yet fused, allowing rapid growth. This period has a strong influence on the development of the jaws and face. The majority of malocclusions are established by the end this stage of development. Birth is the point at which the infant begins using its jaws and facial musculature in earnest.

The development of the jaws and face is very plastic, particularly during this period. Genes do not determine the absolute size or shape of any body structure. Genes carry the blueprint for all structures, and influence their size and shape, but structures develop relative to one another and in response to the forces applied to them during growth. This is how orthodontists can change tooth alignment and occlusion by applying force to the teeth and jaws.

Influences on Early Postnatal Face and Jaw Development

In 1987, Miriam H. Labbok and colleagues published a subset of the results of the National Health Interview survey (now called NHANES) in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Their article was provocatively titled "Does Breast-feeding Protect Against Malocclusion"? The study examined the occlusion of nearly 10,000 children, and interviewed the parents to determine the duration of breast feeding. Here's what they found:

The longer the infants were breastfed, the lower their likelihood of major malocclusion. The longest category was "greater than 12 months", in which the prevalence of malocclusion was less than half that of infants who were breastfed for three months or less. Hunter-gatherers and other non-industrial populations typically breastfeed for 2-4 years, but this is rare in affluent nations. Only two percent of the mothers in this study breastfed for longer than one year.

The prevalence and duration of breastfeeding have increased dramatically in the US since the 1970s, with the prevalence doubling between 1970 and 1980 (NHANES). The prevalence of malocclusion in the US has decreased somewhat in the last half-century, but is still very common (NHANES).

Several, but not all studies have found that infants who were breastfed have a smaller risk of malocclusion later in life (1, 2, 3). However, what has been more consistent is the association between non-nutritive sucking and malocclusion. Non-nutritive sucking (NNS) is when a child sucks on an object without getting calories out of it. This includes pacifier sucking, which is strongly associated with malocclusion*, and finger sucking, which is also associated to a lesser degree.

The longer a child engages in NNS, the higher his or her risk of malocclusion. The following graph is based on data from a study of nearly 700 children in Iowa (free full text). It charts the prevalence of three types of malocclusion (anterior open bite, posterior crossbite and excessive overjet) broken down by the duration of the NNS habit:

As you can see, there's a massive association. Children who sucked pacifiers or their fingers for more than four years had a 71 percent chance of having one of these three specific types of malocclusion, compared with 14 percent of children who sucked for less than a year. The association between NNS and malocclusion appeared after two years of NNS. Other studies have come to similar conclusions, including a 2006 literature review (1, 2, 3).

Bottle feeding, as opposed to direct breast feeding, is also associated with a higher risk of malocclusion (1, 2). One of the most important functions of breast feeding may be to displace NNS and bottle feeding. Hunter-gatherers and non-industrial cultures breast fed their children on demand, typically for 2-4 years, in addition to giving them solid food.

In my opinion, it's likely that NNS beyond two years of age, and bottle feeding to a lesser extent, cause a large proportion of the malocclusions in modern societies. Pacifier use seems to be particularly problematic, and finger sucking to a lesser degree.

How Do Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding and NNS Affect Occlusion?

Since jaw development is influenced by the forces applied to them, it makes sense that the type of feeding during this period could have a major impact on occlusion. Children who have a prolonged pacifier habit are at high risk for open bite, a type of malocclusion in which the incisors don't come together when the jaws are closed. You can see a picture here. The teeth and jaws mold to the shape of the pacifier over time. This is because the growth patterns of bones respond to the forces that are applied to them. I suspect this is true for other parts of the skeleton as well.

Any force applied to the jaws that does not approximate the natural forces of breastfeeding or chewing and swallowing food, will put a child at risk of malocclusion during this period of his or her life. This includes NNS and bottle feeding. Pacifier sucking, finger sucking and bottle feeding promote patterns of muscular activity that result in weak jaw muscles and abnormal development of bony structures, whereas breastfeeding, chewing and swallowing strengthen jaw muscles and promote normal development (review article). This makes sense, because our species evolved in an environment where the breast and solid foods were the predominant objects that entered a child's mouth.

What Can We do About it?

In an ideal world (ideal for occlusion), mothers would breast feed on demand for 2-4 years, and introduce solid food about halfway through the first year, as our species has done since the beginning of time. For better or worse, we live in a different world than our ancestors, so this strategy will be difficult or impossible for many people. Are there any alternatives?

Parents like bottle feeding because it's convenient. Milk can be prepared in advance, the mother doesn't have to be present, feeding takes less time, and the parents can see exactly how much milk the child has consumed. One alternative to bottle feeding that's just as convenient is cup feeding. Cup feeding, as opposed to bottle feeding, promotes natural swallowing motions, which are important for correct development. The only study I found that examined the effect of cup feeding on occlusion found that cup-fed children developed fewer malocclusion and breathing problems than bottle-fed children.

Cup feeding has a long history of use. Several studies have found it to be safe and effective. It appears to be a good alternative to bottle feeding, that should not require any more time or effort.

What about pacifiers? Parents know that pacifiers make babies easier to manage, so they will be reluctant to give them up. Certain pacifier designs may be more detrimental than others. I came across the abstract of a study evaluating an "orthodontic pacifier" called the Dentistar, made by Novatex. The frequency of malocclusion was much lower in children who did not use a pacifier or used the Dentistar, than in those who used a more conventional pacifier. This study was funded by Novatex, but was conducted at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany**. The pacifier has a spoon-like shape that allows normal tongue movement and exerts minimal pressure on the incisors. There may be other brands with a similar design.

The ideal is to avoid bottle feeding and pacifiers entirely. However, cup feeding and orthodontic pacifiers appear to be acceptable alternatives that minimize the risk of malocclusion during this critical developmental window.

* Particularly anterior open bite and posterior crossbite.

** I have no connection whatsoever to this company. I think the results of the trial are probably valid, but should be replicated.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday Friend Shout Out: Onsen For All

This week's Friday Friend Shout out is to Onsen For All in historic Village of Kingston, just outside of Princeton, NJ. Onsen is a Japanese term for hot springs. While there aren't any natural hot springs in New Jersey, Onsen For All offers beautiful outside Japanese-style spa gardens, four large wooden soaking hot tubs and a wood burning suna.

The hot tubs at Onsen for All use bromine salt technology to sanitize the water. No chlorine or other chemicals are needed and the water meets all health department requirements for sanitation. The garden features a private Women's soaking tub, a private Men's soaking tub, a Communal soaking tub, and a private soaking tub for rental by individuals or private groups Onsen for All offers the opportunity to enjoy the life enhancing practice of hot tub soaking at an affordable price in Central New Jersey.

In addition to the soaking tubs, Onsen offers a full spectrum of healing and self-care modalities through their Full Circle Wellness. This concept offers support for individuals from all walks of life who are seeking an affordable, positive, pro-active approach to a healthy and balanced life. Offerings include: massage and body work, spa treatments, yoga and special events and workshops.

Please join us for 2 workshops at Onsen in December and January:

December 10, 2009 6:30pm -8:30pm
Relaxation and Rejuvenation: Creating a Nourishment Menu to Feed Your Soul
: As the holiday season comes into full swing, take some time out to relax and find your own personal soul food. In this workshop you will learn breathwork for relaxation and rejuvenation, create a nourishment menu that will provide perspective, clarity and creativity to nourish your soul and make and take home your own Fizzy Green Bath Bomb. Nourish your body and soul before you embark on 2010! $45 per person. Click here to register.

January 7, 2010 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Vision Board Workshop: A Visual Guide to Manifesting Your Best Life: Please join us for an evening of meditation, inspiration and crafting your own Vision Board. Journey through the Law of Attraction creating a vision board to manifest your best life! In this workshop you will learn the basic tool to implement the Law of Attraction, enjoy a guided meditation visualizing your future and create a vision board reflecting that future to take home with you. This workshop will assist you in getting clear on your intentions to manifest your best life! $35 per person. Click here to register.

Congratulations on your Grand Opening, Onsen! You are swiftly moving to become a true gem in New Jersey!

Keep it Fresh!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization, Part V

Prenatal Development of the Face and Jaws

The structures of the face and jaws take shape during the first trimester of pregnancy. The 5th to 11th weeks of pregnancy are particularly crucial for occlusion, because this is when the jaws, nasal septum and other cranial structures form. The nasal septum is the piece of cartilage that forms the structure of the nose and separates the two air passages as they enter the nostrils.

Maternal Nutritional Status Affects Fetal Development

Abnormal nutrient status can lead to several types of birth defects. Vitamin A is an essential signaling molecule during development. Both deficiency and excess can cause birth defects, with the effects predominantly targeting the cranium and nervous system, respectively. Folic acid deficiency causes birth defects of the brain and spine. Other nutrients such as vitamin B12 may influence the risk of birth defects as well*.

The Role of Vitamin K

As early as the 1970s, physicians began noting characteristic developmental abnormalities in infants whose mothers took the blood-thinning drug warfarin (coumadin) during the first trimester of pregnancy. These infants showed an underdevelopment of the nasal septum, the maxilla (upper jaw), small or absent sinuses, and a characteristic "dished" face. This eventually resulted in narrow dental arches, severe malocclusion and tooth crowding**. The whole spectrum was called Binder's syndrome, or warfarin embryopathy.

Warfarin works by inhibiting vitamin K recycling, thus depleting a nutrient necessary for normal blood clotting.
It's now clear that Binder's syndrome can result from anything that interferes with vitamin K status during the first trimester of pregnancy. This includes warfarin, certain anti-epilepsy drugs, certain antibiotics, genetic mutations that interfere with vitamin K status, and celiac disease (intestinal damage due to gluten).

Why is vitamin K important for the development of the jaws and face of the fetus? Vitamin K is required to activate a protein called matrix gla protein (MGP), which prevents unwanted calcification of the nasal septum in the developing fetus (among
other things). If this protein isn't activated by vitamin K during the critical developmental window, calcium deposits form in the nasal septum, stunting its growth and also stunting the growth of the maxilla and sinuses. Low activity of MGP appears to be largely responsible for Binder's syndrome, since the syndrome can be caused by genetic mutations in MGP in humans. Small or absent sinuses are common in the general population.

One of the interesting things about MGP is its apparent preference for vitamin K2 over vitamin K1.
Vitamin K1 is found predominantly in green vegetables, and is sufficient to activate blood clotting factors and probably some other vitamin K-dependent proteins. "Vitamin K2" refers to a collection of molecules known as menaquinones. These are denoted as "MK", followed by a number indicating the length of the side chain attached to the quinone ring.

Biologically important menaquinones are MK-4 through MK-12 or so. MK-4 is the form that animals synthesize from vitamin K1 for their own use. Certain organs (brain, pancreas, salivary gland, arteries) preferentially accumulate K2 MK-4, and certain cellular processes are also selective for K2 MK-4 (
MGP activation, PKA-dependent transcriptional effects). Vitamin K2 MK-4 is found almost exclusively in animal foods, particularly pastured butter, organs and eggs. It is always found in foods designed to nourish growing animals, such as eggs and milk.

Humans have the ability to convert K1 to K2 when K1 is ingested in artificially large amounts. However, due to the limited absorption of normal dietary sources of K1 and the unknown conversion efficiency, it's unclear how much green vegetables contribute to K2 status. Serum vitamin K1 reaches a plateau at about 200 micrograms per day of dietary K1 intake, the equivalent of 1/4 cup of cooked spinach (see figure 1 of this paper). Still, I think eating green vegetables regularly is a good idea, and may contribute to K2 status.
Other menaquinones such as MK-7 (found in natto) may contribute to K2 status as well, but this question has not been resolved.

Severe vitamin K deficiency clearly impacts occlusion. Could more subtle deficiency lead to a less pronounced form of the same developmental syndrome? Here are a few facts about vitamin K relevant to this question:
  • In industrial societies, newborns are typically vitamin K deficient. This is reflected by the fact that in the US, nearly all newborns are given vitamin K1 at birth to prevent potentially fatal hemorrhage. In Japan, infants are given vitamin K2 MK-4, which is equally effective at preventing hemmorhage.
  • Fetuses generally have low vitamin K status, as measured by the activity of their clotting factors.
  • The human placenta transports vitamin K across the placental barrier and accumulates it. This transport mechanism is highly selective for vitamin K2 MK-4 over K1.
  • The concentration of K1 in maternal blood is much higher than its concentration in umbilical cord blood, whereas the concentration of K2 in maternal blood is similar to the concentration in cord blood. Vitamin K2 MK-7 is undetectable in cord blood, even when supplemented, suggesting that MK-7 is not an adequate substitute for MK-4 during pregnancy.
  • In rat experiments, arterial calcification due to warfarin was inhibited by vitamin K2 MK-4, but not vitamin K1. This is probably due to K2's ability to activate MGP, the same protein required for the normal development of the human face and jaws.
  • The human mammary gland appears to be the most capable organ at converting vitamin K1 to K2 MK-4.
Together, this suggests that in industrial societies, fetuses and infants are vitamin K deficient, to the point of being susceptible to fatal hemorrhage. It also suggests that vitamin K2 MK-4 plays a critical role in fetal and early postnatal development. Could subclinical vitamin K2 deficiency be contributing to the high prevalence of malocclusion in modern societies?

An Ounce of Prevention

Vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin D and vitamin K2 are all nutrients with a long turnover time. Body stores of these nutrients depend on long-term intake. Thus, the nutritional status of the fetus during the first trimester reflects what the mother has been eating for several months
before conception.

Dr. Weston Price noted that a number of the traditional societies he visited prepared women of childbearing age for healthy pregnancies by giving them special foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins. This allowed them to gestate and rear healthy, well-formed children.
Nutrient-dense animal foods and green vegetables are a good idea before, during and after pregnancy.

* Liver is the richest source of vitamin A, folic acid and B12.

** Affected individuals may show class I, II, or III malocclusion.

Eating On the Road

So I've been reading Green Fork: Good Food Feed blog for quite some time. I love it. I almost always read blogs from either my blogger dashboard or my google feed. Very rarely to I venture over to the blog's home page. Today I did. Oh man was that a great twist of fate or what?!!

I found out that Green Fork has this amazing tool....The Eat Well Guide: Travel Map. It's like mapquest for local, sustainable, organic foods. You can even narrow down the results by restaurants, bakers, CSAs, Farm Stands, Butchers, Caterers, etc. I knew they had regular city and state guides, but I had no idea they had travel guides. I will never have to worry about road trips again. Horray!!

So awesome. I just had to share! :)

Keep it Fresh!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grande Soy Chai Latte, please!

Over the past 3 months I have been struggling with kicking the coffee habit. I will admit that I haven't gone cold turkey and I still enjoy a 1/2 cup on cold mornings when a hot shower just isn't enough. While tempering my coffee addiction, I started supplementing with soy chai lattes. I always loved the taste of chai, but since I was a coffee girl I rarely ordered them from my local barista, and never made them at home. Oh how the times have changed....

Here's a super easy chai tea recipe from my virtual friend, Lola... This is a great recipe to make at home because the simmering pan fills your home with the delightful smell of spicy chai!

Lola's Awesome Chai Tea
1.5 cups of water
1.5 inch cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
6 oz milk of choice (vanilla soy or almond milk works well if you are avoiding dairy!)
2 tea bags of unflavoured black tea (Darjeeling is a good choice)
Sugar/Honey/Agave -Sweetner-of-choice to taste

Put water in a pan and add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves. Bring water and spices to a simmer and then cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add soy milk and sweetner (omit milk here if you intend to freeze the chai for later or make a latte - see note below) and bring to a simmer once again. Add tea bags, cover pan, turn off the heat and let sit for 2 minutes. Pour into cups and enjoy! If you have a cappuccino maker you can foam the milk instead of adding it to the pan.

This recipe will make 2 servings. You can easily double/triple/whatever these proportions, make the whole thing without the milk and then refrigerate or freeze the tea and spice mixture for easy chai-on-demand.

Keep it Fresh!
~ Terra

Keep it Fresh!

Green and Clean Living.... Part II of Pests Aside

Before finding my passion for health, yoga and wellness I was an attorney. You can close your mouth now, I know it's shocking...but true!! In my previous career life, I studied and practiced environmental and natural resource law and then earned a LL.M. (Masters of Law) in Environmental and Heath Law. I published articles on corporate environmentalism and was even cited by the United Nations Environmental Law Programme's Training Manual on International Environmental Law. You might think that this doesn't really have much to do with health, wellness, yoga or holistic health counseling...but I beg to differ. It's actually beautifully interconnected.

Because of my traditional career background, I have turned bit of a green-toxics junkie and greening your life is a significant aspect of how I counsel my clients. I am obsessed with greening my home, removing toxins from my living space and generally reducing toxic exposure as much as possible for my health. I am actually so obsessed with this that my go-to gift for all of my newly wed friends is Shaklee's Get Clean Starter Kit. Let's just say that the jury is out on how well this present is received. I personally think that it's one of the most heart-felt gifts someone can give. Some friends get that but unfortunately, some don't.

Every day I receive news updates on Environmental Health News published by Environmental Health Sciences. I will be honest, each day I struggle over whether or not I should repost what's in the environmental news in the 3 Healthy Chicks blog or my own Vibrant Health, Green Living blog. Most often I don't because I worry that news stories will be come pervasive in the blog, and we're/I'm not a news service, we're here to simply offer advice on healthy living. Then I wonder if people are even interested, certainly not everyone in this world is such an environmental health geek!

Today I am caving as variations of the same news article from different sources has made its way to my in-box over the past few days. If that many organizations (Environmental Health Science, Environmental Working Group, Dr. Mercola and the Health Ranger!) are talking about a topic, it's meant for me to inform my clients, readers and friends. To quell my environmental health geek worries, I will label this blog post as Part II of Jill's Pests Aside article that ran on September 6th.

On November 6th, Environmental Health Sciences reported that "good house-keeping is more even more at controlling pests than hiring an exterminator to spray powerful, toxic pesticides." Research conducted by Columbia University found that an integrated approach to pest management (IPM) eliminated more cockroaches and mice than repeated applications of toxic, chemical pesticides! IPM is simple: make the home an unattractive place for insects and other pests by fixing leaky pipes, filling cracks in walls and gaps under baseboards and thoroughly cleaning kitchens and bathroom.

Now the virgos and OCDs of the world will promptly respond to this by saying "duh!" but the solution isn't always so obvious to the masses. So, to ensure you don't have unwanted pests as well as eliminate household chemical toxins stick to the following rules:

1. Keep it Clean: Dirty, sticky counters are breeding grounds for pests, germs and infections. Make sure you keep your counter space clean and free of food and drink remains. This means wiping it down after each use. To some, this may tedious and time consuming but it takes little effort and working it into your cooking routine will become second nature.

2. Keep it Fresh. Eating fresh produce is a must for healthy living. But you keep your produce in a bowl on the counter or kitchen table, make sure you eat it in a timely manner! Allowing produce to go past ripeness will draw fruit flies. If you accidentally let produce spoil, make sure to toss it out immediately and then clean its container thoroughly before adding more produce!

3. Keep it Non-Toxic: Regular exposure to the toxic chemicals in most household cleaners can lead to "Multiple Chemical Sensitivities" or MCS. Cumulative exposure to these toxins can eventually overwhelm the body's ability to eliminate them causing low-level chemical build up. This is applicable to both humans and our pet friends. Chemical build up in the body can cause fatigue, weakness, poor memory, migraines, insomnia and anxiety. Reduce the risk of chemical build up in the body by choosing all natural, non-toxic household cleaners such. Many companies now offer green alternatives to cleaners. My favorite green cleaners are Shaklee and Mrs. Meyers.

4. Keep it Natural: An alternative to buying non-toxic, organic cleaners is to clean with natural products such as, lemon juice, baking powder and vinegar. Lemon will dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits and will shine brass and copper. Baking soda can be used just like a commercial abrasive and deodorizer. Vinegar is an all purpose disinfectant and deodorizer, it must be diluted to be used on grout and never use it on marble. Don't worry about any lingering scents, the smell disappears when it dries!!

Many chemical companies and sellers of commercial products will insist that toxic chemicals are not harmful in the quantities used. This is WRONG. Toxic chemicals are labeled as such because of their inherent harm and toxicity.

Keep it Fresh (and Green!)
~ Terra

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fall Foods: Root Vegetables

The fall season is officially upon us. This time of year is marked by crisp, cool days, preparation and celebration, and an abundance of warming, harvest foods. As the temperature drops, our bodies require more concentrated, energy-rich foods like root vegetables, squashes, seeds and nuts. The fall is a great time to experiment with cooking and baking in your kitchen. While we have access to a variety of fresh produce in the spring and summer seasons, we have to plan accordingly for fall and winter. Look around. Appreciate your surroundings. Let the season's rich color palette inspire you and try adding some fall flavors, spices and seasonings into your next meal.

Eating locally grown food in accordance with the seasons helps to keep our bodies in balance and provides a deep connection to Mother Earth.

About Root Vegetables
The roots of any plant are its anchor and foundation; they are the essential parts that support and nourish the plant. Root vegetables lend these properties to us when we eat them, making us feel physically and mentally grounded and rooted, increasing our stability, stamina and endurance. Roots are a rich source of nutritious complex carbohydrates, providing a steady source of necessary sugars to the body. Instead of upsetting blood sugar levels like refined sweet foods, they regulate them. Since they absorb, assimilate and supply plants with vital nutrients, roots likewise increase absorption and assimilation in our digestive tracts.

Long roots, like burdock, carrots, parsnips and daikon radish, are excellent blood purifiers and can help improve circulation in the body and increase mental clarity. Round roots, like turnips, radishes, beets and rutabagas, are nourishing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs and can help regulate blood sugar and moods, and alleviate cravings.

Sweet Potato Wedges Recipe
Speaking of root vegetables, this is one of my favorite recipes and you will see after you make, they are SO easy! Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins A & C, iron, carotenoid antioxidants and contain calcium. Among root vegetables, sweet potatoes offer the lowest glycemic index rating, because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer. It's time to move sweet potatoes to the GOOD carbohydrate list!

4 small sweet potatoes
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly oil a half sheet pan. Peel and cut potatoes into 8 wedges. Combine the oil, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on the pan. Place pan on the lower third rack and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are well browned and crisp, turning once. Serve hot and enjoy!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Omega-3 Eggs

Eggs are an exceptionally nutritious food, as are all foods destined to nourish a growing animal. However, one concern lies in eggs' high concentration of arachidonic acid (AA), a long-chain omega-6 fat that is the precursor to many eicosanoids. Omega-6 derived eicosanoids are essential molecules that are involved in healing, development and defense. Some of them are inflammatory mediators that can contribute to disease when present in excess. Eggs are one of the main sources of AA in the modern diet.

The percent long-chain omega-6 fats (including AA) in red blood cell membranes associates quite well with heart attack risk. You can see the relationship in
this graph compiled by Dr. Bill Lands. However, egg consumption has never been convincingly linked to heart attack risk or any other disorder I'm aware of, despite dire warnings about eggs' cholesterol content. Nevertheless, conventionally raised eggs are unnaturally rich in AA, and unnaturally low in omega-3, due to the hens' diet of grains and soybeans.

The ideal egg is one that comes from a hen raised outdoors (often on pasture), in a place where she can eat a variety of green plants and insects. Hens raised this way typically still eat grain-based feed, but supplemented with a significant amount of foraged food. This dramatically increases the nutritional value of the eggs, as I've
noted before. Modern hens lay nearly one egg a day, which is a rate of production that can not be sustained without a large amount of calorie-dense food. They can't eat enough to lay at this rate by foraging.

Not everyone has access to pastured eggs. "Omega-3 eggs" come from hens fed an omega-3 enriched diet*. Not only do they have a much higher omega-3 content than conventional eggs, they also contain less AA.
One study found that omega-3 eggs contain 39% less AA than conventional and organic eggs. Omega-3 eggs were also rich in short- and long-chain omega-3 fats. Omega-3 eggs are certainly not nutritionally equivalent to pastured eggs, but they're a step in the right direction.

I don't really know if the AA content of eggs is a concern. Eicosanoid biology is complex and it doesn't like to fit into simple models. I'll look forward to seeing more research on the matter. In the meantime, I'll be eating pastured eggs, and when they're not available I'll eat omega-3 eggs.

*Typically from flax seeds, but some operations also use seaweed. The hens in the paper I cited were fed flax. The hens managed to convert a substantial portion of the alpha-linolenic acid into the important animal fat DHA, and presumably EPA although it was not measured.

Friday Friend Shout Out: The Yoga and Healing Center

Today's Friday Friend Shout Out is the Yoga and Healing Center in Scotch Plains, NJ. The Yoga and Healing Center was recently voted the BEST Yoga Studio in New Jersey by New Jersey Life Magazine. YHC offers a yoga sanctuary where you can create a life and body you are thrilled to wake up in. They work with all walks of people who want to have more energy, lose weight and feel over all amazing in their bodies through yoga, nutrition and lifestyle design.
The studio was chosen by its loyal followers in Union County, NJ. The Studio was founded by Wendy Gross-Pinto, former head yoga therapist for Deepak Chopra's Center for Mind-Body Medicine in San Diego, CA.

Wendy has a unique and inspirational teaching style and is the creatrix of Soul Sweat Yoga. Soul Sweat Asana is an amazing blend of vinyasa flow and dance. It's designed for all bodies at all levels to maximally challenge where ever the yogi student is while maintaining a sense of ease, joy, fun and freedom in the body. The goal of Soul Sweat Yoga is to help students to learn to love living in their body.
The YHC offers a 2o0 hour Yoga Alliance accredited Teacher Training class in Soul Sweat Asana. It's an amazing course and I am so very honored to be a part of this years class as the Teacher Training Coordinator. One of the things I LOVE about Soul Sweat classes is the music. Wendy's play lists are filled with heart pumping, happy tunes guaranteed to get your body moving and put a smile on your face!!

YHC is one of the most generous studios around. A portion of all proceeds at YHC goes to support charitable organizations. Additionally, as a thank you to the many Yogis and Yoginis that helped to vote YHC as the best studio in NJ, Wendy is offering a donation based Soul Sweat Class on Saturday mornings. Join 3 Healthy Chicks (or at least 1!) every Saturday for this amazing class offering!!

Yoga and Healing Center, you are doing amazing things! Making waves and setting the bar high for yoga studios in New Jersey. Thank you! You are fabulous!!!

Keep it Fresh!
~ Terra