A Not So Sweet Surprise

I keep coming across articles & conversations about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and its dangers. I know it’s bad stuff, but didn’t really know that it’s MUCH worse than sugar. I skim most but took the time to read this one.

As usual, I feel like I don’t have time to write a thorough post. But I’m going to try to get back to posting more frequently, and keeping it short, just doing what I can. Better to “hit a lick at a snake”, as Flylady would say.

Most of the following info. is from this article; click to read the whole thing. Bold is mine to emphasize main points.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) came around in the early 1970s. It’s now the main sweetener in soft drinks and is increasingly replacing sugar in baked goods, bread, cereals, canned fruits, jams and jellies, dairy desserts and flavored yoghurts. Sweeter and less expensive than sugar, HFCS represents the major change in the American diet over the last forty years.

Although the food industry made this change very quietly, consumers are beginning to ask a lot of loud questions about the new sweetener as research accumulates to indicate that it is much worse for us than we thought. Growing consumer resistance to HFCS is the likely explanation for a recent industry campaign to put the new sweetener in a favorable light. Ads run on television and in popular magazines portray HFCS as benign and its critics as bossy, overbearing, unqualified and misinformed.

Since refined carbohydrates, sugar and HFCS included, tend to be addictive, it is basically impossible to follow the advice to consume them “in moderation.” In fact, the entire food industry has succeeded very well over the past thirty years in getting Americans to consume far more than moderate amounts of refined sweeteners, particularly high fructose corn syrup. Between 1970 and 2000, the per capita consumption of HFCS in the U.S. increased from less than one pound per person to over sixty pounds yearly. There can be no debate about the fact that both sugar and HFCS, with their empty, depleting, addictive calories, are bad for you. But the real question is whether HFCS is actually worse for you—more depleting and more damaging— than ordinary sugar. The research indicates that it is.

Calorie for calorie, HFCS is more likely to cause weight gain than sugar.
The industry would have the public believe that the fructose in fruit and in HFCS are chemically identical. The fructose in HFCS is not recognized in the human Krebs cycle for conversion to blood glucose in any significant quantity, and cannot be used for energy utilization. Instead, these refined fructose sweeteners are primarily converted into triglycerides and adipose tissue (body fat). In fact, a new study found that obese people who drank a fructose-sweetened beverage with a meal had triglyceride levels almost 200 percent higher than obese people who drank a glucose-sweetened beverage with a meal.

Chronic high triglycerides translate into increased insulin resistance, inflammation and heart disease. HFCS is a recipe for obesity, lack of energy and metabolic syndrome—sounds like the modern American addicted to a diet of HFCS-sweetened sodas.

What Happens To Your Body Within An Hour Of Drinking A Coke

Did you ever see the movie Innerspace with Martin Short and Dennis Quaid? It’s a great classic movie. These guys get shrunk down and enter a person’s body, their ship flowing along with the red blood cells. You get to see some of what goes on in there; as someone who loves learning about the human body I found it fascinating. It’s also just a great flick.

Most of us don’t think about what’s going on in there as we go about our day to day life. But the things we do really do impact us, right away, for better or for worse.

I came across this description of what happens in your body after drinking a soda. Consider it a journey of sorts. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as humorous as the movie.

What Happens To Your Body Within An Hour Of Drinking A Coke, According to the Nutrition Research Center

In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down. (By the way, phosphoric acid steals calcium from your bones. Hello, osteoporosis)

20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)

40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.

45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

>60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.

>60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.

>60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

Of course, now your sluggishness and irritability causes you to consider…..having another one. Sound like fun?

Then again, after watching this classic commercial from 1971, those warm fuzzy feelings you will have are very convincing. It even makes me want to have one. Who wouldn’t want to join those happy folks? This is my earliest Coke memory.

And here’s how far they’ve come…

I’m not perfect. I’m not going to pretend that I never drink soda. But not every day, or even every week. If you drink this stuff on a regular basis….well, think about it.

By the way, this is what happens with a regular, sugar-filled soda. With a sugar-free “diet” soda, there’s a whole other bunch of bodily reactions to that poison. By the way, artificial sweeteners besides being poisonous, actually will cause you to eat more, usually causing you to gain weight, which defeats the probable reason you chose to drink a “diet” soda to begin with. But that’s a subject for another post :0

For more great info about soda you can go here.

I Come From A long Line Of Tired People

That’s what my Nana used to say. And it must be true; my afternoon nap has ALWAYS been sacred to me. I mean, when I was in college, I used to put a sign on my dorm room or sorority house door that said “Please Don’t Knock! Kimmy needs her Beauty Sleep!” it didn’t really work, the sign. People would knock anyway. Grrr.

With a new baby who doesn’t yet sleep through the night and other little ones to care for, preventing me from “sleeping when the baby sleeps”, I’m tired. And that’s an understatement.

How much sleep do we really need? And what are the effects of chronic sleep deprivation?

I just finished reading a chapter in the book Nurture Shock called “The Missing Hour”. It showed how children getting an hour less sleep a night than what they need contributes not only to crankiness in younger kids, but that the rebelliousness & moodiness in teenagers accepted by most as normal behavior is actually caused by lack of sleep. I was surprised to learn that child obesity was also found to correlate with lack of sleep, as well as lower school grades and test scores.

While the lower grades thing was not a surprise, the degree to which it is a factor was. Sleepy 6th graders performed two full grades lower. Like fourth graders. And obesity? Apparently not only from lack of exercise and poor diet.

I definitely believe that most of the crankiness and belligerence in young children comes from tiredness. Many parents stop insisting that their children nap simply because the child doesn’t want to and seems to be able to stay awake all day without it. I think this is a big mistake. All of my children still take naps (even the 5 1/2 year old) except for the 6 1/2 year old, who rests on the couch with a book. And at times, we do insist that he naps when we can tell that he really needs it, if we know we’ll be staying up later, like on the weekend.

As a parent, I’m interested in this stuff. I know both my 6 1/2 year old and my 3 1/2 year old are not getting enough sleep. I want them to have it, but getting that schedule exactly right is tough, especially when children share a bedroom.

If you want help figuring out whether your kid’s getting enough sleep, the following might be helpful.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child’s Sleep provides some helpful guidelines regarding just how much sleep children need at different stages in their development. Keep in mind that these numbers reflect total sleep hours in a 24-hour period. So if your son still naps, you’ll need to take that into account when you add up his typical sleep hours.

Between Birth-Six Months, children need 16-20 hours

Between Six-Twelve Months, children need 14-15 hours

Between Ages 1-3, children need 10-13 hours

Between Ages 3-10, children need 10-12 hours

Between Ages 11-12, children need about 10 hours

Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night


  • The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.
  • It’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it.
  • Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.
  • No one knows for sure if other species dream but some do have sleep cycles similar to humans.
    Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.
  • Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.
  • Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%. (by the way, 24 minus 17=7…this means that you are walking around drunk if you get 7 or less hours of sleep.)
  • Diaries from the pre-electric-light Victorian era show adults slept nine to 10 hours a night with periods of rest changing with the seasons in line with sunrise and sunsets.
  • Approximately one-third of your life is spent sleeping, and the length and quality of your sleep directly affects your daily performance, your mood, and your entire waking life.

I apologize for the formatting problem above. I’ve tried to correct it but am unable and cannot spend more time on it.

I never outgrew my nap. I have a good excuse for needing one now, but I think that when the kids are grown, I’ll still be enjoying an afternoon siesta. Maybe I’ll enjoy it even a little bit more.

Is Wonderbread Making You Sterile? Part 2

In the 1940s, a flour enrichment program was instituted to compensate for wartime shortages of other foods. However, in the ‘enriched’ flour only the B vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin – and the mineral, iron, were added. Flour ‘Enrichment’ implies a loss of nutrients and should not be equated with wholesomeness. For approximately 20 nutrients, there is an average loss of 70-80% in refined and enriched flour. When you eat this, you are placing your body at a disadvantage, casting a burden on the rest of the diet.

Prosser, WA. An old grain mill downtown near Twin City Foods

Flour manufacturers want to make as much money as possible. For example, removing the germ not only prevents flour spoilage, it generates profits when sold to millfeed producers and pharmaceutical companies.
For centuries, bakers have known that ‘good quality’ baked goods could not be made with freshly milled flour, because the dough lacks strength and resilience to trap gas. Until the 20th century it was common practice of storing flour for months to allow oxygen to condition it.

However, as well as storage costs, spoilage and insects caused losses. Chemical oxidizing agents or bleaches were developed to produce the same aging effects in 24-48 hours. They cause one of two effects: oxidation of the gluten to help with rising, and bleaching of the yellowish carotene pigments which could have been sources of vitamin A.

Bleaching agents did not come into use without opposition. Harvey W. Wiley, Chief of the FDA early this century, won a Supreme Court decision outlawing bleaches, but he was forced out of the FDA, and the Supreme Court order was bypassed. The approval of chlorine dioxide as a bleaching agent was also protested by U.S. Army nutrition experts.

Today, in both Canada and the US, the addition of numerous chemicals to white, whole wheat, and rye flours is permitted. These include chlorine, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, ammonium persulfate, ammonium chloride, acetone peroxide, azodicarbonamide, ascorbic acid, l-cysteine, mono-calcium phosphate. Regulations also specify the acceptable levels. In many European countries the use of additives is almost completely prohibited. In Germany, for instance, chemical oxidizing agents were banned in 1958.

Nitrogen bichloride was one of the earliest bleaching agents. After 40 years of use, it was finally found to cause canine hysteria, and was outlawed. The currently most common bleaching agent is benzoyl peroxide. It must be neutralized by adding such substances as: calcium carbonate (chalk!), calcium sulphate, dicalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate, potassium aluminum sulphate, sodium aluminum sulphate, starch, and tricalcium phosphate.

The most common maturing agent in use is potasssium bromate, and it is added with carriers such as calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, or magnesium carbonate.

In addition to the chemicals permitted to be added to flour, many more are permitted to be added to bread before baking. Chemicals likely to be found in breads include: lecithin, mono- and di- glycerides, carragheenan, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, dicalcium sulfate, ammonium chloride, potassium bromate, calcium bromate, potassium iodate, calcium peroxide, azodicarbonamide, tricalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium propionate, sodium propionate, sodium diacetate, lactic acid, calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate, lactylic stearate, sodium stearyl fumarate, succinylated monoglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and all-glycerides.

In Germany, propionic acid, sodium propionate, calcium propionate, and potassium propionate have been banned as preservatives since March 1988. This was in response to earlier experiments which found that rats fed these substances developed tumors.

In addition to all of this, grains may be irradiated to help prevent spoilage and bugs. This also affects the nutrients, and not in a good way.

Have you read enough? I know I’m tired from typing (or even copying and pasting) all those chemical names. They certainly should have no place in our diets!

So, you say, you don’t eat white bread, so you don’t need to worry about hurting your body by eating all those chemicals? Well….

Stay tuned for part 3, where I tell you what can happen even from “whole wheat” bread and flour.

Most of the information presented in these posts came from Nutritional Characteristics of Organic, Freshly Stone-Ground, Sourdough & Conventional Breads by Judy Campbell, B.Sc., Mechtild Hauser, and Stuart Hill, B.Sc., Ph.D., P.Ag.

Is Wonderbread Making You Sterile? Part 1

I LOVE bread with butter; I think I could eat it all day long. When I became more health conscious, I switched to whole wheat, like most of you probably have. But most people don’t really think about the potential nutritional value of bread which makes up a major part of their diet.

How much bread do you eat? I bet more than you think. We have 5 children. All but the new baby eat sandwiches for lunch almost every day. Add one for me most days, and that’s TEN SLICES OF BREAD each week per person, and that’s just for lunches. On Shabbat we enjoy a sweet Challah loaf (or two), and we eat bread with a dinner meal at least 2 or 3 times a week. That’s a LOT of bread.

Are all whole wheat breads the same? Is the whole wheat flour you buy at the store really better for you than the white flour? Why would anyone be crazy enough to spend the time and effort to grind his own flour? I’m going to answer questions like these and more, and you will likely be very surprised at what you learn. I know I was. (Hint: see the title)

A Little About Wheat
The kernel of wheat is composed of the outer bran layer, the germ, and the endosperm. It is rich in nutrients, many of which are concentrated in the bran and germ. It contains the entire B complex, except for vitamin B12.

Wheat germ has a very high content of vitamin E. Vitamin E increases the good HDL cholesterol. Animal studies have also shown that vitamin E protects against free radicals released by the body when it is exposed to toxic chemicals.

During the milling process, steel rollers crush the grain, and the flour separated by sifters. The bran and germ are totally removed in this process. They are used in the production of animal feeds and by pharmaceutical laboratories for making diet supplements.

Whole wheat flour is produced by recombining ground bran with endosperm flour, but the germ is usually left out, because it would go rancid.

In the next post I’ll describe what gets done to the flour, after all the nutritious parts are removed, before you either buy it at the store to bring home, or it gets baked into bread that you buy. Stay tuned!
Most of the information presented in these posts came from Nutritional Characteristics of Organic, Freshly Stone-Ground, Sourdough & Conventional Breads by Judy Campbell, B.Sc., Mechtild Hauser, and Stuart Hill, B.Sc., Ph.D., P.Ag.

Watermelon: A Pregnancy Super Food

I love watermelon, I always have. Crunchy and refreshing, it’s the Perfect Snack For Summertime When You Don’t Have Air Conditioning In Your House. (That’s pretty common in Israel)

And I just found out some great news. Watermelon is not only delicious, it has special qualities which make it a great pregnancy food. Apparently, watermelon:

Eases Heartburn
Reduces Swelling
Helps Morning Sickness
Alleviates Dehydration
Contains Minerals That Help Third Trimester Muscle Cramps
Contains nutrients important for the development of baby’s brain, vision, nervous, immune systems, and more.

Is high in Lycopene, an antioxidant which increases the skin’s SPF (besides all the other great things that antioxidants do). Who doesn’t want that during the summer?
Lycopene also reduces the incidence of preeclampsia by 50%.

I’m enjoying my second bowl of the day right now. Eat up!

This information came from an article on FitPregnancy. Here’s a link to the full article:


MILK…It Does A Body Good. Or Does It?

When I was little, I remember my grandparents always telling me to “drink your milk”. And my friends’ parents always said the same thing. Mine were pretty lax about it; I really didn’t like milk unless I filled it with Hershey’s syrup (I remember when it came in a can before they invented the squeeze bottle). I guess they were ahead of their time.

So, back to the milk. Is cow’s milk good for you? These are the questions I encourage you to ask yourself:
1) Who/what kind of animal is cow’s milk designed for? (a cow)
2) Are YOU a cow? (I hope not)
3) Do cows continue to drink milk after they are mature/weaned? (no)
4) Are YOU grown? (notice I didn’t say “mature”…I hope you still like acting like a kid sometimes :))
5) Do cows, or ANY animal you can think of, drink milk from another animal, and continue to do so post-weaning? (no, no, NO!))

Each species of mammal creates milk specially designed for that species’ growth needs, at birth and until weaning. Cow’s milk is designed to DOUBLE a calf’s weight in fifty days. I doubt you would enjoy the same effect! It also contains almost three times as much protein as human breast milk. The differences are many more than I will list here.

Besides the differences in the chemistry between human milk and that of cow’s, or any other species, a significant argument for excluding or minimizing cow’s milk in your family’s diet is the fact that it is heat processed (pasteurized). Heat denatures proteins & enzymes; in other words, you are not going to get the “good stuff” from the milk because it’s been “killed”. Also, the typical dairy farm compromises the cow’s lifestyle. They may be fed stale grains, grown in nutritionally depleted soil. Unless they are free to roam, they get no exercise. They often are pumped with hormones to get them to produce more milk, and given antibiotics since they are unhealthy, due to their lifestyle. These chemicals come out in the milk.

Many people are “lactose intolerant”. This is actually a NORMAL condition, because our bodies do not produce the enzyme lactase which is needed to break down lactose after early childhood (because it’s not expected that we would still be breastfeeding) !

“What about calcium?” you ask. While it’s true that milk has lots, it is also so high in protein that your body cannot absorb the calcium it gets at the same time. Not only can’t you get calcium, but the high protein content actually causes your body to REMOVE calcium from your bones to act as a buffer in your blood. That’s right, drinking milk actually causes you to LOSE calcium from your bones. The best place to get calcium is from dark green leafy vegetables. If you are concerned you are not getting enough of those, I highly recommend JuicePlus+ to help you get what you need. Almonds are also a good source of calcium; this fresh almond milk is what we use most of the time instead of cow’s milk.

As far as osteoporosis, there is NO evidence that increased dairy consumption decreases the occurrence of osteoporosis. In fact, the countries with the highest milk intake also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. This probably is because of what’s stated above: your body REMOVES calcium from your bones to deal with the milk you put in. The dairy council has done a number on us! Not that I blame them.

What to drink instead of milk? Well, water is what should be drunk on a regular basis. But as far as milk alternatives, many options exist.

See my post on Making Fresh Almond Milk for milk alternatives.

This made me laugh so much that I had to include it!

Here is a very good article about osteoporosis: http://www.betterbones.com/osteoporosis/top10myths.aspx

And this is a fantastic site with detailed articles on many physical conditions and how they relate to milk consumption: http://www.notmilk.com/