Interesting Information: Sugar and Inflammation

Interesting Information:  November 22, 2013

Sugar and Inflammation

Ellen Davis promotes ketogenic diets, which is a diet where fats provide most of the calories.  She has an article in the July/August 2012 issue of Well Being Journal entitled “Ketogenic Diets:  A Key to Excellent Health” (20-23).  Davis supports the ketogenic diet because she used it to reverse her own metabolic syndrome and to regain her health.  In the process, she lost over 80 pounds.  Her web site is  (I’ve written about metabolic syndrome in the essays on this blog.)

I am drawn to more of a balanced diet approach–as long as there are not digestive issues.  If there are digestive issues, then one needs to eat in a healing way for some time.  This ketogenic diet is very like Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS protocol–which has a lot of good science and clinical practice results behind it.  (GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and there are essays on this blog about GAPS.)

I do think that most Americans are eating way, way too many carbs–that their eating so many carbs is out-of-balance and is causing chronic disease.  (This statement does not address, also, the toll that toxic poisons in and on American foods, takes.)

And I do think that eating a lot of carbs is causing inflammation in the body–which is one root cause of disease.  For instance, Davis points out that a bagel “breaks down into about sixteen teaspoons of sugar in the bloodstream” (21).  So if you are going to eat one, be sure to put a lot of cream cheese or butter on it to help cut the sugar load–just as you would with a baked potato.  And remember that the cream cheese or the butter is not going to make you fat, but that the bagel will because it turns to sugar in your system.

Davis writes that “oxidative stress is what causes metal to rust, and cooking oils to go rancid when exposed to the air.”  This oxidative stress “can create molecules called reactive oxygen species, or ROS.  These molecules, commonly called free radicals, are chemically reactive and can damage internal cellular structures” (21)

She writes that “if inflammation is present, excessive amounts of ROS are created and overwhelm the cell’s defenses, causing accelerated damage and eventually cell death.  This is why inflammation is linked with so many types of disease processes.”

So, food choices are very important, says Davis:  “…high-carbohydrate foods provide much more glucose than the human body can handle efficiently.  Blood glucose is basically liquid sugar, and if you have ever spilled fruit juice or syrup on your hands, you know how sticky it can be.  In the body, this stickiness’ is called glycation.”  The process of glycation starts a chain of events that increases inflammation and creates “substances called advanced glycation-end-products (AGEs)”–which “interfere with cellular function, and are linked to the progression of many disease processes, including Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and autism.”  The “higher the blood sugar, the more serious the damage” (21).  And I wonder if there is a connection between inflammation in the body and the start of cancer–which may get a toehold when the immune system is overloaded.

Davis quotes Ron Rosedale, MD, from his book Burn Fat, Not Sugar to Lose Weight:

“Health and lifespan are determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar people burn throughout their lifetime.  The more fat that one burns as fuel, the healthier the person will be, and the more likely they will live a long time.  The more sugar a person burns, the more disease ridden and the shorter a lifespan a person is likely to have.”

While I am always leery of MDs who are writing about nutrition–since most have had no nutritional training whatsoever–what Rosedale is saying about fat being healthy is a fit with Dr. Mary Enig’s stance on fat in Eat Fat, Lose Fat, written with Sally Fallon Morell, both of The Weston A. Price Foundation.  Dr. Enig is an internationally recognized expert on dietary fats, and I have written about her work in many places on this blog.

And Rosedale’s statement is a fit with Gary Taube’s work on the hormonal conditions caused by eating too many carbs, in Why We Get Fat.

So, there you have it…

Some interesting information…

Turkey Tracks: Elderberry Tincture

Turkey Tracks:  October 22, 2013

Elderberry Tincture

I almost missed the elderberry harvest again this year.

you really have to keep a sharp eye on the berries because they are near ripe one day and gone (birds) the next.

So, back in September some time, I got what remained on the two bushes I have.  One is almost a tree, and when we first came, I kept cutting it down as it’s growing in the rock wall below the house.  (Harvesting it is…dicey.)  The other is a bush I planted two years ago, and those berries are plumper and bigger than the wild berries.

Anyway, you cut off the berry clusters and strip off the berries in the kitchen.  You can see elderberries are TINY little purple berries.  And you can see how the clusters grow on the plant from the last one I’m stripping in this picture.


I make a tincture.  And, tinctures are alcohol based.  I use vodka.  Next time you are in Whole Paycheck or a health food store, see what a little bottle of elderberry tincture costs, and you’ll have newfound respect for my efforts.

I fill a quart jar with berries and pour the vodka over the berries to fill the jar.  I freeze the berries I have left.  Then I let the mixture sit out on the counter until the berries go white–as all their purple goodness is leached out.  At that point, I strain off the old berries and put in new ones and pour the now-purple vodka back into the jar.  Last year I did this process three times.  And can I tell you that that tincture was incredibly powerful.

Elderberry Tincture 2013

This year, I will probably do only two leachings since I don’t have that many berries.  Maybe I’ll leave the second batch of berries inside the liquid–they would provide fiber at least.

This tincture is dynamite for anyone coming down with a cold or the flu or anything that seems like it will become an illness.

Another use for frozen elderberries is to just thaw a few in a spoon overnight and eat them in the morning.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride–of the GAPS protocol–which I’ve written about many times on this blog–recommends eating a few berries over the fall and winter to support your immune system.

Elderberry bushes are easy to locate and to forage, in the late summer.  FInd them in the spring when they have big white flat cluster blooms, flat like a Queen Anne’s Lace flower.  Google them for an image?  They like damp places.  If you don’t have access to the countryside, plant a bush in your yard somewhere.

Books: Internal Bliss

Books:  October 12, 2011

Internal Bliss

The GAPS folks–Gut and Psychology Syndrome–have a cookbook out that helps those needing the GAPS diet–which is likely most of us these days–learn how to cook without using grains, sugars, and starchy vegetables.  You can order the main GAPS book and this new cookbook together on the GAPS diet web site:  Or, you can order the cookbook alone.  The original GAPS book also has a lot of menus and recipes.  The main GAPS web site, which deals more with the GAPS problem at large, is

I have written about the GAPS history and program in Mainely Tipping Points Essays 31 and 32, available on this blog.

Mainely Tipping Points 31: I Feel It In My Gut

Mainely Tipping Points 31


 Some of you might remember that I got into researching and writing about food issues because suddenly I developed food allergies that caused me to pass out with little or no warning.  I suffered dozens of unpleasant food-related allergic episodes; experienced several rescues from our local emergency crew; underwent one trip to the hospital; endured a growing list of problem foods; and still negotiate with friends and family who are scared to feed me.

So, rejoice with me when I tell you that I’ve had a breakthrough—one that could impact also your health.  I discovered that the root cause of my food allergy problems was a malfunctioning gut—something that likely affects many Americans.  It isn’t that I am allergic to specific foods, but that foods I was eating were not being contained properly within my digestive system.  Because my gut had been perforated by out-of-control opportunistic microbes that live in my gut, undigested food particles were leaking through the gut walls and were being attacked as foreign invaders by my body—which explained the growing list of “problem” foods.

My breakthrough began with an article by British physician Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride: “Food Allergies:  A Holistic Approach,” in the journal WISE TRADITIONS, summer 2010, 26-34, which is available at  In addition, Campbell-Mcbride has published the very comprehensive GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME, which she revised and expanded in November 2010.  And, there is an excellent web site with information on the well-credentialed Campbell-McBride; the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, or GAPS, diet; and resources:  Here’s a site listing the recommended/forbidden foods:  But, it’s a good idea to read about how to manage the diet on the main GAPS web site. 

Campbell-McBride got into the GAPS arena because she has an autistic son, so the web site is targeted to people with serious neurological issues.  However, the GAPS information is really important for anyone with either allergies (all types) or any gastrointestinal issues.  For instance, Campbell-McBride explains that food allergies/intolerances are symptoms of underlying digestive problems and that other symptoms most commonly include pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, indigestion, and urgency.  But, symptoms can also include “migraines, fatigue, PMS, painful joints and itchy skin” as well as “depression, hyperactivity, hallucinations, obsessions and other psychiatric and neurological manifestations” (27). 

In GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME, Campbell-McBride explains that if opportunistic gut microbes become too prevalent and too powerful in a struggling gut, in addition to harming the lining of the gut, they begin to produce toxic wastes of their own.  These toxins affect the brain; they create behavioral problems and can cause or intensify neurological disorders like autism, schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and depression (41-48). (Additionally, I’ve read that some cancer researchers are looking at the relationship of these opportunistic microbes, like the yeast candida albicans, and cancer.)   

Gut dysfunction is caused by ongoing poor nutrition and by not having normal gut flora.  Gut dysfunction causes malabsorption, which, in turn, causes malnutrition and other disturbances in the incredibly delicate chemical balance of a healthy body.  Poor nutrition includes highly processed foods like white flour, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, and complex carbohydrates from grains and starchy vegetables—all common components of the Standard American Diet (SAD).   

Dr. Thomas Cowan, an MD homeopath, revealed in a recent newsletter that Current TV, Al Gore’s television network, is planning to produce a documentary about the GAPS diet which will suggest that it could be a factor in healing many of our country’s chronic health problems (  And articles about the importance of having a healthy gut microbial community are appearing in mainstream magazines on a regular basis.  For instance, a January/February 2011 article in “Discover” magazine noted that Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University in St. Louis, who is studying the importance of gut microbes, called the gut microbes a community that is “`an organ within an organ.’ “  The article notes that “the mix of microbes inside you affects how you metabolize food and probably has substantial impact on your health” (51). 

In “Food Allergies,” Campbell-McBride explains that flora and fauna imbalances can begin at birth since a new baby has a sterile gut and picks up the mother’s microbes during her/his passage down the birth canal.  If the mother has microbe imbalances, the baby will be born with them.  If the baby does not pass through the birth canal, as in a Caesarean birth, the baby struggles with the abnormal development of not only gut flora, but other microbe populations within the body, which leads to malnutrition and illness.  And, to behavioral and neurological issues. 

Bottle-fed babies, continues Campbell-McBride, “develop completely different gut flora than breast-fed babies,” which predisposes them to “asthma, eczema, other allergies and other health problems.”  Many modern practices harm our gut flora and fauna.  Antibiotics damage the “beneficial species of bacteria in the gut, leaving it open to invasion by pathogens that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics.”  Contraceptives, too, “have a serious damaging effect on the composition of gut flora” (28-29).  I suspect the array of drugs many of us take daily damage gut microbes.     

Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet is predated by the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) developed by pediatrician Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas and his son, Dr. Merrill P. Haas, both of whom followed in the footsteps of colleagues working with celiac disease and other digestive disorders.  Campbell-McBride notes that Haas et al discovered that “patients with digestive disorders could tolerate dietary proteins and fats fairly well.”  But, complex carbohydrates from grains and starchy vegetables—often craved by patients–made the problem worse,” as did sucrose, lactose, and other double sugars.  Some fruits and vegetables were “not only well tolerated…but improved…physical status.”  Haas cured over 600 patients with his SCD diet.     

Campbell-McBride describes the “something terrible” that happened next—celiac disease was “defined as a gluten intolerance and a gluten free diet was adopted,” but the new diagnosis “excluded a great number of various other gut problems….”  Haas’s SCD diet was forgotten and “all those other gut diseases, which didn’t fit into the category of true celiac disease, were forgotten as well” (32).  Meanwhile, the food market has  heavily invested in gluten-free products.     

Elaine Gottschall was a mother who, when all else failed, took her very sick child to Haas in the early 1950s.  When Haas cured Gottschall’s daughter in two years,  Gottschall became a biochemist and dedicated her life to helping children like her daughter by promoting Haas’s SCD diet.  Her book BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE is both interesting and useful as it contains recipes, though some use artificial sweeteners. 

Here’s what Gottschall wrote about this bizarre turn of medical history after one report was published in 1952 in the British medical journal “Lancet” :  “A group of six faculty members of the Departments of Pharmacology and of Pediatrics and Child Health of the University of Birmingham, after testing only ten children, decided that it was not the starch (carbohydrate) in the grains that so many had reported as being deleterious, but it was the protein, gluten, in wheat and rye flours that was causing celiac symptoms” (36).  Six physicians and 10 children were all it took to create a new “scientific” understanding.  

Both Campbell-McBride and Gotschall agree that the gluten-free diet does not work permanently and that Haas’s SCD diet does.  Campbell-McBride updated the SCD diet and called it the GAPS diet as her clinical practice continues to prove the connections between food, the gut, and the brain.  (There are American physicians working also in this arena.) 

Much of what we’ve learned is healthy lives in the GAPS diet:  bone broths; nutrient-dense whole foods like good fats, good meats, eggs, cheeses, and cultured dairy like yogurt and kefir; appropriate vegetables and fruits; probiotics; and fermented foods.  It is interesting that the GAPS work is a fit with Gary Taubes’ critique of the role of starchy and sweet carbohydrates in WHY WE GET FAT.  And Campbell-McBride’s work is supported and encouraged by the Weston A. Price Foundation. 

So, if you feel you have digestive or food allergy issues, follow your gut! 

Turkey Tracks: Swimming Through The Heat Wave

Turkey Tracks:  September 4, 2010

Swimming Through the Heat Wave

This week has been sooooooo hot!

I know we’re spoiled in Maine with regard to heat.  When heat and humidity strike, we are wimps.  We wilt, and we wilt fast. 

Our personal strategy is to don swimming suits, drive down to the river (4-5 minutes), swim until we’re cool, go home and keep our swimming suits on until we have to go back to cool off again.  Some people bring chairs and just sit in the water, forming groups of people who visit and laugh and splash water.  Others bring blankets and books and picnic lunches and spend the day.  There always seems to be room for everyone.  You can swim as far as you want upriver, which is a good workout.  Or, you can just get deep, tread water, and visit with a friend you’ve called and said “I’m soooo hot; meet me for a swim.”  I put a picture of Shirttail Point in some posts back, if you want to see our swimming hole.   

The river is glorious.  It’s clean and clear; you can see all the way to the bottom all the time.  The top few inches are warm, but not far down, the water is deliciously cool or, even, cold.   The water feels silky on your skin and leaves it soft and supple.  It does not dry you out like a chlorinated pool.  It’s living water.  I’ve thought a lot about swimming in natural water this summer.  I’m reading more and more about the dangers of all the chemicals we use.  And, how our skin is not a barrier at all, but a tremendous absorber of all these chemicals–which are not mediated by the body, but go right into our bloodstreams.  Our bathing and drinking water, for instance, is loaded with chlorine and fluorides.  Both are deadly for humans.  And, I don’t think anyone really knows how much is too much with repeated exposures.  Or, what the impact is on children who are still developing. 

I’ve just finished Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GUT AND PSYCOLOGY SYNDROME–or, GAPS, which is primarily about the connections between gut health and neurological disorders.   But, it’s also about the connections between gut health and food allergies, which is, apparently, a big part of my food allergy issues.    McBride argues that swimming in chlorinated pools is dangerous on two levels:  immersion in poisoned water and the layer of gas just over the water that we breathe into our lungs when swimming.   I’ve had two bad, foolish exposures to cleaning in an enclosed environment with chlorine, and I know that I injured my lungs both times.  It took months for them to heal.  McBride also argues that we are not getting access to needed bacteria–such as is found in natural water, around pets, on farms, etc., that we need to develop strong immune systems and to populate our guts.   

I love to swim.  I love everything about being in water.  I am a Pisces, after all.  And I come from a family of swimmers.  But, I don’t think that I’m going to swim in any more chlorinated pools.  I don’t like the way they make me feel.  I can never get the chlorine off of me, so I smell it all day.  It dries out my skin and hair terribly.  And, I seem to have a constant running nose and cough when I use a chlorinated pool.  I’ve learned mucus production is a clear sign of a struggling body. 

In the little town in Georgia where my mother grew up, they swam in a pool fed by three artesian wells–so that the pool had new water every 24 hours.  And, we’ve found enzymes for our hot tub that work just fine.  Surely, with all our technological abilities, we can figure out ways to clean water without dumping poisonous chemicals into them.  Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy swimming in season and finding other ways to exercise off season.

Hurricane Earl backwashed through here this morning, so things have cooled off a little.  I hope we get more swimming time though, before it gets too cold.