Mainely Tipping Points Essay 43: Part III: Paleo Diet: What’s Wrong With Legumes?

Mainely Tipping Points Essay 43:  November 16, 2012

Paleo Diet, Part III:  What’s Wrong With Legumes?


To recap from Parts I and II, Paleo Diet advocates argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy and were superbly healthy.

 But, what’s wrong with beans and peanuts, also known as legumes?

 Rob Wolf, in “The Paleo Solution,” puts it simply:  “dairy and legumes have problems similar to grains:  gut irritating proteins, antinutrients…protease inhibitors, and inflammation.”  Antinutrients, like phytates, bind to metal ions, like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper, which make them unavailable for absorption by our bodies.  Protease inhibitors prevent the breakdown of proteins which means your body cannot “effectively digest the protein in your meal” (98-99, 93).  In other words, antinutrients and protease inhibitors cause malabsorption and disease.    


Nora T. Gedgaudas, C.N.S., C.N.T., in “Grains:  Are They Really a Health Food?:  Adverse Effects of Gluten Grains” (“Well Being Journal,” May/June 2012), notes that “legumes typically contain 60 percent starch and only relatively small amounts of incomplete protein, and they also contain potent protease inhibitors, which can damage one’s ability to properly digest and use dietary protein and can also potentially damage the pancreas over time, when one is overly dependent on them as a source of calories.”  (Gedgaudas’ web site is 

 William Davis, MD, in “Wheat Belly,” notes that the carbohydrate in legumes contains amylopectin C, which is the least digestible of the amylopectins—which leads to the chant “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat ‘em, the more you…”.  Yet, the reality of the indigestible matter is not so funny:  “undigested amylopectin makes its way to the colon, whereupon the symbiotic bacteria happily dwelling there feast on the undigested starches and generate gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen, making the sugars unavailable for you to digest” (33).

 Davis goes on to note that amylopectin B is “the form found in bananas and potatoes and, while more digestible than bean amylopectin C, still resists digestion to some degree.  Remember that wheat has amylopectin A, which is the most digestible form of the amlopectins and, thus, can raise blood sugars more than eating a sugar-sweetened soda or a sugary candy bar.  The lesson here is that “not all complex carbohydrates are created equal….”   And Davis cautions that as the carbohydrate load of legumes “can be excessive if consumed in large quantities,” it’s best to limit servings to about a ½ cup size (33, 213). 

 Wolf is less compromising when it comes to combining plant-based foods, like beans and rice, to obtain essential amino acids—which we must eat as we cannot make them on our own.  The eight essential amino acids are “plentiful in animal sources and lacking to various degrees in plant sources.”  Wolf notes that “many agricultural societies found that certain combinations (like beans and rice) can prevent protein malnutrition.”  But, relying on the work of anthropologists who have compared them, Wolf notes that “most vegetarian societies…are less healthy than hunter-gathers and pastoralists.”  That’s because “plant sources of protein, even when combined to provide all the essential amino acids, are far too heavy in carbohydrate, irritate the gut, and steal vitamins and minerals from the body via anti-nutrients.”  Wolfs’ final assessment:  “Beans and rice, nuts and seeds, are what I call “Third World proteins.’  They will keep you alive, they will not allow you to thrive” (208-209).

 Wolf cautions that unless you are lean and healthy, don’t eat fruit.  He adds, further, that “there is no nutrient in fruit that is not available in veggies, and fruit may have too many carbs for you” (214)

 Dr.  Natasha Campbell-McBride expanded on the 1950s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) of Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas and created the “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) diet.  (That history is in my Mainely Tipping Points Essay 31 on my blog:  Haas recognized the connections between diet and disease, especially in the debilitating digestive disorders, and put patients on a diet that eliminated dairy, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, like potatoes.  (Dairy is slowly added back after healing has started, beginning with cultured forms, like yogurt.  But, some patients are not able to tolerate dairy permanently.)  Haas’s SCD diet emphasized bone broths, meat stews that included animal fat, vegetables, and some fruits.  The results were, and are, amazing. 

 Dr. Campbell-McBride was one of many now, like Wolf and Davis, who made the further connection that too many starchy carbohydrates foment conditions in the gut that allow out-of-control yeasts to degrade the gut lining—which allows food particles to escape into the blood stream and trigger autoimmune reactions.  Campbell-McBride is one of the first to realize that these out-of-control yeast populations produce toxins that affect the brain and create problematic behavior.  Conditions like autism, for instance, might not really be autism, but effects of inappropriate diet and malfunctioning body systems. 

 Sally Fallon Morell and Mary G. Enig, Ph. D. of The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) hold a place in their 1999 “Nourishing Traditions,” for most legumes—if properly soaked and cooked so that phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are destroyed and difficult-to-digest complex sugars are made more digestible and if legumes are cooked and eaten with at least small amounts of animal protein and animal fat. 

 Morell and Enig write that soybeans, however, should only be eaten sparingly and only after fermentation into miso, tempeh, and natto because the chemical package in soy is so powerful and so dangerous (495-496).  A  commercial method has never been fully developed that renders soy completely safe.  But, more on soy in Mainely Tipping Points 44 .  (Note that tofu is not a fermented soy food.) 

 Morell and Enig are careful to caution that “vegetable protein alone cannot sustain healthy life because it does not contain enough of all of the amino acids that are essential.”  Indeed, “most all plants lack methionine, one of the essential amino acids” (495-496).  Further, both Morell and Enig have made clear repeatedly in the WAPF journal “Wise Traditions” that the current government support for plant-based diets is dangerous and unscientific.          

 In the end, what Paleo diet advocates are asking is why, in the first place eat foods with such high carbohydrate loads, inferior protein, and so many dangerous chemicals —especially when a diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds supplies nutrients in dense, safe, satisfying forms. 

 This Paleo question is especially good to contemplate if one is overweight and experiencing the attendant health issues that accompany that condition and are trying to make changes.  Or, if one has ongoing digestive disorders which really must be addressed. 


Turkey Tracks: Preserving Garlic

Turkey Tracks:  February 2, 2012

Preserving Garlic

Some of our garlic is starting to go soft and to mold–especially the really big bulbs.  It’s that time of year.

Last year, I jollied the bulbs along by putting them into the refrigerator.  I swore then that I’d take the time to clean them and do SOMETHING with them next year.  For those of you who don’t grow things, one plants garlic in the fall, it winters over in the ground, sprouts in the spring, grows all summer–giving you fresh garlic scapes just when you’re hungry for fresh garlic taste–and one harvests in the early fall when the plants start to turn brown.  After pulling up the bulbs, one dries them in a warm dry place, which makes the true, strong garlic taste develop.  After that, one cuts off the stalks and stores the bulbs.  They need cool, dry storage.

Also, EAT GARLIC!.  It has the most amazing chemical properties which can build up your immune system, drive off colds and infections, and keep you generally healthy.  It didn’t get the reputation for vampire protection for nothing!  If you start coming down with a cold, mash a fresh garlic clove into some butter, spread it over a cracker or something like that, and eat it.  Salt helps.  Three times a day.  You’ll notice that help is occurring almost right away.

So, this year, I brined a jar of garlic, which took care of about half of our crop.  You can see what I have left to do.  You can also see the dusky blue light outside my kitchen window

I used a recipe from NOURISHING TRADITIONS since it uses whey.

Brining Garlic

In a quart Mason jar, place the peeled cloves of about 12 heads of garlic.  (If you roll them under your hands or in a towel, the cloves break free easily–all except for the pesky little ones.)

Add 2 teaspoons of dried oregano (I used a savory herb mixture with a Mediterranean base), 2 teaspoons sea salt, 2 Tablespoons of whey.  If you don’t have whey (you drip it out of yogurt), use another 2 teaspoons of sea salt.  Add water to cover, but leave a good inch free at the top.  You’ll notice I have my jar sitting in a saucer to catch drips if the fermentation process gets going in earnest and bubbles start going over the top.

Leave the jar on the counter for about three days, turning it upside down and shaking it a few times a day to distribute the juices.  Then, put it in a cool place.

You can use the garlic like fresh.  The juice is great in salad dressings.  Or, I suspect, a little would jive up soups.

I’m also going to make some GARLIC ELIXIR–from a recipe in WELL BEING JOURNAL, Jan/Feb 2012.  They took it from Doug Oster’s TOMATOES, GARLIC, BASIL:  THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF GROWING AND COOKING YOUR GARDEN’S MOST VERSATILE VEGGIES.  Sounds like a good book.

Garlic Elixir

1 cup of garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup parsley

1 teaspoon salt (sea salt please)

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

Olive oil (1/2 to 1 cup)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

optional:  chopped black olives or capers to taste

Process garlic and parsley in a blender until chopped fine– put optional ingredients in first before blending the garlic and parley if using.  Place in a mixing bowl.  Add salt, vinegar, pepper and lemon juice, stir in olive oil.  Place in a glass jar and cover with thin layer of olive oil.  Will store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Wow!  I’m guessing some of that added to salad dressing would make some fabulous salad dressing.  Wonder if one could freeze it…

Push the cloves do



Mainely Tipping Points 39

Feb. 1, 2012




Lee Burdett is a food and health blogger:  Her Summer 2011 WISE TRADITIONS article, “Senomyx:  The Brave New World of Flavor BioEngineering,” follows Sally Fallon Morell’s article “The Salt of the Earth,” discussed in Tipping Points 38.  Both writers are concerned with the substitution of chemicals for real food, and both articles can be found online at the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) web site, which is linked on the right sidebar of this blog.  Morell and the WAPF are really worried about what a chemical substitution for real salt might do to the health of the general population.     

Senomyx, writes Burdett, is a ten-year old publicly traded high-tech research and development company based in San Diego.  Senomyx’s work is “closely related to the pharmaceutical industry….”  Indeed, “the majority of their corporate executives came from Pfizer, Novartis and Merck.”  And “their advisory board is populated by neurobiologists, neuropharmacologists and one Nobel prize-winning chemist.”  Synomyx “achieved an 85 percent increase in profits from 2009 to 2010.”

Why is any of this information important?  Because, explains Burdett, Synomyx is a “new player in the big food processing game.”  Synomyx has developed patented flavor enhancers by using what they call their “proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems.”  These systems allow Senomyx to test “an enormous volume of chemicals” and to determine if a particular chemical concoction is “effective or tasty.”  Once found, Synomyx patents the concoction. 

Synomyx has five flavors in various stages of completion, writes Burdett:  Savory Flavors, Sweet Taste, Salt Taste, Cooling Flavors, and Bitter Blockers.  Senomyx has already patented some savory flavor ingredients  and  some sweet flavor ingredients, including a sucralose enhancer.  The savory flavor ingredients were tested against monosodium glutamate (MSG) and inosine monophosphate (IMP)—which is “an expensive MSG enhancer.”  The sweet flavors were tested against various carbohydrate-based sugars and against artificial sweeteners.   Synomyx is working on  cooling flavors; bitter blockers, which will be used as additives in soy foods as they are “too bitter for most people to eat;” and on salty flavors. 

Synomyx, writes Burdett, has given the name SNMX-29 to “the protein they believe is the primary human salt taste receptor.  Now, they will use their “enormous flavor enhancing library to pinpoint which one stimulates SNMX-29 precisely the way sodium chloride does.”  And, “once this is achieved all that is left is for some company to buy the rights to insert that perfect salt enhancer into a food, replacing the need for much of the sodium currently used.”

Synomyx’s chemical flavors, writes Burdett, “stimulate your taste buds without them actually tasting anything.  This subterfuge fools your brain into thinking you have tasted an intensely sweet or savory (unami) flavor.  Much like MSG, these flavor enhancers operate on the neurological level to produce these reactions.  They bypass normal tasting processes and, because of their ability to react directly with the brain’s receptors, send signals directly to the location in your brain where specific flavors are registered.” 

Synomyx’s chemical flavors have not been tested for safety, explains Burdett, because very small amounts are used.  Thus, these chemicals “have not undergone the FDA’s usual safety approval process for food additives.”  But, science is discovering more and more that small amounts of chemicals are dangerous and that eating small amounts multiple times in a day does add up.    

In addition, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA)—which is an industry-funded organization—granted Senomyx’s MSG-enhancer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in “less than eighteen months.”  So, this chemical has been patented and is “already in products on the market.”  Two sweet flavors and two Bitter Blockers have been given GRAS status by FEMA.  As these chemical flavors “are not actually ingredients but rather `enhancers,’ they are not required to be listed in a package’s ingredients except as `artificial flavors.’“  If you are buying packaged foods, likely you’re already eating them.     

The Ajinomoto Group (which mostly operates in China), Cadbury/Kraft, Campbell’s Soup, Firmenich (a Swiss perfume and flavoring company), Solae (soy-based foods), Nestlé, and PepsiCo—all of which have many trade names—are using Senomyx’s flavor enhancers.  For instance, writes Burdett, PepsiCo (which includes the Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Quaker, and Gatorade brands) “recently signed a four-year contract with Senomyx that included a thirty-million dollar up front payment from Pepsi to Senomyx to use their sweet enhancers.”

Burdett notes these sweet chemical flavors can replace 75 percent of sucralose and 50 percent of table sugar.  And, she notes that Synomyx CEO Kent Snyder has cited the need for Synomyx’s salt enhancement program “because salt reduction is such a high priority for food companies and the medical community `due to the association of high salt intake with cardiovascular disease.’ “ 

Yet, we know from Sally Fallon Morell’s article, “The Salt of the Earth,” that salt is “vital to health” and “there is no substitute for salt.”  We know that adequate sodium chloride “must be obtained from salt.”  We know that a 2010 government-funded study published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” found that “even modest reductions in salt intake are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death” and that “lower sodium is associated with higher mortality.”

As with all of these food issues, there is a history.  The salt wars, writes Morell, “began in 1972 when the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, a coalition of thirty-six medical organizations and six federal agencies essentially declared that salt was an unnecessary evil.”  Industry was, of course, involved in this erroneous view.  Morell cites the example of Kristin McNutt, who had been hired by the MSG Foundation .  (Decreasing salt increases consumption of artificial flavorings, like MSG.)  McNutt testified before the McGovern Committee hearings that resulted in the demonization of saturated fats and the promotion of highly processed, dangerous vegetable oils.  McNutt said the following in a lecture before the Society for Nutrition Education in the early 1980s:  “ `It’s just like what we did before the McGovern Committee hearings.  In order to get media attention, we said that salt causes high blood pressure.  We knew it wasn’t true but we had to get their attention.” 

Now, low-salt is part of an elaborate belief system supported by misguided groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and many of our government organizations, like the FDA and the USDA, whose 2010 guidelines lower salt intake, writes Morell, to below the “absolute requirement for salt.”  Industry, including the medical industry, will be the only beneficiary of these unscientific decisions.  And, the food industry stands to make even more money if it does not have to pay for actual sugar and salt.

Chemical flavors are pharmaceuticals and as such should be safety tested.  Certainly they should be properly listed on food labels.  Why aren’t they?  Michael Pollan in IN DEFENSE OF FOOD explains that in 1973, the FDA “simply repealed the 1938 rule concerning imitation foods.”  This action opened the regulatory door to all manner of faked food ingredients.  “All it would take now,” writes Pollan, “was a push from the McGovern’s Dietary Goals for hundreds of `traditional foods that everyone know’ to begin their long retreat from the supermarket shelves and for our eating to become more `scientific’ “(34-36). 

So, don’t be afraid of consuming real, Celtic-type salt.  Avoid packaged, processed foods, especially those with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Cook, eat, and enjoy meals made from organic, locally grown, nutrient dense foods.  Buy a copy of NOURISHING TRADITIONS if you need help.  An hour making a soup or stew or roasting a chicken yields several nights of meals.  In addition to protecting and nourishing your health, your food will be delicious and fully satisfying.


Interesting Information: Real Milk: What is Safe? What is Legal?

Interesting Information:  August 11, 2011

Real Milk:  What is Safe?  What is Legal?

On his July 27, 2011, radio show, Kojo Nnamdi explores what is safe and what is legal when it comes to our consumption of milk.

Recent raids by the FDA have some communities up in arms about whether raw milk is safe to consume. But supporters of unpasteurized milk are rallying a movement that would make it easier to obtain. Kojo explores where food safety, the law and milk collide.


Sally Fallon Morell, President, Weston A. Price Foundation, author ” Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats”

Bill Marler, Attorney, Marler Clark (Seattle, Wash.)

Tipping Points 30: The Very Bad Breakfast

Mainely Tipping Points 30 



Cold cereal with milk and, maybe, some orange juice on the side–we think this breakfast is nourishing, right? 

Well, let’s take a look at the individual ingredients.  Sally Fallon Morell provides such analysis in “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry,” recently updated and reprinted in Well Being Journal, March/April 2011, 11-19.  The original text, given in a speech, is at  Both texts cover much more than packaged cereal, milk, and orange juice.   

All ready-to-eat cereal grains are so highly processed that whatever good the whole grains once contained is killed.  Grains are made into a slurry, are put into a machine called an extruder, and are “forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes then into little o’s and flakes, or shreds them or puffs them.”  The shapes are then sprayed with oil and sugar to seal the grains from “the ravages of milk” and to give them crunchiness.  This process destroys the fatty acids, the synthetic vitamins added at the end, and the “crucial nutrient” amino acid lysine. 

This extrusion process “turns the proteins in grains into neurotoxins.”  Biochemist Paul Stitt describes the now-famous, but still unpublished, 1942 rat study which fed four groups of rats differing diets.  The rats fed vitamins, water, and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks—even before the rats who received no food.  Rats fed plain whole wheat, water, and synthetic vitamins and minerals lived for one year.  Somehow, writes Morell, the extrusion process produces chemical changes in the grains that make them toxic.

In 1960, researchers at the University of Michigan divided rats into three groups.  One group received cornflakes and water, one the cardboard box the cornflakes came in and water, and the control group received rat chow and water.  The rats receiving the cornflakes died before the rats eating the cardboard boxes.  And, before dying, the rats eating cornflakes “developed aberrant behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions.  Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.  This experiment, designed as a joke and still unpublished, undoubtedly shocked its designers. 

The extrusion process alters the structure of grain proteins, so cereals in health food stores made of whole grains rather than refined grains may be more dangerous because they have a higher protein content.  Once disrupted, it’s likely that these altered protein bodies “can interact with each other and other components of the system, forming new compounds that are completely foreign to the human body.”  As these proteins become toxic, they can “adversely affect the nervous system, as indicated by the cornflake experiment.”   

Additionally, Morell notes that many of these cereals are “at least 50 percent sugar.”  Given that grains are carbohydrates that break down into sugars in the body, there is a double sugar load involved when sweeteners are added.  Further, Lierre Keith, in THE VEGETARIAN MYTH, notes that grains contain powerful opioids that make them addictive for humans (33-34).  No wonder we like them so much!

I wrote three Tipping Points on commercial milk (6, 7, 8), so I apologize for repeating some of that information in order to do Morell’s article justice.  Morell notes that most industrial milk is highly processed and, in my terms, a fake food.  This milk comes largely from cows fed foods cows do not eat, to include waste products from other industries.  These cows produce “huge amounts of watery milk with only half the amount of fat” normal cows should produce.  Milk from all these cows is combined and shipped to factories where it is separated into “fat, protein and various other solids and liquids.”  The ingredients are then reconstituted according to “specific levels set for whole, low-fat and no-fat milks”—levels which allow fat to be skimmed off of even whole milk for other products, like butter, cheese, and ice cream.  Reduced fat milks are boosted with powdered milk concentrate to give them body. 

Powdered milk is made by forcing milk “through a tiny hole at high pressure” and then blowing the particles out into the air.  This process causes “a lot of nitrates to form” and, worse, it oxidizes the cholesterol in the milk.  Oxidized cholesterol is dangerous for humans.  It’s used “in animal research to cause atherosclerosis,” or heart disease.  (Cholesterol in your body is not the same thing as oxidized cholesterol.)

Once reconstituted and homogenized, milk is pasteurized, or, more likely today, ultrapasteurized, which cooks it until it is (supposedly) sterile.  It does not need refrigeration.  It will last for many weeks as it’s thoroughly dead. 

I have followed with much pleasure the progress of Maine’s own organic Moo Milk.  This milk comes from local family farms, is processed in Maine, and is not ultrapasteurized.  Moo Milk takes a healthy direction for both the farmers and for Maine consumers.  Hopefully, in time, Moo Milk will pasture Moo cows except in winter, will not homogenize milk, and will offer a line of raw milk for those who are committed to consuming whole foods.   

Morell shows that commercial orange juice is a toxic soup.  Conventional oranges are “sprayed heavily with pesticides called cholinesterase inhibitors [among which are organophosphates and carbamates], which are very toxic to the nervous system.”  Whole oranges are thrown into huge squeezing vats and enzymes and acids are added that help extract as much of the juice as is possible.  The dried orange peels, still loaded with organophosphates, are fed to cattle, which the work of Mark Purdey shows causes a “degeneration of the brain and nervous system in the cow.”  So, what’s it doing to you?

The juice is then pasteurized, but “researchers have found fungus that is resistant to pressure and heat in processed juices.”  And, they’ve found E. coli strains in the orange juice that was, obviously, “pressure resistant and had survived pasteurization.”  Further, like the extrusion of grains, “the heating process produced intermediate products which, under test conditions, gave rise to mutagenicity [changes genes] and cytotoxicity” [causes cancer]. 

In addition, eating cold cereal with low-fat milk and drinking a side of orange juice is eating exactly the kind of easily digestible sugar-rich carbohydrates that are being identified as causing obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.  And, there is very little fat.  Morell reminds us that the demonization of saturated fats and oils has no scientific basis and is “nothing but industry propaganda.”  With so much sugar and so little fat, one will be hungry shortly. 

If you want to eat a grain for breakfast, “soak grains overnight to get rid of the anti-nutrients that are normally neutralized in the sprouting process.  Soaking will neutralize the tannins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid and gently break down complex proteins.”  Soak grains in “warm water and one tablespoon of something acidic, like whey, yoghurt, lemon juice or vinegar.”  In the morning, your grains will cook in just a few minutes.  And, it’s best to eat them with “butter or cream, coconut and chopped nuts like our grandparents did.  The nutrients in the fats are needed in order for you to absorb the nutrients in the grains.  Without the fats—especially the animal fats, which are the only sources of true vitamin A complex and vitamin D3–you cannot absorb the minerals in your food.”

For me, grains and fruit are a rare and much appreciated treat.  For breakfast, I eat from the following:  eggs, often scrambled with leftover green vegetables and cheese; fermented meats like salami or prosciutto; bacon; cheeses; homemade yogurt with nuts, seeds, bits of fresh or dried fruit, and dried coconut; leftover soup; and tea with honey and whole heavy raw cream.  I do not get hungry again until about 2 p.m.

Turkey Tracks: An Asset: Easy, Enzyme-Rich Sauerkraut

Turkey Tracks:  November 23, 2010

An  Asset:  Easy, Enzyme-Rich Sauerkraut


I like to have what I think of as “assets” in my kitchen.  If I have a bone broth, for instance, I have the makings of a soup lunch or dinner.  Salt-preserved lemons topped off with olive oil provide a tasty addition to everything from mashed potatoes to salad dressings to drizzles for baked fish.   Apple chutney is great alongside meat or inside an omelet and keeps for a long time.   I keep piima whole cream which operates like crème fraiche or sour cream and which can be used in tea or coffee to add a different kind of zing.  (Piima is a Finnish cultured milk product that is chock full of enzymes.)  Leftovers can be turned around in new ways for easy meals.  And, lacto-fermented vegetables keep for months in the refrigerator and add zip and enzymes to your plate, especially in the winter when local salad greens are scarce in Maine.  

Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig, in Nourishing Traditions, write that the lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances digestion and promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.  And, lacto-fermented vegetables have antibiotic and anticarciogenic substances.  Plus, eating enzyme-rich food takes pressure off your body to process what you eat.  My favorite lacto-fermented vegetable is sauerkraut.  I put about ¼ cup of sauerkraut on almost every plate we eat in the winter.  People used to lacto-ferment vegetables to preserve them before canning technology arrived.   

Not long ago I dropped the old half-gallon sauerkraut container, and it broke into a million pieces all over the kitchen floor.  It was full of fairly newly made sauerkraut.  So, after I cleaned up the mess, I set about making some more, and in the three days it took to make, we missed having this “asset” around quite a lot.

Here’s a picture of the two new half-gallon containers: 


I used a red cabbage and part of a green cabbage.  In a few days, the red cabbage will turn the new sauerkraut a rosy pink.  See?  It will get darker along the way, and it will keep for months, if we don’t eat it first.  That’s beet kvass on the right, another enzyme-rich, healthy product.


Here’s the recipe from Nourishing Traditions:

1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded.  I use the slicer on a food processor.

I Tablespoon caraway seeds

1 Tablespoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons *whey (or use 1 additional Tablespoon of salt).

 *Whey is the clear liquid that can be drained from good yogurt.  Most commercial yogurt now is so full of pectin and seaweed that it will not drain whey.  So, be aware that what you’re paying for isn’t a full-milk product, but a product adulterated with fillers—so the producer makes more money.

 I far prefer the whey to additional salt.  You can drain yogurt by putting a paper towel or two, or a coffee filter, into a colander and setting it over a bowl.  Put yogurt into the paper-covered well of the colander and set it over a deeper bowl.  You can put a plate over it if you like.  The whey drains off, leaving you with a delicious spreadable cheese you can flavor with herbs or drizzle with honey.  Don’t worry; this mixture won’t go bad at room temperature.

 I mix the sauerkraut ingredients in a big bowl and pound it a little with something a bit heavy:  a mallet, the handle end of a big spoon, or a mortar grinder.  When the cabbage starts to release its liquid, pack the cabbage into a clean Mason jar, making sure you leave about an inch of free space.  Keep the mixture at room temperature for about three days, turning it upside down to distribute the liquid once or twice a day.  (Don’t leave it upside down—just mix it up.)  You can eat it most anytime, but it’s best after about three days.  Refrigerate it and ENJOY!

Tipping Points 20: Chemical Brews: Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

Chemical Brews:  Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

The American Dietetic Association groups sweeteners into two major categories:  nutritive and non-nutritive.   Nutritive sweeteners provide energy to the body; non-nutritive sweeteners do not, which means they sweeten without calories.  Thus, non-nutritive sweeteners have been the backbone of the diet industry. 

The FDA currently approves five non-nutritive sweeteners:  aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame K, sucralose, and neotame.  The FDA banned cyclamate in 1969 and has never approved alitame, which is similar to aspartame.

Aspartame, or 1-aspartyl 1-phenylalanine methyl ester, was discovered by accident when James Schlatter, while working on creating new drugs to treat ulcers, accidentally licked his fingers in order to pick up a piece of paper.  Aspartame is 80 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar.  And, according to Jim Earle in “Sugar-Free Blues:  Everything You Wanted to Know About Artificial Sweeteners,” February 2004 ( ), aspartame            is the most widely used non-nutritive sweetener.  By 1992, Earle writes, Americans were using 8.4 million pounds of aspartame yearly, which represents 80 percent of world demand.  About 70 percent of aspartame is used in soft drinks, but it is added also to “more than 6,000 foods, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals.”  Aspartame is sold under several brand names, including NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonfuls, Canderel, Bienvia, NatraSweet, and Miwan.

Earle explains that during digestion, aspartame degrades into methanol, or wood alcohol, and two amino acids:  phenylalanine, the largest component by weight, and aspartic acid.  Methanol is a known, lethal poison that can cause, Devra Davis notes in THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WAR ON CANCER (2007), blindness and brain damage.  And, she notes that methanol content of aspartame is “a thousand times greater than most foods under FDA control” (421). 

Phenylalanine, Earle notes, is dangerous to people with phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited condition.  And, he notes that the FDA recommends that pregnant and lactating women, people with advanced liver disease, and phenylketonurics avoid aspartame.   

The FDA admits also, writes Earle, that “aspartic acid has the potential to cause brain damage,” but the FDA limits the danger to very high doses.  Earle notes that Dr. Christine Lydon, an aspartame researcher, explains that phenylalanine and aspartic acid are amino acids found naturally in foods, but in foods they are eaten alongside other amino acids.  Separated, each enters “the nervous system in abnormally high concentrations, causing aberrant neuronal firing and potential cell death”—which, in turn, is linked to “headaches, mental confusion, balance problems and possibly seizures.” 

Earle notes that Dr. Lydon warns that phenylalanine decomposes into diketopiperazine (DKP) a known carcinogen, when exposed to warm temperatures or prolonged storage.  At cold temperatures, methanol “spontaneously gives rise to a colorless toxin known as formaldehyde.”  Jim Turner’s timeline detailing the history of aspartame’s approval by the FDA notes that aspartame’s unstable nature prompted The National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) to petition the FDA in July 1983 to delay approval “pending further testing because aspartame is very unstable in liquid form” (     

Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell, in NOURISHING TRADITIONS (2000), write that “aspartame…is a neurotoxic substance that has been associated with numerous health problems including dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures and depression.  It is suspected of causing birth defects and chemical disruptions of the brain.”  And, Enig and Morell report that in 1992 Utah State University researchers reported “that even at low levels aspartame induces adverse changes in the pituitary glands of mice.  The pituitary gland is the master gland upon which the proper function of all biochemical processes depend” (51).     

Davis notes that the U.S. military, in two publications, “warned that aspartame can cause serious brain problems in pilots” (422).  And, Davis points to the flaw in tests that kill and exam rats before they have lived out their natural lifespans—an important factor since cancer can often take decades to develop and killing rats early derails detection of cancer formation.  She cites test results in 2001 showing the development of cancer in multiple organs of rats allowed to live out their natural life spans–even though dosages were well under those allowed in America (50 mg daily).  Davis notes that one can of diet soda contains 200 mg of aspartame (424-425).  She further notes that there is “no evidence at all” that those who use aspartame actually lose weight.  Actually, there is “some indication” that aspartame “creates a sugar deficit” which leads “people to seek more sugar from other sources” (423). 

Earle reports that as of 1995 over 75 percent of the adverse reactions reported to the Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS) of the FDA were due to aspartame.  Davis notes that the FDA stopped gathering adverse reaction reports in 1995 (422). 

Saccharin, from the Latin for “sugar,” is 300 times sweeter than sugar.  Saccharin, Earle notes, was also discovered by accident in 1879 when a Johns Hopkins scientist spilled some and noticed the sweet taste.  Saccharin, until 1915, was first used as an antiseptic agent and food preservative.  In 1901, John F. Queeny, started the Monsanto corporation, manufactured saccharin, and shipped it to a Georgia company,  Coca-Cola. 

Saccharin is “the holy grail of the artificial sweetener industry,” writes Earle, because it “is not metabolized by the human body and is excreted rapidly through the urine.”  This kind of compound, Earle explains, tastes sweet, is stable in prepackaged foods and beverages, is thought to be “so foreign to the human diet that our digestive systems cannot metabolize them to create any dietary calories,” and is “dirt cheap to produce in bulk.

World War II brought sugar shortages, but cyclamate, discovered in 1937 when a graduate student at the University of Illinois working on anti-fever drugs accidentally tasted it, came to the rescue and was the chemical of choice.  Saccharin’s original chemical classification lists it as an O-toluene sulfonamide derivative.  Toluene is a colorless liquid hydrocarbon distilled from coal tar, which may, Earle suggests, account for saccharin’s “bitter, metallic aftertaste.”  In 1958, Maryin Eisenstadt mixed saccharin with cyclamate and introduced Sweet’n Low, which we have today, without the cyclamate.    

Dr. Nathanael J.  McKeown, a medical toxologist, writes that “toluene (methylbenzene, toluol, phenylmethane) is an aromatic hydrocarbon (C7 H8) commonly used as an industrial solvent for the manufacturing of paints, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and rubber. …Toluene is found in gasoline, acrylic paints, varnishes, lacquers, paint thinners, adhesives, glues, rubber cement, airplane glue, and shoe polish.  At room temperature, toluene is a colorless, sweet smelling, and volatile liquid” whose fumes are highly toxic (“Toluene, Toxicity,”  (These fumes, sniffed by some to get high, as with glue, affect the Central Nervous System.) 

Saccharin is now, Earle explains, manufactured by a more cost-effective method developed in 1950 that begins with synthetically produced methyl anthranilate.  Wikipedia explains that anthranilic acid successively reacts with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and then ammonia to yield saccharin.  Another route, Wikipedia continues, begins with o-chlorotoluene

And, Wikipedia notes that saccharin is also known as ortho sulfobenzoic acid.  Earle notes that as saccharin is a sulfonamide, some people have allergic reactions to it.  Further, saccharin-sweetened infant formula has produced severe, largely muscle, reactions in some babies. 

In 1969, the FDA proposed banning saccharin with cyclamate until its safety was proved, but, Earle notes, significant opposition from a public now concerned with calories saved saccharin.  Canada, however, did ban saccharin in 1977 as a carcinogen.  The US Congress put a two-year moratorium on any ban, but mandated a cautionary label warning of possible health hazards, including cancer.  For the next 26 years, numerous studies (2374) have been performed to prove or disprove saccharin safety until, in 1991, the FDA gave saccharin, as Earle notes, “something of a probationary status,” though the FDA still classifies saccharin as an“anticipated human carcinogen.” 

Acesulfame-K, or acesulfame potassium, or 5,6-dimethyl-1,2,3-oxathiazine-4(3H)-one-2,2-dioxide, or ACK, was also discovered by a German chemist in 1967 when he licked his fingers to pick up a piece of paper.  ACK is, Earle writes, 200 times sweeter than sugar and is thought not metabolized by the body so is excreted unchanged in the urine.  The FDA approved ACK  in 1988 for use in” baked goods, frozen desserts, alcoholic beverages and candies” and, in 1998, for “all other general sweetening purposes.”  ACK has been marketed under the brand names Sunett, Sweet One, Swiss Sweet, and Sweet & Safe.  Pepsi used it in Pepsi One upon its FDA approval.  And, ACK is often blended with aspartame, as it is in Twinsweet. 

Earle notes that there is very little information about ACK.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI), he writes, concluded that the safety tests were of mediocre quality.  And, that “large doses of acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits and dogs.  ACK, he notes, stimulates insulin secretion which can possibly aggravate hypoglycemia, or low-blood sugar.    

Sucralose, or 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-BETA-D-fructofukranosyl-4-chloro-4-deoxy-alpha-D-galactopyranoside, was discovered, Earle writes, as a sweetener in 1976 when a grad student misunderstood “testing” for “tasting” and discovered that “many chlorinated sugars are hundreds or thousands of times sweeter than sucrose.”  Splenda is the brand we know. 

Johnson & Johnson claims sucralose is exceptionally stable and that sucralose passes through the body without being broken down.  But, Earle notes, sucralose “has the fewest independent scientific tests to its credit of all non-nutritive sweeteners.”  And, “independent reviewers of Johnson & Johnson’s tests have found them to be inadequate and methodologically flawed.”

Earle notes that “several pre-approval tests still indicated potential toxicity.”  And, research is now showing some alarming physical reactions, including  shrinking of the thymus gland, enlargement of the liver and kidneys, decreased red blood cell count, and decreased fetal body weights.   Earle notes that the FDA’s “own research has shown that 11 to 27 percent of sucralose is absorbed in humans.”  Japanese tests show that as much as 40 percent of sucralose is absorbed.  And, the FDA considers sucralose to be “weakly mutagenic” in some mouse studies.

These effects, Earle notes, are “not fully understood.”  But, detractors are pointing to the chlorinated molecules, which are also “used as the basis for pesticides such as DDT” and which “tend to accumulate in body tissues.” 

Nor is sucralose stable.  Prolonged storage, especially at high temperatures, causes breakdown into chemicals which have not been “specifically tested in terms of safety for human ingestion.” 

Neotame is produced by The NutraSweet Company and is known as “superaspartame.”  It is synthesized from a base of aspartame and 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde.    It’s chemical name is N-[N-(3,3-dimethylbutyl)-L-a-aspartyl]-L-phenylalanine 1-methyl ester.  It is 8000 times sweeter than sugar.  Earle poses that The NutraSweet Company is positioning neotame to replace aspartame whose patent rights expired in the 1990s. 

None of these accidentally discovered chemical brews have been shown to be safe for humans.  Many may be, in fact, quite dangerous.  The pattern of FDA approval fits the pattern Davis establishes in THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WAR ON CANCER:   a profitable but potentially dangerous product appears; industry denies and demonizes science pointing to problems; industry produces flawed studies that obfuscate the safety issues; industry manipulates the legal and political mechanisms meant to protect citizens; industry buys massive advertising to sell the product; and industry achieves a profitable status quo.

Here’s three things you can do.    Stop eating these products.  Buy local, organic, whole foods and cook them yourself.  And recognize that we have to change the values that put profit before people.

Mainely Tipping Points 17: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Mainely Tipping Points 17

High Fructose Corn Syrup

 Despite the food industry’s attempt to tell us so, all food calories do not have the same impact on our bodies.  Nor are all sugars equal.  Most sweeteners are formed from three different sugars (sucrose, glucose, and fructose), and each has a different impact on the body. 

 Sugars are carbohydrates, and, according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME (2004), all carbohydrates are made of tiny molecules, called monosaccharides, or monosugars.  Glucose and fructose are monosugars, so do not need digestion.  They enter the gut directly.  Sucrose is a disaccharides, or double sugar, and it and other double sugars (lactose from milk and maltose from starches) require “quite a bit of” digestive work in a healthy body to reduce them to absorbable monosugars.  Unhealthy bodies harbor these undigested sugars in the gut, and an unfortunate chain of disease begins as these sugars feed “pathogenic bacteria, viruses, Candida and other fungi,” which themselves begin to produce toxic substances that “damage the gut wall and poison the whole body” (79-81).        

Most sweeteners have different sugar compositions.  High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is typically 42-55 percent fructose and 45-55 percent glucose.  Honey is 50 percent fructose, 44 percent glucose, and 1 percent sucrose.  Only raw sugar is 100 percent sucrose  (“Sugar by Any Other Name,” NUTRITION ACTION HEALTH LETTER, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Jan/Feb 2010, page 4).  But, as Sally Fallon Morell and Rami Nagel explain in WISE TRADITIONS (Spring 2009), the type of fructose in HFCS is not the same as fructose from fruit and our bodies do not know how to process it into energy (“Worse Than We Thought,” 44-52).

Industry creates HFCS from corn starch, which largely comes from genetically modified corn.  For an amusing, but serious explanation of how HFCS is made, take a look at the movie KING CORN (2007).  A not-so-funny fact surfaced recently according to Morell and Nagel :  nearly 50 percent of samples of commercial HFCS contained mercury, which was found also in nearly one-third of “55 brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient” (47).

 Fructose in fruit, report Morell and Nagel, is “part of a complex that includes fiber, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.”  The fructose in HFCS is a free, unbound fructose with an important chemical difference.  Most fruit fructose is D-fructose, or levulose, but HFCS fructose is L-fructose, an artificial compound which has “the reversed isomerization and polarity of a refined fructose molecule.”  Thus, the fructose in HFCS is “not recognized in the human Krebs cycle for primary conversion to blood glucose in any significant quantity, and therefore cannot be used for energy utilization.”  Instead, HFCS, like all refined fructose sweeteners” is “primarily converted into triglycerides and adipose tissue (body fat).”  

Indeed, report Morell and Nagel, a new study published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, “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, remind Morell and Nagel, cause increased insulin resistance, inflammation, and heart disease (47).

Nancy Appleton and G. N. Jacobs, in WELL BEING JOURNAL, reported that two published studies (2010) from Princeton University demonstrated that HFCS causes obesity in rats The researchers think that HFCS is more fattening than sugar because it is not bound to anything, which, in turn, allows it to be processed in the liver into fat—substantially abdominal fat—a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  Sucrose is” metabolized by insulin from the pancreas and is more readily used as an energy source.”  Additionally, HFCS bypasses the body’s ability to create satiety, or feeling full (“High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity,” WELL BEING JOURNAL, Sept/Oct. 2010, 9-10).  Morell and Nagel note that since all fructose is metabolized in the liver, the livers of test animals “fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics (48).”

Rats aren’t humans.  But epidemiologist Devra Davis in THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WAR ON CANCER (2007) notes that industry has been very adept at both decrying and promoting animal studies:  “Where animal studies on the causes of cancer exist, industry faults them as not relevant to humans.  Yet when studies of almost identical design are employed to craft novel treatments and therapies, the physiological differences between animals and humans suddenly become insignificant” (xii).  So, Davis argues, dismissing animal studies is a type of reasoning that is both “morally flawed” and “ignores one simple fact:  the same basic structure of DNA is found in all mammals (8)”  Davis writes that she has witnessed in her professional life “the maturing of the science of doubt promotion,” or “the concerted and well-funded effort to identify, magnify and exaggerate doubts about what we could say that we know as a way of delaying actions to change the way the world operates” (xii).  Thus, “treating people like experimental animals in a vast and largely uncontrolled study,” while ignoring data from animal studies showing direct cause-and-effect data, is ”morally indefensible” (8).

Morell and Nagel report that HFCS entered the market in the early 1970s, but the FDA did not grant it GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status until 1996, “after considerable pressure from the industry” (mainly Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill) as negative research begin to emerge.  Nevertheless, “HFCS represents the major change in the American diet over the last forty years” as it has replaced more expensive sugar in most soft drinks and is “increasingly replacing sugar in baked goods, bread, cereals, canned fruits, jams and jellies, dairy desserts and flavored yoghurts.”  This substitution is occurring despite research showing that while refined sugars have “empty, depleting, addictive calories,” HFCS is “actually worse for you” (44-45).

 The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) notes that industry has added so many sugars to processed foods that “the average American swallows 350 to 475 calories’ worth of added sugars each day,” all of which are empty calories (“Sugar Overload,” NUTRITION ACTION HEALTH LETTER, Jan/Feb 2010, 3-8).  Dr. David A. Kessler, a former FDA commissioner, in THE END OF OVEREATING (2009), focuses on how industry has added sugar, salt, and bad fats to processed foods, which is changing a pattern where “for thousands of years human body weight stayed remarkably stable” (3). 

The HFCS story gets worse.  A team of researchers at the University of California Los Angeles Jonsson Cancer Center released a study on 2 August 2010 revealing that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate.  Dr. Anthony Heaney said that tumor cells thrived on glucose, but used fructose to proliferate.  He specifically referred to Americans’ use of refined fructose consumption.  Our use of HFCS has increased 1000 percent between 1970 and 1990 (Maggie Fox, “Cancer Cells Feed on Fructose, Study Finds,” 2 Aug. 2010, Reuters).         

HFCS can cause high blood pressure.  A study from the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center recorded the eating habits of over 4,500 adults to determine that amount of HFCS each was consuming.  Those consuming “more than 74 grams of HFCS (the equivalent of 2.5 servings of soft drinks) exhibited `significantly increased risk of developing hypertension.’ “  Indeed, “the study concluded that HFCS consumption can raise blood pressure in adults with no history of hypertension, independently of any other causes” (“High Fructose Corn Syrup = High Blood Pressure, WELL BEING JOURNAL, March/April 2010, 6).   

 Connections are being made between HFCS and gout.  Fructose increases uric acid, and uric acid causes gout.  A study of about 46,000 men who got “at least 12 percent of their calories from fructose” were” twice as likely to be diagnosed with gout” (“Sugar Overload,” NUTRITION ACTION HEALTH LETTER, Jan/Feb 2010, 7). 

 I found much more information showing that HFCS is a dangerous product that is causing humans significant harm.  It’s also likely that industry knows how dangerous it is, but uses it anyway because it is sweet and cheap.  Remember that industry is legally organized to behave this way.  What you can do is to eat nutrient-dense, organic, local foods to maintain your health.