Happy Mother’s Day! on prenatal vitamins……

Mothers do the greatest work in the world! On this day, I’d like to say how thankful I am that Kincade, Emma, Mary Elizabeth, and Tennyson made me a mom, starting nearly 18 years ago. I love you guys so much.

And thank you to anyone who reads this blog who does that work every day. It’s hard work and sometimes it feels thankless. But there is nothing else like it–in its highs and lows and its impact on human beings and the world.

If you’re a mom, or if you might be someday, or if you participate in nurturing others, I honor you every day, and especially today!

Here’s an email I got this week about PRENATAL VITAMINS, from Sashleigha:

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:

My doctor prescribed prenatals . These are the “other ingredients”:

hypromellose, beeswax, pyridoxine HCI, Zinc oxide, magnesium oxide, d-calcium, pantothenate, microcrystalline cellulose, cupric oxide, thiamin mononitrate, dibasic calcium phosphate, titanium dioxide, FD and C Red #40, shellac, and cyanocobalamin.

What should I take?

Answer:  Zinc oxide? They put it in paint, batteries, batteries, and plastics, because it’s insoluble in water. Shellac? That’s paint/glue! Titanium dioxide has been classified as a carcinogen if you breathe it, proven to cause lung cancer in rats, so perhaps eating it isn’t a good idea?

Red dye #40? Pull up the Materials Safety and Data Sheet on it. This is just part of what it says: “Harmful if swallowed, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, pain and diarrhea. May cause central nervous system depression; liver and kidney damage based on animal data. Use of this product may aggravate preexisting skin, eye, and respiratory disorders including asthma and dermatitis. Causes skin and eye irritation: symptoms may include pain, redness, and swelling.”

I am so frustrated by medical doctors telling people to eat those synthetic pills. At a minimum, please don’t take the iron pills they sell in pharmacies. That form of iron is not useable by the body, and it will make you constipated.

Food is the best prenatal. All of the nutrients that are found, in synthetic form, in those pills, are found in natural form your body can use in greens, vegetables, and fruits. Also seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains (especially sprouted).   If you must take a vitamin (probably a good idea to avoid falling below minimum thresholds, if you’re eating the S.A.D.), at least get a brand at your health food store, not in the pharmacy.

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: p.s. I was totally blown away by your email! Not only that, I decided to open one of them up and squeeze out what I thought would be powder.  I got a dark sludge that smelled like foul fish!!! THAT’S recommended to go in my body to harbor a healthy place for a potential fetus?! NO THANK YOU! I was so ANGRY!

-Sash

Vitamin D update

So I told you last summer I was doing a Vitamin D experiment and that I’d report back. After a summer in the sun playing tennis and running, I was tanned and probably as high in Vitamin D as I would get in a year.

I get a moderate amount of sun (while trying to avoid being burned) because (a) I love playing sports outside and (b) I think the sun helps us avoid cancer, have strong bones, and a strong immune system, among other things. I took the high-accuracy Vitamin D blood test and scored quite high, a 79. I asked my LNP who interprets these test results for a grade like you’d get in school, for that score, since I can’t find a chart. She gave me a B+. She said many people have extremely low scores, like 5 or 10.

So the next part of my experiment was to take Vita D (pill form) through the winter. I was out of the sun the entire 8 months except for a few sunny days in Peru, and a day or two of spring skiing lately. I had never taken Vita D in my life, and I hadn’t taken a vitamin supplement of any kind for years.

So I took 3,000 IU Vitamin D daily, for 8 months (a very conservative amount). My score was a 61 when I went back for the test last week.

So my Vitamin D level fell–a lot–because the synthetic version does not help me anywhere near as well (if at all) as the natural way (sunshine) does.

This is certainly in keeping with my assumption, that natural ways to get vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes–are superior and are utilized much more efficiently and effectively by the body.

I wonder about lots of things. First, should I take 5,000 IU instead? (Was my dose too low?) I can’t answer that based on this experiment, and you can overdose on Vita D. I’m going to take 5,000 IU next winter. Second, how do I know that my level of 61 isn’t the exact same it would be if I didn’t supplement? I can’t know that.

What I do know is that the sun gave me a close-to-optimal amount of Vita D.

Dear GSG: Why is the media always telling us one thing and then the opposite about nutrition?

Answer: I know it’s frustrating.   I get this gripe all the time, and some people use it to dismiss all information about nutrition altogether and just eat whatever tastes good: “they don’t know what they’re talking about anyway.”

Well, by “they” (first they tell us one thing, then another), we mean science, right?   Science is always evolving, always learning new things.   The perfect example is what is happening in research recently regarding sunshine and Vitamin D.

You grew up, like me, being told not to get in the sun because it causes skin cancer.   We were taught that sunscreen was our friend, and we slathered it on.   Well, I didn’t, but everyone else did.   I felt guilty.   But I cannot stand the stuff–I have a phobia of it, really.   I can’t even stand to touch it to put it on my children.   Just a weird little neurosis (they learned early to put it on themselves, and of course I used the sprays on them).

Now many studies–not just one or two–tell us that getting enough sun exposure is actually critical for cancer defense and immunity. That if we can’t get in the sun close to year-round, we should take 5,000 mg. of Vitamin D supplementation daily.

The reason we get different information is that we’re post-Information Age, constantly getting new data. It’s a GOOD thing. But we have to be smart enough to sift through data–the good, the bad, and the dubious. The dubious, set it aside until you receive further data to support or contradict it. The bad, realize that lots of “research” has a profit motive and doesn’t deserve your attention. With Vitamin D and the sun, to refer back to my example, it’s becoming an avalanche of empirical evidence pointing in the same direction–that sunshine is good for us. (Sunshine, not sunburn.)

Any other issues you’re confused about, I’d be happy to talk about. Or research, if I don’t know enough about it yet.

what enzymes do to make food digestible . . . part 6

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Which enzyme supplement should I take?

 

If you’re going to eat at least some of your meals that are partially or fully cooked or processed, please always take 1 or 2 capsules of digestive enzymes first.   If you read my site, blog, or book, you know I am generally skeptical of eating pills, period.   I believe synthetic supplementation is massively inferior to the complex way that nature designed food to give us just the right ratios in the most natural, easily assimilated way possible.

 

Digestive enzymes, however, are a necessity if you’re not planning to buck modern culture altogether and eat a mostly-raw diet every meal, every day.   I know of no controversy about taking enzyme supplements, because so many studies have shown their effectiveness.   I recommend having them in your purse or wallet at all times, as well as in your kitchen.

 

Enzyme supplements come from animals, plants, or microorganisms.   Supplements made from animal pancreas extracts become inactive when hydrochloric acid enters the lower stomach.   They aren’t particularly adapted, since they operate in the controlled internal environment.   Microbial enzymes, on the other hand, are active at pH as low as 2.0 and as high as 10.0. Microorganisms use their enzymes to break down the plant material they grow on, and since fungus can grow in a variety of places, fungi have very adaptable enzymes.   Manufacturers coat pancreatic enzymes for acid resistance, with chemical coatings I don’t trust.   So I much prefer plant-based or microbial enzymes.

 

I don’t advocate for lots of supplements, fractionated and processed far from the holistic packages we get in whole plant foods.   I believe nature provided well for us.   The two supplements I do believe in taking on a regular basis are DIGESTIVE ENZYMES and a good PROBIOTIC (to heal and nourish the gut and guard against takeovers by bad bacteria).

 

Look for microbial or plant-based enzyme supplements. (And no, I don’t have a brand I know to be superior to others to recommend to you.   I am still researching.)

 

Take one capsule at the beginning of a meal that is 50-70% raw.   Take two capsules if your meal is less than 50% raw.   If you forget at the beginning of the meal, take your enzymes in the middle or even at the end of the meal.   They work on contact!

“the plural of anecdote is not data” . . . part 2 of 4

We have some strange logical fallacies that cause us to NOT learn what health and nutrition really are.   (That, and lots of voices compete in the world of nutrition, so the field truly can be confusing.)

 

First, let’s say Sue hears from her neighbor that eating caterpillars will straighten her baby’s bow legs.   So she collects a bunch of caterpillars and feeds them to the baby, who gags, refuses to eat most of the mashed caterpillar even though Sue hides them in Twinkies, gets diarrhea . . . and still has bow legs.   Sue says, “These ‘natural’ things don’t work–I’m going back to the M.D. who is a true SCIENTIST.”

 

Second, I have sister-in-law who writes off all the natural-healing folks as crazy because she has a sister-in-law who believes anything she hears and buys every supplement, product, gadget.   And said sister-in-law is none the healthier for it.   (This reminds me of someone who doesn’t believe in marriage because her ex-spouse was a jerk.)

 

Third, I have a family member who has basically discarded all information.   “They told us oatmeal would cure heart disease.   Then they told us it didn’t,” she says.   Her conclusion?   “I don’t listen to them anymore.”   She’s tuned “them” out.   (“Them” being all science, all studies, all media–essentially all new information.)  

 

So many things are wrong with these conclusions.   We have a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water, like in the oatmeal example.   Or, we just don’t go down the path far enough to differentiate those with a true and deep knowledge base (Bernard Jensen, Joel Fuhrman, Robert O. Young, etc.) from the snake-oil, quack, purveyors of priestcraft–or, more innocuous, those who really believe in their product that is rather unproven.

 

I’m as skeptical of (while friendlier toward) natural cure claims as I am of Big Pharma and the medical institution.   (I do think the “cures” of the former are more innocuous than the “cures” of the latter, and some of them can be effective.)   You can find a lot of voodoo under the banner of “alternative healing.”  

The good thing about nutritional healing is that the evidence is beyond substantial–it’s an avalanche–that plant foods heal and prevent disease and create healthy populations.   Notice that I stay away from promoting this or that vitamin supplement (scientific efficacy being far from proven, and IMO sketchy at best whether they help us at ALL).  

Notice that I don’t promote all the concentrated, pasteurized juices whose “evidence” is always just anecdotal.   Note that I don’t promote miracle cures for cancer, which I think might be worth your time and money if you have money to burn and you’re sure trying it won’t hurt you–but they should be supplementary to a GreenSmoothieGirl diet, not in lieu of!  

Tomorrow, an excerpt from the 12 Steps to Whole Foods introduction, a crash course on how to evaluate the deluge of nutrition and health data you read in the news.