Category Archives: Nutrition

My Top Ten Juicing Myths: Myth #10

JUICE FREE DIGITAL PHOTOS PHOTOFRIDAYOver the next few weeks I’m going to list some common myths about fresh fruit and vegetable juices. A few will sound ridiculous but I do not include them for comic relief; I know a large number of people who sincerely believe these myths.

I truly believe in the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and I hate to see such a valuable health resource as juicing thrown out because a few charismatic “juice evangelists” like to make unsubstantiated health claims about it.

If they are not true, where did these juicing myths come from?

  • Some of these myths were started innocently by juice machine salespeople who just didn’t know better. In some instances these untrained salesmen were exposed to some bit of medical information and misinterpreted it because they had no scientific background to understand what they were reading.
  • Some times it was a matter of repetition; if everyone was saying something, it must be true! Juicer infomercials were on so often and people heard the same misinformation repeated so often it was easy to accept that information as true and so certain myths took root. What people need to remember is that the older men who sold these juicers were not nutritionists (no matter what some of them claimed). They were salespeople hired by the company owners to put a face on the machine and what they lacked in formal education they often made up for in imagination.
  • Other myths got started when people read very old books on juicing (cough, cough Norman Walker cough) that quoted greatly outdated medical information. Outdated was interpreted as traditional and traditional could be relied upon because it had stood the test of time.
  • Some myths were believed because the salesperson promoting the misinformation was so charismatic. Their followers believed in them (and their claims) with an almost religious fervor.
  • But often the goal was darker and erroneous claims were made just to increase juice extractor sales to a specific population (e.g. this juice will cure your Parkinson’s).

Don’t Throw the Juice Away with the Bath Water

The medical community reacts to this by throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. If some juicing claims are ridiculous, all of them are! I hope to correct some of this misinformation in some small way in a new book I am writing. Meanwhile, treat your juice extractor like the valuable kitchen appliance it is and use it often.

Now in order of how annoying they are to me, here is the first in my top ten Juicing Myths.

Juicing Myth #10: You cannot mix fruit fresh fruit and vegetable juices together.

If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I would be a rich person. According to one salesperson (Jay, the Juiceman, Kordich) this is especially true if the fruit is melon. He claimed if you mixed melon juices with vegetable juice, your stomach would blow up (as in explode) from the gases. I talked to him personally about this and he was very serious. I’ve mixed melon juices with vegetable juice all the time and my stomach is more or less still intact. Others claim the reason for this prohibition is because the enzymes in fruit and vegetable juices are not compatible with each other so the juice cannot be digested. Others claim it causes bloating or indigestion.

There is no known reason not to mix fruit and vegetable together. How do you even distinguish between them? By some criteria tomatoes are a fruit but by others they are a vegetable. Same with cucumbers.

Keep in mind that our body’s digestive system was designed when we were primates and our ancestors did not have the cognitive ability to tell fruits from vegetables. If it fit in their mouth, tasted good, and didn’t bite back or crawl away, they ate it. Therefore, our guts had to be designed in such a way that a wide variety of foods could be eaten whenever they were available. Tomorrow you might not find anything to eat.

I tend to be a garbage juicer. If a fruit or vegetable looks like it might not last another day, I throw it into the juicer. Crisp up that wilted romaine and toss it into the juicer with a stick of leftover celery. Add the baby carrots and broccoli heads you meant to steam last night but forgot about. Top it off with a couple of apples and that forgotten wedge of lemon. The result is a good-tasting juice made with no particular recipe yet it is just as heath-promoting as anything copied from a book.

That said, this does not mean you might want to mix fruit and veggie together. If one of the juices doesn’t sit well in your stomach, you might not want to drink it. I just heard from a young man who couldn’t tolerate carrot juice and he wanted to know what he should do. I told him not to drink carrot juice or to drink just a small amount and see if less was more.

Remember, just because you have a problem doesn’t mean everyone will. Melon tends to make me burp (it “repeats”). That doesn’t mean melon is bad, it all depends on how you feel about burping. If you don’t like burping, don’t eat the foods that cause it. I eat lots of melon and enjoy the taste of it- both times.

However, I can guarantee that melon juice, alone or with a vegetable juice, will not make your stomach explode. Go ahead and mix the two to your taste.

McDonald’s

Green apple in handWord has come that the McDonald’s happy meal is about to become happier. For the parents that is. On second thought, scrap that because if the parent makes McDonald’s a regular source of food for their child they probably don’t care (for whatever reason) what their kids eat. So make that happier for the adult that child is going to be and not the adult that cares for the child.

Eating at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s is associated with an increase in obesity. I’m not against children eating at McDonald’s but as an occasional treat not as a daily fare.

The new happy meal will include a piece of fruit and a smaller portion of french fries.

Migraines

14421cr7i3bau06  m bartoschIf your migraines begin with pain in the back of the neck like mine, here are some ideas for stopping the migraine. If you are on medication like one of the triptans (for example Imitrex), you should take this as soon as you recognize it is a migraine. These ideas can help your medication work better or even substitute for it  sometimes. The key is to start these as soon as you realize it might be a migraine.

  1. Take ibuprofen ASAP. This generic drug is an anti-inflammatory and many studies show it can have a significant effect on migraine pain. It will even help your Imitrex work better. The migraine research on this drug used generic ibuprofen and not one of the expensive brand names.
  2. Apply ice to the back of the neck up under the skull and not down on the muscles of your shoulder. I freeze gel packs so they have a bump in the middle that presses on this area. Frozen peas will fit into the back of the skull too if no gel pack is available.
  3. If the migraine is being triggered by cold and shivering, I stick on a neck-sized ThermaCare pad lower on the neck than I would place an ice pack so it warms up neck and shoulder muscles. These are the pads that generate heat when removed from the package. They can take up to 30 minutes to reach their highest temperature but I find they heat enough to make a difference within 10 minutes. Do not confuse these pads with the ones that contain a chemical that reacts with nerves in the skin to give the sensation of heat and/or cold. You don’t want the sensation of coolness you want the cold temperature itself. When my skin has become sensitive from the migraine these chemical pads can even be painful and burn my skin.
  4. Lie flat as you can and keep your head and neck straight.
  5. If lying flat is not feasible, put on a soft neck collar. You can purchase one at any pharmacy store. This is basically a 3/4 inch thick strip of soft foam covered with fabric with Velcro fasteners. Don’t wear it too tight.
  6. Use as many of these ideas at the same time as you can. I have taken ibuprofen and then stretched out on the floor wearing an eye mask with ice under the skull. If cold was a trigger, I add a heating pad or Thermacare pad on my lower neck.
  7. Once I have two migraines back to back I start taking a generic form of the anti-histamine Benadryl, diphenhydramine HCl, for a few weeks. Histamine, which is involved in allergies, is thought to trigger some migraines so most doctors now recommend patients with migraines try an antihistamine. This once broke a daily headache I had had for months. Buy the generic in a bottle because diphenhydramine or Benadryl in those single capsule bubbles can be very expensive and smaller bottles can be more expensive than a larger. I buy a bottle of the generic brand at Costco or Walmart. Be aware that Benadryl/diphenhydramine will cause sleepiness which I think is a benefit when I get a migraine. Just avoid driving or any activity that demands your full attention. However, after taking it daily for a few weeks it no longer made me sleepy.

Migraines can be very personal so these ideas may not work for you. The trick is finding out what is triggering your migraines by keeping a detailed diary. My migraines do not occur on a regular basis. They go away for 6 to 10 weeks and then I have a period of two weeks with migraines occurring frequently. I can get away with a glass of wine in-between migraine periods but when I am in a migraine phase alcohol of any kind will almost always trigger a migraine. The same with my other triggers. I once dragged formal wear all over Ireland to wear at the end of our vacation to the Galway Oyster Festival Ball. I gave in to a single glass of Guinness (which always tastes better in Ireland) after the Festival parade and barely made it back to the hotel before a major migraine hit. Hubby went off to the ball without me leaving me in the hotel in misery. All my finery never left my suitcase.

Too often we concentrate only on food triggers but there are many environmental triggers too. If you do a food diary to catch food triggers, add in an environmental details like temperature and other weather conditions, where you were, and the position of your body and posture. Keep a symptom diary so you become aware of what symptoms precede the migraine. Major stress, cold, air travel, anesthetic for surgery and alcohol are the strongest triggers I’m aware for myself.

A migraine headache is caused by inflammation in the trigeminal nerve. Ibuprofen can reduce this inflammation and can be so effective it is included in some oral migraine meds. It has the best chance or aborting or reducing the migraine if taken before the skin or scalp become sensitive to touch. The trigeminal nerve wanders around the head but comes near the surface of the body at the back of the neck and behind the lower molars in the jaw. This is why ice at the back of the neck works so well. It can reduce inflammation in the nerve.

Changes in the barometric pressure can trigger migraines. You can find a “headache” map that shows changes in barometric pressure here.

Nutrition for Irish Dancers

Sláinte, April 2011

Sláinte is going to talk about the Irish dancer today. What is the most important on feis day? The costume, cape, shoes, poodle socks? (the wig is not, Sláinte is very anti-wig, makes them look like little Dolly Partons) What about the steps? Nope, the important thing is the food you will put in your dancer. The higher the level she competes, the more important nutrition becomes. Her muscles have been trained to give the best performance they can give, but in order for them to work they must be fueled. Same goes for the brain. You want your dancer to remember her steps, correct?    Continue reading Nutrition for Irish Dancers