Hot olive oil is carcinogenic. I'm trying to cut to the chase in
my writing -- can you tell?
When extra virgin olive
oil is heated to its smoke point of around 300º Fahrenheit, bad
things happen. Its protective anti-oxidants become cancer-causing
free radicals. I know, I know...bring on the cop-out onslaught of
"Everything causes cancer, there's no point in worrying about it."
Wrong. That's the answer given by two groups of people, and
(spoiler alert) you don't want to be in either group.
First, and more acceptable, is the group
of people who really haven't looked into health and nutrition at
all. OK, hey, this is a diversified society. Not everyone has to be
an expert in every subject. Some people can grow the food, others
can study chemistry, and some can sell the apples at the market.
It's 2015, as Tricia would say. You're a productive member of
society, but you're busy. I know. You see a commercial saying "I
Can't Believe It's Not Butter is a healthy choice," you run out and
buy it, and you figure you're doing a decent job in life. Well,
you're wrong. At minimum, really though, shouldn't every adult
eater in America take a few minutes out of the upcoming "dancing
with famous people" show and perhaps start to learn a bit about
what you're putting into your body?
Secondly, and less acceptable, is the group of people who simply
don't care about what they've learned. These are the people who
read the same books about olive oil that I did, saw the
explanations about why it's a bad idea to heat olive oil in your
wok on stir-fry night, but keep doing it anyways. "Everything
causes cancer, so why should I bother switching to a healthier
option?" Gee, I don't know, maybe because you don't want to be on
the wrong side of "1 in 2 American men will get cancer in his
lifetime." Ladies, you're 1 in 3. Want specifics? Here's the full
wheel of fun: Lifetime Probability of Developing or Dying from
Here's a thought that not many people seem to care about.
Not everything causes cancer. There are actually lots of
things that don't seem to cause cancer. What about trying some
pesticide-free vine-ripened fruits and vegetables? Maybe refrain
from spraying yourself down in poison perfume every day? I'm not
saying you can simply walk through life making all the right
choices and be guaranteed cancer free. I am saying that there's
this whole thing called "epi-genetics" that effectively blows out
of the water the old lazy assumption that your genes have
predetermined whether or not you will get cancer or be obese, etc.
Not true. Your genes throw you into the world with a certain set of
probabilities, such as a 30% risk that your breast cancer switch
will be flipped on. Sure, that sucks, but it's not a death
What can you do about it? Something! Epi-genetics reminds us
that our lifestyle matters just as much, or more, than our genetic
predeterminations. "Only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be
attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90-95% have
their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors
include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol,
sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress,
obesity, and physical inactivity." Nobody hates that alcohol part
more than I do, believe me, but the overall point is still
This was supposed to be about olive oil, wasn't it? Well, now
you know why I don't cook with olive oil. I cook with organic,
grass-fed butter, and my husband prefers coconut oil, both of which
have higher smoke points than olive oil does, meaning that we can
cook at higher temperatures more safely. Some of you will google
this "hearsay" and find websites that say not to worry about it,
because all cooking of all food breaks down nutrients and produces
some free radicals, and your body is programmed to deal with that
small amount of carcinogens. You'll be fine...probably. Really?
How's that working out for you? Which group of the "1 in 2
Americans" do you think you're in? Clearly, friends, we are
bombarding our bodies with way too many carcinogens these
YOUR CHOICES MATTER. Make some.
Anand, P., Kunnumakara, A. B., Sundaram, C., Harikumar, K. B.,
Tharakan, S. T., Lai, O. S., ... Aggarwal, B. B. (2008). Cancer is
a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes.
Pharmaceutical Research, 25(9), 2097-2116.
Ever heard of "bedpan
bullets?" If you take a multivitamin from the grocery store shelf,
odds are high that your body is not absorbing the vitamins and
minerals listed on the side of the bottle. Nurses have been finding
mostly-intact tablets in the bedpans of patients for years,
sometimes so undissolved that the popular brand name is still
How could this be true? How could my beloved multivitamin, that
I've watched TV commercials for thousands of times, be a total
waste of money? I checked the side of the bottle! It says it's
giving me 100% of my daily need for Niacin. What could go
Well, yes, you are popping
a one-a-day that shows 100%s for most of your vitamins and
minerals...but that does not mean that those nutrients are
bioavailable. Your body is not absorbing nearly 100%, but instead,
just shooting the tablet out your other end.
"Studies have shown individual vitamin isolates in supplements
are about 10% absorbed. Compare this to vitamins directly from a
fresh plant source, which are 77% to 93% absorbed. Minerals in a
supplement are even worse -- 1% to 5%. But, from a plant source
like raw broccoli, the minerals are 63% to 78% absorbable." Read
more at HealthGuidance.org.
The jig is up. In December
2013, the Annals of Internal Medicine published three
papers on the health outcomes of regularly taking multivitamin
supplements. Each concluded that it's essentially worthless -- and
potentially dangerous -- to pop that multivitamin. The studies
specifically looked at improvements in memory and cognition and
reduction in rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The
editorial explanation put out with these papers argued against
taking them, stating, "Most supplements do not prevent chronic
disease or death, their use is not justiﬁed, and they should be
avoided." Check out this article from ScienceBasedMedicine.org, which links to all 3
referenced papers and the associated editorial:
So what should a
well-meaning, crappy American diet-eating individual do to fill in
the obvious gaps in whole-food nutrition?
Most of us have a diet comprised of eating out or eating
prepackaged factory foods. If you do step up and buy (conventional)
produce and chow down on that, you're inundating your body with
pesticides. Plus, your apple has probably irradiated to improve
shelf life by destroying its vital energy. Unless you are eating an
entirely organic, local, vine- or tree-ripened and immediately
consumed diet of all fresh foods, your body almost certainly is not
bringing in the vitamins and minerals that it needs (nor the
digestive enzymes needed to use them). Even with my
backyard garden, attempts to eat organic and local, and cooking
from scratch almost daily, I'm sure I'm still all nutritionally
holey as the ole slice of Swiss cheese.
The next best thing to the
above mentioned beautiful diet is to look for a supplement that is
whole-food based and bioavailable. I'll give you a clue--you
probably won't find it on the sale aisle at the Jewel. Talk to your
knowledgeable healthcare professional today about what type of
supplementation is appropriate for your body and lifestyle. Dietary
therapy and associated nutritional counseling is part of the Acupuncture and
Oriental Medicine program, as "food therapy" is one of the
long-standing branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Who else
can help? Your chiropractor and your naturopathic doctor also go
through extensive education on supplements--ask one of us!
Curious ladies are dying
to know. Could the articles be true? Is drinking a glass of wine
the health equivalent of working out at the gym? This. Is.
Here's the article: Resveratrol may be natural exercise performance
enchancer - Science Daily. If you have a Facebook account, I'm
sure you've at least seen the headline "Glass of Wine Equal to Hour
at the Gym!" and the equally delighted personalized status updates
by every woman and half the men you are "friends" with.
So, does the study actually prove this?
Kind of. A team of researchers on the University of Alberta Faculty
of Medicine and Dentistry found that resveratrol, a natural
compound found in some fruits, nuts, and wine, mimics the effects
of hard physical exercise on the human body. Although their
conclusions leaned more towards creating a resveratrol supplement
that could be given to patients that were unable to exercise --
such as a car accident victim with four broken limbs, I guess.
Naturally, the people did not stop there. Our lushy society has
taken it upon ourselves to extrapolate the potential ways this
could impact the average person. Can't make it to the gym tonight
after all? No problem -- have a glass of wine! Don't feel like
going for that run in the rain? Don't worry about it -- go back
inside and drink wine!
What's the catch? There
are a couple of details here. Again, their research was geared
towards creating a performance-enhancing supplement, not a
substitute for performance entirely. They said resveratrolmimicsthe
results of endurance training...it's not quite as perfect in every
way. Also, we are only talking about red wine here. "Why?" wonders
the lady who only likes sweet dessert wines. The answer is that
resveratrol -- the important part of the wine for this discussion
-- is found primarily in the skin ofredgrapes. White wine just
doesn't have the resveratrol levels that would make an impact in
your big sea of body.
Western medicine always
thinks it's discovering something new. Well...not this time,
fellas! Chinese medicine has listed red wine as a therapeutic
dietary choice for thousands of years. In TCM, red wine is dry and
hot, so it expels dampness and warms the interior, expelling cold.
Is that why I always crave a glass of Pinot Noir on a cold winter
The Chinese also use wine as a guiding element, directing other
herbs or foods where the body needs those influences. They see wine
as capable of moving blood and qi, which can help dispel not only
cold but also stasis and stagnation of many types and
manifestations. Both East and West recognize that red wine can
I'm not going to say that TCM wins again, but yes I basically am
saying that TCM wins again. Let's compromise over a glass of red
I like to eat popcorn
before bed at night...every night. I'm defended my position for
years, so I'm ready for your attacks. No, I don't think it's bad
for me. I air pop organic, non-GMO corn and drizzle on melted
grass-fed organic butter. Most deliciously, I sprinkle sea salt all
over the top.
Let me stop lying. It's more like I pour on the butter and the
salt every one-inch tall increment of popcorn as it falls into the
bowl. That's impressive, and it's a skill I've honed over several
years. You have to stand at the ready, slowly spinning the bowl
under the air popper with your left hand while gently drizzling on
the butter from your right hand. Even coverage. Every time.
Now I'll begin to unfold
the secrets of my popcorn affair. Is it enough that my bedtime
snack is free from pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and
genetic modification? We all know I'm not making toxic microwave
popcorn. Sure, it clears the "no bad things" screening fairly
easily, but, as I always ask when someone proudly shows me a "100
calorie" pack of cookies, "What is actually in there
that's good for you?"
Over the past couple of years here at NUHS in the AOM program,
I've horrified more than a couple of peers by describing my
nighttime ritual. Although we naturally-minded medical people are
generally all in agreement that whole-fat butter is better for your
body than any margarine-like alternative, I've still heard the "too
much fat for your liver to clean" argument against my nightly
Several months ago, I
decided to give it a try. Who wants a Liver or Gall Bladder channel
obstructed by phlegm? Not me. So I cut down my popcorn to once
every week or two. It was rough. It was sad. I felt incomplete in
some way when laying down for bed at night. My kidneys cried me to
sleep, begging for the tonification that salt provides my deficient
little nephron bodies. They went hungry, as did I.
After a few weeks of my new deprivation lifestyle, I realized
something shocking -- I wasn't sleeping well! I've always been a
good sleeper, falling right to sleep each night and sleeping
straight through until the morning. Nine hours or so was the
glorious norm for me. Not anymore. Suddenly it was a struggle to
fall asleep and to stay asleep. Transient insomnia? Definitely.
Chronic insomnia? I didn't want to head down that road.
Luckily, I happened to be taking Eric Baker's "Nutrition and
Food Therapy of Oriental Medicine" course at this very time. I
glanced down at my handout during class, and what did I see? Salty
(a flavor in TCM, but most specifically manifested in actual SALT)
collects the Shen. The Shen in TCM is basically the spirit or mind
of the person.
I had been
neatly collecting my overscheduled, chaotic Shen before bed each
night by some sort of inexplicable subconscious desire to put my
mental pieces back together in order to sleep well. Now what was I
doing? I was trying to fall asleep and stay asleep while my Shen
gallivanted around my body and my life, scattered in tiny pieces
into all of my hats -- mother, wife, student, professor, friend,
sister, etc. No wonder I was failing every night.
Upon making the core connection between my salt, my shen, and my
sleep, I promptly began my nightly (or nearly nightly) ritual of
devouring a bowl of salty, buttery popcorn. What do you think
happened? Let's just say I sleep nicely once again. My body was
speaking to me, and I needed to listen. Pop on, popcorn!
Over the past four weeks in my "Nutrition and Food Therapy of
Oriental Medicine" course, I've been frustrated and slightly
puzzled over the subject matter. I'm usually more a
go-with-the-flow student in class; I'm sure the instructor knows
what we need to cover and how to cover it. This time around, I
still think he knows what we need to cover and how to lay it out,
but I'm not as easy going about the whole thing for some
Maybe it's because it's springtime, so my Liver wind is swirling
and I'm irritable. Perhaps I'm overly critical because dietetics is
my personal favorite element of oriental medicine. Maybe I'm just a
jerk. I don't know. I want to study therapeutic properties of
foods, and I want to right now!
Let me start by saying how much I like this professor and every
class I've had with him to date. The theory behind where we stick
these needles and which herbal formulas we recommend is absolutely
mind blowing. He taught me two years ago that winter has a color
and a flavor -- black and salty, for the record. Yet each week, we
seem to review the basics -- flavors and temperatures of
substances. The course title indicates that the focus of the
classwork will be nutrition and food therapy within the framework
of oriental medicine, so I keep wanting more -- more detail, more
examples, more ideas of how to alter a person's diet in order to
As we approach the famed Week Five Quiz that now makes an
appearance in most classes, I'm starting to second-guess myself.
Have we been just reviewing the basics of five-phase
theory, or did the professor slip pages of new detail into the
lectures when I wasn't looking? I'm sure he worked new information
into the framework so smoothly that my associate learning didn't
even know what was happening.
My frustration with this class is that I love the topic so much
that I can't reach a satiation point. I will never have enough
detail about food therapy to be content. I want more, I want it
now, and I want to share it with everyone I know...and some people
I don't even know yet.
Once again, springtime has
duped me. I'm irritable, I'm impatient, and my Liver is out of
control. Feel my pulse, second position on the left wrist. Can you
As I do from time to time, I realize now it's time to reread the
Dao de Jing, or the Tao Te Ching. Same book. Oh,
pinyin, you are a beast that cannot be pinned down. The point is
that this book, this short, easy to read, little book, can save
your sanity. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, overstressed, over Livery
in any way, I know it's time to pick it up.
Look at this thing. Lao Tzu, you genius!
"Those who know do not
Those who speak do not know."
I, and just about everyone else, could learn a little something
from that eloquent one-liner (two-liner?).
"Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost
I don't even like poetry, but this stuff is literally
So, why I am frustrated in
Nutrition class? Why do I want to rush it? Why am I desperately
grasping at the next piece of information? It's that "forcing a
project to completion" part, that part I love for personal reasons.
My procrastination has been vindicated!
As a professor, I often wait until the deadline to return
students' papers; as a student, I expect my professors to grade my
paper today! Actually, I don't think Lao Tzu would like that
• So What Is Chinese Medicine?
• Jabbing Nerves with Needles
• Mission in Nicaragua
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