Category Archives: MSG

A hundred years ago, all food was organic

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Excerpts from an article by Mark Hyman, M.D.

A hundred years ago all food was organic, local, seasonal, fresh or naturally-preserved by ancient methods. All food was food. Now less than 3 percent of our agricultural land is used to grow fruits and vegetables, which should make up 80 percent of our diet. Today there are not even enough fruits and vegetables in this country to allow all Americans to follow the government guidelines to eat five to nine servings a day.

What most of us are left with is industrial food. And who knows what lurks in the average boxed, packaged, or canned factory-made science project.

In the 21st century our tastes buds, our brain chemistry, our biochemistry, our hormones and our kitchens have been hijacked by the food industry. The food-like substances proffered by the industrial food system food trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure, but not our biology, which reacts, rejects and reviles the junk plied on our genes and our hormonal and biochemical pathways. We need to unjunk our biology.

Industrial processing has given rise to an array of addictive, fattening, metabolism-jamming chemicals and compounds including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, to name the biggest offenders.

MSG is used to create fat mice so researchers can study obesity. MSG is an excito-toxin that stimulates your brain to eat uncontrollably. When fed to mice, they pig out and get fat. It is in 80 percent of processed foods and mostly disguised as “natural flavorings.”

And trans fat, for example, is derived from a real food — vegetable oil — chemically altered to resist degradation by bacteria, which is why modern cookies last on the shelf for years.

But the ancient energy system of your cells is descended from bacteria and those energy factories, or mitochondria, cannot process these trans fats either. Your metabolism is blocked and weight gain and Type 2 diabetes ensue.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot, and the result is the disaster of obesity and chronic disease we have in America today.

No wonder 68 percent of Americans are overweight. No wonder that from 1960 to today obesity rates have risen from 13 percent to 36 percent and soon will reach 42 percent. Over the last decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.

The best advice is to avoid foods with health claims on the label, or better yet avoid foods with labels in the first place.

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Health, Meal Planning, and Shopping Traps to Avoid

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Over on Cage Free Family I have begun a series of posts about food, food costs, and managing increased cost inherent in eating a healing diet.

The series began with my post Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, where I discuss how meal planning (or a lack there of) can affect not only your budget, but your health and waistline.  I also touch on topics of food additives and Fibromyalgia.

Second in the series is Meal Planning Steps 1 & 2, where I go into detail about the process of meal planning, how to make it easier, and how to make it more effective.

Third in the series is Step 3, Making the List, Where I give a step by step instruction on turning your meal plan into a grocery list.  There is also help with learning more about where you lose money in the grocery store, how to avoid this, substitutions, and escaping the common shopping mistakes.

I do hope you find this helpful, especially as I move into deeper discussion on the connection between health and the food we eat (or don’t eat!).

Each of these posts takes hours to compile, so bear with me as I sort through available resources to choose those that are most relevant and most helpful.

Update – Two Difficult Weeks

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After the last post I was feeling dramatically better; expecting that if the improvements continued at that speed that I would be Fibro free again in no time.  Unfortunately, the improvements didn’t continue as such.  I have not gone back on “the rules”, but quite suddenly I started to get symptoms flaring up; pain, serious fatigue, itching, etc.

Looking at what I was doing, fearfully because of the rise in pain, I noticed a few important things.

One: the fear that rises up when I feel the beginning of the pain, if someone asks me how I feel, or if I accidentally leave home without anything for a pain flare up, the fear causes the minor beginnings to flare like blowing on a fire.  Fear/stress = pain when at this delicate stage.  When I am stronger and more sound this is not the case, but at this level of weakness and sensitivity to all triggers, it is a real problem.  It was actually my 8 year old son that helped me work through this.  Taught him well, I did 🙂  He just said, “Well, mama, sometimes I feel afraid and then I get all of those ‘afraid feelings’ like sweating, and tummy ache, but then you tell me that there isn’t anything to be afraid about and you help me feel okay about whatever is happening and all of those things go away so that being afraid isn’t bad anymore. Then it isn’t even there anymore. That’s what you have to do.”

He was right.  I closed my eyes, and forcibly relaxed my whole body starting from my scalp and working my way down and up again.  Then I made sure that I was breathing deeply and slowly, and starting visualizing things that made me feel happy or excited like a walk on a tropical beach (so different from the high desert where we live), a picnic by the lake with cake (it’s a dream, there can be cake!), warm coffee – cup hot on my palms, etc.  After about 5 minutes I realized that the flare had subsided back to a minor sensation that couldn’t really qualify as pain.  Without the fearful response to what this feeling means, it would likely have stayed there.  It made me wonder how much of my suffering is skyrocketed to severe pain because of the fear that it will progress to that.  I’ve been keeping a close eye on this and am finding a lot of truth in it.  In more stressful situations, it can be hard for me to keep a handle on how deep and firey the pain gets.  I have been working to tell myself, It’s OKAY.  This is what it feels like.  You know this feeling.  Maybe it will get worse, maybe it will disappear… either way, the only thing to do is relax as deeply as possible.  Accept.  Know that it will pass.  Breathe, and don’t tense up!  It’s been helping a lot.

Two: Water.  Water is the next key point.  I have come to understand that it is at least as important as staying away from gluten and preservatives.  Any degree of low hydration will  result in pain for me.  And it will result in the most stubborn, deep, widespread variety.  For me this means a gallon of water every single day.  One day of poor intake, say a quart or two, will result in pain before the day is out (usually around dinner time) and if I don’t remedy the situation I will wake up achy and at a difficult deficit in the morning.  Sadly I do this at least twice per week.  Living in the high desert I have to consider that missing some of the water I need is only going to add to the battle that I deal with everyday with the high, gusting winds, 8,200 ft elevation, desert arid air, sun exposure, and year round wood-stove heating (mountain temperatures).  I think of it like this:  I pretend that I am trying to keep a garden alive in the desert.  This requires constant watering, and reduction of anything that will dehydrate me, such as excess sodium, and certain foods.  When I’m dealing with a real dehydration situation, I help myself out and add some coconut water to the mix.  This increases the rate at which I can rehydrate without increasing the inevitable trips to the bathroom.

Sleep.  Oh, my, sleep!  It is so very important.  Quality, undisturbed, delta-wave sleep is necessary.  Without it I might feel okay for a few days or weeks, but I will be tired, and I will be ever so much more susceptible to all environmental triggers.   A thing to understand:  nearly every single sleep drug, antideppressant, anti-anxiety drug, and alcohol will dramatically reduce ability to achieve delta wave sleep or completion of a full sleep cycle.  Most will prevent it entirely.  Sleep is such a deeply, widely complicated issue I’m going to have to cover it over a series of posts.  I spent years and years battling this issue.  I first became aware that I did not sleep easily or deeply when I was about 5 years old.  I struggled with it until I was 27 and it rises up again and again when I don’t stick to the “sleep rules”.  I will have to cover those in another post.  The last five years have been overlapping issues of pregnancy, breastfeeding and nightwaking/teething babies.  It is possible to overcome a block as big as a waking baby to get the kind of sleep necessary, but it takes real dedication and a sacrifice or two.  It’s worth it though.  Nothing will change your outlook on life and your strength against pain like quality sleep.

I’d like to touch quickly on detoxing/die-off symptoms before leaving you.  I realized about a week into the rising of symptoms that I was dealing with detox/die-off symptoms.  After making dramatic changes in my diet, like cold-turkey removal of all grains and sugar, I should have expected it, but somehow didn’t.  Depending upon how long I have been abusing my body with things like gluten, sugar, carageenan, etc. I will experience a whole slew of symptoms ranging from mildly irritating to two days of feeling like I may be dying of cancer, unable to move, hardly speak, etc.  I had been abusing it pretty badly for a long time, so I got two days of the latter.  The pain was too severe to mask, even with pharmaceutical opiates and herbs combined, my stomach ached, the fatigue was deep enough to make it difficult to speak and remember to keep my eyes open.  My heart palpitated, my skin itched, my bones burned and I suffered breakouts all over my face and a few other enjoyable issues.  The thing to know:  given the opportunity, your body  will heal itself.   This will include a forceful removal of toxins through every avenue possible: kidneys, liver, skin, bladder, bowels…  It usually doesn’t feel great, but proper support of your systems while it is happening can reduce the length of severe suffering to a day or two.   Watering your body like you have the flu, REST, vitamins, probiotics and essential fatty acids like those found in fish, (freshly ground) flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and especially fermentd cod liver oil will go a looong way to helping you recover more quickly.   Gently scrubbing your skin in a warm bath at least once per day and then oiling your skin with a quality, unscented oil like olive oil or coconut oil will help prevent rashes, breakouts, dry or rough patches, redness, itching and swelling.  Your skin is the largest organ of detoxification and your body’s preferred first route.

I’ll leave it there for now, and follow up with more detailed posts on all of these topics.

To our health, Rebels.  We can level this thing.

Update – Week 1

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It’s been about a week with the aforementioned changes in place and there is a definite improvement.  I’ve been taking St. John’s Wort and Skullcap tinctures every 4-5 hours and it’s been sufficient to keep the pain in check for the past four days.

Friday was a pretty painful day and I wound up taking a dose of Vicodin in the morning while I had the kids at the park, which sucked.  I also had an 8oz decaf Americano on the way.  All in all not the best morning.  I over did it on account of the Vicodin, so that when it wore off a few hours later I felt positively wrecked.  Miserable.  I drank about a quart of water while we were out, but this was definitely not enough to counter the desert sun and wind, the dried fruits and nuts we were snacking on, or the diuretic effect of the coffee.  I had another pint of water in the car on the way home, but this was too little too late and I could feel the burning feeling that I get in my bones, eyes, mouth, nose and ears that comes of not enough water.

Yesterday was similar in the hydration department.  I tend to forget to drink enough early in the day, not noticing until I start to feel those icky signs of dehydration.  Then I have to drink a lot all at once to try to catch up and douse the rising pain.  This kept me up for an extra hour last night so that I could get in that last quart of water.  Which of course led to three trips to the bathroom in the first 90 minutes of sleep.  Again, not the best I could have done, but it was a productive day with very little pain.

Today I woke up completely free of pain after a fairly heavy night of sleep (after the initial interuptions) and feeling well enough to get ready for a trip to town straight out of bed.   I had the energy to oil my skin, braid my hair and dig through the summer clothes for a new T-shirt to wear.

I had dried fruit, nuts and tea for breakfast and followed it up with a quart of water dosed with a chlorophyll supplement called Chloroxygen, 25 drops of St. John’s Wort, and 60 drops of Echinacea.  I also took two capsules of probiotics, and a teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil.

I had a couple of slips with food this week that resulted in feeling icky.  Even though the package says “no ADDED MSG”, the organic Beef broth available here definitely has MSG derivatives in it.  I rarely have access to organic beef stew bones, so when I need beef broth we wind up buying it.  I always regret it though.  It’s not worth it and I will begin substituting veggie broth or chicken broth instead.  I always keep my vegetable scraps in a a bag in the freezer for making a no cost veggie broth and we have a beautifully rich chicken stock everytime we cook with chicken since we always buy it either whole or as bone-in pieces.

For more info on how I keep us (a family of 5)  in a totally organic, whole food diet for $400-$700 per month (depending on what I have to work with) you can check out this post. Or this one.  I’m planning to write a lot more about eating healthy on a serious budget, menu planning, dealing with food limitations, and the like.  Whenever I do, I’ll copy a link to the posts here.

Another slip I had this week was Alden’s Organic Ice Cream.  It has soy lecithin in it, which bothers me at this lowered level of health.  At healthier times when I’ve been living within the rules for months Alden’s Organic Ice Cream is an acceptable treat, but I have to limit to once or twice in a week and not repeat the treat too often in a month.

It seems complicated, but it’s rather like learning the same rules you learned as a child:  We don’t run into the road without looking, we don’t eat too much Halloween candy, ice cream for breakfast is not okay, onions and peanut butter don’t go together, etc.  Once you get it, you get it and it’s a choice whether you adhere or not.

To our health!

xoxo

Aimee