For years, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) producers have tried to classify HFCS as Sugar without success. Here’s why: HFCS molecules and Sugar molecules are not the same chemical structure at all and they are absorbed by our bodies at different rates with different effects.
Regular cane or beet sugar molecules consist of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose in a tight chemical bond. They need to be gradually broken down to small enough particles by our body’s enzymes before they can be absorbed through the wall of the small intestine. We absorb sugar slowly, like a time-released capsule.
High Fructose Corn Syrup molecules consist of 45 percent glucose and 55 percent fructose and they are unbound. Fructose is also much sweeter than glucose. Because HFCS is chemically unbound, the fructose and glucose are rapidly absorbed with no need of enzymes. They go straight to the liver where fructose produces fats like triglycerides and cholesterol that set in motion the condition called fatty liver. The liver then sends out fatty deposits to line our arteries. At the same time, rapid absorption of glucose increases spikes of insulin.
When sugar is absorbed, it stimulates the production of leptin, a neurotransmitter that signals when we are full. HFCS does not stimulate leptin production and can lead to overeating.
Corn syrup is cheap due to heavy subsidies we all pay for. This is a classic example of how we in the US have been led astray. This is why sodas and other HCFS sweetened drinks are sold cheaply and in gargantuan containers. They are not cheap when we consider the health dues we then pay for conditions they stimulate: Cardiovascular Disease, Liver Disease, Cancer, Arthritis, Diabetes and more. It’s not the fructose itself that is the cause, it is the massive doses.
Short of a mass organized protest of this blatant misuse of our taxes, what can we do as individuals right now to take control of our health?
1. Check labels and avoid products sweetened with HFCS.
2. Eat whole fruit, not fruit juice that lacks pulp nutrients and may be sweetened with HCFS.
3. Buy fresh produce and learn to cook it.
Change rarely happens overnight, but it usually begins with the first step.
Every night before she goes to sleep, poet Carrie Newcomer says out loud three things she is grateful for; “all the insignificant, extraordinary, ordinary stuff” of her life. She finds that she sleeps better “holding what lightens and softens my life ever so briefly at the end of the day”.
Newcomer put her thoughts into a poem, “Three Gratitudes” (available on line). She encourages us to make our own lists for each day.
I looked up research on how the habit of offering up gratitudes can affect our health. It turns out that the more appreciative we are at the end of each day, the better we sleep and begin to show gratitude toward others throughout every day. The idea is that our gratitude itself becomes the measure through which we raise our happiness index.
Here is one of my day’s end lists. Like any habit I enjoy, this one feels so good that I keep adding more feel good thoughts to my list:
I’m thankful for:
A gentle snowfall,
My vest that keeps out all drafts,
Seeing a friend at the grocery store,
A perfectly ripe pineapple,
The memory of Grandpa shucking oysters for me on the back stoop,
My green jacket that keeps me warm even at 7 degrees and wind,
My family’s exuberance skiing,
Perfect skiing conditions,
Leftover lentil soup in the refrigerator,
Plymouth’s new solar electric array,
A fresh column,
The hill through the woods,
The school bus driver’s wave,
…and off to sleep I go.
Whew! Never mind counting sheep! While expressing Three Gratitudes can be depended on to send us off for restful sleep, this habit primes us to express our thanks openly during each day as events occur. Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments.
What better time of year to plan an energy scam than winter, especially in January when it’s cold and our bills are up.
Predictably, Hydro Quebec is trying to convince us that cheap electricity is on the way if we accept their deal. Yet, if we look at what HQ has done to Quebec for energy, we see costs escalating. Quebec’s forests were destroyed, a whole culture of people were displaced and their fishing industry destroyed. On top of all that- HQ is again unable to reliably deliver even to Quebec during winter months. Yet, HQ still tries to tell us they will provide cheap energy for NH.
Four representatives and one senator, all from the Nashua/Brookline area of the state, have introduced a bill to the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee to establish Big Hydro (Hydro Quebec) as a form of renewable energy. The Hearing is scheduled for January 27.
HB 143 is an attempt to establish Big Hydro as renewable energy by overturning HB61 (enacted 9/11/2009) in which the State of NH defined Renewable Energy as ‘energy that supplies present energy needs without permanently depleting resources, while considering environmental impacts and without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own energy needs.’ Small hydro is considered renewable in NH.
If HB143 is ever enacted, HQ would be in position to claim eminent domain for land in NH.
Keep in mind that Hydro Quebec not only wants to put an above ground line in, they plan to construct 500 miles of new roads in our forests to build and service their lines. Yet in Australia, HQ put in 100 miles of underground lines that lowered Australia’s outages by 80 percent and helped Australia save money on maintenance and delivery.
The State of NH also has a 9 million dollar fund to encourage renewable energy development in the state. This fund can continue to help expand Solar Energy and stimulate other yet to be developed forms of renewable energy if it is not tampered with by competitors who want to limit other forms of energy development .
Whatever the outcome of the vote on January 27, it is important that each of us contact Gov. Hassan (603-271-2121) and our legislators with our concerns regarding Big Hydro and the Renewable Energy Research and Development Fund.
Water may be our best protection against the new viruses reported daily. People often avoid water and claim that it makes them pee at all the wrong times. However, the same folks drink coffee, a dehydrator, and never question the trip to the restroom, which follows the charge of energy.
Our digestive tract, the 28 foot long pipeline that runs from mouth to anus can protect us from unwelcome invaders. Like any plumbing system, it works best with a reliable supply of water.
Fully hydrated, our cells cook up enzymes to digest every type of food, and hormones to regulate the opening and closing of the tract’s valves at each junction to keep everything moving.
Digestion begins in the mouth where water dilutes the acid on any remaining foods around our teeth that might irritate gums and burrow into tooth enamel. Salivary enzymes begin breaking down starches. Enthusiastic chewing stimulates our bodies to continue to pump out more enzymes further on down the line.
We continue mixing chewed food with sips of water to ease it down the esophagus to the stomach through the finicky lower esophageal sphincter, the LES valve, the most famous of all the valves. It leads to Hiatal Hernia and GERD when it doesn’t close properly.
When well hydrated, the mucus membrane that lines the stomach secretes necessary digestive juices: hydrochloric acid and enzymes to pulverize foods in the stomach and bicarbonate of soda to keep acid from digesting the stomach lining.
The slurry moves on to the small intestine. There, the gall bladder squirts the bolus of food with detergent (bile) to break up fats, and the pancreas squirts bicarbonate of soda to neutralize acids, plus more enzymes to work on proteins and carbs. The goal is to break food down to particles that are tiny enough to pass through the wall of the intestines.
As the slurry of food moves through the rest of the small intestine, more enzymes do their best to finalize breakdown and absorption IF we swallow enough water.
The intestines look like a jumble of tubes but are structured more like a big umbrella. If you took them out, you could stretch them in a rough circle like the rim of an umbrella. A thick membrane (mesentery) forms the dome. It contains several veins (like spokes) that funnel into a big vein, represented by the umbrella handle.
Well chewed food with plenty of water sends ultrafine nutrients right through the intestinal wall to the smaller veins in the mesentery and on to the big portal vein that goes to the liver. The liver then decides what nutrients to send where and our circulation takes care of that delivery system.
We must drink enough water. Otherwise, undigested food continues on to the large intestine. A well hydrated stool (feces) is a homogenized mass of fiber, easily evacuated through the last valve, the anus.
Want to give water a try? Start your day with a slow cup of hot lemon water. This acid effectively opens the valve to the intestines, clears the stomach of any leftovers, and stimulates the bowels to move. Unwanted bacteria and viruses don’t get a chance to establish themselves on stagnant sweet foods. Drink a glass of water between meals and take sips with meals. Trade sodas and juice for water and whole fruits and enjoy winter!
To a Well Watered New Year! Skol!
“I just did my job. I did what I was paid to do.” These words sent a wave of horror through many of us. Psychologist Martha Stout in her book, The Sociopath Next Door, best describes their impact.
Stout asks us to “Imagine – if you can- not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members…. Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs.”
ABC paid close to a million dollars to Darren Wilson for his interview by George Stephanopoulos. William Boardman called the interview “forty-five minutes of fawning deceit and thruthlessness.” We learn that an unarmed black student was killed and his killer is rewarded for, “Doing what I was paid to do.”
Had a black officer pumped 16 bullets into an unarmed white student, there would have been hell to pay and no ABC interview. Protesters gave a long litany of similar senseless events: the black father who was shot dead at his front door as he attempted to bring dinner home to his family, the black 12-year-old shot dead because he was seen playing with a toy gun, and on and on.
Ferguson, MO seems far away but this kind of treatment happens closer to home. Five years ago, police arrested Harvard Professor Henry Lewis Gates because someone saw him fumbling with the front door lock to his own house in Cambridge.
This holiday season symbolizes our yearning to experience light, often described as an ability to love that overcomes all darkness. Choristers sing about how ancient “people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” We are also a people walking in darkness today. We know we have blind spots and each year at midwinter, we pledge to begin again and do better.
May consciously seeing holiday lights remind and inspire each of us to figure out how we can truly love this earth and each other, so that every person of every color has a fair chance to celebrate life. This is all about keeping each other well
I recently ran into Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, who bellowed at me, “What’s this I hear about a hydroelectric company trying to cut its way through New Hampshire’s forests?”
Without waiting for a response, he went on.
“Listen!” he hissed, “Hydro Quebec is in cahoots with another big private company to bring hydroelectric power down through NH where nobody wants it because nobody needs it! NH passed a bill in 2009 that says NO to nonrenewable energy!”
“Do your homework! The State of New Hampshire defined Renewable Energy as ‘energy that supplies present energy needs without permanently depleting resources, while considering environmental impacts, and without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own energy needs.’ (HB 61, enacted 9/11/2009) Go read it for yourself!”
Bug-eyed, I stammered, “M-many of us have been trying to stop the Northern Pass or at least b-bury the lines under existing public rights of way, but the NP people keep saying they have lots of p-power and the water is renewable!”
Exasperated, the Lorax thundered, “Water isn’t going to renew all the dead fish that needed a cool river to reproduce, not with sluggish reservoirs full of rotting debris that is off-gassing mercury! Water isn’t going to bring back the lost livelihood to the Indigenous people! And what about their homes buried in water and all the other animals they depend on? What about their tourism jobs as guides on the rivers and in the forests? Forget that! Look at what Hydro-Quebec has done to its own province! They’ve put in 571 dams and altered the flow of 74 rivers!”
The Lorax ranted on, “I thought you were interested in people’s health! How do you expect folks to keep each other well without the help of the rest of nature: animals, birds, fish, trees, shrubs, cool rivers of water? What makes you think Hydro Quebec doesn’t plan the same kind of destruction of natural resources in New Hampshire? Why do you think they’re buying up all that NH forest land? Why do you think Canada owns all the NH dams on the Connecticut River? Why do you think Hydro Quebec hasn’t said anything about the 500 MILES OF ROADS they plan to build to access their proposed forest route?”
“WAKE UP!!! Look at the countries that do care about the health of ALL of their citizens! Their energy sources are publicly owned. In Denmark, the Danes voted to have a community controlled wind power revolution! In Nigeria, 300,000 Ogoni mobilized to take back their land from Shell and won!”
“Tell your readers, it’s time for everybody to wake up and show up!”
Winter is a time when we huddle more and move less in our attempts to stay warm. Ironically, it is when we keep moving, shovel snow, ski or enjoy some snow sport that we generate the body heat that keeps us warm.
A 96 year old woman told me that she attributes her remarkable good health and flexibility to the fact that she does 200 bicycles in bed each morning before getting up. I told this story to a friend who was having ankle surgery that would keep her off her feet for two months. She immediately latched on to the practice and attributes her smooth post surgery recovery to the fact that she did indeed keep everything moving and healing by doing bicycles each morning in bed.
Returning veterans and people who have lost limbs or become paraplegic often become role models as they build their upper body strength and use it to take themselves wherever they need to go, be it driving a car, skiing, or working in their field of interest. Those with artificial limbs enter marathons, paint, teach, farm, and more according to their interests. They know that keeping everything moveable moving generates robust health for body and mind.
A woman visiting the Flume Gorge lamented having left her cane at home and asked at the desk if there was a cane she could use, since she was recovering from knee surgery. She just wanted to be able to take the short walk up through the Flume Gorge but thought the two-mile loop was probably too much for her to walk. Someone loaned her a set of poles. When she came back, she exclaimed, “I can walk with these! I just did the whole two miles! Where can I buy some poles? I’m not going to hobble with a cane anymore!”
Hikers know the value of using poles on strenuous or long hikes. Poles enable hikers to use their arms and legs to carry them up the hills and to use shoulders and arms to relieve knee stress coming downhill. Since hands don’t pool when they are holding poles, fingers remain flexible to work with equipment because circulation continues to move through them.
An easy way to keep everything moving is to choose a pleasurable activity that becomes part of your daily routine. You may practice yoga, tai chi, walking, weight lifting, skiing, intentional house cleaning, reclining bicycles, play a musical instrument, sing, dance or whatever you dream up that keeps your circulation pumping through your whole body rhythmically.
Underlying all movement is the breath. By making our exhalations long and strong, we open up more space for fuller inhalations, which then keep our circulation moving throughout our bodies, keeping us flexible, accessing energy, and feeling fully alive!
For several years now, Denmark has been at the top of the World Happiness Index. Since US rates number 12 on the list, behind Scandinavia, Canada and Australia, I wondered how much happiness effects general health and found an interesting study by R. Veenhoven of Erasmus Univ. Rotterdam., “Healthy Happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care”. Veenhoven analyzed 30 follow-up studies on happiness and longevity (including several from US states).
Perhaps we can learn something from Denmark. Three rights that Danes choose to provide for all citizens are free education, childcare and healthcare. Preschool education is provided in daycare facilities. Education continues up through vocational education and college.
Higher education is seen as a basic right and funded with tax dollars. By comparison, college graduates in the US are often saddled with decades of college tuition debt and have difficulty finding employment in their field. Such milestones as marriage, home-ownership and child-rearing are compromised.
Veenhoven notes that while happiness has not been found to be a cure for illness, happiness appears to protect us against falling ill, in some way. We have a better immune response, lower blood pressure, make better choices in life, are motivated to keep fit, more inclined to watch our weight, are more perceptive of symptoms of illness, cope better with threatening information, and facilitate creation and maintenance of supportive social networks.
US Healthcare has become a political football, distorted by the for-profit health care industry. Denmark’s healthcare represents 11 percent of its GDP. US healthcare sucks up 18 percent.
Denmark’s $21 an hour minimum wage also guarantees that people can support their families. McDonald’s gets away with paying employees $7.50 an hour in the US, while paying $21 an hour in Denmark. When parents have to work 2 or 3 low paying jobs to support their families, they are hardly in a position to spend quality time as a family. Many single people struggle to survive here.
Carl Gibson, in “How Voting in Large Numbers Dramatically Improves Society”( Reader Supported News 10/21/14), noted that the last election in Denmark brought out 87 percent of the population, compared to 57 percent registered voter turnout in the US.
Happiest countries value basic rights for all citizens. Politicians bent on creating more money for affluent backers do threaten Denmark’s happiness. But, thus far, Danish citizens have gotten out to vote and maintained their rights to health.
It’s time to listen up to what our politicians plan to do and to vote for those who value basic rights for all citizens. When we value basic rights for everyone, we all benefit. Our general health improves along with our happiness index.
During WWII, when there was a bread shortage in Europe, Willem-Karel Dicke, a Dutch physician, noticed that celiac (abdominal) disorders lessened, only to recur when Sweden dropped bread into the Netherlands from relief planes. Today, one in 133 people have celiac disease in the US.
So, what is it about wheat that louses us up? Physician William Davis, in his book, Wheat Belly, traces the development of wheat from Paleolithic times to today. It seems the original wheat had 14 chromosomes in its genetic structure. Today’s wheat, after centuries of hybridization, has 42 chromosomes, and a much higher gluten and carbohydrate content.
In early times, wheat represented a small part of the diet. Today, wheat is present at every meal, and in most snacks, and, like sugar, we’ve gone overboard devouring it. The average American eats 135 lbs. of wheat per year and most of us shudder at the thought of limiting our bread, crackers, muffins, cakes, cereals, pies, pizza, pasta, waffles, and much more.
Today, Gluten-Free seems to be the magic label that sells. That label continues to threaten our health with obesity as much as the Fat-Free label did. Without fat, to supply energy and provide essential nutrients to our bodies, and to carry the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K, we found that removing fat also removed those vitamins. People craved energy so much that they loaded up on carbohydrates to such excess that bodies automatically converted and stored the excess sugar as fat.
Just as we had ludicrous fat-free fruit and vegetables, now we have gluten-free water and gluten-free corn chips! (There is no gluten in corn.) Yet, the gluten-free label can have trace elements of gluten legally. Many products labeled gluten-free do have some gluten in them. The FDA requires the label to have less than 20 parts per million and labeling is voluntary.
People who are truly gluten-intolerant must monitor their diets carefully without relying on labels. Most of us are not in that category; we simply eat too much wheat. We may have cereal and toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta with garlic bread for supper. For a snack, we may have a high-energy bar loaded with wheat gluten to boost the protein content.
The easiest way to avoid excess wheat consumption is to think about adding more whole foods that are sweet, satisfying, and energizing, like yams, winter squash, apples, nuts, leafy greens, carrots and avocado, beans, eggs, fish, meat and poultry. Fall is a time to add more ginger root to keep warm. We may end up concocting creative potlucks out of the tremendous variety of wholesome foods in our fall harvest that energize us with a full charge, but without unwanted fat. For most of us, wheat can then serve as an accompaniment, not the main thread.
New Hampshire’s mountains offer continual free health spas on a daily basis. Depending on the day, you may get the full physical treatment with lots of sun and sweat to lubricate all your joints and wring out your organs so every system gets a fresh start. You may get to stand under waterfalls or be pummeled in cascades and relax into a nap in the sun.
Other days provide a different sort of health spa experience. If it’s your day off, you’ve just heard the latest world news and just need to be in a spot where the inhabitants all get along for a change, even if the mountains are socked in with a firm “cloudy” forecast, grab your pack and head up.
Health spas, the paid ones, usually include massage, saunas, hot tubs, swimming, and some sort of calming practice like meditation or yoga. The main goal is to cleanse and relax the body from the inside out as well as from the outside in. That means keeping hydrated with plenty of water.
The walk itself can be a meditation, even if there’s some chatting going on. Conversation tends to be a sorting out, rethinking, brain cleanse, with the last leg of the hike to the top often being in silence to better access fresh air.
Hiking poles make the hike kinder to your knees and hips by spreading the weight-bearing load to include the shoulders and arms as well, while still allowing you to build up a good sweat. They also encourage a good upper body workout.
The Franconia Ridge Loop, most favorite hike in the White Mountains, is a mid-week wonder, even when the wind is socking in the ridge with a steady parade of clouds. Such were the conditions when I started up the Falling Waters Trail this cool, early September morning. Having rained heavily the night before, the rocks were all wet, which meant I had to pay attention, no mind wandering; just watch the rocks and forget about solving any kind of problems, world or otherwise. Then the trail upped the ante with stream crossings at every waterfall, calling for yogic balancing on rocks.
If you want to hike in a truly relaxed state, breathing 2:1 is the way to go. Just make your exhalations twice as long as your inhalations. The easiest way to practice this breath is to count your paces. You may start out breathing 6:3, then shift gears to 4:2 and 2:1 as you gain elevation. If you cannot exhale for 2 paces to every 1 inhalation pace, it’s time to stop and rest. This practice develops the habit of deeper breathing regularly.
The morning was cool, and while I paused to inhale the essence of Stairs, Swiftwater, and Cloudland Falls, my body was in the ‘keep moving’ mode to maintain body heat. I noticed the great diversity of trees; all seemed to be comfortable with each other, made space as needed. Lush stands of young spruce and fir presented themselves. Occasional mountain ash appeared with their berries beginning to turn.
As the trail continued, smaller rocks graduated to rock slabs and much reaching and stretching to get up and over them. Arms and legs got a full workout. Suddenly, I was out of the trees and into the west wind blowing over the ridge. I headed over to the east side of Haystack Mt. for a mid-morning sustenance break. The sun seemed to be trying to break through the clouds without success. I was glad I’d packed a hat and wind/rain shell.
Just as suddenly, out of the ether appeared a young man running the ridge. He’d started at Mt. Liberty and was “only running over to Mt. Lafayette.” All workout routines welcome up here.
I continued hiking over the ridge, which is an alpine garden walk with huge spreads of Diapensia that lays a white carpet in June along the ridge. Rhodora’s buds were all set for spring and sprigs of Mountain Sandwort were still blooming. I also saw bright red Bunchberries and tiny Alpine Goldenrod in brilliant bloom enhanced by the fog. A steady carpet of alpine garden beds greeted me all the way over Lincoln to Lafayette with a big dose of Vitamin W (for wildflowers).
At one point on the ridge, I followed the trail over a boulder and found that it continued down a steep section covered with wet lichen, like greased lightening, definitely something to avoid if possible. I squatted down, planning my route when I heard, “Hey there! Need a hand?”
A trail angel! Another young man was out hiking the ridge on his day off. He went around the boulder, reached up and gave me a hand down! Why do serendipitous events like that happen on a cold day when the mountain is socked in? Are we more connected than we realize? Is part of a full health spa treatment recognizing how interdependent we are?
Two more sustenance stops, one on Mt. Lafayette in the shelter of the old hostel foundation, and another at the hut before the final trek down the Bridle Path. Included were several encounters with hikers heading up and over the ridge as we compared tales, and encouraged each other.
Depending on the day, you may need an extra layer of fleece as you hike out, then go home and take a salt bath or hot shower to complete your free spa treatment.
PS: I also carry at least 2 liters of water, a wind/rain shell, light fleece, hat, first aid sack, high protein sandwich, nuts, and an orange to assure the full treatment!