Monthly Archives: June 2009

Adrenal Fatigue: A National Epidemic

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 28, 2009

I’ve found myself in conversations about adrenal fatigue with a number of friends lately. It seems that everywhere you go, folks are having trouble with their hormones. It doesn’t seem to matter if the person is male or female; although women do seem to voice their challenges more readily than men! Men are certainly having their share of issues as well even if they don’t talk about it .. just note the number of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) pharmaceutical ads on the TV! I realize that ED indicates cardiovascular problems, but the fact is that hormones going haywire (like insulin which is a hormone) is the likely precursor to the circulatory problems. Men with a normal fasting blood glucose simply do not suffer from ED like men who have Metabolic Syndrome.

It is also quite obvious that our nation is suffering from a national epidemic of adrenal fatigue. Most people can’t even seem to get out of bed and start their day without a large infusion of caffeine. This is not normal, folks! There is a Starbucks or a coffee cafe of some kind on nearly every corner and everywhere you go candy is on display so people can keep the sugar and caffeine fix going all day long. Here’s a fact that cannot be ignored: there is no quicker way to age your body than to drink coffee and consume refined sugar. It is quite shocking how quickly heavy coffee drinkers age and I tell everyone I know who drinks it to get off it to improve their health. Coffee is an adrenal gland killer and you simply will not have the success you seek in solving your hormone problems without getting it out of your life completely. Even decaf coffee has its health challenges. The following link details the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and drinking decaf coffee:
It also appears that coffee drinking is associated with increased estrogen levels. In our chemical filled world with estrogen mimickers everywhere, this is not good news. Eliminating coffee from your diet is a must if you want normalized hormones.
In today’s blog, I will give you a few tips for starting yourself down the path of hormone health. But, I will also warn you that entrenched hormonal challenges are very difficult to rectify and will likely require the guidance of a naturopathic physician. The good news is that you can get a long way down the path yourself with simple dietary changes. Here are a few to get you started:
The very first step to combatting hormone issues is to get yourself and your family completely (that means 100% – no exceptions) off of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. Go through your pantry and throw away everything that has either of these items listed as an ingredient. If you start at one end of a regular grocery store and work your way to the other side reading ingredient labels, you would be shocked to see that the vast majority of processed foods contain this deadly ingredient. Why are corn syrup and HFCS so bad for your hormones? This type of sweetener quickly causes insulin resistance (note the number of overweight, diabetic kids these days) and encourages fat to accumulate in your middle. Belly fat is REALLY bad, folks. Belly fat and a large waist measurement quickly leads to insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome with the accompanying risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The good news is that avoiding corn syrup and HFCS is relatively easy. Just cut out soda (are you STILL drinking this stuff or even giving it to your kids? Shame on you!), and start buying your food at a healthfood store, as most products in a healthfood store do not contain corn syrup and HFCS. These healthfood store alternative products may contain refined sugar, but refined sugar is not nearly as hormonally disrupting as corn syrup/HFCS.
Once you have weaned yourself off of corn syrup/HFCS, you can get to work eliminating refined sugar from your life. Here is a link to a great article on how to wean yourself off refined sugars, indulging in natural sugars only a few times a week:
Getting yourself off refined sugars will rest your adrenal glands considerably. You will notice your energy levels improve steadily taking this step toward hormonal wellness. The key to energy is steady insulin; no more peaks and valleys when refined sugars are out of the picture!
The next step is to eliminate the daily caffeine habit. Caffeine is another adrenal killer and is very aging to the body. Coffee is the worst of the worst when it comes to caffeine. You simply must get off of it! Tea is much less of a problem as tea contains a substance that blocks the caffeine absorption. And, if you are pregnant and drinking coffee .. well, don’t be surprised if you have a colicky infant that doesn’t sleep well.
The last two tips for helping to normalize your hormones is getting good quality sleep and regular exercise. You simply must get decent sleep to normalize your hormones. It’s not only the amount of sleep, but when you sleep that is important. For example, your gallbladder flushes between 11pm and 1am each night. If you are not sleeping during this time, the toxin flush does not happen which can cause a backup of toxins in your liver. This can further destabilize your hormones, so get to bed by 10pm!
The best type of exercise for normalizing the hormones is rebounding. Rebounding helps the stimulate the flow of the lymphatic fluid around the body which assists greatly with detoxification and hormone normalization. Here is a great article on how stimulating the lymphatic system helps to detoxify the body.
I realize that the topic of adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance is extremely complicated and is a multiyear journey for those with seemingly intractable issues. Despite the complexity of the subject, there are still a few, basic lifestyle changes that can make an incredible impact on the normalization of your hormones. Hopefully, this brief blog will motivate you to take action with the most basic steps required for hormonal wellness to bring out the happy, healthy, vital you that you know is inside!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

A Safe Alternative to Mammograms

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 23, 2009
I once asked my 78 year old Mother why she has never had a mammogram. Her answer startled me. She told me that it made no sense to her to screen for breast cancer with a test that actually causes breast cancer! If only our conventional medical community made decisions using this much common sense!

As a woman who is approaching her 45th birthday, I should have had 3-5 mammograms already according to the recommendations of conventional medicine. Well, guess what? I’ve never had one and I don’t intend to ever have one (thank you for your wisdom, Mom). The dirty little secret is that a single screening mammogram exposes you to 1,000 times the radiation of a single chest xray! If you find this shocking and hard to believe as I did, then research the facts for yourself. Beware, though. Your doctor will most likely deny this vehemently. They will swear to you that a mammogram exposes you to trivial amounts of radiation. Don’t take their word for it. Research both sides of the issue and come to your own conclusions.

This information is from the Cancer Prevention Coalition
By some estimates, up to 20% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States annually are actually linked to the cumulative radiation effects of mammograms!
Another major problem with mammograms is the compression factor which serves to spread any breast cancer that may be present. This, from the Cancer Prevention Coalition:
As early as 1928, physicians were warned to handle “cancerous breasts with care– for fear of accidentally disseminating cells” and spreading cancer (7). Nevertheless, mammography entails tight and often painful compression of the breast, particularly in premenopausal women. This may lead to distant and lethal spread of malignant cells by rupturing small blood vessels in or around small, as yet undetected breast cancers.
So, what do you do if you are over 40 and want to safely screen for breast cancer? There is now a safe alternative to mammograms call thermography that can screen for the vascular changes associated with breast cancer. Check out this link to find out more:
What to do if you have a thermogram and it detects a suspicious mass? At this point, you will need to find a doctor who will order a breast ultrasound. Usually, doctors will not order an ultrasound without a mammogram. You will have to ask around from your friends and family to find an open minded doctor who understands the risks associated with mammograms and who will order you a breast ultrasound with no mammogram required.
The truth about mammograms as a significant contributor to breast cancer will gradually become more widely known and eventually, the tide of public opinion will force their removal as a breast cancer screening test. This finally happened with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), but it took 40 years for the truth to finally come out. When the truth about mammography madness finally makes the Evening News, make sure you aren’t one of the women who look back and regret not stopping sooner! By then, it could be too late for you. If you have read this blog, you now know the truth, so act on it.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Local, Whole Foods Under Attack

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 22, 2009

A primary goal for any Healthy Home Economist is to produce nutritious, home cooked meals for her family. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, “nutritious” is a word that is bandied about with such abandon these days in the media that the public is almost completely fooled about what “nutritious” truly means.

Let me define nutritious in very easy to understand terms. Nutritious = Local. If you want food that is nutrient dense, it pretty much has to be locally produced. Food that is shipped halfway across the world or continent (even if it has that sexy “organic” label) is not going to be nearly as nutritious as food that is produced on a small, family farm that you drive to yourself and buy directly from the farmer who produced it. Yes, even if that local food is not organic! Bypassing food distribution channels is essential to the procurement of the most nutritious, whole foods you can find. It is NOT in buying “organic”. What does buying “organic” even mean anyway?
The truth is that “Organic” has lost most of its meaning ever since the USDA got involved a few years back. Now you can buy processed frozen dinners that are labeled “organic”. Are these dinners nutritious? Not a chance! Organic processed food is basically the same as supermarket junk food less the pesticides and a few chemicals. They aren’t nourishing. Don’t be fooled by the “organic” marketing propaganda. While there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking organic foods to limit pesticide and antibiotic exposure, it is not necessarily going to find you the most nutritious foods. And guess what? Nutrient dense foods are more critical to your health than toxin free foods! A body that is fed nutrient dense foods can easily handle/excrete the toxin load that this modern world throws at it in the majority of cases (unless you are chronically ill to begin with). But, a person that is not consuming nutrient dense foods will fall apart anyway even if the foods he/she does consume are completely pure and toxin free! I hope you can understand the conundrum I just described. It is critical to your success as a Healthy Home Economist.
Now that I have defined that LOCAL is the definition of truly nutritious food, I must urgently inform you that your free and unfettered procurement of this type of food is under attack by our state and federal goverments. The profits of the big food companies are not going to go down without a fight, and the local food movement is seriously beginning to threaten corporate deep pockets. There is a bill in Congress right now that, if passed, will forever change the face of your ability to buy local whole foods for your family. This bill simply must be defeated.
Please show your support for the Local Food Movement by clicking on this link and signing the petition to defeat HR 2749. Please do this NOW! There is no time to spare.
First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. – Ghandi
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Brew Your Own Traditional, Homemade Root Beer

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 19, 2009

Investigation of traditional cultures from around the world reveals that all of them utilized various types of fermented foods to assist digestion and keep immunity strong. Of course, these cultures did not understand the science behind the benefits of fermented foods; they only observed that by eating these foods regularly they weren’t as likely to die from infectious disease!

We now know that traditionally prepared fermented foods contain an abundance of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and nutritional co-factors not present in the unfermented version of the food. Regular consumption of these foods makes it far more likely that you and your family will sail through flu season with nothing more than a mild sniffle for a few days if even that!

Traditional ethnic beverages are a fun way to begin the process of incorporating fermented foods into your home. Kombucha was the first traditionally fermented beverage I started with over 8 years ago and it is still a regular fixture in our refrigerator.

Another favorite fermented beverage in our home is homemade root beer. This root beer is nothing like store bought root beer (other than the taste). For one, it does not contain any high fructose corn syrup that is a sure recipe for ill health, crumbling bones and teeth, and muffin top (high fructose corn syrup encourages fat storage in your middle)!

Root beer is a wonderful, traditional North American beverage brewed with sassafras root (sources). If you like hiking in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, you will find this plant growing wild nearly everywhere you go.

Another item you will need before you get going is a “starter”. The starter is the beneficial bacterial culture used to inoculate the fermentation and cause the brewing process to begin. You only have to make a starter culture one time, then all you have to do is save a bit of each root beer batch which serves as the starter for the following batch. To make your root beer starter, follow these instructions from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon.

Homemade Starter for Root Beer or Ginger Beer

Place 1 1/2 cups water, 2 tsp ground organic ginger and 2 tsp organic white sugar in a glass mason jar. Cover, shake well and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. “Feed” the cutlure with 2 tsp each of white sugar and ground ginger every day for 7 days, always leaving the culture at room temperature. On day 7, the mixture should produce bubbles. If you have some bubbles, your starter is ready to use. If not, you must start again. One tip: use organic ground ginger as many nonorganic herbs are irradiated. Irradiated herbs will not ferment into a starter bug.

Click here for a video to learn how to make.

How to Make Homemade Root Beer

Once you have your sassafras root bark (sources) and your starter, you are ready to brew your own, healthy root beer! To get started, bring one gallon of filtered water to a boil with 2 oz of sassafras root bark. Once boiling, add 1 1/2 cups of sucanat or rapadura (sources) and stir. Add a tsp of allspice as well. Once dissolved, remove from heat and strain with a strainer and a white cotton dishtowel.

Pour the mixture into a 2 gallon glass jar (sources) and add 1 more gallon of filtered water and stir. Wait for the mixture to cool a bit and then stir in some lemon juice (2 lemons per batch). Wait for the mixture to cool a bit more and then add 1 1/2 cups of starter (if the mixture is too hot, the heat will kill the starter culture so wait until it is only warm to the touch).

Cover your container with a cloth attached with a large rubber band. Leave on the counter for 5-7 days depending on the weather (the warmer the weather, the shorter the brew time).

When fermentation is complete, fill your soda bottles (sources) and cap them. Leave some room at the top of each bottle to allow for carbonation.

Leave at room temperature for a day or two to carbonate. Then refrigerate and enjoy! This root beer is particularly hydrating and is very refreshing after hot, summer yard work.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Mexican Food Done Right – Part Two

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 16, 2009

The second part of my blog about Mexican food concerns proper preparation of corn. Corn is a grain (sorry kids, corn on the cob doesn’t count as a veggie!) and as such, requires careful preparation so as to maximize nutrition and neutralize antinutrients. Traditional peoples who relied heavily on corn were careful to soak the cornmeal or corn kernals in limewater before cooking. This particular soaking process releases vitamin B3 which is otherwise nearly impossible for the digestive process to extract from the grain. Relying heavily on corn in the diet without soaking first is a primary cause of the disease pellagra. Symptoms of pellagra include fatigue, sore skin, and mental problems.

It is incredibly easy to make limewater! Simply put 1/2 inch of dolomite powder (calcium carbonate) in the bottom of a quart glass mason jar and fill with filtered water. Shake well, cover and then let settle overnight. The clear liquid that becomes available after the settling process is complete is limewater. Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator. I use KAL brand dolomite powder and it is available at many health food stores or by ordering online from Radiant Life.

Sprouting corn will also release vitamin B3 and neutralize phytic acid and other antinutrients that decrease enzymatic activity in the digestive tract. So, if corn tortillas are your cup of tea, try The Food of Life brand of Sprouted Corn Tortillas (ingredients: organic sprouted corn, filtered water, sea salt, lime). I use these in our home to make fajitas and other Mexican dishes that call for tortillas.

Another use of the sprouted corn tortilla is for delicious, healthy corndogs! Simply grill or bake nitrate free, antibiotic free hot dogs and wrap tightly in a warmed sprouted corn tortilla. Attach the tortilla firmly with a toothpick. This makes a great school lunch for the kids as well!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


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