Monthly Archives: May 2010

Dementia and Diabetes Linked to Pesticides

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 31, 2010

Last week, I blogged about the latest study that links pesticide exposure in children to ADHD.    Now, another study has linked repeated pesticide exposure in adults with an increase in the risk of dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease)!    The study, posted in the May 2010 issue of Neurology, is an observational study and further study is needed to determine if it is a true causal link.

It is already known that organophosphates and organochlorines pesticides inhibit an enzyme (acetylcholine) at the specialized junctions (synapses) in the  nervous system.   It is possible that the effects are long lasting after repeated exposure to these chemicals.   It is known that this specific enzyme declines in those with Alzheimer’s Disease which could be the reason for the association with occupational exposure to pesticides.

Given the skyrocketing cases of Alzheimer’s Disease in the elderly - 115 million people are predicted to have AD by the year 2050, it seems prudent to limit exposure to pesticides in any way possible.    Eating organic produce, using green pesticides in your own yard and never allowing pesticides to be sprayed inside your home all seem to be very common sense things to do especially if AD runs in your family.

Watch Out for Golf Courses

One of my favorite sports is golf, but of course, golf courses are one of the biggest users of pesticides.   I’ve often said that despite my great love for this sport I would never live on or near a golf course due to the constant exposure to pesticide residues.  Imagine opening your windows on a nice day just after the course has been sprayed!   Incidentally, pesticides have also been linked to an eye popping 85-250% increase in diabetes – in particular to a pesticide used on golf course turf!

In recent decades, golf course communities have become a favorite for retirees – those most vulnerable to the ravages of dementia and diabetes.    It seems that relocating to a golf course community to spend your golden years may not be the wisest choice after all.

Anyone heard of a green golf course community?

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Picture Credit

Gut Health is a Journey, Not a Destination

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 30, 2010

There seems to be a common, yet major misconception that gut health is something that is achieved, a destination on one’s journey to health that can be moved down the priority list once a certain set of symptoms are reduced or no longer appear on the radar screen.    Got gut problems or been on a round of antibiotics?   No worries.    Just take a probiotic for a few weeks and everything will rebalance just fine.

This approach and mindset couldn’t be further from the truth.  

Gut health as experienced by traditional cultures was maintained every single day.   It wasn’t a healthy condition that one was lucky to be born with that allowed a life free of chronic disease and degeneration.   Neither was it a goal to be achieved with short term consumption of probiotics or probiotic rich foods while other glaring problems in the diet remained.

On the contrary, while these traditional peoples were definitely endowed with superior gut health from the start due to a natural birth to Mothers with superior gut health themselves, this lucky state of affairs was easily squandered if the correct foods required to maintain the pristine state of their guts were not consumed every single day, almost with every single meal.

Traditional Swiss Culture

Take for example, the traditional alpine Swiss culture which produced young men of such superior character, strength and physique that they were selected more frequently than any other young men in the country to serve as the Swiss Guard for the Vatican.    This culture and its young men are discussed in Dr. Weston A. Price’s groundbreaking book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

What is also discussed in Dr. Price’s book is how the young people he examined that suffered from dental caries (cavities) in the Swiss alpine villages were invariably the same young people who had left the nurturing foods of home at around age 18 to do this or that in a city elsewhere only to find themselves with one or more rotting teeth within a year or two (or worse tuberculosis).    Interestingly, Dr. Price discovered upon examination of these young people who had returned home that their dental caries had invariably healed and were no longer causing any distress.   Similarly, not a single case of tuberculosis was reported in the Swiss alpine villages.

The traditional foods of the alpine Swiss valleys were protective only as long as these foods continued to be consumed, thereby maintaining gut health and immunity.   Once these foods were abandoned due to living abroad, illness quickly took hold.   Incidentally, the typical foods in urbanized Europe at the time consisted of canned foods, refined flour, a high intake of sweets, sweetened fruits, chocolate, and a greatly reduced usage of raw dairy products.

Gut Health Must be Maintained Every Single Day!

The lessons of the Traditional Swiss can easily be applied to our modern lives.    First of all, we can learn that use of fresh dairy alone will not protect and maintain our gut health and immunity.   It may improve it somewhat, but will not bestow the vitality we seek.  The modernized Swiss that lived during Dr. Price’s time who suffered from rampant dental caries and tuberculosis were still using raw dairy – it just was not in the same quantities as the Alpine Swiss and it was combined with heavily processed foods in the rest of the diet.

To give you a more pointed example, using grassfed, farm fresh milk on a breakfast bowl of highly processed, boxed breakfast cereal is not going to go very far in achieving good health for you or your children!    ALL grains that come in a box are highly processed even if made with organic, whole grains and must be avoided!

You can’t ride the fence on your journey to health.   You can’t take cod liver oil and keep eating fast food several times a week and expect to be well in the long term.    You might be fine today, but as we all know, auto immune, chronic illness frequently strikes without warning.   A “I’m doing fine on my processed foods diet” attitude is equivalent to sticking your head in the sand while a tsunami is heading your way.   You won’t experience high energy and vitality with a pantry loaded with refined, boxed carbs even if you are absolutely compulsive about eating organic produce, grassfed meats, and greatly limit your sugar intake.

You either make the critical changes necessary to get well and stay well or you don’t.    Half hearted attempts usually fail, in my experience, as discouragement sets in after a month or two when a major improvement in wellness is not achieved.

This is not to say that all changes required for health need to be made at the same time!   On the contrary, transitioning from a modern diet to a traditional one takes time, often months or even years to fully accomplish.    As a result, the focus should be on the journey to gut health that takes place over time and not expecting miracles with one or two initial changes in the diet, even if seemingly significant (like the switch from pasteurized dairy to fresh dairy or starting a daily cod liver oil supplement).  

Expectations need to be tempered with the total reality of the diet being consumed day in and day out.   Gut health and ultimately immunity from chronic illness depends on this path.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


REAL Food Giveaway!

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 28, 2010

It’s time for another Giveaway, and this time I’m giving away REAL food!  

I can’t tell you exactly which food I’m giving away just yet as it all depends on the results of the poll that you can see just to the right of this blog post.    Whichever food listed on the poll receives the most votes by midnight on Monday, May 31, 2010 will be the food that I show you how to make during the next Video Thursday segment (June 3, 2010).     The REAL food I end up making during that video is the REAL food that I will mail to our Giveaway winner!  

So, make sure that you vote for your favorite!

How to Enter

All subscribers are eligible to enter this Giveaway.   If you aren’t yet subscribed, see the subscribe by email or RSS feed section just below the poll to the right of this post.   If you are also a Facebook or Google Connect friend, you will get a second chance to win.    If you add a comment to this blog post briefly describing which of the REAL foods in the poll you would most like mailed to you and why, you will get a third chance to win.  

This Giveaway will run through midnight on Sunday, June 6, 2010.    The winner will be announced on Monday, June 7, 2010.

Good luck!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Video: Liquid Whey and Cream Cheese

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 27, 2010

This video is a request from a reader.   Thanks Rick for the great suggestion!

Please also see the poll box just to the right of this post.   Please vote for the topic of next week’s video.  I will be using the liquid whey that I make in the video today.

REAL Liquid Whey

Making real, liquid whey in your own kitchen is a MUST step for any traditional cook to learn.  Without liquid whey, many other traditional recipes cannot even be attempted.    You cannot buy liquid whey from the store except in a denatured, unhealthy, powdered form, so make sure you take the time to implement what I show you in this video.   In subsequent videos, I will show you how to use this liquid whey to make many delicious, healthful recipes for your family.     Liquid whey as shown in this video will keep up to 6 months in the refrigerator in a glass mason jar.

If you absolutely have no access to farm fresh milk to make your whey, then you can use plain, organic yogurt instead and do pretty much exactly the same thing as shown in the video.  You won’t get nearly as much whey using yogurt as clabbered, farm fresh milk, but at least you can get enough to get you started.    My favorite brand of yogurt from the store is Seven Stars.   The milk used to make this brand of biodynamic, organic yogurt comes from old fashioned, grassfed jersey or guernsey cows.

REAL Cream Cheese

The raw, enzyme rich strawberry cream cheese I make in the video is fantastic on a sourdough or sprouted bagel for breakfast.   French Meadow makes a fantastic, spelt sourdough bagel.  Food for Life has an excellent seven grain sprouted English muffin too (don’t buy the Ezekiel sprouted muffins as that one has soy).

To make, just take your cream cheese left over from making liquid whey and add a few strawberries and a dash of Grade B maple syrup to taste.   Mix together by pulsing a few times in your food processor.   This wonderful, fresh, REAL strawberry cream cheese will last one to two weeks in the refrigerator.    You will turn up your nose to the fake, Philadelphia strawberry cream cheese after trying this truly healthy, probiotic laden, homemade version.

No Access to Raw Milk?  No problem.  Click here for a video on how to separate liquid whey from a container of plain yogurt from the store.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


A Warning: Fetal Cord Blood Banking

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist May 26, 2010

Banking of a newborn baby’s stem cells after birth is an increasingly popular option for parents as a sort of additional health insurance policy for their baby and other family members.     The procedure involves obtaining 3-5 oz of fetal cord blood usually from a clamped umbilical cord.   The blood is then shipped to a cord blood bank where the stem cells are processed and preserved at sub zero temperature for a fee.

To date, cord blood has been used to successfully treat over 70 diseases including leukemia, sickle cell anemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and Hodgkins disease among others.     Cord blood has a 25% chance of being a genetic match for full siblings and a 50% chance for parents.    Of course, cord blood is a perfect match for the baby it came from.

Cord blood is preferred to bone marrow as it is less likely to cause life threatening rejection complications.   As a result, using cord blood for a less than perfect match is more likely to work than a similar procedure using bone marrow.   Cord blood is desirable, then, for extended family members as well and has a better chance than bone marrow of not being rejected.   Cord blood is also a more pristine source for stem cells and is much less likely to be contaminated with viruses such as Epstein-Barr which can cause serious infections in transplant patients.

Cord Clamping Procedure

Many prospective parents do not realize that when they opt to bank their newborn baby’s cord blood that the birth attendants are more likely to cut the umbilical cord early (within 30 seconds of birth) in order to ensure an adequate amount of cord blood is collected for the cord blood bank.  This is not desirable, as the umbilical cord should never be cut until it has completely stopped pulsing.  A recent study at the University of South Florida confirms that giving the baby all the cord blood improves outcome, even for healthy, full term infants.    Allowing all the cord blood to flow into the baby may take in excess of 3 full minutes.   Cutting it prior to this point can deprive the baby of much needed oxygen in those crucial minutes as the baby transitions to breathing on its own.

Some scientists have expressed concern that early clamping of the umbilical cord can lead to iron deficiency anemia, brain impairment, and even autism.    David Hutchon, a consultant obstetrician at Darlington Memorial Hospital went so far as to call premature clamping of the umbilical cord “criminal” for at risk and vulnerable babies.    This concern was borne out by a large scale study in 2007 of 1900 newborns where delay of cutting the umbilicus for 2 minutes reduced anemia by half and low iron levels by one third.  

In babies where cord clamping is delayed, the chance of polycythemia are heightened (an increased level of circulating red blood cells), but has proven to be of no concern.   In addition, the risk of excessive bleeding in the Mother does not appear to be significantly increased when there is a delay in cutting the umbilical cord. In fact, delay in cutting the cord appears to be of primary benefit to the baby and of little concern for the health of the mother.   It may well prove inconvenient for hospital birthing staff, however, which is why discussion of your desire to delay the cord cutting needs to be discussed well in advance of the birth even if you don’t plan to bank your baby’s cord blood!

How to Get Cord Blood AND Delay Cutting the Umbilical Cord

Once you’ve established with your OB or midwife that you desire for the umbilical cord to be cut only once it stops pulsing with blood flow into the baby, the next question is how to get cord blood for the cord blood bank?    The answer is from the placenta!    Once the placenta is delivered, the birthing staff can obtain plenty of cord blood to meet this need.    It will likelly take a bit more time and effort to retrieve the cord blood from the placenta versus the umbilical cord.   The extra effort is well worth it given the much improved chances for health in the newborn by doing so!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


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