July 15th, 2011
We get advice to eat lots of whole grains, but we have not yet evolved to digest them very well.  Grains developed lectins to protect themselves from being eaten.  We have not developed a defense against them (such as four stomachs), and most of us have some degree of sensitivity, especially to the most well known – gluten.  Even when we don’t recognize any symptoms, the amount we are advised to eat can compromise our digestion and cause inflammation.

Farm animals have the same problem.  Lierre Keith discusses the effects of basing our diet on agriculture in a well reasoned and supported, passionate, easy to read book. She explains her purpose for writing: “this book is an effort to honor our deepest longings for a just world.”  The excerpt below summarizes what happens when we feed grain to the animals we eat, who are designed to eat grass (cows, sheep, goats) or insects (chickens).

“the first mistake is in assuming that factory farming – a practice that is barely fifty years old – is the only way to raise animals.  Their calculations on energy used, calories consumed, humans unfed, are all based on the notion that animals eat grain.

“You can feed grain to animals, but it is not the diet for which they were designed.  Grain didn’t exist until humans domesticated annual grasses, at most 12,000 years ago, while aurochs, the wild progenitors of the domestic cow, were around for two million years before that.  For most of human history, browsers and grazers haven’t been in competition with humans.  They ate what we couldn’t eat – cellulose – and turned it into what we could – protein and fat.  Grain will dramatically increase the growth rate of beef cattle (there’s a reason for the expression ‘cornfed’) and the milk production of dairy cows.  It will also kill them.  The delicate bacterial balance of a cow’s rumen will go acid and turn septic.  Chickens get fatty liver disease if fed grain exclusively, and they don’t need any grain to survive.  Sheep and goats, also ruminants, should really never touch the stuff.”  The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre Keith, p. 2

Conclusion: We are carnivores, but the flesh of sick, miserable animals does not nourish us.

Advice:  Buy naturally raised meats to nourish the ones we love (including ourselves).

Anne Whitson, MA, NS, NTP

May 26th, 2010


When we’re chronically dehydrated, our thirst signal can decrease, so we might not feel thirsty. But water is the most common deficiency in the U.S.

So what happens when we drink coffee, soda, packaged fruit juice, energy drinks, and alcohol instead of water?
Blood gets thicker. So does lymph and intercellular fluid. These are how we transport stuff throughout our bodies, so when we’re dehydrated, the flow slows, and there’s traffic jams:

1. Metabolism and blood sugar don’t work well, because hormones don’t move efficiently.

2. We get sick more, because drier lung and stomach linings let in germs more easily. Sluggish lymph flow means we don’t heal quickly. Histamine activity is exaggerated, making asthma and allergies worse.

3. Heart disease risk goes up with blood viscosity; it’s harder to pump thick liquids. And when we’re dehydrated, the vascular system selectively closes blood vessels, leading to hypertension.

4. Our natural detoxification systems get clogged – ever try to flush a toilet without water? We need fluid blood to deliver toxins to lymph and liver. We need water to get rid of toxins by sweating, exhaling, urinating, and defecating. If the body can’t get rid of toxins, it stores them – especially in fat tissue. Toxic fat tissue is most resistant to weight release.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
Early signs:
- fatigue – cravings
- anxiety – cramps
- irritability – headache
- depression

Mature signs:
- heartburn – fibromyalgia
- joint pain – constipation
- back pain – colitis
- migraines

So party on and drink responsibly – half your body weight in fl oz of water every day, preferably spring or well water.

Anne Whitson, MA, NTP
Ubbe’s Fitness Studio

December 21st, 2009


1) Not just for strong bones. Calcium also maintains our blood pH at just above neutral. When blood pH goes down – from constant stress or a diet high in coffee, sugar, sodas, or alcohol – calcium is released from bones to raise pH. What would happen if we couldn’t do this? If blood pH got too low, our lungs would shut down; if it got too high, our heart would stop. Thank goodness for the calcium reservoir in our bones and the ingenious, complicated biochemistry that allows us to use it.

2) We get enough but can’t always use it. We need at least 7 cofactors to utilize dietary calcium.

a. Systemic pH – Anything that lowers blood pH impacts our ability to absorb and use calcium (see #1 for a partial list).
b. Digestion – Calcium is only absorbed in an acid environment. If we take antacids regularly, we dilute stomach acid and can’t absorb calcium, among other problems. And in food that digests quickly (i.e., carbs) the calcium may not be available. For instance, in lowfat milk, the higher percentage of sugar (lactose) speeds everything through to the lower small intestine, which is too alkaline to absorb calcium.
c. Other minerals – Minerals help nutrients cross cell membranes. Calcium must be in balance with other essential minerals for this to work. A good source of minerals? Sea salt.
d. Hormones – Hormones affect whether/how we store calcium, especially parathyroid, thyroid, adrenal hormones, and all the sex hormones. Imbalances throw this off; hence, menopausal women are especially at risk for osteoporosis.
e. Hydration – Proper hydration affects every function in our body. Calcium has a strong relationship with electrolytes.
f. Fatty acids – Fats are necessary to transport calcium across cell membranes to be used in cells.
g. Vitamin D increases absorption of calcium in the GI tract, decreases loss in urine/feces, and helps bring calcium into blood. Unfortunately, the synthetic vitamin D added to milk and other foods is not well absorbed. Better sources are foods naturally high in D or 15 minutes of sunlight without sunscreen (This process needs cholesterol, so extremely low fat diets can cause vitamin D deficiency). We also need roughly equal amounts of vitamin A to be able to use vitamin D.

We try to get enough calcium. Let’s also remember the cofactors, so as not to waste our efforts.

A New Year’s toast — to our amazing bodies that give us vitality!


Anne Whitson, M.A., N.S.
Nutritionist/Weight Mgmt Coach
Ubbe’s Fitness & Weight Mgmt Clinic

September 11th, 2009

What your doctor probably doesn’t yet know: fructose is the most damaging part of table sugar (sucrose), which is half glucose, half fructose. Fructose is the sugar in honey and fruit, so we think of it as the “healthier” sugar.

Glucose dumps immediately into the blood, making insulin spike, but fructose is processed in the liver and sent out on triglycerides. Because it doesn’t show up in the bloodstream right away, fructose is low on the glycemic index and so is touted as the healthy way to have sweets.

Agave syrup, a recent fad in sweetening, is about 90% fructose; its low glycemic impact makes it seem like a healthy choice.

But recent research is finding that it is fructose, not glucose, that is associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems that often appear together. They are increasing at an alarming rate: hypertension, obesity, diabetes, renal disease, and heart disease.

One of the foremost scientists doing this research is Richard Johnson, MD, Univ. of Colorado, who we heard at the Food Addiction Summit last April. In his studies, only the rats on fructose developed metabolic syndrome, not those on glucose. And the fructose rats developed these problems even when calories were at starvation level!

Johnson has found that fructose causes energy depletion. Protein synthesis stops, and uric acid builds up in blood within 30 min. Chronic uric acid buildup causes hypertension, microvascular disease, dementia, and stroke. It also induces salt sensitivity and leptin resistance (leptin is a hormone that tells us when we’re full), so appetite increases while energy decreases.

Because vitamin C neutralizes some of the effects of uric acid buildup, eating whole fruit is less likely to bring on metabolic syndrome, but in the last 50 years the typical American diet includes more and more fructose, in products we don’t even think of as sweet, like salad dressing and ketchup.

But the biggest culprit is soda. Most 1950 Americans thought of soda as a treat, something to go to a soda fountain for. Now we drink it when we’re thirsty, like water, and we’re getting fat and sick so fast that experts are calling it an epidemic and forecasting that we may soon see a generation whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents’.

Want to be healthier than the average American? Drink no fructose!

Here’s to feeling good -
Anne Whitson, M.A., N.S.
Nutrition Specialist/Weight Mgmt Coach
Ubbe’s Fitness Studio and Weight Mgmt Clinic

More info about fructose: The Sugar Fix, Richard Johnson, MD

August 3rd, 2009

From dermatologist N. Perricone, MD’s foreword to Sugar Shock, Bennett

Reason #393 to avoid sugar and other high-glycemic carbohydrates: they create cellular inflammation and trigger free radicals that speed up aging.

What happens when we eat sugars is called glycation. Sugar molecules permanently attach to collagen; this produces enzymes that inflame and break down collagen, resulting in wrinkles. Glycation also causes cross-linking in collagen, making it stiff and inflexible, destroying elasticity, so skin sags. The effect is like tanning a leather hide. Over time, skin becomes unevenly discolored and heavily striated with deep lines and grooves.

Glycation occurs not just in our skin – the sugar molecule also attaches itself to and deteriorates arteries, veins, bones, ligaments, even brains. Glycation creates “free radical factories” known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which cause cellular inflammation.

So the best beauty treatment? Drink water or tea instead of juice or soda.

Bright skin and bright days –

Anne Whitson, M.A., N.S.
Nutrition/Weight Mgmt Coach
Ubbe’s Fitness Studio

© 2009 Ubbe's Fitness Studio