I’m Craving Chili

The weather is turning cool and I’m craving chili and pasta with red sauce. In fact, if any food includes tomato sauce, I can’t get enough of it right now.

Most of us experience cravings at some time or other. Sometimes they come in the mild form of a food preference like me wanting chili for dinner. At other times, they feel like a compulsion to eat a particular thing.

How cravings affect us may be related to their origin. Cravings are influenced by the parts of the brain that process memory, pleasure, and reward. They can result from a hormone or nutritional imbalance as well as dehydration. A physiological connection may mean a stronger compulsion.

Beyond craving, some people will develop an eating disorder known as Pica. Unlike a general craving for food that some experts believe lasts from 3-5 minutes on average, patients with Pica have a persistent compulsion to eat substances like dirt or paint with no nutritional value.

Ingesting nonfood substances can lead to heavy metal poisoning, parasitic or bacterial infections, and intestinal blockages. If you should experience the symptoms of Pica, it is important to seek medical care.

Regular cravings are not dangerous but can make it difficult to achieve or maintain ideal weight. Many diet programs address this by substituting salty, crunchy items like popcorn for potato chips or adding portions of crunchy vegetables like celery and carrots. Sweet cravings may be dissuaded by eating fruit especially dried fruit like dates, raisins, or mango (no sugar added).

Sometimes you may just want to chew something. According to one study, chewing gum suppressed hunger, appetite and cravings.

If you feel like cravings are throwing you off track, it can be helpful to drink plenty of water and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. Beyond that, reducing stress and increasing physical activity can help.

On the other hand, a bowl of chili may be all you need!


Memory Monday

It’s time for a throwback but it isn’t Thursday so welcome to Memory Monday. There’s been a lot of talk this year about 1918 and the subsequent roaring 20s. Many have drawn parallels between what happened then and what’s happening now. Today’s throwback shows that even diet advice in the 1920s had elements that sound familiar in 2020. Why? Because science.

One jewel of 1920s diet advice was authored by Professor Arnold Ehret and entitled, Mucusless Diet Healing System. The tag line tells us this volume contains: “A Scientific Method of Eating Your Way to Health.” Scientific sounds promising and I agree with something Fred S. Hirsch, D.N.S. said in the introduction, “Bias, prejudice, and erratic conclusions have always stood in the way of progress….”

He also said, “The main trouble with the average individuals of present-day civilization is that they refuse to think. They prefer ‘mob thinking.’ Because everybody else does it, it must be right.” I’m pretty sure I’ve read similar statements recently on Twitter.

Arnold Ehret suffered from several ailments that left him feeling chronically ill. Bright’s disease which would now be described as chronic nephritis characterized by swelling and the presence of albumin in the urine, bronchial catarrh or a buildup of mucus, and consumptive tendencies that may have been caused by tuberculosis all plagued him. After many trips to sanitariums to recover, he was pronounced incurable. The grandson of a doctor and son of a veterinarian, he set out to find a way to heal himself.

Through trial and error, he discovered that he felt best when he alternated fasting and a diet based on grape sugar or dextrose. Monosaccharides like dextrose are single sugar molecules which require no further digestion in order to be transported across the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream. I’m sensing a similarity between Ehret’s diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet devised by Elaine Gottschall.

The theory at play in both is that monosaccharides or “predigested” carbohydrates found in ripe fruit, honey, some vegetables, nuts, and tiny amounts of meat can reduce inflammation. While Ehret’s work is primarily based on observation, Gottschall’s is based on sound science of the 1950s backed by degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology.

We now know that inflammation is involved in the process of many diseases and we are learning the role of the microbiome in health. There is also a move away from meat toward plant based diets. While Ehret may not have had a complete understanding of the science behind any of these, he was not totally off track.

In Lesson XXV (p191), he even mentions decayed and fermented mass of matter in the colon. That sounds like a mention of the microbiome to me. This early insight still holds enough relevance that Prof. Arnold Ehret’s Mucusless Diet Healing System is available for purchase.

It’s funny. We usually think we’ve advanced so far in the past century that nothing from the past can possibly be useful. Then along comes a pandemic and photos of 1918 outdoor barbershops take on a whole new meaning.

That’s the thing we always seem to forget – science is not an absolute, it is a living body of knowledge. It is always rooted in what was known before, proven, built on, revised, and relearned in an expanded understanding that is greater than before. One of its basic principles is that any law, theory, or otherwise can be disproven if new facts or evidence are presented.

There is much in Ehret’s diet system that can be questioned, but he asks a pertinent question: “What shall man eat to be healthy or heal his disease?”(p86)

Asking the right questions can advance science and those questions can come from anyone, any time, anywhere. Translational research recognizes this. Professor Ehret lived it. Jill Viles does too.

Science is always looking back and moving forward at the same time. That makes every day in the scientific community a Memory Monday.

There’s Always Room for Expansion

There’s always room for expansion. I’ve learned a few things since mid-March. One of them is, there’s always room for expansion.

Now you may be thinking I’m referring to expansion into the pj pants we’re wearing all day long. Nope. Well, maybe. But that’s not the point. It’s just an example. Other examples include: Making room for months worth of toilet paper, paper towels, and Clarisonic face brush refills; finding stores that will deliver necessities like car batteries; increasing personal space; donating more to those in need. Expansion in many areas has become a necessity.

And there are even greater opportunities to expand. Never before has so much scientific information been readily available and paraded before us. Now is a great time to learn about the process of clinical trials and how to participate in them.

Research is happening all of the time. The results of most of that research was previously published in journals and/or on websites where very few people saw it. Translational research has sought to change that by bringing research quickly into the practice of medicine to improve outcomes.

Now, Twitter threads bring links to studies immediately into public view. For the general public it would probably be better if studies were peer reviewed before that happens, but the accessibility and increased speed with which information is disseminated is a fantastic move forward. And the pandemic has meant that studies do not linger in obscurity prior to publication.

You don’t have to be fully fluent in statistics or chemistry to read the abstract of a scientific study. And if you start your lessons on Twitter, you’ll have experts breaking down the implications of new research. Of course, you’ll have to choose your experts carefully to get credible information, but most have their credentials in full view.

For those of you who have been frustrated through the years by a lack of accurate serological testing for Celiac Disease, there’s an opportunity to see multiple articles regarding specificity and sensitivity and how they affect test results in coronavirus antibody tests. Specificity and sensitivity are key to the weight information from a serological test should be given when diagnosing a disease.

Whether or not you choose to get lost in the science is up to you. But expanding knowledge is always a good thing. It will help you sort through the misinformation that abounds. And it will keep your brain active and engaged.

At this moment when your circle of friends and family may be contracting, expanding your mind can provide stimulation, inspiration, and knowledge. I always have room for those, don’t you?





Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Baby Carrot Anyone?

Baby carrot anyone? What is a baby carrot? Seems like a simple enough question. Obviously, it’s a carrot that hasn’t yet reached maturity. Also obvious, if you give it some thought, baby carrots will vary in size and shape as do squash, eggplant, and green beans. A baby carrot won’t always be a 2 inch length of uniformly orange vegetable with perfectly rounded ends. So what are those things we buy in the bag?

Those easy-to-pop-in-your-mouth snacks are baby-cut carrots. According to the World Carrot Museum (who knew there was one), baby-cut carrots were the brainchild of Mike Yurosek of Newhall, California who got tired of having to cull 70% of his harvest because the roots were twisted or knobby or broken. He knew that some of his carrots were cut up by frozen vegetable processors so he wondered, why not cut them up ourselves and sell them fresh?

After hand cutting a trial, Yurosek bought an industrial green bean cutter from a frozen food company that was going out of business. That machinery cut 2-inch strips. He then sent the strips to a packager to load them into a potato peeler to remove the peel and smooth the edges. Eventually, he bagged a few and sent to one of his grocery store clients to try. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, there was an upsurge in the popularity of carrots following the 1986 introduction of baby-cut carrots. Consumption peaked in the US at 14.1 pounds of carrots per person per year in 1997. By 2015, average consumption settled at around 8.3 pounds per person per year. Baby-cut carrots now make up more than 50% of carrot sales.

Because of baby-cut carrots’ popularity, plant breeders began to create varieties that were longer and narrower. They also bred the carrots to be sweeter. These were interesting shifts from the previously preferred characteristic of sturdy green tops.

Carrots are edible from one end to the other, but I can’t name anyone off the top of my head who eats the tops. I can name two people who don’t peel carrots on a regular basis. I’m one of them. Most of the nutrition in a carrot lies just beneath the peel. If you take away the peel, it’s easy to take away lots of good stuff in the process.

I prefer baby carrots to baby-cut carrots. I like surprising shapes and slight variances in color and flavor. But again, I’m the oddball. I was eyeing the last tomato in a bushel basket at the Farmer’s Market a few years ago. It was slightly misshapen. The proprietor of the booth said I could have it. He’d never be able to sell it. It seems even when we’re purchasing directly from the farmer, we’ve come to expect uniformity.

I’ll never argue against something that encourages a vegetable snack over a doughnut and I’m happy when waste is reduced by using all the parts of a particular food. Baby-cut carrots tick those boxes. But I vastly prefer the full flavor of the food I grew up eating right out of the garden to uniformity.

So, when there’s an option, I’ll take a baby carrot over a baby-cut carrot. Anyone else want one?