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Showing posts from February, 2012

McDonald's v. School Lunches: Which is Healthier?

Proposed elementary school lunch, courtesy of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010: Chef Salad (1 cup romaine, .5 oz low-fat mozzarella, 1.5 oz grilled chicken) with Whole Wheat Soft Pretzel (2.5 oz) Corn, cooked (1/2 cup) Baby Carrots, raw (1/4 cup) Banana Skim Chocolate Milk (8 oz) Low Fat Ranch Dressing (1.5 oz) Low Fat Italian Dressing (1.5 oz) The nutrient composition of this lunch (info from Carbohydrate: 138g Fat: 16g Protein: 37g Fiber: 10g Net carbohydrate (ie., digestible): 128g Calories: 886 CPF composition by calories: approximately 62:17:16 Assumptions: 1 slice commercially prepared whole wheat bread, 1 oz carrots, low fat ranch dressing Let's look at the nutrient composition of a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese, small fries and a diet drink or water: Carbohydrate: 69g Fat: 37g Protein: 32 g Fiber: 6g Net carbohydrate: 63g Calories: 740 CPF composition by calories: 37:17:45 To be sure, neither of

Vitamin D: Prana in a Pill?

Do people forget what it feels like to be well? I think so. While I was sick with a sinus infection, I remembered r unning around with my best friend last year , going dancing two or three times a week , and wondered how I ever had the energy to do all that. This morning, I woke up feeling healthy (even though I'm still coughing a little, and still taking Mucinex since I'm really afraid of a relapse). I got up at 6:30 (can't remember the last time I was up that early on a weekend), did some laundry, cleaned out the refrigerator, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, changed the sheets, took out the trash, bought some groceries and got to work around 10. Concentrating on my work was so much easier than it was when I was sick. (That it was Saturday helped, too.) I still have some symptoms of vitamin D toxicity. No vomiting, but I've had some momentary but severe acid reflux. I'd forgotten how painful that is. Nevertheless, I'm feeling better than I have in months

I May Have Vitamin D Toxicity, But I Feel Better

Having taken megadoses of vitamin D for the past few weeks (think 10,000 to 50,000 IU per day), I now have some symptoms of vitamin D toxicity: muscle weakness, a little fatigue, and constipation. (I wondered last night why I found it so difficult to shovel a few inches of wet snow.) Overall, I feel pretty good, certainly better than when I was sick with a sinus infection and way better than when I was suffering from side effects and an allergic reaction to Benzonatate. A few people have remarked that I sound better and the pink is back in my cheeks. Without a test, it's not possible to know for certain that these symptoms are caused by too much vitamin D, but I'm going to stop taking it for now. The vitamin is stored in the fat, so it's going to be in my system for awhile, fighting any microbes left in my sinuses. Researcher Michael Holick says in The Vitamin D Solution, Most humans obtain from sun exposure their vitamin D requirements between the hours of 10:00 A.M. an

SWAMP: Treating Sinus Infections without Antibiotics

Note: I've made some edits regarding the safety of taking vitamin D. Please read this post for further details on taking a large dose of vitamin D. SWAMP (sinuses with a mucus problem) is my hypothesis of treating sinus infections and other upper respiratory infections without antibiotics: to get rid of the bug infestation, you need to drain the swamp and activate some natural predators. You also need to restore the habitat's salinity. Who this is for: People with no access to medical care People who prefer over-the-counter medicines People who can't tolerate antibiotics, steroids and other medications Eccentrics who like to self-experiment If you have a serious respiratory illness, you can still do this, but please see a doctor as well--the sooner, the better.  My next door neighbor died of the flu; people die every day of pneumonia. If you need to save money, keep in mind that a serious case of pneumonia can put you in the hospital for several days. A sinus i

Sinus Infections: The Swamp Hypothesis

Imagine that your sinuses are a stream. When all is well, the water (or mucus) flows along. There are some bugs here and there, but not too many. If the stream becomes blocked, the water backs up, sits still, and the bugs multiply. The stream becomes a swamp. Current thinking is to annihilate the bugs with antibiotics. My idea is to drain the swamp and activate some natural predators. As I understand it, inflammation causes your sinuses to become blocked. The mucus builds up, making a habitat for bacteria overgrowth. Thus infected, white blood cells enter the mucus, making it thick and less able to be moved along. A substance that's both an anti-inflammatory and immune cell activator is vitamin D. My thinking is that it should enable the body's immune cells to kill most of the bugs and un-inflame the sinus passages to allow mucus to flow. There's clinical and observational evidence that vitamin D is helpful in preventing and fighting respiratory infections. I've

Good News about a Binge Eater

Last month I blogged about my friend's grandson "James," a ten-year-old binge eater who was nearly 40 pounds overweight. James's grandmother is a force to be reckoned with; I've been whispering in her ear. She's been reading books from my health collection, and then some: Why We Get Fat, The New Atkins for a New You, Heartburn Cured, The Vegetarian Myth, and Slow Burn.  I also mentioned Dr. Atkins' advice for binge eating, which he treated: binge on protein and fat. Disabused of the notion that fat is bad and eating less is good, she's gotten James some snacks like Crystal Light (a no-calorie drink), boiled eggs, celery and peanut butter and apples and yogurt, and labeled them with his name. It seems he's caught on to low-carbing: his grandmother saw that when he fixed a plate for himself, he skipped the hamburger bun and just took meat and salad. She said he played outside all day Sunday (he didn't have that energy before) and looks well. He

Vitamin D for a Respiratory Infection

I'm 90% better from my sinus infection...and have been so for a week. A nine-hour nap followed by a good night's sleep helped last weekend; so has Mucinex. But last Monday, the day the antibiotics were out of my system, the glands in my neck were swollen. That's when I decided to use a trick from a year and a half ago when I had a cold: a megadose of vitamin D. There's some compelling evidence that vitamin D helps prevent colds and flu. In one study, After 3 years, a total of 34 patients reported cold and influenza symptoms, eight in the vitamin D3 group vs. 26 in the placebo group (P<0·002). When we examined the seasonality of the symptoms, we found that the placebo group had cold/influenza symptoms mostly in the winter. The vitamin D group had symptoms throughout the year while on 20 μg/d [800 IU per day], whereas only one subject had a cold/influenza while on 50 μg/d [2,000 IU per day].(1)  For what it's worth, John Cannell M.D. of the Vitamin D Council

Test Your Diagnostic Skills Contest

The Problem: Sharp, intermittent pain in my upper left wisdom tooth and a persistent cough. A dental examination showed no problem with the tooth. The x-ray showed that the wisdom tooth had longer roots than  the other molars.  The diagram below may help you. Good luck!

Benzonatate Side Effects

Readers may know I'm trying to get over a persistent cough. The PA I saw on Saturday prescribed benzonatate, which I've been taking since then. Last night, I started thinking, "I don't remember breathing being this difficult." Nor did I recall a shower feeling like a mild beating. It was like my 38th birthday --the one where I was recovering from a car wreck. I see that these are some of the side effects of benzonatate: SIDE EFFECTS that may occur while taking this medicine include constipation; dizziness; drowsiness; headache; nasal congestion; nausea; or upset stomach...Symptoms of an allergic reaction include rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; or swelling of the face, lips or tongue.  I'd take something for the pain that's in every joint in my upper body, but my stomach is too upset. At least I didn't take a full dose of this stuff. Note to self: take Mucinex or Umcka instead. No side effects for me, and it&#

Wheat-Free: Why Not DIY?

Once again , the Wall Street Journal has run a (sort of) helpful article(1) on digestive issues--this time, on gluten intolerance, or what they should have called "wheat intolerance": You've got abdominal pains, bloating, fatigue and foggy thinking. You feel worse after eating wheat or other foods with gluten, and better when you avoid them. Add weight gain and rampant appetite to that, and that was me before I cut out wheat a few years ago, even though a previous medical test showed no signs of celiac. I stopped eating wheat to lose the 20 pounds I'd put on within a few years after I went back to eating the stuff. Indeed, I started slowly losing weight and feeling better. Wheat is an appetite stimulant. Later, I found out that humans have gone practically our entire existence without eating grains: there's no need in our diet for them. For millions of years, we lived on meat, roots, greens, eggs, fruits and nuts. But don't try this on your own! Accordin

Is this a Record?

I think I may now hold the record for most illnesses in a six-month period for someone on a mostly lacto-paleo diet: I still have a cough hanging on from when I got sick in January. I don't feel horrible, but coughing and spending 12 hours a day in bed aren't things I normally do. I've just started the fourth round of antibiotics in six months. The PA also gave me prescriptions for a cough suppressant and a steroid to calm my bronchial tubes, saying it shouldn't mess up my blood sugar if I'm not diabetic, but if I didn't feel well on it, I could stop taking it. A nearby restaurant, Spicy Basil, offered coconut curry chicken soup that hit the spot. I don't normally eat out, but I was on the bus today with my car stuck in the garage because of the snow. They also had seaweed salad, which I'll try when the weather is warmer. EDITED TO ADD: By sheer coincidence, Sami Paju and his girlfriend had chicken coconut curry soup as well last weekend, and they k