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Sugar High, Immune Low

February 20, 2006

It’s that time of year; fever, sniffles, sore throats, hacking coughs. You can hardly go anywhere that you don’t encounter a sick person. The store isles are packed where the cold medicines are sold. And the newspapers report that the hospitals are full up. Ironically, or not so, the epidemic proportions usually start shortly after the holidays. Funny how it coincides with our largest consumption of sugar for the year.

Now, I like sweets, and I think we are called to celebrate God’s goodness to us - with sweets, and meats, and fats! So, what can we do to counter the negative impact the sweet things have on our health?

You need to realize that every time you eat sugar, or honey, or maple syrup, your immune system is lowered for three hours. Yep, three hours. So, if you give your family say, pancakes for breakfast, and you serve them with syrup, or jam, their immune system will be low for the next three hours. Next comes lunchtime, the reward for finishing might be a cookie. Or, maybe you include pop, or a sandwich made with peanut butter (the spreadable kind), or even lunchmeat, these can both contain sugar. Now, the immune system has been in a suppressed state for six hours. As the afternoon rolls on, the kids get cranky and need a pick-me-up before dinner rolls along. Even if you reach for a whole grain cracker, or a healthy brand of yogurt, it most likely has at least one source of sugar! You get the picture. There is not a single moment during the day that your family’s immune system is at peak performance. Yet, we are under constant bombardment from the microbial and oxidative world. Fortunately, there are foods and supplements that will boost your family’s immune system. And there are ways we can feed our families that help to cut back on the amount of sweets we serve them.

When you make pancakes, don’t feel like you need to add that tablespoon of sugar the recipe calls for. It’s completely unnecessary. Instead, to boost immunity, add chopped nuts. Nuts are a good source of essential fatty acids and protein, both of which are immune boosters. In all this, I’m assuming that you are using whole grain flours. Adding an additional scoop of protein powder will insure even more immune building power. White flour will lower your immune system in several ways; use it as seldom as possible! I prefer whole-wheat pastry flour, but there are a large variety of grains available and they all have something unique to offer for building health. To top off your pancakes, serve them with natural applesauce spiced with cinnamon, which is currently being highlighted as having many health-giving properties.

Lunch is my least favorite meal of the day, maybe because I feel interrupted! I found my kids really liked simple creamed soups that I could make quickly. If you keep stock on hand, this is especially easy. Serve it with a slice of cheese and some health-giving bagels, or crackers. If you serve the quick fix kids-love-it, macaroni and cheese, add some wheat germ, wheat or oat bran, and some grated cheese. Always try to serve fruit with lunch. The old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is as true today as when Ben Franklin penned it. Another idea is a simple peasants lunch consisting of cheese, bread, and fruit. Wholesome, satisfying, and soul-feeding.

Add beautiful color to the dinner plate with lots of vegetables. The most delicious organic winter squash was available this year. It had richer color than the conventionally grown, and the earthiest flavor I’d ever had in winter squash. I’m so excited to see more affordable organic produce becoming available! Think of your dinner plate as a painting palate, and use bright colors. Every fruit or vegetable that has bright, dark colors is packed with antioxidants that will boost the immune system. A helpful habit we kept was to only have dessert on Friday night, or with company.

I feel I need to talk about juicing since so many people ask me questions on the topic. Juicing is okay, but is not an all-encompassing health panacea. It is good for extracting live enzymes, which are vital to good health. It is not good for receiving the cell protecting benefits of the antioxidants found in the whole fruit or vegetable. For instance, I’ve read that only about 3% of the carotenoids from carrots can be extracted by juicing, or by chewing. The remainder is trapped in the pulp and cannot be released without cooking. (Which is why I have a huge problem with the raw food camp. You simply cannot get all the nutrients you need from raw food!) Juice is a concentrated form of sugar. If you are using supplements that are juice extracts, you may not be getting all the immune boosting benefits that you should. And please, if you give your children juice, keep two things in mind. You should not replace milk (natural goat, or cow) with juice. Your child will be losing valuable nutrients. Also, cut the juice with at least half water. Or, better yet, use whole fruits and let them experience all the incredible textures God made, while getting many additional benefits not contained in the juice!

Food is so much fun! What an amazing Creator we have. Every time I start writing about it I can hardly stop because I get so excited. Alongside the nourishment we get from good food, we can add even more immune boosting power with supplements. My company, GNLD, has been the leader in immune building, and antioxidant products for almost 50 years. In the past 15 years, only one of my children (now adults) has needed an antibiotic. Remembering how many we had used prior to taking the GNLD nutrients, that says something! Consider adding some of our antioxidants (Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Vita-Gard) and essential fatty acids (Formula IV, or Tre-en-en) to your family’s daily routine. You’ll spend a lot less on medicine, and have more time for all those important things - like writing for your blog!

Next article, I’ll talk about how much sugar Americans are consuming, and some of the devastating health effects it is having.

Chocolate Joy

February 19, 2006

In exploring my new, expanded, super-duper-super-blog, I realized that my article on chocolate had been relegated to the recipe file. So, here it is, in all its deeply dark chocolatey-ness!

Let me take some time to introduce you to the delights of chocolate!

Native to South America, legend has it that Cortez was introduced to it during his explorations. In fact it was such a powerful elixer for stamina, that Cortez is said to have marched his troops for an entire day, without growing fatigued, on one cup of cocoa! And that drink did not contain any sugar, but probably had some corn meal added as a thickener. Reminds me of a Mole sauce!

In addition to stamina, chocolate is a powerful antioxidant. That is a nutrient that helps prevent, and/or repair oxidative damage. What is oxidative damage? That is what happens to a car when it is getting rusty, or when an apple is turning brown. It also happens every minute we breath, to all the cells in our bodies. Chocolate contains the antioxidant called catechins. These are also found in grapes, wine and tea. Catechins are powerful protectors of our cells.

Why do we get a cheerful lift from chocolate? Because, chocolate enhances mood and brain function. Women have known this for a long time. Now the scientific community is figuring it out!

Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the higher the benefits. Milk chocolate is a virtual loss in my book. I have also read that the lower the temperature the cocoa is processed at, the higher the retention of its antioxidant power. Since time is money, I would suspect the cheaper the chocolate, the fewer the health benefits. Your best bet is going to be organic, and more expensive. But, it is so worth it. Chocolate is not the only flavonoid containing food that we can enjoy and benefit from, just one very versatile and tasty one.

The highly requested Fudgey Brownie recipe can be found under the recipe file. I make these with Sucanat and whole wheat pastry flour, and I haven’t had a complaint yet!

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