Fat is not the Enemy

It has taken me a long time to understand and embrace these nutrition secrets, but I’m finally starting to learn:

  1. 80% of your body composition is determined by your diet
  2. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat; sugar does
  3. Grains turn into sugars in your body, which make you fat. Carbs –> Insulin –> Fat
  4. Protein is the key to health, happiness, and cell regeneration*
  5. Chronic cardio causes inflammation, over-eating, and fatigue – it’s more effective to move at a slow pace
  6. There is little-to-no nutritional value in drinking cow’s milk (see previous post)
  7. A sandwich tastes better without the bread – it’s all about the stuff in the middle
  8. Supplements are not regulated and can be helpful or harmful depending on the brand and your needs – the one sure bet is to take your daily fish oil
  9. Eat the whole egg
  10. You can never get enough avocado, bacon, coconut oil/butter, blueberries, or macadamia nuts (if it makes you feel better, try wrapping some kale in bacon :-P)

Some of these may seem contrary to what you believe. I call them secrets because they stand in opposition to the SAD (Standard American Diet), which is full of grains and sugar. It has been a long journey for me to reach this point, and I was skeptical at first. I’m happy to elaborate and provide research on any of these points, so please doubt/debate/ask!

* “At a minimum you need .5 grams of protein per pound of lean mass/per day on average to maintain your “structure”. If you are moderately active you need .7 or .8, and if you are an active athlete you need as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass. That’s at a minimum, but it’s on a daily average. So a 155 lb moderately active woman who has 25% body fat (and thus) has 116 lb of lean body mass needs 93 grams of protein on average per day (116 x .8). If she gets 60 or 80 some days and 110 on others, she’ll still be in a healthy average range.”  – Mark’s Daily Apple

The funny thing about this picture, which I found on an MD’s site, is that you don’t have to choose between health and bacon.

Posted in Dairy-free, Food, Gluten-free | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gym Pet Peeves

Here are the top 10 things that drive me nuts in the gym:

  1. Stretching without warming up your muscles first
  2. Only doing cardio, and no weight or resistance training
  3. Wearing clouds on your feet instead of minimalist shoes that would activate all the muscles in your legs and feet (aren’t you trying to work out??)
  4. Letting your knees go over your toes while doing squats
  5. Not doing squats
  6. Pulling on your neck during core exercises (e.g. sit-ups) instead of using your core
  7. Moving so quickly during the movements that you are not actually using any muscles – slow it down and maybe you’ll feel it!
  8. Are you going to leave that puddle of sweat there for me to mop up? Really?
  9. Why are the women in the locker room so terrified of showing their breasts and booty? We’ve all got ‘em. Show it off girl!
  10. Guys, do you think checking yourself out in the mirror counts as working out? Your muscles are not going to pop out of your reflection 😉

Posted in Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What if love was the center of our being?

What If?
A Poem by Ganga White

What if religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being?

How can I follow a poem like that? But this is not my Wall, so I’m here to reflect, at long last. Hmmmm, reflection. Can you force self-awakening? Is it possible to apply structure to the path towards enlightenment? Now that I think about it, I guess yoga is structured, and the Eightfold Path is a set of steps to reach enlightenment. But I’m getting ahead of myself….

After almost a year of neglecting my blog and ignoring my mind, I was inspired to write again by this poem. I went to yoga for the first time today after almost a year (funny how blogging and yoga stopped around the same time…), and my instructor shared this poem at the beginning of class. She asked us to open our hearts and dedicate our practice to someone in need on the other side of the world. That type of visualization is always very powerful for me.

What if love was the center of our being? What if we chose kindness and compassion over fear and hatred? What if I could give a piece of my heart to a boy in the Congo who was abducted, tortured, starved and forced to kill? I guess a banana would be more helpful. What if I could touch the soldier who beat him? Would it make a difference? How does the world get to a point where we give whistles to boys not big enough to hold a gun and then put them on the front lines of battle?

I admit I choose fear every day. Every time I judge, assume, or close myself off to the world. I continue to make mistakes, learn, find out that what I learned was wrong, learn something new, make a mistake and try again. It seems as though I’ve come full circle since my last post and it would take a while to explain in detail.

I know you’re wondering how it’s possible that I stopped doing yoga after my previous post on Bikram being my savior from back pain and endless medications.  Well, a friend recommended this chiropractor/holistic healer who told me that my whole body was out of whack and that Bikram yoga was making it worse. I promptly started crying because I felt like yoga was the only thing holding me together at the time, but then I decided to take a break and see. Around the same time the New York Times came out with an article on how Bikram can wreck your body, especially for people with injuries. I realized that, even though Bikram did make me feel better during the practice and for about an hour after, the pain would come back even worse until the next session. Anyone who drove in a car with me around this time was witness to my constant physical suffering (although ironically I was very happy). So how to achieve both mental and physical happiness? Still working on it…What if pain is my path to awakening? Now that’s just stupid.

After 6 months of a crazy roller coaster ride with this chiropractor trying to heal me with a variety of supplements, exercises and bone cracking, I finally admitted that his way was also not the answer to my back pain. In the meantime I might have happened to do the Wildflower Olympic course triathlon…oops, so much for healing! But nothing makes me happier than a good adrenaline rush achieved through grueling physical challenge, right? I mean, that’s what I’ve survived on my whole life starting with gymnastics and then swimming and diving and then triathlon, so it makes sense.

After that ride I finally discovered a few things that actually worked! First, I stopped eating grains and stopping drinking altogether. I changed my philosophy on exercising (no more chronic cardio) and started listening to my body – what exacerbates it and what keeps it calm. This lifestyle change deserves an entire post, so more on that later. Finally, I went to a physical therapist who showed me how to strengthen the injured area and introduced me to, wait for it – TAPE. Yes, that’s right. After all this time, the answer to my pain is kinesiology tape. Preferably the bright pink kind. No really, obviously it’s a work in progress and there are lots of factors, but the physical therapist helped a lot. And when that tape is on, I can breathe. Too bad I can’t put it on myself. And now I’m finally testing the waters of a mellow yoga practice (not Bikram!) to see how it feels. We will see…obviously it’s good for my mind, but we already knew that!

This post is getting out of control, but maybe that’s exactly what I need. I’m sorry to start out with philosophy and love and move on to the grand topic of ME and my life, but this is my journey and I want to share it with you. Maybe one day I will move away from ME and just BE, but then I would have nothing left to learn :-).

Posted in Balance, Bikram yoga, Food, Gluten-free, Sport, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Am Alive: Feast or Famine

How do you react when your routine or perspective is challenged? What do you do when you’re put in a situation where there’s simply nothing you can eat (maybe at a recent Thanksgiving dinner with your family or friends)?

I was inspired to write this post after reading about the mission statement of Cafe Gratitude in Matthew and Terces Engelhart’s Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening:

“Cafe Gratitude is our expression of a World of Plenty. Our food and people are a celebration of our aliveness. We select the finest organic ingredients to honor the Earth and ourselves, as we are one and the same. We support local farmers, sustainable agriculture, and environmentally friendly products. Our food is prepared with love. We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses: loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful every day, and experiencing being provided for. Have fun and enjoy nourishing yourself.”

Sacred Commerce: The Rise of the Global Citizen

For the past two months I’ve tried to implement this philosophy into my daily life by eating clean and being proud of where my food comes from, but there have definitely been some challenges along the way.

Life is smooth when you develop a routine and rhythm that works for you. My day starts with a green smoothie and ends with an hour and a half long session of brutally hot yoga — everything in between is just fuel to sweat out on Funky Door Yoga‘s new carpet ;-).

But what happens when you get torn away from this carefully constructed routine? What if you have to travel for work, get injured, or you’re just too busy enjoying life (as my good friend put it — “Who has the time to worry about every little thing you put in your mouth)? I faced this challenge when I moved back to my parents’ house for the week of Thanksgiving and no longer had access to my daily hot yoga practice or neighborhood Real Foods grocery store. Yes, I had access to a non coin-operated laundry and drier and I could sleep in past lunch, but these commodities simply didn’t make up for the rhythm I had developed in the city. So what do you do when you’re out of your comfort zone or you’re around people who have a very different perspective on food?

For me, it wasn’t too difficult to substitute running and circuit training for exercise, but the hard part came when I was face-to-face with the American Turkey dinner at my friend’s family’s house…

What’s that you say? You can’t eat dairy or gluten? But you can eat my turkey bacon stuffing and heavy whipping cream filled pumpkin pie, right? What do you mean you don’t want butter and cream in your mashed potatoes? And just a little milk in your scrambled eggs shouldn’t hurt, right?

I know it’s all out of love, so what can I say? I felt so torn between my mission of clean eating and all the love (and butter) poured into the comfort foods surrounding me. I decided to share in the stuffing and turkey, and why stop there? I even had a margarita! I guess it’s okay to let loose once in a while, but next time I’m coming to dinner more mentally prepared (and armed with a few dishes of my own).

How do you nourish yourself? Are you proud of what you put in your body?

What’s your mission statement? How do you stick to it and still have fun?

Posted in Balance, Food | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Imagination and Mirror Neurons

It’s surprisingly difficult to find dairy-free and gluten-free breakfast items at the Whole Foods hot bar.

As a result, this was my breakfast this morning:

Nic's Whole Foods Breakfast

And this was my friends’:

D's Whole Foods Breakfast

You have no idea how much I wanted to eat that French Toast Bread Pudding. Yum.

In order to overcome this gnawing desire, I have been working on my ability to imagine myself eating and enjoying these delicious, off-limit foods. I managed to experience that French Toast Bread Pudding in my mind almost as intensely as I would have in real life. It melted in my mouth in all it’s sugary-sweet, bread-y splendor.

At UCSD I worked in the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab where we conducted neuro-feedback studies with autistic children to test the theory that autism is caused by a dysfunctional mirror neuron system. A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behaviour of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. The theory suggests that autistic children have a hard time empathizing with others because their mirror neurons don’t fire as strongly, so they don’t feel the action that they’re observing to the same degree.

I believe that one unexpected side-effect of my current strict eating regimen is that I’m strengthening my mirror neuron system. When I watch you eat that chocolate souffle or french toast bread pudding, all the neurons fire in my brain that would normally fire if I was eating it myself. This is going to be interesting to explore further.

I dare you to eat something outrageous in front of me :-).

French Toast Bread Pudding versus Fruit and Hard Boiled Egg

Posted in Allergies, Autism, Dairy-free, Food, Gluten-free, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

My Favorite Gluten Free Snacks

The #1 tip for avoiding junk food eating at night on Ditch the Diet (Part Deux): 5 Strategies for Eating Clean… After 5PM is to always carry snacks. I totally agree with this, although sometimes I don’t make the time to pack a healthy snack and always pay for it when I get home and inhale the first thing in sight. Along those lines, I thought I’d write a quick post about my favorite snacks:

My favorite gluten-free snacks

These are by far the tastiest gluten-free, yeast-free, raw snacks I’ve found (and believe me, there are a lot of not-so-tasty ones out there). Lydia’s definitely makes the best kale chips because they don’t add too much spice or sauce and the Flour Craft granola is super yummy…better than ANY cereal I’ve ever tasted!

You might ask, what’s up with the gluten-free craze?

I’ve pondered the same question. A few of my friends have celiac disease, a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition that creates a toxic reaction to gluten that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. For them, avoiding gluten is the only way to live without digestive problems and constant pain due to malnutrition. But for those who don’t have celiac disease, the evidence is inconclusive about the benefits of following a gluten-free diet. Many high profile athletes such as tennis pro Novak Djokovic and USA Swimmer Dana Vollmer attribute their success to becoming gluten-free, but science still lags behind in concrete evidence supporting this belief.

According to Dr. Vandana Nehra, a gastroenterologist who specializes in celiac disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., it’s “unclear if the benefit of a strict gluten-free diet in conditions other than celiac sprue may be related to the avoidance of carbohydrates and thus eventually to weight control” or is “merely a placebo effect as individuals feel better eating a healthier diet” (NY Times interview). Who knows, our minds are very powerful tools.

I do believe that there are many people out there who suffer from a gluten intolerance and don’t realize what’s causing all of their physical (and mental) ailments. Here is an amazing story about a 33 year old woman who was completely disabled for ten years by strange pains and odd episodes of weakness that no one could explain until she met a doctor who encouraged her to stick to a strict celiac diet (rather than following a loose gluten-free diet). Why are nutrition and diet usually the last things on the minds of Western physicians?? It’s as simple as the old saying: “We are what we eat.”

There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there about nutrition and health which makes it almost impossible to discern what’s real and what’s a load of you-know-what. My way of dealing with this is to learn as much as possible from a variety of credible sources (doctors, health sites, food blogs, nutrition books…), and then try it out to see what works best for me. After adopting a gluten-free (and yeast-free) lifestyle for the past 2 months I feel incredible and full of energy. I’ll never look back, but I know this isn’t the solution for everyone.

What’s your favorite go-to snack? What makes you feel your best?

Posted in Allergies, Balance, Food, Gluten-free, Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

SF Green Festival 2011

Yesterday I informed the scientist who hired me at NASA Ames research center that I would be leaving NASA to work at Dharma Merchant Services, a green business in San Francisco that enables other green, sustainable businesses to accept credit cards. He responded by saying, “You know I don’t believe in that whole Green religion, right?” We’ve had an ongoing debate about this topic for the past 2 years.

I responded by saying that I didn’t think it was a religion. To me, being “green” is a way of life which respects the environment and preserves natural resources for future generations. I think my supervisor’s mentality is that no matter what we do it doesn’t make a difference. For example, he argued that riding my bike and taking the train to work is not being green due to the large amount of pollution emitted by the train and the labor required to maintain the tracks. I didn’t know these statistics at the time for a rebuttal, but now I do (and so will you):

According to the Transportation Almanac,

  • Most ozone pollution is caused by motor vehicles, which account for 72% of nitrogen oxides and 52% of reactive hydrocarbons (principal components of smog).
  • SUV’s put out 43% more global-warming pollutants (28 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas consumed) and 47% more air pollution than the average car.
  • Bikes are 2/3 more efficient than cars even after factoring in the energy to produce the extra food the cyclist requires. (David Lawyer)
  • If we spent our gas money (at $3.72/gallon) on food to fuel our biking, that $3.72 would take us 26 miles on beef, 48 miles on potatoes, 106 miles on beans, and 109 miles on rice. (source)
  • Bicycling is 117% more efficient than walking. (source)
  • Using a bicycle to commute four days a week for four miles (one-way) saves 54 gallons of gas annually.
  • Cars and SUV’s use 40% of the oil that’s used daily in the U.S.
  • If every commuter car in the U.S. carried just one more person, we’d save eight billion gallons of gas a year.

    On my first ride with the Motobecane

I plan to keep on biking for as long as I can (not even bike thieves or large car doors can stop me!).

This past weekend I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the San Francisco Green Festival with Dharma, where I got to meet many like-minded people who are without a doubt making a difference. Here’s a little snapshot of my experience at the Green Festival and some of the amazing green businesses I discovered:

Thank you Dharma!

T-Minus 12 days until I officially start!

Greentainer: reusable + reliable stainless steel containers

My new lunchbox :-).

Conscious Box

Do you feel special when you receive a package in the mail? I do! Conscious Box is a monthly delivery of pure and sustainable products that are handpicked from businesses that care for the planet. They’re so beautifully put together, and the company is awesome! Their booth at the festival was shaped like a blown-up version of their boxes with the colorful window looking into all the treats – so creative.

Gypsy and Loic

Mike surprised me with these awesome hand warmers. They’re so soft and perfect for the winter in SF. Gypsy and Loïc is a small family-run business based in NorCal that makes all of their designs from earth-friendly and salvaged materials. Who knew salvaged materials could be so soft?!?

HealthForce Nutritionals

I went a little crazy with HealthForce Nutritionals because I’ve been searching for a good product for athletes and muscle recovery that doesn’t have a whole bunch of crap in it. Sports “nutrition” products are notoriously unhealthy, so it’s hard to find something non-toxic. I’m trying out HealthForce’s Warrior Food, which is raw and vegan with a complete protein and amino acid profile. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Stalk Bamboo Bike

STALK BAMBOO BIKES…Siiiiiiiiick!!!! By now you probably know how I feel about bikes.

Good On Ya Skin Treat

I’m a sucker for good skin products, so I couldn’t resist getting this Good On Ya cream after one of their employees gave me a hand massage with it and my hands still felt moisturized at the end of the day :-).


Rain – A natural laundry detergent that contains 35% fruit from pineapple, lime, citrus and essential oils. My clothes smell like fruit. Need I say more?


The lady from Zipcar gave me a free water bottle. Perfect timing since my Klean Kanteen was slaughtered in my most recent bike crash.

Equal Exchange Extra Dark Chocolate Bar

I couldn’t help myself from migrating over to the Equal Exchange chocolate booth every now and then to get a little sample of their amazing chocolate…so yummy and smooth, it melts in your mouth. Equal Exchange is a worker-owned Fair Trade company that uses organic cacao. As you can see, the chocolate bars that I bought are not lasting long (one is already missing…hmmm).

Lydia's Kitchen

Lydia’s makes my favorite Kale chips! And they have a bomb chai tea made with their own coconut milk.

For lunch on Saturday I had Lydia’s Vatra Special, a coconut curry and kale salad served with avocado, a scoop of coconut almond hummus and “kreemy” chili sauce. While I was enjoying my raw salad, my friend D sent me a picture of what he was eating — a mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich with applewood smoked bacon. I have to admit that bacon is delicious and has been known to convert many vegetarians (you know who you are ;-)), but it definitely doesn’t make my body feel as good as when I eat a raw kale salad. Which one would you choose?

Lydia's Vatra Special versus D's Mac n Cheese Sandwich

Ok, ok, I think I know your answer.

Posted in Food, Green, Sport | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Bikram Yoga: Sweat out the Pain

I am in pain.

This thought has consumed a lot of my life. When you’re in pain all the time, it makes everything else seem colorless and far away. That sharp pain or ongoing ache is always on the forefront of your mind. You can’t relax, focus, or appreciate the present moment. You become the pain and the pain becomes you. You start to wonder what it felt like to not be in pain, or to just relax fully and enjoy the moment.

I suffered from extreme back pain after 15 years of pounding on my body in gymnastics, but it wasn’t until my bike accident this past June that I experienced excruciating, life-consuming pain. I was riding my bike (RIP Motobecane – stolen 9.24.11) one block from my house on the way to the pool for a swim and then dinner party (with 2 bottles of red wine in my backpack) when


I got doored by a particularly large door that a man whipped open right in front of me while going down a hill. I had a couple seconds to decide whether I should slam on the brakes, in which case I would have gone head-first into the door but at a slightly slower speed, or attempt to go around the door. I opted for the latter and ended up side-swiping the door with my entire right side and then flew over my handlebars to land flat on my back on the asphalt

like a flapjack.

At first I felt a jolt of pounding pain all through my body, and I was FLOORED (by the door, lol). I curled up into a ball in the middle of the street in a state of delirium and shock. It seemed like my body was a ball of pain and my mind was going to explode. The man came over and apologized for being an idiot, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to go home and die. I got my bike (which hopefully put a dent in his stupid door) and walked away, wailing down the block to my apartment with red wine spilling out of my backpack looking like blood. I couldn’t breathe.

I called my friend, Han, to tell her I couldn’t make it to her dinner party, but she couldn’t understand anything I was blubbering, so she came over and rescued me from hyperventilation, and helped me clean out the broken glass from my backpack. Then she went to get some much needed Vicodin. Ironically my boyfriend was at the hospital waiting to get an MRI of his injured shoulder, but he did his best to decipher my phone calls and calm me down. My friend Armin also came over for support and ended up having to drink a beer to deal with the situation ;-). Thanks for all the love!

Black and Blue all over

These pictures were taken 2 weeks after the accident, which is why the bruises have migrated to a yellow-ish color and I can manage a smile!

After the bike crash I basically couldn’t move or function for a week. I was in a haze from the pain and the painkillers. When I finally made an appointment to see my doctor a week later, he just prescribed more painkillers (no recommendation for physical therapy or alternative medicines!!). For the next four months I was always in pain despite the painkillers (which messed up my body and digestive system), and I was depressed from not being able to workout and train properly for my next half Ironman, the Big Kahuna in Santa Cruz.

I trained through the pain and finished the race in 11th place out of 35 in my age group with a total time of 6 hours and 5 minutes (37 minute swim, 3h:08min bike, 2h:5min run) thanks to my dad, who ran the running portion with me. Also thanks to all of my friends who were there to support me.

But this did not mean that I was healed. Only that I had built up an unusually high pain tolerance.

Thankfully, this post is not about suffering; It’s about discovering a way become healthy and balanced after years of living with constant pain and over-medication from traditional Western physicians.

About a month ago I got a Groupon for 25 Bikram yoga classes at Funky Door Yoga on Polk Street. I had previously practiced yoga frequently and loved the flow styles, like Ashtanga and Vinyasa, but wasn’t a huge fan of Bikram because it seemed too simple and repetitive. Unlike flow yoga where you flow through the sun salutations and warrior positions, Bikram yoga consists of a series of 26 postures developed by Bikram Choudhury which you perform in the same sequence at 90 minute classes in a 105 degree room.

It has been proven that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body to give all the internal organs, veins, ligaments, and muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.  “Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits” (Bikram yoga home). I’ve definitely found this to be true.

After practicing Bikram every day for the last month I’m proud to say that I’m off of the array of pain medications prescribed by my doctor and experiencing much less pain. In fact, I believe this is one of the reasons why I could take some of that mental capacity previously being focused on the pain and use it to start this blog. During every yoga practice I learn something new about myself, and it creates space for me to grow both inside and out.

Pain killers versus Bikram yoga

How do you deal with pain (either emotional or physical)?

Posted in Balance, Bikram yoga, Sport | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Chocolate Milk Battle

Last night I had a lot of fun cooking dinner, especially because I made a new dish from Smitten Kitchen: Warm butternut squash and chickpea salad with tahini dressing. Super yummy! Did you know that tahini sauce is made out of sesame and lemon? I didn’t.

The spread included my favorite soup, which was originally introduced to the group by my sister’s friend from UC Davis, Samantha Hastie, at one of our Yosemite/Graham ranch trips. Here’s the recipe for Sam’s Splendid Soup. I love it because you basically just sautee all your favorite veggies with some chicken broth and then purée them in a blender with hummus….delicious!

I also made some roasted Brussels sprouts by cutting the sprouts in half, placing them on a baking sheet and sprinkling some salt, pepper, and olive oil on top. Then bake on 400 degrees for 15 minutes on each side (30 minutes total), which results in some crispy outer leaves. Did you know that this is how Brussels sprouts look before they’re picked:

Nic and Mike play with Brussels sprouts in the Haight

And now on to the topic of the post: For dessert we had a chocolate milk battle (inspired by my previous post on milk). Mike got some Clover chocolate milk from Real Foods, which is healthier than his usual Nesquik (30g sugar), but still has 23 grams of sugar. I made my homemade hot chocolate with:

Mike's Clover vs. Nic's Homemade Chocolate Milk Battle

I won :-).

Mike eating brussels sprouts (and is that a sausage??)

But so did he.

Posted in Dairy-free, Food | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Got Milk?

How about some diabetes, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, chemicals, pus, salmonella, bovine leukemia virus, and lymphoma to go with that glass of milk?

Well, that’s what you’re getting, whether you like it or not.

I have to start with a disclaimer and say that I am very passionate about this topic, but I will try to speak from my experience rather than take up arms against the Milk Industry (which is what I’m burning to do after reading an overwhelming amount of research on the horrors of cows’ milk).

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with dairy ever since I was born. I was lactose intolerant as a baby, and then I was in denial all through my high school and college years when I would inhale a grandé Starbucks Frappuccino daily and eat a ton of cheese, only to end up in the bathroom for 30 minutes of misery each time. I LOVE cheese (the stinkier the better!), but I’ve slowly come to realize that the consequences outweigh the satisfaction of enjoying that wheel of brie or pot of Butterkäse fondue.

After my sister recently shared this article about a documentary on milk called Got the Facts on Milk?, I was inspired to dig deeper into the issue of whether or not milk really does a body good. Up until now I accepted that I was lactose intolerant and therefore could not enjoy crème brûlée or chocolate mousse, but I was happy for those who could. That was until last night when I read Dr. Kradjian‘s article, The Milk Letter: A Message to my Patients. Now I want to obliterate cow’s milk from the face of the planet.

Dr. Robert Kradjian is the Chief of Breast Surgery in the Division of General Surgery at Seton Medical Centre. He reviewed 500 of the 1,500 scientific articles published from 1988 to 1993 with milk as the main focus of the article (discarding articles that dealt exclusively with animals, esoteric research and inconclusive studies). Here’s a summary of his findings:

  • Milk is surrounded with emotional and cultural importance. It was our first food and loving link to our mother.
  • Scientific literature reports the effects of milk, including intestinal colic, intestinal irritation, intestinal bleeding, anemia, allergic reactions, and infections such as salmonella.  Contamination of milk by blood and white (pus) cells as well as a variety of chemicals and insecticides is also discussed.
  • Why do we choose cow milk rather than dog or rat? Simply because cows are docile, large, and produce large quantities. The milk of every species of mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal. For example, cows’ milk is 3-4 times richer in protein than human milk. However, mothers’ milk has 6-10 times as much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. Cows’ milk simply is not designed for humans.
  • Mother’s milk increases intelligence. In a study published in Lancet during 1992 (Vol. 339, p. 261-4), a group of British workers randomly placed premature infants into two groups. One group received a proper formula, the other group received human breast milk. Both fluids were given by stomach tube. These children were followed up for over 10 years. In intelligence testing, the human milk children averaged 10 IQ points higher! Well,why not? Why wouldn’t the correct building blocks for the rapidly maturing and growing brain have a positive effect?
  • Fifty years ago an average cow produced 2,000 pounds of milk per year. Today the top producers give 50,000 pounds! How was this accomplished? Drugs, antibiotics, hormones, forced feeding plans and specialized breeding; that’s how.
  • A New England Journal of Medicine article (July 30, 1992) reported in the Los Angeles Times that in Finland there is “…the world’s highest rate of dairy product consumption and the world’s highest rate of insulin dependent diabetes.
  • In Norway, 1422 individuals were followed for 11 and a half years. Those drinking 2 or more glasses of milk per day had 3.5 times the incidence of cancer of the lymphatic organs. British Med. Journal 61:456-9, March 1990.

Why do we drink milk when 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant? Do we really like the taste that much?

Almond milk anyone? To me it tastes better than cows’ milk, but maybe that’s just because I’m used to it and my subconscious knows what will happen if I drink the latter.

Why do YOU drink milk (or not)? How do you feel after drinking a glass of milk or eating melted mozzarella?

Posted in Allergies, Dairy-free, Food | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments