Articles on Nutrition and Health*

*Most of these articles are reproduced from Robert Chuckrow, The Intelligent Dieter’s Guide, Rising Mist Publications, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1997 (©Copyright 1997 by Robert Chuckrow) and Robert Chuckrow, Tai Chi Walking, YMAA Publication Center, Boston, MA, 2002, Chapter 7 (©Copyright 2002 by Robert Chuckrow).


Every effort has been made to be accurate and helpful in the accompanying articles. I have experienced for myself the truth of what I have written here. However, there may be typographical errors or mistakes in content, or some of the content may not be applicable to everyone. It is my wish that the reader exercise skepticism and caution in applying the information and ideas presented. The purpose of any controversial parts of the articles of this web site is to stimulate the reader’s thinking rather than to serve as an ultimate source of information.

These articles are presented with the understanding that Robert Chuckrow is not engaged in rendering medical or other advice. If medical advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent health-care professional should be sought. Therefore, Robert Chuckrow shall not be held liable or responsible for any harm to anyone from the direct or indirect application of the knowledge or ideas expressed in these articles.

Table of Contents

Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbs

False and Misleading Margarine Commercials

Is Eating Just Before Bedtime Good or Bad?

Therapeutic Magnets—A Possible Mechanism for Their Alleged Benefits

How Much Protein Should be Consumed Per Day?

Factors for Optimal Digestion

“Natural” Flavors

Causes and Prevention of Leg Cramps

Canned Mackerel—A Natural Source of Omega 3?

Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup More Fattening Than Cane Sugar?

How to Select Fruit

Nutrition Labels

Factors That Affect the Aging Process

The Importance of Aerobic Exercise in Weight Loss

Interpreting Gain or Loss of Your Weight

Water and Other Beverages

Why is Overweight So Prevalent, and How Can it be Reversed Naturally?

The Problem with Diets and Willpower

The Difference Between True and False Hunger

Hunger Pangs—What They are and How to Alleviate Them

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and Antacids

How to Combine Foods for Optimal Digestion

How Disregarding Digestive Limitations May Lead to Arthritis and Allergies

Flatulence and Halitosis

Juicing Fruits and Vegetables


Vegetarianism Pros and Cons

The Effects of Salt and Condiments

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Acid/Alkaline Balance



Red Wine

Non-Profit “Plant” Organizations

The Food Pyramid—For Your Health or for the Food Industries’ Benefit?

Are Double-Blind Experiments Valid?

Are Vitamin Supplements a Waste of Money?

Microwave Cookery—Should You Avoid Microwaved Popcorn?

Are Nuts Fattening?

Sugar: Necessary for Health?

Therapeutic Fasting

Cholesterol, and Margarine Versus Butter

Addictions and Cravings

Aluminum Cookware and Alzheimers?

Are Bananas Very High in Potassium?

Evaluation of Beans as Food

Vision Improvement

Healthful Recipes


• False and Misleading Margarine Commercials

In the 1970s through 1990s, margarine manufacturers utilized scare tactics and pseudoscience in promoting their products.

Click the link below to view a margarine advertisement utilizing pseudoscience:

William Shatner for Promise Margarine 1974 TV commercial

What’s wrong with the above commercial? Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Is Eating Just Before Bedtime Good or Bad?

The prevalent advice is that it is better to eat early in the day than late in the day even if the same number of calories per day is consumed. Since the number of calories you consume compared to those you burn ultimately determines your weight gain or loss, the above dictum would be true only if eating later in the day were to slow down your metabolism. However, any alleged slowing down is questionable. More likely, any caloric deficit will have the same effect, no matter what time of day it occurs. In fact eating raises your metabolism because, initially, it takes energy to digest food.

Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to eat late in the day for different reasons: While you are asleep, food is not available, and the body must utilize its reserves. Extending the period during which the body is deprived of an intake of food intensifies the pressure on it to increase its glycogen-storage and fat-burning capacities. Not eating before going to sleep thereby teaches your body to burn fat for energy more readily. (The more the body burns fat readily, the less the craving for frequent carbohydrate meals.) Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Therapeutic Magnets—A Possible Mechanism for Their Alleged Benefits

My Personal Experience
Decades ago, I tried using therapeutic magnets (also called bio magnets) for muscle pain. I was surprised that they seemed to work. I recently tried them again and had a similar reaction. The basic questions are: Do therapeutic magnets really work and if so, how and why? Whereas I think that they do work, I have no scientific proof—only a hypothesis concerning the mechanism for how they do work (if they do), based on the elementary physics of currents and magnetic fields. First, I will provide some basic information about the magnets and then present my hypothesis.

Therapeutic magnets vary from little buttons about 5 mm in diameter and 1 mm in height to much larger sizes. They also come in sheets and even in large pads on which to sleep. The buttons are stuck on circular adhesive plasters and placed on the painful spot for about 24 hours. The websites on “biomagnetism” warn that the north end of the magnet should face the skin. However, in testing the three different brands of magnets that I have, I found that they were all oriented with their south sides toward the skin. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• How Much Protein Should be Consumed Per Day?

The question arises what is the optimal daily amount of protein to consume. Suggested amounts vary from 45 to 200 grams per day. Unfortunately, a daily amount of protein cannot be specified in a one-size-fits-all manner. There are many factors:

1. The biological value of the protein. Each protein is composed of a given spectrum of amino acids. Digestion breaks down each protein into its respective amino acids, Then the body assimilates and then constructs its own proteins from those amino acids, molecule by molecule. As soon as certain essential amino acids are exhausted, the body is unable to utilize the rest of the amino acids, which are then converted by the body to sugar or burned as energy. Therefore, the amino-acid composition of each protein determines its biological value—that is, the fraction of that protein that can be assimilated. Meat, milk, eggs, and soybeans have high biological value, and beans and peanuts have very low biological value.

2. Whether or not the protein is raw of cooked. Cooking damages protein and reduces its value. So for the weight of the protein consumed, nuts and seeds, when eaten raw, have a higher protein value than when roasted. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Factors for Optimal Digestion

We tend to feel that we will be well-nourished and healthy as long as we eat nutritious food and have no digestive abnormality. But, digestion of food is a complex process that is easily disrupted. Disregarding digestive limitations can produce an irritation of the lining of the stomach, causing false hunger. It can also cause the nutrients in food to be incompletely digested and absorbed. In another article, we present an argument that incomplete digestion can cause degenerative disease (read article). Fortunately, by understanding the principles involved, we can increase the odds that the food we eat nourishes us instead of poisoning us.

For example, yeast that is normally present in the digestive tract breaks down sugars into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol (ethyl alcohol or, equivalently, ethanol is the chemical name for the alcohol in beverages and spirits). Putrefactive bacteria, also present, break down sugars and other nutrients to form other gases and toxic substances, both of which have a foul odor. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

“Natural” Flavors

These days, when an increasing number of people are reading ingredient labels and rejecting foods with artificial ingredients, manufacturers have found a new way to deceive the public—they add undesirable ingredients under the category “natural flavor.” One would think that natural flavors are such things as vanilla extract and flavors derived from wholesome foods. Unfortunately, natural flavors include such ingredients as monosodium glutamate, perfumes, and items to mask undesirable odors in foods by deadening taste buds.

The designation natural flavor is supposedly a way of keeping some natural ingredients secret to prevent competitors from copying their recipes. More likely, it is a way of permitting manufacturers to add objectionable ingredients and still put “All-Natural” on the label. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• The Cause and Prevention of Leg Cramps

©Copyright 2012 by Robert Chuckrow

Years ago, I would occasionally get excruciating nocturnal leg cramps, I would awaken to find my calf muscle totally contracted and as hard as a rock. After the cramp subsided, my calf muscle was sore for days afterward. Once I attained an understanding of the cause and prevention of leg cramps, I haven’t had such a cramp for over a decade.

Causes of Leg Cramps. There are a number of causes, which will be discussed below, having to do with food, temperature, overuse of muscles, and inflammation of nerves. Muscular contraction is controlled by nerves. These nerves can spontaneously send impulses to muscle fibers to contract when they become irritated by toxins, an overabundance of acid elements (phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, and nitrogen), and an insufficiency of alkaline elements (potassium, calcium, magnesium). When the muscle fibers contract, they restrict the flow of blood, resulting in an increase in toxins and acid elements and an even greater insufficiency of alkaline elements. Thus, a vicious cycle begins, resulting in a cramp. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Canned Mackerel—A Natural Source of Omega 3?

©Copyright 2011 by Robert Chuckrow

The label shown below, taken from a can of mackerel fillets, boasts that its contents are a natural source of omega 3 (1,130 mg per 4.4-oz serving). Aside from the question of what an unnatural source would be, the more-important question is whether or not the omega 3 contained therein has been damaged. There is no question that freshly caught, raw mackerel is a source of omega 3. But one would expect that, once the mackerel is exposed to high-temperature steam during the canning process, the omega 3 fatty acids, which break down very easily with heat, have been damaged and possibly converted to free radicals. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup More Fattening Than Cane Sugar?

©Copyright 2011 by Robert Chuckrow

Is high-fructose corn syrup inherently more of a cause of obesity than ordinary cane sugar? Maybe so, but the studies that are commonly cited as evidence do not seem to be convincing.

There are three studies that have been widely quoted. Two were done at Princeton and the third was done at the University of Florida. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• How to Select Fruit

©Copyright 2010 by Robert Chuckrow

Often the worst-looking fruits are often the best-tasting and most nutritious (taste and nutrition for natural foods go hand in hand, since the tongue is a detector of nutrients). It is important to distinguish whether the blemishes on fruit are from damage or result from optimal growing conditions and natural ripening. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Nutrition Labels

©Copyright 2010 by Robert Chuckrow

About sixty years ago, when I was a teenager, I was one of the few people who read food labels. I was taught to do so by my father, who was a bacteriologist and chemist and worked as a food inspector. He warned me to avoid foods with artificial color—especially red dye, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and bleached white flour. At that time he insisted that the red dye then commonly used for coloring foods would eventually be proven to cause cancer. It was not until decades later that his assertion was borne out. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Factors That Affect the Aging Process

©Copyright 2010 by Robert Chuckrow

Whereas much is scientifically known about the aging process, there is widespread misunderstanding on this subject. What follows is an attempt to clarify the basic ideas about aging.

The word aging implies change as a result of the passage of time. It is a common mistake to disregard the mechanisms of aging and to place the main emphasis on the factor of time alone. The aging process does not result solely from chronological age. Instead, the critical factor is the length of time during which events occur that are injurious to the body and its cells. Whereas there are many mechanisms by which aging occurs (some of which are not fully understood), scientists have a basic understanding of the general categories of factors that initiate cell damage resulting in aging. Let us examine these factors, some of which are impossible to prevent, but others of which can be prevented with a bit of knowledge and effort.Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• The Importance of Aerobic Exercise in Weight Loss

©Copyright 1997 by Robert Chuckrow

Exercise has many benefits and is a vast and varied subject about which many books have been written. Here, we will be mainly concerned with exercise as it pertains to weight loss.

An aerobic activity is one that raises the pulse rate for extended periods of time so that oxygen utilization is trained to become more efficient. Some examples of aerobic exercises are running, swimming, cycling, rowing, and tennis. There is no question that aerobic exercise is important for weight loss. However, the reasons usually given for this benefit are worth scrutinizing because some of them are misleading or incorrect. Let us examine each claim in turn:

Claim 1. Vigorous regular exercise can eventually increase muscle mass, and this long-term increase can raise the overall metabolism rate.

This claim is probably true but can only occur over quite a long period of time.

Claim 2. During exercise, the body “burns more calories” than if the exercise were not done.

To see the prevalence of this concept, just go to any fitness center and look at the information listed on the various machines. Many are equipped with a read-out of the number of calories burned, implying that a caloric expenditure during exercise meaningfully corresponds to a weight loss. In fact, the extra energy burned as a result of exercising is quite minor unless the exercise is extremely strenuous and done continuously for many hours. For example, an expenditure of only 73 cal is required for a 180-lb person to climb to the top of the Empire State Building. Few are able to sustain exercise sufficiently vigorous to burn a substantial amount of energy, nor is this extreme necessary.Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Interpreting Gain or Loss of Your Weight

©Copyright 1997 by Robert Chuckrow

How many times have you heard someone on a diet say, “This diet is great. I’ve lost two pounds since yesterday, and, considering the amount of food I ate, I expected to gain weight.” Or, “I ate practically nothing today, yet I gained a pound. This diet doesn’t work.” The resulting elation or discouragement fails to take into account the normal fluctuations of weight having nothing to do with a gain or loss of body fat.

The truth is, your weight (scale reading) can easily vary by a few pounds over the course of a day even if you did not gain or lose any fat! This variation is caused by a number of factors, only one of which is a possible gain or loss of body fat. For example, every time you urinate 8 oz, you lose half a pound on the scale, and every time you drink 8 oz of water you gain half a pound. With every bowel movement you can lose a half pound or more. Another factor is perspiration, through which much water can temporarily or permanently be lost. By becoming dehydrated after vigorous exercise, you may see a short-lived, lower-than-normal scale weight. Also, during vigorous exercise, protein and glycogen from muscles are normally converted to energy, only to be replenished later. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Water and Other Beverages

There is no question that water is essential to the normal functioning of all of the cells of the body. However, there is much disagreement over how much water should be consumed. One idea is that large quantities of water should be consumed with meals and throughout the day. Another idea is that the need for water is expressed in thirst, and one should only drink as much water as thirst dictates.

Insufficient Water

Too little water can cause serious problems. A certain concentration of water is required for the optimal functioning of the cells, glands, and organs. For example, when the urine becomes too concentrated with poisons, damage can be done to the kidneys, bladder, and perhaps even the sexual organs. Moreover, insufficient water can result in the inability of the tissues to release toxic material into the blood stream to be eliminated via the skin and kidneys.

The main symptoms of dehydration and dehydration are sluggishness of body (tiredness) and mind (“brain fog”). Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Why is Overweight So Prevalent, and How Can it be Reversed Naturally?

Fifty years ago, it was unusual to see someone who was overweight. Now it is common to see lots of overweight people, many of them obese. This sudden rise in obesity cannot be blamed on genes— there is no way that genes can evolve that quickly. The following are some of the many causes of obesity: Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• The Problem with Diets and Willpower

It is no secret that the vast majority of people who attempt to lose weight by dieting eventually regain the lost weight plus interest. Unfortunately, most of the various popular weight-reduction programs provide short-term success and long-term failure. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• The Difference Between True and False Hunger

Ideally, hunger is the way we experience the body’s physiological need for energy and essential nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, etc.). Unfortunately, many people experience the sensation of hunger for foods rich in energy even though they have ample reserves of energy-containing fat. Some people are always “hungry.” In order not to be ruled by false hunger (hunger for unnecessary or harmful substances), it is necessary to do two things: (1) learn to recognize the basis of your sensation of hunger and (2) educate your body not to send the wrong messages. False hunger falls into nine basic categories: (1) low blood sugar; (2) an irritation of the lining of the stomach; (3) addictions; (4) the discomfort of the body in utilizing reserves; (5) a desire for stimulation; (6) a genuine need for essential nutrients, expressed by a craving for food dilute in those nutrients; (7) tiredness experienced as a need for food; (8) thinking about, seeing, or smelling food; and (9) habituation to regularity. Hunger for energy-rich, low-nutrition foods when there are excess energy stores in the body is pathological. Arresting and reversing such a condition requires an understanding of its causes. By understanding and then recognizing the following causes of false hunger, you can re-educate yourblank to naturally crave only what is needed and nothing else. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Hunger Pangs—What They are and How to Alleviate Them

Hunger Pangs are the result of an irritation of the lining of the stomach. When the stomach empties after the digestion of a meal, the walls of the stomach touch each other. An empty stomach whose lining is not irritated will feel comfortable, but for an empty, irritated stomach, the rubbing of its walls will cause a painful, gnawing sensation. Because the gnawing sensation is relieved by eating food, which separates the walls of the stomach, the gnawing sensation is associated with hunger and is called hunger pangs

There can be many causes of an irritated stomach lining, some of which are:

(1) Eating so much food and liquid at one time that the stomach becomes stretched beyond its natural limit. Then, when the digestive juices pour in and movement occurs, the stomach becomes further stretched. Habitually stretching the stomach in such a manner causes a chronic irritation of its lining. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and Antacids

If the prevalence of TV advertisements for antacids is any indication, a great many people suffer from heartburn. Heartburn is the irritating effect on the esophagus when the stomach secretes excess hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is required for the initial stages of the digestion of protein but not for sugar or starch. Habitually eating combinations of starch and protein conditions the stomach to secrete hydrochloric acid whenever food is swallowed, regardless of the foods combined. Moreover, the starch absorbs some of the acid meant for digestion of the protein. The result of habitually eating this combination is to train the stomach to compensate by secreting more acid than would be required for the digestion of the protein were it eaten alone and to secrete acid even if a meal devoid of protein is eaten. This over-secretion of acid causes heartburn. The way to eliminate heartburn is not by taking antacids but learning to eat in accordance with the physiology of digestion. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• How to Combine Foods for Optimal Digestion

During the late 1960s, I became interested in reading about diet- and health-related subjects and began eating only natural, raw foods. I went to a health-food store and bought a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. After eating them I had a virtuous feeling, followed by intestinal gas and, then, severe diarrhea. I began to notice that whenever I ate raw, nutritious food, I experienced a similar digestive upset.

One book explained that it takes your body a while to adjust to unrefined, “live” foods after years of eating devitalized, “dead” foods. However, no scientific reason was given for this assertion, nor was any remedy offered.

One day, I was in a health-food store, and a booklet entitled Food Combining Made Easy, by Herbert Shelton, caught my eye. The first few pages described my dilemma and addressed it in what appeared to be a refreshingly scientific manner. Until then, I was frequently dismayed at the unscientific approach of the numerous “underground” books I had read on the subject of health. Here was one that aroused my optimism.

The digestive upset that I experienced resulted from the haphazard combinations of the “health foods” I was eating. Once I obeyed the rules of food combining, not only did the digestive distress disappear, but the general health of my stomach improved. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• How Disregarding Digestive Limitations May Lead to Arthritis and Allergies

We will here reason that disregarding digestive limitations can lead to a chain of events ending with arthritis, allergies, and various other degenerative diseases. In such syndromes, the body basically attacks itblank. One form of arthritis starts with a trauma to a joint and ends with the body absorbing the damaged cartilage rather than repairing it.

Incomplete digestion and the production of intestinal gas can result from the following: (1) eating haphazard combinations of starches, proteins, and sugars; (2) eating beyond the ability of the digestive organs to secrete digestive enzymes; (3) drinking large amounts of water or sugary beverages with meals, which dilutes the digestive juices and reduces their effectiveness; (4) eating sugary desserts; (5) chewing food insufficiently; or (6) eating too large a quantity of food for the stomach to have room to digest it. As it expands, gas that is produced from the bacterial decomposition of incompletely digested food and the action of yeast on sugars can produce very large amounts of pressure on the inner walls of the intestines. One result of this pressure is that incompletely digested proteins are forced through the tiny ducts that lead from the intestines to the blood stream. Also, yeast can find its way into these ducts, and the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast can enlarge the ducts, making it easier for proteins to pass through. Normally these ducts have such small openings that only completely digested proteins (amino acids) can pass through. Amino acids, of course, are the building blocks of the body’s proteins and are normally present in the blood stream. Proteins, however, are not normally present, and once they find their way into the blood stream, they are treated as foreign invaders and are immediately attacked and removed by the immune system. After a while, the immune system may become so habituated to attacking these wayward proteins that it then attacks healthy bodily cells and tissues. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Flatulence and Halitosis

The gases formed by yeast and bacterial decomposition cause flatulence. Some of this gas is absorbed into the blood stream and eliminated via the lungs. Thus, some individuals may not suffer from the usual symptoms of flatulence but of breath with a putrid odor not unlike intestinal gas.* The non-gaseous by-products of bacterial decomposition are also toxic and are absorbed into the blood stream through the intestinal walls. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Juicing Fruits and Vegetables

In 1970, I went on a fast that lasted 26 days. When the fast naturally reached completion, I broke it by carefully following the prescribed regimen. This regimen involved slowly drinking small quantities of vegetable and fruit juices at regular intervals during the first few days. I did not own a juicer and had to drink bottled juices. These juices, while high in quality, were unfortunately not fresh and raw. I therefore bought a juicer and started to make my own juices from raw carrot, celery, apple, etc. The difference was profound. Almost immediately after drinking the fresh, raw juice, I could actually feel the beneficial effects of the nutrients entering my blood stream and cells.

Even if commercial juice manufacturers use fresh and high-quality produce for their juice, the juice must be first pasteurized if it is to be bottled and then sit on a supermarket or health-food-store shelf. Heating the juice damages the nutrients and enzymes. Storing juice in clear-glass bottles that allow light to pass through causes it to deteriorate further. By the time you drink it, the juice is a mere shadow of its former blank. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Sunlight

We all have heard that negative health consequences can result from too much exposure to sunlight. Excessive sunlight damages the skin and increases the probability of skin cancer. Less known by most people, insufficient sunlight results in poor calcium assimilation and failing general health, can cause severe psychological depression, and likely contributes to being overweight. Thus it is wise to get an exposure to the sun but not to the point of damage. An excellent article in Scientific American should be read for information about the harmful and healing effects of the sun.*

In recent years it has been common for people to use “sunscreen” preparations. However, these preparations may be harmful. For example, it is possible that while a sunscreen protects against the rays that cause burning, it may not protect against the rays that cause cancer. The best course is to be mindful of the fact that the skin itblank builds up its own natural protection to the harmful effects of the sun through the production of the dark pigment, melanin. The presence of melanin is commonly called a suntan. Each genetic type has a different capacity to produce melanin. Those with blond or red hair or with blue eyes are much more susceptible to the sun than those with dark hair. Of course, dark-skinned people whose ancestors originated in tropical areas of the world have the greatest capacity to withstand the sun. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Vegetarianism Pros and Cons

This subject could easily fill a book, and quite a lot has been written on it by others. What follows will be a brief summary of some of the pertinent concepts.

There is much physiological evidence that the natural diet of humans should consist mainly of fruits, berries, leaves, nuts, and seeds. This assertion is borne out by the length of our digestive tract, the pattern of our teeth, the shape, strength, and chewing action of our jaw, the inability of our digestive secretions to digest bone, and the fact that we have fingernails instead of claws. Study of the remains of our primitive ancestors reveals that fruits and berries were probably the main constituents of their diet.

Often, those who stop eating animal flesh for any substantial length of time and then resume eating it experience negative effects that did not occur during their vegetarian period.

About thirty years ago I visited the cattle feed lots in Texas with a girlfriend. As soon as we were about ten miles away, we smelled the stench of decomposing animal excrement and urine. The smell increased as we got closer. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• The Effects of Salt and Condiments

Salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) has been consumed with food for thousands of years by various peoples of the world. The following questions arise concerning this use of salt: 1) How much salt is necessary? 2) What are its harmful effects? and 3) Is salt consumption an addiction, and if so, how can that addiction be broken?

The Need For Salt

There is no question that the two elements, sodium and chlorine, of which salt is composed, are necessary in human nutrition. However, these elements are present in sufficient quantities in natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. Why then do people desire to consume many times as much salt as would be naturally present, and why is there the widespread belief that salt pills are needed in the summer? The answer can be very simply stated (although it requires elaboration); namely, salt is addictive. An addiction to a drug is defined as a “habituation to the use of a drug, the deprivation of which gives rise to symptoms of distress, abstinence, or withdrawal symptoms, and an irresistible impulsion to take the drug again.” This definition* can be extended to nutrients by replacing the word drug in the above definition with the phrase a nutrient in amounts substantially exceeding an optimal physiological requirement. Addictions are discussed in a separate article.

The Harmful Effects of Salt

Because excess dietary salt has been associated with high blood pressure, people feel that if their blood pressure is normal, no limitation of salt is required. There are, however, a number of reasons that everyone should limit salt intake. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Some Effects of Sugar

Maintaining optimal mental and physical health and being successful at losing excess weight require an understanding of the mechanism of sugar metabolism and its physiological and psycho-chemical manifestations. Sugar is the “food” of the brain, and blood-sugar levels strongly influence whether you experience hunger or satiation, depression or well being, and fatigue or pep.

There are three consequences of ingesting excess sugar, the severity of which depends on the amount eaten and its concentration: (1) a body that burns sugar rather than fat (one of the most important facets of losing weight is to convert your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner), (2) urgent cravings for food—especially sweets, and (3) mood swings, which are disruptive to mental stability and sabotage blank-discipline. Once you understand the mechanisms next explained, you will be better able to make appropriate decisions and exercise blank-restraint. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Acid/Alkaline Balance

When each nutrient from food is assimilated it has an acid or alkaline effect on the blood. The main elements that have acid effects are nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and chlorine. The main elements that have alkaline effects are potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and iron. We need all of these elements, but their intake needs to be balanced. The ideal ratio of alkaline to acid is considered by some to be 4:1. Most people have various degrees of acidosis, which is said to cause negative health effects such as frequent colds, susceptibility to diseases, and slow recovery when sick. Alkalosis, on the other hand, is very uncommon, and occurs primarily as a result of medical drugs or high use of stomach antacids.

It is important to realize that the acidity in this context is not related to the acidity of the food itself. For example, acid fruits such as grapefruit and lemon actually have an alkaline effect in the body. This seeming contradiction is resolved by realizing that citric, tartaric, and malic acids contained in citrus fruits, grapes, and apples, respectively, are ultimately metabolized into water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Water, of course, is neutral, and though acidic when in solution, CO2 is readily eliminated via the lungs. Therefore, organic acids such as acetic, carbonic, and citric, etc., are disregarded when the acidity of a food is calculated.

The most acid foods are meats, eggs (especially the yolk), beans, peanuts. and white flour and rice. Alkaline foods are primarily fruits, vegetables, and soybeans (very alkaline). Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Skepticism

In recent years, new “health discoveries” have begun to occur almost weekly. One week, we hear that eating a half an onion a day reduces your chance of stomach cancer. Next week, the aroma of coffee is said to contain powerful anti-cancer substances. And on and on.

Food industries have discovered that doing research leading to any sort of suggestive results will be immediately picked up by the media. Unfortunately, the media lack the analytic skills to evaluate the scientific basis for these claims and, therefore, slavishly report (and sometimes exaggerate) what they are told. The result is that the public, which equally lacks any sort of scientific conceptual framework, buys and then consumes things such as garlic, bran, red wine, and pasta without any thought that it has been duped. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Breakfast?

How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Is this concept valid? Could the cholesterol scare be a convenient way of steering people from ham and eggs, butter, and cream to cereal, margarine, and non-dairy creamer, the latter two of which are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil? (Both cereal and vegetable oil are produced by agricultural farming, while eggs, butter, and cream are produced by animal farming.) Are the items that most people eat for breakfast optimally nutritive?

Items usually consumed for breakfast are cooked or dry cereal, milk, eggs, toast with margarine and jam, and coffee. Many people eat only a muffin or Danish pastry with coffee. Unfortunately, these breakfast items are not appropriate to morning nutritional needs. Instead, they are chosen because they require little or no preparation, quell stomach pangs,* and provide immediate stimulation for a morning’s work. However, after a few hours, when the stomach starts growling and the stimulating effects wear off, more sugar, starch, and coffee are needed. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Red Wine?

Recent “studies” purportedly showing that red wine contains antioxidants that reduce heart disease have been widely proclaimed by the media. In fact, anything of nutritive value in red wine is also in grape juice. However, in wine-making, some of the nutrients in the grapes are converted to alcohol, a poison, and yeast, which is removed. Moreover, other poisons are added.

The end product of grapes that are grown for wine-making is of much more monetary value than that of grapes grown for grape juice. Therefore, wine grapes are sprayed with pesticides at least as much as for grapes. Wine-making requires special cultures of yeast, so wild yeast on the skins of grapes must be killed by immersing the grapes in sodium metabisulfite, a poison. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Non-Profit “Plant” Organizations

Radio, television, and newspapers tell of various organizations ostensibly dedicated to our well-being. The titles of some of these organizations imply that their existence is borne purely of humanistic motives, that their conclusions characterized by scientific objectivity, and that they are undefiled by the monetary considerations of multibillion-dollar-per-year industries. Whereas many of these organizations are what they appear to be, some are not. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• The Food Pyramid—For Your Health or for the Food Industries’ Benefit?

The food pyramid is designed to represent the relative amounts of each type of food to consume daily for optimum nutrition. Actually, the relative amounts are more representative of the degree of congressional influence by the powerful manufacturers of each type of food. The agriculture industry, which primarily produces wheat, has had the greatest influence—the entire base of the pyramid is devoted to breads, rolls, rice, crackers, cereals, and pasta.

If you look closely at the base of the pyramid, you will have the option of using your imagination in determining whether the grains, flours, breads, pastas, and bakery items represented are made from whole-wheat. However, once you are in the supermarket, just try to find these items in whole-grain form. If you find any whole-wheat pasta—which is highly unlikely—it will most probably have an unpleasant, rancid taste. That is why the flour is refined, namely, to remove the most nutritive part, which can quickly become rancid or attract insects and vermin. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Are Double-Blind Experiments Valid?

Double-blind, placebo-controlled experiments are widely regarded by the scientific community to be the most legitimate method of testing the efficacy of pharmaceuticals. In fact, the effectiveness of a potential medication is not considered to have been adequately demonstrated unless it is so tested. A double-blind experiment is one in which neither the subjects nor the experimenter knows to whom the actual drug or placebo* has been administered. The reason for this reciprocal concealment is that every scientific experiment requires a control group, which is treated the same in every respect as the experimental group except in that the control group does not receive the active principle to be tested. It is accepted that double-blind experiments are a scientific way of correcting for the placebo effect.

The problem is, if Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Are Vitamin Supplements a Waste of Money?

Some opponents of supplementation assert, “The only effect of taking vitamins is making your urine expensive.” The implication of this sarcastic claim is that vitamin supplements are totally useless. This claim is valid only if the amount of each nutrient excreted is exactly the same as or greater than that ingested. Proving this relationship requires extensive analysis of the urine of numerous subjects under highly controlled conditions of monitored nutrient intake, which seems not to have been done. Therefore, assertions that vitamin supplements are completely useless appear to be speculative rather than based on scientific evidence.

It is important to understand that vitamins excreted in the urine must first be assimilated (absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream) before being concentrated in the kidneys. Excretion of vitamins is therefore evidence that they have been assimilated, which is a necessary condition for their utilization. For many people, a certain level of blood concentration must be established for optimal utilization. In fact, a fraction of any ingested nutrient is normally excreted, as evidenced by the odor and coloration of subsequent urine. Therefore, incomplete utilization of supplements is not a reason to consider them valueless. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Microwave Cookery—Should You Avoid Microwaved Popcorn?

The microwave oven, often erroneously referred to as a microwave, is a controversial device. Some are concerned about the leakage of microwave radiation. Others wonder if “microwaving” develops harmful substances in food. Still others use it all the time and love it and are as happy as clams at high tide.

Microwave-radiation leakage would be expected to be insignificant, considering the pains manufacturers of these ovens take to insulate their products. However, the danger of electromagnetic radiation from any device using alternating current at high energy levels is suspected by some scientists to be harmful. Therefore, to play it safe, I stay at least a few feet away from my microwave oven and any other high-wattage electrical equipment while they are operating.

The way microwave radiation heats food is by jiggling its molecules, thereby increasing their thermal energy. Heating over a flame does essentially the same thing. However, microwaves penetrate into the interior of the food, whereas in conventional cooking, heat is transferred to the interior only by thermal conduction through the food. This feature of microwave cooking is advantageous in one respect and worrisome in another. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Are Nuts Fattening?

When I mention that I eat nuts and seeds, people invariably say, “But nuts are fattening and high in cholesterol.” I respond to the cholesterol assertion by saying that cholesterol is only found in animal products. Nuts contain zero cholesterol! Here is a response to the alleged high-calorie content: Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Sugar: Necessary for Health?

Next time you are in a supermarket, pick up a box of sugar and look on the side. You will probably see the following statement:

“Sugar is a 100% natural simple carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are an important part of any balanced diet.”

These statements are like those of a logical proof, the conclusion of which might be: “Therefore, sugar is an important part of any balanced diet.” Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Therapeutic Fasting

Fasting refers to a complete abstinence from everything of nutritive value (but not abstinence from water) for a period of time. A common mistake, even in medical books, is to confuse fasting with starvation. During fasting, the body draws on its reserves in a beneficial manner. Starvation begins when the reserves are exhausted, and if sufficiently prolonged, starvation ends in death.

Because the subject of fasting is vast, anyone considering fasting is encouraged to read at least one of the classical books on the subject.1,2,3,4,5,6 Because some of these books are difficult to find, a search on the Internet for “therapeutic fasting” or “fasting can save your life” should provide information on fasting and those who supervise fasts.

Reasons for Fasting

Most of us are exposed to pesticides; polluted air and water; pharmaceuticals; medical X-rays; nuclear background radiation; improper amounts of sunlight; devitalized foods that are missing essential nutrients and laced with pesticides, artificial colors and flavors; and food eaten in amounts and combinations impossible to properly digest, leading to bacterial decomposition and absorption of incompletely digested proteins. Over time, these factors plus dead tissue throughout our bodies cause inflammation, reduced or unnaturally stepped-up immune-system function, and even tumors. Fasting is a way of eliminating such factors or to restore health when one is ill. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Cholesterol, and Margarine Versus Butter

We have recently witnessed a cholesterol craze. Many foods are proudly labeled “low cholesterol,” and people shun such high-cholesterol foods as eggs, dairy products, shellfish, and meat. They frantically run to their doctors to have their blood-cholesterol levels periodically measured and then either brag or worry about the results.

There seems to be more misunderstanding about cholesterol than any other nutrient, and this misunderstanding has been widely promulgated and exploited. Cholesterol is more than just a scientific term; it is now a catchword. The powerful food, drug, medical, and media industries have profited by the public’s befuddlement about the role of cholesterol in heart disease. These industries have contributed to the confusion—sometimes actively and knowingly. To understand cholesterol, it is first necessary to achieve the following historical perspective: Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Addictions and Cravings

Many people find it hard to distinguish cravings for essential nutrients from cravings for addictive or harmful substances. The problem is that we think of our sense of taste as an inborn, preprogrammed mechanism over which we have little control. People say such things as, “I would stop drinking coffee, but I love the way it tastes.” It is as though we were going against the laws of nature to deny ourselves anything we crave or, for that matter, to sample a new food with an unfamiliar taste. Let us attempt to shed some light on the mechanisms by which beneficial and harmful substances affect our sense of taste. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Aluminum Cookware and Alzheimers?

Alzheimer’s disease has been associated with quantities of atomic aluminum in the brain. Some of the material from aluminum cookware can combine with acid foods, but no pathway is known for ingested aluminum to pass the blood/brain barrier. However, inhaled aluminum vapor or dust may travel through the olfactory nerve, directly to the brain. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Are Bananas Very High in Potassium?

When asked what foods are very high in potassium, most people say, “bananas.” According to Composition of Foods (Agriculture Handbook No. 8),* for a 100 gram, edible portion:

Item 141: Raw banana: 370 mg of potassium.

Many other common foods have potassium content as high or higher than bananas. For example:

Item 368: Cooked hamburger: 558 mg of potassium.

(100 grams is about equal to 3-1/2 ounces, so 5-1/4 oz of banana has about the same amount of potassium as 3-1/2 oz of cooked hamburger.)

So why are bananas reputed to be extremely high in potassium? Here’s my guess: Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Evaluation of Beans as Food

Beans are a low-quality food for a number of reasons. First, beans are very hard to digest because they contain a combination of sugar, starch, and protein. Second, beans are very acid because of their high sulfur content (read article on acid/alkaline balance). Third, the protein in beans is of low biological value. Biological value is defined as “the percentage of absorbed nitrogen retained for growth and maintenance.” According to Heinz,** peas and beans have a biological value of 40 as compared to whole egg, which has a biological value of 94. Then why are beans lauded as an excellent source of protein? Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Vision Improvement

Most people think that vision defects can be remedied only by wearing corrective lenses or undergoing laser surgery. The fact is that the majority of vision problems are self-inflicted and stem from the way we use our eyes. Many vision defects can be reversed by reeducating the way you use your eyes. A number of books describe methods for improving vision—even beyond 20-20! Also, there are a number of practitioners that specialize in “visual training.”

This chapter presents some basic concepts and concomitant exercises. Many of these exercises can be done quite naturally while walking outside. Read more... / Back to Table of Contents

• Healthful Recipes

Tahini Sauce

2 medium-sized onions

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 Tbs cornstarch or tapioca starch stirred into a small amount of above broth in a separate bowl

1 tsp soy sauce (more or less to taste)

2 Tbs Madiera or other wine

2 Tbs tahini

olive oil or butter

In a large skillet, gently sauté onions in olive oil or butter until just beyond translucent. Without removing from heat, add tahini and stir. Remove a few tablespoons of broth to a separate cup and stir in cornstarch. Add Madiera, soy sauce, and remaining broth to onion-tahini mixture, and bring to a boil. Thoroughly stir in broth-starch mixture. When mixture thickens, remove from heat.

The above sauce can be used on fish, cooked vegetables, brown rice, etc.

More Recipes... / Back to Table of Contents

Book on Optimal Nutrition and Weight-Loss

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