Saturday, 2 September 2017

September 2017: number two



NUMBER TWO



In August 2016 I wrote about number one: urine. You must have been holding your breaths for a long time, waiting for number two. Here it is!
“All disease starts in the gut” said Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, so it’s worth paying attention. 

The food you eat, normally takes from 18 to 72 hours to pass all the way through. Most people go once or twice a day, but whether it’s three times a day or three times a week, as long as you are happy with it, it’s ok. You'll know if you're constipated, because you'll feel gassy and bloated and strain a lot to produce unusually hard stools.
The following symptoms show that things may not be quite right. Don't worry too soon though, for food colouring and medications can also affect the look of your poo.

If you produce
  • separate hard lumps, you lack fibre and fluids. Even if you go every day, you may still be constipated. Drink water; eat more fruit (pears) and veg, especially with magnesium (leafy greens, spinach, kale); nuts, seeds and whole grains [1]. 
  • watery, liquid stuff, you have diarrhoea - see Thought August ’15. Drink lots!
  • very loose stools, but not diarrhoea: you may consume too much fructose, artificial sweeteners, coffee, alcohol or oily foods; have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac disease, food poisoning or stomach flu. For more details and causes, see [2].
  • not a lot, and/or not often - you’re constipated. Usually you can do something about that yourself, just by improving your diet. See [3]. Not enough healthy fats like proper butter, eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and wholefat dairy, also have a constipating effect. 
  • floaters - unless you have eaten lots of beans, sprouts or large meals, this means you don’t absorb fats. See [4].
  • pencil-thin stools for more than a few days, either you’re constipated or it could be polyps, hemorrhoids, prostate enlargement or cancer. 
  • cracked stool, with a good sausage shape but cracks on the surface, this can be due to poor diet or a sedentary life.
If the colour is other than medium-light brown, it may well be due to food dyes or particular medicines. If not, and the colour is
  • green: you eat lots of leaves, take an iron supplement or you’re pregnant. If it's not any of these, food may be moving through too fast [5].
  • yellow: you've had carrots, sweet potatoes or turmeric. If it also smells foul, this could mean excess fat, gastroesophagial reflux disease (GERD), giardiasis or coeliac disease.
  • black: you’ve had iron supplements, charcoal, bismut subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol), or dark food like liquorice, black/blueberries or grape juice. Stool can appear darker with constipation. If it’s not that, it can mean internal bleeding, particularly if it’s sticky. See a doctor soon [6]. 
  • light, white or clay-coloured, this can be due to some medicines, or bile obstruction. 
  • red: it is due to beet, tomatoes, cranberries or there could be blood in your stool, see [7].
  • explosive, seaweed-green and it’s liquid, this is a sign of clostridium difficile and happens usually after antibiotics. 
Each of the following websites gives a slightly different picture - and pictures, as well! Have a look [8].
In general: most day-to-day variations in the appearance of poo come from food or drink. Medicines too have strange effects. However, if it’s bright red, black, or pale, consistently thin or pencil-like, loose or watery, or accompanied by mucus or pus, or if you have additional symptoms like abdominal pain, see your doctor right away.
And, by the way, squatting is the most effective way to move your bowel, but failing that, when on the toilet, sit with your feet on a little stool and lean forward.
If you want some more tips about ‘going to the bathroom’, see [9]. Though some may be a bit American .... do you use an air dryer down there?


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EAT:
veg: celeriac, turnip, beet, broccoli, cabbage, calabrese, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, kohlrabi, runner beans, salsify/scorzonera, spinach, tomatoes, Jerusalem/globe artichokes, brussels', chicory, endive, swede, celery, corn salad, leek, peas/mange tout, courgettes, marrow, pumpkin/squash, (white) radish, rocket, spring onions, watercress, sweetcorn.
meat: rabbit, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon, duck, venison, squirrel.
fishcrab, clam, cuttlefish, lobster, mackerel, mussels, scallop, sprats, cockles, black bream, gurnard, winkle, pollack, grey mullet, American signal crayfish.

SOW:
broad beans, land cress, round seeded peas, chinese leaves, corn salad, winter purslane, winter lettuce.
Plant rhubarb sets; spring cabbage; garlic; autumn onion sets if the weather is good. The garlic should be suited for autumn planting. Don't use your old cloves! Plant out spring cabbage and, in South England, cabbages and winter/spring lettuce.
What else can you still do in the garden? See http://www.thompson-morgan.com/what-to-do-in-the-garden-in-september.

RECIPES






I haven’t tried this yet - no bitter lettuce in my garden this year so far! But it sounds good: http://tendingmygarden.com/lettuce-delicious-as-a-cooked-green/.

What to do with TURNIPS?
- Chop an onion. Slice a turnip across the fibre, thinly. Add pepper, ginger, nutmeg and/or paprika powder. Sauté till tender.
- Cook a turnip, mash; mix with applesauce 4:1, and bacon bits. Heat in a casserole.
- Cook with potatoes for mash.
- Turnip goes well with: carrot, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, thyme, savory and tarragon.

PUREED KOHLRABI
1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 cup stock or water, ab. 600g cleaned kohlrabi, salt and pepper, 2-4 tbsp. sour cream (grated mature cheese).
Lightly sauté minced garlic until it becomes a bit translucent. Add water/stock, and bring to a low boil. Wash kohlrabi and trim away any stems. Chop into 2cm cubes. Add to stock, and return it to a boil, then turn it down. Simmer until tender. Uncover and simmer some more till the liquid has evaporated. Mash until smooth. Add salt, pepper and sour cream, heat through, serve.

CRAB CAKES
2 slices firm bread, 225g crabmeat, 1.5 tblsp oil, 1 tsp lemon juice and some wedges, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire or soy sauce, 1 large egg, beaten, 2 tblsp butter.
Tear bread into small pieces into a bowl with crab. Add oil, Worcestershire/soy, egg, a pinch of salt. Mix gently but thoroughly, then form into 4 patties. Heat butter until the foam subsides, then cook the cakes, turning once, until golden brown.

BEAN FEAST for ONE
150g runner beans, 150g potatoes, (red) onion, egg (garlic), paprika powder, chilli or cayenne powder, cumin, coriander, butter, salt. 
Chop potatoes and cook in salted water for 5 mins, then add chopped beans. Toast cumin and squashed coriander seeds, then add plenty of butter, chopped onion, garlic, chilli and paprika powder. Just before everything is done, break the egg on top of the sautéing stuff, fry till done to your liking. Drain potatoes/beans, put on a plate, top with onion/egg mix. Or use some (leftover) meat or grated cheese instead of egg. 

If you want to see more recipes for September, see other years (click on 2017 and then on September, on the right hand side). Or go to https://thoughtforfoodaw.wordpress.com, which still has eight recipes for this year.
For an alphabetical index of subjects, click on 2017 > September, in the top right hand corner. 






Next issue: please have your dairy whole! 


alphabetical index of subjects


For technical reasons, the months have all been grouped under the same month of the last two years. Click on 2017 and 2016. 

alcohol                                                   Dec 14
Alzheimer's                                            Sep 16
antibiotics                                              Sep 15, Apr 17
arthritis                                                   Apr 14
artificial sweeteners                               August 17
biotics                                                    Apr 17
blood pressure                                      Mar 16
brain food                                              May 13
bread                                                     May 10, Oct 16
breakfast                                               Jul 10, Aug 12
butter                                                     Feb 12
calories                                                 Jan 12
cancer                                                   Aug 11
cheese (British)                                     Dec 12
chocolate                                              Jun 13
cholesterol                                            Mar 10, Apr 11, Nov 13
Christmas recipes                                 Dec 13
common cold                                        Oct 14 
coughs                                                  Nov 14
cravings                                                Jun 12
dairy                                                      Oct 17
death                                                     Feb 17
depression                                            Feb 14
diabetes 2                                             Apr 16
diarrhoea                                              Aug 15
diet                                                       Jul 11, Jan 15
drink                                                     Dec 14
eggs                                                     Jan 16
emulsifiers                                            May 16
fat                                                         Jun 10, Nov 13
faeces                                                   Sep 17
fever                                                     Dec 15
fish                                                       Jul 12
heart                                                     Nov 17
heartburn                                              Dec 16
home remedies (why do I use?)           May 15
hypertension                                         Mar 16
immune system                                    Jul 17
inflammation                                         May 14
insomnia                                              Apr 15
intuitive eating                                      Nov 16
meat (processed)                                 Feb 11, (cheap) Oct 12
milk                                                      Sep 11
minerals                                               Apr 13
mood (food and)                                 Jul 16
number one                                         Aug 16
number two                                          Sept 17
osteoporosis                                        Mar 17
painkillers                                            Jun 17
pesticides                                            Dec 11
protein                                                 Sep 10
roots                                                    Jan 14
salt                                                      Oct 11, Oct 15
soy                                                      Aug 13
stress                                                  Jul 14
sugar                                                  Jul 13, Jun 15, May 17
supplements                                       Feb 15 
sunscreen                                          Apr 12
Traditional Chinese Medicine             Sep 14
Throat                                                 Nov 14
Urine                                                  Aug 16
Vegetarianism                                    Nov 12
vitamins                                              Mar 13
weeds (eat!)                                       Mar 11
winter salads                                      Dec 10

September 2016: forgetfulness or Alzheimer's?






FORGETFULNESS OR ALZHEIMER’S?


“Can’t remember: I must be getting Alzheimer’s” people say, nowadays, if they’re not as young as they were. 
And I sigh. Nine out of ten times, they aren’t, and the worry is not doing them any good. In fact, noone who ever said this to me, seemed anything but just forgetful. Or: very forgetful. More or less the same as me.
Alzheimer’s [1] is different. As you'll see from the following.

If you:
forget a name, word, or experience, and remember it later;
forget, but being reminded works;
effectively use tools to help you remember: notes, a calendar; 
can retrieve something which you forgot several times before;
have memory problems due to stress, fatigue, or overdoing;
keep your usual personality and behaviour;
can still look after yourself and perform basic needs like bathing, dressing, eating;
YOU ARE FINE!!!!

However, if someone:
has trouble performing normal tasks;
forgets how to do things they’ve done lots of times;
gets lost or disoriented in familiar places;
repeats stories within the same conversation;
can’t make choices, shows poor judgment;
can’t follow directions;
behaves in socially inappropriate ways:
they may be heading in the wrong direction.

Alzheimer’s develops due to a whole complex of factors, some of which can’t be helped. But there are plenty of ways in which you can influence the outcome. 
* Regular exercise: at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week; balance and coordination exercises (like yoga, tai chi). 
* Healthy diet: less sugar; more fruits, veg [2], and whole grains; avoid trans fats and refined foods.
* Mental stimulation: learn something new, do puzzles or games, read.
* Quality sleep: see insomnia Thought April 2015 (click on 2016).
* Stress management: laugh! And see Thought July 2014 (click on 2016).
* An active social life: volunteer, join a club, phone, get out, get to know your neighbours.
* Stop smoking; watch your weight; control your blood pressure, don’t drink too much.
* In general, what’s good for your heart also benefits the health of your brain.
See [3].

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia - even doctors sometimes use the terms interchangeably. Alzheimer's is a type of dementia. Dementia is a general symptom and can also be caused by other disorders [4].  





~~~~~
Are only girls supposed to eat grapefruits these days? Why else are they all pink? Or is something more sinister behind this? See the New Scientist article 'BITTER TRUTH', under September on the right hand side of this page. 
~~~~~

EAT
Veg: broad/runner/french beans, marrow, squash, courgette, lettuce, turnip, peas/mangetout, aubergine, capsicum, spinach (beet), chard, sweetcorn, shallots, tomatoes, cauli, carrots, cabbage, beet, globe artichoke, cucumber, fennel, radish, kohlrabi, calabrese, chicory, endive, celery, broccoli, swede.
FishMackerel, sea bass, black bream, crab, mussels, scallops.
Meat: rabbit, lamb, wood pigeon, duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison.

SOW
spring cabbage, spinach, turnips, oriental vegetables, landcress, rocket, corn salad, winter lettuce, winter purslane. Plant overwintering onion sets, garlic.

RECIPES

FRENCH BEANS with APPLE CIDER
225g beans, olive oil, 1 small chopped onion, 180ml apple cider, salt, pepper.
Cook beans till just done. Sauté onion in oil and stir till it starts to caramellize. Heat small pan over medium-low heat. Add cider, raise heat a bit and cook until the liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 5 mins. Season beans and add to onion mix, stir.

WHITE FISH, WHITE KOHLRABI and RED TOMATOES
4x175g pollock or whiting fillets, 4 small or 1 large kohlrabi, 2 chopped onions, 3 minced garlic cloves, some tomatoes or tomato puree, thyme, basil, 4 tblsp olive oil, seasoning. 
Sauté onion and garlic in half the oil. Add tomatoes and thyme, cook for 10 mins, stir occasionally till the sauce thickens. Add chopped basil, salt, pepper. Remove thyme. Peel kohlrabi, slice thinly. Cook in salted water 10-15 mins. Fry fish in the rest of the oil till done. Put on each plate: kohlrabi, fish, top with sauce.

For more recipes, see former September issues: click on 2016 at the right hand side of this page. 


Bitter Truth

BITTER TRUTH

how we’re making fruit and veg less healthy by Marta Zaraska

In an effort to cater to our sweet tooth, food producers are making fruit and veg taste less bitter. The trouble is, that's making them worse for us

WHERE have all the white grapefruit gone? When I was a kid, they were almost the only kind around, but today white grapefruit are hard to find in my local shops, often replaced by sweeter pink or red varieties.
I’m not imagining it. Thirty years ago, Florida, the grapefruit capital of North America, produced 27 million boxes of white and 23 million boxes of the coloured varieties. Today, they ship more than twice as many red and pink grapefruit as they do whites ones. And it turns out grapefruit is a bellwether of a more insidious trend. It affects much of the fresh produce aisle, from cauliflower to potatoes, tomatoes and juices. Our fruit and vegetables are becoming less bitter.
On the face of it, reducing bitterness in foods sounds like a great idea. Wouldn’t it be nice if broccoli were always mild and sweet? Supermarkets are already advertising milder Brussels sprouts as “kid friendly”. But there is a catch. The same chemicals that make fruit and veg bitter also imbue them with many of their health benefits. When scientists talk about the healthiness of green tea, dark chocolate, red wine or broccoli, much of what they are talking about is due to bitter chemicals called phytonutrients.

To satisfy our love of sweetness, food manufacturers are now removing many of these substances, causing some people to worry that we are turning bitter fruit and veg into the junk foods of the fresh produce aisle. “Eating fruits and vegetables without phytochemicals would in many ways be analogous to drinking the empty calories of a can of soda,” says Jed Fahey a molecular scientist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. “Yes, you could survive on de-bittered fruits and vegetables, and they would help maintain life, but not good health.” So if our preference for sweet over bitter is prompting the food industry to strip some foods of the very chemicals that make them good for us, what’s to be done? And how can we train our taste buds to better enjoy bitter?
It makes sense that as consumers we favour sweet ingredients – we have evolved to do so. Sweet foods hold the promise of a ready supply of energy. Salty food contains sodium, necessary for our bodies to function properly. Bitter, on the other hand, suggests toxicity, which is why our natural reaction is to want to spit it out. Bitter phytonutrients act as a natural pesticide, protecting plants against all kinds of enemies, from bacteria to insects and cows. Thousands of these nutrients have been identified so far, giving the bitter tang to familiar foodstuffs such as Brussels sprouts and coffee.
But despite phytonutrients being toxic in large doses, a growing body of evidence suggests that small doses can confer a host of health benefits. The elusive white grapefruit is a prime example. Its most prominent phytonutrient is ultra-bitter naringin, which turns out to have anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory properties. Naringin can also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, and induces cervical cancer cells to commit suicide. The sweeter pink and red varieties have substantially less of the stuff.
The mechanism at work is known as hormesis – simply put, it’s the idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“The reason bitter phytonutrients are cancer preventing is that they can destroy cells. They are healthy because they are toxic,” says Adam Drewnowski, an epidemiologist who studies nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle. One study, for example, found that eating a diet rich in quercetin, found in green tea, broccoli and red wine, might help protect against lung cancer, especially in heavy smokers.

Sweet tooth
And the list of phytonutrients thought to have anticancer properties is growing. It now includes sinigrin – one of a group called glucosinolates, which give the bitter edge to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale (see graphic). There’s also genistein in soya beans, sulforaphane in broccoli, plus potatoes have solanine and tomatoes have tomatine.
Further explanation of the health benefits of phytonutrients may be their antioxidant properties. Antioxidant supplements have come under some scrutiny in recent years. But the thinking is that when eaten as whole foods, rather than supplements, the phytonutrients in bitter fruit and veg trigger our internal antioxidant system to kick in. “These compounds can activate the expression of antioxidant genes that do have the ability to remove oxidants and other potentially toxic compounds,” says Henry Jay Forman of the University of Southern California.
A dose of the bitter stuff seems to have benefits for heart health, too. Phytonutrients in cocoa, coffee or berries can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease – and not only due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also help to prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Even so, we evolved to recoil at the taste of substances that might poison us, rather than favour them for any benefits relating to cancer or heart disease, which usually affect us after we have reproduced. This aversion to bitterness is especially strong in around a third of us. “Because they are bitter, for years we have been removing phytonutrients from the food supply,” says Drewnowski.
As a result, what we eat today is noticeably less bitter than the food our parents and grandparents ate even a few decades ago, says Peter van der Toorn, who leads the vegetable breeding division of Syngenta in the Netherlands. Brussels sprouts are a good example. “We still have bitter sprouts on the market, but the majority of what’s introduced these days is milder.”

Downgraded drinks
One way growers do it is to breed the offending compounds out. In fact, humans have been doing this since the dawn of agriculture. Take tomatoes, a fruit many of us wouldn’t even think of as bitter today. One wild species indigenous to Peru can contain 166 times as much bitter tomatine as the mild varieties we normally find on supermarket shelves.
When breeding and growing conditions are not enough, manufacturers can also sometimes remove bitter compounds later on, instead. They call this process de-bittering.
Citrus juices, for example, naturally contain high amounts of phytonutrients such as limonin, naringin or naringenin. “Most juice manufacturers make a concerted effort to limit bitterness,” says Russell Rouseff, a food chemist at the University of Florida. One method involves passing the juice through a bead-like resin that filters out bitter molecules. This can reduce the amount of naringin in grapefruit juice by as much as 64.5 per cent. Surprisingly, home-made freshly squeezed orange juice contains on average fewer healthy phytonutrients than do commercial freshly squeezed juices. That’s because these producers scrape out more phytonutrient-rich peel oils into the drink.
The more we learn about the role of bitter in our diets, the further the effects seem to reach. Drinking cocoa high in flavanols over a period of four weeks has been shown to significantly increase the presence of bacteria in the gut that boost digestion and immune function. These benefits weren’t seen with “dutched” cocoa, which has had the flavanols removed.
Some de-bittering processes are stripping our food not only of the health benefits bestowed by phytonutrients, but also essential vitamins. What’s more, skimping on bitter could have unwanted effects on our waistlines. “Bitter receptors, which are amazingly spread along the gastrointestinal tract and not only on the tongue, are now known to play a pivotal role in many gastrointestinal mechanisms, such as appetite regulation,” says Daniele Del Rio at the University of Parma in Italy. “Therefore, getting rid of bitter compounds, besides depriving our body of potentially protective phytonutrients, is also impairing our capacity to regulate food intake.”
Many scientists working in the field believe that the food industry has a responsibility to make sure that phytonutrients are preserved in our food supply. It would be better for our overall health if we stopped de-bittering our juices and growing increasingly less-bitter vegetables, Fahey says. This would also help safeguard the genetic diversity of our fruit and veg, which is being lost “at an astonishing rate”.
Such a message isn’t always welcome. Some of those working in the food industry argue that they are simply responding to customer needs.
Yet, as consumers become more interested in the health benefits of bitter phytonutrients, the industry is starting to offer foods enriched with these compounds. Beneforte broccoli, for instance, is bred in the UK for its high content of cancer-fighting sulforaphane.
You could argue that a trend towards milder, sweeter produce is beneficial if it means people eat more fruit and vegetables. “If someone who normally only eats fresh fruit or veg once every three days now eats one a day, because of the less bitter taste, would that be a desirable outcome? I suspect that it might,” says Fahey. That’s especially true of children, who generally have a particularly strong aversion to bitter foods.
Still, this approach is not ideal. “Broccoli, for example, will have a number of things that are good for health: low energy density, fibre, vitamin C. But it also has a number of antioxidant phytonutrients, and if those are bred out, the health function of broccoli will diminish,” Drewnowski says.
So it would be even better to find ways to learn to love bitter food a little bit more. One approach is to start young – as with babies fed hydrolysed casein baby formula, a substance so potent that many adults vomit after trying it. Babies who are allergic to cow’s milk are given this formula, and it’s healthy but bitter. “This stuff is absolutely awful,” says Gary Beauchamp from Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “But if babies are fed it early in life, they don’t mind it, and they will like bitter for the rest of their lives.” That’s been borne out in research showing that kids fed the casein formula at a young age enjoy broccoli more as toddlers than those who grew up on regular, sweet milk formulas.

Acquired taste
With a bit of persistence older children will take to bitter, too, according to research that shows they have to be offered a new food 10 to 15 times before they start liking it. “The child doesn’t even have to eat the food. Repeated exposure is all parents need to do,” says psychologist Gemma Witcomb, who studies children’s eating habits at Loughborough University in the UK.
“Children need to be offered a new food 10 to 15 times before they start liking it”
Adults, too, can change their ways, not least because an affinity for bitter is partly cultural. The first sip of coffee or beer for most people is lip-curling, but many of us learn to love them because their bitterness is paired with a desirable hit: caffeine or alcohol.
A similar approach could help make more virtuous bitter foods more palatable too, thanks to something called flavour-flavour learning – pairing something you don’t like with something you do like. Both children and adults who drank grapefruit juice mixed with sugar, and ate broccoli with sugar sprinkled on top, learned to like the bitter foods, even without the sugar. And there are ways to cook food to balance out or compliment the bitter tastes.

This goes to show that with a bit of effort we can all change our approach to bitter food. As for sourcing the right ingredients, keep an eye out for heritage varieties, with all their healthy bitterness. But more than anything, just let your taste buds guide you. Whether you learn to like the non-dutched cocoa full of flavanols, or come to seek out white grapefruit that’s stuffed with naringin – the more bitter the better.