(Click on this image to see the full-size version.)
Source: Modern Beauty Shop, August 1938

Lace Wing

You know how it is. You have an hour to kill between Nottingham and Derby so you start wandering aimlessly about hoping that something will grab your attention. That's what happened to me this morning and I found this, first as an enormous silhouette against the sun across the fields, and then on arriving in Derby Road Draycott I discovered this deeply impressive frontage to Jardine's Victoria Mill. Built between 1888 and 1907 it was started by E. Terah Hooley, a wealthy local industrialist, but finished by Ernest Jardine who stuck his name up below the clock face. It's all here- cream coloured rock-faced stone at the base and then red brick, blue brick, stone dressings and then that fishscale roof topping it out. And the clock still works and does Westminster chimes. They reckon this was the largest lace factory in the world and I'm not surprised, it appears to endlessly march down Elvaston Street at the side. I must come back when the sun lights the western elevation where there are four huge bow-fronted staircase turrets. What do you think? I ran about snapping away like a madman.

25 Amazing Food Cures

Dark Chocolate
Research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and increase the flow of blood to the brain. It also boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with improved mood and greater concentration. Look for chocolate that is 60 percent cocoa or higher.

Tuck a few extra cloves into your next stir-fry or pasta sauce: Research has found that enzymes in garlic can help increase the release of serotonin, a neurochemical that makes you feel relaxed.

Caffeinated Coffee
A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over those who drank decaf. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing. (Want to know what else coffee is good for? Read 25 Best Nutrition Secrets Ever to find out.)

Chile Peppers
It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chile peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also jumpstart your fat-burning, muscle-building engines. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, eating 1 tablespoon of chopped red or green chiles boosts metabolism by 23 percent.

Fried Eggs
Go ahead, crack under pressure: Eating fried eggs may help reduce high blood pressure. In a test-tube study, scientists in Canada discovered that the breakfast standby produced the highest levels of ACE inhibitory peptides, amino acids that dilate blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily. (For up-to-the-minute tips like these, be sure to follow me on Twitter here. You can lose weight effortlessly and look, feel and live better than ever!)

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at work, reach for the Wrigley’s: Chewing gum can help tame your tension, according to Australian researchers. People who chewed gum while taking multitasking tests experienced a 17 percent drop in self-reported stress. This might have to do with the fact that we associate chewing with positive social interactions, like mealtimes.


Omega-3s may calm your neurotic side, according to a study in the journalPsychosomatic Medicine. Researchers found that adults with the lowest blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were more likely to have neuroses, which are symptoms for depression. Salmon is loaded with EPA and DHA, as are walnuts, flaxseeds, and even cauliflower.

The probiotics in yogurt may help you drop pounds. British scientists found that these active organisms boost the breakdown of fat molecules in mice, preventing the rodents from gaining weight. Try the Horizon brand of yogurt—it contains the probiotic L. casei, the same organism used in the study.

Bonus Tip: Don't let all of your hard work go down the drain: Avoid this shocking list of the 20 Scariest Food Creations of 2010!

Grilled Chicken Breast
The protein in lean meat like chicken, fish, or pork loin isn't just good at squashing hunger and boosting metabolism—it's also a top source of energy. University of Illinois researchers found that people who ate higher amounts of protein had higher energy levels and didn't feel as tired as people with proportionally higher amounts of carbs in their diet.

Kidney Beans
These legumes are an excellent source of thiamin and riboflavin. Both vitamins help your body use energy efficiently, so you won't be nodding off mid-Powerpoint.

Swedish researchers found that if you eat barley—a key ingredient in whole-grain cereals—for breakfast, the fibrous grain cuts blood sugar response by 44 percent at lunch and 14 percent at dinner.

Clams stock your body with magnesium, which is important in metabolism, nerve function, and muscle function. When magnesium levels are low, your body produces more lactic acid—the same fatigue-inducing substance that you feel at the end of a long workout.

Rooibos Tea
Animal research suggests that this South African tea, also known as bush or redbush tea, may provide potent immunity-boosting benefits. In addition, Japanese researchers found that it may help prevent allergies and even cancer. Adagio offers a wide range of great-tasting rooibos teas.

Penn State scientists have discovered that honey is a powerful cough suppressant—so next time you¹re hacking up a lung, head for the kitchen. When parents of 105 sick children doled out honey or dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines like Robitussin), the honey was better at lessening cough frequency and severity. Try a drizzle in a cup of rooibos tea.

The vitamin C in kiwi won¹t prevent the onslaught of a cold, but it might decrease theduration of your symptoms. One kiwifruit provides 117 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Foods rich in healthy monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation, a catalyst for migraines. One study found that the anti-inflammatory compounds in olive oil suppress the enzymes involved in inflammation in the same manner as ibuprofen. Avocados and almonds are also high in monounsaturated fats.

Not just any margarine, mind you—those containing plant sterols. In a Tufts University study, people who ate a butter substitute containing plant sterols with three meals each day saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol drop by 6 percent. How? The researchers say that plant sterols prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestine. Promise Active and Smart Balance HeartRight are two great options.

Popeye was onto something, it seems. Rutgers researchers discovered that treating human muscle cells with a compound found in spinach increased protein synthesis by 20 percent. The compound allows muscle tissue to repair itself faster, the researchers say. One thing to keep in mind, however: Spinach doesn't automatically make any salad a healthy option. Check out 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper to see what I mean. You'll be absolutely shocked!

Green Tea
Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of the beverage every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise. That means that green tea can help you recover faster after an intense workout.

Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
Nothing like a little dessert after a long workout. British researchers found that low-fat chocolate milk does a better job than sports drinks at replenishing the body after a workout. Why? Because it has more electrolytes and higher fat content. And scientists at James Madison University found that the balance of fat, protein, and carbs in chocolate milk makes it nearly one-third more effective at replenishing muscles than other recovery beverages.

Bonus Tip: Sign up for the FREE Eat This, Not That! e-mail newsletter, and get super nutrition and weight-loss tips like these delivered straight to your inbox.

According to research published in Nutrition Journal, fish oil can help increase your ability to concentrate. Credit EPA and DHA, fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. Salmon, trout, halibut, and tuna are also great sources of EPA and DHA.

The antioxidants in bananas, apples, and oranges may help protect you from Alzheimer's, report Korean scientists. The researchers discovered that plant chemicals known as polyphenols helped shield brain cells from oxidative stress, a key cause of the disease.

Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient found in meat, milk, and fish, may help protect you against brain loss, say British scientists. The researchers found that older people with the highest blood levels of the vitamin were six times less likely to have brain shrinkage than those with the lowest levels.

Researchers from Harvard found that men who consumed more beta-carotene over 18 years had significantly delayed cognitive aging. Carrots are a tremendous source of the antioxidant, as are other orange foods like butternut squash, pumpkin, and bell peppers.

Ground Flaxseed
Flax is the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle 1 tablespoon flaxseed on salads or oatmeal once a day, or mix it into a smoothie or shake.

World Rabies Day

Today Maine CDC recognizes the third annual World Rabies Day. US CDC and the Alliance for Rabies Control, a UK charity, established this day in 2007 to raise awareness about rabies, which kills more than 50,000 people worldwide each year.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus. Rabies is 100% preventable by avoiding wild animals and any animal that you do not know, or by getting rabies shots if an exposure already occurred. A rabies exposure happens when a person or animal comes into contact with the saliva or tissue from the nervous system (brain or spinal cord) of a rabid animal. This contact can be from a bite or scratch, or if the animal’s saliva gets into a cut in the skin or in the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, with only one to two cases each year. The last human case of rabies in Maine was in 1937, but this does not mean that rabies is not a problem. Rabies in animals, especially wildlife, is common in most parts of the country, including Maine. The most commonly infected animals in Maine are raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. To date this year, 52 animals have tested positive for rabies.

If you think that you have been exposed to rabies, wash the wound right away with soap and water. Then, call your doctor and the Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 to evaluate the need for animal testing and rabies shots. In addition, if you or your pet is exposed to a suspected rabid animal, call your veterinarian and local Animal Control Officer. If you or your pet is exposed to a wild animal, call your local Game Warden.

Follow these steps to prevent rabies:

  • Vaccinate your pet cats and dogs against rabies; it is the law.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or other animals that you do not know.
  • Bat-proof your home. Wildlife biologists can provide tips on how to bat-proof your home without harming bats.

For more information about rabies, visit the Maine CDC website at www.mainepublichealth.gov/rabies.

Health Reform Update

Health Reform and Public Health

Health reform has many implications for public health. Learn more by viewing or using the Power Point titled “Health Reform and Public Health” on this website: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/mills_presentations.shtml.

Maine CDC Awarded Public Health Infrastructure Grant

Maine CDC has received an award of $1.76 million per year for five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for improvements to Maine’s public health system.

The goal of these funds includes improving health departments’ performance management capacity and the ability to meet national public health standards to make programs and people in the public health system more efficient and effective. In Maine, these funds will: complete an electronic death certificate system; make necessary updates to an electronic birth certificate system; build systems to allow health care providers to more easily transfer information on immunizations to Maine CDC; apply public health performance management principles in Maine CDC and its work; improve capacity for health planning at the state and district level; and make public health data more accessible.

The grant is funded by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and will be administered by US CDC.

For more information: http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=DHS+Press+Releases&id=133134&v=article

Other Health Reform Updates

This web chat (http://www.healthcare.gov/news/blog/webchat_behavioralhealth.html) has information on how the Affordable Care Act will help improve behavioral health.

HealthCare.gov has posted updated information (http://www.healthcare.gov/foryou/youngadults/soon/index.html) for young adults about improvements to health care that are coming soon.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has launched an online resource on the health reform law, which provides explanations of the basics of the law, in-depth analysis of policy issues in implementation, and quick and easy access to relevant data, studies and developments. The Health Reform Source is accessible at: http://healthreform.kff.org

For more information about Health Reform in Maine, visit the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance’s web site: http://www.maine.gov/healthreform/

A Good, Clear Complexion

(Click on images to see full-size versions.)
Source: Beaute'Craft, February 1925

Miss Norma Shearer, Mae Murray and Viola Dana credit diet, exercise and fresh air for their lovely complexions. So chew your few, eat your vegetables, and don't forget to breathe.

Time Capsule

To Leicester, and on a beautiful autumn Saturday afternoon we find ourselves in the incredible enclave of Belgrave. Once a small village by the River Soar, it is now surrounded by the teeming life of the big city. But taking a turn off the Loughborough Road brings you into a cul-de-sac where time has stood still. At least on the outside. At the end is the granite-walled St.Peter's church, to the left (top picture) is the early eighteenth century Belgrave Hall (it says 1715 on a rainwater head), opposite gardens that reach down to the river next door to Belgrave House (bottom pic), built later in the same century. The Hall belongs to Leicester Museums, and we would turn up here on winter mornings in the early 1960's just to get a warm from the coal fire that sputtered in the entrance hall grate. It's still much as I remembered, except more museum-ised and all that that means in 2010. Posters stuck to the reverse of the door, computer on a table, exhibits brought in from other houses etc. and what looks like the start of a Christmas (sorry, Celebratory Season) Bazaar. My boys of course were very impressed with the stories of ghosts that have appeared here, particularly the internationally famous one that posed for the CCTV camera a few years ago. They of course saw ghoulish spirits at every turn. Oh, wet leaves, orange brick, the sound of oars dipping in water and then home to fish 'n' chips from the van that chuffs along at 30mph with hot oil slopping about in the back and smoke pouring out across the fields from a tin chimney. A perfect Saturday all round.

PS: Off to Unmitigated Wales tomorrow, so Where's That Then? will be next week

Potatoes and Human Health, Part II

Glycoalkaloids in Commonly Eaten Potatoes

Like many edible plants, potatoes contain substances designed to protect them from marauding creatures. The main two substances we're concerned with are alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine, because they are the most toxic and abundant. Here is a graph of the combined concentration of these two glycoalkaloids in common potato varieties (1):

We can immediately determine three things from this graph:
  • Different varieties contain different amounts of glycoalkaloids.
  • Common commercial varieties such as russet and white potatoes are low in glycoalkaloids. This is no accident. The glycoalkaloid content of potatoes is monitored in the US.
  • Most of the glycoalkaloid content is in the skin (within 1 mm of the surface). That way, predators have to eat through poison to get to the flesh. Fortunately, humans have peelers.
I'll jump the gun and tell you that the generally accepted safe level of potato glycoalkaloids is 200 mcg/g fresh weight (1). You can see that all but one variety are well below this level when peeled. Personally, I've never seen the Snowden variety in the store or at the farmer's market. It appears to be used mostly for potato chips.

Glycoalkaloid Toxicity in Animals

Potato glycoalkaloids are undoubtedly toxic at high doses. They have caused many harmful effects in animals and humans, including (1, 2):
  • Death (humans and animals)
  • Weight loss, diarrhea (humans and animals)
  • Anemia (rabbits)
  • Liver damage (rats)
  • Lower birth weight (mice)
  • Birth defects (in animals injected with glycoalkaloids)
  • Increased intestinal permeability (mice)
However, it's important to remember the old saying "the dose makes the poison". The human body is designed to handle a certain amount of plant toxins with no ill effects. Virtually every plant food, and a few animal foods, contains some kind of toxic substance. We're constantly bombarded by gamma rays, ultra violet rays, bacterial toxins, free radicals, and many other potentially harmful substances. In excess, they can be deadly, but we are adapted to dealing with small amounts of them, and the right dose can even be beneficial in some cases.

All of the studies I mentioned above, except one, involved doses of glycoalkaloids that exceed what one could get from eating typical potatoes. They used green or blemished potatoes, isolated potato skins, potato sprouts or isolated glycoalkaloids (more on this later). The single exception is the last study, showing that normal doses of glycoalkaloids can aggravate inflammatory bowel disease in transgenic mice that are genetically predisposed to it (3)*.

What happens when you feed normal animals normal potatoes? Not much. Many studies have shown that they suffer no ill effects whatsoever, even at high intakes (1, 2). This has been shown in primates as well (4, 5, 6). In fact, potato-based diets appear to be generally superior to grain-based diets in animal feed. As early as 1938, Dr. Edward Mellanby showed that grains, but not potatoes, aggravate vitamin A deficiency in rats and dogs (7). This followed his research showing that whole grains, but not potatoes, aggravate vitamin D deficiency due to their high phytic acid content (Mellanby. Nutrition and Disease. 1934). Potatoes were also a prominent part of Mellanby's highly effective tooth decay reversal studies in humans, published in the British Medical Journal in 1932 (8, 9).

Potatoes partially protect rats against the harmful effects of excessive cholesterol feeding, when compared to wheat starch-based feed (10). Potato feeding leads to a better lipid profile and intestinal short-chain fatty acid production than wheat starch or sugar in rats (11). I wasn't able to find a single study showing any adverse effect of normal potato feeding in any normal animal. That's despite reading two long review articles on potato glycoalkaloids and specifically searching PubMed for studies showing a harmful effect. If you know of one, please post it in the comments section.

In the next post, I'll write about the effects of potatoes in the human diet, including data on the health of traditional potato-eating cultures... and a curious experiment by the Washington State Potato Commission that will begin on October 1.

*Interleukin-10 knockout mice. IL-10 is a cytokine involved in the resolution of inflammation and these mice develop inflammatory bowel disease (regardless of diet) due to a reduced capacity to resolve inflammation.

Will you be my preparedness buddy? When two heads are better than one

For a lot of people, coming up with an emergency preparedness plan can be overwhelming. (What do I need? What should I prepare for? Where would I go?) That’s why, when it comes to preparedness, two heads are often better than one.

With disasters ranging from floods to thunderstorms to fires, it can help to have a preparedness buddy. If you find a friend, family member or neighbor to join forces to prepare, it can make it easier to buy supplies, develop an emergency plan and come up with a communication plan. If you are disabled, elderly or have other special needs, having a preparedness buddy is vital.

Here are some ideas on how you and your preparedness buddy can work together:

1) Shop together and share: When shopping for emergency supplies, save money by buying in bulk, then share the supplies with your buddy. Split up the shopping list so no one person has to buy everything. Then assemble your disaster supply kits together. Your kits should include first aid supplies, non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights and other emergency items.

2) Lighten the research load: Ask your buddy to make a list of evacuation routes and hotels while you look up emergency shelters and emergency contact numbers. Make a checklist of other necessary emergency information you’ll need and split the research load with your buddy. Print and share your results.

3) Share your contacts: Give your personal contact information and that of your emergency contacts (such as extended family or out-of-town friends) to your buddy — and vice versa — so that you can check up on each other before, during or after a disaster.

4) Find a responsible adult: Parents should designate a trusted preparedness buddy that their kids can contact if they’re unreachable. That way, if your children need help during a disaster and you’re stuck trying to get home or your cell phone signal won’t get through, your buddy can serve as a back-up.

Knowing you have someone else on your side can make preparing easier! (Have any other ideas on how a preparedness buddy can help? Share them in our comments.)

Hairline Precision

(These images are links to the full-size versions.)
Source: American Hairdresser, May 1945

Flu update

Flu information for the general public

US CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu this year. Getting a flu vaccine is easy, and it is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu. Vaccine is already available in many places, and it will provide protection through the entire flu season.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against:

· an influenza A H3N2 virus,

· an influenza B virus, and

· the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.

You need to get the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine even if you got the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine last season.

Over the years, hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. have safely received seasonal flu vaccines. Last flu season, about 80 million people in the U.S. also received the vaccine made to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus, and the vaccine’s safety was similar to that of seasonal flu vaccines. Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe. Every year, CDC works closely with FDA, health care providers, state and local health departments, and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines. CDC also works closely with FDA to ensure systems are in place to promptly detect unexpected health problems following vaccination.

Update on distribution

Most influenza vaccine arrives in Maine through private sector channels, but some federal and state funds allow Maine CDC to purchase flu vaccine for some populations in Maine such as pregnant women, those in nursing homes, K-12 school children and their teachers and other staff, all other children, homeless, and people served by municipal and tribal health departments. Maine CDC will be distributing a total this year of about 290,000 doses of influenza vaccine, most of it over the coming weeks.

Doses Approved for Shipment as of Sept. 22:



Children ages 6 months to 18 years




Nursing homes and long-term care facilities




* This includes doses shipped to both schools and private health care providers.

Number of schools that have received flu vaccine so far: 81

Number of doses distributed to schools so far: 20,590

All health care providers who have fulfilled the requirements in their provider agreements have received some vaccine toward their orders. If you are a provider who has not yet received vaccine, ensure that you have submitted all the appropriate paperwork and temperature logs.

Flu resources

Maine CDC has posted materials – including registration forms, consent forms, and sample protocols – for those participating in school-based flu vaccine clinics at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/maineflu/h1n1/educators.shtml#schoolclinics

A zip code searchable flu clinic locator will be available at www.flu.gov shortly.

A conference call for those participating in school-based vaccine clinics will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6. The phone number is 1-800-914-3396 with the pass code 473623#. During calls, please press *6 to mute your line un-mute when you are actively participating.

Federal guidance and updates

Celebrate Get Ready Day today!

Hooray! Today is Get Ready Day, APHA’s fourth annual observance designed to remind Americans about the importance of emergency preparedness — which is a critical component to building stronger, healthier, more resilient communities.

Health disasters can pose a real and present danger to not only a community but an entire nation. Last year’s H1N1 flu outbreak should be a wake-up call to all of us to take basic steps toward protecting ourselves, family and friends from a health emergency.

In recognition of Get Ready Day, we encourage everyone to reflect on how truly prepared they and their family are if a hurricane, tornado or even flu pandemic were to strike. Then, take action toward becoming safeguarded from a disaster by getting a flu shot, establishing an emergency evacuation plan and building a stockpile.

You can also help spread the preparedness message by sharing Get Ready fact sheets with your local community. Ask if you can post the materials in the lobby of your local library, community health center or doctor’s office. And be sure to watch our first-ever Get Ready Video and then share it with family and friends.

How are you celebrating Get Ready Day? Tell us!

Where's That Then? No 41

I'm going to do a much longer blog about this place, but the fountain is the quite jaw-dropping centre (and master) piece. Until the end of October you can see it burst into watery life almost every hour between 11 and 4; the 'firing-up' being described as being like 'the noise of an express train'. I discovered it on Saturday, couldn't keep my eyes off it and want to go again as soon as I can. Oh yes, the house is worth a look too. Any ideas?

Potatoes and Human Health, Part I

Potatoes: an Introduction

Over 10,000 years ago, on the shores of lake Titicaca in what is now Peru, a culture began to cultivate a species of wild potato, Solanum tuberosum. They gradually transformed it into a plant that efficiently produces roundish starchy tubers, in a variety of strains that suited the climactic and gastronomic needs of various populations. These early farmers could not have understood at the time that the plant they were selecting would become the most productive crop in the world*, and eventually feed billions of people around the globe.

Wild potatoes, which were likely consumed by hunter-gatherers before domestication, are higher in toxic glycoalkaloids. These are defensive compounds that protect against insects, infections and... hungry animals. Early farmers selected varieties that are low in bitter glycoalkaloids, which are the ancestors of most modern potatoes, however they didn't abandon the high-glycoalkaloid varieties. These were hardier and more tolerant of high altitudes, cold temperatures and pests. Cultures living high in the Andes developed a method to take advantage of these hardy but toxic potatoes, as well as their own harsh climate: they invented chuños. These are made by leaving potatoes out in the open, where they are frozen at night, stomped underfoot and dried in the sun for many days**. What results is a dried potato with a low glycoalkaloid content that can be stored for a year or more.

Nutritional Qualities

From a nutritional standpoint, potatoes have a bad reputation, but this is undeserved in my opinion. If I had to pick a single food to eat exclusively for an extended period of time, potatoes would be high on the list. One reason is that they contain an adequate amount of complete protein, meaning they don't have to be mixed with another protein source as with grains and legumes. Another reason is that a number of cultures throughout history have successfully relied on the potato as their principal source of calories, and several continue to do so. A third reason is that they're eaten in an unrefined, fresh state.

Potatoes contain an adequate amount of many essential minerals, and due to their low phytic acid content (1), the minerals they contain are well absorbed. They're rich in magnesium and copper, two minerals that are important for insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health (2, 3). They're also high in potassium, which helps control blood pressure, and vitamin C. Overall, they have a micronutrient content that compares favorably with other starchy root vegetables such as taro and cassava (4, 5, 6), and they offer considerably more micronutrients than refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice and white sugar.

On the other hand, I don't have to eat potatoes exclusively, so what do they have to offer a mixed diet? They have a high glycemic index, which means they raise blood sugar more than an equivalent serving of most carbohydrate foods, although I'm not convinced that's a problem in people with good blood sugar control (7, 8). They contain adequate fiber, but less than some other sources of starch. For example, sweet potatoes, an unrelated species, contain more micronutrients and fiber, and have been a central food source for healthy cultures (9). However, the main reasons temperate-climate cultures throughout the world eat potatoes is they yield well, they're easily digested, they fill you up and they taste good.

In the next post, I'll delve into the biology and toxicology of potato glycoalkaloids, and review some animal data. In further posts, I'll address the most important question of all: what happens when a person eats mostly potatoes... for months, years, and generations?

* In terms of calories produced per acre.

** A simplified description. The process can actually be rather involved, with several different drying, stomping and leaching steps.

Lemons: Your Bath, Your Teeth, Your Figure, Your Family

Is there anything a lemon can't do?
(Click on images for larger versions.)
Source: Lemons for Loveliness, 1935

Why do kids pick up so many infectious diseases?

Doesn’t it always seem like when there is one sick kid, within a week or so, every other child around has come down with the same sickness? Or that when there is something going around, kids are the ones who are most likely to get sick?

It’s not just in your head. Kids are most likely to get infections because they have not had the chance to build up a strong immunity yet. Also, bacteria and viruses are everywhere. When children are crawling, running and exploring the world around them (and sticking icky things in their mouths), there’s a greater chance they’ll pick up germs.

Kids usually pick up infections in three ways:

• 3-2-1 contact! As all parents know, kids are little bundles of energy. Their hands tend to pick up germs while they are moving around and touching things and each other. This can lead to infections like diarrhea, pink eye and hand, foot and mouth disease.

• Drip, drop, dribble: A lot of times, kids don’t cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, shooting spittle and other droplets out into the air and onto surfaces. Infections like flu, pneumonia and the common cold are sometimes spread this way.

• Oops! It’s poop: Children are very curious, which means they get their hands into a whole lot of things they shouldn’t be touching, including some things that (a-hem) are best left in the bathroom. Infected poop that’s spread around can find its way onto someone’s mouth or face. Some illnesses spread this way are pinworms and hepatitis A.

To protect kids from infections, teach them how and when to wash their hands. It’s important for children to learn how to wash their hands when they’re young, as it’s a lesson that will stick with them as they get older. Parents and caretakers can help prevent infections by regularly cleaning toys and other things kids put in their mouths.

Children are always going to explore, touch and taste the world around them. But with a few steps, we can help make sure childhood is a time for learning and fun, not sickness.

Bookmark and Share

Flak Jacket

Inundated with Battle of Britain celebrations (celebs flying Spitfires, everyone making Woolton Pie) I turned to Flying Officer X. He was a kind of uniformed Writer In Hangar for the wartime RAF, and produced two books of short stories: The Greatest People In The World (1942) and How Sleep The Brave (1943). They actually concern Bomber Command, but the ethos is the same- young men flying by the seat of their khaki overalls on operations. The pilots, navigators, observers and rear-gunners of those leviathans of the sky, their bravery, their courage, their bar bills. Flying Officer X was of course the masterful story writer H.E.Bates, and these two little books should help put paid to the lie, recycled by James Delingpole recently when he repeated in the Spectator what friends had told him, namely that Bates books were just 1930's romantic slush. There may be romance (usually bitter sweet) in his work, but none of it is slush. Quite the opposite. And he wrote superb novels, novellas and collections of short stories right up to the 1970s. The two RAF books were combined as The Stories of Flying Officer X and you can get a cheap copy on Abe Books .

Speaking at Wise Traditions 2010

I'm happy to announce that I'll be presenting at the Weston A. Price foundation's 2010 Wise Traditions conference. The conference will be held in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Nov 12-14. The theme is the politics of food.

Sally Fallon Morell has invited me to give a talk on the diet and health of Pacific islanders. The talk will be titled "Kakana Dina: Diet and Health in the Pacific Islands", and it will take place on Sunday, November 14th from 4:00 to 5:20 pm. In preparation for the talk, I've read eight books and countless journal articles. Although some of the material will be familiar to people who follow the blog, I will not be rehashing what I've already published. I have nearly an hour and a half to talk, so I'll be going into some depth on the natural history and traditional food habits of Pacific island populations. Not just macronutrient breakdowns... specific foods and traditional preparation methods.

Learn about the health of traditional Pacific island populations, and what has changed since Western contact. Learn about traditional cooking and fermentation techniques. See unpublished photos from the Kitava study, courtesy of Dr. Staffan Lindeberg. Learn about the nutritional and ceremonial role of mammals including pork... and the most gruesome food of all.

I hope to see you there!

Kitava photo courtesy of Dr. Staffan Lindeberg

Protect Your Groundwater

It's National Protect Your Groundwater Day. Nearly 2/3 of Maine people get their drinking water from groundwater, so we have a large stake in protecting our groundwater quality and quantity in Maine. We can all use this day to begin doing our part for protecting one of our most important natural resources — our groundwater!

Some things you can do to help protect our groundwater:

  • Properly maintain your septic system: make sure to have your septic tank pumped every 3 to 5 years and check for signs that your septic system is not working
  • Handle gasoline, motor oil, fertilizers, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals with care, making sure not to dump them on the ground or pour them down the sink. When you’re done with them, dispose of them properly at a recycling center
  • Inspect your heating oil tank and its piping to make sure it’s not leaking, starting to corrode or rust, or in danger of tipping over
  • Don’t throw away or flush unused or unwanted medications down the drain. Instead, properly and safely dispose of them by using Maine’s Safe Medicine Disposal for ME free medication mailback program

For more information on Protect Your Groundwater Day, or to learn more ways you can protect groundwater, visit http://www.ngwa.org/public/PYGD/pygd.aspx. For information on public water systems visit the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program website at www.medwp.com. For more information on private wells, visit http://wellwater.maine.gov.

17 Ways to Safeguard Your Heart

Meet Dr. Goldberg

Meet Dr. Goldberg

Twenty years ago, when Nieca Goldberg was in medical school, heart disease was known as a “man’s disease”―something most apt to befall a 55-year-old businessman. Today the disease is the number one killer of U.S. women, claiming nearly 500,000 lives annually. Goldberg, now 50, devotes her career to helping fellow females protect their hearts at Total Heart Care, her practice in New York City. She also teaches the science of heart health as a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University. But the doctor doesn’t have to look to research for evidence that diet, exercise, and stress management can prevent future problems. Even though she has a family history of heart disease, her habits have kept her health in check. “Making consistent, small, smart choices can have a huge effect,” says Goldberg. To find out how to care for your heart for the long haul, learn from this doctor’s daily practices.

Start With Breakfast

Have a low-cholesterol breakfast. Every morning Goldberg and her husband eat breakfast together. “I have a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal, like Kashi GoLean, with low-fat milk and antioxidant-rich blueberries,” she says. Fiber is filling, and the soluble form―found in oatmeal, beans, fruits, vegetables, and this cereal―can lower cholesterol. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day.

Take a supplement, if necessary. “A healthy diet is still the best way to get your nutrients,” says Goldberg. “A bag of chips washed down with a vitamin isn’t a good solution.” However, she does suggest taking an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement daily if you don’t eat fish regularly. Choose one with the two forms of the acids that aid the heart: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Or twice a week set a goal for having two to three servings of natural omega-3 sources, like a small handful of walnuts or a 3 1/2-ounce portion of salmon. (For those with high triglyceride levels, she recommends prescription-strength omega-3s.)

Related: Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Be honest with your doctors. Goldberg implores patients to see her as a nonjudgmental confidante. “I’ve had people on cholesterol-lowering drugs neglect to take them and not tell me. So I then check their blood and consider increasing their dosage unnecessarily,” she says. “No one should ever be embarrassed when it comes to their health. Your doctors can give you the best help only when they really know all the information.”

Take baby aspirin, if needed. For those people who are at high risk for heart disease, who have it, or who are over the age of 65, Goldberg often suggests taking a daily baby aspirin (81 milligrams). “I tell many of my patients to take one,” she says. “This is a cheap and effective prevention strategy.”

Photo by: Tara Donne

Start With Breakfast

Have a low-cholesterol breakfast. Every morning Goldberg and her husband eat breakfast together. “I have a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal, like Kashi GoLean, with low-fat milk and antioxidant-rich blueberries,” she says. Fiber is filling, and the soluble form―found in oatmeal, beans, fruits, vegetables, and this cereal―can lower cholesterol. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day.

Take a supplement, if necessary. “A healthy diet is still the best way to get your nutrients,” says Goldberg. “A bag of chips washed down with a vitamin isn’t a good solution.” However, she does suggest taking an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement daily if you don’t eat fish regularly. Choose one with the two forms of the acids that aid the heart: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Or twice a week set a goal for having two to three servings of natural omega-3 sources, like a small handful of walnuts or a 3 1/2-ounce portion of salmon. (For those with high triglyceride levels, she recommends prescription-strength omega-3s.)

Related: Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Be honest with your doctors. Goldberg implores patients to see her as a nonjudgmental confidante. “I’ve had people on cholesterol-lowering drugs neglect to take them and not tell me. So I then check their blood and consider increasing their dosage unnecessarily,” she says. “No one should ever be embarrassed when it comes to their health. Your doctors can give you the best help only when they really know all the information.”

Take baby aspirin, if needed. For those people who are at high risk for heart disease, who have it, or who are over the age of 65, Goldberg often suggests taking a daily baby aspirin (81 milligrams). “I tell many of my patients to take one,” she says. “This is a cheap and effective prevention strategy.”

Cut Back Where Needed

Drink caffeine conservatively. The doctor enjoys a mug of coffee but tells anyone prone to heart palpitations to keep their caffeine intake to less than 300 milligrams a day, which is the equivalent of two to three cups. Or consider an alternative, like green tea, which has less caffeine but is rich in antioxidants that can improve the flexibility of your arteries, which may help prevent plaque from building up in them.

Eat sweets sparingly. A 2008 study found that women with elevated blood-sugar levels had a risk of developing coronary heart disease similar to that of women with full-blown diabetes. “If you want dessert, make it one that has heart benefits, like dark chocolate,” Goldberg says. “Have a small piece made with 70 percent cocoa so it’s high in antioxidants.”

Related: Keeping Tabs on Your Caffeine Intake

Tweak family recipes. Instead of frying foods, the doctor bakes or grills, and she uses whole-grain pasta and brown rice in lieu of basic white. She makes healthier versions of the things she grew up eating and incorporates fresh vegetables into them whenever possible: “When I make my mom’s chicken soup, I toss in a bag of baby carrots or use a mandoline to quickly slice and add antioxidant-rich onions or scallions.”

Make small changes. (They work.) Goldberg had a patient who smoked, didn’t exercise, and had a family history of heart disease. She prescribed statins to help reduce the patient’s cholesterol while the patient slowly cut down on smoking and started exercising more and eating better. Within a few months, Goldberg was able to lower the patient’s medication, since the patient’s modest efforts had made a huge impact. “Your health is not pass/fail. Just having risk factors does not mean you’re doomed,” Goldberg says.

Watch Your Diet

Stick with fresh foods. “Almost nothing in my meals comes from a package,” Goldberg says. “I snack on fresh fruits, especially clementines and peaches, and vegetables. I also like dried fruit, like unsweetened apricot slices, because it’s easy to pack and eat on the go.” In addition, Goldberg has at least one vegetable-laden salad a day. The base is dark greens, such as spinach, which she tops with lean grilled chicken or egg whites. She throws in lycopene-rich tomatoes and orange and red peppers for their antioxidants. “At a salad bar, I avoid anything glistening or creamy looking,” she says. “Two clues that they’ve got a lot of artery-clogging fat.”

Related: How to Break Bad Eating Habits

Snack smartly. “I have a handful of almonds or walnuts when I get home or while cooking dinner,” says Goldberg. “This prevents me from overeating at night.” The walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds contain arginine, which helps keep arteries strong.

Try a Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of recurrent heart disease, and those who get at least five servings of vegetables a day have about a 25 percent lower risk of a heart attack. So Goldberg consumes plenty of fish, grains, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. “I think this is a great nonfad diet. Most people who start it usually stay with it,” she says. “It’s tasty and easy to live with.” Indeed, her copy of The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is well-worn.

Do a Little More (or Less)

Go with red wine. “I’m actually allergic to alcohol, so I don’t drink. But if you like to, opt for wine, and limit it to one glass a day,” Goldberg says. Red, in particular, has a high concentration of the antioxidant resveratrol, which can help maintain blood vessels’ health. “But grape juice has the same benefits―something wine lovers don’t always want to hear,” she adds.

Throw salt overboard. Since excess salt can increase blood pressure, Goldberg tells her patients to keep their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, which many people hit from processed foods alone. “Simply remove the salt shaker from the table,” she says. “One of the best substitutes is chopped chives. Sprinkle a few teaspoons on soups, salads, or pasta for a salty kick.”

Related: Shake Your Sodium Habit

Do better than butter. Goldberg occasionally uses a spread, like Benecol or Smart Balance, on bread. Both have plant-derived stanol esters, which can help lower bad cholesterol. “The labels tout this, but don’t think of these products as medicine,” she says. “You certainly don’t want to ingest the amount it would take to make them work that way. They’re just better choices than butter or margarine.”

Stick to a Routine

Make exercise nonnegotiable. Goldberg works out five times a week, alternating between personal-training sessions, Spinning classes, and a little Pilates. “I wouldn’t miss an appointment with a patient, and I don’t cancel my appointment to exercise, either,” she says. “It makes me feel so good afterward, and it keeps my cholesterol and blood pressure under control.”

Related: The Secret of a Better Workout

Take stress seriously. Constant stress can lead to elevated levels of adrenaline and the hormone cortisol, which makes arteries more vulnerable to plaque. “For me, reducing stress is all about saying no and planning alone time,” Goldberg says. To unwind, she watches the Food Network, schedules a manicure, and recently instituted “no e-mail” weekends.

Sack out early. Studies show that people who get less than seven hours of shut-eye a night can have higher blood pressure. Lack of sleep also leads to higher levels of cortisol and even weight gain. “I go to bed around 10:30 each night and wake up most mornings at 6:20,” says Goldberg.