Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Regrarians: Polyfaces The Film



Regrarians have made a film about Polyface Farm, a third-generation farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, that shows us how to regenerate our landscapes, communities, local economies, health and most importantly, our soils!

Polyfaces: The Film is full of inspiring examples of how we can do all this whilst keeping families on farms, producing quality, nutrient-dense food, working with nature w hile encouraging and supporting a whole new generation of farmers!

Small-scale farming is changing our communities, our land and our lives for the better. This film captures the dire need for mass agricultural change on a global level and how we can choose to employ positive, solution-based strategies to empower people to make more informed consumer decisions & change the way we eat, buy & grow food, forever.

Your support of this film goes towards having it translated into as many languages as possible, so we can widespread this hopeful & regenerative future we know is possible.
Polyfaces is available now, Click HERE for DVD, Streaming & Community Screening purchases.

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5 Common Prescriptions That Should Require Nutritional Counseling

woman takes a pillI’m not a drug denier. For the most part, at the base level, pharmaceuticals do what they’re supposed to do. Statins lower cholesterol. Beta-blockers lower blood pressure. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Whether those changes save lives or reverse disease is another question entirely. But we can all agree that pharmaceuticals deserve a place in modern medicine. And even if we don’t, they objectively have a place, and we must acknowledge reality.

We can also agree that many of the most common prescription drugs affect the way we absorb, metabolize, utilize, and excrete vitamins, minerals, and other important health co-factors. People taking them deserve nutritional counseling. This is my quick and dirty attempt to encourage that.

Please note that none of my advice is medical. I can’t speak to anyone’s personal circumstances and, therefore, can’t call this nutritional counseling or advice for your individual case. That said, research as always demonstrates patterns, and these aren’t always given their due in the course of prescription-writing or even follow-up exams. If you wish to discuss the following findings with the person prescribing you a drug, print out or email the references to which I link. Linking to the blog would be easier, but in my experience “this blog I read” is anathema to most MDs.

If you want to skim the nutrients affected, just look for the bolded lines.

Let’s go:


Statins don’t just reduce cholesterol production. Statins reduce cholesterol by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme pathway that lies upstream of cholesterol synthesis. But here’s the problem: lots of other biological compounds lie downstream of HMG-CoA, not just cholesterol.

When you block HMG-CoA reductase, you also block production or synthesis of several important nutrients:

CoQ10, which is important for cellular energy (ATP) production. Without CoQ10, our muscles and heart are really bad at contracting. CoQ10 deficiencies have been linked to heart failure and hypertension, and supplemental CoQ10 can counter statin-induced muscle wasting.

Vitamin K2, which is protective against cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and tooth decay. Totally expectedly, the sites where statin-related adverse effects occur (brain, kidney, pancreas, muscles) mostly happen to be storage sites for vitamin K2

Squalene, which the liver produces en route to producing cholesterol. However, it’s not just a precursor. Squalene also has antioxidant effects and forms part of the lipid barrier along the skin protecting us from the environment.

And since we use cholesterol in the skin to produce vitamin D upon exposure to UV light, blocking HMG-CoA in a roundabout way blocks vitamin D production.

Testosterone is another innocent bystander. We need cholesterol to make testosterone. I bet a few egg yolks a day might improve a statin-user’s health.

Hormonal Birth Control

I’ve written about hormonal birth control before, covering both the benefits and the health risks. One risk I didn’t mention last time was the threat of nutrient depletion. For decades, researchers have found correlations between BC usage and several key nutrient deficiencies. Whether each relationship is causative remains to be seen—BC usage may be higher in groups with lower nutrient intakes—but the consistency of the relationships and the fact that supplementing the nutrient often improves health suggests something is going on.

Which nutrients are we talking about?

Vitamin B6: Low-dose BC seems to negatively affect vitamin B6 status.

Vitamin B12: Two factors seem to decrease B12 absorption in BC users—greater degradation of B12 in the gut and lower B12 binding capacity.

Vitamin C: Giving vitamin C (and E) to women using BC reduces lipid oxidation and improves glutathione status.

Vitamin E: BC users have lower vitamin E levels; supplemental vitamin E normalizes platelet function in BC users.

Folate: BC use seems to increase folate excretion through the urine and impair folate metabolism in the body. Although eating enough folate should counter these issues, few people eat the requisite amount of greens and liver and other things to do it. Some contraceptives now come with folate included, and they seem to do the trick. Other researchers think low-dose BC doesn’t really affect folate status (or B12, for that matter).

Selenium and zinc: Giving healthy women oral BC significantly reduces zinc status and moderately reduces selenium.

Magnesium: BC directly lowers serum magnesium levels in humans. And in rats, supplemental magnesium ameliorates BC-induced glucose intolerance.

Proton Pump Inhbitors (PPIs)

Whether you’ve got peptic ulcers, acid reflux, or basic indigestion, your doc may prescribe a PPI. These do what they’re meant to—inhibit the function of the proton pumps that produce stomach acid. If you have “excess stomach acid,” shutting these pumps off can ease the burn. But we need adequate stomach acid to absorb the nutrients in our food.

PPI users are particularly at risk for impaired absorption of B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Long-term PPI usage is consistently associated with poorer bone health, thanks both to impaired bone-centric nutrient absorption and reduced proton pump activity in bone cells.

Another victim of PPIs are the gut bacteria. The stomach is acidic by design/selection; it’s a strong barrier to entry. By reducing stomach acidity, PPIs alter the pH of the gut and allow alkaline-preferring microbes to survive digestion and set up shop in the gut. PPI users are more likely to have bacterial overgrowth from these unwanted invaders in their guts.

To counter this, PPI users can consider taking probiotics and n-acetylcysteine. In one study, PPI users who took both n-acetylcysteine and a blend of 4 probiotic strains (L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, L. plantosus, and L. delbrueckii) reduced bacterial overgrowth.

Perhaps a good addition would be a high-quality yogurt, which provides probiotics and calcium and has been shown to improve bone health in PPI-taking rats.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are the elders of the antihypertensives. They reduce blood pressure by reducing the strength of your heartbeat, which sounds incredibly archaic. If that isn’t the prime example of treating the symptom with brute force, nothing is.

One way to reduce the strength of the heartbeat is to impair production of the nutrient responsible for energy production in the heart: CoQ10. Just like statins, beta blockers block CoQ10, only this time it’s the desired effect. Take CoQ10 to counter this.

Beta blockers also block melatonin secretion at night. And sure enough, sleep disturbances are a common side effect of beta blockers. In a cruel twist of fate, poor sleep can increase the risk of the condition beta blockers are treating: hypertension. Take 0.25-0.5 mg melatonin a half hour before your bedtime.


The glucose-reducing drug metformin isn’t just for diabetics these days. A number of otherwise healthy people take it to inhibit mTOR and hopefully extend lifespanType 2 diabetics (a population with lower overall mortality) who take metformin live longer than age-matched controls who don’t have diabetes, for example.

Metformin also protects against the conditions that kill people, like cancer. It lowers hyperinsulinemia and may protect against insulin-related cancers (breast, colon, etc).

But if you’re going to take metformin, you should also consider supplementing with vitamin B12. B12 deficiency is incredibly common in people taking metformin, and researchers are even suggesting that B12 monitoring become standard care for metformin patients.

A good general rule for folks on the standard Western cocktail of statins, antihypertensives, PPIs, and metformin with the occasional round of antibiotics?

CoQ10, 200-300 mg (or eat lots of beef heart).

A good B-complex, particularly B12 and folate.

Melatonin at night, 0.25-0.5 mg.

Magnesium, 200-400 mg (or lots of leafy greens, some nuts and seeds, some blackstrap molasses, maybe even legumes).

A couple Brazil nuts for selenium.

Eat oysters and red meat for zinc.

A few egg yolks.

A good probiotic.

Fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir, cheese) for the calcium and probiotics. Fermented food in general (sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented condiments and sauces).

Hell, that’s not a bad lineup for anyone. But do take these to heart. Even if you’re not taking any drugs, someone you know and love probably takes one or more daily and could really use a nudge in the right direction.

Chances are, this will be the first they hear of it.

That’s it for today, everyone. Now I’d like to hear from you. What other drugs interact with vitamins and minerals in our diets? Are there any other nutritional considerations people taking prescription drugs should heed?

Thanks for reading!





The post 5 Common Prescriptions That Should Require Nutritional Counseling appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Pepper and Pie Thanksgiving Cocktail

If you’re searching for a warm way to welcome your Thanksgiving guests on Thursday, look no further than an autumnal Pepper and Pie Cocktail from Watershed Distillery. On a recent culinary tour of Columbus, Ohio, I had the chance to sample the local spirit-maker’s small-batch bourbon, gin and vodka, as well as cocktails from Alex Chien, bar manager of the soon-to-open Watershed Kitchen & Bar. Everyone raved about Alex’s refreshing cocktail made with tomato water, grapefruit, tarragon and Watershed’s Four Peel Gin (which, in addition to the usual juniper, is made with four citrus peels: orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime).

I’ve been craving Chien’s creative craft cocktails ever since, so I asked him to share a drink recipe with Healthy Eats especially for Thanksgiving entertaining. His Pepper and Pie Cocktail harnesses fall’s best flavors — warming bourbon, apple cider, pumpkin puree, fresh apples and rosemary — in a single glass that drinks splendidly alongside holiday fare. It’s the perfect drink to greet guests with when they arrive for your Thanksgiving feast, or to make for yourself when you finally start the dishwasher and kick up your feet at the end of the night.

Pepper and Pie Cocktail
Yield: 1 serving
Recipe courtesy of Watershed Distillery

1 1/2 ounces Watershed Distillery Bourbon
1 ounce apple cider
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce honey simple syrup*
2 pinches rosemary, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1 barspoon pumpkin puree
Cracked black pepper, to taste
Soda water
1 apple, sliced, for garnish

Add bourbon, apple cider, lemon juice, honey simple syrup, rosemary, pumpkin puree and black pepper to a cocktail shaker and shake.

Fill a Collins glass with ice and strain cocktail into glass. Top with soda and stir.

Garnish with a rosemary sprig and an “apple fan” with cracked black pepper.

*Make honey simple syrup by combining two parts honey and one part water in a saucepan and heating until honey has dissolved.

Photo courtesy of Watershed Distillery

Per serving: Calories 141; Fat 0 grams (Saturated 0 grams); Cholesterol 0 milligrams; Sodium 1 milligram; Carbohydrate 12 grams; Fiber 0 grams; Sugars 10 grams; Protein 0 grams

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Happenings // Trips To Wegmans, JMU, and Short Pump


Last week we had (what I am predicting as) one of our last warm days of 2016. You know the kind that feels crisp and cool, yet you’re totally fine without a jacket, not sweating, and can feel the warmth of the sunshine on your face and the 10 degree difference in the shade? Love those kind of days!


I took the Sayas to our brand new Wegmans for lunch. First impressions: It’s MASSIVE. It feels more like a Harris Teeter than a Whole Foods. It was definitely less expensive than Whole Foods for both groceries and the hot bar. There was a huuuuge variety of things to buy. There were a lot more options for the hot bar, but they weren’t as healthy as a Whole Foods hot bar.


I ended up with kale salad topped with Asian hot bar. Let’s just say this wasn’t my best combo ever :/ Not my healthiest, either. Next time I will do better! But it did taste good!


I joined Sarah that afternoon for lots of romping around in the country with the kiddos. We all appreciated the fresh autumn air so much!


I randomly had a bowl of cereal last week for breakfast (cereal is most often a snack or dessert for me) and it was quite good. But what struck me most was how easy this was to “make.” LOL. Coming from someone who spent years making elaborate breakfasts, I can see why cereal is so appealing to the masses. Mazen doesn’t really get cereal yet. He’s on a big smoothie kick, which is good because if you leave out the spinach he gets mad at you for “not following the rules!”


Check out this balancing act that Mazen crafted in the kitchen. Dino –> Tiger –> Snake –> Tiger. Impressive!


Last week I spoke to the James Madison University Nutrition Department about my career path as an R.D. I had a great time meeting the students, and want to thank everyone for the hospitality! Professor Walsh, who has been a blog reader for years (Hi!!), took me to lunch before class, and we had lots to talk about over these quinoa bowl salads with feta and chickpeas.


On another day I drove down to Richmond to meet my friend Chelsea who was there on business. Chelsea and I go waaaaaay back in the online world to my Calorie King days!

Here we are in 2008 when she was pregnant with her daughter and I met her while at a conference in San Francisco:


And here we are today!


We had a great time chatting over dinner at The Boathouse in Short Pump. We shared these pimento cheese oysters (SO GOOD!).


And then I had the salmon special, which came topped with about 10 different things, from mushrooms, to a corn salad, to a gouda sauce with shrimp and crab in it. It was quite the dish!


I had way too much fun at the Athleta store after dinner ; )

Gussie says he hopes you guys are having a chill week!


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Episode 344 – Elijah Markstrom – Nutrition and Obstacle Racing