Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Local Hero Michael Pollan's Top 10 Food Tips

These are Michael's favorite food rules from his readers, reported last month in the New York Times.

1. Don’t eat egg salad from a vending machine.

2. Don’t eat anything that took more energy to ship than to grow.

3. If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry.

4. Eat foods in inverse proportion to how much its lobby spends to push it.

5. Avoid snack foods with the “oh” sound in their names: Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, Ho Hos, etc.

6. No second helpings, no matter how scrumptious.

7. It’s better to pay the grocer than the doctor.

8. You may not leave the table until you finish your fruit.

9. You don’t get fat on food you pray over. (Meals prepared at home, served at the table and given thanks for are more appreciated and more healthful than food eaten on the run.)

10. Breakfast you should eat alone. Lunch you should share with a friend. Dinner, give to your enemy.

11. Never eat something that is pretending to be something else (artificial sweeteners, margarine, etc.)

12. Don’t yuck someone’s yum. There is someone out there who likes deep-fried sheep eyeballs and, well, more power to them.

13. Make and take your own lunch to work.

14. Eat until you are seven-tenths full and save the other three-tenths for hunger.

15. I am living in Japan and following these simple rules in preparing each meal: GO HO – incorporate five different cooking methods, GO SHIKI – incorporate five colors, GO MI – incorporate five flavors.

16. One of my top rules for eating comes from economics. The law of diminishing marginal utility reminds me that each additional bite is generally less satisfying than the previous bite. This helps me slow down, savor the first bites, stop eating sooner.

17. Don’t eat anything you aren’t willing to kill yourself.

18. When drinking tea, just drink tea. I find this Zen teaching useful, given my inclination toward information absorption in the morning, when I’m also trying to eat breakfast, get the dog out, start the fire and organize my day.

19. When you’re eating, don’t talk about other past meals, whether better or worse. Focus on what’s in front of you.

20. After spending some time working with people with eating disorders, I came up with this rule: Don’t create arbitrary rules for eating if their only purpose is to help you feel in control.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

To D Or Not to D

Our press is rife with the preventive power of Vitamin D against the flu, breast cancer, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, depression & arthritis. Yet there is controversy still about how much is enough. My response? Show me the data. 

What's Your Level? When we are figuring out if you have enough, we measure in your blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. I happen to agree with the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and believe you should have a level of:
  • 75 nmol/L or higher
  • 30 ng/mL or higher 
How much should I take? Our government set the RDA goal at 400 IU/day, which is ridiculous in my opinion. NOF has a higher goal: 400-800 IU/day for those < 50, and 800-1000 IU/day in those > 50. 10-20 min of sunshine per day gets you 10,000-20,000 IU. From nutritional sources such as mild, egg yolks, and oily fish (salmon, tuna - you know, the ones that contain mercury), you get about 100 IU per serving or less. I generally recommend 1000-2000 IU/day. Ergo, you need a supplement. 

How much is too much? From my review of the data, I believe you can safely take up to 10,000 IU/day especially in the Bay Area of California where we have dense cloud cover much of the year. Toxic symptoms are kidney stones and kidney problems, both thought to be related to high blood calcium levels. NOF suggests that you can only become toxic if you are using a prescription form of Vitamin D, and supplements are relatively safe. 

Which supplement? There are two types: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Old data suggested D3 was superior but recent research suggests they are equally good. 

What about my pumpkins? We have no consensus on the best level in kids, despite recent studies in this week's Pediatrics urging higher levels. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended 400 IU/day in all kids beginning within the first few days of life and including breastfed infants. Funny, my pediatrician didn't mention that in our 10-minute appointment each year.

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.