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Our Diet Challenge Week 2

by Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 12:07 PM

In today's clip, we are into week 2 of our experiment and its boys against girls. The men of the house are seemingly unfazed by the changes, but the women are not happy. Please copy and paste the following link into your browser to view the clip:


Our Diet Challenge Week 1

by Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Monday, February 13, 2012 11:30 PM

In today’s clip, my children, 12 and 10 years old at the time, offer their opinions and how the diet is impacting them. These clips reveal the extreme differences there can be amongst people even of the same genetic make-up in response to dietary changes. The clip also provides a hint as to some of the challenges faced when trying to get people to change their eating habits. To view the clip, please click on the following link:


Our Diet Challenge Day 4

by Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Friday, February 10, 2012 2:55 PM

Today, you will meet my co-hosts and see what they have to say. Also, in my previous post, I stated that I struggled with cravings. Well, call me a liar because in this post I state that I am not craving. As I reflect back, a more accurate explanation of my state was that I struggled with a psychological, but not a physiological craving. Please copy and paste the following link into your browser to view the clip:


Our Elimination Diet Challenge, Getting Started

by Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2012 7:45 PM

A few months ago, I was asked for advice on food allergy testing for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, and some other behavioral issues. I explained that the IgE RAST and skin prick allergy tests can only identify what are called “first mechanism” allergy reactions. I went on to say that about 95% of food allergies involve "second mechanism" reactions which primarily affect the gastrointestinal tract. I recommended an elimination diet as that is the most effective way to identify these types of reactions. I also suggested activities that involve movement of the trunk of the body such as horseback riding and swimming. The movement of the trunk helps to coordinate the movement of gastrointestinal tract which helps relieve some of bowel issues that tend to go along with gastrointestinal irritation.

So often, practitioners suggest changes for their patients never having tried the changes themselves. Not true in this case. In 2009, my family and I embarked on a 6 week elimination diet. My son was 12 years old at the time. My daughter was 10 years old and adamantly refused to participate. The guidelines of the diet came from Dr. Mark Hyman’s Ultra Mind Solution book. My hope was to improve matters of the mind, i.e. concentration, relaxation, better mood, more energy, etc. The guidelines were as follows: no sugar, no gluten containing grains which included for us wheat and oats, no dairy, no flour products meaning no cereal, pasta, bread, small amounts of animal fats, nothing processed meaning no snack type items or sweet. That left us with fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean animal products and unprocessed starches such as rice, potatoes, beans and lentils.

In a nutshell, we found the diet hard to stick to except for my son who seemed to benefit most from it. He reported having more energy and improved concentration. Oddly, the last thing I wanted for my 12 year old son was to have more energy, but I think what he was referring to was that his brain was not in sleep mode all the time which can make it very difficult to focus and pay attention. For parent of ADD children, this should be of particular interest. It was especially hard for me due to cravings. I found myself thinking about sugar constantly especially if I wasn’t feeling well. When I couldn’t have sugar, it was very disappointing. I discovered that I was doing a lot of mindless munching. When I did eventually have a cookie that I used to snack on, it tasted terrible. I realized I had been eating them simply out of habit. I gained a better appreciation of the adage, “out of sight, out of mind.” I also found it very important not to let myself get overly hungry as that would make me feel bad and want sugar. As for my husband, he couldn’t get enough calories. On the flip side, we reported less stomach gurgling and spasms, better elimination and being calmer. By week 4, though, we had had enough and called it quits. It was too hard for the parents, but my son chose to continue for a while longer as he was feeling better.

I chronicled the journey with a video camera. For the next several days, I will be uploading some of the clips from our journey. The first clip can be found at: My last post in this series will update you as to where we are today.

In this day of reality TV and the latest celebrity gossip, this is about as real as it gets; uncut, uncensored, unglammed Please do tune in if not to be educated, to be entertained. 


Super Bowl Trivia and Nutrient Deficient Diets and Future Generations

by Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Saturday, February 04, 2012 3:22 PM

Super Bowl Trivia

Americans consume more calories during Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year (with the exception of Thanksgiving). It would take the average person running the length of the football field 109 times to burn off the calories we normally take in.

Worst Delivery Pizza: Papa John's 6-inch Personal Pan Pizza Meat Lover's = 900 Calories with 50 grams of fat & 2,530 mg sodium.

Eat this instead (not that...): 2 Slices 12-inch Medium Papa John's Thin 'n Crispy Pizza Quartered Ham & Pineapple.360 Calories with 12 grams of fat & 1080 mg of sodium.

Nutrient Deficiencies and Future Generations

From 1932 - 1942, a young doctor by the name of Francis Pottenger conducted studies on cats to see how a cooked and processed diet effected their health and the health of their offspring. According to Wikipedia, Dr Pottenger fed one group of cats a diet of two-thirds raw meat, one-third raw milk, and cod-liver oil while the second group was fed a diet of two-thirds cooked meat, one-third raw milk, and cod-liver oil. The cats fed the all-raw diet were healthy while the cats fed the cooked meat diet developed various health problems.

By the end of the first generation the cats started to develop degenerative diseases and became quite lazy.

By the end of the second generation, the cats had developed degenerative diseases by mid-life and started losing their coordination.

By the end of the third generation the cats had developed degenerative diseases very early in life and some were born blind and weak and had a much shorter life span. Many of the third generation cats couldn't even produce offspring. There was an abundance of parasites and vermin while skin diseases and allergies increased from an incidence of five percent in normal cats to over 90 percent in the third generation of deficient cats. Kittens of the third generation did not survive six months. Bones became soft and pliable and the cats suffered from adverse personality changes. Males became docile while females became more aggressive.

The cats suffered from most of the degenerative diseases encountered in human medicine and died out totally by the fourth generation.

At the time of Pottenger's Study the amino acid taurine had been discovered but had not yet been identified as an essential amino acid for Cats. Today many cats thrive on a cooked meat diet where taurine has been added after cooking. Pottenger himself concluded that there was likely an "as yet unknown" protein factor that may have been heat sensitive.

My most recent posts have been about nutrient deficiencies, but the statements were aimed at the individual. Today's post takes nutrient deficiencies to the next level, our offspring. It is well documented that the intrauterine environment plays a huge role in the genetic make-up of the fetus, a field of study called "epigenetics." I attended a diabetes conference recently. One of the speakers presented on maternal weight and blood sugar and their effect on the fetus. The studies showed that maternal obesity is the strongest predictor of childhood obesity. The studies also concluded that excess maternal calorie intake resulted in altered fetal pancreatic islet cell function which lead to obesity and an inability to tolerate glucose. Other studies showed that under nutrition during gestation resulting in low birth weight babies were also at much higher risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes as adults. It's a U-shaped curve with either under or over nutrition resulting in glucose intolerance.

There is no doubt that we are seeing an increase in infertility and childhood maladies, i.e. asthma, allergies, behavioral issues and mental impairments to name a few. We are also seeing a higher rate of childhood cancers and most alarming are diseases once thought as adult only diseases occurring in younger and younger people, i.e. breast cancer in an 11 years old, Type II diabetes seen in 17 year olds, heart disease seen in 30 year olds. What is causing these alarming trends? If you appreciate the results of Dr. Pottenger's work and the concepts of nutritional triage and long-latency diseases, nutrient deficiencies are likely culprits.


Do I Need a Supplement?--Part II

by Frances O' Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 1:33 PM

Many of us consider taking a vitamin/mineral supplement to correct something such as low energy, dry skin, thinning hair, or brittle nails. Today, I am going to shed some light on why supplements do not always work as quickly as we'd like or seemingly at all.

First, let us consider ALL the nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, phytonutrients, etc. our body might need at any point in time. Can you name them? I doubt it. The list is endless and I think that it is safe to say that no one knows exactly what the body needs. Let us also consider, again, our food supply. Do the processed foods so many of us consume, supply our bodies with all of the necessary nutrients. The answer is a resounding NO. Do even the natural, whole foods some of us eat supply us with all the necessary nutrients. Again, the answer is a resounding NO. Do we eat a wide variety of nutrient rich foods, providing us with a wide variety of nutrients? Again, the answer is a resounding NO.

For all of these reasons, we might wonder if we are all nutrient deficient and find it no surprise then that our body's do not cooperate the way we would like. According to Dr. Bruce Ames professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Calif. Berkeley whose research has focused on aging, mitochondria and malnutrition, the body rations nutrients and always directs nutrients toward short-term health (survival) and reproductive capabilities and away from regulation and repair of cellular DNA. This creates "nutritional starvation" and results in long-term diseases that involve inflammation and oxidation. These types of diseases, also referred to as "long-latency diseases," take time to manifest in outward symptoms. "It's all about living for today. Nature favors survival today over tomorrow," says Dr. Ames. He considers the concept of nutritional triage to be his most important work to date.

Our lives and eating habits have changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. We eat significantly more processed food and little if any whole, unprocessed food. We eat a diet consistently primarily of processed starches, processed fats and animals products that have been treated with hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals. Our plant foods have been genetically modified, laced with thousands of chemicals and limited to what big agriculture wants us to have. Our lives are void of nature and natural ways to alter our moods, ie. being in nature, moving our bodies naturally and often, communing regularly with our family, friends and neighbors. Instead, our lives are frenetic, chaotic and full a wide variety of stresses.

So that dry skin or those brittle nails, will fixing them improve our lives or, more importantly, ensure our survival? I think that you know the answer. Add to the need to survive today, the nutrient poor environment that we live in, our own genetic weaknesses, and the tremendous stress we are under everyday and you can start to appreciate the herculean efforts put forth by our bodies most, if not every day just to ensure there are enough nutrients to run those critical operations. As for those other more obvious and possibly annoying symptoms that never seem to be resolved, don't worry, you'll survive.


Do I Need A Supplement?--Part I

by Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2012 6:14 PM

There are essentially two camps when it comes to taking vitamin and mineral supplements. They are a) my body needs them therefore I take them at least occasionally or b) I get enough from the foods and beverages that I consume and therefore I don't need to take them. Everyone is unique. A person's genetic makeup combined with their environment create different nutrient needs. To live the longest, healthiest life possible, one must maintain the proper balance of all the various nutrients needed by their body based on the stage of life they are in.

Nutrients are needed by the body to run the many reactions that occur every second of every day. As an example, every time our body releases stress hormones whether it's a physical stressor or psychological stressor, the following nutrients are used: B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Pantothenic Acid, Inositol, Potassium, Vit K, Magnesium, Copper Sulfur, Zinc, Iron, Biotin, Tryosine, Vit C and a few other obscure minerals.

Do you experience some kind of stress regularly? Do you eat a nutrient poor diet semi-regularly or regularly? Do you exercise somewhat intensely 2 or more times/week? Do you have a medical condition? Do you get sick often? Do you get enough sleep? Are you constantly on the go? All of these situations are chronic stressors constantly depleting the body of nutrients. If nutrients become depleted, essential reactions are compromised. This is when disease occur.

Another issue is the nutrient content of our food. In 1992, the EPA estimated that 85% of our farmlands had nutrient depleted soil. According to the EPA, in 1948, there was 158 mg of iron/100 grams of spinach. There are now about 2.7 mg of iron/100 grams of spinach. In addition, there have been 60,000 chemicals dumped into our soil over the last 100 years.

So what do you want to look for in a vitamin/mineral supplement? The best brand of supplement is one that claims "drug cGMP." cGMP stands for current Good Manufacturing Practices. GMPs are regulated by the FDA. Adherence to the cGMP regulations assures the identity, strength, quality, and purity of drug products. The pharmaceutical industry requires stricter standards than the FDA. Therefore, the stamp of drug cGMP is of the highest quality. If you cannot afford or find drug cGMP then look for at least "cGMP" on the label. Capsules are usually best or tablets made under drug cGMP standards. Liquids can cause allergic reactions due to flavoring.

An ideal supplement would have a drug cGMP stamp and:

•Contain minimal extras

•Contain minerals bound to amino acids. This allows for better absorption. Examples of amino acid binders are citrate, glycinate, arginate, fumarate, malate, succinate

•Not contain Magnesium Carbonate and Magnesium Oxide.

•Contain active B vitamins to cover genetic weakness in converting B's to active form. Examples of active forms are: Riboflavin-5-phosphate, Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, Folic Acid-5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate, B12 methylcobalamin.

•Not have more than 5000 IU of actual Vitamin A. If the Vitamin A comes in the form of Beta Carotene, there is no limit.

•Contain Vit D3

I have yet to find such a supplement. The following are a other important considerations. Use iron only if there is a need. The best form of Vit E is that found in foods. As for Calcium, it is poorly utilized under high stress and in acidic environments which is what is found in people who eat the typical American diet. If the body cannot use the calcium, it gets deposited in areas it should not be causing calcification and condition such as osteoarthritis, artherosclerotic plaque, sold tumors and kidney stones. Calcium needs Strontium, Vit D, Magnesium, and Phosphorous to be properly absorbed. The best type of calcium is that found in our foods, but if using a supplement, the best type is either Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Citrate.

A note about "whole food" supplements, they have the potential to cause allergic reactions. Also, it can be difficult to get therapeutic amounts and they can contain contaminants.

If you think that you may benefit from a multi vitamin/mineral supplement, the most reliable source for determing the best brand is The following is a list from Consumer Labs of the top selling brands based on point of purchase:

Top-rated Supplement Brands:

Catalogue/Internet Brand:

Puritan’s Pride

Direct Selling (MLM) Brand:


Discount/Warehouse Brand:

Kirkland (Costco)

Grocery Store Brand:

Trader Darwin (Trader Joe’s)

Healthcare Practitioner Brand:

Pure Encapsulations

Health Food Store Brand:

Carlson Labs

Mass Market Brand:


Pharmacy Brand:


Vitamin Store Brand:

Vitamin World

Another excellent brand is Metagenics which is only sold through practitioners. Be sure to tune into my next post on "nutritional triage" which will explain why supplements do not always work as quickly as you would like or seemingly at all


Is Food Addicting--Part II and My Dumpster Diving Episode

David kessler, MD and Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:39 PM

I recently read some quotes from Dr. David Kessler of the San Francisco School of Medicine and author of The End of Overeating. He states that "by the time children are 4 to 5 years old, 60% of them have lost the ability to self-regulate." The term "self-regulate" here means to voluntarily stop eating when full and choosing to eat when the body is hunger. He also states that we are wired to focus on the most enticing substance in our surroundings, so if a highly tasty food is present, that becomes our focus. Lastly, he states that fat and sugar (and I'm going to add salt to the list) stimulate humans to eat more. He goes onto to say that people need to be convinced that these foods are not satisfying.

Yesterday, I blogged about the urge to repeatedly seek out particular foods and how that would be considered a low grade addiction. If we were truly being satisfied by these foods, we wouldn't crave them and constantly seek them out. These foods are what I call a "tease." They simply keep us coming back for more, but never really satisfy.

I once reached into a dumpster to retrieve a bag of cookie dough that I had thrown away because I was too full from eating it, yet, not even the humiliation of retrieving it from a dumpster stopped me from having more. I was undoubtedly suffering from an addiction although no one would have ever considered me a food addict. Certainly, it never crossed my mind. How many of you current or former waitresses or waiters have eaten food off customer's plate after they have finished their meals? How many of you have pulled into your favorite fast food joint or gas station to satisfy a craving? How many of you bake regularly under the guise that you like to make people happy? These are all examples of out of control cravings and possibly, low grade addictions.

The good news is that these cravings can be tamed and that the right food can truly satisfy us. The key is to eat food as close to their natural form as possible. Food that has been processed in any way can have fat, sugar, salt and other ingredients added that make us want more. Also, processed food contain little if any fiber and other nutrients that signal the brain that we are truly full before we stuff our selves. We also need to "tone down the wow" which I wrote about in a previous posts. For tips on toning down the wow, check out my post dated Jan. 6, 2012. My last suggestion is to check out our cookbook. All of the recipes follow these guidelines and if prepared as written will truly satisfy--bon appetite!!


Is Food Addicting?

Doug Lisle, Ph.D and Frances O'Neil, RD, MSW, CDE: Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 11:56 PM

There is a concept called "the motivational triade," but I like to call it "the pleasure principle" and it's killing us. The principle is true for every species on the planet as it ensures their survival. The 3 prongs of the triade are: to seek pleasure, to avoid pain and to conserve energy. Sounds pretty pleasurable to me!

Let's see how this works in humans. We humans love our rich food. They naturally excite our senses. It's natures way of telling us the food will provide the highest amount of reward with the least amount of effort and pain (think drive through In and Out) This combination of instinctual behaviors helped drive our ancestors to seek out the most calorie dense foods with the least amount of effort therefore ensuring survival.

This concept explains almost too poignantly why we dine out so much, why we are so sedentary, why we we don't cook or sometimes even shop regularly. Compared to what our ancestors had to do to get food, our modern day world makes feeding ourselves more of a hobby than a necessity.

In today's world, we can easily find rich foods well beyond what our ancestors found in nature. These foods give us extreme pleasure like nothing we can find in nature. The classic example of this is a drug addiction. The artificial and extreme pleasure from the drugs overwhelm the pleasure receptors in the brain causing an unnaturally good feeling. We repeatedly seek out this substance which nothing can replace so as to feel those feelings. That is an addiction.

Can food be addicting? Highly palatable foods high jack the same pleasure receptors in the brain triggering similar good feelings. We can't have just one and be done with it. We repeatedly seek out this same food. Most people can go several days without the food and wouldn't steel or kill for it, but do crave it and indulge frequently. That would be a low grade addiction. Does this sound like someone you know?


Ten Tips to Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life--Tip # 10

Posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 11:43 AM

Tip # 10 Eat foods with phytonutrients. There are many protective ones other than resveratrol, including those found in green tea, pomegranate, and all dark, colorful fruits and vegetables.

Phytonutrients are often the substances found in plants that help the plants ward off disease. As nature would have it, those same plant disease fighting nutrients work similarly in humans. For this reason, optimal health requires that we eat a variety of food in their whole and natural form as often as possible. This means plenty of fresh or frozen (with no added sugars or fats) fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

Phytonutrients are not vitamins and minerals. Although vitamins and minerals are "vital" to optimal health, they often work as co-enzymes in the body, working with other substances in our bodies to ensure optimal functioning. Phytonutrients actually fight off disease.

In our cookbook, there is a section on the importance of eating plants. Here is a sampling of the information on the phytonutrient content of foods:

Red fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called "lycopene" or "anthocyanins." Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene in foods containing cooked tomatoes, such as spaghetti sauce, and a small amount of fat are absorbed better than lycopene from raw tomatoes. Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too. These are some examples of the red group:

  • Red apples
  • Beets
  • Red cabbage
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Red grapes
  • Red peppers
  • Pomegranates
  • Red potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables are usually colored by natural plant pigments called "carotenoids." Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Scientists have also reported that carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and can improve immune system function. Carotenoids also may be good for your heart. One study found that men with high cholesterol who ate plenty of vegetables high in carotenoids had a 36 percent lower chance of heart attack and death than their counterparts who shunned vegetables. Citrus fruits like oranges are not a good source of vitamin A. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects. Some examples of the orange/yellow group include:

  • Yellow apples
  • Apricots
  • Butternut squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Yellow peppers
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabagas
  • Yellow summer or winter squash
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Yellow watermelon

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