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18

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Raw Living Blog

  • Kate on the Do You show, NTS Radio

    In September, Kate went on the NTS radio breakfast show with Charlie Bones to talk
    about the EU regulations and how it affects our freedom to promote a healthy lifestyle. Charlie asked some great in-depth questions, and they got really far into discussing the politics of health and why food is such an important weapon that we can use to defend ourselves, or can be used to against us. Listen here (the interview starts 1hr in).

  • Linguine Arrabbiata by Noel Marten

    From the book, Easy Living Food: Over 200 RAW Recipes Designed for Great Taste!

    We rate this as a top recipe, loved by all and so simple that even the kids can make it in 15 minutes! Rich and full of flavour, it tastes like it has been simmering away on the stove all day.

    Any blender   /   Spiraliser OR Vegetable peeler   /   15 min prep

                Vegetables:

                4 C mixed hard vegetables, such as baby gem squash or courgettes, sweet potato, butternut, etc

                Sauce:

                1          C          baby tomatoes

                1          C          sun-dried tomatoes, soaked

                1          C          red onion, chopped

                1/4       C          dates, soaked

                1/2       C          olive oil

                1          T          miso

                1          t           salt

                chilli to taste

    •  Blend sauce ingredients on high until smooth for about 30 seconds in a high-speed blender or 60 seconds in a regular blender.

    •  Spiralise the vegetables into linguine or use a vegetable peeler to make fettuccine ribbons.

    •  Soak the linguini in warm water to warm through.

    •  Add the Arrabbiata Sauce to a pan and warm gently, stirring constantly.

    •  Drain the vegetables and mix in with the sauce.

    Makes 4 servings.

    This is so quick and easy. Get the kids involved - they will absolutely love making the noodles with the spiraliser.

  • Six Reasons to Eat More Raw Food

    Kate was guest writer for the Inspyir website recently - check out this easy little article on Six Reasons to Eat More Raw Food. Great one to send to rawcurious friends!

  • IQ Chocolate - for real smarties

    IQ Chocolate

    Stone Ground. The hot buzz words of the moment.
    SO happy to see another stoneground bar made this side of the world. Winner of The Taste Awards- you can see why!
    You know when you want to convince a friend, who's not tried Raw chocolate before- this would be a good place to start. Smooth! Decadent! Great subtle hint of cinnamon & chilli in this one. It's a lovely thin bar, that snaps in that satisfying way....

  • Dastony Stone Ground Coconut Cream

    Dastony Raw Coconut Butter

    Well, so far, I've just tried this straight out of the jar. Thought I'd have it on its own- to get a real idea of taste & consistency. WOW. This is like nothing I've had before. It's RICH, DECADENT & feels very nourishing. I could literally feel my skin getting moisturised from the inside out! I think it would make a fabulous spread for breads.... Cakes, cookies... It would also be a fantastic ingredient in cakes & chocolates. In fact, I reckon this, blended with two other ingredients alone would make a delicious & quick fudge or truffle. It's got. 'Body'. It's not just oil. The smell is overwhelming & fresh. Smooth & guaranteed to be unspoilt by heat. I'm totally won over by stone ground products these days.

    by Laura Coxeter

  • Thank you from Dr Kate James

    I just wanted to say, a big enormous thank you. I read your superfood article in Juno magazine what seems like a long time ago now. My daughter Grace had just been diagnosed with leukemia when she was only one year old. Your passion and belief in the healing powers of raw foods and superfoods really inspired me and helped me along the way in learning how to best help Grace through nutrition.

    Reading that article in Juno magazine was most certainly a pivotal moment for me. It opened my mind to a whole area of nutrition I knew so very little about. As ever your gentle, open and pragmatic words provided a solid foundation for discovery. Superfoods and live nutrition have such deep healing, rebalancing, and revitalising power which goes far beyond meeting our RDA's of this and that.

    They penetrate to our very core, they change our vibrational energy fields and help us to reach higher levels of consciousness. These effects are even more profound in little beings with their wide open energy fields and huge potential for growth.
    If only they'd taught us about this at medical school!

    My daughter Grace finished treatment about 18 months ago and continues to grow into the most incredible little girl on so many levels. So strong, so bright, so intuitive and brimming with love for everyone and everything around her. We call her amazing Grace! Her progress and healing was phenomenal and such a steep learning curve for us all.

    Yesterday was her nursery sports day and she won the girls running race. In fine form after a breakfast of raspberries, puffed brown rice, a little biodynamic raw goats milk, AFA algae (she never misses a day),bee pollen, lecithin and hemp oil.

    Her big brother Edward (aged 6), I have to mention as well; he won his running, skipping and sack race. And Theo her little brother had to be restrained at times to keep him off the track!

    I have to mention them all because they are all amazing little ones!
    Live, biodynamic food for kids works. It is, along with buckets of love, by far the most important thing as a parent you can ever provide to help your child to thrive, never more so than if they become unwell.

    I always struggle to find the words to truly articulate my gratitude to Kate.

    Dr.Kate James 

    Integrative medicine from a GP, offering programmes that combine holistic therapies with conventional cancer treatments.
    Currently full time mum to Edward, Grace, and Theo .
    Previously an A and E doctor.

  • Recipe for Disaster

    How we lost the joy of eating by Michael Pollan (copyright).

    Do you love your food? Why the energy we invest in our food is just as important in sustaining and nurturing us as the nutrition it contains.

    Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

    Perhaps you're suspicious of an approach that can be summed up in just seven words - but that injunction to "eat food" is not quite as simple as it sounds. It used to be that food was all you could eat, but today there are thousands of foodlike substances in our convenience stores and supermarkets. Brightly coloured packages boast of their low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fibre credentials. Ingredient panels for once-simple staples such as bread, mayonnaise or yoghurt have been swollen by lengthy lists of additives - what in a more honest age would have been called adulterants. The result is not just confusion, but a dangerous belief that scientifically endorsed "nutrients" are inherently superior to fresh, unprocessed food.

    No other animal has such difficulty deciding what it should eat. True, as omnivores the "What to eat?" question is somewhat more complicated for us than it is for, say, cows. Yet for most of human history, we have navigated the question without expert advice. To guide us we had, instead, culture, which - at least when it comes to food - is really just a fancy word for your mother. What to eat, how much of it to eat, what order in which to eat it, with what and when and with whom was a set of questions long settled and passed down from parents to children without a lot of controversy or fuss.

    But over the past several decades, mum lost much of her authority over the dinner menu, ceding it to scientists and food marketers and, to a lesser extent, the government, with its ever-shifting dietary guidelines and food-labelling rules. Think about it: most of us no longer eat what our mothers ate as children or, for that matter, what our mothers fed us as children.

    My own mother grew up in the 1930s and 1940s eating a lot of traditional Jewish-American fare, typical of families who had recently emigrated from Russia or eastern Europe: stuffed cabbage, offal, cheese blintzes, dumplings filled with potato or chicken liver, and vegetables that were often cooked in rendered chicken or duck fat. I never ate any of that stuff as a kid, except when I visited my grandparents. My mother, an excellent and adventurous cook whose own menus were shaped by the cosmopolitan food trends of New York in the 1960s (her influences would have included the 1964 World's Fair, the food writers Julia Child and Craig Claiborne, Manhattan restaurant menus and, of course, the rising drumbeat of food marketing) served us a rotating menu that each week completed a culinary world tour: boeuf bourguignon or beef stroganoff on Monday; coq au vin or oven-fried chicken (in a Kellogg's Cornflakes crust) on Tuesday; meat loaf or Chinese pepper steak on Wednesday; spaghetti pomodoro with Italian sausages on Thursday; and on her weekend nights off, a Swanson's TV dinner or Chinese takeaway. She cooked with Crisco or Wesson vegetable oil rather than chicken or duck fat and used margarine rather than butter because she had absorbed the nutritional orthodoxy of the time, which held that these more up-to-date fats were better for our health. (Oops!)

    Nowadays I don't eat any of that stuff - and neither does my mother, who has moved on too. Her parents wouldn't recognise the foods we put on the table, except maybe the butter, which is back. Today in America, as in much of the western world, the culture of food is changing more than once a generation, which is historically unprecedented - and dizzying.

    What is driving such relentless change? One force is a multibillion-dollar food-marketing machine that thrives on change for its own sake. Another is the constantly shifting ground of nutrition science that, depending on your point of view, is advancing the frontiers of our knowledge about diet and health or just changing its mind a lot because it knows much less than it cares to admit. Part of what drove my grandparents' food culture from the dinner table was official scientific opinion, which, beginning in the 1960s, decided that animal fat was a deadly substance. The food manufacturers, meanwhile, stood to make very little money from my grandmother's cooking, because she was doing so much of it from scratch - up to and including rendering her own cooking fats. Amplifying the "latest science", they managed to sell her daughter the virtues of hydrogenated vegetable oils, the ones that we're now learning may be, well, deadly substances.

    I write as an American and, because I know them best, I use many American examples, but the story I have to tell is no longer just an American story. The epidemic of chronic diseases - obesity, diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer - that can be traced to the modern diet may be more advanced in the US, but today the American way of eating is spreading around the world. Rates of obesity in Europe are rapidly approaching those of the US, and increases in diabetes and cardiovascular disease are certain to follow.

    Sooner or later, everything solid we've been told about the links between our diet and our health seems to get blown away in the gust of the latest study. Consider a few recent findings. In 2006 came news that a low-fat diet, long believed to protect against cancer, may do no such thing - this from the massive, federally funded Women's Health Initiative, which has also failed to find a link between a low-fat diet and the risk of coronary heart disease. Indeed, the whole nutritional orthodoxy around dietary fat appears to be crumbling.

    In 2005 we learned that dietary fibre might not, as we'd been confidently told for years, help prevent colorectal cancers and heart disease. And then, in the autumn of 2006, two prestigious studies on omega-3 fats came to strikingly different conclusions. While the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences found little conclusive evidence that eating fish would do your heart much good (and might hurt your brain, because so much fish is contaminated with mercury), a Harvard study brought the hopeful piece of news that simply by eating a couple of servings of fish each week (or by downing enough fish oil tablets) you could cut your risk of dying from a heart attack by more than a third. Taking their cue from Harvard, food scientists are now rushing to micro-encapsulate fish and algae oil and blast it into such formerly terrestrial foods as bread, pasta, milk, yoghurt and cheese.

    By now you're probably feeling some nostalgia for the simplicity and solidity of the first few words of this article.

    The story of how the most basic questions about what to eat got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutrition science, and - ahem - journalism, three parties that have much to gain from widespread confusion about the most elemental question an omnivore confronts. Humans deciding what to eat without professional guidance - something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees - is seriously unprofitable if you're a food company, a definite career loser if you're a nutritionist, and just plain boring if you're a newspaper editor or reporter. (Or, for that matter, an eater. Who wants to hear, yet again, that you should "eat more fruit and vegetables"?) And so like a large grey cloud, a great conspiracy of scientific complexity has gathered around the simplest questions of nutrition - much to the advantage of everyone involved, except the supposed beneficiaries of all this nutritional advice: the eaters. For the most important thing to know about the campaign to professionalise dietary advice is that it has not made us any healthier. On the contrary: most of the nutritional advice we've received over the past half-century (and in particular the advice to replace the fats in our diets with carbohydrates) has actually made us less healthy and considerably fatter.

    It is time to reclaim our health and happiness as eaters. To do this requires an exercise that might at first blush seem unnecessary, if not absurd: to offer a defence of food and the eating thereof. That food and eating stand in need of a defence might seem counterintuitive at a time when "overnutrition" is emerging as a more serious threat to public health than undernutrition. But I contend that most of what we're consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we're consuming it - in the car, in front of the television, and, increasingly, alone - is not really eating, at least not in the sense that civilisation has long understood the term. Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the 18th-century gastronomist, drew a useful distinction between the alimentary activity of animals, which "feed", and humans, who eat, or dine - a practice, he suggested, that owes as much to culture as it does to biology.

    As eaters we find ourselves increasingly in the grip of a nutritional industrial complex comprising well-meaning, if error-prone, scientists and food marketers only too eager to exploit every shift in the nutritional consensus. Together, and with some crucial help from officialdom, they have constructed an ideology of nutritionism that, among other things, has convinced us of three pernicious myths: that what matters most is not the food but the "nutrient"; that because nutrients are invisible and incomprehensible to everyone but scientists, we need expert help in deciding what to eat; and that the purpose of eating is to promote a narrow concept of physical health. Because food in this view is foremost a matter of biology, it follows that we must try to eat "scientifically" - by the nutrient and the number and under the guidance of experts.

    If such an approach to food doesn't strike you as the least bit strange, that is probably because nutritionist thinking has become so pervasive as to be invisible. We forget that, historically, people have eaten for a great many reasons other than biological necessity. Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world and about expressing our identity.

    That eating should be first and foremost about bodily health is a relatively new and destructive idea - destructive not just of the pleasure of eating, which would be bad enough, but paradoxically of our health as well. The scientists haven't tested the hypothesis yet, but I'm willing to bet that when they do they'll find an inverse correlation between the amount of time people spend worrying about nutrition and their health and happiness. This is, after all, the implicit lesson of the French paradox, so called not by the French (Quel paradoxe?) but by Anglo-Saxon nutritionists, who can't fathom how a people who enjoy their food as much as the French do, and eat so many nutrients deemed toxic by nutritionists, could have substantially lower rates of heart disease than others on elaborately engineered low-fat diets. No people on earth, by contrast, worry more about the health consequences of their food choices than Americans - and no people suffer from as many diet-related health problems.

    I don't mean to suggest that all would be well if we could just stop worrying about food or the state of our dietary health: Let them eat Twinkies! There are in fact some very good reasons to worry. The rise of nutritionism reflects legitimate concerns that the world's diet has changed in ways that are making us increasingly sick and fat. Four of the leading 10 causes of death in the US and the UK today are chronic diseases with well-established links to diet: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. Yes, the rise to prominence of these chronic diseases is partly due to the fact that we're not dying earlier in life of infectious diseases - but only partly. Even after allowing for age, many of the so-called diseases of civilisation were far less common a century ago - and they remain rare in places where people don't eat the way Britons and Americans do.

    That is the elephant in the room whenever we discuss diet and health: "the western diet." All of our uncertainties about nutrition should not obscure the plain fact that the chronic diseases that now kill most westerners can be traced directly to the industrialisation of our food: the rise of highly processed foods and refined grains; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures; the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture; and the narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, notably wheat, corn, and soy. These changes have given us the diet that we take for granted: lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of everything - except vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

    That such a diet makes people sick and fat we have known for a long time. Early in the 20th century, an intrepid group of doctors and medical workers observed that wherever in the world people gave up their traditional way of eating, there soon followed a predictable series of western diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. They called these the western diseases and, though the precise causal mechanisms were (and remain) uncertain, these observers had little doubt these chronic diseases shared a common etiology: the western diet.

    What's more, the traditional diets that the new western foods displaced were strikingly diverse: various populations thrived on diets that were what we'd call high fat, low fat, or high carb; all meat or all plant. Indeed, there have been traditional diets based on just about any kind of whole food you can imagine. What this suggests is that the human animal is well adapted to a great many different diets. The western diet, however, is not one of them.

    Here is a simple but crucial fact about diet and health; yet, curiously, it is a fact that nutritionism cannot see, probably because that reductionist approach to diet developed in tandem with the industrialisation of our food. Nutritionism prefers to tinker with the western diet, adjusting the various nutrients (lowering the fat, boosting the protein) and fortifying processed foods rather than questioning their value in the first place. Nutritionism is, in a sense, the official ideology of the western diet and so cannot be expected to raise radical or searching questions about it.

    But we can. We can begin to develop a different way of thinking about food that might point a path out of our predicament. In doing so we have two sturdy - and strikingly hopeful - facts to guide us: first, that humans historically have been healthy eating a great many different diets; and second, that most of the damage to our food and health caused by the industrialisation of our eating can be reversed. Put simply, we can escape the western diet and its consequences. There are some simple rules of eating that are conducive not only to better health but also to greater pleasure in eating, two goals that turn out to be mutually reinforcing. For example, I'd suggest that you eat meals, not snacks; eat wild foods whenever possible; and avoid any product whose ingredients are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than five in number.

    These recommendations (to which I shall return in tomorrow's G2) are a little different from the dietary guidelines you're probably accustomed to. I'm not interested in telling you what to have for dinner. No, these suggestions are more like eating algorithms, mental devices for thinking through our food choices. Because there is no single answer to the question of what to eat, these guidelines will produce as many different menus as there are people using them.

    These rules of thumb are also not framed in the vocabulary of nutrition science. Indeed, one of them is to avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication that it's not really food. Science has much of value to teach us about food, and perhaps someday scientists will "solve" the problem of diet, creating the nutritionally optimal meal in a pill, but for now and the foreseeable future, letting the scientists decide the menu would be a mistake. Most of what we need to know about how to eat we already know, or did until we allowed the nutrition experts and the advertisers to shake our confidence in the testimony of our senses, and the wisdom of our mothers and grandmothers.

    Not that we had much choice in the matter. By the 1960s or so it had become all but impossible to sustain traditional ways of eating in the face of the industrialisation of our food. In the US particularly, but to a lesser extent throughout the developed world, if you wanted to eat produce grown without synthetic chemicals or meat raised on pasture without pharmaceuticals, you were out of luck. Convenience stores and supermarkets had become the only place to buy food, and real food was rapidly disappearing from their shelves, to be replaced by those highly processed foodlike products. And because so many of these novelties deliberately lied to our senses with fake sweeteners and flavourings, we could no longer rely on taste or smell to know what we were eating.

    Forty years ago, escaping the western diet would have meant either escaping the west itself or going back to the land and growing all your own food. Not any more. Thanks to the resurgence of farmers' markets, the rise of the organic movement, and the renaissance of local agriculture, stepping outside the conventional food system is once more a realistic option. And the more eaters who vote with their forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and accessible such food will become.

    Eaters have real choices now, and those choices have real consequences, for our health and the health of the land and the health of our food culture. That anyone should need to advise people to "eat food" could be taken as a measure of our alienation and confusion. Or we can choose to see it in a more positive light and count ourselves fortunate indeed that there is once again real food for us to eat.

    © Michael Pollan 2008.

    - Extracted from In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating by Michael Pollan, published by Allen Lane on January 31 at £16.99.

  • Enzyme Destruction Temperatures

    From Excalibur

    Something that has caused us a lot of concern, is the fact that we have heard so many conflicting opinions as to the temperature at which enzymes are destroyed. Twenty years ago Ann Wigmore spoke to our Founder Roger Orton personally and said that the food temperature had to go above 120ºF for a period of time before the enzymes were destroyed. Again in our discussions with Viktoras he said the same thing.

    Ann tested different dehydrators, and found that Excalibur was the best for living foods. She found that the best technique for saving enzymes was to set Excalibur on a higher food temperature setting in the beginning and then turn it down after a few hours. However because most people may not know when to turn it down, and by leaving it on the higher setting may kill the enzymes she said to set your Excalibur on 105ºF setting throughout the entire cycle. That way the food temp will never go above 120ºF even after it is dry.

    We believe this is why many have come to believe that 105ºF air temperature is the temperature at which the enzymes are destroyed, which is entirely inaccurate. We have also heard many people quote Dr. Edward Howell in his book Enzyme Nutrition that prolonged temperatures over 118ºF will destroy enzymes. We also read in his book where he says that the enzyme amylase can still convert starch to sugar at air temperatures up to 160ºF but will wear out after a half an hour. We have also read where he says that the optimum temperatures for enzymes are 45ºF to 140ºF.

    Just recently we spoke with Dr. John Whitaker who is a world recognized enzymologist, and former dean of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at U.C. Davis. He said that every enzyme is different and some are more stable at higher temperatures than others but that most enzymes will not become completely inactive until food temperatures exceed 140ºF to 158ºF in a wet state.

    We appreciate you taking the time to read this information, and urge you to help us in spreading it though out the raw food community. Please contact us if you have any questions, or you know of any further information you can share with us. We want to meet the needs of the raw food community, and are still doing research in order to make any necessary changes, but from what we have been told the present Excalibur is perfect. We hope that it has helped in answering your questions regarding your Excalibur Dehydrator. Please share this with any of your friends in your community.

  • The Agave Blues

    The Agave Blues

    by David Wolfe

    The Sweetener Wars are heating up. Dr. Mercola and Mike Adams “The Health Ranger” have come forward listing agave as the worst “bandito” of all sweeteners — a claim reminding me of the “Most Wanted” posters of Mexican criminals I would see whenever I crossed the border between San Diego and Tijuana as a child.

    My Experience with Agave

    I was first exposed to agave by Dr. David Jubb who espoused its health benefits years ago claiming that it was low glycemic. My former company Nature’s First Law/Sunfood Nutrition (whom I no longer represent) and I sold different forms of agave for years. Originally, the agave was supplied by Joanne Cuddigan and David Korn of Holistic Enterprises. Eventually, the agave was supplied by Christopher Daugherty of Essential Living Foods who eventually had to admit that the agave was in fact cooked and not a raw-food product. According to various raw-food websites andwww.foodprocessing.com, agave is cooked at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 36 hours. Years of anecdotal feedback about agave and subsequent testing by Dr. Gabriel Cousens indicated that various yellow agave syrup products were, in fact, not only cooked, but high glycemic.

    Then Robert Williams, the product sourcing professional for Ultimate Superfoods, gave me his take on agave. He claimed that high fructose corn syrup in the form of broken Mexican sugar candies were being added back into agave syrups and nectars. He brought to light that his research indicated that agave was heavily controlled by at least two very serious and very dangerous tequila mafias and that most of the products on the market were a complete fraud. Upon finding this out, I recommended that my business and I go only with Ultimate Superfoods clear (high inulin) agave. Even though Ultimate’s product is not a cold-processed product, it was still the best product on the market as far as I could tell. My business partner (now former business partner) strongly rejected this plan causing at least one of the major rifts that caused me to exit my old company Sunfood Nutrition.

    Currently Ultimate Superfoods claims their clear agave is around 50% fructose with a few percentage points of glucose — the rest being inulin. This is the claim, and only a chemical analysis will confirm if this is accurate. And that's where I am at with any claim — chemical analysis is what we all require as proof now.

    Agave and Pulque

    Agave products originally began to be consumed as a New World beverage in ancient times, probably in Mexico. The agave plant (sometimes called “The Century Plant”) is a very hardy desert succulent that has been categorized in its own Linnaean Family, now termed the Agavaceae. After about ten to twelve years, the edible agave varieties (blue agave, etc.) begin to develop a large fruiting stem at their center. This stem grows very strongly and rapidly eventually opening up flowers in its upper reaches that after pollination (usually by hummingbirds) turn into seeded fruits. The shape and structure of this flowering and fruiting stem is so unique that they were used in the background of original Star Trek episodes as alien plants on alien planets. The dried agave fruiting stems are often cleaned out, polished, and turned into didgeridoos.

    Historically, the center-growing stem, once it began to form, would be cored or cut out. This would cause the agave to bleed a thin milky sap that was captured in a bowl each day. According to research done by author Jonathan Ott (and cited in my book Naked Chocolate), agave (once cored) can bleed 1,000 liters of liquid sap in the two months that it takes it to finally die. This is a huge amount of liquid to be liberated in a dry desert (like finding a spring). This thin milky sap would typically ferment forming a very popular beverage in ancient Mexico known as pulque.

    To see agave sap being collected, watch this video. Pulque, a mildly alcoholic wine, is the original beverage, consumed right alongside chocolate drinks on the streets of Mexico City for over a thousand years and probably much longer. Processed pulque is still available today in nearly all major Mexican cities and in Los Angeles.

    Fructose

    “While agave syrup does have a low-glycemic index, so does antifreeze -- that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Agave syrup has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener — ranging from 70 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is FAR HIGHER than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.” — Dr. Joseph Mercola

    According to Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose is to blame for agave’s blues. Ten years ago, sucrose was the enemy. So which one is it? Sucrose or fructose? Over the last 40 years, sucrose consumption has actually been going down and fructose consumption has been going up. Obviously, obesity in the West has been increasing, and Dr. Lustig of UC San Francisco claims that the primary culprit is fructose.

    To see Dr. Lustig’s presentation on fructose, click here.

    Fructose is a sugar that is 1.73 times sweeter than sucrose (Source: Wiki). Like glucose and sucrose, fructose is known to be food for candida albicans and cancer cells. Sugar in many of its small and medium chain carbohydrate forms has been reported to rapidly elevate blood sugar levels causing the small gland known as the pancreas to secrete insulin to control blood sugar levels. Due to the intensity and quantity of sugars and carbohydrates being ingested daily by people all over the world and also due to the lack of minerals available to feed the pancreas so it can do its job properly, human metabolism begins to malfunction. This begins as mood swings and ADD symptoms in children as well as obesity, and eventually develops into hypoglycemia and/or diabetes. Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar sharply drops after an overproduction of insulin; causing low energy, mood swings, and intense hunger. Diabetes occurs when an underproduction of insulin causes blood sugar to elevate wildly; causing excessively sweet urine and body fatigue. Diabetes can eventually lead to demineralization, diabetic coma, and even death.

    Natural fructose in fruits and honey is bound to other sugars and is therefore less glycemic and more natural than free fructose. High fructose corn syrup and common agave products contain free fructose. This free fructose appears to be the primary focus of the current controversy about sweeteners.

    Mike Adams “The Health Ranger” states that: “The average person consumes about 98 pounds of highly refined corn fructose per year in the USA, that roughly translates into half a cup of refined fructose per day.”

    According to Dr. Mercola, fructose, and especially free fructose, in quantities greater than 25 grams a day can cause an unhealthy increase in uric acid production, lead to weight gain, and, as Dr. Mercola told me in a private conversation, can become a major contributing factor in the development of a fatty liver.

    Other problems with Agave

    I have been to agave processing facilities in Mexico where Tequila is made. When the agave plant is mature (just as it starts its flowering stage) they trim off all the succulent and barbed leaves of the agave plant until it looks like a giant pineapple or the fruit of the pandanus tree. They then wrap a chain around it and tear it out of the ground with a truck. The entire agave plant is then cooked down, hydrolyzed with enzymes, and converted over through other chemical processes into a fructose syrup.

    According to Dr. Mercola, here is a partial list of the chemicals many producers use:

    • Activated charcoal
    • Cationic and ionic resins
    • Sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid
    • Dicalite
    • Clarimex
    • Inulin enzymes
    • Fructozyme

    All this chemistry obviously has nothing to do with how pulque was originally made and how the agave plant was originally used. The use of these chemicals also puts any organic certification of agave into question.

    And that’s not the only problem, boiling down the entire agave plant may release toxic saponins present in the agave and yucca families of plants. These steroidal, abortive, and/or purgative compounds have not been confirmed to be present in agave products, however, exercise caution when using agave. In addition, agave products should be avoided during pregnancy until more research is conducted.

    Conclusion

    If you select agave as a sweetener, only use certified organic clear agave of the type Ultimate Superfoods distributes. Be sure to request that every company selling agave provide laboratory data that their product is free of chemicals, contains a low percentage of fructose, contains a high percentage of inulin, and is free of toxic saponins.

    After dealing with the agave blues, you may want to select another sweetener. Here are some options (in alphabetical order):

    • Coconut Palm Sugar: This is now available as a sweetener. It is usually heat processed, yet unconfirmed reports indicate raw coconut palm sugar is now available from Balinese sources. It is processed using lime (chalk) or mangosteen sap to neutralize acidity. Because of the calcification problems associated with eating chalk and the magic associated with the mangosteen tree, mangosteen sap processed coconut palm sugar is preferred.
    • Erythritol: Erythritol is made by breaking down plant starch into glucose. Then the yeast Moniliella pollinis is added to the glucose. Through fermentation, the glucose breaks down into erythritol. Metabolic, toxicological, and clinical studies covering areas as diverse as cancer, nervous system health, and allergic reactions have found erythritol to be safe. Erythritol has GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in the United States. Seek out organic erythritol or products containing it.
    • Honey (raw, organic): Honey is always the natural sweetener of choice. Look for wild honey because it is lower in free fructose and higher in trace mineral content. Also, look for richer dark honeys (e.g. NoniLand honey, etc.)
    • Inulin: A long-chain polysaccharide that is mostly too long a sugar to absorb into the blood stream. Inulin may be isolated from Jerusalem artichoke or properly processed agave. Look for inulin powder or Jerusalem artichoke syrup. Too much inulin intake can cause digestive distress in certain people.
    • Lo Han Guo: A non-glycemic sweetener from Chinese medicinal tradition made from a type of wild cucumber.
    • Lucuma: Lucuma’s sugar content is low. The percentage amount present in the dried pulp from mature lucuma fruit is: 8.4% glucose, 4.7% fructose, 1.7% sucrose, and 0.06% inositol.
    • Maple syrup: this is the only sustainably-harvested, large-scale, forest sweetener in the world. Maple is likely the richest source of minerals found in any sweetener other than dark honeys and molasses. Look for organic maple syrup and maple crystals as an ingredient.
    • Molasses: Select unsulfured, organic sugarcane molasses because it is fairly rich in vitamins and minerals and has been purported (like fresh sugar cane) to have “anti-stiffness factors” that break down detrimental calcification (see my book The LongevityNOW Program).
    • Soak water: This is a natural sweetener from dried fruits such as date water, goji water, or dried fig water. Shop for organic dried fruit products and soak them in spring water for several hours to make your own fresh soak water.
    • Stevia: I recommend dried powdered leaves over extracts. This is a wonderful and easy plant to grow. It contains no real sugar, so therefore it does not feed candida or cancer. Look for organic stevia products.
    • Xylitol: This could be the sweetener of the future if it could be obtained with certified organic quality. Xylitol does not feed candida or cancer, but tastes normally sweet. Originally isolated from birch syrup; it is now available as a white powder.
    • Yacon: An extraordinarily easy to obtain and abundant subtropical to tropical tuber, relative to the Jerusalem artichoke. Yacon is commonly available as dehydrated chips and as a syrup. Look for organic products. Yacon syrup is rich in iron and only mildly glycemic.

    Other sweeteners to avoid, besides common agave:

    • Refined white and brown sugars made from beet, sorghum, or sugarcane of all sorts, primarily due to genetically modified crop contamination.
    • Evaporated Cane Juice: Rapadura is one of the many names of this highly processed and highly heated product. This is almost pure sucrose, like maple, but lacks in minerals. Evaporated cane juice is known to aggravate all sugar-sensitive conditions from diabetes to candida to cancer. Evaporated cane juice can be certified organic. This product often sneaks into chocolate products, pre-made smoothies, and lots of vegan treats (because it is not processed with bone char).
    • Sorbitol: This sweetener is typically made from genetically modified corn starch. It was originally isolated from stone fruits of the genus Sorbus.
  • Mushroom Soup Recipe

    Here's a guest recipe from South African chefs Noel & Natalie.

    Easy Living Food: Over 200 RAW Recipes Designed for Great Taste!

    After an autumn day working in the garden, or even a day out foraging for mushrooms in the woods, there is nothing better than a bowl of thick, hot mushroom soup.
     
    Any blender  / 1h marinating / 10 min prep
     
    3  C  shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
    2  C  warm water
    1  C  parsley
    1/2  C  olive oil
    1/4  C  tamari
    1  large avocado
     
    • Toss the mushrooms in a bowl with the olive oil and tamari and let it stand for about 1 hour, turning it over every now and again.
    • Blend the avocado and hot water together until smooth for about 15 seconds.
    • Add the mushrooms, with their marinade, and the parsley into the blender and pulse just once or twice.
    Serve with the Rosemary & Garlic Foccacia.
    Makes about 1.5 litres.
     
    VARIATIONS: Use portabellini or wild mushrooms as an alternative.

     

     

     

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