Friday, February 27, 2009

Loving is Giving: Are you ready?

G-d bless!

Vitamin D: My Dark, Lovely Shade of Brown

Part IV

The sun is blazing hot near the equator, and yet there are thousands of Africans going about their business every day. How do they do it?

Apparently, in traditional African societies, they would know when to be outdoors to milk their cows, go hunting, etc. and when to take cover. And they would also use skin care products. (I love this part!)

The Ugandan Acholi would use simsim oil and shea butter. And the Massai tribe used a mixture of red ochre (red or yellow-tinted clay) and cow fat. The point is that, no, Africans weren't just out in the sun all day and, yes, they used products to protect and moisturize their skin. These oils and butter contain vitamin E, seal in the skin's natural moisture, and the thick layer protects against the hot rays.

Do African Americans wear sunscreen?
Well, what's your skin tone? What's your lifestyle like? Are you always outdoors? What time? Or are you only indoors? If you are using a sunscreen, do you Know if the ingredients really protect you? The topic of which sunscreen to use is a whole other story, and some contain toxic stuff. I pray that we each research this further if and when we choose to wear it. Protection from the sun isn't just through sunscreen. Covering up with clothes is also effective. Are you often in the water? The sun's rays are hotter from the reflection.

Are you taking care of your skin?

Taking care of ourselves means getting information! Finding out info that pertains to us: not just depressing statistics, but SOLUTIONS. Are we deficient
in vitamin D? Check it out and do something about it!

Taking care of ourselves means respecting our G-d given uniqueness and not trying to adopt another groups' characteristics. That means respecting our lovely shades of brown. And I do mean lovely...

Taking care of ourselves means loving ourselves. And certain Sages write that loving isn't just a feeling. It's an action. It's giving. In fact, giving LEADS to loving!

If I want to love myself, I need to give to myself.

And in order to give PROPERLY, I need to understand and respect what I am, what I need, what I like, and where I want to go.

I respect that my ancestors are from Africa. I respect my dark, lovely shade of brown. I respect that I need health: healthy realtionships, healthy food, healthy body, healthy books, healthy hobbies.

I respect that G-d gave me a mind to think for myself. I don't need the media to tell me how.

I respect that I like enjoyment. Being and living healthy is not a punishment. And it's not exclusively for "others." It is a gift for everyone.

I respect that life isn't only about me.

I respect that life isn't only about feeling good. It's also about doing good.

I respect that others need me.

I respect that I need them.

I respect me.

G-d bless!

Check it out:

This is one is really worth checking out...Lots of info re: vitamin D testing, supplements, warnings, etc. (Interview w/ Dr. Micheal Holick)

R. Dessler, Strive for Truth

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vitamin D: Sunlight-Only $69.99

Part III
So, people are running for shade. And it's understandable why.

Skin cancer is a serious disease. In 2005, 50,589 Caucasions were affected with it. (1,112 Hispanics, and 261 African Americans/Center for Disease Control)
We just don't want to go there.

But some doctors are saying that the message is being taken too far. Dr. James Dowd, a rheumatologist and author of The Vitamin D Cure says, "Many dermatologists have thrown the baby out with the bath water."

When Dr. Holick began publicizing the benefits of sunlight/ vitamin D, he was lambasted by dermatologists and even asked to RESIGN from his position at the dermatology dept. at the university!

He says that the American Academy of Dermatology is well-funded by the sunscreen industry...

But these "rebel" doctors aren't even telling folks to go spend hours in the sun! Dr. Holick recommends a light-skinned person to spend 5-10 minutes in the sun, and then cover up. (this is in the summer months) Those with darker skin need more time and should spend 15-30 minutes longer. Other vitamin D experts say 10-20 mins for a light skinned and ATLEAST twice as much for a darker skinned.

I found that the exacts amounts of vitamin D required varied depending on the source. Typically, it was around 1,000 units for adults. (Hmmm, how am I supposed to count that?) Others say more is needed. (The battle goes on...)

And what about foods?

This is what the American Academy of Dermatology says: "Under no circumstances should anyone be misled into thinking that natural sunlight or tanning beds are better sources of vitamin D than foods or nutritional supplements. The only thing they are proven to be better at is increasing your risk of developing skin cancer."

(Well, I agree about the tanning beds! The World Health Organization stated in 2005 that the use of tanning beds increased the risk of skin cancer...)

Indeed, oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, also egg yolks and beef liver are high in vitamin D. (woohoo!) Cod liver oil has got it. Milk, orange juice, and some cereals are also fortified with the vitamin. (Note: It's Vitamin D2)

Definitely good meal choices during the winter months when there is less sun. Dr. Cannell, Vitamin D Council, writes that diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and omega-3fats, and avoiding too much omega-6 and trans-fats—also protects your skin from burning.

But know!

Some say it would take 10 cups of fortified milk and 25 cups of fortified cornflakes each day to get 1,000 units of vitamin D. And you'd have to have fish 3-5 times a week. (Don't mind the fish...)

The good news is that once a person has racked up vitamin D in their body during the summer months, it is stored in the body as fat and can be used during the winter months when it's really needed.

(G-d is clever!)

There continues to be skeptics about the effectiveness of vitamin D re: cancer. And, maybe that's healthy. To rely on one vitamin to solve this disease sounds too good to be true, but rather an interaction of necessary vitamins and minerals does make sense. Everything has to work together...

Ok, I am understanding more about sunlight and the clear benefits of vitamin D. And, honestly, completely hiding away from the sun doesn't even sound sane! However, it does have to be done smart.

But why would anyone want to promote sunshine? It can't be packaged and sold... And why promote it if African Americans are the ones who stand to benefit more?

And, back to my original question: Do African Americans wear sunscreen??

G-d bless!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vitamin D: Benefits

Part II

Dr. Holick went to visit a woman in a hospital. The woman had a lot of bone pain, muscle pain and aches. She couldn't even walk. Dr. Holick recognized the problem right away. The lady was African American suffering from adult rickets: softening of the bones. He put her on a therapy of vitamin D and sun exposure. And, in fact, in a month/two, the lady was able to walk with a walker.

Here's something else.

African Americans have the highest death rate of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers," said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., American Cancer Society chief medical officer.

And YET, research is showing that vitamin D helps lower the risk of many cancers including prostate, breast, and colon. The Cancer Recovery Foundation claim that vitamin D helps reduce certain cancer by 77%. The Vitamin D Council goes so far as to say that prostate cancer IS a vitamin D deficiency that people just are not aware of!

I really wanted to understand this.

Bursting forth from the hot sun are invisible rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The UVB ray is considered the "burning" ray, but it also causes our bodies to make vitamin D.

So, I'm outside. The UVB ray hits my skin, and a flurry of activity begins. A certain type of cholesterol goes through a series of transformation that results into an active form of vitamin D. (It's D3)

And why exactly do I want this?

It definitely makes us feel good. And as we're learning, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. It helps regulate melatonin-the hormone that causes us to fall asleep. But the really amazing part is that it helps regulate cell growth, in the prostate, breast, colon, and other tissues. And that may be why vitamin D helps combat cancer. (B/c cancer is growth out of control)

Unfortunately, many African Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The NHANES(National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) found that among African American women in their child-bearing years, 42% were vitamin D deficient. (Next was Mexican Americans, and then Caucasions who were low by only 4%.

Well, considering that African Americans have a natural barrier called melanin against the sun, and that SPF can block up to 95% of UV rays, it's understandable why many of us may be vitamin D deficient.

However, despite the benefits of sunlight, many of us shy away from it...

G-d bless!

Vitamin D: Do African Americans Wear Sunscreen?

I've been reading about vitamin D and expected to read about the benefits of the vitamin. Y'know, the usual. But I realized that it was much bigger deal than I could have imagined, so I figured I would break this topic up into parts.

Part I. Do Black Folks Wear Sunscreen?

The last time I watched Oprah, I remember her mentioning that she wears sunscreen. I use to always wonder if black folks wore sunscreen. It was always a source of embarrassment for me. Hey, you're dark, why are you wearing it? Also, I knew some black people who didn't want to be out in the sun for fear of getting darker. Y'know, try to stay as "light" as you can. The times I would wear sunscreen, I preferred not having my friends know b/c once they did, they snickered at me.

But, hey, I didn't want to get skin cancer! Even black folks gotta be careful!

And yet...I came across an article commenting that are thousands of Africans living in the hottest, sunniest places for years upon years, and yet they are not falling left and right from sun exposure. What gives?

Well, there are three things to know:
1. Sunlight is a natural nutrient that allows us to produce vitamin D in our bodies.
2. Sunscreen is truly effective. The weakest sunblock of SPF 8-15 can block out UV rays by 95%!
3. People with dark pigmentation have a natural barrier, called melanin, against the sun. Depending on the skin tone, according to Dr. Micheal Holick, we basically have a natural SPF of 15-30%

The problem here is that many people, especially those with darker skin tones are deficient in vitamin D. And in my readings, I've learned that vitamin D does more than help our bodies absorb calcium. MUCH MORE!

Much of the info given over comes from Dr. Micheal Holick, a heavy weight in vitamin D studies. He is Professor of Medicine, Phsiology, and Biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine. And he (among others) is correcting a lot of misconceptions about sunlight, which some people aren't too happy about. And you will soon see why...

G-d bless!

"Humor is to health is what water is to a steamer..."

What is this?

When the waitress in a New York City restaurant brought him the soup du jour, the Englishman was a bit dismayed. "Good heavens," he said, "what is this?"

"Why, it's bean soup," she replied.

"I don't care what it has been," he sputtered. "What is it now?"

Sorry for eating the peanuts

A man visits his aunt in the nursing home. It turns out that she is taking a nap, so he just sits down in a chair in her room, flips through a few magazines, and munches on some peanuts sitting in a bowl on the table.

Eventually, the aunt wakes up, and her nephew realizes he's absentmindedly finished the entire bowl. "I'm so sorry, auntie, I've eaten all of your peanuts!"

"That's okay, dearie," the aunt replied. "After I've sucked the chocolate off, I don't care for them anyway."

G-d bless!!

(title quote by Edith Rothchild)

Monday, February 16, 2009


In searching information on green leafy vegetables, I was discouraged by certain sources from eating high calcium greens like spinach or collard greens.

How can that be?

Well, there's a naturally occuring substance found in plant foods called oxalates. It's an organic acid that the body makes, but is found in abundance in plants. And word on the street is that if you eat a high calcium, high oxalate food like spinach you're headed for trouble.


B/c if you combine calcium and oxalate together, you get a calcium oxalate which translates into kidney stones. And not only that, but the oxalate would prevent calcium from being absorbed in the body and instead be excreted into the urine.

The culprits listed are spinach, collard greens, parsley. And some add celery, strawberries, nuts, beets, sweet potatoes and some other vegetables. (Also on the list is oranges, instant coffee) Avoid these guys, we're warned by some, to avoid losing calcium and not get kidney stones.

Hmm, avoid these vegetables? There's a far more worse things to avoid to prevent calcium loss, ie. excess alcohol, sugar, etc. This didn't seem right to me.

Well, apparently it wasn't right to Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. In this comprehensive health book, she writes that this is a tactic to prevent people from using these sources for calcium.

I nearly fell off my chair. But I needed more sources. I didn't have to look far. At, regarding oxalates, it's written, "Since intake of dietary oxalate accounts for only 10-15% of the oxalate that is found in the urine of individuals who form calcium oxalate stones, many researchers believe that dietary restriction cannot significantly reduce risk of stone formation."

Now, they do add that if a person suffers from rare conditions like hypercalciuria type II-it's where loads of calcium are being excreted from the urine then they should avoid these foods.

The Kidney Foundation writes that if you have suffered from kidney stones or have a family history, then restricting these foods can be helpful in preventing future stones. And this caution should be heeded and a doc consulted. No question.

The NY Times reported that kidney stones are on the rise. Whereas in the past,people would get them at age 40/50. Now people are getting them at much younger ages. Some hospitals are even opening up pediatric kidney stone clinics. Obesity, a high salt diet, and not drinking enough water are factors that lead to stones.

Dr. Leroy Nyberg, of the urology dept at the National Institute of Health in Maryland says that people who are inactive can accumulate calcium in the bloodstream, and regular exercise puts calcium back where it belongs-in the bones.

And, lastly, dietician Nina Singh writes that, yes, green leafy vegetables do have oxalates which can prevent calcium absorption. But instead of avoiding them, we should make sure to eat foods that help with absorption-like fish, eggs, and liver. The target, here, she writes is vitamin D.

Now it could be that maybe, just maybe, that well-rounded, healthy meals that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals, avoiding too much processed food, drinking water, and exercise are the keys to making sure that everything interacts and flows smoothly like "nature" intended, oxalates and all...

Now, to me THAT makes sense.

G-d bless!

Check it out yourself:

Dr. Christiane Northrup, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shlada Bellecheen

Check out a new recipe I tried out:
Shlada Bel hails from Morocco. It's basically a lettuce, orange, and walnut salad.


1 head romaine lettuce
3 navel oranges or 3 temple oranges
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange flower water
¾ cup walnuts, chopped

Wash the lettuce and divide into leaves (discard any tough ones). Drain then dry with paper towels.

Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing the skin and the outer membranes of each segment. Using your knife remove each segment, leaving the central membranes behind. Place each section in a bowl then squeeze the juice from the remaining orange core over these.

Meanwhile, make a dressing by mixing the lemon juice, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange flower water and 2 tbsp of the orange juice together. Whisk to blend and season with salt and pepper.

Shredd the lettuce leaves, and palce in a glass serving bowl. Add the dressing and toss. Use the orange segments to form a design around the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top, dust with the cinnamon and serve.

Orange flower water? I didn't know where to get that so I just used more juice from the oranges.
Refreshing and tangy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confessions from a Health-Nut Wanna be

I have a sweet tooth.

It has developed during the course of my life.

And, I'm not sure exactly how to get rid of it.

Is it like the wisdom teeth, where a simple extraction is all that's needed?

But isn't it better to extract the "foolish" teeth rather than the "wise" ones?

This could be problematic...

Oy. to extract the sweet tooth?

Is there a dentist out there that can do the job?


G-d bless!

"You will hold me..."

Toddlers are yummy to play with and even yummier to cuddle.

And they LOVE when you pick them up. And don't hesitate (I mean as long as it's not for the upteenth time and you can barely breathe b/c they've played horsey on you and ridden cross country and back. And we know they will try...)

Picking up heavy things like big soup pots, buckets of water, or even
better a cutie-pie toddler is helpful for the continued buildup of bone.

A study at the Veterans Adminstration Medical Center in Florida found that weight training, by boosting the strength of legs, arms, and shoulders, increased bone density by around 1.5 percent per year, whereas being sedentary caused bone density LOSS about 2 percent per year. Over the course of years, these numbers add up...

(Aside from weight lifting, stair climbing, dancing (woohoo!), and brisk walking also contribute to bone build up, says Gary Null in Power Aging.)

But this isn't just another excuse for me to exercise.

It's also another excuse to pick up that wide-eyed sweetie pie and share the love!

G-d bless!

Check it out
Food and Our Bones, AnneMarie Colbin

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy Tu B'Shevat!!

Tu B'Shevat is the Jewish New Year for Trees.

It's the time that the earliest bloom trees in the land emerge from their winter snooze and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

It's customary to celebrate the day by eating fruits associated with Israel: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

So to all the trees out there, big and small...
Happy Birthday!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kayar, Senegal

Blog Africa Unchained has a post about Senegalese fishermen coming together to prevent depletion of their fish and seafood stock by establishing a community-based system that limits the amount of catch and restricts catching certain species.

In this way, they manage to increase their profits and protect the environment.

I enjoyed reading about these guys' endeavors. They're trying to make things work there, too, y'know.

And I want to know about it.

G-d bless!

Check out

"I'm here to give you Strength!"

Have you ever examined a lettuce leaf? I'm talking about a leaf from the nutrient rich Romaine, cos lettuce. Deep, dark green at the head with the colors fading into lighter shades until it becomes a crisp white at the bottom. Like a pulsating heart, the deep ridges seem to cry out, "I am here to give you strength!"

In deed, romaine lettuce is packed with nutrients. Hey, it's green, need I say more? It's got vitamins A, C, K , and dietary fiber,for example. (Note: Iceberg lettuce has less...) Because of it's high fiber, it helps with digestion. And, remember, around 2 cups of these lovely leaves comes with 40mg of calcium....

Did you know? Lettuce originated in the Mediterranean area, and the Ancient Greeks thought that it induced sleep, so they would serve it at the end of the meal. And it's believed that lettuce was brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus.

Knock yourself out by making your own salad. And instead of waiting for the end of the meal like the Greeks, just have it throughout your meal!
Throw in some tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, walnuts, and whatever good stuff you can find. Dress it with leomon juice and oil.

But before you dig in...Please, please don't forget to appreciate and relish the luscious-ness and the scrumptious-ness of this dark green beauty!

G-d bless!

Check it out yourself...
at the local supermarket/health food store

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oh, those PRIMITIVE Africans!

As a dentist and nutritionist, Dr. Weston Price was very into bones.

In the 1930s, he went traveling to study health, dental health, and the diet of traditional societies around the world.

He found that in terms of bones and teeth, the healthiest people were six tribes in sub-Saharan Africa, who ate a lot of meat, milk, and blood (yikes!) of cows. These tribes were cattle herders and were completely free of cavities. There was 0% tooth decay, and they had straight teeth and bones. (You think these cattle herders were injecting their cows with hormones?)

The traditional peoples would put a lot of effort in obtaining nutrient-rich fish, eggs, and other animal foods for their pregnant women.

Of these tribes, the Dinkas from Sudan were claimed the healthiest, and their diet consisted of mostly fish and cereal grains.

Dr. Price also found that the societies that had switched over to the "civilized" diet of sugar, white bread, alcohol, canned vegetables, etc. suffered from much dental and skeletal defects, like dental caries and jaw malformations.)

Hmm, maybe being a little "primitive" isn't so bad after all!

G-d bless!

Check out Food and Our Bones, AnneMarie Colbin

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Juice, anyone?

This post isn't actually about orange juice. But is re: another kind... hehe!

We know that when we eat, the food gets broken down in our stomach. This is thanks to the gastric juice that breaks up the matrix that holds the cells together in the meat and plant food we eat.

Our stomach has very elastic walls and in those walls are many deep pits. And from those deep pits, this highly acidic gastric juice is secreted.

The juice contains hydrochloric acid, an enzyme called pepsin, and mucous. It's so acidic that it has a pH of 2. Basically, it can dissolve nails of IRON!!

As it tears apart cell matricies, it also kills the bacteria that may be on the food.

But, man, I'm still on the iron nails. What about my poor stomach?

Actually, our stomach is protected by a coating of mucus that helps protect it from the highly acidic environment. And, yet, our stomach lining DOES get eroded. Thousands of cells are being replaced every minute, and the entire stomach lining is replaced every 3-5 days!


G-d bless!

Regarding peptic ulcers check out: