What Size Smoothy Would Jesus Have Ordered?

I can’t rest easily when I see a student enter my university classroom with a HUGE container of a fruit or vegetable smoothy. I approach him or her (both genders seem to order the same size, although I suspect a scientific study would reveal that the men tend more often to the largest sizes), asking “Whatchagotthere?”

Invariably, the students express confidence they have chosen well—how can they go wrong with vegetables and fruits? I’m at a disadvantage: Fruits are good; vegetables are good; indeed, even the natural sugars in the fruits and in the high glycemic veggies are good. And I don’t want to miss the point that they are bringing fewer and fewer cans of pop into my class.

But the sheer scale of volume of the drinks flabbergasts me—and they are not inexpensive! How can their stomachs hold all that, on the one hand, and are their cells really happy with the flood of sugary liquids coming their way? And how long can their budgets sustain the cost?

Have we always elected large food containers from which to eat and drink—huge, round plates; deep, circumferous bowls; tall, fat cups, mugs, yikes—jugs?

No, we have not, according to a study done by Brian and CS Wansink ( “The Largest Last Supper: Depictions of Portion Size Increased Over the Millennium,” International Journal of Obesity, 34, 943–944. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2010.37). Super-size appears to describe our times, not earlier ones.

The Wansinks report that over a space of 1000 years and 52 depictions of the Last Supper, the ratio between painted head sizes and painted food items have increased significantly. Main dishes have increased almost 70%, a loaf of bread 23%, and plate sizes 66%. I assume head sizes remained the same.

They did not report on the ratio between food item sizes and waist sizes, so I invite them to return to their study—and I put my money on comparable ratio increases there, too, don’t you?

The proper answer to my question “Whatchagotthere?” is “A jug of pre-diabetes and obesity and chronic inflammatory response.” But I have some way to go before I actually get such an answer.

You can reach Gloria Askew OR Jerre Paquette at info@eattosaveyourlife.com

You can read more about Gloria and Jerre’s book, The Secrets of Supplements: The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Terrific, here.

You can also read our blogs on WellWise.org


Meet Gloria and Jerre

Gloria Askew, R.R.N. & Jerre Paquette, Ph.D.

That’s the two of us over there to the left—Gloria Askew and Jerre Paquette; we admit to being a bit nervous about this, our first blog. We simply want to share with you all we’ve learned about nutrition, food, and the politics of health and wellness linked to them.

Our web site content has the same intention–there, we provide a variety of short articles aimed at helping you make the best decisions about nutrition you can make.

Our book, Secrets of Supplements: The Good, The Bad, The Totally Terrific, offers you, all in one place, more detailed information for yourself and your whole family. We want you to really get your heads around the issues we know concern you about the food you eat and provide your families. Our intention is to de-mystify the science about food, supplements, and health.

The  two of us are trained and educated in very formal ways (between us, we hold a RN, a B.Ed., a M.A., and a Ph.D.).  We really enjoy learning through researching and writing–that’s part of our training.  But we’re at least as excited about teaching, advocating, and consulting.

We have our best times, though, talking directly to people sitting together in the same room as us—we are speakers, presenters, teachers, consultants. And we work as well with a few thousand people in the same room as with a single person across the table or in the chair next to us. We love that kind of contact. So if you think you’d like us to present a seminar or workshop on some aspect of nutrition for your group, corporate offices, or community, don’t be shy about contacting us so we can chat about your interests.

Meanwhile, the internet has intervened in our longish lives, so we’re in the process of adapting to the opportunities of engaging people we can’t see (e-people!) and who can get back to us almost as soon as we’ve posted some writing (for us, ‘posted’ meant a trip to the mail box, that’s all). Exciting.

I used the word ‘opportunities’ in that previous paragraph. A while ago, though, I only saw the internet as a chaos of un-genuine, false communications, frivolous postings, and hype. My students have helped me change my mind about that. They prompted me to get on Face Book—so against my better judgment, I did. And I survived it, learned more about my students than I ever could have as a professor, and am learning from them how to share what I know with more people than I could have ever imagined. Gloria got on Face Book, too, once she saw I seemed to have survived. She’s as keen, now, as I am.

So Gloria is journeying with me into the world of blogs, websites, and social networking. While our newness here makes us a little anxious, we are also very keen. What do we expect? Well, we expect that by engaging with you about nutrition, disease, science, and personal health stories, we will be learning and receiving at the same time we teach and share. That seems to us to be the promise of the internet. Perhaps you agree.

So I and we, Jerre and Gloria, hope you will engage us as we post our blogs about everything from vitamin D to diabetes to weight loss to phytonutrients (my personal favorite)and, especially, whatever you might ask us to comment upon. We’re listening!

Our first nutritional postings are about vitamin D, because we have learned a great deal we think you’ll benefit from knowing.

Beyond that—who knows? Let us know what you want….

Best of Health,

Gloria and Jerre

(By the way, you can reach us at info@eattosaveyourlife.com)

You can read more about Gloria and Jerre’s book, The Secrets of Supplements: The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Terrific, here.

You can also read our blogs on WellWise.org

any time you’d like.)


Vitamin D Benefits, Toxicity, & Health Links

Top Seven Questions About Vitamin D

During our seminars and presentations about nutrition, we receive many questions about vitamin D. Seems like there’s growing awareness about this vitamin, but some confusion, too, and that’s not helping our health profiles. Here’s the questions participants ask us to help them answer:

1. What does vitamin D do?

2. How do I know whether I have enough vitamin D?

3. What are the best vitamin D sources?

4. Isn’t exposing skin to the sun dangerous?

5. Do I need to worry about vitamin D toxicity?

6. What are the right doses of vitamin D from supplements?

7. Can vitamin D help me with my Diabetes?

Let’s start with the first of the top seven questions we get.

What Does Vitamin D do?

In a nutshell, vitamin D is so important to humans (and other animals) nature makes it easy to get and hard to get too much. The fact is, your own body can make it simply by exposing your skin to the sun (in a safe way, of course). For decades, however, we’ve been warned away from exposure to the sun, our best source of vitamin D. Millions of us are now seriously vitamin D deficient (we think of it as a new disease we thought up: VDD).

The best way of thinking about what vitamin D does is, first, to consider what happens when you don’t have enough of it.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to diseases we sometimes think are just part of living – conditions such as asthma, heart disease, multiple sclerosis (and other auto-immune diseases), osteoporosis, rickets, and cancer. No one yet knows how to predict which disease you are likely to experience as a result of vitamin D deficiency, but science does know you stand an unwelcome chance of experiencing one or more of these serious illnesses, and others! It’s clear: the last thing you want is a vitamin D deficiency.

The year 2010 has been a good year for vitamin D research, with well over 1,500 papers published. Their bottom line is that vitamin D deficiency may well be linked to an extremely wide range of diseases. It needn’t be!

So what can we say vitamin D does? It shields you against some fearful diseases – you don’t want to be deficient in it!

You can reach Gloria Askew OR Jerre Paquette at info@eattosaveyourlife.com

You can read more about Gloria and Jerre’s book, The Secrets of Supplements: The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Terrific, here.

You can also read our blogs on WellWise.org




25 OH Vitamin D Test

In a previous blog, Vitamin D Sources, Benefits, & Toxicity, we answered the first question often asked during our nutrition seminars, “What does vitamin D do?” In this blog, we’re responding to the second question: “How do I know whether I have enough vitamin D?”

Well, if you’ve been avoiding the sun and not taking vitamin D3 supplements, you’re likely deficient in vitamin D—and setting yourself up for a lot of unexplained pain and a whole range of nasty diseases. (See our previous blog Vitamin D: Sources, Benefits, and Toxicity.)

Vitamin D Deficiency

We refer to Vitamin D Deficiency as VDD (our personal shorthand for the most significant nutritional deficiency in North America, and likely a lot of other places).

A simple blood test called a 25 OH Vitamin D Test will reveal if you are VDD.

However, before rushing off to your doctor to insist (yes, insist) on the 25 OH Vitamin D Test, you can administer a quick self-check. Consider that your body works with sunlight to produce vitamin D, then ask yourself, “Am I exposing large areas of bare skin (arms, legs, back) to sunlight 15-20 minutes a day, without sunblock?”

If the answer is no and you follow a typical North American diet and lifestyle, there’s a good chance you’re VDD.

In any case, get the test to be sure.

Interpreting the 25 OH Vitamin D Test

The 25-hydroxyvitamin D test is administered through a blood sample and reported as “nanograms per milliliter” (ng/ml) in the U.S.A. and as “nanomolecules per liter” (nmol/L) in Canada.

50-80 ng/ml or 125-200 nmol/L are considered good levels. Be aware, however, there is ongoing debate about levels.

Some guidelines recommend “minimum” or “normal” levels (20- 56 ng/ml or 50-140 nmol/L), but don’t consider them your target. Here’s why: You want enough vitamin D in your body for immediate use and for storage against the day when you just can’t synthesize any vitamin D.

Consider, too, that your body’s fat and muscle tissues won’t even begin storing vitamin D until you have 40-50 ng/ml. That’s one clear indication your body wants the stuff available all the time, every day, every month, all year long—get it? Use this information to discuss optimum levels for you with your doctor.

What to do? Have a look at our previous blog to refresh yourself on vitamin D’s importance, get the test, and discuss the results with your doctor. Just don’t take vitamin D for granted.

You can reach Gloria Askew, RRN, and Jerre, Ph.D at info@eattosaveyourlife.com

You can read more about Gloria and Jerre’s book, Secrets of Supplements: The Good, the Bad, the Totally Terrific, here.

You can also read our blogs at WellWise.org.


Vitamin D Sources, Part 1: The Sun

If you took the advice in our last blog (see 25 OH VITAMIN D TEST), you’ve likely learned you’re VDD (our term for Vitamin D Deficient). The bad news is that’s bad; the good news is you can easily correct your situation. Nature has made sure of it—first by designing your body to make your own vitamin D, and second by providing some food sources. The third option is supplements.

So let’s explore this question: What are the best sources of vitamin D?

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Take off as many clothes as you’re willing to shed. Bare that back, those legs, and those arms to the direct sun. (Bare hands simply aren’t enough.) Don’t use sunscreen; it prevents vitamin D production.

If you’re fair skinned, perhaps 10 – 15 minutes in the sun will do it. If you’re slightly olive-skinned, 15 – 20 minutes should suffice. If you’re dark skinned, you may need up to 10 times longer than fair skinned people.

In no case, should you stay in the sun long enough to start burning. Turning a little pink is good, but don’t burn. You’ll have to experiment—soak up that sun in stages.

Here’s what will happen: The sun’s Ultra-Violet B rays will initiate a chemical change in the cholesterol in your skin. The process is too complicated to describe in a blog (chemists and biologists marvel at its elegance), but the end of the story is that you, yourself, will produce 10,000 – 50,000 International Units of vitamin D3. That’s at least 100 times more than most national standard guidelines recommend!

Some of the vitamin will be used immediately, and the rest will be stored in your fat and muscle cells.

The next thing that happens is truly amazing: Once you’ve created a storehouse of vitamin D, your skin will actually prevent you from making too much (part of the elegant process chemists and biologists so admire). As a result, your body will NEVER let you overdose on vitamin D derived from the sun. Cool!

That’s why exposing your skin to the sun, without cover or chemical sunscreens, is the best thing you can do to get the vitamin D your body requires.

The sun is your best source—and that’s good news—but here’s some less good news: People living above 37 degrees latitude get NO vitamin D from the sun during the winter months. People over 50 tend to get less vitamin D than younger people. Oily skin produces more; dry skin produces less.

Don’t risk becomingVDD. Get out in the sun, never burn, and trust that your body knows what to do.

Next: Vitamin D Sources, Part 2: Food

You can reach Gloria Askew, RRN and Jerre Paquette, Ph.D at info@eattosaveyourlife.com

You can read more about Gloria and Jerre’s book, Secrets of Supplements: The Good, the Bad, the Totally Terrific, here.

You can also read our blogs at  WellWise.org

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