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Insane Medicine – Links to nutrition and health websites:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention – food safety.  FDA food safety link  USDA dietary guidelines  < diabetic information  < NIH center link  Cancer research and information  Cancer research   < Sense about science – Evidence based concerns  << Reveals dubious health claims and concerns over them:  < National Library of Medicine link  American Heart Association Link  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics link



Insane Medicine – Dietary Review!

I wanted to generalize some overall health information in this particular blog and incorporate items that are important for increasing successful strategies for aging and maintaining your health.

  • Remember that circulation is important in your body because it provides energy and sustains life in the various tissues. Regular exercise is a way to keep your body maximally conditioned. Your circulation delvers oxygen and nutrients to your body and at the same time allows toxins to be removed as it passes through the liver, kidney, and lymph systems. So be certain to keep moving and exercise to maximize your health.
  • Eat more plant foods. As a result of doing this, you take in less fat and will increase your fiber intake. This allows more protecting antioxidants to be incorporated into your body. Ingesting more fiber allows for better waste removal, and less fat intake results in a decreased tendency for your blood to thicken and clot, thus decreasing cardiovascular risk. The large amount of protecting agents in plant-based diets results in less inflammation in the body and less cellular damage.
  • Choose plant foods with strong flavors and with bright colors. Have a healthy fat focus in your diet. Chose your beverages you drink wisely, in other words, stop drinking sodas! Try your best to allow your stomach to be empty  and have ‘hunger pains’ for at least two thirty minute periods each day.
  • Remember that the body evolved in a world where salt, sugar, and fat were scarce and are like addictive drugs. Be careful to avoid choosing processed foods when possible and not adding salt and sugar to your meals. Avoid sodas ( which are high in sugar content)! Even noncaloric beverages may be increasing our desire for sweet food and spurring increasing rates of obesity.
  • Fructose in our foods has been a source of increasing weight gain in our society. Fructose and glucose (both sugars) have a differential effect on the brain. Glucose will reduce activation of brain regions that are involved in appetite, motivation, and reward and will increase our sense of satiety and decrease our food seeking behavior. Fructose does not do this. It is sweet, but it makes us want more! Corn sweeteners (fructose) have correlated with rising obesity.
  • Plant-based foods give us phytochemicals which act as protectors. Plant-based foods give smell, taste, and fragrance to our diet. They have an antioxidant effect. Kale, cabbage, broccoli, and  arugula have a sulfur based mustard taste that increase detoxification enzymes in the body. You should get 5-9 servings of colorful, flavorful vegetables in your diet each day – five servings for smaller people and at least nine servings if you are a big person. How much is a serving for vegetables? One-half cup cut up is equal to a serving, in general, for vegetables (for raw spinach, a whole cup is equal to a serving)
  • So again – look for colorful vegetables, as they have higher levels of phytochemicals in them, For example, zucchini has a green outside but mostly colorless interior, and therefore is a poorer choice of a vegetable. Instead, go for the carrots, spinach, broccoli, and yellow squash as options, since they have more color to them and therefore more protective phytonutrients! You will find higher levels of Vitamin A in deep orange vegetables such as carrots. The carotenoids and retinol in these vegetables impart the orange coloring and give the protective qualities of these vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables have a big, strong flavor with sulfur components. They have powerful antioxidants in them and include arugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, kholorabi, radish, rutabaga, and turnips. Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, which helps fight infection. They also have an antihistamine/anti-allergic effect as well as anti-oxidant effect, which protects cell membranes and DNA in the body from oxidative damage. Vitamin C is important in the production of collagen component of connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments.
  • Eating up to nine servings a day of vegetables was associated with 24% less obesity in one study. Why? Because you eat less of other fatty foods.
  • Fiber rich foods  are very important in the diet. Vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains are all rich sources of protective nutrients and phytochemicals and have a lower glycemic load as well. Eating foods with high fiber content results in less obesity since people who consume high-fiber foods feel more full. Likewise, higher fiber meals cause increase transit through the gut and decrease carcinogen exposure. This results in less colon cancer risk! Soluble fiber decreases cholesterol levels while fibrous food will increase the amount of protective gut bacteria.
  • We will be discussing the gut biome over time in this blog. Your gut has a population of bacteria that live and thrive but also help us maintain homeostasis. Alterations in the gut biome (bacterial population) can result in inflammation and disease. Immune compromise can occur if the gut biome is altered or destroyed. It turns out that soluble fiber is a food source for these necessary gut bacteria to remain healthy, and hence us as well.
  • We need 25 grams of fiber every day. A rule of thumb is one gets 2 grams of fiber per vegetable/fruit serving, so 5 servings of vegetables equals 10 gm of fiber.
  • Whole grains are a good source of fiber. One slice of whole grain bread is equal to a serving. A cup of cooked oatmeal is considered a serving. A thought for increasing fiber content is to use wheat berries, which cook like brown rice. Adding sunflowers to them can make a nutritious bundle.
    Wheat berries cook like brown rice and taste great when mixed with sunflower seeds!
    Wheat berries cook like brown rice and taste great when mixed with sunflower seeds!

    Cooked beans, peas , and lentils have 6 gm of fiber per half-cup of cooked item. They are excellent sources of fiber.

    Consider adding mung beans, which are bean sprouts that cook like lentils, in a dish with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and placing it over pasta.
    Consider adding mung beans, which are bean sprouts that cook like lentils, in a dish with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and placing it over pasta.


  • Always be certain that you check to see if a bread item is whole grain. Check the ingredient list. You want whole, sprouted, or malted wheat or whole grain on the label. Beware if it says wheat flour, for that is the same as white flour.
  • Put as many vegetables on your salad as possible. Lettuce has very little fiber.
  • Be certain to take in 5-10 grams a day of soluble fiber out of the 25-35 grams of fiber that is needed. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol levels and feeds the healthy gut bacteria to support our immune system. An orange (medium) has 3-5 grams of soluble fiber, while a half cup of beans has 3-5 grams. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed has 1.5 grams of soluble fiber. Flaxseed can be ground into flaxmeal.
  • Of note, a high fiber diet provides a low glycemic load, which is great for diabetics, but particle size of the fiber source is important. For example, old fashioned or scottish oats are best for fiber sources, whereas smaller particle sized grain products lose the fiber benefits. It turns out the glycemic index is higher in small-particles of grains (they get absorbed easier).
  • Higher glycemic-load foods are associated with chronic diseases. As people absorb more carbohydrates and gain weight, their insulin level increases in response, which promotes increased fat storage, thereby leading to the need for more insulin to control blood  sugar. This results in diabetes over time. Also cancer is more common in obese individuals as insulin-like growth factor (IL-GF) drives cancer growth. IL-GF is involved in glucose metabolism. A diet with a low glycemic load would include non-starchy vegetables except potatoes. Whole grains are high in glycemic load and make diabetes more difficult to contol. Pasta, rice, potato, and virus have high glycemic loads and are not as healthy. Fruit has high fiber content and a LOW glycemic index. High fat foods also have lower glycemic load. So aim for foods with lower glycemic indices as they allow for better body sugar control.
  • Fats affect inflammation in the body. High body fat content, especially abdominal fat,  is linked to cancer risk, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and autoimmune disorders. In an anti-inflammatory diet, one wants to avoid excess fat.  Decrease your fatty food intake, especially fried foods and fast foods. Decrease your dressings and mayonnaise on your foods. Decrease the amount of sweets in your diet, especially cookies and cake. Eat more fish and seafood (not fried) at least 2-3 times a week, except for farmed salmon, which should be eaten only once a month. Avoid sweetened beverages and limit foods with sweeteners. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans.
    Beans are good!
    Beans are good!


    Use extra virgin olive oil to toss in your vegetable or salad to allow easier coating of the leaves with your favorite dressing. By doing that, you will use less dressing and spread it out evenly!
    Use extra virgin olive oil to toss in your vegetable or salad to allow easier coating of the leaves with your favorite dressing. By doing that, you will use less dressing and spread it out evenly! Less dressing=Less fat!


  • Fat balance is important in your diet. Avoid the pro inflammatory fats, such as omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) such as corn, cottonseed, soy, safflower, and sunflower oils, which are high in omega-6 oils. decrease your meat intake and decrease fish intake that are fed these products such as farm-grown salmon! Omega-3 PUFA are anti-inflammatory. and are present in flaxseed oil. Also, pasture-fed livestock (‘grass-fed’) have less omega-6 fatty acid in them. Avoid livestock that are fed grain or corn at any time, since that increases the amount of proinflammatoy PUFA in them. ‘Grass finished’ livestock means that the livestock ate grass until they are butchered. Choose grass-fed products only!
  • Some fat-health guidelines include avoiding fat soluble contaminants by eating food items lower on the food chain, such as smaller animals (fish) and avoiding farmed salmon. Eat only organic products. Avoid saturated fats, present in processed foods and dairy products or red meat. Avoid rancid fats by limiting aged cheese and meat (deli meat) in your diet. Chose healthy fats, which increase satiety and help absorb fat soluble vitamins. Healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, sardines, nuts, seeds, and olives.  Larger animals have more time to get contaminants in them. Chicken and sardines, which are lower on the food chain, live short lives. low in the food chain, and accumulate less toxins. Don’t eat fats that are solid at room temperature,. Avoid processed foods and meats (deli meats)
  • Rancid fats add oxidative stress to your body.Increase your monounsaturated fat intake such as avocado and olive oil, which are heart-healthy.  It was found that people who eat less saturated fat and more monounsaturated fats in their diet have better cognitive performance and verbal memory over time!
  • Osteoporosis prevention: Increase the following: exercise, calcium intake, vitamin D, protein and potassium . They all help build healthy bones! Protein is needed to build the bony matrix. Avoid caffeine (>300 mg a day) and avoid smoking and excessive sodium intake. Avoid being too thin. These factors all impact bone health in negative ways. Excessive sodium in the diet causes the kidneys to waste calcium in the urine. Be certain to get 1200 mg of calcium a day in the diet. For example, 1 or 2% no-fat milk has 300 mg of calcium per cup, while yogurt has 250 mg in 6 ounces. Please note that not all tofu has enough calcium in it, so check the labels. Also, corn tortillas (traditional mad with lime) has calcium in it ( fiver per day provides a lot of calcium)
  • Calcium bioavailability in the diet depends on the source of the calcium. There is calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium malate, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, and calcium lactate. Tums has calcium carbonate in it and excessive use can decrease digestive enzymes and increase bloating gas production as a result, so avoid excessive tums. Avoid calcium from dolomite, bonemeal, and oyster shells (they have lead contaminants in them). Calcium mixed with Vitamin D and magnesium is an excellent supplement for bone health, especially as a 2:1 ratio (calcium 500mg/magnesium 250 mg). People absorb calcium better in small quantities through the day rather than a single large bolus. Be aware that calcium interacts with many medications and interferes with absorption of some medications, such as tetracyclines, biphosphonates, aspirin, and others. Some medications deplete calcium, such as aluminum antacids, steroids, anticonvulsannts, which deplete calcium supplies in the body. Calcium mixed with thiazide diuretics can lead to high, toxic blood levels of calcium in some people. Of note, a study recently suggested that calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart disease in some people by depositing in the coronary vessels. This appears to be not true.
  • Vitamin D is also an important component to bone health and body health. Deficiency in this vitamin has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, stroke, and musculoskeletal decline, among other things. Optimally, blood levels should be 30-80 ng/ml. The RDA for vitamin D in people aged 50-71 is 400 IU/day and for those over 70, the RDA is 600 IU/day. You can take up to 4000 IU/day safely per some sources. Vitamin D3 is the most active form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is neccessary for optimal calcium and magnesium absorption in the gut. Our western style diet results in a high acid intake that leaches our bones. Chronic low grade acidosis in the body with our acidic diet, leads to bone derangement, especially in people with poor kidney function.
  • The shift to eating a better acid-base balanced diet can be made by including more plat foods in your diet (they are rich in alkaline materials). Consider this to boost bone health.
  • The recommended intake of protein is .4-.6 gm of protein per pound of weight. The average protein intake should be 55-100 gm per day. Protein content is high in beans, peas, and lentils (7 gm in a half cup) and high in poultry, fich, and lean meat (7 gm in 10 oz meat). Consider eating nuts and seeds for protein supplementation ( 7 gm in  1/4 cup, especially pumpkin seeds, which have 18 gms!)

Insane Medicine – Travelers to the Caribbean or South America – beware of Chikugunya virus!

  • Insane Medicine - Chikungunya virus is spread by mosquitos
    Chikungunya virus is spread by mosquitos

    Insane Medicine - Specifically, the Aedes mosquito spreads this virus.
    Insane Medicine – Specifically, the Aedes mosquito spreads this virus.
  • Chikungunya is making headlines again as a million cases have occurred this year. We covered Chikungunya virus in a prior article in
  • As a refresher, Chikungunya virus is an arbovirus endemic to Wet Africa that produces fever and arthritis in multiple locations. It is spread by the Aedes mosquito to humans, with primates as reservoirs. Aedes aegypti is one vector, that is present in the U.S. Southeast and lives in urban areas, frequenting small puddles of water. Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito) is the other vector, and it spreads yellow fever, west nile, japanese encephalitis virus, and eastern equine encephalitis virus as well. It is found in the southeastern and mid-atlantic states areas.
  • A person who gets Chikungunya fever from the bite of one of these mosquitos develops fevers of three to five days duration and about two to five days after this, the patient develops polyarthralgias (arthritis pains) in the hands, wrists, and ankles most commonly. This arthritis can cause sever pain that lasts days to months. Rash also occurs about three days after onset of illness and is small and flat in nature.  In severe cases, death can result. Respiratory failure, encephalitis (brain infection), hepatitis, renal failure,  myocarditis (heart inflammation) have been associated with severe infection.
Insane Medicine - Nothing is too small for a mosquito
Insane Medicine – Nothing is too small for a mosquito.

The following is a link to updated information on the Chikungunya virus (Pan American conference)  < Pictures of infected victims.

Insane Medicine - Chikungunya fever skin rash
Insane Medicine – Chikungunya fever skin rash
  • What is so special about this tropical infection in the United  States? First, There is no immunity to this disease in the Americas, so it can spread rapidly.  Secondly, 1.03 million people have contracted the disease, with 155 dying, especially in Martinique and Guadeloupe. There have been 11 cases in Florida.
  • The economic impact of this disease are  significant with many having chronic arthritis, unable to walk due to the pain. 20-30 % have chronic rheumatological symptoms. This results in disability and missed work.
  • There is no specific treatment or cure. There is no vaccine available as of 2014.
Insane Medicine  distribution of Chikungunya virus
Insane Medicine distribution of Chikungunya virus
Map of Caribbean where the Chikungunya is located
Map of Caribbean where the Chikungunya is located.
  • The best treatment for this disease is prevention, through the use of insect repellent and extermination of mosquitoes by removing their  breeding grounds (areas of standing water) and through the use of insecticide.
  • There have been 11 cases of Chikunguya virus in the U.S., and 1900 cases  or so that have been imported to the U.S. through traveling.  This number will probably rise over the next year.
  • If you are traveling to South America or the Caribbean, be certain to carry insect repellent.
  • More information can be found at the CDC website :
  • CDC reportable diseases website:
I survived
I survived

chikungunya drinkschikungunya drinks
chikungunya drinks



Insane Medicine : The My Plate nutrition web site – suggestions for a well balanced diet.

My plate - food recommendations from the government.
My plate – food recommendations from the government.
Insane Medicine - Florida state food panel recommendations mirroring 'My Plate'
Insane Medicine – Florida state food panel recommendations mirroring ‘My Plate’.
Insane Medicine - My plate menu plan example
Insane Medicine – My plate menu plan example.


Fruits can be fresh, canned, frozen, dried, whole, cut up, or pureed. One cup of fruit juice counts as a cup of fruit and 1/2 cup of dried fruit can be considered as a cup of fruit. See the link for more specifics on what counts as a cup of fruit:

How much fruit is needed every Day based on age and sex?  Basically men need 2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, women need approximately 1 and 1/2 cups a day.

What do fruits provide for us?

  • They are high in fiber, which decreases heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
  • They are rich in potassium, which lowers blood pressure, decreases kidney stones, as well as bone loss.
  • There are fewer calories in a cup of fruit relative to higher calorie options, thereby decreasing overall calorie intake with fruit consumption.
  • There is no cholesterol in fruit.
  • Potassium is especially high in bananas, prunes, prune juice, dried peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, and orange juice. Potassium intake reduces blood pressure in people with normal kidney function.
  • Fruits are high in fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, and folate. The fiber decreases cholesterol, helps with bowel function, decreases diverticulosis, and helps to give a feeling of fullness after eating. Folate decreases spinal tube defects in pregnancy.

Vegetables are a crucial component to this meal plan, and the My Plate regimen creates 5 subgroups of vegetables: Dark Green Veggies, Starchy vegetables, red/orange, beans and peas, and others. The health benefits for vegetables are similar to those of fruit intake. Of note, vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans. As excellent sources of fiber, vegetables can provide many gastrointestinal and cholesterol benefits as above. Also present are Vitamn A (good for vision) and Vitamin C ( needed for proper healing).

Link for health benefits of vegetables:

Link for what counts as a cup  of vegetables: – List of vegetables on the My Plate site.

Suggestions for eating vegetables include:

  1. Buying vegetables in season
  2. Buy easy-to-microwave frozen vegetables for quick use
  3. Consider pre-washed bags of vegetables such as grape tomatoes, carrots, or pre-made salads in a bag.
  4. Vary your vegetables.
  5. Sweet Potatoes have the best nutritional value.
  6. Be careful about adding sauces to your vegetables. Be certain they are low in sodium, saturated fat, and extra calories. Prepare foods from fresh ingredients with low sodium. Processed foods tend to have more salt and fat in them.
  7. Consider pasta and vegetables at meals. Consider vegetable stir-fry or soup and complement this with other foods.
  8. Try salads for lunch, be careful with adding dressings.
  9. Add a salad with dinner. Include vegetables in meats and in pasta sauces, such as in pasta sauce or lasagna.
  10. Puree potatoes and vegetables can be used to thicken stews, soups, and gravies.
  11. Try to eat vegetables using low fat dip as a snack.
  12. Carrot sticks, celery sticks, pepper strips, broccoli florets, and cucumber slices make great appetizers.
  13. Add beans and peas in your dishes, especially soups.

Vegetable tips as above:

Beans and Peas:

Included beans are:

Kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas and lentils – they provide iron and zinc. They are similar to the  meat, poultry, and fish group in the protein and substances they provide and are part of the Protein Foods Group. They are high in potassium, fiber,  and folate as are fruits and vegetables. Green peas, green lima beans, and green (string) beans are not considered to be part of the beans and peas subgroup. Green beans are grouped with other vegetables such as onions, lettuce, celery, and cabbage because their nutrient content is similar to those foods. If you eat fish, meat , and poultry, you can consider beans and peas to be part of the vegetable group, otherwise, for vegetarians, they count as the Protein group:

If the total is equal to or more than the suggested intake from the Protein Foods Group (which ranges from 2 ounce-equivalents at 1000 calories to 7 ounce-equivalents at 2800 calories and above) then count any beans or peas eaten as part of the beans and peas subgroup in the Vegetable Group.


If the total is less than the suggested intake from the Protein Foods Group, then count any beans and peas eaten toward the suggested intake level until it is reached. (One-fourth cup of cooked beans or peas counts as 1 ounce equivalent in the Protein Foods Group.) After the suggested intake level in the Protein Foods Group is reached, count any additional beans or peas eaten as part of the beans and peas subgroup in the Vegetable Group. (from website)   <–Beans and Peas on MyPlate.


This group, on MyPlate, should be such that half of all grains eaten is from the whole grains selection. Wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, and barley are grain products. grains are divided into whole grains and refined grains.

Whole grains  are made of the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm:

  • whole-wheat flour
  • bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • oatmeal
  • whole cornmeal
  • brown rice

Refined grains have been milled to remove the bran and germ, which improves the shelf life. This also removes nutrients, such as  fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Enriched grains add B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron but not fiber.

  • white flour
  • de-germed cornmeal
  • white bread
  • white rice

Grains on the My Plate regimen: <Grains information at My Plate.

How Much Grain is an ounce equivalent at My Plate?:

1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the Grains Group.  < – Ounce equivalent table for Grains.

Health benefits of Grains:

  1. Whole grains reduce cardiovascular disease, constipation,  and obesity. When fortified with folate, they help prevent neural tube defects in pregnancy.
  2. Dietary fiber reduces cholesterol levels, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The fiber decreases diverticulosis and constipation.
  3. B vitamins in grains (thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin) help with metabolism, releasing energy from protein, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as maintaining the central nervous system.
  4. Folate plays a role in red blood cell formation.
  5. iron, magnesiuim, and selenium are minerals that play a role in general health, especially blood formation. Selenium is important in immune function. Magnesium is important in bone formation. < –Health benefits of grains.

Ways to Increase more whole grains in your diet:

  1. Look for whole grain ingredients on the packaging:
      • brown rice
      • buckwheat
      • bulgur
      • millet
      • oatmeal
      • quinoa
      • rolled oats
      • whole-grain barley
      1. whole-grain corn
      2. whole-grain sorghum
      3. whole-grain triticale
      4. whole oats
      5. whole rye
      6. whole wheat
      7. wild rice
  2. “Multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products. Be aware of that.
  3. The Color of the product does not mean it is whole wheat as molasses can be added to give a coloring.
  4. Watch for added sugars in a whole grain product: sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or raw sugar give extra unneeded calories.
  5. Watch the amount of sodium in the product. Foods with less than 140 mg sodium per serving can be labeled as low sodium foods. Claims such as “low in sodium” or “very low in sodium” mean the sodium is low enough not to worry.
  6. Consider popcorn without salt and butter as a healthy snack. Try  whole grain snack crackers and toasted oat cereal. Use whole grain flour or oatmeal to make cookies.
  7. Use whole wheat or oat flour to make pancakes, waffles, and muffins instead of regular flour.
  8. Eat whole-wheat bread in place of white bread.
  9. Try brown rice in place of white rice.
  10. It’s important to substitute the whole-grain products for the refined ones to increase healthfulness.
  11. Use whole-wheat pasta.
  12. Use whole grains in mixed dishes – i.e. barley in vegetable soup.  <-Whole wheat tips from My plate.

Protein Food Group:

All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and Peas are part of the vegetable group as well.

Goal: 8 ounces of seafood a week

Choose lean poultry and meat.

Vegetarians: Beans, peas, soy, nuts, and seeds are sufficient to provide protein.

Listed Protein and meat sources on My Plate web site:

  • Meats

    Lean cuts of:

    Game meats

    • bison
    • rabbit
    • venison

    Lean ground meats

    Lean luncheon or deli meats

    Organ meats

    • liver
    • giblets


    • chicken
    • duck
    • goose
    • turkey
    • ground chicken and turkey


    • chicken eggs
    • duck eggs

    Beans and peas

    • bean burgers
    • black beans
    • black-eyed peas
    • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
    • falafel
    • kidney beans
    • lentils
    • lima beans (mature)
    • navy beans
    • pinto beans
    • soy beans
    • split peas
    • white beans

    Processed soy products

    • tofu (bean curd made from soybeans)
    • veggie burgers
    • tempeh
    • texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
    • Nuts and seeds*


      Finfish such as:

      • catfish
      • cod
      • flounder
      • haddock
      • halibut
      • herring
      • mackerel
      • pollock
      • porgy
      • salmon
      • sea bass
      • snapper
      • swordfish
      • trout
      • tuna

      Shellfish such as:

      • clams
      • crab
      • crayfish
      • lobster
      • mussels
      • octopus
      • oysters
      • scallops
      • squid (calamari)
      • shrimp

      Canned fish such as:

      • anchovies
      • clams
      • tuna
      • sardines < Protein sources on My Plate.

  1. Be certain to choose low fat meat or lean poultry. Regular ground beef (70-85% lean) and chicken with skin are higher fat items. They have empty calories that My Plate also discusses:
  2. Select foods with Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, Pacific oysters, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel.
  3. Avoid using shortening or solid butter/margarine to fry your foods as that adds empty calories of fat.
  4. Processed meats such as sausage, hams, frankfurters have added salt.  Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork also may have salt added when it is process, so watch for a ‘self-basting’ notice on the package and observe the sodium content that is added.

How much Protein is needed a day? Here is the link:

In short, men need ~6 ounce equivalents of protein a day and women need ~5 ounce equivalents of protein a day. The attachment above outlines this. It is from the my plate website.

1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the Protein Foods Group.  This is outlined in

Nutritional effects of the protein group:

  1. Protein, B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium are supplied from selections in this group.
  2. Iron is abundant in many of these items and is important to make red blood cells. Vitamin C helps the body absorb this iron.
  3. Magnesium is important for muscles and bone formation and is abundant in the protein group.
  4. Seafood has EPA and DHA  (omega-3 fatty acids ) with 8 ounces a week decreasing heart disease risk.
  5. Avoid  saturated fat: Protein items with this include fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb; regular (75% to 85% lean) ground beef; regular sausages, hot dogs, and bacon; some luncheon meats such as regular bologna and salami; and some poultry such as duck.
  6. Organ meats such as liver and giblets and egg yolk contain cholesterol that also is detrimental to your lipid profile. Limit these items as well.
  7. Seafood has a lot of health benefits. Increase their quantities in your diet.  Regarding concerns over mercury exposure, fish such as: Salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel are low in this. King Mackerel is high in mercury, so avoid it.
  8. Walnuts, almonds, and pistachios, when unsalted, improve cardiovascular health. Use small quantities to replace items like chicken and red meat, in part.

Sources: < Nutritional benefits of proteins.

Health tips for proteins:

  1. Choose fish twice a week at least: The following are examples and have omega-3 fatty acids in them as well.
    1. Salmon steak or filet
    2. Salmon loaf
    3. Grilled or baked trout
  2. Have beans, peas, and soy as a main part of the meal:
    1. Chili with kidney or pinto beans
    2. Stir- fried tofu
    3. Split pea, lentil, minestrone, or white bean soups
    4. Baked beans
    5. Black bean enchiladas
    6. Garbanzo or kidney beans on a chef’s salad
    7. Rice and beans
    8. Veggie burgers
    9. Hummus (chickpeas) spread on pita bread
  3. Use unsalted nuts to replace a certain amount of meat and meat products.
  4. Keep your meat selections lean. Do not add breading, which adds calories and sucks up fat. Cut off visible fat on the meat before cooking and drain off excess fat after. Do not fry your foods. Add no fats to your beans and peas during preparations. Eat skinless poultry and choose lean cuts of beef. It should be at least 90% lean.
    1. The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye of round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
      1. The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
  5.  <My Plate wise choices for protein that is healthy.


Fluid milk and anything made from milk is considered to be dairy product. Anything made from milk retains its calcium except for cream cheese, cream, and butter. Soy beverage is considered as part of the Dairy group as well.

  • Milk
    all fluid milk:

    • fat-free (skim)
    • low fat (1%)
    • reduced fat (2%)
    • whole milk
    • flavored milks:
      • chocolate
      • strawberry
    • lactose-reduced milks
    • lactose-free milks
  • Milk-based desserts

  • Calcium-fortified soymilk
    (soy beverage)

    • Cheese

      • hard natural cheeses:
      • soft cheeses:
        • ricotta
        • cottage cheese
      • processed cheeses:
        • American
    • Yogurt
      all yogurt:

      • fat-free
      • low fat
      • reduced fat
      • whole milk yogurt < Dairy products in My Plate.

  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese to avoid extra fat and unnecessary calories.
  • Consider calcium-fortified soy milk if you are lactose intolerant. Other options include lactose-free milk.
  • Daily recommendation
    Children 2-3 years old 2 cups
    4-8 years old 2 ½ cups
    Girls 9-13 years old 3 cups
    14-18 years old 3 cups
    Boys 9-13 years old 3 cups
    14-18 years old 3 cups
    Women 19-30 years old 3 cups
    31-50 years old 3 cups
    51+ years old 3 cups
    Men 19-30 years old 3 cups
    31-50 years old 3 cups
    51+ years old 3 cups

The daily recommendations of dairy from My Plate website are above.

1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk (soy beverage), 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the Dairy Group

Amount That Counts as a Cup in the Dairy Group Common Portions and Cup Equivalents
(choose fat-free or low-fat milk)
1 cup milk
1 half-pint container milk
½ cup evaporated milk
(choose fat-free or low-fat yogurt)
1 regular container
(8 fluid ounces)
1 small container
(6 ounces) = ¾ cup
1 cup yogurt 1 snack size container
(4 ounces) = ½ cup
(choose reduced-fat or low-fat cheeses)
1 ½ ounces hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan) 1 slice of hard cheese is equivalent to ½ cup milk
⅓ cup shredded cheese
2 ounces processed cheese (American) 1 slice of processed cheese is equivalent to ⅓ cup milk
½ cup ricotta cheese
2 cups cottage cheese ½ cup cottage cheese is equivalent to ¼ cup milk
Milk-based desserts
(choose fat-free or low-fat types)
1 cup pudding made with milk
1 cup frozen yogurt
1 ½ cups ice cream 1 scoop ice cream is equivalent to ⅓ cup milk
(soy beverage)
1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk
1 half-pint container calcium-fortified soymilk < Dairy Daily recommendations.


Oils are included in the USDA food pattern, not because they are a food group, but rather because of their nutritional value. They are liquid at room temperature. Most oils are polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, with little saturated fats (bad fat) . Oils from plant sources (vegetable and nut oils) have no cholesterol.  Coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil are high in saturated fats and are considered to be solid fats for nutritional purposes. Common oils are:

  • canola oil
  • corn oil
  • cottonseed oil
  • olive oil
  • safflower oil
  • soybean oil
  • sunflower oil

Nuts, olives, fish, and avocados are foods that are high in oil. <-oils covered in the my plate site.

Solid fats are solid at room temperature (beef fat, butter, and shortening). These are derived from animals primarily although vegetable oils can be hydrogenated to become solid fats. Solid fats tend to have more saturated fats, which raise the bad LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.   Solid fats include:

  • butter
  • milk fat
  • beef fat (tallow, suet)
  • chickenfat
  • cream
  • pork fat (lard)
  • stick margarine
  • shortening
  • hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils*
  • coconut oil*
  • palm and palm kernel oils*

Foods with saturated and trans-fats to cut back on include:

  • many desserts and baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, donuts, pastries, and croissants
  • many cheeses and foods containing cheese, such as pizza
  • sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs
  • ice cream and other dairy desserts
  • fried potatoes (French fries) – if fried in a solid fat or hydrogenated oil
  • regular ground beef and cuts of meat with marbling or visible fat
  • fried chicken and other chicken dishes with the skin

Solid fats and oils provide the same number of calories per gram, but oils are healthier because they have less saturated and trans-fats than the solid fats listed above. This decreases the risk of heart disease in a relative manner. Remember that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils may be high in trans-fats.  Trans fats can be found in many cakes, cookies, crackers, icings, margarines, and microwave popcorns.

Remember that oils are the major source of Polyunsaturated (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA) in the diet. PUFA contains essential fats for our body that are necessary to survive. The MUFAs and PUFAs found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils do not raise LDL. Oils and solid fats contain 120 calories per tablespoon.

What is your daily allowance of oils? ~ 6 tablespoons a day of oil for adult men and ~ 5 tablespoons a day for women. See the PDF guide from myplate attached:

Information of oil content in food is attached:

Avoid added sugars. The following are ingredients that count as added sugars:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar
  • cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar

The following link discusses how to read the ingredient labels on foods:

A link discussing examples of foods and their empty calories is as follows:  <-Solid fat discussions.

What are empty calories – from my plate:




Insane Medicine – Bad food additives

There are a variety of food additives that are hard, if not impossible to avoid, that are placed into our processed food. They fall under the category of GRAS (“Generally recognized as safe”), where there is no review given by the FDA for use in human consumption. This broken system has bad potential to make you sick. Here are some of the problem additives, which is in no way exhaustive in it’s scope at this time:

  1. Potassium Bromate:
    Insane Medicine: Potassium bromate additive
    Insane Medicine: Potassium bromate additive – used to help dough rise in baking.

    It is possibly carcinogenic to humans, and it is banned un the U.K. It is placed in dough and is usually destroyed during baking, but if too much is added or the dough is under-cooked, some residue may be left over. It also is used in Malt barley production.

  2. Nitrates/Nitrite:
    Insane Medicine - Salami and hams are treated with nitrates and preservatives to have a long shelf life.
    Insane Medicine – Salami and hams are treated with nitrates and preservatives to have a long shelf life.

    Nitrates are used to preserve the texture and coloring of salami and hams, however, nitrates are associated with an increase risk of stomach cancer. Bacon, salami, hot dogs, and sausages all have nitrates added and react  with amines on the proteins of the meats to form nitrosamines. This is carcinogenic to humans.

  3. Propyl Paraben:
    Propyl paraben is an endocrine disruptor added to tortillas.
    Propyl paraben is an endocrine disruptor added to tortillas.

    Acting as a weak estrogen, this compound decreases sperm counts and testosterone levels in humans. It is used in tortillas and muffins as a preservative. The substance can also be found in beverages, dairy products, meat and vegetables which can be contaminated.

  4. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA):
    BHA and BHT
    BHA and BHT

    Used as a preservative, for example in chips and preserved meat, BHA is an endocrine disruptor, affecting thyroid hormone and testosterone. It decreases growth in rats and has carcinogenic effects. It is GRAS per the FDA – “generally recognized as safe.”

  5. Butylated Hydroxytoluene: Also used as a preservative in food, this substance is an endocrine disruptor and may cause developmental and behavioral changes as does BHA. Motor skills nad coordination may be impaired by exposure to this preservative. It may cause cancer in lab animals.
  6. Propyl gallate: is used to preserve items that have soluble fats such as sausage.
    Insane medicine - Propyl Gallate - preservative in foods
    Insane medicine – Propyl Gallate – preservative in foods

    This substance is a preservative that may disrupt the endocrine system and in lab rats, has carcinogenic effect.  Propyl gallate is used to protect oils and fats in products from oxidation. It is used in foods, cosmetics, hair products, adhesives, and lubricants.

  7. Natural flavors? What are they – no one really knows. There may be flavor mixtures that have natural or artificial emulsifiers, solvents and preservatives that are not disclosed. These ‘natural flavors’ may contain synthetic compounds in them such as propylene glycol or BHA, or may be derived from genetically engineered products.
  8. Diacetyl: Used in popcorn flavoring, but it’s production has been associated with irreversible lung toxicity.
  9. Theobromine:
    Theobromine is an additive found in chocolate and bread, cereals, and sports drinks.
    Theobromine is an additive found in chocolate and bread, cereals, and sports drinks.

    Theobromine is an alkaloid found in chocolate that is used as a caffeine-type stimulant as it has caffeine-type effects on the body. This agent has endocrine and reproductive side effects and may be carcinogenic in large quantities. It is found in naturally occurring cocoa, tea plants, kola nuts,  and guarana berries.

How do you avoid these additives? The Environmental Working Group has a scoring system on items that may have these or other bad additives:  <EWG scoring system for additives.  < additives food scoring system.  < Top 10 additives that have bad effects.  < Database for generally recognized as safe.


Insane Medicine – Eating and mood/memory

  • A diet high in uridine monophosphate (UMP), choline, and docosahexanoic acid (DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid) helps increase the brain’s ability to process information. These substances help the brain form more synapses, which are important in creating memories. These substances affect the transmission of messages in the brain which thereby improves cognition.
  • Choline is synthesized in the body and is found in nuts, meats, and eggs. DHA is found in flaxseed, eggs, and meat from grass-fed animals. Also trout, salmon, tuna, and sardines are high in DHA. UMP is created in your body but is also present in high amounts in beets.
  • Eating correctly affects your mood as well. For example, when you eat a heavy lunch, you tend to bee more relaxed and sleep. People who are hungry tend to move less and be more irritable, They will generally make poorer decisions as well. If you are moody, maybe you are eating incorrectly!
  • There is a link between magnesium intake and depression. The less magnesium in your diet, the greater the risk of depression. Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Low intake of B12 and folate is also associated with depression. Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, and fortified cereals. B12 is found in meat.
  • Nutrients affect how neurotransmitters are made in the brain, and the composition of the meal affects which neurotransmitters are made and thus how you feel after eating.
  • Protein-rich meals have amino acids, including tyrosine, which is used to make dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters give you more alertness, energy,  and focusing-ability. Carbohydrate-laden meals supply glucose (as in processed food, white breads)  and trigger rapid insulin release in the body which causes tryptophan to be converted to serotonin in the brain. This results in calm feelings, relaxation , and pain relief. It has been shown that babies given sucrose pacifiers during medical procedures have much less pain, for example.
  • The problem with foods that have high amounts of  simple carbohydrates is that you get spikes and drops in your blood sugar. This can make you moody and shaky. Replace simple carbohydrates with complex ones found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Vitamin C (citrus fruits and dark vegetables) and the B vitamins are helpful in mood control. Monounsaturated fats (nuts, olive oil, canola oil), omega-3 fatty acids (fish), selenium (cereal grains and meat), and zinc (fish, soybeans, liver, spinach, and egg yolk) all have positive affects on mood states.
  • Alcohol and caffeine also have the ability to moderate mood. Caffeine causes increased alertness and energy, but it can cause jitteriness and anxiety in some. Moderate alcohol  intake (one to two drinks a day) promotes relaxation, but in excess, can produce depression.  Chocolate has a substance called phenylethylamine that elevates mood.

Insane Medicine: Cancer preventing diet considerations.

Recommendations from the Physicians committee for Responsible Medicine offer 6 dietary changes one can make to help prevent cancer:

  1. Decrease dairy products in men as each 35 gm taken in will increase prostate risk by 32%
  2. Decrease alcohol intake to decrease breast and colon cancer.
  3. Decrease red and processed meat as each daily serving increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21%.
  4. Avoid grilled and fried meats.
  5. Eat soy products such as tofu, edamame, and tempeh to decrease breast cancer risk
  6. Consume more fruits and vegetables.

Insane Medicine tidbit- exercise to fight arthritis pain!

  • Knee arthritis – osteoarthritis, is made worse by weight gain and physical activity. Losing weight with the addition of exercise results in better mobility and pain scores, thus a better quality of life.
  • Find a method of exercising that works best for you, especially aquatic exercising, which applies less stress on joints.
  • In the near future, stem cell treatments may become available to treat degenerative knee arthritis. These stem cells can come from many sources, including the mouth or bone marrow. Injections of these stem cells into the joint may help prevent osteoarthritis. Lets keep our fingers crossed that they work!

Niacin seems to be very unhelpful as a supplement for low HDL!

Niacin fails to improve coronary health
Niacin fails to improve coronary health
  • If you have been taking niacin to help your HDL, there is more and more evidence that it may be hurting you! Besides the red flushing it can cause if taken in large amounts that is needed to help increase HDL levels, it also can cause liver damage.
  • In the AIM-HIGH study in 2011, no benefits were found from Niacin supplementation, and in fact there were increased side effects, including bleeding risks.
  • In the HSP2-Thrive study, Niacin supplementation had no effect on major vascular events. There were bad side effects including a 32% increase in new-onset diabetes, and  a 55% worsened glucose control in diabetics taking the supplement. In fact, mortality risk increased by 9%
  • I think it’s time to throw out the Niacin supplements and not worry so much about an isolated HDL problem. Low HDL is probably a symptom of another lipid and metabolic problem.