Health Benefits of Cranberries

Health Benefits of Cranberries
Nutrition, Nutrition and more Nutrition
by Susan Oshel, CPM, LM

Though cranberries are tiny, they are potent. Packed with nutrition, they are high in vitamin C and in fiber. But cranberries, like their relative the blueberry, also contain antioxidants in abundance which has antibacterial effects on the body.

In documents that have survived since the 17th century we have learned that cranberries were used then, not for their nutrition, but for an assortment of medicinal purposes: stomach ailments, liver problems, and blood disorders. Cranberries traveled to sea as a protection against scurvy. Though vitamin content as part of our daily nutrition was not known at the time, it was the high vitamin C content in cranberries that was valuable.

According to the USDA’s largest study, measuring both the concentration and the antioxidant capacity per serving size, cranberries, blueberries and black berries shine as the brightest stars.

Cranberries are tart to our tongues, but they are even tarter when confronting free radicals which goes beyond the nutrition of vitamins. What are free radicals? They are atoms that scour our bodies’ cells, harming them so that the immune system is too weakened to resist disease. Plant foods provide anti-oxidants which fight free radicals. Cranberries are among the highest of the antioxidant plants. Drink cranberry juice, eat fresh cranberries in season and dried cranberries out of season. Pack in the nutrition.

Proanthocyanidins, also called tannins, prevent bacteria (including Escherichia coli) from adhering to the urinary tract. We have long used cranberries as a cure for urinary tract infections. This also protects the cranberry itself and may have evolved to prevent it in the damp climate in which it lives.

The major flavonoids in freshly squeezed cranberry juice are quercetin and myricetin.

Quercetin is found to be the most active of the flavonoids in studies. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory activity because it inhibits some of the process of inflammation at the onset.

Myricetin is a flavonoid (pigment) and is considered an antioxidant. Fighting free radicals, it is thought to have anti-cancer properties, including the ability to lower the chances of prostate cancer. Myricetin may also lower cholesterol levels.

Oxalates. Cranberries’ are high in oxalates, which can rob the body of calcium and can be a cause of kidney stones.

Terpenes create the spicy scent and combined with other phenolic compounds give it its tart, astringent taste.

Click here for a recipe for delicious Cranberry Relish.

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“I want to be a Cupcake” ~ Tips for Making Healthy Food Delicious

“I want to be a Cupcake”

Tips for Making Healthy Food Delicious

While trying to encourage her son to eat his dinner one evening, my friend quoted the well-known saying, “You are what you eat,” hoping it would be the motivation necessary to cause him to heartily eat his vegetables with gratitude.  His response, however, was not what she anticipated, and made everyone in the room roll with laughter.  “Well,” he proclaimed, “then I want to be a cupcake!”

That little boy is not unlike most adults.  While we say we want to BE healthy, we don’t always want to EAT healthy.  The reason for that is very simple.  We BELIEVE that healthy food is not as delicious as unhealthy food and we fear that to embrace a healthy diet means to give up the enjoyment of food.  That is so far from truth and, with creativity, it is possible to eat well and thoroughly enjoy it!

Most people understand that eating a food as close to the way it grows as possible will provide the most nutrients and enzymes.  But most people don’t know how to make raw vegetables taste good.

You can enjoy a smoother transition to eating healthy by following a few tips that can make it super delicious to add nutrient-packed raw fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Be adventurous. Be willing to break out of the box and try new things.  Keep a positive attitude and this can be a lot of fun.

Become educated. The time and effort it takes to research and learn about the benefits of eating a variety of raw fruits and veggies is well worth it.  There is an abundance of living enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water present in raw foods.  These are the building blocks every cell in our bodies needs to function properly.  Once we learn for ourselves and truly understand how much our bodies need raw foods, we have an easier time taking ownership over this adventure.

Use the internet to find recipes. I have found my most favorite raw recipes by searching online.  Many people post their favorites on their blogs or on raw food websites.  Some recipes will be delicious, and some might not.  Remember, this is an adventure!  I try to regularly post new recipes our family enjoys here on my blog.

Experiment with international flavors. Other countries serve raw vegetables seasoned differently than we do in the United States that are extremely delicious.  Many of my favorite meals have been inspired by international cuisine.  Two examples are my Thai Salad and Cinco de Mayo Salad.

Make your plate a work of art. The more color, the better!  A variety of colors means a variety of nutrients to build the body and a variety of flavors to please the palate.  Look how beautiful my Tangy Kale Salad looks.  It tastes incredible.

Stimulate all five taste centers on the tongue. When preparing food, it is important to balance the flavors of all five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter) so that your tongue is completely satisfied with every bite.  I learned this from Sergei and Valya Boutenko, teenage authors of the book “Eating Without Heating”.  Even my children have learned to put this into practice as they experiment and create their own delicious recipes with raw vegetables and fruits.  My Spicy Cream of Celery Soup is a great example of how amazingly delicious raw soup can be when the right ingredients are used.

Eat fresh, locally-grown produce when it is available. Produce that is harvested and shipped long distances is not as fresh and lacks the wonderful flavor that fresh-from-the-garden produce has.  I have never tasted more delicious broccoli than the broccoli I picked myself at Henley Farm in Virginia Beach.  It was so delicious that my children wanted to eat it raw, dipped in a simple sauce we made in the blender, for every meal; and when it was gone, they begged me to go back and pick some more.

Make your own dips, sauces, and dressings. Not only are people choosing to make their own condiments because they are healthier, but also because they are more delicious and less expensive. It is so easy and only takes about 5 minutes to make a delicious, nutritious dip or sauce in the blender.  Dressings can often be made by simply shaking the ingredients together in a mason jar.  There is an abundance of recipes for raw dips, sauces, and dressings online that can turn a drab salad or veggies into a wonderful taste experience.  My Dressing for Spinach Salad is addicting!

Host a Raw Food Potluck. Even if only a few people come, a raw food potluck is a fun way to try new dishes and exchange recipes.  We host one in our home monthly as a way to encourage others toward wellness and to provide another enjoyable avenue of accountability to be a good steward of these amazing bodies God has given us to use while on earth.

With a little education, some creativity, and a good attitude, you can change your mind about wanting to “be a cupcake” and take a giant step toward wellness.

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Savvy Shoppers Glossary


Have you ever wondered what some of those words on the nutrition facts label and the ingredients lists really mean?  Manufacturers are getting more and more clever in choosing words to put on their labels and the confused shopper is left to “trust” the manufacturer.  We have decided that it is time you know what you are putting into you and your child’s body.  Here are some definitions to help you make better choices in the supermarket.

Ascorbic acid: This is just another name for vitamin C.  It is a citrus fruit derivative and acts as a preservative, helping prevent oxidation.  When you add lemon or lime to avocado to prevent it from turning brown, you are adding ascorbic acid.

Acacia and guar gum: These are binding agents and help thicken food and are harvested from the tree or shrub with the same name.

FDA: Food and Drug Administration – regulates food labeling and packaging.

Food additives/colors: Chemically created substances that are added to foods to enhance flavor or appearance.
– These “excitotoxins” are known to alter the chemistry of the brain and include artificial sweeteners like aspartame, MSG, food colorings and
– Have no nutritional value.
– Linked to neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.
– A child’s growing brain if four times more sensitive to excitotoxins.
– Can cause severe headaches and mood swings in both children and adults.

GRAS: Generally recommended as safe. This means that the product is generally recognized by the scientific community as safe to add to foods but that it might not have been specifically tested for adverse effects.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS): An inexpensive sweetener added to many processed food items, especially “low-fat” foods.  Because of it is
not a ‘natural’ product it does not break down quickly, therefore extending the shelf life for a multitude of products.  A chemical process developed in the 1970’s that converts the semi-sweet cornstarch (corn) sugars to much-sweeter fructose.
– Unlike natural sugars, HFCS does not trigger the release of the hormone leptin, part of the body’s natural system that creates the feeling of
fullness and satisfaction.  Those who have HFCS regularly in their diet are more likely to overeat.
– HFCS is believed to increase blood fats more than the same amount of table sugar, causing a rise in bad cholesterol which has been linked
to heart disease.

Hydrogenated oils (or partially hydrogenated oils): An unhealthy fat that results from food manufacturers pumping hydrogen gas into vegetable oil, a process called “hydrogenation.” This process chemically changes these unsaturated fats and provides some economical advantages for food manufacturers.  First, hydrogenation helps oil withstand higher heat (like deep-frying in many fast food restaurants) and second, it gives products a longer shelf-life because these chemically altered fats don’t spoil as fast as natural oils.
– Our bodies do not recognize these chemically altered fats like natural fats, so when these unnatural fats are absorbed into our body’s cell
– membranes, they become more rigid and they interfere with the cell membranes’ growth and function.
– Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils are known to raise cholesterol, decrease immunity, increase heart disease, increase many
cancers, increase the chance of developing diabetes, and increase abdominal fat, which in turn increases the risk of many other diseases. 
– Also see “Trans-fats”

L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. casei, and L. reuteri: These are all beneficial bacteria and are often added to yogurt.  Beneficial bacteria help the body in the digestion process.

Lecithin: Made from a component of soybeans or egg yolks and is used to help foods stay moist.

Minimally processed: Raw material is not fundamentally altered.

– Meat, poultry, and eggs: legally can contain no artificial ingredients or added colors.  They can only be minimally processed.

– All other foods:
‘Natural’ has no legal meaning. The FDA has no definition of the term ‘natural.’ This means that companies can put a ‘natural’
label on almost any product.

– Organic: Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and
persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones,
genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Cloning animals or using their products would be considered
inconsistent with organic practices.  Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to
maintain the integrity of the food.
(Source: <;)

Trans-fats: The fat that results from a vegetable oil that has gone through the process of “hydrogenation.”  These fats are called “trans-fats” because the process of hydrogenation transports atoms from one side of the fat molecule to the other. 
– If an ingredients label has the words “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” listed the product contains trans-fats.  
– If trans-fats are less than .5% of a serving, the food manufacturer can legally say “No trans fats” on the packaging. 

Healthy shopping!

Source:, (c) Dr. Sears, used by permission

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Avoiding Back-to-School-Illnesses

Avoiding Back-to-School-Illnesses
by Hayden Sears-Livesay

For many children it happens every year, they head back to school and the cycle of sickness start. Are you looking to stop this cycle or reduce the amount of sniffles your kids get? One of the best ways to do this is to limit the amount of refined sugar that they eat. Complex carbohydrates found in vegetables, grains, and fruits are good for you; the simple sugars found in sodas, candies, cakes and frostings, and packaged treats are not. It’s as simple as that. Here’s why (and this is just the short list!):

  • Sugar depresses immunity
  • Sugar sours behavior, attention, and learning
  • Sugar promotes sugar highs, and crashes
  • Sugar promotes cravings
  • Sugar promotes heart disease

The start of a new school year is a great time to create a new pattern of nutritious eating with less sugar. Start now so by the time they get introduced to all those new germs their immune systems will be nice and strong.

©2009,, used with permission

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Advertising Passed Off As Research Confuses the Public Again

Advertising Passed Off As Research
Confuses the Public Again

Vegetarian Diet “Weakens Bones” (Worldwide headlines July 2, 2009)

A joint Australian-Vietnamese meta-analysis of 9 observational studies of 2,749 people found that vegetarians had bones five percent less dense than meat-eaters and vegans were six percent weaker.  However, the results were of such little significance that the authors ended their paper by saying: “In conclusion, the results of this meta-analysis suggest that there is a modest effect of vegetarian diets, particularly a vegan diet, on BMD, but the effect size is unlikely to result in a clinically important increase in fracture risk.”

This article, released ahead of scheduled publication, which gives the public the perception that the news was so important that it could not wait, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was by the same authors as the vegan-osteoporosis article I discussed in my June 2009 newsletter.  The article I reported on received little press worldwide and showed results very favorable for a vegan diet and bone health. Published in the April 2009 issue of the journal Osteoporosis International, the same researchers directly examined 105 postmenopausal Mahayana Buddhist nuns, and compared them to 105 omnivorous women and found, “…although vegans have much lower intakes of dietary calcium and protein than omnivores, veganism does not have (an) adverse effect on bone mineral density (BMD) and does not alter body composition.”

The highly publicized study showing negative effects of a vegan diet was a meta-analysis—a selected compilation of similar studies. This kind of analysis is notorious for showing bias and is easily manipulated by the choice of studies included or excluded in the research paper.  Because of the ease of exploitation, meta-analysis has been referred to as an exercise in “mega-silliness.”  Their original research found 922 studies, but after applying exclusion criteria there were only 9 studies left, which included 2749 individuals; 5 studies were of Asians, populations where osteoporosis-related fractures are much lower because of their healthier diet and greater physical activity, than Westerners.

This analysis found no correlation between dietary calcium intake or protein intake and BMD.  The results comparing diets of vegetarians and omnivores with BMD were considered clinically insignificant by the authors. Furthermore, BMD is a poor predictor of future fracture risk.  The criticisms could go on, making this one of the worst studies ever published in a respected journal. So why did this article condemning eating a vegan diet get so much attention?

This flawed research telling people worldwide that vegan diets are bad for the bones was funded by the AMBeR alliance incorporated in Malaysia, which owns Amber F&B Nutrition Sdn Bhd, a dairy products producer and wholesaler. This company’s business is the “manufacturing of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and dairy products.” Once a study is published then the public relations department of the industry takes over and sends “Press Releases” to the media worldwide. Because people love to hear “good news about their bad habits (eating beefsteaks, fried chicken, cheese, and ice cream),” the press and the public revel in this good news, even when the conclusions are untrue as in this case. You might think there would be at least one curious reporter who would read the research before spreading the lie.

You can write the authors at: and ask your questions about the two studies and why the one funded by a dairy industry showing no relevance to a person’s choice of a vegan diet and the risk of fracture received so much worldwide attention.

© 2009 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
McDougall Wellness Center   P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

A Vegan (No Milk) Diet Is Healthy for Bones

A Vegan (No Milk) Diet Is Healthy for Bones
by John McDougall, M.D.

Veganism, bone mineral density, and body composition: a study in Buddhist nuns by L.T. Ho-Pham published in the April 2009 issue of the journal Osteoporosis International found, “…although vegans have much lower intakes of dietary calcium and protein than omnivores, veganism does not have (an) adverse effect on bone mineral density and does not alter body composition.” This study examined 105 postmenopausal Mahayana Buddhist nuns, and compared them to 105 omnivorous women (average age of women in both groups was 62 years-old).  The nuns were randomly sampled from monasteries in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; they had been on a vegan diet, on average, for 33 years. The density of the nuns’ lumbar spine and femoral neck (hip) bones were found to be similar to those of the animal-food-eating women (omnivores).

The animal-food-eating women consumed twice the calcium as the nuns (682 vs. 330 mg/day). Total protein intake was twice as great in the animal-food-eaters (62.6 vs. 35.4 grams/day), and they ate 17 times more animal protein (34.6 vs. 2.1 grams/day). There was no significant difference in weight, height, body mass index, or exercise between the two groups.  However, the nuns went through menopause almost 2 years earlier (47.8 vs. 49.6 years). Most important, but not commented on by the authors, was the finding that the animal-food-eating women consumed far more calories (1486 vs. 1130 Calories/day).

Comment: The greater calorie intake of the animal-food-eating women indicates they were much more physically active and that extra activity alone should have caused significantly greater bone mineral density than the less active nuns. But that was not the case. The observation that the bone density was equal in both groups is testimony for the bone-building (bone-preserving) effects of a vegan diet. The greater physical activity in the animal-food-eating women partially compensated for the bone losing effects of the animal protein in their diet. Osteoporosis is primarily due to the rich Western diet. Highly acidic proteins found in animal foods tear down the skeleton over decades.

Bone loss is reversible by fixing the cause. Everyone, and especially people with osteoporosis and a lesser condition, osteopenia, should eat a low-acid starch-based diet (with some restriction on grains and legumes, which are slightly acidic) and exercise.  Focus on a diet plentiful in sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squashes, with the addition of fruits and green and yellow vegetables. For more information on osteoporosissee my Hot Topics.

Ho-Pham LT, Nguyen PL, Le TT, Doan TA, Tran NT, Le TA, Nguyen TV. Veganism, bone mineral density, and body composition: a study in Buddhist nuns.  Osteoporos Int. 2009 Apr 7.

2009 John McDougall All Rights Reserved , used with permission
McDougall Wellness Center   P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

Diet Makes a Difference for Children Who Have Focus/Attention Processing Difficulties

This is an excerpt from the article Focus/Attention Processing Dysfunction Characteristics:

Diet: It has been known for over 20 years, first starting with Dr. Feingold and his famous Feingold Diet, that by reducing sugars, colorings and preservatives, children with attention disorders have a much easier time focusing.

Many parents report that when they change the diet of all children at home, that they see a tremendous difference in learning ability and behavior. Some of the diet recommendations that seem to be the most effective include:

Reduce sugar intake. It’s the hidden sugars that get us in trouble, such as the sweeteners in fruit juice, boxed cereals, granola bars, fruit rollups, soft drinks, chocolate milk, pancakes, waffles, etc. Remember that a Snickers candy bar has about 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 35 grams of sugar. When you add the two together, you get 65 grams. Without realizing it, we often feed our children this same amount of sugar by just giving them juice and a bowl of cereal. For many children, consuming this much sugar contributes to their difficulty focusing and controlling their moods.

Increase raw fruit and vegetable intake. As we know from the research in books such as Children with Starving Brains by Dr. Chandless, many children are low in essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. These children either are not getting the daily nutrients they need for their brain to function well, or they are eating the correct foods, but are not absorbing the nutrients found in the food.

The enzymes contained in raw foods greatly assist the digestive system in absorbing nutrients. This can make a huge difference with some children. To make this difference, parents always had grapes, apples, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, and other fruit around to eat, and made sure the children had three servings a day. These parents also kept a plate of raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and green pepper strips along with plenty of ranch dressing around for lunch.

Use less processed food. As the pioneering Dr. Feingold, and many of the researchers following him found, when food is boxed, it is filled with preservatives. Those preservatives can be very toxic to a child’s nervous system. Processed food also has no life in it. The rule of thumb for brain-healthy eating is to shop as much as you can in the periphery of the grocery store, where the plugs are in the walls. Buying food that is refrigerated in the store ensures you that the life-giving nutrients are still in there. When it is canned or boxed, the live nutrients, such as the fats that are good for the brain have been removed so that they do no go rancid on the shelf. Of course, there are some good brain fats that are not refrigerated…such as cans of tuna or salmon, and mayonnaise.

Increase water intake. Children are often tired because they are dehydrated. They do not drink enough water during the day. A great book that details all the symptoms of being low in water intake is Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Dr. Batmangahlidj. He recommends that children drink half their weight in ounces of water. Making adequate water intake during the day a family priority is very helpful for many families. Water helps eliminate histamine and other toxins from the body.

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Dark Green Leafy Vegetables for Pregnant Moms

Side-Lined Long Enough! Leafy Green Veggies to the Rescue!

Women who are looking towards pregnancy and those in the midst of pregnancy have a friend just waiting to get involved: dark leafy green veggies. Spinach; kale; collards; mustard greens; turnip greens; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; red leaf lettuce; even yard greens such as dandelion; there are many to choose from. Don’t confuse these with any old green vegetable, such as green beans, or with iceberg lettuce or celery. These have leaves – one way or another and they have to be dark. With the large variety available, there’s likely to be at least one or two each woman likes. These power-packed vegetables help keep the body healthy and with growing a baby in the womb. Though many of the nutrients and benefits I’ll discuss are also found in other foods, I want to focus on the amazing benefits of this class of food.

Look at quality prenatal vitamins and then check the nutrients found in dark leafy green veggies: calcium; magnesium; molybdenum; vitamin K; Riboflavin (B2); Folate; most B vitamins except B12; vitamin A; vitamin C. These foods are chock full of what we want to have for our growing babies, but in a much tastier, easier-to-assimilate package.

Variety of nutrients/Variety of benefits:

Though most grain products are now supplemented with the artificial form of folate, folic acid, we can get all the benefits of folate from a great source: dark leafy green veggies. Personally, I think natural is best. So, to me, simply choosing foods naturally high in folate, such as leafy green veggies, is a wise choice. Folate has been shown to prevent spinal cord birth defects, so as a woman looks toward pregnancy, she wants to eat plenty of foods with this nutrient. In pregnancy, our bodies use this nutrient to actually build genetic material. If ever there was a nutrient that women in the child-bearing years should love, it’s this one.

Vitamin A and C are known for their work in helping our immune system and vitamin A is known for growing healthy bones and teeth. One study even showed that women in SE Asia who had good levels of vitamin A had lower maternal mortality rates. But, we don’t want to get too much vitamin A because there is an amount that becomes toxic and too much vitamin C can cause the opposite problem as constipation. So, what’s a pregnant mom to do? Eat dark leafy green veggies! They have both and are balanced in such a way that it’s nigh on impossible to overdose on these vitamins from this source, because you’ll be full way before the overdose.

Calcium and magnesium are known for helping our bones, but did you know they also help in keeping your blood pressure normal and are needed to help your blood clot normally? And, calcium and magnesium work together to turn our food to energy. ENERGY! What pregnant woman doesn’t want more energy? When thinking of calcium and leafy green veggies, think first of broccoli or alfalfa. Alfalfa actually has both calcium and iron in it, but they can both be assimilated and don’t ‘fight’ each other as normally happens when eating foods with both. Another wonderful benefit of magnesium is that it’s used to build genetic material. Women who are low in magnesium may get nauseous. That’s not saying all pregnancy-related nausea is due to lack of magnesium, but we sure don’t want to encourage it, do we? So, you know you want these nutrients. How to get them? Don’t think first of a pill; think of your friends: dark leafy green vegetables. They are designed with these nutrients in the right balance that’s needed in order for your body to use them. You need twice as much calcium as you do magnesium. Otherwise, they’re out of balance and can’t work as well.

We all know how iron is recommended for pregnant women. But, did you know that the iron present in the foods you eat is easier absorbed when you eat it with a vitamin C-rich food, such as leafy green vegetables? And, eating vegetables along with meat will help your body get more iron out of both of these foods. It’s a synergistic dynamo! Hopefully you already knew eating iron-rich foods with foods high in calcium, such as dairy, can cause a competition where neither nutrient is taken in as well as we wish. One answer is to eat dairy foods separate, but since this article is about dark leafy green veggies, look towards alfalfa, as I mentioned in the paragraph above.

Energy. When we think of nutrients to give us energy, we often think of B vitamins. Well, if it’s B vitamins you want, it’s dark leafy green veggies you’ll be eating. Taking in any B vitamin in a mega-dose can actually cause a deficiency in other B vitamins, so – once again – we need a balance here. The best balance, in my opinion, is to take them in the way we were designed to assimilate them: in food and the foods with a great balance of B vitamins are our friends. The darker the leafy green, the more B vitamins it has left in it. B vitamins are destroyed by high heat, so think raw.

Vitamin K is what our bodies use to help our blood clot. This is important because we want our blood to clot well after we give birth. We also want our babies’ blood to clot well after birth. Dark leafy green vegies are jammed packed with this. Although women are often told that they can’t raise the levels of vitamin K in their preborn babies or in their breastmilk, I wonder whether this is really true. CNM Bernice Keutzer, in her article “Q & A about Vitamin K” talks of a study where women who took high enough levels of vitamin K DID raise their breastmilk levels of vitamin K to the same level as fortified formula. And, I keep remembering that vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, it’s stored for the long haul. Surely, if we ate good levels in pregnancy with optimal amounts of fat and continued to eat well after birth, our bodies are designed to give our babies what they need.

Molybdenum is a nutrient most of us don’t think of often. But, we use this nutrient to store iron and to make enzymes we use for metabolism. Sluggish metabolism? Think molybdenum and where to get it? You know the answer, don’t you? An wonderful side benefit of molybdenum is that it may even help our bodies fight off cancer.

Instead of Side Effects, Think Side Benefits:

In pregnancy, there may be varying complaints that can be easily avoided with a diet high in dark leafy green veggies. Let’s look at some of those:

Helps Resolve Constipation

Because the growing womb may press on the lower intestine and rectum and because many women work now, with little time to eat or drink as they need to, this is a commonly heard complaint. Leafy green vegies provide fiber and fluid in the diet. Even simply taking alfalfa capsules regularly (a wonderfully easy way to up the dark leafy green veggies!) with a glass of juice and good bowel habits, is a great way to have this problem go away naturally.

Lowers risk of UTIs

Just keeping your vitamin A at healthy levels can help lower your risk for this. This is important because asymptomatic UTIs are implicated in preterm birth and other problems.

Good-bye Leg Cramps

Because of the wonderful balance of calcium and magnesium in dark leafy green vegies, these are wonderful for combating those painful, nasty leg cramps, especially if you’re eating salt to taste.

Crave Something besides Ice

Craving ice may be a sign of anemia. To be on the safe side, eating leafy green veggies with protein-rich foods may help deal with this. Choose crunchy foods, even crunchy dark leafy greens!

I Kissed Anemia Good-bye

Women of the world, unite to prevent this! Eat those leafy greens! Anemia is not always caused by nutritional deficiencies, but it often is. And, when it is, reach for your leafy green friends. If it’s due to lack of folate or iron, either way, leafy greens have part of what you need. If you suspect or have been told you have anemia, up your consumption to 3-4 times a day with a protein-rich food. Remember what you read above? The folate, C- and B-vitamins in leafy greens help your body assimilate the iron much better without all the problems that can occur from pills. BUT, don’t over-cook your friends. Keep them dark green, crunchy and tasty. That’s how you know they still have their nutrients.

Go Green to Support Skin Changes

Our bodies were designed to change to birth our babies. We often see a variety of changes in our skin as we and our babies grow in pregnancy. Some are due to hormones, but in every body system, proper nutrients are needed in order for them to function as they should. This includes the skin. Leafy greens are a skin’s friend. Eat them before pregnancy so the skin is healthy going into the pregnancy and keep on eating them so it can stretch and change as needed.

How Much?

Think at least two servings a day. Find your favorite two or three dark leafy greens and keep them in the house all the time. You may not like them frozen, but may find you love them raw, or vice versa. You’ll get more nutrition out of them raw or juiced, but eat them daily. Keep them in the highest humidity place in your refrigerator. Don’t forget to consider alfalfa or broccoli sprouts to your list of choices.

If you have trouble getting these in because you are so busy, consider keeping alfalfa capsules in your purse so you can eat them with your food on the go. Look for restaurants with dark leafy green vegetables or salads and tell them this is important to you.

I hope I’ve encouraged you to make friends with dark leafy green veggies. They were designed to meet your needs, pregnant momma!

By Debby Sapp

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Soup Recipe to Raise Hemoglobin

Here’s a recipe for “Blood Soup” that I recently shared with the Charis midwifery and doula students.  I call it “blood soup” because it builds the blood (and looks like blood, too), assisting in increasing hemoglobin.  My daughter Rose thinks it should be called “Beauty Soup” because it looks beautiful in the bowl and helps people look more beautiful when the color returns to their face after being pale from anemia.

As birth professionals, you will come across women who are anemic.  This is just one good recipe to pass along to them.  Although I believe the best way to get our nutrition is to eat the plants raw, some people will not eat them that way; so here is a cooked alternative to eating the veggies raw or juicing them.


2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Juice of 1 medium lemon (or 1 really large lime)
2 large fresh beets, diced
4 medium red potatoes (with skin), diced
2 large handfuls of chopped fresh kale
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
2 C kidney beans (If using dried beans, soak and cook ahead of time)
1 large handful of chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

In large soup pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes.  Fill the pot a little more than half full with pure water and add the lemon juice, potatoes, beets, and kale.  Boil until the beets are tender.  Add tomatoes and boil for about 5 minutes.  Add all other ingredients and boil until the spinach turns bright green, about 5 or 10 minutes.  Serve with whole grain bread or rolls.

Other vegetables can be added as well.  I especially love big chunks of squash in this soup.  Carrots, celery, cauliflower, other dark green leafies (turnip, dandelion, mustard, watercress, collards, etc), or any other favorite veggies are great.  If you want to add whole grains to the soup, amaranth and barley contain iron.  Other beans (like black beans, lima beans, etc) would work in this soup as well.  The most important ingredients are the ones high in iron and the ones high in Vitamin C.

In addition to improving diet, pregnant women may find it necessary to take a supplement to raise the hemoglobin count rapidly.  Floradix+Iron is a good liquid supplement.  (I have seen very little improvement in women who just take extra iron in the form of pills.  They just get constipated.)  I personally like to see ALL pregnant moms take one or two tablespoons of World Organic liquid chlorophyll and drink one quart of an infusion of Nettles, Oatstraw, Alfalfa, and Red Raspberry leaf every day.

We’ll be posting iron-rich, blood-building recipes in upcoming Charis newsletters.  If you have a good one, please share it!  Send the recipes to

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Building & Maintaining a Healthy Immune System

Building & Maintaining a Healthy Immune System


So many families have been struggling with viruses or other infections this winter.  I am a firm believer that we are what we eat.  Eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong foods is the best place to start if we want to build a body that can stand up against invaders.  Next, lifestyle plays a big role in our ability to fight disease.  A low-stress lifestyle goes a long way toward our overall good health. 


I recently spent the evening with a group of fantastic single moms who wanted to learn more about how to keep their kids from getting sick all the time.  I did some research and put together the following lists for them:


Things that keep our immune system from functioning properly:




Vitamin/Mineral Deficiency



Insufficient Sleep/Rest

Eating foods to which one is allergic

Being Overweight

Eating too much or too little

Pollution and other Toxins


Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke

Eating too much fat, especially animal fats


Cow’s milk and cheese


Things that help our immune system function properly:

Adequate Hydration

A Variety of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, especially raw (supplies essential nutrients)

Adequate Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids in the diet

A Good Night’s Sleep

Low-stress Lifestyle

Enjoyable Moderate Exercise and other Stress-relievers

Losing Excess Weight

Avoidance of Toxins

Avoidance of Allergens

Low-stress, Pleasurable Activities- such as vacations, picnics, beach outings, hikes, jogging, reading a book, getting a massage, singing, playing an instrument, enjoying leisure time


Immune-Boosting Foods:

Mushrooms – particularly Reichi, Maitake, and Shitake                

Green Tea

Goji Berries                                                                              

Citrus Fruits                                                                             
Bell Peppers


Nuts (not peanuts)                                                                    
Pumpkin Seeds

Sesame Seeds                                                                         
Sweet Potatoes

Carrots (& All Orange Vegetables)                                              

Winter Squash

Collard Greens                                                                          

Fresh Thyme                                                                            

Garbanzo Beans                                                                       


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