Tag Archives: diet

Busted lip

1 Mar

I’ve had the super obnoxious problem of a painfully chapped and split bottom lip for the past several weeks. I can’t sneeze, laugh or even floss without my lip splitting open—and what kind of life is that? I thought I was doing everything in my power to fix it, but it turns out I wasn’t.

Since I am a person who generally doesn’t drink enough water throughout the day, I figured it was dehydration. However, with few exceptions during the past two weeks, I’ve been going out of my way to drink more and more often. No luck.

Another possible culprit is the cold weather we’ve had recently, but it hasn’t been particularly dry, and this weekend the clouds opened up and dumped rain down on us, so I don’t think that’s the problem either.

I didn’t realize that cracked lips can be caused by a vitamin deficiency. A deficiency in vitamins A, B2, or C could all be the troublemaker: vitamin A keeps skin from being flaky and dry, B2 helps prevent mouth lesions, and C helps produce our collagen.

I think I’m probably good on the B2 front since I have fortified cereal most mornings and get the rest of what I need from all the dairy I’m eating. As for vitamin C, well, it’s blood orange season in Italy and that’s practically the only fruit in our basket right now. I guess that means I need to seek out more vitamin A. Of course all things related to liver are high in vitamin A, but so are all those pretty red and orange vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Time for a trip to the market!

Just to be sure, I think I’ll pay more attention to my intake of both vitamins A and B2 and see if there’s any improvement to my sorry state.

Where are my candy hearts?

16 Feb

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep with visions of Willy Wonka’s Candy Room in my head (thanks, Jon), it occurred to me that this Valentine’s Day was completely devoid of all the silly candy that is normally associated with the holiday.

That’s a good thing. I prefer to spend my sugar and fat credit on just about anything else. Most Valentine chocolate is pretty cheap, and I don’t care for the chalky candy hearts. Have they updated those since I last got them, by the way? I definitely had a “Fax me” in the last box I opened, which suggest that those specific hearts were at least ten years old and that this candy may be the only thing for the cockroaches to live on after a nuclear holocaust.

Now the creative team somehow has to find a way to fit “Friend me on Facebook” on the hearts. Double-sided printing?

I discussed with my Italian conversation partner the Valentine’s Day traditions in American classrooms, and she definitely thought there was some meaning lost in translation. Besides a few extra vendors carrying bushels of roses instead of trays of obnoxious keychains, there was nothing noticeably Valentine-y about Monday. Apparently Italy, a land filled with arguably the most lust-filled men in the world, gets enough loving the other 364 days out of the year.

A newish fight against cancer

16 Jan

When we were in Taiwan, Colin and I watched TED Talks multiple times a week. They’re often quite fascinating, and the site has a neat search option that not only lets you search by topic, but also allows you to narrow results to only the funny ones, or only those that many viewers found inspiring, or those which are the most informative.

A contact of Colin’s recently forwarded a TED Talk by William Li, the head of the Angiogenesis Foundation, titled “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” The first half of the talk explains angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels, and how it can affect different diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and cancer.

Dr. Li explains that we’re born with pretty much all the blood vessels we’re going to need throughout life. There are exceptions to that, though. Our body knows when we’ve been wounded and need to re-grow damaged vessels; women grow new blood vessels every month in their uterus; and sometimes a cancerous tumor can trick our body into thinking new blood vessels need to be grown, turning a harmless, ballpoint-pen-tip-sized tumor into something to really worry about.

There are several different anti-angiogenesis drugs on the market that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, slowing or stopping the growth of the tumors. Dr. Li has a chart about midway through the presentation that compares those drugs with a couple dozen foods, oils, and spices that are also anti-angiogenesis. The foods do surprisingly well. He suggests, with some Harvard research to back him up, that by incorporating these foods into our diets, we can better fight against cancer by stopping blood from getting to the tumors, essentially starving the cancer.

My goal is to incorporate more of the foods on this list into our diet more often than I do now. Some of them are easy: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, red wine—check, check, check, and check. We really got our fill of ginger, bok choy, and green tea last year in Taiwan, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a bag of ginger chews to keep in the pantry. I’ve got an artichoke in the fridge (is that where I’m supposed to keep that?) and a bag full of tumeric on the spice shelf (I’ll explain later…), and I will seek out, try, and post about any recipes that use one or more of these ingredients.

Have any dishes I should start with? Any shortcuts like the ginger chews?

Cheese, my favorite food group

7 Nov

There’s an article in today’s New York Times about the pushers and consumers of cheese and what it’s doing to the American waistline. It’s a pretty long article, investigative journalism at its best, so I’ve translated it to an easy-to-follow figure.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created Dairy Management to market milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. to the American public to help the dairy industry. Dairy Management went to a floundering Dominoes last year and suggested they boost sales by doubling the amount of cheese on their pizzas. Dominoes went with it, adding cheese to their crust and different cheeses to their topping, and because cheese is delicious, people ate it up. Sales soared by double digits.

Oh, right. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the same government agency charged with encouraging Americans to have healthier diets. The article compares Dairy Management’s budget with that of the Center of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, another USDA organization, which receives only $6.5 million annually.

Why does the USDA want Dairy Management to push cheese? Because America’s over-worked cows produce 60 million hormone-induced gallons of milk per day, and we’ve gotta do something with it!

The article quoted the president of the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine: “If you want to look at why people are fat today, it’s pretty hard to identify a contributor more significant than this meteoric rise in cheese consumption.”

How much more cheese are we eating? According to the article, 33 pounds per year—triple what we were consuming in 1970 (well, not me, personally, but you all). And while it may not seem fair to drawn comparisons to the days of WWII, the Brits only got 52 ounces of cheese for the year during wartime (and for a couple years following)—that’s only 3 lbs. for the whole year! (I couldn’t easily find figures for U.S. consumption; what do you remember, grandmothers?)

I like to think I’m better than the average American in terms of diet, but I don’t think I can say that about my cheese intake. Sure, last year in Taiwan, Colin and I shared a total of three Costco-sized blocks of cheese, but I’m more than making up for that this year. There are five different kinds of cheese in our fridge right now, and to be honest, reading this article just made me want to go check on them, see if they still taste the same…

Meanwhile, my goal of finding an enjoyable yoga podcast on iTunes has stalled at the iTunes podcast search page.