Artificial Food Dyes and Kids: Not a Good Mix

Macaroni and Cheese Food Dyes

report released by the National Cancer Institute showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007. And today, cancer is now the leading cause of death by disease in kids under the age of fifteen.

Correlation is not causation, but the escalating rates of conditions like cancer, diabetes and food allergies have a lot of parents paying attention to what is in their food.  Some cancer doctors even call it the “doorknob syndrome.”  A patient is diagnosed with cancer, spends hours in the office being walked through procedure options, then as they turn to go, with a hand on the doorknob, turn back into the office and ask, “Is there anything I could be doing differently with my diet?”

We are quickly learning that our food is full of a lot of non-food ingredients.

About 15 million pounds of petroleum-based dyes are used in food each year.  And a certain kind of red food coloring, known as “Red 3,” is a known carcinogen that the FDA banned from our medicines and makeup in 1990, but it’s still used in our foods.

But instead of making the long overdue move to do something serious about getting rid of toxic food dyes so ubiquitous in our food supply, dyes derived from synthetic chemicals that studies have linked to cancer, the FDA, upon learning this, fell back on two simple words: “more research.”

In kitchens across this country, eight dyes, currently being used by manufacturers, can be found in everything from packaged macaroni and cheese to breakfast cereal to practically every piece of candy your child has ever put in his or her mouth. Links are being found to hyperactivity in kids (ADHD), cancer and serious food allergies.

But here is the truly amazing thing, and for those of us who have fed our kids these color-laden foods, perhaps the toughest thing to stomach: Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart have already removed these artificial food colors and dyes from the same products that they distribute in other countries. Skittles?  Don’t have them.  M&Ms?  Don’t have them either.  Neither do cereals, fruit snacks and just about any food you’d think to put in a kids mouth. They did it in response to consumer demand and an extraordinary study called the Southampton Study.

The Southampton Study was unusual in that it tested children on a combination of two ingredients: tartrazine (yellow #5) and sodium benzoate. The study’s designers knew that a child very rarely has occasion to ingest just a synthetic color or just a preservative; rather, a child who is gobbling up multicolored candies is probably taking in several colors and at least one preservative.

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2014| 4 Comments

Could SLS In Your Cream be Making Your Eczema Worse?

Skin Cream

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) states that about 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from eczema, a type of dermatitis that causes chronic irritation, redness, cracked, and dry skin. The condition can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and even painful, and can continue to flare up for years.

Patients struggling with eczema know that it’s best to use soothing creams and lotions to reduce symptoms, but many don’t know that the products they’re using could actually be making their eczema worse. A recent study, for instance, found that using some emollient creams actually made for soothing eczema could aggravate the condition‚ all because of one ingredient—sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Eczema Cream Increased Skin Dehydration

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology (2010) showed that aqueous cream BP—one of the most widely prescribed emollients for the treatment of eczema—actually reduces the thickness of healthy skin over a period of four weeks by more than 10 percent, increasing water loss by 20 percent. Professor Richard Guy, one of the study authors, said the cream was likely to aggravate those dry, itchy rashes that are common in people with eczema.

What did the researchers think caused this problem? They stated the most likely ingredient was sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

SLS is a chemical compound used as a foaming agent in personal care products like body washes and shampoos, as well as in detergents and industrial products. In skin care, it’s often used to create a creamy, rich texture. In toothpastes, it has been found to increase the risk of canker sores or mouth ulcers, and is known to irritate skin with prolonged exposure. In fact, SLS is used in lab tests to purposely irritate and damage the skin’s outer layer.

It’s no surprise then that researchers believe the SLS in the aqueous cream is what caused the thinning of the skin. Professor Guy offered this conclusion: “Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals. So to use this cream on exzemous skin, which is already thin and vulnerable to irritation, is likely to make the condition even worse.”

What to Use Instead?

This study shows how important it is to maintain that protective outer layer in skin. That layer is what keeps skin healthy and moist, and when it’s stripped or damaged, skin becomes dry and cracked. Compromised skin is even more fragile, as some of that outer layer has already been damaged. Therefore it becomes critical to read the ingredient list and make sure you’re using products that won’t contribute to that damage.

Those suffering from eczema may be better off using ointments rather than creams, and choosing products that contain safer ingredients. Check with your dermatologist, read the label, and consider trying Purely Shea 100% Organic Shea Butter, and Earthbound Organic Chickweed and Calendula Cream, or other similar nurturing products.

Have you found a safe product to use on your eczema? Please share!

Source: Tsang M, Guy RH. Effect of Aqueous Cream BP on human stratum corneum in vivo. British Journal of Dermatology 2010; Article first published online: July 22.

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014| 0 Comments

How to Add More Steps to Your Day

By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

Sitting is bad for you! Prolonged sitting is linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and premature death. Some reports are saying that sitting is as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

Here are some tips to add more steps to your workday.

1.  Count Your Steps

I truly had idea how sedentary my life was until I got a pedometer. The Fitbit, Jawbone UP and other pedometers are great tools to increase your awareness of how many steps you’re taking a day. I have the Jawbone UP and it sets a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. I quickly figured out that if I didn’t exercise for 30 minutes and squeeze in some brisk walks, it was very nearly impossible to reach that goal. If you can’t buy one, try to borrow one for a week – you will learn a lot, I guarantee it!

2. Take a Brisk Walk at Lunchtime

I’m very lucky because I bring my dog to work, so I absolutely have to take her for a walk at lunchtime. Even at my last job, when I didn’t have a pup, I had a work buddy that I would always meet for a short spin around the park. We built it into our day, after eating and before going back to our desk for the afternoon. If you buy lunch, think about getting it from somewhere a few blocks away and don’t get it delivered!

3. Take the Stairs

If you work on the 10th floor, you might not want to take the stairs. But one option is to take the stairs for just 2 or 3 flights and hop on the elevator for the rest of the journey. It will still get your heart pumping. Or – I will admit that I don’t often climb the 5 flights of stairs to my office, especially since the stairwell is locked in the lobby. However, I often walk DOWN the 5 flights of stairs, which still does wake up my leg muscles, with a little less huffing and puffing.

4. Schedule an Outdoor Meeting

Think outside the cubicle when setting up meetings. If you have to do some brainstorming with a coworker, you could always do it while walking and talking. You may find it gets the creative juices flowing. I have a friend who works near Central Park and often does short brainstorming jogging sessions with a colleague — they love it!

5. Keep Key Office Supplies Far From Your Desk

The printer that I use is way down the hall, so every time I print I get to take a little stroll to pick up my documents. Every moment you get off your butt counts!

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Posted by on Aug 08, 2014| 0 Comments

Drinking? Choose Your Alcohol Wisely

By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

On Be Well Cleanse, alcohol is cut out for a full 2 weeks. The cleanse eliminates sugar and any foods that may be causing sensitivities or inflammation in the body, and because alcohol is like liquid sugar – it gets the boot!

Most people aren’t thrilled about giving up their beloved liquor, so we tell them not to worry – it’s only 2 weeks – and it could be an interesting experiment to kick the habit. But after the 2 weeks are up, what’s a cocktail lover to do when they want to experience that vibrant health they felt on the cleanse — while still indulging in a drink once in awhile?

One question we get all the time is “if I do decide to have a drink, what should I drink?” While we’ll never say alcohol is healthy or recommend people drink alcohol, we can give suggestions on how to make the best decision if you decide you definitely want to have a drink.

  • The less volume, the better. We generally recommend people stay away from consuming beers and wines, as most people tend to drink multiple glasses of each and that’s a lot of liquid sugar. The more volume of alcohol you’re consuming, the more sugar you’re putting into your body.
  • Beer is basically liquid gluten. If you must drink beer, go for a gluten-free beer or gluten-free hard cider.
  • Instead of beer or wine, stick with a small amount of liquor like vodka (vodka is made from wheat, and while most of the gluten is removed during the distillation process, you may want to try a potato vodka if you’re gluten free), or tequila (check out this NorCal Margarita recipe).
  • Beware of the mixers. Opt for plain seltzer or soda water rather than tonic (it’s loaded with sugar). Sodas and fruit juices are filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners too, so if you want a little flavor, squeeze a lemon or lime (or both) into your cocktail.
  • Best case scenario? Try going booze-free for the night (or longer!) and see how you feel. It might not be as bad as you think. It could be an adventure. Plus, you’ll feel fantastic the next morning!

What do you think? How do you indulge in a cocktail without derailing your healthy habits? Let us know in the comments!

Posted by on Aug 07, 2014| 1 Comments

Interview with Jimmy Moore About His New Book “Keto Clarity”

Keto Clarity

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Dr L:  What is Ketosis?

Jimmy Moore:  Put simply, ketosis is a metabolic state that happens when you consume a customized low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet that causes your body to switch from using glucose as its primary source of fuel to running mostly on ketones and fatty acids. Ketones themselves are produced when the body burns fat, and they’re used as an alternative fuel source when glucose isn’t available. In other words, your body changes from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. It’s a completely normal and natural state that happens within a few days to a few weeks in most people who reduce their carbohydrate intake, moderate their protein consumption, and consume dietary fat, especially saturated fat, to satiety.

Dr L:  What is a ketogenic diet all about and how can ketosis be used to deal with many chronic health problems?

Jimmy Moore:  Traditionally people have looked at the ketogenic diet in one of two ways–a natural therapy for treating epileptic seizures or for weight loss. However, there are so many more conditions that a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat, ketogenic diet can help with. Shifting the body from relying on glucose as the major fuel source to one that uses fat and ketones for fuel has been shown in solid research over one year in length to help not just with epilepsy and weight loss, but also Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), GERD and heartburn, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). There’s good evidence of less than one year that this way of eating is beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mental illness, narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, and even exercise performance. Finally, there’s emerging evidence where we have seen anecdotal stories of improvement for conditions like cancer, autism, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, migraines, traumatic brain injury and stroke, gum disease and tooth decay, acne, eyesight issues, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, aging, kidney disease, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, alopecia and hair loss, and more. Modern medicine is currently prescribing some very powerful drugs with risky side effects attempting to deal with these things in their patients. So if there is a chance that a natural dietary solution can be as effective or better than these medications with no downsides, then why wouldn’t doctors want to try it?

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Posted by on Aug 05, 2014| 4 Comments

Beating Lyme Disease

Beating Lyme Disease

For patients with tick-borne diseases, the path to health can be confounding. Combining integrative and conventional approaches may be the best way forward.

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.
Written by Pamela Weintraub

Katina Makris was living her dream when life derailed. A natural-medicine practitioner with a flourishing career, she had a passionate marriage, a young son she doted on, and a home she had lovingly restored in the New Hampshire woods. But slowly she began to slip.

First, in June 2000, there was an inkling of muscle pain and fatigue. A few months later, she experienced a crippling migraine, and her arms and legs felt numb. The symptoms only got worse. At night she was engulfed in drenching sweat. Her brain became sluggish and confused. The days were a blur of exhaustion and pain. Eventually, she required a wheelchair and was so sick she had to give up her practice.

Unable to care for her child, she hired an au pair. Between trips to doctors and naturopaths, she spent most of her time in bed. Her marriage crumbled, and divorce was followed by financial struggle and more years in bed.

Five years into this devastating slide, after visits to teaching hospitals and myriad other physicians and practitioners, Makris happened to consult a well-known nutritionist. “He took one look at me and said, ‘I think you have neurological Lyme disease,’” she recalls.

That hunch was confirmed by lab tests, which came back positive for the infectious agent of Lyme disease, a spiral-shaped bacterium, or spirochete, transmitted by the bite of a black-legged tick.

Makris also tested positive for Babesia, a malaria-like blood parasite often inhabiting the same ticks. “I was never so relieved and furious at the same time,” Makris recalls. How could someone immersed in the healthcare profession herself fall so disastrously between the cracks?

Remarkably, Makris eventually recovered from this body blow, emerging whole to write an inspiring book about her experience, Out of the Woods: Healing Lyme Disease — Body, Mind, and Spirit. Even more remarkable, she managed to navigate a path to recovery without prescription antibiotics.

Integrative-medicine colleagues advised that prescription antibiotics might harm her in her fragile state. They recommended she instead consider relying solely on nutritional, herbal, and lifestyle-based treatments to heal her Lyme disease.

The treatment was multipronged. First, her doctors attempted to detox her body with plants known to aid liver function: milk thistle, dandelion, and bayberry. To lower inflammation naturally, she cut wheat and sugar from her diet. The brain fog diminished, she recalls, “and the worst jet lag of my life started to lift.”

Then her doctors treated her Lyme and Babesia with antimicrobial herbs. “I was able to make small meals again and do simple chores, like emptying the dishwasher,” she says. Along the way, she received acupuncture therapy for pain, boosted her energy with supplements like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), stabilized her gut with probiotics, and then finally fixed the moldy roof on her house. “A year into treatment I was doing yoga, and I could walk a mile,” Makris says.

Ultimately, she and her son moved to a new, mold-free house on a city street in Peterborough, N.H., farther away from the ticks. By 2010 she was finally well.

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Posted by on Aug 04, 2014| 3 Comments

What’s Wrong With Our Food System?
And How Can We Make A Difference?

Many of you have probably seen this as it has been around for a couple of years now. But I watched it again recently and was just as blown away as I was the first time I saw it 3 years ago. In this extraordinary TED Talk, Birke Baehr, 11 years old at the time, talks about what’s wrong with the food system……and it’s just as true now, in fact, worse.

Posted by on Aug 01, 2014| 1 Comments

Bad Medicine: Is Evidence What We Think It Is?

Bad Medicine

Medicine’s House of Cards – What Happens When We’ve Got It All Wrong

I have to admit, the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial still holds a special place in my heart even after I have spent the past half-decade immersed in the shortcomings of our current data collection model. As I now understand, the role of industry bias in publication of studies, the design limitations of randomized trials in accounting for biochemical individuality, and the many permissible aspects of randomized trials that allow for skewed outcomes (placebo washout, breaking blind with inert placebo, allowance of sedatives, etc.). I now understand that health is about so much more than is factored into these trials. I have observed that patients can seem “just fine” on a basic lab screen and physical exam, and be anything but, if you know how to scratch beneath the surface.

As Marion Nestle says, on the subject of what nutrition research typically assesses: “nutrients that are out of their food context, foods that are out of their dietary context, and diets that are out of the context of lifestyle.”

Studying nutrients the way we study drugs makes no sense, not only because the form of the nutrient employed in these studies is typically a pharmaceutical form, but because nutrients don’t work in isolation – they work and heal in the context of other nutrients, and of the lifestyle.

So, while we, firmly positioned in the holistic camp, believe that natural medicine heals, many of us still feel compelled to prove it. What are we using as the standard for that proof? What if we are looking behind the curtain to find that Wizard isn’t quite what we imagined?

provocative and important piece in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings should change the way that medicine is practiced. It probably won’t. Here is the question:

“How many contemporary medical practices are not any better than or are worse than doing nothing or doing something else that is simpler or less expensive? This is an important question, given the negative repercussions for patients and the health care system of continuing to endorse futile, inefficient, expensive, or harmful interventions, tests, or management strategies.”

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Posted by on Jul 31, 2014| 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen:
Lima Bean and Black Rice Pasta Recipe

Penne Recipe

For those of you conquering your gluten allergy, it’s important to remember that there are gluten-free alternatives for foods like pasta and bread.  Pasta is such a quick and easy food to make, so I love having gluten-free alternatives when I want boil up a quick pot of penne for dinner. Pasta is great because it has a neutral flavor and there are a million ways to prepare it. For this recipe, I even cook the penne in vegetable broth to add extra flavor to the noodles.   I toss the pasta with black rice and lima beans to add new textures to the dish.

This is one of the most flavorful pasta recipes I have thanks to the amazing creamy almond butter sauce I used.  The sauce is extremely simple to make — just combine the almond butter with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I love finding creative ways to use almond butter — it’s super healthy and a great source of protein. Plus it’s creamy and perfect for making sauces you can serve with whole grain rice, pasta, veggies and more.

This gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free dish is great for dinner or lunch and can be saved for flavorful leftovers.  Bon appétit!

Lima Bean n’ Black Rice Pasta (Serves 4)


  • 1 cup organic frozen lima beans
  • 1 lb. gluten-free penne pasta
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup organic black rice
  • 2 Tbsp. organic smooth almond butter
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest


  1. Rinse frozen lima beans with water for 10 seconds, then thaw in a bowl on the countertop; set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add vegetable broth. Cook pasta in water and broth until pasta is al dente.
  3. In a separate pot, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook black rice according to package directions in boiling water.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk almond butter, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Drain pasta and toss with black rice and lima beans.  Drizzle with almond butter mixture; gently toss to coat.
  6. Garnish with fresh lemon zest and serve.
Posted by on Jul 30, 2014| 0 Comments

3 Seriously Deceiving “Healthy Foods”

Chicken Noodle Soup

Today’s seriously deceptive food marketing means that reading front labels and nutritional labels isn’t enough. To avoid choosing seriously deceiving “healthy foods,” consumers need to be aware of culprits listed in the ingredients.

My son and I found this out the hard way a few months ago when we were at a local health foods store. I had to tell him that a food company was trying to mislead consumers and that in fact, the word GMO circled with a red slash across it didn’t actually mean that a food was GMO-free. Upon closer examination, the label read that only the legumes, grains, and vegetables were GMO-free and in reality, the product wasn’t GMO-free at all.

Deceiving marketing like this has gotten all the more vicious as consumers become more and more motivated to choose healthy foods. But knowledge is power, it’s the one tool that we as consumers, and health advocates, have to fight back. Here are three deceiving packaged foods that I recently found on the store shelf.

1.  Vegetable Thins

The name itself is likely the most deceiving part. No, these aren’t vegetables that have been slow baked in the oven. Rather, these are GMO-laden crackers baked with a few dried vegetables, and a couple of Scary Seven ingredients. The front label says that these crackers are trans fat free, baked with real vegetables, low in saturated fats, and cholesterol free. But here’s what the label doesn’t say it contains:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Sulphites (a preservative)
  • Potential GMOS

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Posted by on Jul 29, 2014| 3 Comments