Fish and Heart Health – a Surprising Study

The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS), which involved 84,493 females aged 50-79 years old, analyzed data over a 10 year period on the effects of various forms of fish consumption and heart failure. At the start of this study none of the participants had heart disease.

Fish is well known as a food which enhances both physical as well as mental health. Fish oil is also reported to be a mental and physical nutrient which reduces disease development and mental deterioration. In evaluating fish and fish oil it would be natural to expect that positive outcomes would be observed and reported.

The study divided the consumption of baked or broiled fish into frequency catagories of less than 1 time per month; 1-3 times per month; 1-2 times per week; 3-4 times per week and greater than 5 times per week.

The study also observed the consumption of fried fish at the frequencies of less than one serving per month; 1-3 times per month and greater than 1 time per week.

The findings, however, were startling. The weekly consumption of 5 or more serving of baked or broiled dark fish, primarily salmon, mackerel and bluefish, was found to lower the risk of heart failure by an impressive 30%. While the consumption of fried fish, just 1 time or more per week, was associated to be related to a 48% increase in heart failure!

Another surprise within this study is that the assumption that taking omega-3 supplements will be as beneficial as eating fish. The study could not identify any significant change in cardiac failure rates that was associated with taking omega-3 supplements.

While the study came to no hard and fast conclusion of why the fried fish was so lethal, the thinking is that there must be some property to the oil when deep fried that creates the negative health affects. Another conclusion was that it appears better to eat fresh fish that is baked or broiled that to reply on fish oil supplements for heart health.

While this is a blow to those of us who love fish and chips, enjoying fish that is well cooked and healthy of our hearts is not a hard thing to get used to.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Bisphenol A (BPA) Hidden in Your Food

Most of us are aware that there are lots of dangerous materials like additives, dyes, pesticides and carcinogens in our foods. What many of us are not aware of is that in the containers that our foods come in, especially take out, there are chemicals in the materials that may be even more harmful than the additives, dyes and pesticides.

By now you have probably heard of the dangers of the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical can be found in polycarbonate plastic food containers, bottles and takeout food containers. Numerous articles have been written on breast cancer and prostate cancer that result from exposure to the BPA contained in packaging and containers that carry food stuffs.

Recent, important environmental health study findings were published in March in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives. A study was conducted by two organizations concerned with the environmental causes of breast cancer, the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute. The study was on the dangers of BPA.

The organizations identified and followed five (5) families who frequently used packaged food and drinks which were made for microwave preparation. The BPA levels of these families, which both consisted of a mother, father and two children, were measured and recorded.

Then, these same families ate fresh, organic food cooked only in glass or stainless steel containers. The immediate results on the level of BPA in their bodies with  the packaged food and fresh food was measured via urine collection, at varied intervals of the testing.

The outcomes were significant with all participants having lowered BPA levels in 72 hour period after the BPA rich packaging was exchanged with glass and stainless steel containers. The average decrease in the BPA was approximately 60%.

The study demonstrated that as quickly as six (6) hours after exposure, half the BPA is eliminated through the urine. However, if the prior use of the BPA rich packaging is resumed, the BPA levels demonstrate a return to the pre-intervention level on urine analysis. When the families resumed their normal diets, their BPA levels returned to pre-intervention levels by the next urine sample. 

What is important about this study is that it demonstrates that we can easily reduce the levels of BPA our bodies are exposed to by eliminating the use of the packaging it is found in and by cooking and preparing our foods more naturally. It is important not to use these BPA rich containers to microwave in as this increases the amount of BPA exposure.

Using glass or ceramic containers in the microwave is healthier and most importantly, they contain no BPA.  By also avoiding canned foods (unless the cans are BPA free) you will cut down on this dangerous exposure for both you and your family.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Delicious and Nutritious

Good news – it is berry picking and eating season.  Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries can once again be found in grocery store isles, “pick your own” farm stands and local organic coops.

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are some of the more popular berries found in the grocery produce section. However, other berries, such as mulberries, boysenberries, huckleberries and cranberries are also popping up this season.

Not only are berries of all kinds delicious, but they have been shown, as all fruits and vegetables have, to contain phytosterols that provide many health benefits and work overtime to prevent disease. Research does show that berries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant content and that they are excellent sources of several phytochemicals that seem to help block cancer development.

Researchers at Clemson University looked into the cancer fighting potential of various types and berries. In the Journal of Medicinal Foodthe scientists note: “Plants are proven sources of useful anti-tumor and chemo-preventative compounds. Hence, identification of phytochemicals useful in dietary prevention and intervention of cancer is of paramount importance.”  

The research team went on to further conclude that “Juice from strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry fruit significantly inhibited mutagenesis.” Meaning – that berries have high levels of anti-cancer properties that make them an ideal part of any diet.

Some of the best ways to enjoy berries and get the best health benefits from them is to blend them together in fresh fruit salads. A bowl of fresh berries acts as a “health tonic” that is not only delicious, but easy and convenient to prepare as well as one of the most intense disease prevention treats you can find.

Another popular and easy way to enjoy berries is in smoothies, either plain with a dollop of ice cream or yogurt; or with crushed ice chips and a sliced banana to add thickness and more delicious nutrients.

Enjoy these wonderful fruits, become nourished and prevent disease all at the same time.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio


More than Skin Deep

Any teenager can attest to how distressing a face full of acne is.  Clear, unblemished skin is universally the number one and most important feature in attracting others. This basic law of attraction is because our skin is the largest component to our immune system – and healthy skin reflects a healthy body, which is required for reproducing.

In the US, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent yearly on acne and blemish remedies and cover-ups. Our skin’s appearance is tied to our sex appeal and for most people being attractive to others is important. 

In the 30 years I have been practicing Whole Health nutrition, working with young adolescents to clear up their skin problems and facilitate their sense of self-esteem and well-being, is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my practice. Educating teenagers about where and why acne develops provides them with the ability to make choices that can change the course of their outbreaks.

It all starts with androgens, which are reproductive hormones secreted into the blood stream by the productive organs and our stress adaptation system – our adrenal glands.  Androgens are potent “chemicals” that our liver must deal with by reducing their potency.

The liver detoxifies the blood and when dealing with androgens, the liver produces blood plasma proteins which bind up and inactivate the majority of androgens, so that only a small percent of androgens are free to enter our cells.

During adolescence, the body is going through a huge hormonal change and all parts of the body needs time to adjust to and regulate hormone secretions. Because of the complex functions of hormones,  a young body can become physically and even psychologically overwhelmed by the effect of androgens on the body functions and the brain.

How acne develops is when the androgens enter the cells, a specific enzyme converts the presenting androgens and makes them more active. The active androgens enter the nucleus of the cell and interacts with genetic material. This can lead to highly stimulated oil glands, and it is these highly stimulated oil glands that lead to the formation of acne.

Thee are several factors that determine the degree and amount of acne:

a) amount of androgens entering the cells 

b) how well the liver controls the active androgens

c) the person’s nutrition and liver function

d) the amount of waste and/or toxins being re-absorbed into the liver from the bowel environment and – THIS IS THE KEY –

e) the amount of exercise the adolescent is doing that will utilize the androgens to build and create muscle tissue (rather than acne), thus reducing the amount of androgen that might be absorbed into the cells.

Especially in young males, but this applies to females as well, the fastest and easiest way to clear up adolescent acne, is have the person EXERCISE vigorously. Through the use of androgens by the body to build muscle rather than be available to interact with genetic material in the cell, rather quickly the androgens are re-directed to enhance strength and development rather than creating skin problems. The young patients and their parents think its a miracle, but its actually simple biochemistry.

In addition, healthy eating of lots of vegetables and fruits to keep the bowel clean, drinking plenty of water, skin hygiene and proper amounts of sleep, all help the liver, bowel and adrenals to function properly, which supports an overall healthy body with resultant glowing, attractive skin. 

The expression “it’s more than skin deep” clearly applies to acne and skin blemishes. You may want to share this information with someone having acne issues because if they use it – they will see a difference. 

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio All Rights Reserved

Integrative Nutrition

What exactly is “integrative nutrition”? The word integrative when added to nutrition describes an approach taken to understanding nutrition from a whole person perspective.

The human being is made of of many aspects that come together to determine who they are, how they live and what their quality of life is. The way we think, behave, treat others, lives work and even eat are all inter-connected and are integrative to one another.

For many people they way they eat is compartmentalized from their big picture understanding of themselves. By exploring the various motivational triggers in our lives for both constructive and not so constructive behavior, we can experience an authentic control and understanding of “what makes us tick”.

I am personally a very health conscious individual, exercising 75 minutes a day with the vast majority of my meals consisting of living plant foods. The other afternoon a very close friend announced devastating new that sent me out of my office reeling with distress and I immediately knew I wanted a carbohydrate fix.

Not the kind of carbohydrate that by-passes insulin and is high in fiber, phytonutrients and rich in minerals and vitamin A and C, but the processed kind that had lots of sugar and calories in it that would result in significantly high levels of serotonin being secreted into my blood stream so my brain could take a step back, chill out and process the information I just received.

The idea of “integrative” nutrition or integrative exercise, meditation, yoga, working, lifetyle or any other aspect of our lives is to have a whole picture understanding of how the food or behavior is integrated into our whole self and into the larger perspective of what motivates and directs our behavior choices.

Yes, indeed, I  felt quite sick after pouring the sweet, crunchy snacks into my stomach, but I also was able to give myself some self-medication with the food that lowered my anxiety level and allowed me to emotionally process the news I received in a way that was less distressing and more constructive than if I would have NOT eaten the serotonin provoking foods. 

The most important thing about the choices we make is whether or not we make them consciously. Integrative nutrition is not always pure, living, green and healthy nutrition – but it is about the whole experience of how, why and what we eat.

With all good wishes,
Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Gluten Allergy and Chronic Health Problems

Since the growth of Internet health information sites, most of us now know about gluten – the culprit in grains that can cause chronic debilitating health issues for those of us who cannot tolerate this indigestible plant protein.

Gluten is a plant protein that is only digestible in the stomachs of rudiments animals. Ruminants, such as cows and goats, have two stomachs that are enzyme rich and contain the specific enzymes necessary to digest the outside protective layer of plants known as cellulose, and then breakdown, absorb and utilize this plant protein metabolically.  

Humans do not possess the enzymes to break down plant cellulose. For us, cellulose is fiber or roughage that passes through our body without benefit as a nutrient. Many individuals are highly sensitive to gluten, where others have a greater tolerance and ability ro remove it from their system and not have serious consequences or impact on their immune system.

In many cases obesity and chronic disease states are the silent symptoms of this often unrecognized food allergy, that for many acts as a systemic poison once ingested.

Over the past 25 years much research has been done on gluten allergies. Here is a brief list of the types of chronic conditions
gluten allergy can contribute to:

  • Stomach pain and digestive disturbances 
  • Attention Deficient Disorder 
  • Crohn’s disease and other bowel disorders
  • Nervous conditions and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Reproductive disorders and infertility
  • Dizziness
  • Arthritis and joint pain 
  • Immune disorders and infections
  • Poor wound healing

The popular low carbohydrate diets have demonstrated the impact gluten has on weight gain and weight control. Often simply by eliminating gluten foods for a period of three (3) months, individuals see a remarkable and dramatic change in their chronic health condition as well as their body mass.

While not everyone is so sensitive to gluten that they must follow a gluten-grain free diet, it should be noted that not eating grains does not eliminate any important nutrient from your diet that you cannot get from other foods such as vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and so forth. If humans never ate grains again we would be all the better for it.

Part II – How and why human added grains to our human dietWith all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

A New Year – A New Start


“Happy New Year” is a greeting that fills us with anticipation, excitement and hope. The anticipation is for the new beginning we feel as the ball drops and we say good-bye to the past and look forward to the future. Our excitement is for the many possibilities that may lay ahead in the coming year and the hope is for a better 12 months than those that came before.

What are some simple, positive and productive actions we can take in this New Year that will support our optimistic January resolutions?

  • Start with a clean slate – cleaning and organizing your home space is one of the most positive ways to start the New Year. It has been shown in numerous studies that a clean, organized environment provides a sense of relaxation and calm and also helps us to be more productive because we are more organized and this results in a more efficient work or study outcome.
  • Commit to spending less and saving what you don’t spend – by setting a goal of saving a realistic amount of money each month and achieving that goal by spending that much less each month is an empowering and satisfying way to take more control over your finances and reinforce that you can transform your savings/spending patterns without much stress and strain.
  • Eat less processed foods and more living foods – this is not only a healthy resolution but also a cost saving one as well. We as Americans enjoy an abundant lifestyle and have the highest obesity rate in the world to prove it. By focusing on life giving plant based foods, we nourish our bodies and save a lot of money by not buying high priced processed and often non-nourishing “foods”.
  • Identify an organization, charity or cause that you can either provide a small but heartfelt donation or voluteer time to. Participating in meaningful assistance to others is rewarding on many levels and is good for our health as well as our sense of contribution.

Each New Year is an opportunity for a new beginning…and life, it is often said, is a series of new beginnings ~

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio All Rights Reserved

Natural and Delicious Cold Remedy




This cold and flu season it is likely with the recall of so many over the counter cold remedies, that home-made cold remedies will make a comeback this winter. One of the best known and oldest home-made remedies for “the winter miseries” is chicken soup.

Moses Maimonides, the 12th century physician, prescribed chicken soup for those suffering with cold and asthma symptoms. Before pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medicines were prescribed, chicken soup was the natural remedy of choice for cold and flu symptoms. It was consumed in copious doses, until the sufferer was up and about and on their way to wellness.

Until fairly recently it was not scientifically known why chicken soup worked so well for the common cold. Chicken soup was certainly not taken seriously in the medical community as a legitimate cold remedy.  However, all speculation about chicken soup came to an end when research out of UCLA Medical School and the University of Nebraska was published on the benefits of the tasty broth.

When chicken is cooked it releases an amino acid called cysteine into the broth of the soup. This amino acid is similar to acetylcysteine, a drug commonly prescribed for bronchitis. Acyteine has the ability to breakdown mucous proteins found in the lungs.

In addition, chicken soup is also cooked with carrots, onions, often garlic, and celery with greens, it also contains quercetin, a powerful anti-oxidant from the onions and garlic, along with beta-carotene, vitamin A and potassium from the celery and carrots. In addition the bone content of calcium and other trace minerals also get released from the cooking.

Chicken soup is a great winter comfort food. Some folks find their favorite canned version while others make it from scratch.  Chicken soup is a healthy, comforting and simple food to make and a great substitute for over the counter medications that may do harm. Whether store bought or home made it is a natural and delicious cold remedy.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2010 G. Donadio

A Stimulating Look at Energy Drinks

They are the new retail craze, available everywhere and promising instant  energy to get more done faster. The largest population they are pitched to is the “under 30” group. This includes high school and college students, as well as athletes both school age and professional.

Our over worked culture is moving beyond coffee for its morning wake up and afternoon pick–me-up to the energy drink solution. This popular product comes with it’s own health concerns. Energy drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine and sugar and can include other stimulants such as ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng, which all have been shown to have potential health concerns. Here are some points of consideration you may want to be aware of before gulping down a can or two of the elixir:

  • Energy drinks contain as much caffeine as in a cup of coffee. Consumed quickly as energy drinks are, the caffeine and sugar provide a jolt of energy by stimulating your stress system, but also raise your blood sugar and blood pressure levels, causing your heart to beat faster and work harder.
  • The contents of these energy drinks can produce symptoms that may include anxiety, insomnia, irritability and nausea that can be severe enough to require medical attention or hospitalization.
  • Energy drinks, if taken during exercise, can dehydrate the body and deplete much needed calcium and potassium.
  • Because of the energy provided by the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks, they have become popular as mixers with alcohol. This can lead to an individual not being aware of the level of intoxication, which might allow them to drive under the influence.
  • Bad reactions to energy drinks have been reported to U.S. poison control centers published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
  • In a report of nine cases of adverse reactions to the energy drink Redline, the patients reported nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors, dizziness and numbness.
  • There is the impression that because these drinks are available over the counter and can be bought in any retail store, they are not a “substance” that we should use carefully.
  • While energy drinks can be part of a balanced lifestyle when consumed sensibly, as with all things related to health and lifestyle, we need to exercise moderation and good judgement to avoid problems that can arise from inappropriate or excessive use.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2010 G. Donadio

Chefs for Peace Cook Up Holiday Magic

Chefs for Peace is a Jerusalem based group of 25 chefs  who use food and cooking to demonstrate that living together peacfully is possible for all, no matter what faith or cultural difference they may have.

The group which includes Arabs, Jews, Christian and Muslims work together to prepare meals for celebrations, galas and culinary competitions. Their shared love for food and nourishing others transcends any differences between them and has created a respectful and trusting partnership within the dedicated group.

Their unique cusine reflects their belief in the value of blending various cultures and that sharing a simple meal is an act of peace and community.

Here is their receipe from Delicious Living magazine for Fresh Figs stuffed with Mushrooms and Pecans, which is pictured above. Something healthy and new to serve up for the holidays ~

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup minced onion

1/3 cup minced cremini mushrooms

1/3 cup minced toasted pecans

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, divided

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

Pinch of cloves

1/4 cup tamarind paste

1 cup water

2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste

3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

12-14 fresh figs

1. In a medium sauté pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add onion and mushrooms and sauté until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Add pecans and half of cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon. Add a pinch of cloves, plus salt to taste. Stir well, cooking until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add remaining cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon to pan (without cleaning it), plus tamarind paste, water, and sugar. Blend well with a whisk, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking, stirring often, until sauce becomes smooth and velvety, about 5 minutes. Whisk in mascarpone cheese until smooth and sauce is heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more sweetener, if desired.

3. Slice top 1/2 inch of figs almost all the way through, but still attached. Use a 1/4-teaspoon measuring spoon to dig out fig flesh; put in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons fig flesh to mushroom mixture and mix well. Stuff figs with mixture, overfilling slightly. Place stuffed figs in pan with sauce, spooning sauce over them. Bring to a gentle boil; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

PER SERVING (1): 103 cal, 38% fat cal, 5g fat (2g mono, 1g poly, 1g sat), 5mg chol, 1g protein, 16g carb, 3g fiber, 8mg sodium

For more information about the Chefs for Peace:

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2010 G. Donadio