The Thoughts and Adventures of Sarah Harris

theology, philosophy, health, cooking, and more

Archive for the category “Health”

Going Grain Free

After 3 days of going grain free I can say I am feeling much much…


But that was to be expected, I suppose, since my body is dealing with withdrawals. Josh, of course, is suffering the most from this diet. Not because he’s suffering from lack of grains (he has not stuck to the diet a single day) but because he has to deal with grumpy me! The good news is that I do feel healthier. I’m eating a lot more veggies and fruits to make up for the lack of grains. I saw a decrease in my allergic reaction to food today – I’ll hopefully find out soon if this is just coincidence or if my body is on the mend.

It’s been fun eating grain free food though! I love having the added variety in food.

First day: Meatza for lunch topped with bell pepper, mushrooms, bacon, and onions (better than regular pizza, Josh loved it too). Baked potatoes for dinner (due to lack of time).

Second day: We were gone all day so I had the inside of a tuna wrap and sweet potatoes for dinner.
Third day: Chicken stuffed with Argula and spinach, fennel avocado salad, spinach salad with yellow bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms (This meal was so yummy – Josh didn’t like the fennel as it has a licorice flavor, but I thought it was great). For dinner I was craving something unhealthy that wouldn’t take me off my grain free “diet” so we went to McDonald’s and I ate the patties of a burger and some fries. Twas yummy. 🙂

For those of you uncertain as why I would stop eating grains, this lady provides a good explanation of what grains do to harm your body.

Josh is hoping this “diet” won’t last more than a week. I’m hoping it will last a life time. Some of the cons I’ve found so far are that it increases our grocery list quite a bit because we have to buy more veggies and we have fewer leftovers. I find that I can’t just make one thing anymore, I have to make a meat dish plus a couple of veggie dishes in order to fill up properly. I’m hoping the pros will outweigh these cons in the future.


Choose Your Food Wisely:Pesticides – The Chemicals on Our Produce

Why are organics becoming all the rage? And why are we seeing a rising interest in buying food grown locally rather than from the nearest grocery store chain? The fact is, people are afraid of pesticides, poisons left on our food. I knew that there had been many studies that show the negative effects that pesticides have on humans. I didn’t really know the seriousness of the issue, however, so I did a little research at the EPA and NPIC websites to get a little more information.


There are numerous reasons why pesticides are used on crops. The main reason being that weeds, insects, and fungi lower crop yield. Pesticides prevent them from destroying these crops so that we can have food on our tables. However, with the detrimental effects it appears these pesticides have on people, it is rather alarming that they are used so extensively and freely. Often times, studies will show potential health concerns but the EPA will still allow the item to be used on our produce and in our livestock feed. Image

For instance, take a look at these 2 commonly used pesticides.


Pesticide residues from this insecticide can be found on the fruit and vegetables we eat. It is used on crops to kill insects by causing the nervous system to stop working properly. It binds with enzymes in the insects body and prevents the nerve signal from stopping (1). This leads to the inability to breathe properly and the insect dies. Over exposure affects humans the same way it affects bugs!

Studies have shown that long term exposure causes decreased cholinesterase activity and nasal and larynx lesions, suppression of thyroid function, increased blood glucose levels and blood insulin concentration, reduction in the normal level of estrogen in blood plasma (2) and among other things, liver cancer (1) in animals.

In humans, long term exposure at low doses has been shown to cause respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological systems and decreased cholinesterase activity (2). When cholinesterase levels are low because of excessive inhibition, the nervous system can malfunction, which can lead to death (3).

Also, the  EPA currently classifies malathion as having “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity, but the evidence is not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential (4).”


This is a herbicide commonly used to kill weeds from overtaking crops.

In animal studies with exposure to 2,4-D for long periods of time in low doses the results were kidney toxicity, liver toxicity (5), damage to the eye, thyroid, kidney, adrenals, and the ovaries and testes and fetal abnormalities(6). There has also been “found some association between 2,4-D and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” (5).” According to a study done by the National Cancer Institute, farmers who had been exposed to 2,4,-D had a 3 to 6 fold higher risk in obtaining non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (7).

This is only the start. The EPA estimates that approximately 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States (8). There are numerous different types of pesticides that are used, many showing adverse health problems when exposed. “At least fifty of these pesticides are classified as carcinogenic (9).”

The sad truth is that we are being exposed to them within the very foods that are supposed to be providing health and wellness to our bodies.


7. Sherrow, Victoria. Food Safety. New York: Chelsea House, 2008. 31.
9. Burke, Cindy. “How Pesticide Exposure Impacts Your Health.” To Buy or Not to Buy Organic: What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-friendly Food. New York, NY: Marlowe &, 2007. 13.

Living in a Not-So-Sunny Place: Getting Sufficient Vitamin D

As usual, when gloomy weather presents itself, I get sluggish and lack motivation. In California, dreary weather was not the norm so adjusting to Olympia and it’s frequent gloominess has not been easy. Most days are sluggish. Most days I am lacking energy and motivation. Part of this, I am certain, is just due to the place of life I am in, but part of it is also the lack of vitamin D in my diet.

At latitudes above 45 degrees such as Olympia, even the summer sun does not provide sufficient vitamin D in the diet (Sullivan). Since Vitamin D is vital for calcium and mineral absorption needed for bones, decreases depression, and is necessary for so many other bodily functions, I have decided that I’m going to need to find new ways to get vitamin D into my daily diet.

Thankfully, the Weston A Price Foundation has provided a chart of foods that contain high levels of Vitamin D. I think I will soon be introducing Cod Liver Oil and Sardines to my diet!

“USDA databases compiled in the 1980s list the following foods as rich in vitamin D. The amounts given are for 100 grams or about 3 1/2 ounces. These figures demonstrate the difficulty in obtaining 4,000 IU vitamin D per day from ordinary foods in the American diet. Three servings of herring, oysters, catfish, mackerel or sardines plus generous amounts of butter, egg yolk, lard or bacon fat and 2 teaspoons cod liver oil (500 iu per teaspoon) yield about 4,000 IU vitamin D—a very rich diet indeed!”

Cod Liver Oil
Lard (Pork Fat)
Atlantic Herring (Pickled)
Eastern Oysters (Steamed)
Catfish (Steamed/Poached)
Skinless Sardines (Water Packed)
Mackerel (Canned/Drained)
Smoked Chinook Salmon
Sturgeon Roe
Shrimp (Canned/Drained)
Egg Yolk (Fresh)
Lamb Liver (Braised)
Beef Tallow
Pork Liver (Braised)
Beef Liver (Fried)
Beef Tripe (Raw)
Beef Kidney (Simmered)
Chicken Livers (Simmered)
Small Clams (Steamed/Cooked Moist)
Blue Crab (Steamed)
Crayfish/Crawdads (Steamed)
Northern Lobster (Steamed)

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