Monday, February 20, 2017

Eat Lots of Sweet Potatoes

A few years back, I received this email on the relationship between food and certain aspects of health. At the time, because of my extreme reactions to anything starchy (sweet potatoes for one), I drooled over being able to eat sweet potatoes again. Well, now I've added them in moderation, and wow do they make me feel better. They're also rich in vitamin A and I have an extreme deficiency in that vitamin because I had to avoid vitamin A rich foods for so long because of reactions. Well, now I'm posting. Eat sweet potatoes ... if you at all can!


This is interesting ... old but a good reminder... It's been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish. He did all of of this before making a human.  He made and provided what we'd need before we were created. He made many kinds of food - fruits, vegetables, grasses and grains, and intended for them to be eaten raw. They are best and more powerful within the body when eaten raw. 

We're such slow learners. God even left visual devices for us to associate certain kinds of foods to benefit certain functions and areas within our bodies.  Many many visual clues! God's Pharmacy! Amazing! 

A sliced carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye. And, yes, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes. 

A tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food. 

Grapes hang in clusters that have the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food. 

A walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrum and lower cerebellum. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function. 

Kidney beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the
human kidneys. 

Celery, bok choy, rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body. 

Avocado, eggplant and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods. Modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them.

Sweet potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics. There are many kinds and shapes of sweet potatoes and they all have different nutrients but they all provide many essentials for good health.

Figs are full of seeds and hang in pairs when they grow. Figs increase male sperm mobility and increase the numbers of sperm as well as help overcome male sterility and fertility issues.

Oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body. 

Not only did God create man in His own image (Genesis 1), He designed a whole garden beforehand to feed and nurture His ultimate and last creation. Nothing else was created on the 6th day of creation week, and nothing was created afterwards. God and man rested on the seventh day, enjoying the beauty of the garden and all that God had made. King David marveled at the smallness of human and yet at the great regard that God had for man when He created him: Psalms 8:3-4 (KJV): 
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
While I still can't eat all of these foods that God provided -- e.g. figs are very glycemic -- I'm still blessed to have so many natural resources, the real medicine, to slowly get better. And I've come a very very long way in improving my health because of whole foods, many of them. God's resources has been the secret for my getting better!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What Is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is characterized by an increase in porosity of the bones and a corresponding decreased bone mass, resulting in an increased risk of fractures of the bones. Osteopenia is a term used to denote bone loss that is not as severe as osteoporosis. Risk factors for osteoporosis include sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, family history of the disease, and various medical conditions such as: rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, hyper thyroidism, diabetes, chronic lung disease, Cushing’s syndrome, and hyper para-thyroidism.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation:
  • Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every three seconds [1].
  • Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80, and two-thirds of women aged 90 and above [2].
  • Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people just in Europe, USA, and Japan [3].
  • Worldwide, one-in-three women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will one-in-five men aged over 50 [4],[5],[6].
  • Nearly 75% percent of hip, spine, and forearm fractures occur among patients 65 years old or over [6].
  • By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in men is projected to increase by 310 percent and 240 percent in women, compared to rates in 1990 [7].
  • Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll. In Europe, the disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers (with the exception of lung cancer) and is comparable or greater than that lost to a variety of chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure related heart disease [8].
Dietary factors that affect osteoporosis:

Refined sugar. Hamsters fed a high-sucrose diet (56% of calories) developed osteoporosis [9]. In young rats, the replacement of starch by sucrose in the diet interfered with bone development [10]. In an observational study, consumption of large amounts of candy was associated with low bone mineral density (BMD) in both men and women [11].

There are many possible ways in which consuming refined sugars could lead to bone loss. Since refined sugars are essentially devoid of micronutrients, eating refined sugar decreases the intake of various vitamins and minerals that are important for bone health. Sugar is acidic to the body and the body will use calcium from bone and teeth to reduce acidity in the body, thus weakening the bones.

Cola beverages. In observational studies, higher intake of cola drinks was associated with lower bone mineral density in women and a higher incidence of fractures in adolescent girls [12],[13]. The apparent adverse effect of colas on bone health could be due in part to their content of phosphoric acid, which may cause calcium to be released from bone in order to buffer the acidity. The caffeine in cola drinks may also be a factor.

Caffeine. Ingestion of a single dose of caffeine transiently increased urinary calcium excretion in both men and women in a dose-dependent manner [14],[15],[16]. Many [17],[18],[19] observational studies found that a higher intake of caffeine was associated with lower bone mineral density, more rapid bone loss, or increased risk of hip fracture.

Sodium. In a short-term study, high intake of sodium chloride increased urinary calcium excretion in healthy postmenopausal women in a dose-dependent manner [20]. High salt intake has also been associated with increased urinary excretion of hydroxyproline, which is indicative of increased bone resorption [21]. In a study with rats, the addition of 1.8 percent sodium chloride to the drinking water significantly decreased bone mineral density [22]. An observational study found that higher sodium intake was associated with more rapid bone loss especially in postmenopausal women [23].

Carbonated beverages. Excessive phosphorous reacts with the calcium to form an insoluble compound and inhibiting absorption of calcium from the digestive system, phosphorus causes bone loss. It also causes calcium losses from bone by metabolizing to phosphoric acid, which has to be neutralized with calcium. Excessive phosphorous is contained in soft drinks, cheese and chocolate drinks.

Milk. Milk is widely promoted as a food that is good for our bones. However, a 12-year prospective study of 77,761 female health professionals found that the incidence of hip fractures was higher by 45 percent in women who consumed two or more glasses of milk per day than in those who consumed one glass or less per week [24].

Nutrients to support strong bones:

Calcium. Calcium is a major component of bone tissue. Adequate calcium intake is important both early in life for achieving optimal peak bone mass and later in life for slowing bone loss. Green juice, leafy greens, sesame seeds, seaweeds (kelp) and broccoli sprouts are great sources of calcium.

Magnesium. It is impossible to build bone without magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for numerous bone-related reactions including the conversion of vitamin D to its bioactive form, which is necessary for calcium absorption. Several studies have shown that about 80 percent of the American population get only two-thirds of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of the required magnesium. Additionally, the (RDA) for magnesium is known to be too low. Kelp, almonds and legumes are great sources of magnesium.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D enhances the intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus, promotes bone mineralization, and is involved in regulating serum calcium and phosphorus levels. Vitamin D deficiency in adults causes osteomalacia, which is characterized by softening of bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness. A lot of older people do not get enough vitamin D because they tend to stay out of the sun. Fenugreek sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, sunflower sprouts and the sun are great sources of vitamin D.

Manganese. Manganese is required for bone mineralization and for synthesis of the organic matrix on which calcification takes place. A study reported in Science News found that osteoporotic women had serum manganese levels of only 25 percent of that of the control group. Spinach, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts are great sources of manganese.

Vitamin K. A study in Clinical Endocrinology found that vitamin K supplementation reduced urinary calcium losses in osteoporosis patients by 18 to 50 percent. Green leafy vegetables, spring onions, asparagus and olive oil are great sources of vitamin K.

Vitamin C, strontium, silicon, folic acid, boron, and other nutrients also play important roles. Calcium metabolism is very complex and requires adequate amounts of many nutrients. To prevent and support the healing of osteoporosis you first have to reduce calcium losses by drastically reducing your intake of sugar, salt, phosphorous, and caffeine. Secondly, you have to consume the right amounts of nutrients that support formation of new bone such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, boron, vitamin D, and other key nutrients.

Exercise to strengthen bones:

Weight-bearing exercise, in addition to slowing or reversing bone loss, may increase strength and balance, thereby reducing the risk of falls. Exercise, especially weight bearing exercise, will actually increase bone mass and reverse bone loss. A three-year study of older women at the University of Wisconsin showed that a control group of sedentary women lost three percent of bone density while the group that exercised gained two percent.

The best way to achieve strong bones is to eat a plant-based diet consisting of a variety of fresh, unprocessed, organic vegetables, whole grains and sprouts. Take high quality, whole-food nutritional supplements which contain the essential bone-forming nutrients. Get regular exercise, including an essential weight-bearing program.


[1] Johnell O and Kanis JA (2006) An estimate of the worldwide prevalence and disability associated with osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporos Int 17:1726.
[2] Kanis JA (2007) WHO Technical Report, University of Sheffield, UK: 66.
[3] EFFO and NOF (1997) Who are candidates for prevention and treatment for osteoporosis? Osteoporos Int 7:1.
[4] Melton LJ, 3rd, Atkinson EJ, O’Connor MK, et al. (1998) Bone density and fracture risk in men. J Bone Miner Res 13:1915.
[5] Melton LJ, 3rd, Chrischilles EA, Cooper C, et al. (1992) Perspective. How many women have osteoporosis? J Bone Miner Res 7:1005.
[6] Melton LJ, 3rd, Crowson CS, O’Fallon WM (1999) Fracture incidence in Olmsted County, Minnesota:
comparison of urban with rural rates and changes in urban rates over time. Osteoporos Int 9:29.
[7] Gullberg B, Johnell O, Kanis JA (1997) World-wide projections for hip fracture. Osteoporos Int 7:407.
[8] Johnell O and Kanis JA (2006) An estimate of the worldwide prevalence and disability associated with osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporos Int 17:1726.
[9] Saffar JL, Sagroun B, De Tessieres C, Makris G. Osteoporotic effect of a high-carbohydrate diet (Keyes 2000) in golden hamsters. Arch Oral Biol 1981;26:393–397.
[10] Tjaderhane L, Larmas M. A high sucrose diet decreases the mechanical strength of bones in growing rats. J Nutr 1998;128:1807–1810.
[11] Tucker KL, Chen H, Hannan MT, et al. Bone mineral density and dietary patterns in older adults: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:245–252.
[12] Tucker KL, Morita K, Qiao N, et al. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:936–942.
[13] Wyshak G, Frisch RE. Carbonated beverages, dietary calcium, the dietary calcium/phosphorus ratio, and bone fractures in girls and boys. J Adolesc Health 1994;15:210–215.
[14] Hollingbery PW, Bergman EA, Massey LK. Effect of dietary caffeine and aspirin on urinary calcium and hydroxyproline excretion in pre- and postmenopausal women. Fed Proc 1985; 44:1149.
[15] Massey LK, Berg T. Effect of dietary caffeine on urinary mineral excretion in healthy males. Fed Proc 1985; 44:1149.
[16] Bergman EA, Massey LK. Effect of dietary caffeine on urinary calcium in estrogen replete and estrogen depleted women. Fed Proc 1986; 45:373.
[17] Barrett-Connor E, Chang JC, Edelstein SL. Coffee-associated osteoporosis offset by milk consumption. JAMA 1994; 271:280–283.
[18] Rapuri PB, Gallagher JC, Kinyamu HK, Ryschon KL. Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. Am J Clin Nutr 2001; 74:694–700.
[19] Hernandez-Avila M, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, et al. Caffeine, moderate alcohol intake, and risk of fractures of the hip and forearm in middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr 1991; 54:157–163.
[20] Zarkadas M, Gougeon-Reyburn R, Marliss EB, et al. Sodium chloride supplementation and urinary calcium excretion in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 1989; 50:1088–1094.
[21] Antonios TFT, MacGregor GA. Deleterious effects of salt intake other than effects on blood pressure. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 1995; 22:180–184.
[22] Chan AYS, Poon P, Chan ELP, et al. The effect of high sodium intake on bone mineral content in rats fed a normal calcium or a low calcium diet. Osteoporosis Int 1993; 3:341–344
[23] Devine A, Criddle RA, Dick IM, et al. A longitudinal study of the effect of sodium and calcium intakes on regional bone density in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 62:740–745.

[24] Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health 1997; 87:992–997.

Article by Tom Fisher RN, BA, Nurse Supervisor at Hippocrates Health Institute

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Vegan Briyani Rice

Over the summer my brother grew over a hundred tomato plants, and of many varieties--romas and san marzano (both meaty and rich and great for sauces), brandywine and black brandywine (new), big boy, cherry and grape tomato varieties, and some volunteers in the compost. Every year he experiments with other tomato varieties, mostly heirlooms, and this year he grew something called a pineapple tomato. It did have the pineapple-yellow glow to it too, and tasted quite good, a bit sweet in fact.

So with all the tomatoes we were harvesting, we started drying the huge surplus. I have a 9-shelf excalibur food dehydrator and we kept that baby busy for weeks. Since we had so many tomatoes that were small like the cherries, the grape tomatoes and some tomato that was a bit smaller and just as meaty as the romas, that was what we principally dried. The larger tomatoes we saved for juice, pizza sauces, and homemade chili. Anyway, so the baskets of tomatoes were heaped when we were loading the dehydrator. We counted on one occasion 220+ small tomatoes, mostly grapes and small romas, for one load in the dehydrator. [Cut them in half or quarters so they would dry faster.] At the end of the summer before I returned to Korea, my bro told me my birthday present this year was 1,000 tomatoes and he gave me 5 3#-coconut oil containers filled with dried tomatoes! Wow, what a birthday present!

So today in the fall season I have "fresh" homegrown, organic tomatoes, and many of them are very very red because they were so recently dehydrated. No sulfurs or chemicals were used in the drying process to "aid in their preservation". Simply WOW in flavor! So tonight vegan Indian briyani, a warming food for the cooling weather, is on the menu.
Vegan briyani in the crockpot: 
2/3 cup brown rice
1/3 cup brown lentils
1 t freshly minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c dehydrated tomatoes
1/2 t black pepper
1 t cumin powder
2/3 t turmeric powder
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme 
add salt later -- it corrodes the crockpot

Notice the variety of reconstituted tomatoes in the briyani. They look different and they have a different tanginess too--quite the pleasant blend for this rice dish.
The briyani cooked on the brown rice setting takes about an hour. In the past I've added fresh whole chestnuts for an added richness. Possible other additions could be a couple tablespoons of uncooked millet, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg ... but the recipe depends on the creator and his/her mood. But simple blend really has harmony to me. Simple and nice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Drinking Water 101

Here's an article on a topic very dear to my heart since I've had so many problems and reactions to the water here in Seoul. The articles is published by Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, a 100% raw food lifestyle education center. 


Clean Water 

Water is the most important nutrient for your body second only to air. You can go for months without food but, you can only go for a few days without water. Water not only keeps your tissues and organs hydrated but it also assists in the absorption of nutrients to your cells. The water you drink becomes your blood. It gives you energy, reduces inflammation, improves your skin, lubricates your joints, and helps keep you young and healthy! But, what is the best kind of water to drink and where can I find it? 

Wild Springs 

When it comes to making the safest and healthiest water for human consumption it is a good idea to try to re-create the same conditions in which nature delivers the purest water to us. The best water on earth rises from great depths from free-flowing, natural wild springs. This water is scrubbed by the rocks in a natural cleansing action as it rises by its own volition until it joyously springs forth on the earth’s surface in a celebration of life ready to be consumed. Wild spring water has been distilled by nature and preserved deep within the earth for many hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years far removed from human contamination.

On its long journey to the surface the water rubs itself against many miles of rocks and crystals. This movement against dissimilar materials charges the water, restructures the water and gives the water energy and life. This process makes the water molecules more linear and structured in such a way that it is more easily absorbable and better hydrating. It also makes any minerals in the water living and organic by charging them in the same way the plants charge the minerals through the xylem in their root structure. This movement prepares and arranges the minerals in such a way that your body can utilize them. Still stagnant water creates dead inorganic minerals.

But, not all spring water is created equal. Some springs are better than others. The best springs are typically found in the mountains. Curiously near the peak of the mountains, not near the bottom. Here are some other signs of a good spring:
  1. The water will be consistently cold in every season indicating a very deep aquafer
  2. The water flow rate will be consistent even during periods of little or no rain again indicating a very deep aquafer
  3. The pH will be close to neutral
  4. The total dissolved solids (TDS) will be low
  5. A high number of turns per foot
There is a list of wild springs in your area at This online directory is a community and user created database of natural springs around the world. Some of these springs are in public state parks and some are on private property. If you bring your own bottles almost all of them will allow you to collect the wild spring water for free or with a voluntary donation. Some of these springs will have water test results posted. I recommend that you have your wild-crafted spring water professionally tested in a lab to be sure it is safe to drink. 

Filtered Water

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to good quality wild springs or have the inclination to go and get collect their own water. Even if you do I would still recommend that you have a really high quality whole house water filtration system professionally installed. This way every time you shower, bath, brush your teeth, wash your clothes, wash your dishes, water your plants, or drink from any faucet in the house you are using clean water. Some whole house water filtration systems simply perform better than others. Typically, these systems are multi-staged since it takes different kinds of filter media to remove different kinds of contaminants.

Here is what to look for in a high quality whole house filtration system:
  1. Outputs water with a low TDS (less than 50ppm)
  2. Removes chlorine
  3. Removes fluoride
  4. Removes heavy metals
  5. Removes pharmaceuticals
You will probably notice a drop in water pressure after you install a whole house water filtration system. This is because water filters have to slow the water down in order to be effective. You may want to consider installing a booster pump to maintain your normal water pressure. Water filtration technologies are constantly improving and new and better products are becoming available every year. I teach a class called “Water Wisdom” as a part of the Life Transformation Program where I share with our guests the latest and best technologies and products available and where to get them. There are water filters that will remove most of the contaminants listed above. 

If you do not own your home or you are otherwise disinclined to install a whole house water filtration system I would recommend that you at least install shower head filters on all your showers and use a portable water filters in the kitchen for drinking, preparing meals and in the bathroom for brushing your teeth. You can also get an RV inline hose water filter for watering your outdoor plants. Again, consider coming to Hippocrates to get the full download on the latest and best portable water filter technologies and products available and where to get them.

Bottled Water

While bottled water is an environmental disaster it is a reality for some people because of the lifestyle they have created for themselves. I would recommend that you use a reusable water bottle whenever possible preferably made from glass. Bottled drinking water is not regulated by the USDA nor the EPA so there are now laws governing and there is no oversight. As a result the industry is rife with abuse. In fact, 50% of all bottled drinking water tested is nothing more than just plain old tap water. On a scale of one to ten (ten being the best) here is my scoring system for bottled water: 

Enhanced Water

Once we have effectively filtered the water the next step is enhancement. It is a good idea to attempt to re-create the same conditions in which nature delivers the purest water to us – freely flowing water from natural wild springs. This movement is nature’s way of energizing and enhancing the water and preparing it for consumption. These natural conditions can be replicated at home with some of the following items:
  • Pouring
  • Stirring
  • S-curves
  • Whirlpools
  • Vortex
  • Sacred geometry
  • Magnets
  • Crystals
  • Light
  • Positive thoughts 
This will prepare the water for your cells making it healthier, better hydrating, and better tasting. Water has consciousness and it craves our respect. These types of water enhancements will reenergize, restructure and rememorizes water that has in some cases been abused. Municipal tap water has been unnaturally mixed with chemicals and exposed to pollution, forced through miles of pipes, valves, pumps and machines exposing it to chaotic energies alone its long arduous journey. There are devices that will accomplish the type of desirable enhancements such as the ones listed above. We utilize some of these devices here at Hippocrates for providing the best water for our guests, our associates, and for our plants.

Here are Hippocrates we take a holistic approach to the natural healing arts. We believe and we teach that if you give your body the right substances, forces influences and conditions that your body will take care of itself. This includes:
  • Adequate Sunshine
  • Pure Fresh Air
  • Clean Water
  • Plant-rich, Nutrient-dense diet
  • Exercise
  • Adequate Rest
  • Spiritual Outlook
  • Positive Thinking

Of all the things you can do for your optimal health the two acts of simply consuming only the best clean water and breathing only pure fresh air are by far the most important things you can do for your body.

Article by Brian Hetrich, Greenhouse Manager

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Gluten-free, Sugar-free Carrot Cake

1 rounded cup gluten-free flour blend (millet, brown rice, quinoa, flax meal)
1/2+ t. baking soda*
1/2+ t. baking powder*
4-5 T. cinnamon
2 t. coriander
1 t. cardamom
1/4 t. nutmeg*
1 1/2 inch segment fresh ginger, grated
1/2 rounded t. Himalayan salt
3 eggs
1 cup coconut oil
2 t. vanilla (preferably alcohol-free)
2/3 cup pecan (or walnut) pieces
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
*The starred ingredients I have avoided for a long time because they previously aggravated my candida. Today I successfully tried them out. No, this was a treat and I'm not now introducing these ingredients to my diet regularly, but just wanted a special treat. The same applies for the large amount of grated carrot which has a higher glycemic load than I can typically handle. Hooray! My body accepted the treat and I had no consequences. How wonderful! I'll still be strict with my diet but I do know the strictness if really paying off! 

To make, combine dry ingredients and then add the wet, adding the grated carrots last. Pour sticky batter into a greased and floured baking dish and bake on 350F for 40 minutes. Gluten-free baked goods don't brown typically like glutinous ones, but there will be a golden glow to the finished cake, which btw is more like a rich bread. Test for cake being properly cooked with a toothpick. If the inserted toothpick comes out batter-free, then the cake is ready to pull from the over and enjoy. Yum!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Veggie-Ginger Patties on Lettuce

Frying isn't my thing, but occasionally frying on low heat is. These patties were whipped up from a couple of eggs to bind them, a small amount of flour (millet, quinoa and brown rice blended fresh in a high-speed blender, my Blendtec), coconut oil, finely grated zucchini, some grated carrot, fresh greens, lots of finely minced fresh ginger, turmeric, sea salt and black pepper. Then I slowly fried them in coconut oil, which is more heat-stable than other oils. Frying on low heat supposedly keeps the nutrients more in tact and reduces the oil from being transformed in the high heat process into trans fats. 

Served on a bed of Romaine lettuce leaves and tomato slices! Simple but a pleasing meal for the eye before the stomach joined in on the fare. 

Eat fresh, feel fresh!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Citric Acid Derived from Black Mold

Just what is your food made of, anyway? Try industrial synthesis, genetically modified mold secretions, hydrochloric acid, mercury-contaminated caustic soda, ferrocyanide… and, of course, lots of GMO corn.

If common ingredients like “citric acid” and “ascorbic acid (vitamin C)” sound normal and familiar enough that you practically conjure up an image of the flourishing orchard they were grown in – then think again.

Picture instead an industrial factory, carrying out protocols developed in a lab, produced with enough winding nozzles, tanks, valves, pipes and other thinga-ma-jiggers to create a meandering and disorienting Dr. Seuss story. Because, after all, these common –nearly ubiquitous – ingredients don’t come from where you might assume (i.e. simply, citrus fruits).

Instead, mass produced citric acid and ascorbic acid are hidden GMO ingredients that reportedly set off allergenic responses for some sensitive consumers. Further, both are known accomplices to the creation of benzene – a known human carcinogen – inside food and drink products alongside sodium benzoate.

Feel free to peruse these blogs and forums for complaints about citric acid from those allergic or intolerant to citric acid itself, mold & yeast and/or corn. Food intolerance to citric acid, or the components of its production, can trigger such symptoms as: stomach pain, reactions in the mouth, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, hives, dark circles under the eye and/or blotchy skin.

Nevertheless, most people are not allergic to citric acid, and have no identifiable negative effects from eating it. But it does serve as a poignant reminder that what we eat comes from food products – constructed as if from tinker toys, with multiple, highly processed ingredients that virtually no one would recognize and few know anything about.

Otto Von Bismarck famously quipped back in the 1800s that “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” But today there is an endless array of foods that would baffle or disgust consumers if they saw them made. Industrial food processes have rendered entire grocery stores filled with food products whose ingredients would be even less recognizable than the contents of sausage.

Citric acid: in practically everything on the shelf

Citric acid is common enough to find in foods of virtually every kind, due to its use as a preservative – extending shelf life and preventing spoilage – as well as to enhance flavor with its acidic and slightly sour taste, which gives all manner of “natural”-ish and completely artificial foods and beverages a “refreshing” kick. Despite being a known hidden GMO, it is even frequently found in certified “organic” foods – and the USDA and FDA allow it to be in there.

Citric acid isn’t becoming a controversial foodie’s food-to-avoid, but instead trending for its ability to bring out the pucker-inducing and tangy tastes in popular foods. It is increasingly celebrated for helping to bring a balance of “all five flavors” to countless restaurant dishes and prepackaged processed foods – indispensable to even celebrity and TV contestant chefs.

Like MSG, the widely used ingredient that enhances ‘savory’ flavors and induces cravings, citric acid is widely used not only as a preservative but as a “fairy dust of flavour amplification” by enhancing and intensifying other flavors present in the recipe.

MSG and citric acid are essentially enablers to modern America’s food frenzy addiction – making even bland foods not just palatable and tasty, but downright delectable and captivating. With so many ingredients raising red flags, piling on sugar, synthetic chemicals and calories while contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart conditions and even cancer – MSG, citric acid and their peers make manufactured food products possible.

Both are used industrially to make even bland foods taste better and last longer on the shelf, regardless of nutritional value. But like many other common food additives, the science behind their production would probably take away from their (artificial) palate appeal.

Manufacturers and distributors of citric acid – as well as the larger food industry who use it as an ingredient in practically everything – benefit from the public’s assumption that citric acid comes from fruit. While this natural appeal is frequently used in food marketing and product imagery (as this chemical manufacturer clearly does), the reality of large scale, mass production of citric acid bears little to no resemblance. Ignorance-based marketing: This chemical company uses the “fresh” image of citrus fruit to market its citric acid – with no mention that it is most likely derived from genetically modified black mold grown on GMO corn syrup.

As the Globe and Mail succinctly puts it:
Citric acid occurs naturally in such fruits as limes, pineapples and gooseberries. The dry, powdered citric acid used as an industrial food additive since the early 19th century, however has a less appetizing source; it is manufactured using a mould that feeds on corn syrup glucose.
Citric acid does in fact occur naturally in citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits in significant quantities … in fact, as a product of the Kreb’s Cycle, it is present in most living things. But industry would find it simply too costly and … well, simple to derive their preservative ingredient that way.

Actually, a cornered citrus market was already making this form of citric acid too expensive by the mid-to-late 19th century, making an alternative economically desirable even then. Authors Michael Mattey and Bjorn Kristiansen argue in their introduction to Citric Acid Biotechnology that “the science, though important, is secondary to the economics and politics of production” of citric acid.

Instead, since the early 1900s, the black mold Aspergillus niger has been used to ferment starches to derive citric acid. In 1893, a chemist named C. Wehmer discovered that citric acid could be produced with penicillium mold and sugar. Wartime disruptions in the Italian citric acid market paved the way for full-scale industrial production, after a food chemist named James Currie discovered that Aspergillus niger was even more efficient at producing citric acid. Currie also developed new methods for fermentation, and Pfizer hired him and launched a plant in 1917 to mass produce citric acid grown from mold in a sugar medium. Currie’s methods were also used by Pfizer to drastically increase the production of penicillin, credited with saving countless lives.

Today, it is not only true that nearly all citric acid is made through mold fermentation with GMO corn, but that it is produced by some of the biggest of Big Ag food producers, both in the U.S. and in China.

The three biggest domestic producers of citric acid – Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Tate & Lyle Americas (actually a British company) – have been recently involved in suits over import duties and trade turf against Chinese firms, including Shandong TTCA Biochemistry, battling for market share in America.

Think of all the times citric acid shows up on the ingredients label in things that you or those you love eat. We already know it isn’t as simple as squeezing a lemon or lime, but what the hell is it, anyway?

Judge for yourself, with a glance over this “simple” formula:

THE PROCESS: How Citric Acid is Synthesized from Genetically Modified Black Mold

Citric acid production has become a refined and highly prized industrial process. Numerous scientific studies discuss revisions and improvements to the efficiency. But there are definitely some constants to this often competitive and secretive process:
Engineering the mold: Aspergillus niger is a naturally occurring black mold that commonly appears on fruits and vegetables, as pictured on the onion above (source: S.K. Mohan, Creative Commons license). However, significant modification of A. niger has taken place over the past several decades to increase production of citric acid and decrease the production of unwanted byproducts. This has resulted in countless generations of genetically modified mutant variants, now specialized for industrial-scale economics. Two of the main types of modification are:
Further genetic modification and “improvement” of A. niger are an object of ongoing study and industrial practice.

Producing the Sugar Medium: Nearly all industrial citric acid begins with a highly processed glucose corn syrup that is derived from corn wet milling (other parts of the corn residues go to other processes). Other industrial sources include beet sugar and cane molasses, and occasionally also fruit waste.

But it’s hard to beat the economics of subsidized corn – the vast majority of which is the unlabeled, genetically modified, high starch (yellow dent #2) variety – that can synergistically contribute to ingredients like citric acid as well as ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose (corn sugar), maltodextrin, corn oil, corn meal, ascorbic acid (labeled as vitamin C), MSG and other free glutamates (such as ‘hydrolyzed vegetable protein’), malic acid, baking powder, vanilla, xantham gum and perhaps hundreds of others. Often times, hydrochloric acid is employed in the corn-conversion process.

To transform corn or other plant starches into by-products that can be used to create these ingredients, some serious chemistry must be employed. (click on images to enlarge)

After wet milling corn to separate the starch, the production of many of these ingredients then involves a bath in strong bases, where lyes are used to break down the plant material further. Sometimes this means autolysis, when yeasts or bacteria ferment the material, and other times hydrolysis is used – which vary depending upon the type of additive, and the most efficient and cost effective established processes.

As with other common food ingredients, there is an ongoing issue with mercury cell technology – an outdated model still used in several major chlor-alkali plants – that have a known issue with mercury contamination during the application of caustic soda (to neutralize work with acids). Among hundreds of food ingredients that are potentially contaminated by mercury, studies show the three most common are high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate and, yep, citric acid.

A 2009 study published in Environmental Health analyzed the level of mercury contamination from the chlor-alkali process, resulting in numerous grabbing headlines warning about the mercury content in high fructose corn syrup. Although citric acid didn’t make the news, it too is processed in the same way:
Mercury cell chlor-alkali products are used to produce thousands of other products including food ingredients such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is used in food products to enhance shelf life. A pilot study was conducted to determine if high fructose corn syrup contains mercury, a toxic metal historically used as an anti-microbial. High fructose corn syrup samples were collected from three different manufacturers and analyzed for total mercury. The samples were found to contain levels of mercury ranging from below a detection limit of 0.005 to 0.570 micrograms mercury per gram of high fructose corn syrup.
Medium preparation: Various proprietary combinations of acids and heat are used to remove impurities and sterilize the corn syrup or other substrate, including: decationization (to alter the charge of ions), thermodynamic hexacyanoferrate clarification (pertaining to an ion exchange using an iron/cyanide compound) as well as boiling – that’s right, they use cyanide.

Meanwhile, the sugar substrate is diluted in preparation for fermentation.

Inoculation, itself a complicated step: Through a careful process, the spores or cultures of the fermenting agent is introduced, mixed and multiplied. In nearly all current industrial processes, a genetically modified mutant strain of Aspergillus niger (black mold) is then used to ferment the corn sugar syrup into citric acid over the course of several days. (click pictures to enlarge)

Careful control is applied to the pH of the mixture; in various modifications to the process, different types of acids (including hydrochloric acid) are used to increase the productivity of Aspergillus niger and prevent other unwanted products, such as oxalic acid. Subsequent genetically mutated strains of A. niger have been developed to allow the “non-production” of oxalic acid at a higher pH of 5 with the presence of manganese, whereas some production facilities have required a pH as low as 2 to prevent the formation of oxalic acid at the expense of citric acid production. 

Fermentation in the Reactor: The mold-glucose solution is fermented inside in an industrial reactor, generally constructed of stainless steel tanks or towers (to mitigate past manufacturing issues that have occurred in the industry with corrosion and leaching [p. 4 submerged process] and also contain manganese [useful in controlling the production of citric acid]). The reactor includes a sophisticated aeration system that maintains the desirable level of dissolved oxygen, which fluctuates during different stages of the fermentation process.

The process of fermentation leads to the catabolism of glucose sugar by the Aspergillus niger, leading to its secretion of citric acid into the culture broth.

Spore levels, temperature and pH are all tweaked over the course of several hours or days as production of citric acid increases, peaks, then planes off.

Broth separation: After fermentation, the “culture broth” must be separated so the citric acid can be obtained. The processes vary and, again, are closely guarded trade secrets. Some processes cut the fermented broth using a solvent extraction method, while most modern citric acid production utilizes a process known as “calcium citrate precipitation.”

Calcium citrate precipitation: The fermented broth is neutralized by calcium hydroxide, converting/precipitating much of it to calcium citrate. This is then filtered out of the solution, and sulfuric acid is then used to convert the calcium citrate to citric acid and calcium sulfate. The calcium sulfate is filtered out and evaporation for crystallization begins.

Crystallization: Another secretive step is the exact process for converting the final substrate of citric acid into the crystalline white powder that is sold to food manufacturers and consumers. An entry in Volume 17 of Biotechnology and Bioengineering published in 1975 describes the process: “The filtrate is concentrated under vacuum at a low temperature to give crystals of citric acid. Details of both fermentation and crystallization procedures are closely guarded trade secrets.”

The process is likely even more refined, specialized and high tech today. A Wikispaces entry for Citric Acid describes putting the isolated citric acid through additional steps with “activated carbon, cation and anion exchange resins in fixed bed reactors” before evaporation. It then describes both a hot and cold process of crystallization, with the former producing anhydrous citric acid, and the latter producing monohydrate citric acid.

Finishing for Market: The products then can undergo centrifuging, fluidized bed drying and classification (by grain size) before reaching the market.

Sodium Citrate: A related ingredient that is commonly used in foods as an acidulant, as citric acid is, and as an emulsifier in cheese products, is sodium citrate. It is typically created in the same facilities where citric acid is produced, by adding caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, a.k.a. lye) to citric acid, neutralizing it into a weaker citrate salt. Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Tate & Lyle are all major producers of sodium citrate.

If the use of caustic soda involves a mercury-cell chlor-alkali plant (see above diagram), further mercury contamination could occur, though membrane-cell technology is replacing it in most plants.

An additional issue with citric acid pertains to its use as a common preservative alongside other ingredients that could cause known carcinogens, like benzene, inside food products:

Citric Acid and Sodium Benzoate “Fizz-ion”: A Carcinogenic Contaminate 
the Soda Companies Have Known About For Decades

Academic studies emerged in the early 1990s about a potent combination of ingredients that was frequently showing up in soft drinks, sports drinks and artificially flavored citrus beverages: the presence of sodium benzoate had the known potential to break down in benzene, a known human carcinogen, when in the presence of heat, or in particular, either citric acid or ascorbic acid. Studies proved that this could happen right inside the drink containers – while in transport, on store shelves or waiting for consumption in consumers’ homes.

Yet nothing was done about it, until the scandal reemerged in 2005 when the FDA was confronted with studies conducted by a private citizen! Numerous European studies in Germany, Belgium and elsewhere backed up the data, and things slowly began to change.

Afterwards, many diet soda brands, sports drinks and citrus-flavored beverages voluntarily removed the troubling ingredient sodium benzoate (though some laughably replaced it only with potassium benzoate, which has the same potential to create benzene).

However, many other brands have done nothing at all, and the FDA allows them to continue using this dangerous mixture of ingredients, despite clear data on the matter. Foods and drinks containing the potentially harmful combination of sodium benzoate and citric acid can STILL be commonly found on store shelves, perhaps especially with generic brands.

Start reading ingredient labels on the brands that you shop for – and those you already know best to avoid – and take note of just how many products contain the hidden GMO ingredient citric acid. We recommend simplifying your diet by eating fresh produce – better if they are grown by someone you know/trust or are “organic” – and foods with as few ingredients as possible.

How many times have you glossed over this seemingly natural ingredient – despite the fact that it is a highly processed and synthetic food additive?

Nevertheless, the FDA has –like practically everything else – “Generally Recognized [it] as Safe” (GRAS). For the record, here is the FDA’s chapter on the oversight of the process of citric acid fermentation by Aspergillus niger:
Subpart C–Solvents, Lubricants, Release Agents and Related Substances
Sec. 173.280 Solvent extraction process for citric acid. 
A solvent extraction process for recovery of citric acid from conventional Aspergillus niger fermentation liquor may be safely used to produce food-grade citric acid in accordance with the following conditions: 
  • (a) The solvent used in the process consists of a mixture of n-octyl alcohol meeting the requirements of 172.864 of this chapter, synthetic isoparaffinic petroleum hydrocarbons meeting the requirements of 172.882 of this chapter, and tridodecyl amine.
  • (b) The component substances are used solely as a solvent mixture and in a manner that does not result in formation of products not present in conventionally produced citric acid.
  • (c) The citric acid so produced meets the specifications of the “Food Chemicals Codex,” 3d Ed. (1981), pp. 86-87, which is incorporated by reference (Copies may be obtained from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20418, or may be examined at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to:, and the polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon specifications of 173.165.
  • (d) Residues of n-octyl alcohol and synthetic isoparaffinic petroleum hydrocarbons are removed in accordance with good manufacturing practice. Current good manufacturing practice results in residues not exceeding 16 parts per million (ppm)n- octyl alcohol and 0.47 ppm synthetic isoparaffinic petroleum hydrocarbons in citric acid.
  • (e) Tridodecyl amine may be present as a residue in citric acid at a level not to exceed 100 parts per billion.