Monday, June 22, 2009

Food Toxins I: The Lily Family

I just try to balance the common message to make sure people get a balanced message and then have a better ability to make up their own minds as to what's best for themselves (since everyone's different).

I don't write this stuff to make people afraid. I write it so they can have a balanced quantity of information, think critically and make personal decisions.

The health food industry is a tricky beast. Money matters and so the messages get really skewed one way or the other. The people putting out the books are the money makers and they're out to sell their own product... so it would be unwise and unproductive for them to point out their product flaws. These are also the books that tend to make it into conventional schooling systems. It just makes good business sense. As consumers, we need to think critically about what's on our informational plate, so to speak.

With the years I've put in researching both sides of many different foods/families/groups, there are two definites I've found.

There is no magic pill.
There is no perfect food. (Don't even get me started on how sick I am of hearing about the lycopene in tomatoes!)

All foods contain toxins. It part of the theory about self-protection and not being eaten to the point of annihilation.

The human body has an amazing capacity to detoxify itself - if given the chance. Common food poisoning and surviving it, is a fairly extreme example of how efficiently our bodies can work to stay not only alive, but well.

This is a big factor in the rotation diet theory (don't eat the same within three days of itself). And it kind of makes sense, the same way you don't workout arms every day (because too many toxins will build up in the muscle if not given enough time to purge the toxins).

Rotating also helps clarify which toxins are 'more toxic for you as an individual' because it allows time for delayed reactions to show themselves.

The lily family (very broad definition) seems to be a fairly reactive family of foods. We know this because we use much of it for healing. Strong healing properties often mean strong toxic properties also. This family (or kissing cousins) include onions, garlic, asparagus, agave, etc...

These foods, in high enough quantities, are used to kill worms, bacteria, etc. It's really hard to kill those things, so this gives you an idea of how potent (toxic) they can be.

Onions have been used to predict weather. (There is some scientific basis to be found, even in old wives' tales - if you read my soup overview and the reference material I listed with it, it show how the old wive's tale re: soup actually works on a science level).

Garlic is used to kill lots of stuff and deter even things as large as vampires. Sorry, couldn't resist that one. Just checking to see if you were still paying attention. ;D

Asparagus is a diuretic. Diuretics help flush toxins out of a system.

The body seems to need to consume these things (unless they're highly reactive, and the lily family is VERY reactive for some people - and to be avoided) to help keep bacteria, worms, etc., under control. However, the body itself seems to need a break from a buildup of these toxins.

Again, the theory behind rotation dieting is that your body will react to food toxins. But we all have to eat. Just try not to expose it to the same toxins every day.

Meekly dismounting my soapbox and shaking my head a myself for getting carried away once again. Passion does that to a person doesn't it? Takes away all semblance of any kind of self-control.

I'll try to post references later. They're all on the net, as usual, for those who are less patient. ;)

Sugar Review


Is predigested by bees and therefore a simple sugar, as opposed to complex (more than two molecules). This is a preferred sweetener for people who are on diets due to sensitivities re: complex sugars. Not all people tolerate honey well.

Honey also, when mixed with water (sweat, etc.) creates a very mild hydrogen peroxide solution. It is believed that this is why Manuka honey, in many cases, works better on diabetic lesions than antibiotics.

I have alternated honey and epsom salts and oregano/garlic tea on a staph infection on my daughter's face (rather than going right to a cortisone cream which is hard on the skin) and had success with it.


Plant extract. Not much is really known about it at this point. It does have some hormonal questions surrounding it. Diabetics have little choice. So, if you don't absolutely HAVE to use it... use it once a week. This way, if there are hormonal toxic factors, your body will have rebound time before the next use.

Maple syrup:

Plant origin. And of course being Canadians, we're very pro-maple syrup. emoticon

Still, it is a complex sugar and not allowed on diets like SCD, etc. Also, it is considered illegal on a raw food diet because, of course, it's boiled tree sap.

Agave nectar:

Again, complex sugar.

It's also part of the asparagus family which can be fairly reactive for some people. Hint: If asparagus makes you nauseas or throw up (whether you like the taste or not), this would be your last choice for a sweetener.

Dried fruits:

raisins, dates, nuts, apples, apricots, etc.

If you can afford a dehydrator, you will avoid the chemicals that factories use to dry foods. (Sulphite sensitivities come into play here.) Then you can either cut up the dried fruit and add it to cereal, muffins or whatever.

Date sugar:

See above.

Frozen fruits:

strawberries, grapes and apples

Think ice wine. These foods get incredible sweet when they've been frozen. You can even freeze apple cider... the water will freeze and the cider part becomes thicker... almost syrupy. Puree them up in nutmilk and you'll have a great sweetened, flavoured, cereal milk.

Pureed fruits:

Bananas, etc.

Bananas should have brown spots on them though. The brown spots indicate that the complex sugars are being broken down to simple sugars. That's a good thing.

Can't think of anything more right now. Rotation is best. There are enough sugars out there that you can have a different one for every day of the week. This way also, if you fell crumby on your 'apple days', then odds are, your body doesn't like apples. Apple sensitivity (caucasian cultures) is more common that people realize. Papaya sensitivity is more common in East Indian cultures. Keep this in mind and don't keep eating stuff that makes you feel bad.

Also keep in mind, too much concentrated sugar (dried/powdered is the easiest to overdo for most people) is not going to help you get that 'ripped' look.

As always, if I've written something that seems contradictory, ask me about it. What I can review quickly is only an extremely minute portion of information. I'll come back and edit as questions are asked for the sake of immediate clarification for new readers.

I'm done now. I think. ;)

Seeds & Beans: Flax, Sesame, Poppy, Kidney

A lot of people have been talking about beans and seeds lately. Whether it's to approach better health, consume higher protein or cut a food budget, there are things to know that will help make the most of your latest culinary acquisitions.


Most seeds must be ground first in order to make the nutrients bio-available. If you don't grind them, you will see that they come out the other end looking pretty much the same as they went into the top. (Oh c'mon... like you've never looked!)

I get lots of people asking how to use these things. Here are a few ideas along with some of my usual chemistry nonsense after that. Of course, I think the chemistry nonsense is the most important part!

1. bread
Note: Breads don't always have to be a yeast bread. Yeast is not good for some people.
They can be flat bread, like a focaccia, which can be frozen and used as a pizza base.

2. muffins

3. cereal sprinkles

4. snack bars

5. granola ingredient

6. yoghurt or custard topping

7. salad sprinkles

I'm still thinking... I'm sure I can come up with 100 if I try hard enough. ;)

As I always say though, rotation, rotation, rotation. This gives the body a break from getting 'build-ups' from eating the same foods all the time.

All foods contain toxins (theoretically, to prevent consumption to annihilation). Flax and other seeds are no exception.

As usual, I'm not really into denoting how great these foods are. Yes they are great!

It's just that all the information about how great they are is so prevalent in common health literature that we're all practically choking on it. I'm just trying to balance the information out there.

Flax seeds:

Flax contains cyanide.

But don't get all freaked out about it. Cyanide is used as a cancer preventative. Nonetheless, you still don't want to build up enormous amounts of it in your body. So give it a break and stick to rotating flax into your diet every three or four days.

Sesame seeds:

Great for calcium, magnesium and zinc. Seems like a good ingredient for non-dairy people who can tolerate them. However, there is some argument about the particular form of calcium (oxalate) actually becoming toxic if it builds up too much in the body. Is it true? I don't really know. However, most seeds seem to be very strong (in nutrients and therefore toxins), so I tend to treat them more like an herb or powdered herb, where less is generally more. ;) Again... rotation.

Poppy seeds:

Of course we all know what's in poppy seeds, right? Opiates.

Science currently says that poppy seeds will not skew blood results. Frankly though, I don't buy it . And I've seen science disprove itself enough that that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

As a person who loves lemon poppyseed muffins and ate them a few times a week, about 15 years ago, every morning, at work. I can tell you that I missed them when they were no longer available but did not seem to suffer from withdrawal.


Again, rotate and don't overdo it. When the opiate-related synapses in the brain get filled up with this kind of stuff, it makes us feel good. That's not always a bad thing. But it's not always a good thing either as it can develop into an addiction if not careful.

Dairy (casein molecules) and bread (gluten molecules) do the same thing (fill opiate spaces in our brains), which is theorized to be part of the difficulty for people to stay away from bread and dairy.

So, limit use, rotate and don't overdo it. (And don't make tea out of it because that's definitely overdoing it, can lead quickly to addiction and has been suggested to cause death in some who are tea addicts.)

Kidney Beans:

Yes, beans are seeds. ;)

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that this particular seed is a real pet peeve of mine and opened up a whole can of worms (or lectins) when I first studied them years ago. And yes, that can of worms (called lectins) are still sitting on my kitchen counter.

Nevertheless, a quick review for anyone new to my work...

If not cooked properly, 4 or 5 kidney beans can put you in the hospital in a matter of hours.

Our grandmothers knew this and knew how to cook them. However, with the advent of factory processed, canned goods, microwaves (don't even get me started), etcetera, we have lost important knowledge about how to harvest and cook our foods that are gifts from the earth.

The particular lectins in kidney beans are called Phytohaemagglutnin. No, you don't have to know how to say it. Lectins is a pretty general term but easier to say, so we'll stick to that.

Lectins are the part of a seed/bean that give it the energy it needs to produce a plant. From my understanding, once a seed becomes a plant the lectins have been used up.

Should you be afraid to eat them? No, of course not. Just prepare them properly and don't take any shortcuts.

So, with dried kidney beans, it's essential first to soak them for a day or two, changing the water fairly frequently. That water may contain lectins so pour it in the garden or somewhere else. Don't drink it.

Then all kidney beans MUST be BOILED for a fairly long time. I boil them for about 1/2 an hour. (Canned kidney beans have already been superheated in the factory during the canning process but should still be thoroughly rinsed as a precautionary measure.)

Crock pots are NOT ACCEPTABLE. Cooking them at low temperatures (like a crockpot) may actually intensify the toxic properties.

Even if you want to put them in a salad, you must cook them properly first and then chill them before adding them to the salad.

So, eat, be well, be smart.

Flax Seed Toxins

Cyanide and Cancer Prevention
Sesame Seeds - Calcium Oxalate
Great Claims about Sesame Oil
I don't know if the above-mentioned link is accurate but it sure made for a good read.
Some of it I buy... some of it I don't.
Poppy Seed Tea Can Kill You
Poppy Seed Addicts discussing how to kick the habit
Kidney Bean Toxins