How Toxic is Sugar? NYT Article

The following is cribbed from the NYT. Read the full article.

According to a study in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal PLoS One, it’s not just obesity that can cause diabetes: sugar can cause it, too.

From the article, “Each 150 kilocalories/person/day increase in total calorie availability related to a 0.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence (not significant), whereas a 150 kilocalories/person/day rise in sugar availability (one 12-ounce can of soft drink) was associated with a 1.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence.” Thus: for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1 percent.”

and recently

“… a coalition of scientists and health advocates led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. to both set safe limits for sugar consumption and acknowledge that added sugars, rather than lingering on the “safe” list, should be declared unsafe at the levels at which they’re typically consumed.”

The point: “By definition, all calories give off the same amount of energy when burned, but your body treats sugar calories differently, and that difference is damaging.”

Allergies – the Bathtub Effect

If you never heard of the Bathtub Effect for Allergies, I may have made it up.  That doesn’t make it untrue.  Here’s the issue.  People have allergic symptoms and then go to an allergist to get tested.  They get tested for bunches of possible allergies and come up negative on all of them.  These tests typically don’t show minor allergic reactions, and I believe most of us are somewhat allergic to many things. Moreover, I believe that these compound.

Allergies: The Bathtub Effect

So, like Archemedies in his bathtub, when you displace enough water, it overflows. Which is to say that if you have enough minor allergic reactions, they can add up to one big one.  The trick then is to eliminate as many as you can, see how you feel, and then gradually add back in until you have symptoms. Or, better yet, don’t.

Mindful Eating – Better than Dieting!

Which would you prefer to do, focus restricting your portions and what you eat, or enjoy whatever food you are eating?  According to a new research study, simply being mindful of what you eat is better than dieting.  Being mindful means to be very present. So you don’t just take that first bite, think “Yum!” and then unconsciously shovel in food until the last bite.  Rather, you would savor the flavor with every bite. You would be conscious of chewing sufficiently.  You would focus on the now, and not “what’s next.”

Read all about it here.

Here is a great 2-minute video on mindfulness.

Seven Habits of Mindful Eating

As life moves faster and faster we have less awareness – less facility with checking in on ourselves. Hence, mindful eating today is more important than ever.

In this delightful three-minute video, Dr. Lillian Cheung explains how honoring and being mindful of the food we eat makes us healthier. She offers seven practices for mindful eating — simple steps that we can take to maintain a healthier weight and live a happier life.

Video from KarmaTube

The Most Important Foods to Eat Organic

According to our good friends at the Environmental Working Group, the foods that usually contain the most pesticides, and therefore you’d most want to buy/eat organic, are (in order of worst to least worst but still bad… the so called “dirty dozen”):

Nectarines ( imported)
Grapes (imported)
Sweet bell peppers
Blueberries (domestic)
Kale/collard greens

Read more about this on their website here.

JoAnn with Pittsburgh Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey

Marquis Pouncey with Pittsburgh Personal Trainer Joann Brickley

Pittsburgh Personal Trainer JoAnn Brickley talking with Pittsburgh Steelers first round draft pick, Maurkice Pouncey, at Hydration Health and Fitness.

Click photos for larger images.

Marquis Pouncey with Pittsburgh Personal Trainer, JoAnn Brickley

What We Eat

Many people ask me what I eat. I hope you find this helpful.

Fresh. Organic. Unprocessed. Whole.

Every body is different. We all have individual needs for a particular amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat. It is your job to discover what ideal percentages of those macro nutrients work for your body.  To meet your micro nutrient needs, you can never eat too many fresh vegetables.

For cooking, we use non-toxic, non-stick pans. I recommend the green pan which you can get at You should also have one heavy sauce pan, like a Le Creuset or All-Clad, and a  vegetable steamer.


Steel cut oats (oatmeal) – make the night before. In a heavy sauce pan (see above), bring 4 cups water to a boil, add 1 tsp cinnamon (balances your blood sugar) and a pinch of salt and 1 cup steel cut oats. Stir and return to a boil for one minute. Put the lid on, turn the heat off. In the morning, simply reheat. Sweeten with maple syrup. If desired, add chopped walnuts.

Use pastured (not “pasteurized”) organic eggs, if you can find them. Fry in a minimum of butter (not margarine). Or scramble (we like them with some Organic Valley raw sharp cheddar cheese and 1-2 Tbs. of Green Mountain salsa).

For toast, I recommend using frozen sesame Ezekiel bread (even Giant Eagle carries this; it’s in the frozen food section).

For a special breakfast, try ouir own Juevos Billieros. Melt a minimum amount of butter in a non-stick frying pan, and then quickly add all of the following (so have them ready). Two eggs unbroken, one avocado sliced up, two Tbs. Green Mountain salsa and cheddar cheese. Cover and simmer until whites are done. Serve on Ezekiel toast.

Bob’s Red Mill organic rice cereal. Cooks in just a few minutes. Sweeten with maple syrup or molasses.

Strained Greek 0% fat yogurt (we prefer Oikos because it’s organic; Fage is also very good). Serve with berries, including any or all of: organic strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup. Make a double batch and take some to work for a great mid-afternoon snack.

French toast: Ezekiel sesame or raison toast works great. Your kids will complain the first time, and never notice it again after that. J

Ezekiel “Food for Life” seven-sprouted grain English muffins (also in the frozen foods), toasted with organic almond butter. One half is filling for most people.

Lunch and Dinner

Typically lunch and dinner are the same. I make enough food for 2-3 workdays twice a week.

In a real hurry, rushing out the door knowing you won’t have time to eat a good lunch, you can at least throw together some yogurt and berries and a toasted almond butter and jelly sandwich.

Easy Grilled Salmon (or halibut, Chilean sea bass) – Rinse fish very well under cold water, pat dry. Pour some organic tamari (soy sauce) over the fish and let sit for 5 minute or more. You know your grill better than I, but we grill on high heat for 7-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish and then turn off the grill and let the fish bake in the grill for another 3-5 minutes.

Easy White Fish (turbot, cod, halibut, Chilean sea bass, hake, tilapia) – Preheat the oven to 395°. Place 1-2 pounds of fish in a glass baking dish. Pour the juice of one fresh orange over it. Drizzle with olive oil. If desired, add some fresh grated ginger, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of cayenne, you can also add some chopped mildly spice peppers. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Easy Roast Chicken – preheat oven to 425°. Salt and pepper an organic, free-range chicken and place in a large roasting pan. Put ½ to 1 lbs. organic carrots in the pan. Roast for 50-60 minutes depending on your oven and the chicken size. Then turn off oven and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan and let chicken rest for an additional 20 minutes. This also works well with a turkey breast. I use sliced onions on, under and around the breast.

Asparagus – Store your raw asparagus standing up in a 1/2 inch of water to keep it fresh. Steam one pound of asparagus for 3 minutes. Remove promptly.

Artichokes (can lower your cholesterol and cleanse the liver) – slice off stem and top 1/2 inch of leaves. Snip tips of remaining leave tips. Place in boiling water to cover 1/3 of the artichokes.. Pour juice of one lemon over tops. Drizzle with olive oil. Add one whole clove of garlic to the water. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes until tender.

Beets – cut off top and bottom. Scrub, do not peel. Place in boiling water and cover and simmer for 40-60 minutes, depending on size. They’re done when you can stick them with a knife easily. Rinse under cool water and peel – the skin slips right off. If you buy beets with the tops on, simply wash and steam them for five minutes.

Swiss chard, spinach, kale, collard, bok choy, dandelion greens and other deep leafy greens are extremely healthy. Simply wash and steam. You can add extra flavor by sautéing in any of: onions, garlic, peppers, etc. Make extra and add them to your salad.

Salad – Fill a large, ideally glass, container with Oliva’s Organic Spring Mix. Sprinkle with Organic Valley Feta Cheese, chopped walnuts, small handful of dried cranberries, and a handful of pitted kalamata olives. If you are in a hurry, you can simply sprinkle a little olive oil and possibly some balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. Or use your favorite salad dressing. (Don’t use “low fat” dressing – the junk they put in to replace the fat they take out isn’t worth the tradeoff.)

New Favorite Salad – Oliva’s Organic Spring Mix, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, fresh organic raspberries and strawberries and a touch of goat cheese.

Green beans, snow peas, snap peas, mushrooms, zucchini – All vegetables can either be steamed or sautéed in a little olive oil. You can add extra flavor by sautéing in any of: onions, garlic, peppers, etc. Make extra and add them to your salad.

For grains, I prefer the super grain, Quinoa (keen-wah), because it’s very healthy, has protein, is gluten-free and is quick and easy to make. Simply boil two cups of organic vegetable stock and a pinch of salt in a 1.5 – 2 quart heavy pan, stir in a cup of Quinoa, cover and simmer on low for 18 minutes. Do not stir or lift lid. Remove immediately.


Always keep a bag of nuts around. Don’t let yourself be tempted to eat vending machine junk.

My main snack food: JoAnn’s Nut Mix
(ideally all organic; very light on the dried fruit):

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried goji berries
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried date pieces rolled in oat flower

Panda herb licorice (not recommended if you have high blood pressure).

Fruits are ideally eaten apart from your main meals, e.g., first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or right after your workout. If you eat fruit immediately after eating something that takes longer to digest (e.g., meat), the fruit may ferment in your digestive system, causing gas and bloating.


Yogurt and berries with a little pure maple syrup or raw honey
Two small squares of Green and Black 70% organic dark chocolate.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and cannot dispense medical advice. Consult your physician with any medical concerns.

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