Although there are sound medical reasons for eating breakfast every day, when I look at the typical breakfast food offerings at many restaurants, supermarkets, and food trucks, and I think about the health of our nation, it’s sad! Muffins, bagels, donuts, pancakes, waffles, French toast sticks… Want some bacon, sausage, or fried potatoes with that, sir?

We are traditionally led to believe that a “well-balanced breakfast” consists of a big bowl of cereal and a few decorative strawberries on top, with a tall glass of orange juice. We believe that you need the calcium in that milk, that vitamin C in that orange juice, and the carbs in that cereal for energy. But do you?

Eating like this may be okay once in a while, but if you do so often, I guarantee these foods will make you both fat and sick, sooner or later!

Why are familiar breakfast foods not great for you?

Simply put, to the cells in your body, a bowl of cereal, or a bagel, or a piece of toast, or a muffin are all no different than a dessert. Processed carbohydrates and sugars cause blood sugar and insulin levels to rise. The insulin easily ushers all that sugar into your fat cells, where it becomes stored energy, also known as body fat.

The animal fats in bacon, sausage, and butter can clog up arteries and lead to heart attacks and strokes. Cured meats and other processed foods a cause trouble for several reasons, especially because the high salt content causes us to retain water and pushes the blood pressure up. This is all a recipe for weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol… and eventually, heart disease.

So… what should we eat for breakfast?

The answer is basic healthy eating advice: fruits and vegetables, whole (unprocessed) grains, and healthy proteins and fats. This is not a trend, this is not a hippie opinion. The evidence is overwhelming. And I love bacon. But, I treat it with respect because it can (and does) cause great harm to the human body if eaten often.

But many people need more guidance than just a list of food groups, including how to do so when you have a busy life.

So here’s what I suggest:

If you’re often on the go, your may need something quick, easy, transportable, and budget-friendly. So, try putting together an easy fruit/yogurt/grain/nut bowl every single day. Here’s a possible three-ingredient recipe:

  • Frozen fruit: berries, mixed fruit, fruit with kale bits, whatever. Fruit is frozen at the peak of freshness, so the quality and vitamin content can be better than what’s in the produce aisle. Try buying large bags of frozen mixed berries at the wholesale club or discount grocery, as they are much more economical than fresh and don’t go bad.
  • Nuts and/or seeds and/or grains of your preference: for example, unsalted nuts, toasted seeds or grains, or a combination such as a low-sugar granola.
  • Your favorite yogurt, ideally plain or low-sugar.
  • Eggs are no longer considered anathema, so an occasional one or two are OK, and consider hard-boiled, especially if you’re on the go.
  • More leisurely breakfast at home: You might add whole-grain toast, but make sure it contains whole grain on the label, contains less than 180 mg. of sodium and fewer than 110 calories per slice, with no saturated or trans-fats. But be careful what spread you place on top: Instead of butter, consider cholesterol-lowering sterols/stanols such as Benecol, but others containing olive oil are also acceptable.

Why is this a healthy breakfast?

The fruit is not a token sprinkle, nor a decorative touch. The fruit makes up the bulk of this meal. There’s fiber in the fruit (but little in most juices), and plant sugars in their natural form, not to mention healthy fat in the nuts, and protein in the yogurt. A low-sugar yogurt will leave us feeling more satisfied, for longer. We won’t get the insulin spike that triggers hunger pangs (unlike when we eat processed carbs).

If you want to step it up a notch, ditch the dairy. We can get plenty of calcium and other vitamins from leafy greens and other veggies, so take your choice. At any rate, consider yogurt, for it contains not only creamy protein and probiotics, which can be weighed against the recognized risks of regular consumption of animal products that should be limited as much as possible. The rest is up to you.



A Little Known Toxin, Acrylamide, and Reasons to be Concerned

Acrylamide is a neurotoxin and probable carcinogen (cancer causing agent) formed when certain starchy foods, such as wheat and potatoes, are cooked at high temperatures (>248 degrees Fahrenheit). It can also be produced when coffee and cocoa beans are roasted. It is also found in surprisingly high amounts in prune juice and some types of canned olives. Although no level of exposure is absolutely safe, amounts of acrylamide consumed by most adults are believed to represent a very low level of risk. Nevertheless, there are steps you should be aware of in order to reduce your exposure.

What levels are considered “safe”

Exposure to even extremely small amounts of acrylamide may very slightly increase cancer risk, which has led the State of California to require a cancer warning on foods providing more than 0.2 mcg of acrylamide per daily serving (below which there is no known significant risk of cancer), although up to 140 mcg is permitted before a warning regarding reproductive toxicity is required. The U.S. EPA also uses this higher 140 mcg amount as its reference dose for risk to the nervous system.

How much is in what we eat?
An adult weighing 150 lb consumes about 35 mcg of acrylamide per day (0.5 mcg/kg of bodyweight). This is well below the 140 mcg EPA limit, although exceeds California’s very stringent limit of 0.2 mcg, noted above.

In the U.S., fried potato products (i.e., French fries, potato chips, roasted potatoes) account for the greatest source of acrylamide in the diet, accounting for up to 38% of average exposure for adults, followed by crackers, cookies and cakes (17%), bread (14%), snacks such as roasted nuts, and popcorn (14%), cereal products (9%), and lastly, coffee (8%).  High amounts of acrylamide are also found in products that you might not expect, such as in prune juice and canned olives.

A study of prune products purchased in Canada, for example, disclosed that regular pitted prunes contained about 10 mcg of acrylamide per 7 prunes but organic pitted prunes contained only about one-third of that amount.; however, organic prune juice contained even higher amounts of acrylamide — about 100 mcg per 5 oz serving (a small glass), while regular prune juice contained about half that amount.

Canned black olives can contain as much as 8 mcg of acrylamide per 5 olives, while California-style green ripe olives contain much lower amounts — about 1 mcg per 5 olives.

To get a better sense of how much acrylamide this may be (and how this compares to the EPA’s limit of 140 mcg of acrylamide per day) see the table below:

Estimated amounts of acrylamide in common foods

Food Serving size Acrylamide per serving (mcg)
French fries, oven-baked 2.5 ounces (about 12 fries, depending on size) 48.8 mcg
Prune juice 5 ounces 30 mcg to 100 mcg
French fries, restaurants 2.5 ounces (about 12 fries, depending on size) 28.3 mcg
Potato chips 1 ounce (about 15 chips) 17.9 mcg
Canned black olives 5 olives 3.2 to 8 mcg
Breakfast cereal 2 ounces (1/4 cup) 6.6 mcg
Brewed coffee 8 ounces 1.9 mcg
California-style green ripe olives 5 olives 1 mcg

Green coffee beans contain asparagine (it is the second-highest concentration amino acid in coffee beans) as well as sucrose (sugar). When roasted, significant amounts of acrylamide can be produced; however, brewed coffee (most of which is water) contains only about 2 mcg per 8-ounce cup, as shown above.

Cocoa and chocolate
As with coffee beans, cocoa beans are typically roasted during processing, resulting in the production of acrylamide. FDA tests of various cocoa powders and dark chocolate baking bars in 2002 showed amounts of acrylamide ranging from 0.29 mcg to 4.5 mcg per serving; however, there was no detectable acrylamide found in a popular milk chocolate bar.

It is likely that raw cacao contains much lower concentrations of acrylamide than cocoa and dark chocolate, as it is not roasted at high temperatures: For example, Viva Naturals claims that it’s raw cacao is lightly roasted at a maximum temperature of 114 degrees Fahrenheit, and Navitas Organics claims it is fermented only with the heat of sunlight for 24 to 48 hours. There is no regulatory definition of the term “raw” on foods, but it tends to mean minimally processed without high heat.

What can you do to reduce your acrylamide intake?

Limit your intake of roasted, baked and fried potatoes, chips, etc. Store raw potatoes in a cool dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard — not in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature increases the amount of sugars in potatoes, increasing acrylamide generation during high-heat cooking. Fry at the lowest possible temperature for the shortest possible amount of time (aim for a golden yellow color rather than golden brown). Soaking sliced potatoes in water for 15 to 30 minutes (or for 5 minutes in warm, slightly salted water) before frying or roasting may also reduce acrylamide formation.

Prunes and Olives
Limit your intake of prune juice. Choose green olives over black.

Several factors can modestly reduce the amount of acrylamide in your coffee when prepared at home:

  • Choose coffee made from Arabica beans, which contain lower amounts of asparagine than Robusta beans. However, be aware that this won’t guarantee lower acrylamide, since amounts are also affected by roasting time, temperature, etc.
  • Store coffee before using for longer periods of time. Acrylamide levels in commercial ground coffee and beans decrease over time when stored in their original container. Reductions of 40—60% have been reported in coffees stored at room temperature over a period of 6—12 months.
  • Plunger pot and filtered, drip brew coffee preparation typically results in less acrylamide than coffee prepared by decoction (such as Turkish coffee) and pressure preparation (French press, expresso).

Cocoa and chocolate
Milk chocolate and alkalized cocoa products may contain less acrylamide than non-alkalized dark chocolate, but, unfortunately, will also contain lower amounts of healthy flavanols. As noted earlier, “raw” is likely to be low in acrylamide while, as shown in most tests, relatively high in beneficial flavanols.

The bottom line:
Acrylamide is a neurotoxin and probable carcinogen formed when cooking certain foods at high temperatures. Fried and roasted potato products are the greatest source of dietary acrylamide exposure in the U.S. Prune juice has particularly high amounts. Brewed coffee and cocoa contain small amounts of acrylamide. It is possible to reduce exposure to acrylamide by avoiding certain foods and modifying the way you prepare potatoes and coffee, as discussed above.



The Goldwater rule: Section 7.3 of the American Psychiatric Association, code 2013, states “It is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion on a public figure unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement”. But this doctrine does not extend to information derived from the professional analysis of public behavior that could endanger the security of an entire nation, or even the world!

Thus a large body of professionals has broken this self-imposed silence and recently released a book entitled “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”, Edited by Bandy X Lee, M.D.

When assessing Trump’s behavior, the layman often states that he is “crazy like a fox,” implying that, as a presumably rational human being, Trump is merely cleverly twisting and manipulating information as a ploy to gain some advantage for the benefit of his political followers and/or society at large. But, as made amply clear by this large group of well-qualified mental health professionals, this is clearly not the case! Accuracy requires the removal of the word “fox” from this statement above, simply yielding “crazy like a crazy.” Moreover, the frequently expressed sentiment that Trump, once reaching the White House, will pivot to a rational demeanor, is clearly refuted by these experts, which, as they presciently state, will only worsen. These professional opinions also transcend all political affiliations.

Through the opinions written by this large number of mental health professionals, an overwhelming unanimity is expressed: We are dealing with a dangerously and psychopathically ill individual. The eccentricities of Trump’s behavior are known by almost everyone, but they are often misinterpreted: Examples include distorting facts and outright lying (he had the largest inaugural crowd ever), megalomania (he knows more than the generals), bullying and denigration of rivals (crooked Hillary, low energy Bush, little Marco, etc), excessive need for adulation (as demonstrated by the sycophantic and apparently forced statements made by his cabinet members), lack of empathy (let’s injure family members of terrorists), paranoid delusions (Obama has wiretapped the Trump Tower), intolerance of criticism, failure to admit errors, revering foreign despots whom he wishes to emulate, and many others.

As one pages through the psychiatric opinions of the book noted above, it is apparent that Trump’s many bizarre characteristics stem from serious mental aberrations that many would consider “psychotic.”  The disease name that most often crops up is that of “malignant narcissism,” a serious disorder that underlies his many delusions, distortions and lies, which actually represent extreme overreactions from deep-seated feelings of shame and inferiority. Making matters even more dangerous, he actually believes them to be true!

These professionals are especially fearful of the proximity of this individual to the nuclear trigger. They believe that he is capable of—through an episode of rage or irrationality—triggering a major war. The consensus of these professionals is that such a dangerously ill individual should be removed from office by any legal means as soon as possible. Thus it is important for all responsible citizens to understand what is at stake and to act accordingly.

Above all, read this book, and if you agree with me that it is important, spread the word far and wide!



Obesity-related cancers rising, threatening gains in U.S. cancer rates

The rates of 12 obesity-related cancers rose by 7 percent from 2005 to 2014, an increase that is threatening to reverse progress in reducing the rate of cancer in the United States, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 630,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with a cancer linked with being overweight or obese in 2014.

Obesity-related cancers accounted for about 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Although the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses has fallen since the 1990s, rates of obesity-related cancers have been rising.

“Today’s report shows in some cancers we’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said on a conference call with reporters.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 13 cancers are associated with overweight and obesity. They include meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colon and rectum (colorectal).

In 2013-2014, about two out of three U.S. adults were considered overweight or obese. CDC researchers used the U.S. cancer statistics database to see how obesity was affecting cancer rates. Although cancer rates rose in 12 of these cancers from 2005 to 2012, colorectal cancer rates fell by 23 percent, helped by increases in screening, which prevents new cases by finding growths before they turn into cancer.

Cancers not associated with overweight and obesity fell by 13 percent.

Not surprisingly, about half of Americans are not aware of this link. The findings suggest that U.S. healthcare providers need to make clear to patients the link between obesity and cancer, and encourage patients to achieve a healthy weight.

These trends are concerning, There are many good reasons to strive for a healthy weight, and now you can add cancer to the list. However, the science linking cancer to obesity is still evolving, and it is not yet clear whether losing weight will help individuals either prevent cancer or ameliorate it once a cancer has taken root.

What is clear is that obesity can raise an individual’s risk of cancer, and that risk is likely to be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight. But in any event, why take that risk