My new favorite Scientist, UCSF pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, MD, argues the obesity epidemic is,

“due to the wide use of fructose by food manufacturers, creating a toxic environment in the Western diet”

Over the past 30 years, total calorie intake of Americans has increased by an average of 150 to 300 calories per day!

 In 1970, around 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity; today, roughly one-third of the American adults are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 50% of this increase in total caloric intake comes from liquid calories, primarily sugar-sweetened beverages, laden with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Dr. Lustig contends, since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, not only have rates of obesity dramatically increased, but other leading chronic diseases, cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and polycystic ovarian disease have also skyrocketed.

The reasons behind the obesity epidemic can be linked to historical factors dating as far back to President Richard Nixon and his appointed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Earl “Rust” Butts.

Insufficient physical activity, unhealthy food in schools, marketing of junk foods directed at children—all indeed contribute to the problem, and all have received a high degree of attention by those trying to address obesity. Yet, one significant contributor to obesity has thus far been overlooked: our government’s farm policy.

U.S. Farm Policy and Public Health

For the past 50 years, U.S. farm policy has been increasingly directed toward driving down the price of a few farm commodities, including corn and soybeans. At the same time, prices for fruits and vegetables, grown with relatively little government support, have steadily increased.

Low commodity prices have in turn deeply influenced private investment. The food industry invests in processes that can provide the greatest economic return, and as such it has focused on cheap commodities rather than on more expensive fruits and vegetables.

The problem with the extensive use of these cheap commodities in food products is that they fall into the very dietary categories that have been linked to obesity: added sugars and fats. U.S. farm policies driving down the price of these commodities make added sugars and fats some of the cheapest food substances to produce. High fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils—products that did not even exist a few generations ago but now are hard to avoid—have proliferated thanks to artificially cheap corn and soybeans.

Whether by intention or not, current farm policy has directed food industry investment into producing low-cost, processed foods high in added fats and sugars. These foods are often more available and more affordable than fresher, healthier choices and, not coincidentally, U.S. consumers are now eating many more added sweeteners and oils than is healthy. Our misguided farm policy is making poor eating habits an economically sensible choice in the short term.


High-fructose corn syrup and refined sugars are found in such a wide range of foods and beverages, including fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup and mayonnaise that it is difficult and expensive to avoid. A trip to any local supermarket, convenience store or big box store like Walmart or Target demonstrates the truth to this statement and the difficulties associated with trying to avoid added refined sugars and HFCS. Even Whole Foods Markets, a corporation that has driven much of the natural foods competition out of the free markets in this country, has few product choices without added refined sugar or sugar substitutes. In fact, Whole Foods Markets widely propagates misinformation about evaporated cane juice, touting it as

“a healthy alternative to refined sugar…that does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does, therefore it retains more of the nutrients found in sugar cane.”

Attribute evaporated cane juice, 100 g granulated sugar, 100 g
calories, kcal 400 400
total lipid (fat), g 0 0
protein, g 0 0
fiber, g 0 0
calcium, mg 18 1
iron, mg 0.0 0
potassium, g 0 2
sodium, mg 0 0.5
vitamin C, mg 4 0
vitamin A, mg 83 0
thiamine, mg 0 0
riboflavin, mg 0 0.019
niacin, mg 0 0.000
price, 5 lbs., $ 8-10 1-3

My own recent experience trying to buy a jar of refined sugar free mayonnaise and marinara sauce reinforces this statement. In both instances, I was unable to find refined sugar free choices in either the regular or health food grocery section at my local market, nor at the local Whole Foods market in San Francisco, CA or Omaha, NE.

 On average, Americans consume 60 pounds of the sweetener per person every year.

Fructose is a monosaccharide naturally found in fruits and honey. Many consumers mistakenly believe that high-fructose corn syrup is pure fructose. High-fructose corn syrup is composed of either 42% or 55% fructose and is similar in composition to table sugar (sucrose). High-fructose corn syrup is the sweetener commonly used by the beverage industry.

According to Lustig, fructose, a carbohydrate, acts biologically like a fat and a hepato-toxin that worsens obesity, especially in children.

High fructose stimulates the appetite and increases overall food consumption. Similar to highly addictive substances cocaine, tobacco and alcohol we do build a tolerance, thereby increasing the urge for sweetness.

Dr. Lustig’s good research beacons to a new direction in world wide public health policy and thought.  Addressing the truth in corporately sponsored, government sanctioned disease!

The Power of a Plan

Nurses plan. Doctors plan. Plumbers plan. The point is, in order to complete goals, we all plan. Outcomes based on a good plan yield better results and more efficient work, usually with fewer mistakes, adjustments and backtracking.

Planning allows us to free up mental, emotional and conscious space, by providing a roadmap to our desired destination or outcome. Committing to a goal also helps to facilitate attainment by creating a perceived future in the content of the mind. The concepts of creative visualization, neuroplasticity and Quantam physics demonstrate the truth of our ability to create the future by creating it.

The Nursing Careplan, the driving practical force of nursing practice, helps us organize multiple operational tasks within a hierarchy of needs dependent upon the safety and security of the patient, family or Community. For example, breathing, bleeding and safety are critical to the wellbeing of any life system, therefore these functions are at the top of the hierarchy. The basic tenants of the hierarchy are as follows:

  • Brain cells deprived of oxygen for as little as four minutes will die, so breathing and maintaining an open airway, is crucial to an organisms survival.
  • Circulation of blood is the mechanism by which oxygen is delivered to the brain, therefore maintaining a closed system is vital to the health of organ tissue. “All bleeding eventually stops” is a truism in my world of nursing trauma patients in the operating room. Although the limiting factor here is death, as prolonged bleeding will cause loss of  tissue profusion, controlling bleeding therefore becomes the next crucial step in the hierarchy.
  • Safety and the protection of an organism from harm is a controlling force, as anything threatening the safety of an organism could precipitate lack of oxygen, bleeding or make it impossible to control either of these factors. Thats why safety belts are important, they prevent harm.

The amazing thing is the human mind is remarkably persistent in the pursuit of a goal, therefore intrusive thoughts remind us of unfulfilled goals often to the point of interfering with other tasks! Therefore by goal planning, we can better manage multiple pursuits and increase success by making goal pursuit more automatic.

Think about it: when you plan to walk to the car, into the next room to get something do you actually think about all the steps it takes to get you there? No! Because much of the effort in between is automatic. Once a detailed plan is made, one no longer has to think about the goal to execute it (Brandsta ̈tter et al., 2001). Apparently, a plan reduces the amount of thoughts and attention that are typically recruited in service of an unfulfilled goal. Thoughts of an incomplete goal will not interfere with current concerns so long as a plan has been made to see the goal through later on.

The ability to plan ahead for each goal may be critical for pursuing so many goals at once. If the mind had to focus on each goal through attainment, the pursuit of any one goal would need to compete with all the other goals for limited cognitive resources. The formation of a plan may help to avoid this problem. A plan increases one’s odds of attaining a goal and simultaneously reduces the cognitive ac- tivities that promote the goal. By suspending cognitive activity, one can minimize competition and reduce the potential for distrac- tion and interference. Thus, the ability to plan ahead may be crucial for enabling the wide variety of pursuits that define human life.







Herbal Cold Care

Ready for the winter cold and flu season?

Colds and flu are an inherent part of winter, I am usually able to avoid, but recently I found myself in contact, once again with sick people. Runny noses, bad sinuses, croupy coughs…yuck. It’s enough to make this nurse sick!

Since eliminating refined sugar from my diet, I don’t get sick often, but when I do, the first thing is reach into my herbal bag of tricks.

My cold care interventions are tried and true, based on years of practicing integrative wellness at band camp. Nine summers caring for  165 campers and 85 staff members at Cazadero Music Camp, gave me a reputation for force feeding colds with garlic and honey tea and OCD about clean hands at while camping…oxymoron huh?

Nestled in the Redwoods of Sonoma County, 30 minutes from acute care, I learned to use what was on hand to treat common ailments and being a camp nurse developed my interventional skills preventing disease outbreak, decreasing the severity of illness and promoting public health in a remote location.

And…best of all…this is where I got my start as Nurse Courtney!

Here are a few recommendations for treating the common cold, upper respiratory infection, bronchitis and sinus infection.

< !-nextpage->

Start treating yourself as soon as you start to feel unwell…

  • Echinacea Propolis Throat spray – The throat harbors many opportunistic microorganisms which can enter the bloodstream, under stressful circumstances, causing a variety of serious conditions. Think Strep throatMeningitis or Diphtheria here, but there are others. Although most of these organisms actually play a neutral or even beneficial role in our bodies, they can quickly turn deadly if virulent and left untreated. Utilizing an herbal throat spray helps keep sickness at bay by direct spray, treating  source of possible infection before it gets a foothold.


  • Vitamin C – Starting high doses of Vitamin C, (4,000 to 5,ooo mg a day ) is super important to help boost immune function and combat stress. Contrary to popular belief drinking orange juice isn’t really going to give you the high doses of Vitamin C you need, but it will give you high doses of sugar! This will actually increase your chances of getting sicker because the “empty calories” of sugar actually depletes the body of nutrients, adding stress to an already stressed system. Also, powder is the best way to stock Vitamin C because you can take several smaller doses if you prefer and it can be put directly on a cold sore to shorten the duration


  • Chuan Xin Lian Kang Yan Wan, Health Concerns Cold Away, Dr. Shen’s Yin Chiao or Cold Snap – Yes, you probably have guessed it already, these are Chinese herbs you can’t find at your corner drugstore, but I highly recommend you make the effort to stock them in your medicine cabinet. You won’t be sorry you did! The first formula is my all time favorite and has helped keep me and my family healthy through some really rough cold and flu seasons. Recommended to me first by my acupuncturist in Omaha, NE, Dr. David Yoo, Chuan Xin Lian Kang Yan Wan is a “must have” in my medicine cupboard. I even wrote a recommendation on cause I love this product so much! Taken at the first sign of a cold, all of these formulas are meant to stop or shorten the length and severity of a cold. Either way, it’s worth the investment!


  • Oil of Oregano – One of the most powerful antimicrobials I have ever encountered, oil of oregano is effective for treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Taken in a strong dose at the first sign of a cold or flu, I usually take 12 drops in a small amount of water followed by at least 4 oz of water, then continued if needed throughout the duration, in milder doses.  Oil of oregano is like dropping an atomic bomb in your system and recently a fantastic Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, I met while treating my Dad told me she recommends a daily dose of oil of oregano for folks who suffer from frequent sinus infection. Especially for diabetic patients!


  • Ground Flax Seed – Flax seed is amazingly effective for treating Bronchitis, possibly due to  a cannabinoid-like compound found to reduce inflammation. Simply use 2-3 tablespoons of ground flax seed, in a cup of hot water and drink. I have personally used ground flax tea to alleviate airway constriction when I didn’t have an inhaler. It works! Data suggests flax products could be another source of biologically active cannabinoid-like compounds able to influence the cell’s immunological response  much like the cannabinoids in Cannabis.

Remember, anytime you start to feel ill immediately start self care and if you get really sick, see a doctor. Herbal remedies work wonders, but require persistence, rest, consistency and time.

Check out what The National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends for the common cold based on their research of alternative and herbal therapies.

Here’s my disclaimer, saying ultimately you are responsible for your health and this information is for educational purposes only. Please see a doctor, if symptoms persist, worsen or if you have a change in level of consciousness.

Ultimately it is up to us to know when it is time to get help!

Much love Dear Souls…