Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sugar-free summer!

Summer began on Wednesday when I attended the Bay Area Nutrition & Physical Activity Collaborative ( meeting for Rethink Your Drink 2012 Launch (, a public health campaign to get people to “be sugar savvy” about their selection of drinks to quench summer thirst.
Originally called Soda Free Summer (, the California Dental Association (CDA) got involved to extend the message to all sugary drinks (  According to CDA President-elect Lindsay Robinson, DDS:
• “Sipping sugary drinks gives bacteria in the mouth more power to create acid that weakens tooth enamel and causes cavities. In addition, sports drinks pose many of the same risks as other sugar-loaded beverages, such as irreversible dental erosion, and should not be substituted for water.”
• Instead, replace sugar-laden drinks for water: “Water contains no sugar, no acids and no calories, so your teeth, and your body, will benefit. Water also helps keep gums hydrated and rinses away food particles that would otherwise remain in the mouth promoting bacterial growth that causes decay.”
Thanks to Health Educator Gwenn White of Contra Costa Health Services for sharing her recipes of these refreshing spa water alternatives to sugar sweetened beverages. Add the following to ½ gallon of water:
  • pineapple (2 cups, cubed) + mint (10 leaves), or
  • cucumber (1 large, sliced) + melon (1/4 honeydew, cubed + ¼ cantaloupe, cubed), or
  • watermelon (2 cups seedless, cubed) + basil (10 to 12 leaves)
Sugary drinks are the largest contributor of added sugar in the American diet. In addition to harming oral health, this source of added sugar and empty calories may lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar and can be easily over consumed, so the campaign recommends limiting juice consumption to 4 to 6 ounces per day.
This display shows the amount of sugar below each drink. For example, a 20-ounce cola contains nearly 17 teaspoons of added sugar, which a 154 lb. individual would have to walk for nearly an hour (3.5 mph) to burn off those extra calories. More at

When public education campaigns, product warning labels, and advertising controls don’t work (, some public officials like Richmond City Council member Jeff Ritterman, MD (cardiologist) think a soda tax will work. He told us that “a one-cent per ounce fee on sweetened drinks will help the City to raise $2-$8 million to prevent childhood obesity and diabetes” through treatment for uninsured Richmond kids, support after-school sport programs, serve healthier meals at Richmond schools, and (dig this!) build school and community gardens in Richmond!

Worried about sweets? Take charge of your health!
Free Farmer Lauren teaches kombucha-making at How-to-Homestead ( workshop at Mission Arts Center.  Her kombucha recipe includes 1 cup of sugar to 3 quarts of water, 5-6 tea bags, kombucha culture + previous batch.

According to Chinese Five Element Theory, the sweet taste is associated with the earth element, the transition between seasons, and digestion. Why did the ancient Taoists make this connection between sweet (taste) and worry (emotion) and digestion? Are sugary, probiotic kombucha drinks (which originated in northern China before spreading to Siberia and the rest of the world) healthy for daily consumption?

Get the answers to these questions from Briahn Kelly-Brennan, L.Ac. (, who is teaching Everyday Healing Foods and Herbs (HCT 108) this Fall at CCSF’s Chinatown campus on Wednesday evenings, 6-9 pm, starting August 15 (  You will learn the proper use of foods and herbs in the Chinese medical tradition for sustaining a long and vigorous life; learn to respond to each season and climate by choosing the proper foods and herbs, and to identify and address any tendencies towards imbalance. This class includes hands-on traditional cooking with SLOW (Seasonal, Local, Organic, Whole) foods, as covered in

Related news
Ron Chapman, MD, Director of California Department of Public Health, suggests gardening as a way to build muscles: “This isn't about going to the gym. This is not about exercising. It’s about physical activity. Gardening can count toward working the muscle groups.” (

Also on Wednesday, a compassionate Toronto nutritionist who saw a video of teens bullying a bus monitor launched a fundraising campaign because he thought she deserved a vacation. (  Let’s invite the bus monitor to vacation at The Free Farm!

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