Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Are My Sunshine…

…or, The Unintended Consequences of Cultural Behaviors

Our Swedish correspondent LN sent a most intriguing news article yesterday — at least personally intriguing to me since I have been researching this problem for my own interests (I will discuss those findings further down in the post).

LN says:

The following is a partial translation of an article from [yesterday’s] Dagens Nyheter. But autism isn’t the only illness that is due to D-vitamin deficiency — all the others are even more expensive for the taxpayers.

Walking like the cat around the plate of hot porridge as usual, they are.

The Swedish public medical service is walking on its knees. HIV-AIDS-TBC and multi-resistant bacteria are taking up resources…

Then will come all the congenital and consanguineal illnesses à la Zenster of the NEW SWEDES — OLÈ!

For the moment, let us see what this news article has to say about the problem as it applies to Somali immigrants:

Doctors warn of autism epidemic: Too little sunlight can be a key factor behind the dramatic increase in autism in Sweden.

SunshineDark-skinned people are more affected, since they require more sunlight for vitamin D to be formed in their skin. The differences between Sweden and Somalia in the intensity of the sun may well be the reason why autism among Somali children has become so much more common in Sweden than in their former homeland.

Somalis in Sweden have dubbed autism as “the Swedish disease” because autism has become a common feature among Somali children in recent years. They ask themselves why, in their home country autism was clearly not normal.

Measles vaccination was previously identified as a possible trigger for the small child, which, however, has been rejected by the scientific community.

Nevertheless, many Swedish Somalis would “rather be safe than sorry”, which is why we can expect a measles epidemic now that many of the Somalis avoid vaccination for fear of triggering autism.

The cause (or causes) of the rise in autism should be sought among the key environmental factors that separate Sweden from Africa and which affect Somalis to a greater extent than other immigrant groups.

Fatty fish like herring, mackerel and salmon are among our few significant dietary sources of vitamin D and this diet has historically certainly helped to keep the worst deficiency away.

Dark-skinned people need significantly more sunlight for vitamin D to be formed in the skin. The combination of a full veil and a dark complexion seems particularly unfortunate, not least if the person does not eat fatty fish.

- - - - - - - - -
We can expect that a not inconsiderable part of the Swedish population who are either black or wear a full veil are suffering from more or less severe vitamin D deficiency. [emphasis added]

Studies of Pakistanis living in Oslo, Arab women in Denmark and dark-skinned Swedes support this assertion.

The question that follows is — can we afford it? Of course not.

The question of whether fatty fish from the cool waters of Scandinavia are halal or haram is important for the Somali Muslims who have traveled from Africa to live in the long dark winters of northern Europe… here is a dietary guidance list for observant Somali Muslims:

Under the Islamic Law, all sources of food are lawful except the following sources, including their products and derivatives which are considered unlawful:

The guideline mentioned below points out that the term halal may be used for foods which are considered lawful. Under the Islamic Law, all sources of food are lawful except the following sources, including their products and derivatives which are considered unlawful:

1. Food of animal origin
  1.1 Pigs and boars.
  1.2 Dogs, snakes and monkeys.
  1.3 Carnivorous animals with claws and fangs such as lions, tigers and bears.
  1.4 Birds of prey with claws such as eagles, vultures, and other similar birds.
  1.5 Pests such as rats, centipedes, scorpions and other similar animals.
  1.6 Animals forbidden to be killed in Islam, ants, bees and woodpecker birds.
  1.7 Animals which are considered repulsive generally like lice, flies, maggots
  1.8 Animals that live both on land and in water such frogs, crocodiles.
  1.9 Mules and domestic donkeys.
  1.10 All poisonous and hazardous aquatic animals.
  1.11 Any other animals not slaughtered according to Islamic Law.
  1.12 Blood.
2. Food of plant origin. Intoxicating and hazardous plants except where the toxin or hazard can be eliminated during processing.
3. Drink
  3.1 Alcoholic drinks.
  3.2 All forms of intoxicating and hazardous drinks.

There is a further listing of Mash-Booh (suspect) ingredients here.

It takes great vigilance to live a virtuous life as a member of the religion of submission.

Last year, I wrote about this problem among the chador-clad. At the time, I noted that Fjordman had reported on this phenomenon back in 2003:

The disease has two factors: dark skin and insufficient sunlight. The darker your skin, the greater the need for sunlight in order for the body to produce sufficient vitamin D to avoid rickets or its more serious follow-up disorders if left untreated. As Western Resistance says:

… they later began to show typical signs of the condition commonly called rickets — bowed legs, caused by tiny “greenstick” fractures in the bone. This condition is caused by softening of the bone, a condition called osteomalacia. Once the child became an adult, the deformities and short stature were visibly apparent. But along the way, other side-effects could occur, such as seizures. These seizures (hypocalcemic seizures, brought on by an increase of parathyroid hormonal byproducts in the body) are common ways of detecting rickets in very young children, under nine months. They are less common in older children.

In severe cases, the distortions on bone in the pelvis caused women to be unable to deliver children, usually with fatal results.

In other words, no matter where you live, if you wear a chador all the time, chances are you’re deficient in vitamin D. There is a simple solution — aside from uncovering your arms, which is a good way to get killed — and that is to buy a sunbow and a bottle of vitamin D capsules.

And make sure you give them to your children.

So as it turns out, this geographical move was not a good choice in terms of Somali health, especially given their dress code. Across Europe, dark-skinned immigrant Muslim women from warmer climates, covered from head to toe in dark cloth, are going to develop health problems, as are their children.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


as it turns out, Westerners are not much better off. Many health-minded people have followed the precepts of modern medicine which warn them of the dangers of skin cancer. Sun-screen products are a big business as people slather on the cream in order to avoid melanoma and other skin cancers.

Well, guess what? Just like anything else, it turned out to be too much of a good thing. Here is an American website, discussing the possible link between Vitamin D deficiency and autism in this country [the emphasis is mine]:

The theory that vitamin D deficiency, during pregnancy or childhood, causes autism is just a theory. However, the theory has a plausible mechanism of action, explains all the unexplained facts about autism, subsumes several other theories, implies simple prevention, and is easily disprovable-all components of a useful theory.

A genetic lesion (abnormality) in some component of the vitamin D system-a lesion vitamin D’s unique pharmacology could overcome-would explain why monozygotic (identical) twins are highly affected while fraternal twins are not.

Varying brain levels of activated vitamin D during later life would explain why some identical twins get severe disease while others are barely affected.

Falling vitamin D levels over the last 20 years due to sun-avoidance explain autism’s rapid increase in incidence during that same time. The very different effects estrogen and testosterone have on vitamin D metabolism may explain why boys are much more likely to get it than girls are.

Lower vitamin D levels in blacks may explain their higher rates of autism. The vitamin D theory has tenable explanations for all the epidemiological features of autism.

The blog, Acting White, has some suggestions:

If autism is, in any part, the worse possible result of epidemic-levels of vitamin D deficiency, showing itself in 6 of each 1000 children (US), how might millions of children and adults manifest lesser symptoms in ways that correlate to D levels from the melanin in their skin and the amount of sunlight they are getting each day? Black children in the US score an average of 15 points lower than white children on the same controlled intelligence tests, for reasons that continue to elude the best psychological and educational research.

So not only are we coming to understand that the higher rates of internal cancers, diabetes, hypertension, et al, in black adults has correlated origin in vitamin D deficiencies, but that black children are likely at the front of the line of getting short-changed in their neurodevelopment, beginning nine months before taking their first breath.

New York City Schools will shortly begin a highly-publicized cash incentive program for coaxing improvement out of under performing black kids, and this may be well and good, but paying kids money to learn when their essential vitamin D levels are slowing them down, like a drag-shoot, makes little sense. The vitamin D levels of most of these kids, like their parents, are so low that they fail to register at all in health screening.

Innovate sure. But, while we are at it, how about wrapping some free vitamin D around a promotional campaign? It’s just a cheap pill and our future, regardless of race.

Take D and live! (and get some for your kids, too!)

Finally, my own interest in Vitamin D. I have learned that my chronic pain and fatigue may be due, at least in part, to a deficiency in Vitamin D:

According to peer-reviewed clinical research, inadequacies of vitamin D have been linked to chronic musculoskeletal pain of various types, muscle weakness or fatigue, fibromyalgia syndrome, rheumatic disorders, osteoarthritis, hyperesthesia, migraine headaches, and other somatic complaints. It also has been implicated in the mood disturbances of chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.

Current best evidence demonstrates that supplemental vitamin D can help to resolve or alleviate chronic pain and fatigue syndromes in many patients who have been unresponsive to other therapies. Vitamin D therapy is easy for patients to self-administer, is well tolerated, and is very economical.

As I understand it, chronic fatigue and seasonal affective disorder are not “mood disturbances” (though mood disorders may manifest themselves as one of the symptoms). Instead, these are probably immune system disorders and they may be brought on or exacerbated by the extremely low levels of Vitamin D in the western diet and culture.

As usual (on non-controversial subjects like this), Wikipedia has a good summation of the types of Vitamin D and how they work in the body. If this is a subject of interest to you, it’s a good place to start [go to the link for their bibliography references, which I removed from this snip]:

Vitamin D2 is derived from fungal and plant sources, and is not produced by the human body. Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources and is made in the skin when 7-dehydrocholesterol reacts with UVB ultraviolet light at wavelengths between 270-300 nm, with peak synthesis occurring between 295-297 nm. These wavelengths are present in sunlight at sea level when the sun is more than 45° above the horizon, or when the UV index is greater than 3. At this solar elevation, which occurs daily within the tropics, daily during the spring and summer seasons in temperate regions, and almost never within the arctic circles, adequate amounts of vitamin D3 can be made in the skin after only ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure at least two times per week to the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen. With longer exposure to UVB rays, an equilibrium is achieved in the skin, and the vitamin simply degrades as fast as it is generated.

If you have young children, you would be well-advised to study the crucial importance of this vitamin. If you slather sun block on your kids or yourself, it is imperative that you understand what to do to avoid Vitamin D deficiency.

Hint: an occasional can of tuna doesn’t do it. Besides, you know the dangers of mercury in tuna, right?


spackle said...

This may sound awful but at least these Somali children wont grow up to rob, rape and murder native Swedes. This also throws a monkey wrench into the "we need immigrants to pay for our generous welfare state" group. It looks like Sweden will be supporting these folks for the next 60-75 years.

spackle said...

I would also be curious to see if this Autism is happening among the Somali population in Minnesota and to a lesser degree Maine? Of course some genius will say it is an infidel conspiracy to harm Muslim and or black children.

Findalis said...

Could the Autism problem come from the fact of interbreeding. When cousin marries cousin all sorts of problems begin.

The genes (6 of them) have been located using Muslim families who have been interbreeding for centuries. With these markers, a genetic test for Autism can now be looked for.

While Vitamin D deficiency is dangerous, it is treatable. A regime of daily vitamins would help the problem. And many foods have the vitamin in them.

Anonymous said...

It's great to see a post from you, Dymphna. And an interesting one it is. I never knew there was a correlation between autism and vitamin D.

Robohobo said...

This could be VERY interesting for some of the health issues I have. And I am in a place to get some sun daily. Of the good type.


Joanne said...

Vitamin D is the cure-all of the moment. Sure, Vitamin D is great for you, but just ask a mother who's child is autistic when she noticed the change in her child's behaviour. I'm betting nearly all will say after a vaccine shot when they were mere infants.

If there is a correlation at all between Vitamin D and autism, I'm betting the vaccine has something to do with it.

I would like to note that skin cancer is rare in Africa, and it is just as rare for people in Africa to use sunblock. So why is skin cancer prevalent amongst the black people of America who use sunblock?

Anonymous said...

Oh please. Don't start this rubbish about vaccines. Vaccines are one the greatest inventions of modern medicine. There have been so few cases of bad reactions to vaccines compared to the number of kids vaccinated. I'm willing to bet autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but not vaccines.

Capt Blackadder said...

Darwin at work.

Takes a long time but eventually it will catch up.

Joanne said...

natalie - have any children? Any sons? Any daughters? Your words are spoken like a true ignorant being, in this matter. I suppose you also believe fluoride is good to drink.

Sorry to be so harsh, but - "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." Proverb 18:13

Anonymous said...

The press has reported similar increases in autism in California, acutally huge increases. In California, a diagnosis of autism gives the family huge welfare payments and increases payments to the school district where the child enrolls. For the most part it is a big scam, like Attention Deficit Disorder. I can imagine that might also be behind the big increase in Sweden. Muslims just love welfare fraud.

laine said...

Just another reason for everyone to stay in their native land and build that up instead of running off to climates and cultures that don't agree with them and where too many now choose to become an indigestible unassimilable choking lump for the host country.

Autism is not caused by vaccines as the best studies show no connection. However, avoiding vaccines because of the fictitious risk of autism is definitely going to disable and kill a much larger number of previously healthy kids. People are ignorant of the toll that childhood diseases used to take before the advent of vaccines. Measles, mumps, whooping cough, diphtheria etc. are harmless in the majority but can be devastating to a minority that would be cumulatively bigger than the autism crowd.

The anti-vaccine parents have been protected so far from their own folly by what's called "herd immunity". When enough of the general population surrounding you have been vaccinated, then you have a much lower chance of being exposed to those illnesses. If herd immunity drops to a certain critical level, then the unvaccinated will start getting the illnesses along with severe complications in a few. This has already happened in sub-sets who for religious reasons have not had their children vaccinated. There have been measles breakouts there, completely unnecessary.

Zenster said...

LN: Then will come all the congenital and consanguineal illnesses à la Zenster of the NEW SWEDES — OLÈ!

Thank you very much for your generous recognition of my effort to bring this issue before Gates of Vienna.


Successive posts at this site provide a comprehensive list of fish types meet Kosher—and by extension—halal restrictions. Herring, mackerel and salmon are all listed

CULINARY NOTE: An old Scandihoovian saying goes: “If herring were as rare as cod it would sell for twice the price.” Herring is a unique food as it leaves the body with a desirable alkaline surplus instead of an acid excess.

Pickled Herring
Danish Appetizer

Note: This is a shortcut recipe that uses jarred prepared herring. Use only brine or wine packed fillets and not mustard, tomato or creamy preparations. If you enjoy dill flavor, use a dilled variety along with the options shown below.


2 each 4 oz. jars of Ikea’s Abba brand pickled herring in brine or white wine
1 each 8 oz. jar of Vita brand pickled herring in brine or white wine


1 Cup Cold Water
½ Cup White Wine (Chablis or Chenin Blanc)
½ Cup White Wine Vinegar
¼ - ½ Cup White Sugar
1 Large White Onion
2 Slender Carrots
1-2 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Tsp Whole White Peppercorns
4-8 Whole Juniper Berries
2 Bay Leaves


1-2 Tsp Pickling Spice (for more flavor)
2-3 Tsp Chopped Dill Weed
4-6 Coins of peeled horseradish root


Combine cold water, white wine, white vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil until all of the sugar is melted.

Note: Consider using ¼ cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of sea salt to begin with and then adding either ingredient until the desired balance of salt and sweet flavor is obtained.

Once mixture is hot and the sugar has melted, turn off heat and add the other spices. Fold the bay leaves in half lengthwise until they crack and then add to the liquid. Add the optional pickling spice, chopped dill or coins of horseradish root at this point.

Slice the peeled onion and carrots paper-thin and stir them into the cooled brine. Drain the herring in a sieve and reserve the liquid for later use. If the drained fish is at all slimy, rinse it off under cold running water and drain on paper towels until dry.

Once the brining liquid is at room temperature, add the herring fillets and stir to combine with all other ingredients. Salt to taste. For a stronger fish flavor, add some of the drained liquid. To remove any sediment from the reserved liquid, strain it through a paper towel.

Chill, preferably overnight — stirring occasionally, and serve on light or dark rye, pumpernickel, rye crisp or your choice of crackers. Place a few of the pickled onion rings beneath each piece of herring. Slices of sweet, dill or bread and butter pickle also may be used. Thin sliced cucumber makes for a refreshing low-sodium alternative. For authentic Danish flavor, lightly butter each piece of bread.

Top the herring with chopped dill, minced chives or scallions, capers or minced onion.

Serve with well-chilled Aquavit, schnapps, vodka or Danish beer. Skoal!

Note: For those who are interested in what real sardines taste like, please consider sampling the King Oscar brand of Tiny Tots or the Crown Prince brand of Crosspacked Brisling Sardines in olive oil. These sardines are smaller than your little finger and have none of the strong fishy flavors or aromas that can be so off-putting. They are a perfect way to introduce children to healthy dining and and excellent source of both vitamin D and calcium.

So as it turns out, this geographical move was not a good choice in terms of Somali health…

Considering the way these effing ingrates have antagonized nearly every single culture they’ve invaded, the level of frustration and resentment that’s brewing among host nations will quite likely prove very detrimental to “Somali health”.

Joanne: "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." Proverb 18:13

Whoa, there's an end to it, Natalie. You've had scripture quoted at you and there clearly can be no further argument. Capiche?

Anonymous said...

Joanne: no, I don't have any kids--still way too young to want any.

I really didn't mean to be rude to you, but it just really frustrates me when people are against vaccines and/or don't vaccinate their kids. I have had all my vaccines--I actually just went to the doctor today to get two more, so now I'm all up to date. Vaccines have helped kids actually survive childhood. Back in the old days (before vaccines were invented), so many kids died young from diseases that we prevent today. So many studies have shown that vaccines don't cause autism. They are safe and very effective at preventing disease.

It's not right that people get away with not vaccinating their kids. Unvaccinated kids don't get sick because the rest of us get our vaccines and therefore don't get those diseases. But what if everyone went by that logic and didn't vaccinate their kids? We'd all be getting sick when we were young and that would be stupid. Though no one likes getting shots, they are a necessary part of life.

Dymphna said...


Great recipe.

As far as the sardines go, I believe the brands you recommend are on Amazon. Free shipping and by the case they are cheaper than the ones in the store. The latter are mostly packed in soybean oil, which is gross.

Dymphna said...


There is some controversy about *some* of the vaccines. If I can find the info, I will send it along.

I don't get the flu vaccine. Haven't had the flu, either. It's just not something I'm prone to. If I worked in health care, I sure would get one, though.

Anyway, not all vaccines are created equal. And the more one learns about the economics of medical care delivery, the more assertive a consumer one tends to be.

Dymphna said...

Okay, here's one:

Dangers of Vaccines, Mercury and Thimerosal

It seems that before getting a vaccine it is imperative to know if the preservative in it contains mercury. This is the issue that has aroused the parents of autistic children. Children are more vulnerable than adults, but having mercury floating around in your system can't be good for anyone.

Anonymous said...

Some vaccines are worse than others... if I'm remembering correctly, the smallpox vaccine had some risks (but don't quote me on this; I may be wrong).

The amount of mercury is so minute that it really won't cause a problem. Mercury poisoning happens with chronic exposure over time. It's not like cyanide, which kills quickly if you're exposed to it. It's more like arsenic in the fact that it becomes lethal by building up in the body over a long period of time. And mercury is quickly secreted by small children according to this study.

Zenster said...

Dymphna: Great recipe.

You are most welcome. Since fish seems to be the order of the day, here's my latest culinary invention. I'll be testing the recipe again this evening.

Salmon with Hot Pepper Corn and Onion Hash
Main Dish


1 Salmon filet per person (~ ¼-½ # each)

2-3 Potatoes per person (White creamers or Yukon Gold)
2-3 Ears of yellow or white corn (Canned Shopeg corn may be used)
1-2 Medium tomatoes
1-2 Chile peppers (Jalapeño or hotter)
1-2 Chopped scallions
1 Large yellow onion (Or Vidalia sweet)
1 Red or green bell pepper

¼ - ½ # bacon (Fried crisp and crumbled)
¼ - ½ Cup chicken or turkey broth

4-6 Cloves peeled garlic (Chopped or crushed)
1-2 TBSP Butter
1-2 TBSP Bacon fat
1-2 TBSP Chopped fresh dill


Boil the potatoes in heavily salted water. Fry off and drain the bacon before proceeding. Heat skillet over a low flame, then melt some butter and bacon fat in the pan. Add (in order), the chopped onion, bell pepper, scallions, chiles, tomatoes and garlic.

Note: Control the chiles’ heat by removing their internal ribs and seeds. This allows using more chile peppers for better flavor without the BTUs getting out of hand.

Continue to sauté the vegetables until tender. Husk and shave the corn then add to the other vegetables. Add the crumbled bacon. Stir well and cover, then reduce heat or turn off and reserve

Pan fry or poach the salmon in stock with 1-2 TBSP of the chopped dill weed

Drain the potatoes


In the bottom of a large shallow soup bowl place:

Slices of cooked potato (or crushed creamers)
Top with the corn and onion hash
Drape with a filet of the salmon (or tuna, swordfish or halibut)
Sprinkle with chopped dill


Serve with chilled lager, champagne, a crisp white or rosé wine.

Zenster said...

After having a beutiful little boy across the street die of crib death within a week of getting multiple vaccinations, my concern is over how wise it is to unleash so many different immunological challenges at once in a young body.

While children are notorious for having strong immune systems, I still am obliged to question the wisdom of needlessly posing such a risk. I understand that the practice is in place to avoid missed follow-up injections and the like. The mercury issue would seem a far less likely candidate than some sort of multiple vaccine-triggered bulk onslaught to the body's defenses.

If mercury were the actual culprit, there should be clear indications of allergic or systemic reactions to it. I have yet to see any reporting of this.

It will be very interesting to watch parallel studies of autism rates in controlled groups of children who have been injected with and without vaccines using thimerosal-based preservatives. That one study alone should provide conclusive evidence about any mercury risks.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it does seem that babies get too many vaccinations at once. Now, the hepatitis B vaccine is given to kids when they are still babies (like 1 or 2 months old), but when I was a baby, it wasn't. I didn't get it until I was 13 and I'm none worse for the wear. Perhaps it would be a good thing to space out vaccines more or something...

Dymphna said...


Great recipe -- except I can't eat potatoes or corn. Very unfortunate for *me* since I love them both.

Dymphna said...


Look more carefully at the 2002 NYT article you cite. It's full of holes and weasel words.

Also, peruse the book by the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Angell:

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It

The citation I gave you has dozens of credible, scholarly refutations to the dismissive assertions that vaccinations do no harm.

The parents whose children are plagued with this disorder have nowhere to turn. Big Government and Big Pharma have made it illegal to seek redress or follow-up medical care for their children. You have to be well-off to get help for your autistic child. Either that, or very poor.

This cover-up is akin to the FDA's foot-dragging on changing the food pyramid. It's a very unhealthy diet and promotes obesity with all its servings of bread and starches. But subsized farmers and dairy conglomerates would be hurt by any change in the "common wisdom" so you have to become your own dietitian in order to feed your children out of today's grocery stores.

When I was in hospital recently, I asked for the diabetic diet. I was gob-smacked at what the nutritionist considered acceptable for those with blood sugar problems. The diet would shorten the life of a Type I diabetic. I gave away or sent back untouched at least a third to a half of each meal.

And read the typical menu for a grade school. They usually publish them in the local paper. It's enough to make a parent despair. Anyone with a modicum of nutrition information whose children are stuck in goverment schools has to pack his or her own children's lunch to keep them from being bombarded with starches.

Did you ever notice the sluggish, sleepy kids in the class after lunch? They were struggling to digest all those "complex carbs" (translated, that means sugar, because that's what they become).

You're young and healthy, Natalie. You don't have children. But as you age and your body becomes heir to the slings and arrows you will need to become an aggressive consumer of medical "wisdom." Tread lightly! What you don't know can cause permanent harm.

spackle said...

This unfortunately is one of those things that is going to take a lot of time and research to determine what is the cause. It is odd however that this is a recent phenom. I was born in the 60s and fully vaccinated yet autism was almost unknown.

On a side note. It will also be interesting to see the long term effects of cell phone usage in the future. We already now are having a frighteningly large increase in brain tumors. I knew there was a reason why I hated cell phones. Dont want one, dont need one.

spackle said...

One more thing that grinds my gears is the obesity problem. All of a sudden obesity became a genetic thing. Maybe for 1% of the population. People just eat to much crap and dont move. Okay. Im done now.

Zenster said...

Dymphna, feel free to substitute rice, pecan rice or wild rice for the potatoes. A melange of cranberry beans and red lentils would do nicely as well. Farfel, orzo or fregula should also work as a bed for the fish and hash. Instead of corn, try using baby peas (petite pois), fresh fava beans or diced squash. The delicate flavor of tiny baby squash would be an ideal match.

Dymphna said...

Zenster said -- and I just noticed it:

It will be very interesting to watch parallel studies of autism rates in controlled groups of children who have been injected with and without vaccines using thimerosal-based preservatives. That one study alone should provide conclusive evidence about any mercury risks.

That would be an interesting study indeed. Would you be willing to supply *your* children for the study??? Where would you find an ethical scientist willing to perform such experiments on children?

Just study the kids who haven't had vaccines. Like the Amish. No problems at all with autism.

That's one reason parents are choosing to home-school. The number of vaccines increases every year.

Dymphna said...


Obesity is partly a couch potato problem, but it's more complicated than that. Even with parents home after school, many of them don't feel it's safe to send their kids "out to play."

Our lives have changed irrevocably since the '60s and there is no going back.

There are also lots more mandatory vaccines than there used to be.

The "genetic" part is the effect of too many carbs, too soon, on vulnerable endocrine systems. Read up on the subject -- it's not a one solution-covers-all.

For example, Zenster's wonderful recipe is verboten for me except for the nuts and summer squash he mentions with the salmon. Before I knew what was wrong with my pancreas, a "normal" supper would send me to bed, running a temperature and shaking. Only sleep seemed to resolve it.

In my rice, no bread, etc. Sure, I *can* eat them, but there's hell to pay. The Baron can eat anything. The fB could at one time but I notice he's just starting to get that sluggish feeling, too. So he began by giving up sugar. A good move which may stave off his eventual problem with metabolizing carbs.

One of my kids developed Type I diabetes as an adult. 6'3" and he weighed 139 pounds. His pancreas just quit entirely. Not one beta cell left alive. Doc says it may have been a virus but I think that if he did not have the whatever genes that cause endocrine problems the virus wouldn't have touched him.

spackle said...


Sorry to hear about your food problems. I have my own problems with food myself. My point about obesity is that it has just become another addition into the never ending black hole of victim status. It is not my fault its genetic. Some would have you believe that since 1980 humans made some sort of evolutionary jump that caused them to be obese through no fault of their own. Which we all know is hogwash. Like I said, some people have legit problems. But the vast majority is just overeating the wrong stuff and being immobile. Things sure have changed since the 60s. Video games, 2 zillion channels to choose from,the internet and crime have made it difficult to entice people and kids to move. But in the end it is just another excuse that will lead to a wheelchair or the graveyard.

My whole thing is just be honest. If you are fat and lazy just admit it. Dont blame it on genes or societal ills.

Dymphna said...


My whole thing is just be honest. If you are fat and lazy just admit it. Dont blame it on genes or societal ills.

I would think that understanding how the body works and compassion for one's limits is the beginning of change.

I've given mini-rebounders to kids. They love them. Mini-rebounders are cheap, low-tech, and very adaptable. One doc I know uses his between patients.

In order to eat correctly, you have to avoid nearly all processed food. The most innocuous looking items contain things like soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup. Dry cereals are a load of several kinds of sugar and starch with bran added. Ugh.

Why would anyone put h.f corn syrup in microwave popcorn? But they do. I don't eat the stuff, but for people who do, whose endocrine systems are being set up for problems later on, it's a darn shame.

Obesity is partly due to the abundance of food and the incessant commercials about eating. Getting rid of TV for kids would solve the coach potato problem and end the exposure to never-ending triggers to eat, eat, eat.

spackle said...


Agreed. The deck is stacked against us by the food industry. Like my dear old mother said. "Eating healthy today is hard work". It IS hard and requires one to educate themselves. But therein lies the rub. In todays society unless one leads the horse to water you cant make him drink. And sometimes that doesnt even work. We all have vices. God knows I do. It just takes a little effort. After all, we cant all be Gary Null. Come to think about it I dont think I would want to be. : )

Zenster said...

Dymphna: That would be an interesting study indeed. Would you be willing to supply *your* children for the study??? Where would you find an ethical scientist willing to perform such experiments on children?

Yes, I would consider letting my children participate in such a study. But only as a control group that received staggered injections of vaccines not containing thimerosal based preservatives.

Clearly, there are enough parents who have no objection to their children receiving thimerosal preserved vaccines dispensed in grouped doses.

One would think that all those scientists and big pharmaceutical executives who defend thimerosal-preserved vaccines shouldn't have any problem with their children being part of that same group.

If any of them did object, they should be subject to decertification, revocation of credentials or public censure within the scientific community.

Plainly put, there isn't a way in Hell I'd put my children at risk for no significant reason. Others who see no cause for concern may do as they wish.

If ethics are a huge concern, there must be some way of conducting a study using primates. Autism carries enough easily distinguished behavioral markers that it could be recognized in chimps.

It appears as though James T. Winslow, might agree in some respects.

There is a persuasive evidence that autism is highly heritable and likely to be substantially determined by polygenic mechanisms. Nevertheless, some intriguing findings in children raised in conditions of extreme social deprivation suggest that an autistic-like syndrome may occur as a consequence of environmental conditions. A particularly close model of this human syndrome has been studied in rhesus monkeys for almost half a century. Monkeys reared in pathogenic rearing conditions manifest considerable deficits in social interaction and increased self-directed behaviors. We have been interested in the possibility that disruptions in normal social development in non-human primates might be expressed in neuropeptide systems which have emerged in rodent studies as important candidates for a unique social biology. In recent studies, we have described persistently reduced CSF OT levels in male rhesus monkeys with significant social deficits. We also found that OT levels were positively related to the expression of affiliative social behaviors. Alterations were also detected in both CRH and AVP receptor binding patterns in limbic structures likely to influence social and emotional development. Taken together, these data suggest that abnormal rearing influences the development of brain systems critical to normal social and emotional competence in rhesus monkeys and may contribute to the development of autistic-like symptomatology associated with pathogenic rearing histories. [emphasis added]

From some brief investigation, it appears that non-thimerosal preserved vaccines are far more expensive and, therefore, out of reach for most Third World occupants. As others have noted, the reduction in quality or complete loss of life due to non-vaccination would, by far, exceed the autism rates currently being experienced.

For now, it appears as though thimerosal remains the lesser of two evils. None of that means pharmaceutical houses should not be pursuing alternative methods of vaccine preservation.

If large pharmaceutical manufacturers are deliberately avoiding such research and, instead, exerting lobby-based pressure upon government agencies to maintain legal immunity for them regarding liability over this issue, it represents a definite CONFLICT OF INTEREST and one that should be actionable.

The double blind study I suggested should be conducted immediately. If not on children, then on primates. Autism is a severe enough outcome whereby there is absolutely no excuse for ignoring thimerosal as an agent or facilitator. If, at a later time, thimerosal is accurately identified as a causative factor in autism, resistance to initiating such a study as I mentioned should confer significant financial and criminal liability upon those who profited from any delay in abandoning its use as a vaccine preservative.

Any such knowing delay would match the same actionable lack of ethics displayed by Ford Motor Company when it purposefully rejected engineering rework of the Pinto's gas tank in favor of settling statistically predictable lawsuits over needless loss of human life.

Zenster said...

Dymphna: In order to eat correctly, you have to avoid nearly all processed food.

A huge majority of processed food is inordinately high in amounts of sugar, salt, high fructose corn sweetner, transfats and all sorts of other crap that gives it the appeal, consistency and appearance of hand-prepared foodstuffs.

Your best bet is using whole ingredients. Reject any packaged foods that display an alphabet soup of preservatives, emulsifiers, texturizers and modified ingredients. Whether they are harmful or not is beside the point. Any company that produces such garbage is more concerned about profits than your health.

Are organics foods worth the astronomical price increase? I do not think so. There are additional concerns that plants not subjected to chemical pest supression generate potentially harmful levels of their own natural pesticides. Also, the lower cost of "non-organic" foods allows one a wider choice of diet and range of foods. This alone can promote healthier eating habits.

You would be stunned by the number of adults I have encountered with the fussy eating habits of a five year-old. Combine that with how many of these same people DO NOT know how to cook even the simplest dishes and you have a recipe for both dietary disaster and bank breaking restaurant costs.

The huge number of restaurants that now use pre-processed ingredients makes dining out a dietary minefield as well. Knowing how to cook and eating a well-balanced diet of widely varied ingredients is your best bet. The salmon recipe I posted is a perfect example of healthy and economical dining.

Worried about your weight? DON'T bring home cookies, salty snacks and other such garbage. As to that olestra crap, all it does is allow people to maintain intake of foods with the "mouth-feel" of other richer and fatty comestibles. This undermines healthy eating in that it doesn't facilitate any retuning of the palate over to truly healthy foods.

As a final note, the ongoing hysteria about fat is dangerous as well. Nearly ALL of your vitamins require fat to transport them within your body. Fat is also responsible for the vast majority of flavors that you sense. Furthermore, it has been found that extremely low-fat diets up the risk for strokes and aneurysms due to fat's role in maintaining a robust circulatory system.

I'll close by noting that totally rejecting unhealthy whole foods that are fatty or rich can lead to a diet which is so flavorless that it represents a significant reduction in a person's quality of life. Put another way:


Dymphna said...


Your mother is right: the learning curve is steep, but once you've learned it, picking healthy foods is easy enough. And often cheaper.

Who is Gary Null? I lead a sheltered life here in the boondocks.


Right on about "organic" foods. The only one I've noticed being better is carrots, for some reason. I'm not supposed to eat those because of the sugar level, but I do sometimes.

Also true about fats. I use ghee and butter and olive oil. THey've been around forever and aren't damaged by heat. Particularly ghee.

I make yogurt cheese for savory dressings and desserts. You just drain all the whey (and lactose) off. What is left is tangy and tasty...

spackle said...


If you look him up on Wikipedia it will tell you all you want to know. In a nutshell he is an Uber health nut nutritionist/writer who has a talk show on health out of NYC for years now. His whole existence revolves around health (to the point of OCD) and is highly critical of mainstream medicine. He has a lot of valid points but is a little crazy.

Zenster said...

Dymphna: I make yogurt cheese for savory dressings and desserts.

If you like yogurt, you're going to love the following recipe.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Yogurt and Fruit Salad

Preparation time: 30 Minutes

Serves: 6-10 People


2 Large navel oranges
2 Granny Smith apples
1-2 Small Haas avocados
1-2 Black plums
1-2 Nectarines
1-2 Peaches
1 Cup Seedless grapes
1 Ruby red grapefruit
1 Cantaloupe
1 Bosc pear
1 Fuji apple
1 Lemon

1 Quart Kefir Cheese or Lebne
¼ Cup light amber maple syrup
1 Tbs Vanilla extract

Note: Kefir cheese or Lebne is genuine yogurt. It is made using whole milk and cream and has the dense consistency of sour cream with a wonderful yogurt tang. Ordinary yogurts do not compare to this product. It can be found at Arabic and Middle Eastern food stores and specialty shops.

If you are unable to find this product, be sure to substitute a very high quality commercial yogurt. Nancy's, White Cloud and Pavel's are among some of the better brands. Be sure to check that the yogurt is made using whole milk for the correct texture and richness.

To thicken regular yogurt, line a colander or large sieve with two layers of paper towels. Dump in the yogurt while trying to keep it in a single mass. Cover with another paper towel and allow it to drain for at least one hour. Keep refrigerated if spoilage is a concern.


Cut all citrus fruit except the lemon into supremes (to make supremes, see note below). Cut the supremes in half as you add them to the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the citrus cores and the lemon into a very large mixing bowl. Peel the larger fruits before adding to the salad. Proceed to pit and cut up all fruit that might oxidize (pear, apple, peach, etc.) into fork sized pieces. Toss the fruit in the citrus juices to coat them. Cut up the remaining fruit into bite size pieces and place it in the bowl. Cut the melon in half, remove the seeds, then peel and cube it or use a melon-baller to scoop out the flesh. Combine all of the fruit into the bowl and toss in the citrus juice once more.

In a separate smaller bowl mix the yogurt with the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Work the mixture until smooth. Drain the citrus juice from the cut up fruit and slowly add it to the yogurt. Be careful not to thin the yogurt too much. If necessary, do not use all of the citrus juice. Before adding the yogurt mixture to the salad, peel and seed the avocados. Cut them up into small pieces and add them to the fruit. Add the sweetened yogurt and fold gently to avoid breaking up the fruit.

For best results, avoid using highly colored fruits such as cherries, and berries. These tend to bleed into the salad and color it. Avoid using bananas as they tend to lose their texture too quickly. Blueberries are permissible if they are fresh. If you are going to serve this salad immediately after preparation it may include the berries and other fruits mentioned above. An alternative is to decorate the salad’s topside with an arrangement of berries and cut fruit. This makes for an especially attractive presentation.

Note: How to cut supremes from citrus fruit.
Cut the top and bottom of the fruit off to create flats.
Standing the fruit on its bottom end, cut away the rind with curved downward strokes.
Each cut should remove both the peel and any of the white pith underneath.
Once the entire fruit is exposed, hold it in your hand and begin removing supremes.
Gently cut into the fruit along the edge of one of the membranes.
Cut along the adjacent membrane to release a wedge of pure fruit.
Remove any seeds or partition material that remains with the supreme.
Continue until all of the supremes are released from the fruit.
Squeeze the remaining core and collect the juice in a bowl for later use.

Zenster said...

A big secret to the above ambrosia recipe is using avocado. It lends a subtle nut-like flavor that provides a wonderful contrast to the sweet fruit. Another odd addition is bee pollen for those who enjoy it.

Last summer I created a delightful variation upon this ambrosia recipe. It is made entirely with citrus fruit supremes and provides a refreshing alternative during hot weather. Use all or any of the following fruits:

Ruby Grapefruit
Blood Oranges
Mandarin Oranges

Be sure to use lots of lemons and limes as they yield small supremes. The high acid content of this salad allows it to keep refrigerated for over one week. Squeezing all of the fruit cores will yield far more juice than the recipe requires.

A screwdriver made with the juice blend is a delicious way to dispose of any surplus.

Zenster said...

Finally, another yogurt recipe that I have recently perfected. The secret is using red wine vinegar. Traditional lemon juice does not provide the depth or complexity of flavor conferred by using vinegar. My own personal touches are onion powder and ground white pepper to spice things up a bit.

Tzatziki Sauce
Greek Yogurt Dressing

Preparation time: 10 Minutes


1 Pint Lebne or Greek-style yogurt
2-3 Cloves of crushed garlic
2-3 TBSP Lemon juice
1-2 TBSP Red wine vinegar
1-2 TBSP Olive oil

Dash of onion powder
Dash of sugar
Dash of ground white pepper
Salt to taste


1 Cucumber, peeled and diced or grated*
Chopped dill weed

* If using cucumber be sure to wring out the cut pieces in a paper towel or tea cloth. The excess moisture will break the sauce and make it runny.

Note: Kefir cheese or Lebne is genuine yogurt. It is made using whole milk and cream and has the dense consistency of sour cream with a wonderful yogurt tang. Ordinary yogurts do not compare to this product. It can be found at Arabic and Middle Eastern food stores and specialty shops.

If you are unable to find this product, be sure to substitute a very high quality commercial yogurt. Nancy's, White Cloud and Pavel's are among some of the better brands. Be sure to check that the yogurt is made using whole milk for the correct texture and richness.

To thicken regular yogurt, line a colander or large sieve with two layers of paper towels. Dump in the yogurt while trying to keep it in a single mass. Cover with another paper towel and allow it to drain for at least one hour. Keep refrigerated if spoilage is a concern.


Combine all ingredients and mix well. Allow sauce to rest refrigerated for at least one hour before use. Reduce the amount of garlic if the sauce is being prepared well ahead of time.

This sauce is the classic condiment for Greek gyros sandwiches. It can also be used on kebabs and as a dressing for lamb.

Dymphna said...


Unfortunately, I could never eat that much fruit in a serving. In two weeks, perhaps!...

If you like Greek yogurt (which I do) you'll love skyr.

The nearest Whole Foods Market is promoting Iceland's food exports and skyr is definitely a winner. No fat and 22 grams of protein, which definitely helps with the carb count. It says it's one serving, but I make three with the container.

This link explains skyr and gives a good wiki link:


Needless to say, get the plain variety, not the sugared version.

That food store also has Icelandic char, better by far than salmon. It grows more slowly and has a finer flesh.

These just add to the Baron's desire to go to Iceland.

Zenster said...

Your skyr sounds suspiciously like quark. If you haven't tried Lebne, please consider doing so. It is incredibly addictive.

X said...

@spackle, dymphan et al

Part of the problem with the whole obsity thing is that the measure of what is obese was defined in the 1950s. Well, I don't know about the US but in the UK that was slap bang in the middle of the auesterity period, that is, when people had nothing to eat and were ridiculously malnourished. The "ideal" BMI is based on the 75th percentile from that period, as I understand things. They also didn't account for differneces in muscle mass and bone density, so you can be called "overweight" when you're actually short of fat. Anyway, on top of everything else that's been raised it turns out that being slightly "obese" according to the official measures is actually healthier than being spot-on and not having any fat at all. The problem is where that fat is stored. If it's under the skin, it's good. If it's visceral, in between the organs, it's very, very bad... you can be perfectly toned with virtually no fat under your skin and still have that visceral fat gumming up the works and screwing up your insulin production and absorption.

It's all very complicated. Needless to say, the government prefers to make everyone fit to a single template "ideal" weight which is unhealthy and ignores reality. But then, these are the people who want to cut salt almost completely out of our diet and want to tax the world for producing plant food.

Dymphna said...


By today's standards, Marilyn Monroe would be considered fat...when I look at those old pictures, I know how times have changed.

What she did have, however, was a good waist to hip ratio. That is what measures obesity more accurately than a BMI.

Besides the stupidity of the government, there is the group think of the medical profession. None of them -- except the brave few -- are willing to step outside their little box.

The Australian researcher, Marshall, put them all to shame when he proved that ulcers are *not* caused by stress, but by the action of the bacterium h. pylori on stomach tissue. He proved it by deliberately infecting himself and then curing it with antibiotics.

Needless to say, they still didn't want to listen. Eventually he eroded the common wisdom, came to the US and made a bunch of money with his research. He deserved every penny of it for the suffering he prevented.

My favorite doctor ploy is when a patient shows up suffering all the symptoms and signs of some chronic disorder but when his lab work turns out "normal" he is told he doesn't have the disorder.

The government edicts, the medical profession's tunnel vision, Big Pharma's sweet deal with their "research" and the influence of agri-business on what is available to eat sums up our pandemic health problems...

Just try to find:

Grass feed beef.

Or chicken not dosed up on soy and anti-biotics

Pork that is not grown in pig factories. Their toxic waste is surely on a level with the worst of landfill hazards

Flavorful fruit and vegetables that are not grown with the purpose of making sure they "travel well"...

And find a doctor who refuses to let pharmaceutical reps in the door.

X said...

Argentina for the food. Kobe beef might be more expensive but for sheer gorgeousness you have to eat some Argentinian beef. They say the beef is so tender because the grass is so good down there, the cows never actually move. They don't do organic farming down there but it's a lot healthier than what we get up here. Though... vegetables seem to take a back seat to the meat. Which I like. :)

Medical reps and doctors? I don't know if there's a cure for that one that doesn't involve a shotgun.

Anonymous said...

Pork that is not grown in pig factories...Niman Ranch makes the most wonderful bacon and other meat products. They use animals that are humanely raised on old-fashioned family farms. Available at Trader Joe's and elsewhere.

Also of interest is the Hyperlipid blog ( The blogger, an English veterinarian, cites research showing that saturated fat is healthy. Some info there on Dr. K, the Polish Atkins. I find the high fat diet hard to do consistently, but I think there's something to it, and it's wonderful to learn that bacon and eggs are actually health food.