HEALTH ALERT! Aresenic Found in Rice.
This alert goes with this month's health article on Celiac and Gluten below.

On Wednesday, September 20, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the release of preliminary data to determine the presence of arsenic in rice and rice products. This news has generated concern within the celiac and gluten-intolerant communities as rice is the most common grain used in gluten-free products and individuals following a gluten-free diet are likely to consume more rice-based products than the average American.
Earlier this year, Consumer Reports (CR) tested rice and rice based products and  found measurable amounts of both inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, as well as organic  arsenic, less toxic but still of concern, in those samples. This information lead the FDA to undertake its own study sampling significantly more products, and to share the early findings.  While arsenic is found in foods throughout the food chain, in their natural state, or when processed into other products, it is not known where the threshold of safety ends and harm begins.

Though rice isn’t the only dietary source of arsenic—some vegetables, fruits, and even water can harbor it—the Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.

No federal limit exists for arsenic in most foods, but the standard for drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Keep in mind: That level is twice the 5 ppb that the EPA originally proposed and that New Jersey actually established. Using the 5-ppb standard in our study, we found that a single serving of some rices could give an average adult almost one and a half times the inorganic arsenic he or she would get from a whole day’s consumption of water, about 1 liter.

We also discovered that some infant rice cereals, which are often a baby’s first solid food, had levels of inorganic arsenic at least five times more than has been found in alternatives such as oatmeal. The EPA and Consumer Reports suggest limiting the consumption of rice products.

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Celiac Disease and What Are Gluten-Free Products:

They are popping up everywhere now: gluten-free stores, bakeries, and foods. People who are not sensitive to gluten no doubt think this is just another health craze and not a very tasty one at that. To people who have wheat or gluten intolerances or celiac disease, gluten-free products are a Godsend. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in many grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. This disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood although people who have a family member with celiac disease are at greater risk for developing the disease. The disorder is most common in Caucasians and persons of European ancestry. Women are affected more often than men.

The symptoms of celiac disease can be different from person to person. This is part of the reason why the diagnosis is not always made right away. For example, one person may have constipation, a second may have diarrhea, and a third may have no problem with stools. An intolerance to gluten may also present as a food allergy or rash.

There are some health professionals who believe it is more than likely not the gluten or grain itself that is the culprit in gluten intolerance and Celiac but the pesticides these grains are heavily treated with. As a nutritionist, I have witnessed many people who have switched to organic grains and their symptoms went away in just a few months. This belief is definitely worth trying but impossible to get the FDA or any other agency to admit to. We suggest trying organic grains and getting completely off conventional grains to see if it works for you . Your body is the best judge and will tell you if what you are doing is right for you or not.

Gastrointestinal symptoms of Celiac include:
• Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion
• Constipation
• Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
• Diarrhea, either constant or off and on
• Lactose intolerance (common when the person is diagnosed, usually goes away after treatment)
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
• Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)

When untreated, the disease can cause life-threatening complications. Delaying diagnosis or not following the diet puts you at risk for related conditions such as:
• Autoimmune disorders
• Bone disease (osteoporosis, kyphoscoliosis, fractures)
• Certain types of intestinal cancer
• Low blood count (anemia)
• Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
• Infertility or repeated miscarriage
• Liver disease

To learn more:



NUTRITION: Getting More Veggies Into Your Daily Routine Doesn't Have to be a Challenge.

Even as a nutritionist I sometimes find it difficult to incorporate all the vegetables I should into my family's daily routine. I'm sure you know how especially difficult this is to do with children and men: veggies are just not "fun" for them. The USDA has redesigned their food pyramid in recent years to reflect the fact that the average American diet is too lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables. We all know we need to do it. So why don't we?

Habit and convenience mostly. Hereditary traits play a huge role as well because we tend to eat what we grew up with and we tend to cook the same way our mother's did. But ultimately it's about changing our cravings. Here are some little tricks you can use to make fruits and veggies more fun and convenient for the whole family and start to turn around those unhealthy cravings.

Grab and Go:
One trick to get your kids (and I also find this works with everybody in the household) to grab fresh veggies and fruit rather than junk food for snacks is to have it readily available. Clean and cut up a bowl full of veggies and set them right in front of the frig. Have fresh fruit on hand in an attractive bowl on the kitchen counter or table. The more attractive you can make it look, the more inviting it will be. Also, if you don't want your family to eat junk food, don't buy it. They will have no choice but to grab a healthy snack if that is all that is available. By the way, this also works with trail mix. Make a big bowl of nuts, raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and have it sitting out on the counter. Every time my family sees this mix, they grab a handful as they are walking by. It's all about keeping it handy. I have found that once my family started grabbing trail mix and fruits and veggies instead of potato chips or candy, their cravings started to change over a couple months and they now ask me for healthy snacks instead of junk. Changing your food cravings can be done, I've seen it over and over. Once you get your body adapted to healthier foods, it will stop craving the junk. Trust me, I've seen this in action. I used to be the potato chip and Carb Queen. I swore I would never be able to ditch the craving for my all-time favorite junk food: potato chips with french onion dip. But I have not touched a potato chip for years now and don't crave or miss them at all. I have witnesses many people with similar experiences who when they first came to me for nutritional advice, swore they could never give up their unhealthy cravings but eventually did. Some things I used to crave and eat are not even appealing to me now and when I try a bite of them, I wonder why I ever ate them in the first place. Once you change your tastebuds, you will be surprised how the foods you used to love do not taste as good to you as they once did and you will start to crave other things. Your body knows what's best for it, the problem is, we tend to ignore our bodies.

Learning to Think Differently About Food:
The second biggest obstacle to eating healthy is that you have to learn to think about food differently than you were raised to think of it. Americans eat for taste and pleasure, which is completely the wrong attitude to have toward food. No wonder we lead the world in obesity. We use food for recreation when we should be using it for nutrition. We need to stop eating something we know is bad for us just because we like the taste of it. Food manufacturers actually make foods with addictions in mind. Yes…they do. It wasn't until the health craze movement that they finally started to manufacture foods with health in mind and the only reason they did it was because the public finally started demanding it.
With health in mind, most of us have had to learn to cook differently as well. When you start to think about food in terms of nutritional value rather than taste, you have to learn to cook with nutritional value in mind. Most nutritionists will tell you that we eat far too much cooked food and that raw is always better with most foods to maintain vitamin content and ultimate nutritional value. So trying NOT to COOK so much is a good step in the right direction. Try preparing more marinated fresh veggies as a type of salad or add tuna or noodles to beef it up a bit for an awesome side dish.

Most Americans can easily cut their meat consumption in half and their bodies will never miss it, and in fact it will help them to lose weight. Americans have been taught through generations to make meat the main course of a meal, while other, more healthy countries make meat a much smaller portion of a meal, usually the smallest portion. The Asian diet is considered the healthiest and they only make meat about 10-20% of their diet and meals. They never sit down and just eat a hunk of meat. In their culture, meat is used more as a flavoring and protein source. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for meat is a mere 3 ounces per day for an adult in order to get the amount of protein the body needs. That is a fraction of what most American consume in one day. We eat 1/2 lb cheeseburgers for lunch and that alone far exceeds our RDA for protein. Now add another 1/2 lb of meat for dinner and breakfast, and you have exceeded what your body really needs by at least 12-16 ounces every day! Next time you eat Authentic Asian food, take note of just how much of the dish sitting in front of you is meat. It will usually only make up 10-20% of the dish. Meat has the least nutritional value of all the food groups. It has very little vitamins and minerals, and should really only be used as a protein source and only 3 ounces per day are needed of that.

A very easy and beneficial way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet is to make them the mainstay of every meal and make meat only a small percentage of the meal. Cook more "dishes" that are a mixture of vegetables, grains and a small amount of meat like the Asians do, and try to get away from the American tendency to serve a chunk of meat as the main course with a side dish of one or two vegetables. The men in your life are very apt to eat the meat and leave the vegetables when you cook this way. But if you incorporate the vegetables into a mixed dish, such as spaghetti with some extra veggies added to it like small pieces of squash, mushrooms, spinach cut up in a food processor so they can hardly taste it etc, they won't even notice the difference and may actually like the added flavor. I use a food processor to finely chop some vegetables that we may not be that fond, such as spinach, but that have a high nutritional value into such small pieces that we can't really taste them and they can easily be hidden in many other dishes to give us more nutritional content in every meal. We used to eat just plain chili, now we love it topped with fresh tomatoes, cilantro or chives, onions and cheese: a topping that really adds flavor and nutritional value to an otherwise mostly meat and carbs dish. Add fruits, nuts, raisins etc., to cereal. My favorite thing for breakfast is what I call a breakfast fruit salad. I make a bowl of mixed fruits such as cantaloupe, bananas, grapes, orange slices, berries and mix some yogurt in with it. Then top the whole thing with walnuts and raisins. Yummy. You can also add raw oatmeal flakes to it for some grains. It tastes more like a desert than a breakfast meal and I guarantee your kids will love it.

If you do all the above suggestions right, your family will not even notice you're making their meals healthier. Start out changing your diet slowly with one or two meals per week. Then gradually increase all the suggestions above. Your taste buds will change for the better and so will your health.


Do you know what foods will give you more energy, calm your nerves, act as an anti-infammatory, help prevent cancers, or help you lose weight? Hopefully this column will help you to have a better understanding of food and its healing properties. The best diet for optimal health is a wide variation of foods, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and minimally cooked whole foods. Sweets, fatty foods, meat, dairy and carbs in moderation.

Therapeutic Properties: Extremely high source of potassium which gives the body energy and is one of the major electrolytes. Potassium is very necessary for the proper functioning of the heart and for normalizing blood pressure. The problem with the American diet is that it is too high in sodium, which depletes potassium, and not high enough in potassium, leading to high blood pressure and lately, higher incidence of potassium deficiencies resulting in heart damage.
Has a high fat or oil content but good, unsaturated fat, which supplies high amounts of energy. Avocados contain 14 minerals, most significant are its iron and copper content. Copper is important in the formation of hemoglobin, collagen and the protective myelin sheath surrounding nerves. It also helps the body to oxidize Vitamin C and metabolize protein.

Acid or Alkaline: Alkaline

Significant Nutrients: 1 avocado contains, 1200mg of Potassium, (the RDA of potassium is 2500mg-5000mbg.)1230IU of Vitamin A, 79 mg of magnesium and 124mcg of folic acid.


- Ask a Nutritionist

- Ask an Herbalist

- The brain needs some healthy time too?
Stop by The Lounge on your way out.

- Also see the Motivity Page for Mental Health.

- Use Google Search above to find more health articles in our archives.

This health section is updated monthly to give our members a chance to view it, so check back the first of every month for new posts. Disclaimer: This page is designed to offer information only on topics the average person can use themselves. It is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


Parasites: Both of these natural remedies can be used for pets as well.

Pumpkin Seed Remedy
: Soak 3-4 Tbsp of pumpkin seeds in warm water for approximately 1 hour. Put in a blender with half of a small onion and 1/2 C soy milk. Blend until smooth and take 3 times a day for a week.

Black Walnut Hulls: Take a tincture or extract of black walnut hulls per manufacturer's directions for approximately 1-2 weeks.

HERBS: How to use them for maximum benefit. Short and sweet descriptions and uses written by our on-staff Nutritional Herbalist. Always remember that herbs should be treated as a medicine. Almost all of our modern-day medicines are derived from compounds found in herbs and plants. If you have not used a particular herb before, try a half dose at first to make sure you do not have an unfavorable reaction to it.

Barberry Berberis Vulgaris (Common Barberry)

Medicinal Properties: Very bitter, barberry stimulates the liver, spleen and uterus, lowers fever and blood pressure, controls bleeding and reduces inflammation. It has been used for malaria due to its effectiveness against disease-causing organisms. It has also been used for hepatitus, tumors of the liver, gallstones and to support chemotherapy. Barberry is most highly regarded in herbalism as a liver detoxifier.

How to Use: Make a tea by steeping 1 tsp of the leaves, stems or fruit in 1 C of steaming water, take 1-2 cups per day for no longer than a week at a time.. Capsules, tablets, extracts.

Parts Used: Leaves, stem, root and fruit

Warnings: Do not take if you are pregnant. Several species of this shrub are harmful if any part of it is eaten.

Some Herb Basics: Most herbs work better on an empty stomach. A few exceptions are garlic, goldenseal and cayenne due to stomach upset. Herbs work in a cumulative fashion meaning they are not a "one dose wonder." They need to build up in the sytem a little, usually within 2-3 doses, before any real affect can be noticed. Fresh herbs always work better than old herbs and science is always proving the fact that a whole herb usually is more effective than one isolated compound of that herb.


Southwestern Guacamole

4 ripe avocados
2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 C. organic sour cream
1 organic tomato, diced
3-4 sprigs of fresh cilantro or chives
1 clove garlic
Sprinkle ground chipotle pepper to taste. Will get hotter as it sits.
1/2 tsp sea salt.

Mash avocados with lime juice and salt. Add remaining ingredients. Let sit in refrigerator, covered for at least 1/2 hour to let flavors mingle. Can freeze to prevent it from turning brown.

You can find this and many other recipes in The Circkles Hangout under the Main Menu.

Health Product Reviews & Questions:

"I have seen you mention a brand called Bionaturae in your recipes section. I am very interested in using more products that are not in cans. Can you tell me where I can find this brand?" ~ S.C, New Mexico.

Circkle's response: Bionaturae is a very small company and many retailers have not had to deal with consumers demanding products packaged in glass rather than cans so may not carry their line of tomato sauce and paste in glass jars. We have found it at most Vitamin Cottage stores and Whole Foods. Often if your local stores don't carry an item they are able to special order it. It's worth checking into.

"What's happening to Eclectic Institute? There are very few stores that carry their brand anymore and the one store where I could still find their supplements is phasing them out. I have read that they are one of the best quality herbal supplements out there. Please email me and let me know your thoughts or anyone elses. 
Thanks. ~T.J. in Colorado

Circkle's response to J.J. You are right J.J., they are considered one of the best herbal supplement manufacturers, but their higher prices and lack of educating are why consumers are not supporting them and neither are store. Consumers tend to purchase what is cheapest and not necessarily what's better. See if your local health food store can special order them. Eclectic has a website, but ordering online is even more expresive. Sorry this news wasn't better.

If you have a question or want some information on a product, chances are we have tried it. Just ask us about it on our Contact form. We will only post your question here if you give us permission to.

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