Umami: The Fifth Taste

I like the healthy food that I eat to have maximum flavour; it is not necessary to sacrifice satisfaction or pleasure for health. I want to be excited about eating all along the way. From concept, when I think about what to eat; to the inspirational trip to the farmer's market; the experience of preparation; to the visual; aromatic;  and taste sensations. 

After salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, umami is the fifth basic taste. It can best be described as a rich and delicious savoury taste that is fully rounded, pleasant, and satisfying. It enhances and gives depth, intensity, and complexity to food. Umami depends on the addition of salt to be fully realized.  

Piquance is a sixth basic taste used to describe strong, sharp, pungent, spicy, and hot smells and tastes.

For helpful information, please visit HEALTH COACH: To Salt Or Not To Salt; That Is The Question 

Cheesy Green Chile 
and Potato Chowder
3 poblano peppers
1 large yellow onion, small diced
1 green bell pepper, small diced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, small diced
3 slices bacon
2 t minced garlic
1 quart chicken broth
2 t salt
2 c milk
1/4 c flour
1/2 c Mexican blend cheese (plus additional for serving)
thinly sliced green onions 

First, fire roast the peppers.

To do this, place poblano peppers right over the flame on your burner if you have a gas stove. Flip occasionally until every inch of the pepper is charred. If you don’t have a gas stove, place peppers underneath the broiler on a lined sheet tray (also flipping occasionally) until charred. Once charred all around, immediately remove peppers from heat and put them in a paper bag, for 20 minutes, until cooled, then remove charred skin with the back of a knife and roughly chop up peppers.

While your peppers are cooling, fry the bacon in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Fry until crispy then remove bacon from the pot and drain on pepper towels. Keep grease in the pot!

Add your onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery to the hot grease. Saute for about six minutes over medium heat until veggies are just tender. Add cubed potatoes to the pot, as well as the poblano peppers, and toss well so everything is combined.

Pour in chicken broth and add the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 35 minutes until potatoes are very tender. Add milk and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together so that no flour clumps remain and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Turn off heat completely and add cheese to the pot. Stir well so cheese melts. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon, sliced green onions and additional cheese. 
Serves 4-6 
Eat, Live, Run

How We Experience Food

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All taste buds on the tongue and other regions of the mouth can detect umami taste independently of their location. The tongue map in which different tastes are attributed to specific regions of the tongue is a common misconception. 

Umami aroma and taste have appetizing benefits to the elderly and the medicated who have reduced appetite, sense of smell and taste and are at increased risk of poor nutrition and consequently, disease.

The Mushroom Melt
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t thyme, chopped
1/4 c white wine or broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 T parsley, chopped
2 t truffle oil (optional)
1 c fontina or gruyere, shredded
1/4 c parmigiano reggiano, grated
4 slices bread
2 T butter 

Melt the butter and heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minutes.

Add the mushrooms and saute until the start to caramelized and turn golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and remove from heat and let cool a bit. 
Mix the cheese into the mushrooms.

Butter one side of each slice of bread and place 2 in the pan buttered side down. 
Top each with 1/2 of the mushroom mixture and finally the remaining slices of bread with the buttered side up.

Grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per side. 
Servings: 2 Sandwiches
Closet Cooking

Potato-Stuffed Poblanos with Shrimp
4 poblano peppers
3 c Garlic Mashed Potatoes
fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn
1 small zucchini, diced
1 ½ c shredded
mexican-blend cheese
¼ c fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ t ground cumin
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced, preferably heirloom (or 2 15 oz.
cans fire-roasted tomatoes)
½ medium white onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper, minced
2 T adobo sauce, divided (from can of chipotle peppers)
¾ t kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed
juice of 1 lime
2 T olive oil
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (approx. 1 pound)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and veins; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine potatoes, corn, zucchini, ½ cup of the cheese, cilantro and cumin. Spoon potato mixture evenly into the peppers (mixture should mound high, not be flush with peppers). Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together tomatoes, white onion, 1 T of adobo sauce and salt. Place mixture into bottom of 13×9 baking dish. Nestle filled peppers into mixture.

Combine garlic cloves, lime juice, remaining 1 T adobo sauce and olive oil in a large, resealable plastic bag or shallow baking dish. Add shrimp, toss to coat and place in refrigerator.

Place peppers in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle peppers with remaining shredded cheese and place back in oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, remove shrimp from refrigerator. Drain excess liquid and place shrimp onto sheet pan. Roast shrimp alongside peppers for approximately 5 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through (you can time this so both peppers and shrimp are removed from the oven at the same time).

Place one stuffed pepper onto plate, top with some tomato mixture from bottom of pan and 3 large shrimp. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, if desired.

The Wicked Noodle 

Umami Around The World

There are recognized foods, food combinations, and preparation methods that create higher values of umami. Onions, leeks, celery, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, asparagus, spinach, parmesan cheese, eggs,  olives, seaweed, meat, poultry, fish, seafood, anchovies, balsamic vinegar, sauerkraut, worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, marmite, ketchup, soy sauce, wine and Japanese green tea contain some of the highest amounts of umami. 

Food that is aged, cured, fermented and dried creates increased umami. Roasting and sautéing release and enhance umami. Asian and Mediterranean food is  appealing because of their higher umami values.

Roast Tomato and Basil Soup
4 - 400g cans of whole, peeled tomatoes
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt 
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 t tomato paste
2 T soy sauce
1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
100ml cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°c.

Place the tinned tomatoes and all of their juices in a roasting tray and add the Balsamic, olive oil, sugar and salt. Stir to combine and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the tomatoes are broken down and have started caramelizing slightly.

In a large pot, sauté the onions in some olive oil until they are translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.

Add the roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce and sugar. Stir to combine all the ingredients and pour in the stock.
Lower the heat and cover the pot. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup.

Add the cream and season to taste. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Serves 6-8

The Best Veggie Burger Ever

1 package of Gimmie Lean, ground beef style
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1/2 small onion, diced
The pulp of 1 large beet after juicing
Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Olive Oil, for cooking 

Combine the Gimmie Lean, rice, onion, and beet pulp in a large bowl and stir until it is all very well incorporated.

Coat the patties with a thin layer of the Worcestershire sauce.
Add the oil to a pan and heat it up on the stove. Fry the patties on both sides. Add more oil if needed.

Serve on a toasted bun with grilled pineapple, ripe avocado, red pepper, lettuce, sauteed onion, and condiments you like on your burger. Servings: 5-6 Burgers  V.K. Rees Photography

About Umami
click to view at source

The word umami is derived from the Japanese umai - delicious, and mi - taste and was named by Professor Kikunae Ikeda, a chemist, who discovered and defined Umami in 1908, after pondering the deliciousness of Dashi broth composed of seaweed. Long before that, in the 1800s, Auguste Escoffier, a renowned French chef invented a broth that made him famous for its umami properties.
In 1985, umami was officially recognized as the scientific term to describe the taste of the naturally occurring amino acid L-glutamate and ribonucleotides (inosinate comes primarily from meats and guanylate from vegetables) by specialized receptor cells on the human tongue. Glutamic acid is one of the 20-22 proteinogenic amino acids and they occur naturally in many foods. These amino acids break down in the cooking process to create L-glutamate which gives food umami character. Professor Ikeda then patented a method of mass-producing a crystalline salt of glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate. 


Monosodium Glutamate
Labeled MSG, autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, meat tenderizer, accent, or simply as spices; monosodium glutamate is probably the food additive that is the most difficult to avoid. 
The variety of names can be confusing, and this amino acid is added to almost all savoury, processed, and packaged food. 

MSG is a substance called an excito-toxin. This substance disturbs neurological pathways, is addictive, affects our saiety response and increases the insulin production of the pancreas and causes obesity. MSG has also been linked to headaches, migraines, diabetes, autism, ADHD,  and alzheimers disease.


Thank you for taking the time to talk with HEALTH COACH to share your mastery of Umami. Let's get started.

1. When I think of Umami, I think of your food. The tantalizing aromas alert the senses at the Bistro threshold. Please reveal to us the secret of creating your stimulating Umami flavours and tastes. 

If I reveal the secret, you wouldn't have to come here for dinner  anymore.  I think Umami is the most subtle of the flavours and hardest to pinpoint. I feel it is allowed to come forward when all the other flavours are in balance.

2. Is cooking method as important as ingredients? What are your favorite Umami methods and ingredients? 

I believe when it comes to Umami, the cooking method is more important than the ingredients. Although some ingredients are recognized for having the Umami taste, mushrooms, dark soy sauce, I think that flavour really comes forward in how food is cooked. White bread has no umami, toast does.  A well browned piece of meat, for example, has beautiful umami flavours.

3. You have many worldly culinary adventures. Please share with us your most memorable Umami experience. 
Umami certainly is a memorable taste experience.The master of umami is Susur Lee. When enjoying a 7 course dinner at Susur,  you could really taste his mastery of all the flavours including Umami. 

4.  What are your thoughts on the sixth taste, piquance? 

I don't really think Piquance is a taste. I just think it is a physical reaction to the heat caused by capsein and other oils or feelings created by acidity or other agressive ingredients.

5. What are some of your latest Umami experiments and favorite recipes? 

Our veal cheek bourguignon is a veritable umami party, with the mushrooms, smoky bacon and well roasted veal cheeks braised in a rich red wine reduction. I also believe that a perfectly seared piece of foie gras is an umami celebration.


Part Six. How to Take Care of Your Immune System and Reduce Your Risk of Disease.

  • Immunization and Vaccination
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Antacids
  • Hernia
  • Thyroid Dysfunction and Immune System Health
  • Genetics and Disease
  • Epigenetics
  • Proteomics
  • Neoevolution
  • Food or Supplement?
  • To Salt or Not to Salt? That is the Question.
  • How the Brain Communicates With the Immune System
  • The Enteric System
  • Antioxidants for Immune System Health    

Immunization and Vaccination
More health benefit has been achieved by hygiene and nutrition than by any medical or pharmaceutical treatment. To Live and Die in America by Robert Chernomas and Ian Hudson

Immunity is the process of the immune system to develop protection against  foreign pathogens and is a function of the adaptive immune system; it also involves immunological memory and the ability to rapidly respond to a second encounter of the pathogen. B cells and T cells of the adaptive immune system produce specific antibodies designed to recognize and attach to specific pathogens.

The human immune system is a multi-layered, sophisticated and highly-adaptive defense system of structures, and mechanical, chemical, and biological processes that protect us from pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, toxic material. fungus, allergens, and carcinogens. The human adaptive immune system has the ability to create antibodies to any pathogen, but sometimes the human host expires before the antibody can be effective.
Active immunization happens when there is direct exposure to a pathogen. Artificial active immunization involves the injection of pathogenic microbes, or parts of them. 

Passive immunization involves the transfer of pre-synthesized elements of the immune system (antibodies) to a person so that their body does not need to produce these elements itself. Currently, antibodies can be used for passive immunization. This method of immunization begins to work very quickly, but it is short lasting, because the antibodies are naturally broken down, and if there are no B cells to produce more antibodies, they will disappear. Passive immunization occurs physiologically, when antibodies are transferred from mother to fetus during pregnancy, to protect the fetus before and shortly after birth. Artificial passive immunization is normally administered by injection and is used if there has been a recent outbreak of a particular disease or as an emergency treatment for toxicity (for example, for tetanus). 

Vaccination is the administration of pathogenic material to stimulate the immune system of an individual to develop adaptive immunity to a disease. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by many pathogens. Medically, vaccination is considered to be the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases. The essential empiricism behind such immunizations is that the vaccine triggers an immune response more rapidly than the natural infection itself.

The active (infectious) agent of a vaccine may be intact but inactivated (non-infective) or attenuated (with reduced infectiousness) forms of the causative pathogens, or purified components of the pathogen that have been found to be highly immunogenic (e.g., the outer coat proteins of a virus). Toxoids are produced for the immunization against toxin-based diseases, such as the modification of tetanospasmin toxin of tetanus to remove its toxic effect but retain its immunogenic effect. Innoculation is a serum or vaccine of the unweakened, live pathogens to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease and to minimize the severity of the infection.

Vaccines for cancer, heart disease, and obesity are being researched as well as new types of vaccines and vaccination methods.

Adverse effects
A 16-member committee of The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine has confirmed 14 adverse effects of 8 common vaccines including fainting, seizures, allergic reactions and brain inflammation. The committee acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence to reach conclusions about many concerns like the possible links between vaccines and SID (sudden infant death syndrome), autism, type 1 diabetes, auto immune diseases such as MS and Lupus, respiratory diseases, and ADHD.

Vaccines primarily contain antigenic material but also contain antibiotics, preservatives and adjuvants. An adjuvant is an agent that may stimulate the immune system and increase the response to a vaccine, to accelerate, prolong, or enhance antigen-specific immune responses when used in combination with specific vaccine antigens without having any specific antigenic effect in itself. Aluminum salts are the commonly used adjuvants in human vaccines. These salts are unfavorable because they develop their effect by inducing inflammation, which is also the basis for the extended side-effect pattern of this adjuvant and they are neurotoxins. New experimental organic adjuvants and virosomes are being researched for human vaccines. Thimerosal is an antibacterial and antifungal preservative commonly used in human vaccinations that is derived from mercury and it is also a neurotoxin. Current changes are being made to replace thimerosal in vaccines.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD occurs when there is change or damage to the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach, allowing stomach acid into the esophagus. Often referred to as acid reflux, heartburn or indigestion.
The most-common symptoms of GERD are heartburn, regurgitation and trouble swallowing. Less common symptoms include pain with swallowing, increased salivation, nausea, chest pain, and chronic coughing.

Chronic acid reflux will cause irritation of the esophagus and this can advance to scarring, ulceration, inflammation and hemorrhaging and may lead to esophageal cancer.

Causes of Acid Reflux Disease

Diet The primary cause of GERD is a high sugar and fat, low fiber, unhealthy diet, impairing digestive functions and leading to chemical and physical structural changes and damage. 

Basic Health Habits Long-term neglect of basic health habits, coupled with unhealthy habits, leads to a cascade effect of health deterioration and complications.

Pharmaceutical Medications Antibiotics interfere with healthy bacteria in the digestive system and lead to a cascade of secondary complications, especially repeated and long term use. Antibiotics commonly prescribed for children's ear infections have been shown to lead to colitis. Long term and repeated use of NSAIDS (nonsteroidal antinflammatory drugs) are harmful to the digestive system. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) and naproxen (Aleve). They are commonly associated with causing peptic ulcers, and also may cause GERD or increase the severity of symptoms in people who already have GERD. Research has shown that long-term NSAID users were twice as likely to have GERD symptoms as non-NSAID users. Certain medications can affect stomach acid production and gastric motility or can interfere with the normal opening and closing of the LES.

Acidic Foods: Some foods increase the acidity or the amount of acid produced by the stomach. These foods include alcohol, acidic juices, tomato products, peppermints, chocolate, and soda.

Smoking: Is one of the unhealthy habits that makes reflux worse and contributes to peptic ulcers, esophagitis, and gastritis.

Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal or diaphragmatic hernia often accompanies gastroesophageal disease. The region of the muscular diaphragm through which the esophagus passes may enlarge and allow part of the stomach to move up through it. This alters the pressure at the end of the esophagus and allows reflux to occur.

Obesity: Stomach pressure increases with abdominal girth. As stomach pressure increases, it becomes more difficult for the LES to prevent reflux. 

Nerve and Muscle abnormalities: Opening and closing of the LES relies on normal muscular function and nerve conduction.


An antacid is a substance which neutralizes stomach acidity, relieving heartburn, the major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid indigestion. Antacids based on calcium carbonate were found to actually increase the acidity of the stomach. However, all antacids reduced acidity in the lower esophagus. Reduced stomach acidity may result in an impaired ability to digest and absorb certain nutrients, such as iron and the B vitamins. Since the low pH of the stomach normally kills ingested bacteria, antacids can increase the vulnerability to infection.

Calcium from antacids can cause milk-alkali syndrome, which has serious toxicity and can lead to renal failure and alkalosis. Hypercalcaemia  is exacerbated by dehydration. Compounds containing calcium may also increase calcium output in the urine, which might be associated with kidney stones and can cause constipation. Antacids increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production. They are the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion available today. The group followed and has largely superseded another group of pharmaceuticals with similar effects, but different mode of action, called H2-receptor antagonists. High dose or long-term use of PPIs carry a possible increased risk of bone fractures.

Natural Remedies for GERD

Increasing your body's natural production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is the first step to prevent acid reflux. The most effective course of action is to reduce and eliminate processed food, sugar and unhealthy fats, to increase soluble and insoluble fiber, water and probiotics, vegetables, beans and fruit.

Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes are found in abundance in raw food. Cooking food over 116° fahrenheit destroys these health promoting enzymes. All cooked foods are devoid of enzymes so only living and raw foods are high in nutrient values and the enzyme levels are crucial to combat acid reflux. There are many good enzyme supplements available. 

Vitamin D
Increasing vitamin D levels will optimize production of 200 antimicrobial peptides that aid in eradicating any infection in your body, including in the esophagus. Vitamin D is free and in abundance through appropriate levels of sun exposure. If this is not possible, I would recommend eating foods high in Vitamin D or taking a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement. 

Unpasturized Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

I recommended taking one tablespoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar mixed in a small glass (about 4 ounces) of purified water before each meal. This will help calm the stomach and help with digestion. This remedy also works for acute episodes of acid reflux.

Umeboshi plum concentrate 
Stir a tiny amount into a cup of tepid or hot (not boiling) water and sip to relieve almost any digestive ailment, including acid indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, food poisoning, and hangover nausea. It’s also good for headaches.

Baking soda  
Bicarbonate of soda is a natural antacid to treat heartburn and stomach upset. It is not recommended if you have high blood pressure or if you are on sodium restricted diets. A spoonful in a glass of water and drank before it stops fizzing is best. Buy from an organic or natural food store. 

Organic Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera juice is commonly used to soothe and heal upset stomach, diarrhea and inflammation associated with bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. One of the added benefits of aloe vera is improved digestion. 

This amino acid naturally occurs in the human body. Glutamine can be found in milk, eggs, fish, parsley, spinach. Glutamine is an anti-inflammatory that reduces the intestinal inflammation caused by acid reflux. 

Licorice Root  
Natural licorice root is an effective home remedy for acid reflux which works by coating the stomach with a protective gel. 

Hiatus Hernia


A hernia is the protrusion
(or herniation) of the upper part of the stomach into the thorax through a tear or weakness in the diaphragm. By far the most common hernias develop in the abdomen, when a weakness in the abdominal wall evolves into a localized hole through which adipose tissue, or abdominal organs may protrude. 

Most of the time, hernias develop when pressure in the compartment of the residing organ is increased, and the boundary is weak or weakened. Mechanical causes include: improper heavy weight lifting, chronic coughing, sharp blows to the abdomen, tight clothing and incorrect posture. 

Conditions that increase the pressure of the abdominal cavity may also cause hernias or worsen existing ones. Some examples would be: obesity, straining during a bowel movement or urination, chronic lung disease, and also, fluid in the abdominal cavity. 

If muscles are weakened due to poor nutrition, smoking, and poor tone, hernias are more likely to occur. A hiatus hernia may occur when the stomach is enlarged and protrudes through the diaphragm as a result of chronic indigestion.

  • The most common (95%) is the sliding hiatus hernia, where the gastroesophageal junction moves above the diaphragm together with some of the stomach.
  • The second kind is rolling (or paraesophageal) hiatus hernia, when a part of the stomach herniates through the esophageal hiatus and lies beside the esophagus, without movement of the gastroesophageal junction. It accounts for the remaining 5% of hiatus hernias.
  • A third kind of hernia is a combination of the first and second kinds.

Thyroid Gland

Thyroid dysfunction and Immune System Health

Though rarely thought of as part of the immune system, the thyroid gland plays a crucial role in maintaining the body's defenses. Hormones produced by the thyroid help regulate the metabolic rate within each cell and directly influence over 100 different cellular enzymes. With hypothyroidism, individuals routinely become more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections, especially those of the respiratory and urinary tracts.

Based on research, there are three primary reasons for the high rate of hypothyroidism that we now have in North America:

  • Iodine Deficiency
The major problem stems from a lack of iodine in the diet. Iodine is one of the essential components of thyroid hormones. Without sufficient iodine, the production of thyroid hormones is limited. Iodine consumption has dropped dramatically in North America over the past 20 years. This drop is due in part to the depletion and contamination of our soil/food, and in part to a decrease in the addition of healthy salts in our food and an increase of unhealthy salts (including refined salts in processed foods). Please see HEALTH COACH: To Salt or Not to Salt? That is The Question, below. Iodine has a nutritional relationship with selenium.

Why is Iodine so important? Iodine is a mineral that is essential for proper thyroid function. Iodine, when combined with the amino acid tyrosine, produces vital thyroid hormones that control our metabolism, enzyme and protein synthesis, and are essential in the development of the skeletal and central nervous systems of developing fetuses.
Iodine deficiency gives rise to hypothyroidism, symptoms of which are extreme fatigue, goitre, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iodine for people age 14 years and older is 150mcg daily.  

Other possible health effects being investigated related to a deficiency include: 
  • Breast cancer The breast strongly and actively concentrates iodine into breast-milk for the benefit of the developing infant, and may develop a goiter-like hyperplasia, sometimes manifesting as fibrocystic breast disease, when iodine levels are low.
  • Stomach cancer Some researchers have found an epidemiologic correlation between iodine deficiency, iodine-deficient goitre and gastric cancer. Iodine supplementation in the treatment of stomach cancer has been proven to increase survival rates. 

Seafood is a rich sources of iodine. Seafood obtains iodine from seawater and seaweed like kelp, arame and wakame that are rich in iodine. Seafood like haddock, cod, sea bass and perch, as well as sardines, shrimps, clams, lobsters and oysters, are rich sources of iodine. Vegetable seafood like kelp, wakame and arame as well as seaweed, nori and dulse and hijike are rich sources of iodine as well.  
Other rich sources of iodine include eggs and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheddar cheese, from animals fed with iodine additives in their foods. The amount of iodine that may be obtained from fruits and vegetables depends on the iodine content of the soil that they are cultivated in.

  • Selenium Deficiency
As with iodine, our soils have become deficient in the trace mineral selenium. In the last few years, researchers have found that certain selenium-containing enzymes are responsible for the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3. The thyroid produces several hormones, and must produce them in a somewhat balanced ratio. Without selenium, this balancing process is hindered. In simple terms, selenium-deficient diets are also a primary cause of hypothyroidism.

  • Estrogen-like Compound Pollution
These compounds make their way into the body through respiration, ingestion of contaminated food, and skin contact. Once in the body, they block thyroid hormone production and contribute to hypothyroidism. These compounds include such environmental pollutants as PCB, dioxin and pesticides. As well as increasing the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers, these estrogen-like pollutants block the production of thyroid hormones. Unfortunately, these pollutants can now be found in both our food and drinking water supplies.


Genetics and Disease

An organism's complete set of DNA is called a genome. The human genome contains some 3 billion base pairs of DNA which is a nucleic acid containing the genetic instructions of the development and functioning of all known living organisms (with the exception of RNA viruses). The DNA segments carrying this genetic information are called genes.The human genome has approximately 30,000 genes that define a person's unique traits

The structure of DNA was discovered in 1953. The Human Genome Project began in 1990 in 250 laboratories of 18 countries. The complete human genome map was completed in June 2003.


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The word genome is a combination of the words gene and chromosome. If the genome was a book, it would be the equivalent of 800 dictionaries. It would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type the human genome. You would need 3 gigabytes of storage space on a computer to hold all of this information, and yet, all of it is contained inside the microscopic nucleus of a cell so tiny that it could easily fit on the head of a pin!

Our genes represent only 2 per cent of the DNA in our chromosomes. The other 98 per cent is non-coded DNA. Scientists still don’t know the purpose of this non-coding DNA.

Both environmental and genetic factors have roles in the development of any disease. A genetic disorder is a disease caused by abnormalities in an individual’s genetic material.

The conventional belief has been that genes controlled their own expression and were therefore the direct cause of certain diseases. This laid the groundwork for the idea that your genes predetermined your health. But genes are not self-regulating. Genes are blueprints, and are activated and controlled by their environment. This environmental information—which includes the physical health of your body, toxic exposures, as well as thoughts and emotions, and more—can create more than 30,000 different variations from each blueprint, allowing for an astounding amount of leeway in modifying the expression of each gene.

Genes generally express their functional effect through the production of proteins, which are complex molecules responsible for most functions in cells. Proteins are chains of amino acids, and the DNA sequence of a gene  is used to produce a specific protein sequence. This process begins with the production of an RNA molecule with a sequence matching the gene's DNA sequence, a process called transcription.

In molecular biology and genetics, mutations are changes in a genomic sequence: the DNA sequence of a cell's genome or the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus. Mutations are caused by radiation, viruses, transposons (mutagens that can damage the genome of their host cell) and mutagenic chemicals, as well as errors that occur during meiosis or DNA replication. They can also be induced by the organism itself, by cellular processes such as hypermutation (a programmed process of mutation affecting immunoglobulin genes). Mistargeted hypermutation is a likely mechanism in the development of B-cell lymphomas (blood cancers).

Mutation results in several different types of change in DNA sequences; most mutations have no effect, some alter the product of a gene, or prevent the gene from functioning properly or completely. 

A new study suggests that gene mapping isn't effective in predicting disease for most people, even as companies invest large sums in the technology. Mapping a person's genome, or genetic blueprint, "is not a crystal ball," said Bert Vogelstein, co-author of the study and professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. "And this is a reality check." Gene mapping uses machines to analyze a blood or tissue sample and decode a person's entire DNA sequence, in hopes that the full code can guide both disease prevention and treatment throughout life, eventually launching an era of personalized medicine. The new findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine and based on data from thousands of twins in five countries, suggest that the technique's potential as a predictor of health conditions may be overrated. For infectious diseases to be more completely understood, the genetic material of the diseases themselves must also be studied.

HEALTH COACH: Genes are made of physical material just like the rest of your body, and they need the same things as any other flesh and blood physical material. Yes, genes are able to carry coded messages, but these codes are not fixed. They are largely affected by the properties of their physical structure and environment.

 Live Link: Gene Patents 


In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable (heritability is measured by estimating the relative contributions of genetic and non-genetic differences to the total phenotypic variation in a population) changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype (the composite of an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology (form and structure), development, biochemical or physiological properties)  caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence; non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave or express themselves differently. The genotype of an organism is the inherited instructions it carries within its genetic code.

Epigenetics can be used to describe anything other than DNA sequence that influences the development of an organism.


The modern usage of the word in scientific discourse is more narrow, referring to heritable traits that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. The Greek prefix epi- in epigenetics implies features that are on top of or in addition to genetics; thus epigenetic traits exist on top of or in addition to the traditional molecular basis for inheritance.


Proteomics is the study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions. Proteins are vital parts of living organisms because they are the main components of the physiological metabolic pathways of cells. The term proteomics was first coined in 1997 to make an analogy with genomics, the study of the genes. 

The word proteome is a blend of protein and genome, and was coined by Marc Wilkins in 1994 while working on the concept as a PhD student. The proteome is the entire complement of proteins, including the modifications made to a particular set of proteins, produced by an organism or system. This will vary with time and distinct requirements, or stresses, that a cell or organism undergoes.

Are We Ready For Neo-Evolution?

Neo-Evolution: Medical ethicist Harvey Fineberg shows us three paths forward for the ever-evolving human species: to stop evolving completely, to evolve naturally -- or to control the next steps of human evolution, using genetic modification, to make ourselves smarter, faster, better. Neo-evolution is within our grasp. What will we do with it? 

Food or Supplement?

Naturally occurring nutrients in foods are more compatible with your body and more readily absorbed than their supplement counterparts. If you eat a well-balanced diet of whole, healthy plant foods,  you will get the nutrients you need for good health. Taking supplements increase the risks of overdose, toxicity, interactions with other supplements and medications, adverse side effects, and the ingestion of synthetic as well as unregulated and dangerous ingredients, added fillers and sugars. Supplements are not a replacement for nutrition.
You can get disease fighting, health promoting antioxidants from vitamins, but you may be missing out on other nutrients that could strengthen the immune system and ingredients like soluble and insoluble fiber which you need for digestive health and optimal nutrient absorption and bio assimilation. Whole foods contain many different components that work together.

Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto

To Salt or Not to Salt? That is the Question.

Salt helps maintain the fluid in our blood cells and is used to transmit information in our nerves and muscles. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. The body cannot make salt and so we are reliant on food to ensure that we get the required intake. Every cell in our body needs salt and our body relies on salt to aid in healthy bone density, proper circulation and stabilized blood sugar levels.

The main ingredient of iodized salt is sodium chloride, which is linked with hypertension (high blood pressure) and other medical disorders. Sodium chloride is acutely toxic in large amounts and could cause poisoning. 

Table Salt is a manufactured form of sodium called sodium chloride. While similar to naturally occurring rock, crystal, or sea salt, table salt merely mimics the taste of these elements.  Table salt is created by taking natural salt (or crude oil flake leftovers) and cooking it at 1200° Fahrenheit. Once the unprocessed salt is heated up to this temperature, it starts to lose the majority of the eighty important elements that naturally occur. 

Naturally occurring forms of sodium, including sea salts and Himalayan salts, are harvested and dried in the sun. Natural salts are actually alkaline minerals that help keep us hydrated, balance our sodium-potassium ratios, as well as fill the body with powerful electrolytes. They also contain all of the trace elements needed for proper immune, thyroid and adrenal function. 

Natural salt also boosts the creation of digestive enzymes and juices that allow us to extract and assimilate other vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat. 
The chemical composition of sea salt is typically the same as the ions dissolved in seawater. The composition by dry weight percent includes: 
sodium: 30.8, potassium: 1.1, magnesium: 3.7, calcium: 1.2, chloride: 55.5, sulfate: 7.7.
Himalayan Crystal Salt contains all 84 of the natural elements of the human body, the very same elements originally found existing in the primal sea.

Harvesting Celtic Sea Salt

What Is In Table Salt?  
Commonly purchased iodized salts have synthetic chemicals added to them. These chemicals include manufactured forms of sodium, iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents, toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum derivatives.

The natural forms of important iodine are lost when salt is manufactured. Without this natural iodine, the thyroid is adversely affected, leading to growth and metabolism issues. Because of this, the chemical-based salt industry began to add synthetic forms of iodine to their products.

Other additives in salt can include processed white sugar and toxic MSG (mono-sodium-glutamate). Table salt is bleached using harmful chemicals. And where does this salt come from? Much of it is the actual flaky residue, a by-product of oil digging. Crude oil extract is used to produce much of table salt commonly consumed.

Table salt causes blood pressure to rise rapidly because the blood is attempting to rapidly move the toxic elements away from the heart. Excessive ingestion of table salt causes unhealthy fluid retention. 

Many chronic imbalances such as diabetes, gout and obesity can be worsened or even partially caused by excessive intake of common table salt; kidney, thyroid and liver problems, the development of goiters, edema, hypertension, heart disease, strained elimination systems, muscle cramps, gout, stroke, heart failure, PMS, and even major nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression are affected as well. Table salt is harmful to the circulatory, lymph and nervous systems. Processed salt is also highly addictive.

Hidden Salt
The sodium content listed on food packaging is misleading. The amount of salt in processed foods can be 2.5 times greater than the value quoted. Salt is added to food for many reasons including:
  • Seasoning to enhance the taste of food and make bland food such as bread and pasta palatable
  • Preservatives Even with the advent of refrigeration salt still plays a part in food hygiene
  • Binding agent in processed meats
  • Colour controller  makes food more attractive for us by, for example, enhancing the golden crust of a loaf of bread
  • Texture aid improves tenderness in meat and gives an even consistency in cheese
  • Fermentation control  makes a consistent product and reduces opportunity for harmful bacteria

Processed Salt in Processed Food

It is the excessive consumption of processed foods containing high amounts of processed salt and the long term neglect of basic healthy habits that is questionable. 

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of salt/sodium is 2.3g of sodium, or 5.75g of salt for adults (to calculate the amount of salt from sodium you should multiply by 2.5), 1 gram for a baby under 12 months old and between 2-6 grams of salt for a child up until their 11th birthday.

How The Brain Communicates With The Immune System

The spleen is a manufacturing plant for immune cells, and a site where immune cells and nerves interact. The spleen defends the body against infection. Important information from the nervous system reaches the immune system with help from the spleen.

Macrophages (immune system cells) in the spleen make tumor necrosis factor, a powerful inflammation-producing molecule. When the vagus nerve, a long nerve that goes from the base of the brain into thoracic and abdominal organs, is stimulated, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production in the spleen decreases as a result.  The vagus nerve communicates with the splenic nerve to modulate TNF production by macrophages in the spleen.

Our Second Brain

The Enteric System

Almost every chemical that controls the brain is also located in the digestive system, including hormones and neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, Dopamine, Glutamate, GABA and Norepinephrine.  
The abdomen contains 100 million neurons – more than the spinal cord. But there are also two-dozen small brain proteins; major cells of the immune system; one class of the body’s natural opiates; and native benzodiazepines.  
The enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and plays a key role in human emotions. But few know the enteric nervous system exists, and therefore digestive health is often overlooked. Symptoms from the two brains can get confused, and just as the brain can upset the gut, the gut can also upset the brain. 
If you’ve ever had your stomach in knots before speaking in public, then you know the stomach listens carefully to the brain. In fact, according to William Whitehead, PhD, a professor of medicine and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, the entire digestive system is closely attuned to a person’s emotions and state of mind. People with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer symptoms during times of stress and anxiety, and even perfectly healthy people can have an increase of stomach pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhea during stressful life events. 
In recent years the link between the nervous system and the digestive system has been recognized. There is a constant exchange of chemicals and electrical messages between the two systems. In fact, many scientists often refer to them as one entity; the brain-gut axis. Therefore, what affects the stomach will directly affect the brain and vice versa.

Antioxidants for Immune System Health

Quercetin: a plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas, red wines, and other foods. It fights inflammation and may help reduce allergies.

Luteolin: a flavonoid found in abundance in celery and green peppers. It also fights inflammation and one study showed it may help protect against inflammatory brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Catechins: a type of flavonoid found in tea. Catechins in tea may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Be cautious taking individual immune system supplements to boost immunity. With antioxidants, moderation is key. Vitamins A, D and E  are fat soluable and are stored in the body and eliminated slowly. Too much can be toxic.

Antioxidants and Cancer
Dr. Lester Packer states in his book, The Antioxidant Miracle, that cancer is not inevitable and that in most cases can be prevented. One contributing factor is certainly a positive lifestyle change. Another is a rich use of antioxidants through diet and supplements. More specifically he states that:

Free radical damage to DNA, the genetic material within every cell, can cause a cell to mutate and divide erratically. Antioxidants protect DNA.

Antioxidants regulate genes. Antioxidants can turn on and off genes that regulate cell growth. This can have a profoundly beneficial effect on people who are at higher risk due to family history.

Antioxidants support the detoxification system through the boosting of glutathione. Glutathione has the ability to turn on a process called apoptosis in which “bad” cells will self-destruct.

Antioxidants boost immune function. If an immune system is vigorous, it should be able to eliminate cancer cells before they cause damage.

Antioxidants at work neutralizing 
Oxygen Free Radicals

Antioxidants and Immune Function
The immune system is also subject to free radical damage. Immune cells themselves, like T-cells, NK cells and T- helper cells can suffer from free radical damage which will suppress their activity.

Free Radicals Knock Out Cytokine Pathways
According to Dr. Jesse Stoff, free radicals have the ability to knock out cytokine pathways (communication pathways) between cells of the immune system. This is especially valid as a result of radiation which creates the hydroxyl radical, the most vicious of free radicals. The immune system responds according to the cytokine environment. The immune cells don’t operate without that information.

Macrophage Damages Itself Without Antioxidants
The macrophage, a cell of the immune system, releases the free radical nitric oxide to destroy bacteria, parasites and viruses. If it’s over produced, or the antioxidant balance is low, the nitric oxide will turn and damage the macrophage itself thereby impairing its ability to fight off invaders. Antioxidants stop this from happening and still allow the macrophage to do its job.

Low Glutathione Levels - A Sure Sign Of Immune Depletion
HEALTH COACH suggests using alpha lipoic acid as glutathione itself is difficult to absorb, supports immune system cells of older people but doesn’t appear to have much effect on the immune cells of younger people.  However, glutathione depletion will reduce immune function at any age. 

Low levels of glutathione in the body are almost always a sign of illness. As we age, there is a measurable drop in immune function, especially by our seventh and eighth decades. Although we may produce as many T-cells and B-cells as we did before, they do not work as well. This will be affected by long term neglect of basic health habits.

Adding more vegetables and fruit to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To maximize the benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed.


Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Beta carotene increases the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T-cells, as well as being a powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals that accelerate aging. With vitamins C and E, beta carotene reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by interfering with the oxidation of fats and cholesterol in the bloodstream that form arterial plaques. 

Studies have shown that beta carotene can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Beta carotene also protects against cancer by stimulating the immune cells called macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factor,  which kills cancer cells. It has also been shown that beta carotene can increase the production of T-cell lymphocytes and natural killer cells and can enhance the ability of the natural killer cells to attack cancer cells.

Beta carotene is the most familiar carotenoid, but it is only one member of a large family. Researchers believe that it is not just beta carotene that produces all these good effects, but all the carotenoids working together. This is why getting carotenoids in food may be more cancer-protective than taking beta carotene supplements. 

The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A,  which itself has anticancer properties and immune-boosting functions. But too much vitamin A can be toxic to the body, so it's better to get extra beta carotene from foods and let the body naturally regulate how much of this precursor is converted to the immune-fighting vitamin A. It's highly unlikely that a person could take in enough beta carotene to produce a toxic amount of vitamin A, because when the body has enough vitamin A, it stops making it.Beta-carotene: 

There is no RDA for beta-carotene. But the Institute of Medicine says that if you get 3 milligrams to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene daily, your body will have the levels that may lower risk of chronic diseases.

A group of phytonutrients called bioflavonoids aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants. Bioflavonoids protect the cell membranes against the pollutants trying to attach to them. Along the membrane of each cell there are microscopic parking spaces, called receptor sites. Pollutants, toxins, or germs can park here and gradually eat their way into the membrane of the cell, but when bioflavenoids fill up these parking spots there is no room for toxins to park. 

Bioflavonoids also reduce the cholesterol's ability to form plaques in arteries and lessen the formation of microscopic clots inside arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who eat the most bioflavenoids have less cardiovascular disease. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least six servings per day, will help you get the bioflavonoids needed to help your immune system work in top form.

Vitamin C 

Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon,  the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses. Vitamin C reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering blood pressure and interfering with the process by which fat is converted to plaque in the arteries. Diets higher in vitamin C have lower rates of colon, prostate, and breast cancer. 
RDA: 90 milligrams for men, 75 milligrams for women. Smokers should get extra vitamin C: 125 milligrams for men and 110 milligrams for women.

Vitamin E 

Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds. 

Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Vitamin E supplementation may also reverse some of the decline in immune response commonly seen in aging. Vitamin E has been implicated in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Vitamins aren’t the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may help boost immunity include:


Found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products.

This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies. Zinc has been shown to slow the growth of cancer. Zinc increases the number of infection-fighting T-cells, especially in elderly people who are often deficient in zinc, and whose immune system often weakens with age. 

A word of caution: too much zinc in the form of supplements (more than 75 milligrams a day) can inhibit immune function. It's safest to stick to getting zinc from your diet
: 11 milligrams for men, 8 milligrams for women. If you are a strict vegetarian, you may require as much as 50% more dietary zinc. That’s because your body absorbs less zinc when you have a diet rich in plant-based foods.


This mineral increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. Best food sources of selenium are tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, vegetables (depending on the selenium content of the soil they're grown in), brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb chops.  

Some studies have suggested that people with low selenium levels are at greater risk of bladder, breast, colon, rectum, lung, and prostate cancers. A large-scale, longterm study is currently in progress to look at the effects of combining selenium and vitamin E for prostate cancer prevention. 
RDA: 55 micrograms for men or women.

Essential Fatty Acids
The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as krill, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria.

Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. When taking essential fatty acid supplements, such as flax or fish oils, take additional vitamin E, which acts together with essential fatty acids to boost the immune system. (One way to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to add one to three teaspoons of flax oil to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.)

Vitamin A 

Experts have long known that vitamin A plays a role in infection and maintaining mucosal surfaces by influencing certain subcategories of T cells and B cells and cytokines. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with impaired immunity and increased risk of infectious disease. On the other hand, according to one study, supplementation in the absence of a deficiency didn’t enhance or suppress T cell immunity in a group of healthy seniors.

Vitamin B2 

There is some evidence that vitamin B2 enhances resistance to bacterial infections in mice, but what that means in terms of enhancing immune response is unclear.

Vitamin B6 

Several studies have suggested that a vitamin B6 deficiency can depress aspects of the immune response, such as lymphocytes ability to mature into various types of T and B cells. Supplementing with moderate doses to address the deficiency restores immune function, but mega doses do not produce additional benefits.

Vitamin D 

For many years doctors have known that people afflicted with tuberculosis responded well to sunlight. An explanation may now be at hand. Researchers have found that vitamin D, which is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight, signals an antimicrobial response to the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis.

Vitamin E 

A study involving healthy subjects over age 65 has shown that increasing the daily dose of vitamin E from the recommended dietary allowance of 30 mg to 200 mg increased antibody responses to hepatitis B and tetanus after vaccination. RDA: 15 milligrams for men and women.