The sweetness of lemons

I go through lemon juice pretty quickly.
I go through lemon juice pretty quickly.
I go through lemon juice pretty quickly.

Remember I promised to tell you about something else I drink every day? Ta-dah! Here it is!

Perhaps you weren’t expecting lemon juice.

I picked up this habit when I first read Jackie Warner’s “This Is Why You’re Fat.” In explaining that drinking 2 to 3 liters of water a day will help with detoxification and assisting bile acids in flushing out toxins, she suggested adding lemon juice, because the combo is a natural fat metabolizer: “Water with lemon juice is a bile thinner. This means it helps bile do a better job of processing fat.”

(Prefer Dr. Oz? He says pretty much the same thing.)

Cool, I thought. My liver could use some help. I don’t abuse it with alcohol the way I did for a while, but I’m certainly not hopping on the wagon anytime … well, probably ever.

I’m also inclined to try to do nice things for my liver because of something I can’t control, and that’s the need for a certain potentially liver-damaging drug that I’ve been told I’ll likely have to take the rest of my life. In a stubborn fit, I tried going off it for about six weeks last year. Bad, bad, bad move. Need the drug. Damn.

Being nice to my liver, which helps process sugars, is also important because – yay! – diabetes runs in my family. As in, my grandfather had it. My mom had it. I had gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy, although strangely not my second. (I hated the three-hour blood test so much that if I had shown even an inkling of sugar problems the second time around, I’d have said, screw it, just put me on the damn diet, I’m not taking that test again.)

So while every time I have my sugar tested (at least once a year) it comes up within normal range, I remain wary. I need to keep all of my sugar-processing organs humming along efficiently.

Which brings us back to the lemon juice. It’s certainly not the only liver booster. Here’s a list of 14 of them, for example, including avocados and garlic, two more of my favorites.

I do this because it’s simple and I can incorporate it into something I already do, which is drink a lot of fluid. If a splash of lemon juice makes my morning green tea that much healthier, why not take that step?

Drinking a shot to start the day

An "ultra-premium antioxidant supplement," this is called.
An "ultra-premium antioxidant supplement," this is called.
An “ultra-premium antioxidant supplement,” this is called.

I drink this stuff every day.

Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. There’s a constant supply of VEMMA products in my home because my son markets for the company.

The point is, it’s a liquid multivitamin. Here’s the nutritional info on this version, which includes 100 percent of recommended daily allowance of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and biotin; 250 percent of vitamins B6, B12 and D3; and 500 percent of vitamin C. I drink that 2-ounce shot daily, sometimes alone, more often dumped into a half-drunk cup of green tea.

Multivitamins every day. What are your choices?

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about something else I drink every day, and you probably have it in your kitchen.

Healthier eating, one swap at a time

Ready to greet me in the morning.
Ready to greet me in the morning.

This is part of my routine now. I get a bag of green tea out at night and put it near my glasses. That way it rolls nicely into my morning routine, because I prepare and drink something right away, rather than after three hours on the computer.

I’m not a coffee person. This is not to say that I never drink it; on the contrary, I had developed the habit of drinking any coffee that was left in the pot, because I hate to let things go to waste. On the mornings my son made a second pot and left half of it behind, I would drink a cup, maybe two, and pour the rest into a juice bottle to save for later.

(I know some of you are cringing. My husband and son cannot stand old coffee, even by a few hours. My daughter and I, however, do not care. We also dump it into banana smoothies.)

The problem is that I don’t like the taste of coffee, so to make it drinkable, I pour in way too much froufrou flavored creamer. The current chocolate version lurking at the back of the fridge, for example, weighs in at a staggering 35 calories and 6 grams of sugar per “serving.”

If I only consumed one such “serving,” or even two, per oversized mug, well, I could just factor it into the rest of the day’s eating and move on. But my servings of creamer are more like a quarter-cup.

(The holidays were worse. There was leftover crème de cacao and leftover whipping cream, so into my coffee they went. I have resolved not to let that happen next year.)

So I have sworn off coffee. I haven’t entirely banished it from my diet, because that tends to piss me off and be counterproductive. But my day now starts with green tea, which is good for me, instead of a big mug of sugar.

What about you? Coffee, tea or something else entirely? And why? I’m truly curious, so do chime in.

Teaching Tuesdays: Pondering poisons

When I heard last week that Yasser Arafat’s body was being exhumed to test whether he was poisoned, the timing was interesting. My premed son had just been home for the weekend and something he said reminded me of a mercury poisoning case I knew he would find interesting.
So today we talk about poisoning! It’s an aggregation because I have no personal knowledge on the topic, but we’ll hit some high-profile cases plus some weird science.

Politics entirely aside, here’s more on the Arafat case, including what exactly exhumation entails:

What we could learn from Yasser Arafat’s exhumation [The Conversation]
“Polonium is notoriously difficult to detect and has a relatively short half-life of 138 days, which means that after eight years (Arafat died in November 2004), the search for it in human tissue will involve some complex chemistry. But apart from the analytical problems and forensic issues of sampling, the exhumation itself will be problematic – largely because of the likely state of Arafat’s remains.”

This is the mercury case and story I remembered. So much was learned from this tragic death, including that the gloves that were meant to protect her actual were a conductor:

Scientist’s Death Helped Increase Knowledge of Mercury Poisoning [Los Angeles Times]
“It was just a drop of liquid, just a tiny glistening drop. It glided over her glove like a jewel.”

Because I used to cover The Dow Chemical Co. and by extension its byproducts, I’m interested in dioxin and was fascinated when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was diagnosed with dioxin poisoning. He’s alive, but still harboring it in his blood, and the case opened a discussion about testing techniques.

Viktor Yushchenko still suffers from dioxin in his body [Pravda]
“Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said that he was still experiencing discomfort because of dioxin poisoning.”

The Dioxin Poisoning Of Victor Yushchenko: Need For Methods In Routine Analysis Of Metabolites Of The Poison TCDD [Medical News Today]

“The study shows seventeen different types of dioxin were analyzed in Mr Yushchenko. Only TCDD levels were higher than those in the general population. This indicates a severe intoxication of pure TCDD.”

On a slightly different note, we have radiation poisoning, thoughtfully discovered and studied by some of our best-known scientists.

What Is Radiation Poisoning? [Wise Geek]
“Nikolai Tesla, a famous inventor and scientist, described burns he received after exposing his hands to early X-ray technology. Famed female scientist Marie Curie devoted her life to understanding radiation and its uses, and died of cancer believed to be caused by consistent exposure to radiation.”

Need some poison recipes? Here’s some slightly redacted info, but surely a sharp chemist can fill in the details. (Not an endorsement, don’t try potassium cyanide at home.)

Manual for poisons and chemical gases published on Hamas website [Free Republic]
“A manual published on the official Hamas website, titled ‘The Mujahadeen Poisons Handbook,’ has been discovered, which is a manual for preparing poisonous materials to use in a terrorist attack. … The 23-page manual, written by Abdel-Aziz in 1996, details for terrorists how to prepare various homemade poisons, chemical poisons, poisonous gases and other deadly materials for use in terrorist attacks against Israelis, Westerners, and anyone else who stands in the way of an Islamic Jihad.”

Day by day, 2012

I feel like I imagine many people do about New Year’s resolutions: I don’t like being pressured to make them. On New Year’s Eve I was feeling rather annoyed and completely unlike celebrating, and went to bed about 11:20 p.m. My husband already had been drifting off to sleep, and I decided I would rather sleep through midnight than sit through it alone.
A while after I drifted off, the dogs set to barking as the Sunday paper hit the porch. Not long after, fireworks began, and the dogs insisted on sharing with us how little they were enjoying the mysterious booming racket. I refused to look at the clock, pulled the sheets tight and resumed counting backward.
This morning, resolutions started occurring to me. Too many, I thought. But it seemed so organic. No pressure, entirely unbidden, just a calm rolling out.
My first thought was to do everything every day. I knew that might be unrealistic, and guess what? At 9:20 p.m. I know it to be so. But I’m cool with that. I know the things I want to do, and as long as I’m making steady progress, I’m still ahead. So here’s the list:
1) Write. Not just “want to write” or “think of myself as a writer,” but write. This one has to happen every day. Tweets and Facebook posts don’t count. Blog posts do, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be posting here daily. And while I’ll be a beat reporter again soon for the first time in about eight years, that writing won’t count by itself.
2) Read. I have a book I started last summer that I still haven’t finished. I have another I got for Christmas that I’m halfway through. You can’t write if you don’t read, and websites and magazines aren’t enough.
3) Read the Bible. Surprise! This one started as maybe some sort of prayer or reflection, maybe aided by the “little books” our diocese puts out, but I rooted out a Bible and decided this year I would read it. As a cradle Catholic, I’ve had lots of Scripture read to me, but I couldn’t find most of it in a Bible at gunpoint.
4) Work on earning more money. This one really needs to happen every day, too, even if it’s just a single bid on a single freelancing website. I’ve had some success with this, but a more concerted effort should lead to more success … or at least that’s the theory. I never in my life have expected to be rich, but more money = more comfort and less stress, plus the possibility I might be able to retire before age 80. And did I mention that journalism isn’t exactly the most stable field?
5) Exercise. I’d say “exercise more,” but anything more involved than walking around the house or throwing a ball for the Lab would be more. So exercise = lifting weights and periodic walks of half an hour or more, and especially the couch to 5K program that I abandoned. But hey, I got a friend hooked on it and he lost something like 25 pounds, so I know it works. I don’t care about weight loss, and I know I will not change how I eat or drink. But I do want to live in this body a very long time, and I do want it to be stronger and more agile, and that means making more use of the muscles, not just the gray matter.
That’s a long list. But like I said, I’m cool with it.


Ordinarily I’m not too fond of PETA and its extremist tactics, but something I heard on the radio got me curious enough to visit their website.

I caught the tail end of the piece, something about humans should consume breast milk, not cow milk. It turns out the rest of the story is that PETA came up with this idea and decided Ben and Jerry’s would be the perfect test subject. The company has declined on the basis that breast milk is for babies, which fits hand in glove with PETA’s contention that cow milk is appropriate only for baby cows.

There were several comments, the most interesting of which noted that this would just shift abuse of cows to abuse of female humans. That might be – I can see it pretty clearly, actually – but I think the distinction is lost on PETA.

It’s coming

I can feel the first cold of the season trying to settle in.

Last night came the first hints of congestion, and this morning it is blossoming, accompanied by the occasional scratchy throat. My helpful mate suggested via e-mail that I turn to a couple of medications that are in our bathroom, not at my office, so it’s herb tea for now.

We are stocked at home with medicine and soup, so except for the dirty dishes keeping me from hitting the couch immediately, I can’t complain much. My wishes are simple, like, “Please can I sleep in my own bed instead of being so blocked I only can rest propped up on the couch?” And if I can whack it hard enough fast enough, it might not be bad at all.

That’s the theory, anyway. What I DON’T want is what happened to a healthy guy we know from hockey, a longtime youth coach who also plays in the adult league. He got nailed by a flu strain going around and vomited for nine straight hours, until his son and mother dragged him into a car and took to him to the hospital, where he spent 12 hours on IVs.

Drink your fluids, kids. Need that reserve.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Skipping the Fritos

Slowly I am uploading less junk into my body.

My kids devoured garbage over the holidays, and I didn’t say much. But last Friday I bought a 12-pack of Mountain Dew, and I think by day’s end between the two of them they had killed off five. No reason for that, I said. One a day max. When they all were gone, they didn’t get replaced. There is bottled iced tea in its place, and I don’t kid myself that it’s not sugary, but one step away at a time.

Yesterday I stood in front of the vending machine at work. There were Fritos and one or two other salty and sweet things I would have liked the taste of, but I realized I didn’t want them any farther than my mouth, so I passed.

The sweets will be more of a challenge. So far in the past week I have had two cans of Mountain Dew and one fountain Pepsi, and that is an improvement. A tougher test will come, though, when all the Christmas dark chocolate is gone.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.


Happy New Year, everyone!

When my husband asked a week or so ago what I might have for a New Year’s resolution, I said something vague about eating better – more nutrition, more flavor, less boredom.

What occurred to me as I woke this morning, though, was more of a theme: less garbage. Sure it will be for food, because I certainly eat enough things that can’t be considered proper fuel. But it also can be for garbage I keep in my head or heart, like negative thoughts or resentment. It can be for the continued decluttering of our home, letting go of things we don’t use regardless of how long we’ve had them or how much we paid. And certainly it can be for what I send back out into the world. The snarkiness will be tough plowing, but something I need to consider.

I have great tools: FlyLady, Saving Dinner, Freecycle. At 43, I’ve had about enough time to decide how I want my life to go, don’t you think? If the people around me aren’t always as cooperative as I’d like, well, I need to move forward without begrudging the effort, because I still end up at a place of my choosing.

That’s the theory, anyway. It’ll be “Pirates 3” and another Monopoly marathon at our house today, as the blessing that is my family is the holiday’s focus. The coat closet can wait until tomorrow – truly. Peace to all.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.


It seems a lot of my friends chose the last month or so to have surgery. One had something medically necessary that took her off work, but was too delicate to say much about. Another is spending the holidays with her jaws wired shut. Still another had back surgery that has restored her range of motion, but has left her with an interesting problem.

She has a scar. And understand, this woman has accumulated a lot of scars over her lifetime, so ordinarily she wouldn’t care much, particularly about one she can’t see. But this one looks like, um, an extended crack, which bugs her enough to toy with the notion of a tattoo.

“Tramp stamp?” someone else asked. There was head shaking. Clearly, without the scar, this never would have come up, so she was soliciting ideas.

Well, my first thought was a tail, but I kept that to myself. “A zipper?” I offered. NO was the reply.

Then there was the mention of the smaller appendix scar. “Ooh!” I said. “You could have an entry wound on the front and an exit wound on the back.”

Again, NO. This seems not to be one of my talents, and I racked my brains a bit but couldn’t come up with anything better. Except maybe …

a guitar neck? I’ll have to check and see how that one plays.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.