The Sociopath, the Psychopath and the Wrong Path

Front Page, Health, Human Interest, Opinion/Editorial, Science

First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs (San Antonio Current Photo, 2017)



     Shots ring out, 14 are left dead, 29 are wounded and the shooter is dead at the scene from an apparent suicide. The motive is not known, but an investigation is underway.  Stop.  Does this sound familiar?

     It sounds familiar because it is. Five of the deadliest shootings in the United States occurred in the last ten years.  In 2007, 32 were killed at Virginia Tech.  In 2012, we had the Sandy Hook massacre and 27 were killed.  In 2016, there was the Orlando night club shooting where 49 died.  In 2017, we have had the Vegas attack and the Sutherland Springs attack with a combined total of 84 dead.  Since 2007, there have been 54 mass shootings.  In the ten year period, from  1997 to 2007, there were 23 mass shootings, and from 1987 to 1997, there were 17 mass shootings.  Based on the statistics available from Mother Jones, it appears that mass shootings are on the rise, but why?

     The easy answer and indeed what appears to be the only answer is guns. Nearly every article written about mass shootings concludes that guns and assault weapons in particular are the problem.  Without guns, there would be no mass shooting; the reasoning goes, but that is like saying, “Without cars, there would be no auto accidents.  Both statements are of course true, but neither statement addresses the cause.  Cars do not cause accidents.  Careless drivers, distracted drivers, sleepy drivers, drunk drivers, and even texting drivers cause accidents, and guns do not cause mass shootings; psychopaths do.

     Most articles on mass shootings eventually get around to the psychopath behind the gun, but it is done with great reluctance, and only after guns have been sufficiently blamed. The reluctance to label a mass murderer a psychopath is somewhat understandable.  Typically a mass murderer has not been clinically diagnosed as a psychopath, and in fact, the term psychopath has fallen out of favor for a more politically correct term.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM IV) used by psychologists and psychiatrists contains a category called “antisocial personality disorder” (APD) which covers both the psychopath and the sociopath.  While it is true,  mass murderers exhibit antisocial behavior.  It seems to me that referring to their mental condition as an antisocial personality disorder is inadequate to describe the morally depraved mind of a mass murderer.  For that reason, I will use the more descriptive term psychopath.  With that said, I will attempt to shed light on  the question, why is the frequency of mass murder on the rise?

     To be accurate both the frequency and the magnitude of mass murder is increasing. The impact of advertising, the moral decay of society and drugs are perhaps three of the contributing factors.  Radio, television, and other media coverage of mass murder functions as advertising and encourages other psychopaths to act out at some future time.  Often sensational headlines glorify the killing which inspires more killings.  Headlines can also offer a challenge.  Consider this headline from CBS News, “Two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history come just 35 days apart.” I can imagine some psychopath reading that headline and saying to himself, wait until they get a load of what I can do.  Perhaps a better headline would have been written like this, “Two low-life psychopaths dead at the scene just 35 days apart.”  Sometimes headlines convey sympathy for the psychopath like this one, “He was the loneliest kid I’d ever met.”  That was the headline for a 14-year-old that killed his algebra teacher and two classmates.  The headline might have read, “Deranged 14-year-old murders his teacher and two classmates.” Certainly news coverage of mass murder is necessary, but the media should be careful not to glorify or sympathize with the psychopath and cover mass murder with an awareness that coverage can advertise.

     Acting out in our contemporary society appears to be the norm. It matters not whether you are taking a knee during the National Anthem, creating riots in the streets, or merely changing your gender.  Acting out is trendy and cool and is usually encouraged in the media.  However, being trendy and cool is merely symptomatic of changing values or moral decay in society.  As values change, actions that were once forbidden by society are now permitted.  The more values change, the more permissive society becomes until you reach the point that psychopaths feel it is okay to act out their macabre fantasies.  It is my belief that as values continue to be eroded, mass murders will continue to rise as they have in recent years.

     This notion is borne out by the immanent Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung.  In Carl Jung’s The Undiscovered Self, Jung mentions an  element of latent sociopathy and psychopathy within any given culture.  Perhaps 10 percent of a society is composed of latent sociopaths and psychopaths, and 1 percent or less represents actual sociopaths/psychopaths. Most of the latent people will never become dangerous if they are living within a culture that is healthy and morally balanced.  In fact, those with inherent psychopathic traits can become very high functioning members of society who excel at careers in business, government, and the arts.  However, in the event values continue to erode, latent sociopaths/psychopaths have the potential to become active sociopaths/psychopaths and act out as they see fit.  It is a disturbing prospect to consider that the mentally disturbed 1 percent could evolve into 10 percent.

Website Graphs - Violence
Note: The FDA estimates that less than 1% of all serious events are ever reported to it, so the actual number of side effects occurring are most certainly higher. (CCHR International Mental Health Watchdog)

     If the prospect of a growing number of psychopaths is not disturbing enough, then consider that the problem is compounded by the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Most readers will have seen more than one commercial for a drug with side effects including suicide and violent behavior.  If you doubt the truth of this, then pay attention to the next Chantix commercial you see.  Chantix is administered to smokers to help curb cigarette cravings, but it is 18 times more likely to be linked to violent behavior than other drugs. Even more interesting is the unadvertised psychotropic drugs administered to children.  Today more than 10 million children are prescribed addictive psychotropic drugs with the warning the drugs can cause suicide in children and adolescents.  In fact, according to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System, the following drugs are linked to violence:  Pristiq, Effexor, Luvox, Halcion, Strattera, Lariam, Paxil, Prozac and Chantix.  Most of the drugs are antidepressants and are often prescribed for the treatment of ADHD in children.  It is probably just me, but it seems we are taking the wrong path when we give children with mental problems a drug that will increase the likelihood of suicide and violence.  I am not aware of any studies that link pharmaceutical drugs to mass murder, but it is interesting to note that Stephen Paddock, Devin Patrick Kelley, and Dylann Roof all had mind altering prescription drugs prior to their killing spree.  Perhaps we are no nearer to answering the question, which came first the drugs or the psychopath?  But should we deny the connection?

     We can continue to blame guns for mass shootings because it is easy, and it fits a political agenda. However, if we want to know the cause of mass shootings we need to look elsewhere. After all, “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions,”  according to Claude Levi-Strauss.

Until next time…

A citizen of the United States of America, a Texan and a resident of Flour Bluff, Dan Thornton, values enlightened reason and freedom. Dan is a lifelong student of history and philosophy, and a writer of poetry and song. The hallmark of his pursuit is a quest for universal truth. By admission, the answer is illusive, but he is undaunted, and the quest continues.

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Addressing Homelessness in Flour Bluff

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Government and Politics, Health, Law Enforcement
Melanie Hambrick addresses FBCC (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

       On October 16, 2017, members of the Flour Bluff Citizens Council were joined by city, county, and state elected officials and city staff to hear a presentation on homelessness in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.  Melanie Hambrick, a Flour Bluff resident who has served on the city’s Advisory Council for Homelessness, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse, Kae Berry of Timon’s Ministries, and CCPD Chief Mark Schauer helped to educate the residents in the audience at the regular general meeting held at Grace Community Church on Flour Bluff Drive.

     Hambrick began her part of the presentation with a definition of homeless.  “Though many definitions exist, for our purposes we will define homeless as chronic, those who have been continuously homeless for one year; transitional, individuals who have experienced a single episode of homelessness lasting an average of one to two months; and episodic, an individual with three or more episodes within the last year rendering him homeless,” she said. Hambrick said that research indicates the primary reasons for homelessness to be addiction, poverty, lack of housing, lack of affordable health care, domestic violence, and mental health issues among others.  “The number of homeless changes daily, and finding these individuals to talk to them about their personal experiences is challenging and therefore cannot be accurate,” stated Hambrick.

Data based on the 2017 Point-in-Time Survey of 611 individuals in Corpus Christi.  This annual survey is required by the U.S. Dep’t. of Housing and Urban Development.

     “There are lots of factors that contribute to chronic homelessness.  When people are released from public institutio or public systems without adequate discharge planning, they are more likely to become homeless,” said Hambrick.  “Adequate discharge planning is a crucial element to the long-term success of these individuals. Reasons given include release from correctional institutions, release from hospitals, release from mental institutions, children aging out of foster care, and migration for jobs.”  Hambrick added that Corpus Christi becomes a destination for the homeless because of the mild winters and places that lend themselves to living outside, such as bridges, brushy areas, and beaches.

     “All of this does come with a cost to the taxpayer,” said Hambrick.  Though she did not have exact data for Corpus Christi, Hambrick gave the national average, which is estimated between $30 and $40 thousand per individual annually. “This cost is absorbed by many.  For example, the cost for processing and holding of individuals in correctional institutions, hospitals that do not refuse those who seek medical attention, and court-appointed attorneys who represent those who have been arrested, to name a few.”  This does not include the cost to clean up homeless camps in public spaces and parks, which would be absorbed by the Solid Waste Department or the Parks and Recreation Department.

     Hambrick provided data on what services are available for the homeless in Corpus Christi:

  • 10 agencies provide shelter totaling approximately 600 beds (none in Flour Bluff identified and many serve specific populations)
  • 14 identified churches and organizations provide food (none in Flour Bluff identified)
  • 7 agencies, including Timon’s Ministries in Flour Bluff, provide health care and case management services
Kae Berry of Timon’s Ministries (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     Kae Berry of Timon’s Ministries told the group that Timon’s was incorporated in 1999 and opened for business in 2000.  “I started there as a volunteer serving food,” she said.  “A year later I became the director, and I’m still there.”  Berry explained that it really began back in the eighties at St. Peter’s by the Sea UMC on Waldron Road as a shelter for the homeless.  “They were feeding the homeless who camped near there out the back door of the church.  It grew and grew and grew.  Then, other churches got involved, and they formed Timon’s.  When it first opened, we were really feeding only homeless people,” Berry said.  “Because of the development of the Flour Bluff area, the number of homeless in Flour Bluff has diminished significantly.  Currently, only about 5% of the people we feed are homeless, usually the chronic homeless.”

     “Our goal at Timon’s is to help people not be homeless,” said Berry.  “Most of the folks we see are people who are just hanging on by a thread.”  Berry told of how they serve many children whose parents have been incarcerated and who are being raised by indigent grandparents who live on fixed incomes and could barely afford to feed and care for themselves, much less the grandchildren. “Those in need are welcome at Timon’s.  If they don’t behave themselves,” Berry said, “they can’t be there.  There may be more homeless wandering around out here, but we don’t see them because they’ve been banned.”

     Berry said that Timon’s is really working to help the working poor and the disabled poor.  “I don’t feel the government does enough for these people, and that’s who we’re after.  We have a doctor on board who has 1700 charts; most of those people are not homeless.  A few are homeless, and with them most of what we do is wound care, spider bites, and that sort of thing,” said Berry.  “We’re helping the uninsured, and it keeps them out of the ER.  This started in 2012.  We opened the first dental clinic in 2009, the first in the Coastal Bend.  We have 3400 charts for people who come in for dental care from all over the place, not just Flour Bluff.”

     “We also help with things like driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and the kinds of things that get people back on the road so they can get a job.  You can’t do anything without an ID; without a birth certificate, you’re dead in the water.  All of this costs money,” said Berry.  “We move about three tons of groceries out every month.  That is increased since Hurricane Harvey since we’re helping a lot of folks with emergency food.  We’re also helping with their medicines.  This is not the time to be standing in water with your house down around your knees to be without your blood pressure pills.  We’re glad to help folks with these things.  However, if we’re going to spend a farthing on you, you must pass the drug test.  We will feed you and give you groceries because there are children involved, but for anything else you have to pass what we lovingly call the ‘Whiz Quiz’.”

     According to Berry, running Timon’s costs about $323,000 a year to operate, most of which comes through grant funding.  Hurricane Harvey did damage to the Timon’s building, leaving them with a 30-year loan for its repair. When clients do not behave, Berry said they call the police and issue a criminal trespass. Timon’s Ministries is located at 10501 South Padre Island Drive next to Pizza Hut and is open from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. daily.  Berry can be contacted by phone at 361-937-6196 or by e-mail,

Chief Mike Markle (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     Representatives from law enforcement agencies were present at the meeting, including Constable Mitchell Clark and Chief Mike Markle who brought several officers to answer questions.  “We often receive phone calls and emails from the public asking what we’re going to do about the homeless.  Unless a crime is committed, we can’t do much.  Homelessness is not a crime.  I understand the frustration of property owners.  I’m a property owner of Flour Bluff,” said Markle.

     “When crimes are committed by the homeless, we deal with those.  However, homeless folks, more often than not, are victims of crimes rather than instigators of crimes,” said Markle.  “We do have many homeless because they see Corpus Christi and its mild climate as a destination city.  They see this and the very giving and charitable nature of the city as reasons to come here, so they get on a bus or get a ride and head down here. I doubt that Corpus Christi will ever be without homeless.  It is more of an issue of co-existing and everyone maintaining qualities of life while being charitable, while being cognizant of the law, while enforcing the laws so that others aren’t impacted negatively by their presence,” continued Markle.  He encouraged the residents to get in touch with Captain Lee Weber who is the district captain in charge of the Flour Bluff area.  He can be contacted by phone  (361) 826-4052  or email:

Chief Markle and Captain Lee Weber (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     “We are very much involved in homeless issues outside of just police work,” said Markle as he introduced Assistant Chief Mark Schauer,  a 35-year veteran of the police department, who offered additional information about the homeless situation in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.  “Chief Schauer has been involved in many homeless initiatives, serving on various boards and working with the Coalition for the Homeless , Metro Ministries, and Charlie’s Place.  He’s also been involved in the Point-in-Time Surveys – as were many of our staff in the police department.”

     “When I got this job, I had been homeless for about five months, but it’s a different kind of homelessness. You can’t paint everybody with the same brush of homelessness.  Some are homeless because of domestic violence, some for drugs and emotional conditions.  You have young people being kicked out of their homes.  The average age of the homeless, as I learned from serving over four years on the Metro Ministries board, is sometimes nine years old.  A mother with kids drives down the average age, and there are lots of mothers with kids who have no place to go,” said Shauer.

Assistant Chief Mark Schauer (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     “In my case, I graduated from college, worked for my dad for a year, and decided I didn’t want to live in Illinois any more.  So, I got in my truck and left.  I camped out of my truck on the beach, under overpasses, even the JFK Causeway, and places where I was kicked out because I didn’t know I couldn’t camp there.  A week before the academy started I rented a room in a mobile home on the other side of town.  That was my first place.  I had money in the bank and a desire to get a job, not really the same as for many homeless.”

     Schauer shared with the audience information about homelessness in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff that he and other officers received from a two-year survey with over 400 homeless people.  “We learned that a lot of the people interviewed were homeless less than a year.  Many were not from here but didn’t say why they came here.  A lot of them admitted to having drug and psychological problems.  Some who said they didn’t have psychological problems admitted to being treated for psychological problems,” said Schauer.


     “If you ask the intake officer at the city detention center, he’ll tell you that he hardly ever sees a PI (public intoxication) for alcohol any more.  It’s all synthetics.  It’s easy to get and extremely cheap. They can share it. They can take a blunt and make it last for days because they can get high with just a couple of hits. And, it’s deadly. If you see people leaning against a building – looking like a zombie or something – almost for sure they’re on synthetics,” said Schauer. “We think it’s a waste of time to give money to these folks, so we put up the ‘Keep the Change’ signs.  We prefer that you give to the shelters, give to Timon’s, give to somebody, but don’t flat out give them cash.  I think it’s the worst thing you can do.”  Later in the presentation, Schauer told the audience how they could tell if synthetic use is going on in their area.  “Look for the cigarillo packages like Swisher Sweets.”

Image result for cigarillos for weed
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

     “We also found out through the survey is that 7% – or about 28 people – said they are just satisfied being homeless.  These are the ones you see all the time,” Schauer said as he described one particular barefooted man whom he sees sometimes 20 times in a day around City Hall.  “He is the face of homelessness for me, but it’s not the representative face because there isn’t one.  Some are mothers.  Some are people who came here for jobs that they didn’t get. This is a complex issue.  All we can do is enforce the law and try to keep it at bay.”

     Shauer said that he worked on the aggressive panhandling ordinance that prevents people from repeatedly asking for money.  “Talking to you is a First Amendment right, but they can’t continually ask you or approach you aggressively.  We can stop it when they’re in the roadway, and we do that a lot.  When we make an arrest for that, it’s an endless cycle.  They don’t have the money to pay, and we don’t have debtors prison.  You can’t hold them.  We arrest them.  They magistrate them and then release them.  We pick them up and try to interrupt their cycle.”

     Some of the homeless activity, Shauer said, takes place on private property, and the police cannot legally get back in there without the permission of the property owner.  “Flour Bluff is unique in that it has large, brushy areas privately owned by oil companies and such, but without their express permission or a direct request, we can’t just go onto the property. Some of these camps are elaborate and look like Apocalypse Now.  If you see them and tell us, then we can address it through the property owner,” he said.

     Shauer explained that many of the people are mentally disabled or emotionally unsound, but there is not a lot of money for them.   “We wish there was.  We commit a lot of people who are out a few days later.  There is no long-term treatment facility unless they are sent to SASH (San Antonio State Hospital),” said Shauer.  “I sit on the board for Charlie’s Place, and they have what they call scholarships for the people we encounter on the streets.  We have a special unit that works around City Hall and out in the Bluff around Parker Park and along Graham Road.  Our bike officers offer them some of these spots at Charlie’s Place, but they don’t always take them up on it, so they end up getting arrested.”

     When asked by a Citizens Council member why these people are not made to work even though they appear to be able to do so.  Shauer responded by saying that some are truly disabled mentally or physically; some will but look for ways to sue the property owner; others do work at Metro Ministries and earn their keep; still others simply do not want to work.  At the Rainbow House, the women are working or going through a job program, and all the kids are in school or in childcare Shauer explained.

     Another member asked what can be done about them urinating or defecating in the park.  “We have ordinances that address that, and they can be ticketed.  We have to see it.  Call us out, and we’ll come out and talk to them.  Most of the time they comply with our requests.”

    Shauer was asked if anyone had used drones to fly over some of the larger brush-covered areas to locate homeless camps.  “No.  We have to respect private rights, too. Just about everything out here (Flour Bluff) is privately owned, and we would need the permission of the property owner to do something like that,” Shauer said.

     Melanie Hambrick talked about possible solutions.  “Many components are necessary for a successful plan to end homelessness,” she said.  “However a plan is just a plan if no action is taken.  It is clearly a waste of time and effort.  This is a community issue, and government can only be part of the solution.”  Hambrick outlined some actions that could be taken immediately, such as locating a coordinated entry center for those in need where they will be met with a process that will maximize potential assistance in changing the homeless person’s current situation.  She added that service organizations that work in tandem with the Texas Homeless Network will provide solutions and pathways for individuals to become self-sufficient.  “This will also aid in our ability to collect true data on homelessness in our area,” Hambrick added.

     Hambrick stated that all who are serving the homeless in some way should take a “collective impact approach” to combat homelessness.  “This means that previously independent and uncoordinated programs in Flour Bluff that address the needs of the homeless should be coordinated to work toward common goals.  Leadership and civic engagement should be collaborative at all levels across all sectors,” she said.  The FBCC meeting ended with an appeal to the churches, businesses, and residents to take an active role in helping solve what is a daunting task for any community.

     At the October 17, 2017 City Council meeting, Amy Granberry, Chairperson for the Advisory Council for Homelessness, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse briefed the council on four recommendations, echoing what Hambrick presented at the Flour Bluff Citizens Council meeting the night before.  Almost all council members were in favor of moving forward with two or three of the recommendations, but District 4 Councilman Greg Smith lead the charge by strongly suggesting that all four recommendations be acted upon swiftly.  The four recommendations are as follows:

  • Coordinated entry to ensure that all people experiencing a housing crisis have fair and equal access and are quickly identified, assessed for, referred, and connected to housing and assistance based on their strengths and needs.
  • Parks and Recreation Homeless Workers Program, which is based on the City of Albuquerque’s “There’s a Better Way” Program.  Workers will pick up trash and beautify the city and will work in conjunction with the Community Service Workers Program in the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Tent City / Tiny Homes in which city could partner with businesses to build a tiny home community  by providing city-owned land and CDBG funding to build bathrooms and showers where residents would be charged a reasonable rent fee.
  • Family Reunification Program, which is a one-time use program designed to reunite homeless with supportive family outside of Corpus Christi.

NOTE:  For information on how you can help, contact Lt. Chris Hooper, Melanie Hambrick, or Shirley Thornton


Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

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Dr. Stegemann Educates FBBA on Cost of Obesity in the Workplace

Business, Flour Bluff, Health

     Dr. Lloyd Stegemann spoke to the members of the Flour Bluff Business Association at the regular monthly meeting held July 12, 2017, at Funtrackers Raceway Cafe’ in Flour Bluff.  Dr. Stegemann is President, and Chief Bariatric Surgeon at the Better Weigh Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. He specializes in the treatment of obesity and subscribes to a health action plan that involves community leaders, businesses, schools, elected officials, faith based organizations, and healthcare professionals to get every individual to understand the effect that their weight has on their health. Dr. Stegemann focused his presentation on how obesity affects businesses.

     The doctor asked the audience members to find their BMI (Body Mass Index) on a chart like the one below.  He then went on to cite some very disturbing numbers.  “About 24% of the population falls into the overweight category.  That’s almost 90 million people in the United States.  When you go above a BMI of 30, which is about 30 pounds overweight, you move into a Class 1 Obesity,” said Stegemann.  “About 98.7 million Americans, or 36% of the population, are classified as obese.”

     Dr. Stegemann shared a study from the Center for Disease Control, to show how the American obesity problem has changed in the last few years.  “We have a significant problem across the United States,” said Stegemann. “The really scary part is that the obesity rates in our children are very high, particularly in comparison to other countries.  The problem with that is that if you are obese by the age of five, there is a 98% chance that you will be obese as an adult.  So, getting this under control at the earliest ages is critically important.”  According to a 2015 non-scientific report in Men’s Health Magazine, Corpus Christi topped the list for “fattest cities” in America.  “Since America is considered the fattest nation in the world, then that makes Corpus Christi the fattest city in the world.  We have a lot of work to do,” added Stegemann.

CDC Obesity Trend Map
This set of maps, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers a state-by-state look at the tremendous increase in adult obesity over the past two decades. In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15 percent. By 2010, no state had an obesity rate lower than 20 percent, and 12 states had obesity rates greater than 30 percent.

     Dr. Stegemann asked everyone to consider the following statements and determine whether each is true or false from their own perspectives.

  • Obesity is a disease.
  • Weight loss is easy.  Just eat less and exercise more.
  • Fat people are usually lazy.
  • Employers should care about their employees’ weight.
  • It is okay to fire an employee because he/she is obese.
  • Employers should cover evidence-based weight-loss treatments.

     He followed this activity with important information related to each and a quick video on the Set Point Theory of Obesity, the reason people lose a few pounds then regain them rather quickly.

     “In addition to the many medical problems caused by obesity, carrying extra weight just creates lots of life problems.  Simple tasks like tying your shoes, playing with the kids on the floor and getting up afterward, going fishing and getting on and off the boat become very difficult.  Obesity also sets a person up for weight-bias discrimination. People over a certain weight have to pay for two seats on an airplane. You’ll notice that people who are severely overweight do things like pick out their path in a restaurant prior to getting up to cross the room so that they don’t bump people along the way.  Just sitting in a booth becomes very challenging.  There is a significant decline in the quality of life for these people,” said Dr. Stegemann. “A new study even points to obesity as a possible key factor in developing Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Dr. Lloyd Stegemann.


     “What about the economic impact? What is the direct cost for treating the medical problems related to obesity?  It comes out to $428 billion a year – direct cost for treating the medical complications related to weight. That’s about 14.3% of all health care spending in the United States.  This is particularly true and important for treating Type 2 Diabetes,” said Stegemann, “which consumes 26% of the 14.3%.”  To put the numbers in perspective, Dr. Stegemann said that in 1962 the annual spending on diabetes was less that one billion dollars.  In 2014 the number was 112 billion dollars.  “It is a significant problem,” said Stegemann.  “These are the direct costs.  The indirect costs include lost time at work and loss of productivity while at work which comes to $989 billion in indirect costs.  In 2014, the total of direct and indirect cost related to obesity came to $1.42 trillion dollars.  That’s a staggering number.  In fact, it’s over 8% of our GDP.”  He explained that these numbers do not take into account the 320,000 deaths each year associated with obesity.

     “Obesity is now the number 2 killer in the United States behind smoking.  It is expected that obesity deaths will overtake smoking deaths within the next five years based on the current trends,” said Stegemann.


     “Why should the employer care about an employee’s weight?  It costs them money,” said Stegemann.  “People who are overweight have a lower rate of productivity and miss more work due to weight-related illnesses or doctor appointments.  Over time, those numbers start adding up.”  Obese employees have 36% more in medical costs, with 77% higher costs for prescriptions. When companies go back to renew health insurance plans, the prices start going up. “As employers, we carry a much higher economic burden.  We pay more in both business and personal taxes.  That $1.2 trillion has to come from somewhere.  Part of that certainly comes from taxes,” he added.

     “What I want everyone to walk away with today is that it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of weight loss to start seeing positive results.  With as little as 5% weight loss, you will start to see dramatic improvements in health and increases in productivity,” said Stegemann.  “Helping your employees’ bottom line certainly helps your own bottom line.”

Other FBBA News

  • FBBA President Jennifer Welp welcomed State Representative Todd Hunter and Hannah Chipman of Brent Chesney’s office.
  • Welp thanked Brent Chesney, Michael Morgan of State Farm, Roshan Bhakta of Candlewood Suites, and Dr. Mohamad Hassan of the Children’s Center for sponsoring the upcoming Flour Fest event on October 28, 2017, at Parker Park from noon until 8:00 p.m.  More sponsors are needed as are volunteers to run the various events.  Anyone interested should contact Jonathan Vela, FBBA Events Coordinator at 512-937-8769 or visit the FBBA website at .
  • Javier Wiley accepted the Spotlight of the Month Award for HEB Plus in Flour Bluff.  The store is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday, July 29, 2017.
  • Welp thanked Jonathan Vela’s father, Juan Vela, for selling the Keep It in the Bluff t-shirts and spreading the word about the businesses of Flour Bluff.
  • Susan Lawson gave an update on Parker Pool.  Sponsors are still needed to assist with keeping the pool up and running. For more information visit the website at .
  • Welp asked the business owners to consider hosting a mixer in the near future as a way to network with other businesses.
  • Shirley Thornton announced the Flour Bluff Citizens Council would host an educational presentation on how area development plans work, who writes them, and what the city plans on doing to update the Flour Bluff ADP, which has not been updated since 1993.
  • Welp recognized new members:
    • Neal Ekstrom of  NCE Waste Environmental Service, 361-772-5449
    • Chad Mills, Julia Mills, and Rusty Ashurst of R/C Remodeling (361) 777-9248 or  361-846-1148 or 361-438-0954
    • Criselda Torres of Red Cactus Funk & Junk located at 9450 SPID #6A, 361-549-6351
    • James and Dottie Fortner of Annaville Air Conditioning, 361-767-2665, 4860 FM 1889, Corpus Christi, TX 78410
    • Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 361-937-8158,
  • The next general meeting will be held at Funtrackers at noon on Wednesday, August 9, 2017.  The guest speaker will be local historian James Moloney.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

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His eye is on the little ones. . .

Front Page, Health, Opinion/Editorial
Infant Charlie Gard and his parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard, 2017

     We are living in an age of politics that seems to know no end to divisions of all kinds. But, when President Donald Trump, the Pope, European Parliamentarians, and even Cher are all putting pressure on the United Kingdom, perhaps this is a situation that needs to be watched. There is a hospital in the U.K. which has been making a decision that an eleven month old child needs to have all “the plugs” pulled, and thus are saying he must die. The parents have been spending at least half of this young boy’s life begging to be able to make that decision themselves or to at least take him home to die, if dying is what must happen. Little Charlie Gard has a rare condition called infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome or MDDS. The hospital staff and government entities have said he cannot survive. His parents have begged to fly him to the United States for even experimental treatment to give him a chance at life.

     The parents will make another court plea on Monday, July 10, 2017. They have at least one doctor in the U.S. who has offered help, and possibly more. The Pope said on June 30, 2017, “To defend human life above all when it’s wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.” The hospital officials have said he will be blind and unable to speak, and his life will be meaningless. Does anyone who has read about Helen Keller believe that Helen’s life was meaningless? And who are these “death panel” participants anyway to decide that parents cannot make this decision for themselves?

     In February of 2017 there was a story online on several sites about a bridge being repaired just above San Francisco. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge repairs were put on “hold” for at least two weeks at the cost of an estimated seventy million dollars because ONE tree that needed to be removed in the process of this bridge repair had in it a TINY hummingbird nest. In that nest was ONE egg. No work could be completed until the tiny hummingbird was born and left the nest. (At no time was this called a clump of cells within the eggshell.) The species of hummingbird was called Anna’s hummingbird and is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The tree must stay until the “baby” was gone.

     We shall all have to wait now to see what happens to little Charlie Gard. His parents are fighting for his life. A website has raised enough money for them to travel to the U.S. for experimental treatment. His parents have managed to get him a travel visa to the United States. A Pro Life group in the United States has started a hash-tag “We are all Charlie Gard.” But societies and countries have sunk to a really bad place when the hospitals and the courts who are designed to protect the vulnerable now can decide on death for a child…and the parents have no say.

     I, for one, am hoping the outcome for Charlie and his parents will be a positive one, with at least the parents having the ability to decide what to do. Around the world, people are praying for little Charlie Gard. For now, I have a song that I keep hearing in my head…”For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

Margaret Lynn (Margie) Dodson Lambert, lifetime resident of Nueces County. Graduate Corpus Christi State University (Now TAMUCC) , BA summa cum laude. Secondary education with certificates in English and History. MS Texas A & I in CC (now TAMUCC). Curriculum and instruction with all-level Reading Specialist Certificate. Taught one year in CCISD and 21 years at FBISD. Now retired.

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Over 109 Deaths DAILY in America

Front Page, Health



     Americans are reminded almost daily of the number of people who have been shot in Chicago this month or in past months. Inevitably, the guns instead of the killers, are blamed. The citizens are warned about every kind of mosquito problem known to mankind, so much so that people are buying mosquito spray in massive quantities. When a case of Ebola arrives or appears on this continent, we all buy masks and gloves as if we are about to be attacked by aliens from outer space. We hear the phrase “If we could save just ONE life…” when people are advocating new laws and new restrictions. Every life lost is sad, but did you know that there is one killer that takes approximately 110 lives a DAY just in AMERICA? What if there were a massive reaction by the populous that would decrease the number of these deaths? This killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is breast cancer. It takes over 40,000 deaths a year, and this number is only for people in the United States.

     October has become Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Businesses decorate their shops with pink flags, people wear pink, and even NFL players don pink ribbons, towels, and all manner of pink items. While the pink campaign does bring awareness to the cause, the pink things don’t make families’ lives a whole lot better if they have lost a loved one. What happens instead is that families trudge onward with their lives, which will never truly be the same after a loved one has died because of breast cancer, or from any cause, for that matter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that breast cancer in America is the second most common type of cancer to occur in women. The first most common among women is skin cancer. Every year more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with the disease, and more than 40,000 die. A woman does not need to have a family history of the disease to be diagnosed with it. Men can also get it, but they make up about one percent of new cases. About ten percent of new cases in the U.S. are in women younger than 45 years of age. Ten percent of 200,000 new cases each year is a huge number.

     Regular mammograms can lower the risk of death due to this killer. The U. S. Preventive Services Task Force says a mammogram done every two years for women between the ages of 50 to 74 can aid in finding the cancer early enough to treat it. Women 40 to 49 should talk to their own doctor about when a screening mammogram should be done. Risk factors vary. The main factor that increases risk is simple: just getting older increases risk. But the earlier it is found, the sooner and easier it is to treat in most cases.

     What are the symptoms? Sometimes there are no symptoms. But women should go to their doctors if they have any change in the size or shape, pain in any area of the breast, discharge other than breast milk, a new lump under the breast or even in the armpit. Watch for irritation or new thickening or red, flaky skin. Many lumps are caused by conditions OTHER than cancer, but it is better to get checked and be safe rather than to do nothing and possibly be sorry later.

     Some of us don’t need to see pink things in October to be reminded of this disease. Most of us know of, or have been related to, someone whose life was lost to breast cancer. I certainly do not have a need to see the October pink show up in order to remind me to get a mammogram. I get one each year because my mother’s birthday was in October. She died in 1996 of breast cancer that had been treated, but later spread to the bones. She had no relatives who had breast cancer. Now when the lady at the mammogram place asks me if I have any relatives who have had breast cancer, I have to list three on my daddy’s side of the family (and YES, your dad’s side of the family counts), and then tell them of my mother’s history. Don’t let this month turn into November before you make an appointment for your checkup and your mammogram. My mother would certainly encourage it if she were here to do so!

Margaret Lynn (Margie) Dodson Lambert, lifetime resident of Nueces County. Graduate Corpus Christi State University (Now TAMUCC) , BA summa cum laude. Secondary education with certificates in English and History. MS Texas A & I in CC (now TAMUCC). Curriculum and instruction with all-level Reading Specialist Certificate. Taught one year in CCISD and 21 years at FBISD. Now retired.

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Sugar: More Addictive Than Drugs?

Food and Drink, Front Page, Health


     It’s certainly no secret that most of us LOVE sugar! It’s a comfort food with very strong ties to our emotions. Think about it. How do we console ourselves when stressed? Or celebrate our successes? Ever bribe a child with cookies? Cheer up a sad friend with ice cream?

     But is this a good thing? I would argue, no.

Let’s test your sugar knowledge with a fun, short quiz. Don’t fret! It’s only five questions.

#1 How many teaspoons of “added” sugar does the average American consume daily?

     According to Alice G. Walton, the average adult consumes at least 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, over 130 pounds in one year (and this is a conservative     estimate).  The average child ingests 32 teaspoons per day, an even scarier fact.

#2 What is the recommended daily amount for sugar, according to the American Heart Association?

24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men

One teaspoon = 4 grams of sugar = 16 calories

     Side note: a typical twelve-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. One drink = 40 grams of sugar!

#3 What percentage of food items on our grocery store shelves have added sugar?

     75-80%. Shocking, right?! You’ll find sugar in spaghetti sauce, ketchup, breads, barbecue sauce, canned soups, salad dressings, baked beans, canned and dried fruit, cereals, granola bars, sports drinks, instant oatmeal, yogurt, jelly and jam.

     Sugar is everywhere! Read your food labels and be an educated consumer.

#4 The food industry is quite tricky. How many different sugar ingredient names are used?

     I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of over 50 names used to label sugar, including (but not limited to) high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), brown rice syrup, malt syrup, fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice, beet sugar (likely genetically-modified), palm sugar, fructose, maltose, sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and dextrose. Not to mention all of the artificial sugars (sorbitol, aspartame, erythritol, lacititol, maltitol, mannitol, saccharin, sucralose).

     Pack a detective hat on your next grocery run!

#5 Sugar is as addictive as cocaine. True or false?

     False. Sugar is actually MORE addictive than cocaine (some say eight times more). Current research shows that sugar is the #1 food or drug that we are addicted to. The same brain pathways that are activated when we consume cocaine are activated when we ingest the sweet stuff!

     Nicely done! You all passed with flying colors.

     We know that sugar (a “legal drug”) is extremely addictive, but did you know that the food industry spends BIG research money to create products that hack your brain chemistry and keep you addicted? Their methods are very effective, too.

     Breaking the sugar habit can be quite tough and goes beyond self-control and willpower. Maybe you can relate to the difficulty of resisting certain foods that we know are bad for us? You can do anything you put your mind to, but your taste buds and your brain have literally been hijacked by the added sugars in processed foods (even the ones you think are “healthy”).

     Sugar gives us an instant boost because it triggers the “feel-good” brain chemical serotonin, which is responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being. Our bodies then crave this substance’s influence on our brain cells. But guess what? Many healthy foods and habits can boost your serotonin levels, like eating bananas, leafy greens, walnuts, oats, and green smoothies. Soak up some sunshine, laugh more, take a walk, enjoy some yoga, and get outside in nature.

     So, what’s the good news? With a little awareness and dedication to raising our standard for health, we can take back the reigns and make better choices with what we buy, what we consume, and how we bake.

“Now, more than ever, it is time to take control and actively pursue the health, energy and vitality we all deserve and desire.” ~ Tony Robbins

     For more information, check out my eBook “Simple, Gluten Free Dessert Recipes” featuring many of my best (and nourishing) sweets recipes, handy baking tips, and savvy info to help you take control of your sugar intake NOW! You can also find low-sugar recipes at Sending out good vibes from my kitchen to yours. Let’s go bake!

Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.

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Blend Baby Blend: Why Green Smoothies?

Food and Drink, Front Page, Health

Green Smoothies 1

Smoothies (especially green ones) are a hot topic in the health world right now. Honestly, I cannot say enough about these creamy, satisfying concoctions. Why all the hype? Should you consider adding them to your menu? Are smoothies just a trend or are there real health benefits involved?

Let’s break it down, starting with a simple list of why smoothies can be a very nutritious option!

  • Simple and easy to prepare, with little cleanup time
  • Provide good fiber for digestion and sweeping away toxins
  • Balance your blood sugar and pH (alkalizing your body)
  • A great way to add good fats and quality protein in your diet
  • Super versatile (let your creative juices flow!)
  • Provide a nice break for your digestive system
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Wonderful post-workout, as a healthy travel food, a quick breakfast or afternoon snack
  • Natural support for cleansing and detoxification

Most of us awake quite dehydrated in the morning, and smoothies can provide an amazing blast of hydration after a night of sleep. They are also a fabulous way to ease your digestive system into motion for the day, supporting your body with consistent fuel and energy.

In my opinion, making a smoothie is the simplest way to include a diversity of whole food ingredients effortlessly into my diet, especially vegetables (and who doesn’t need that?)! The combinations are endless, using different fruits, leafy greens, herbs, healthy fats and various protein sources. You can flood your body with amazing nutrition and satisfy your taste buds simultaneously.

If your children won’t touch anything green, smoothies are a magical way to sneak veggies past their palates. Trust me, they won’t taste the spinach that you blended into that delicious raspberry smoothie.

Now, keep in mind, there are certainly ways to turn this healthy option into one that can cause inflammation and blood sugar imbalance in your body, like sugar-loading with too much fruit and not enough vegetables. For any new passengers on the green smoothie train, here is a simple 4-step “how to” to get you started.

#1 Choose a liquid base (1-2 cups depending on the size and desired thickness)

  • Purified water
  • Nut milk (i.e., almond, coconut, or cashew)
  • Coconut water (good source of electrolytes and very hydrating)

#2 Fruit and veggie time! Slowly increase the amount of vegetables over time, eventually aiming for a 3:1 ratio of veggies to fruit.

  • Low glycemic fruits are ideal (raising your blood sugar the least)
    • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
    • Green apples
    • Pears
    • Grapefruit and oranges
    • Acai
    • Bananas add lovely creaminess but are higher in sugar
    • Lemon (cuts the flavor of stronger-tasting green leafies)
  • Sneak in plenty of veggies for vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and antioxidants
    • Spinach, kale, romaine and green leaf lettuce, mixed greens, and Swiss chard
    • Cucumber, zucchini, carrots, and even broccoli
    • Avocado (for extra creaminess and good fats)

#3 The Extras… protein, superfoods, and fats!

  • Choosing a protein powder can be quite overwhelming, as there are so many available these days. Try to avoid genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), fillers, and heavily processed soy protein (like soy protein isolate). My preference is a plant-based protein with some dehydrated greens mixed in.
  • Nut butters, like almond, peanut, cashew, or walnut. Buy organic when possible and read the ingredients, avoiding any added oils and sugars.
  • Healthy fat options include chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, shredded coconut, and coconut oil.
  • Take your smoothie to the next level with super foods (cacao, greens powder, maca, spirulina, goji berries, cinnamon, aloe vera, Matcha green tea, turmeric, or ginger).

#4 Blend, and enjoy the goodness! Any quality blender will do, but a high-speed blender works wonders! The Vitamix is my go-to, but there are several quality blenders on the market now.

“Knowledge is only rumor until it lives in the bones.” ~The Asaro Tribe

Let’s put this knowledge into practice with a tasty, nutritious smoothie recipe. Be sure to scope out Mindful Dine for more smoothie inspiration!










Creamy Dreamy Green Smoothie

1-2 frozen bananas (add a few ice cubes if not frozen)

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

2-3 handfuls of spinach

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

½ teaspoon spirulina powder (optional)

Splash of vanilla

1 scoop protein powder of choice

1 cup nut milk

1 cup filtered water

Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.

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Daily Habits for Long-Lasting Health: Part I

Front Page, Health


“We become what we repeatedly do.” ~Sean Covey

     As human beings, we naturally want to improve. For many people, progress equals happiness. Whether it’s your home, relationships, education, finances, spirituality, career, exercise or health, we enjoy growing, changing, and evolving.

     We often fail to recognize the power of our daily habits and how they support our desires, set us up for success, and make large goals tangible. Our rituals and routines define us… and this is super exciting! Getting a grip on this concept will give you amazing control of your life. The key is to start small.

     In relation to health, implementing some easy, daily routines can put you on a solid path to long-lasting wellness. This month’s The Paper Trail edition highlights the first half of my top healthy lifestyle habits; look for Part II in April.

#1 Create A Morning Routine

     Your mind is most open first thing in the morning, and starting off with a calm, consistent morning routine can set a positive trajectory for the day. Here are some ideas:

  • Make your bed upon rising. Control what you can control. Begin the day with confidence. Minimize distraction lest you create distraction.
  • Drink a large glass (or two) of filtered water. Our bodies are naturally dehydrated in the morning, and this is one of the BEST habits to start NOW.
  • Enjoy a cup of warm water with fresh lemon. This jump starts your digestive system, gets your bowels moving and balances your pH.
  • Eat an alkalizing breakfast. While you sleep, your body works on rejuvenating and detoxifying, which naturally creates body acids. Try a green smoothie, green juice, or chia pudding (check out for recipes).
  • Take a probiotic, a supplement of live “good bacteria” cultures for a well-balanced gut, right before breakfast.
  • Pause for meditation, breathing exercises, or journaling.


#2 Hydrate

     Many of us walk around in a state of chronic dehydration. Since our bodies are over 70% water (the eyes are 98%; blood is 94%; the brain is 80%), staying hydrated is a crucial habit for optimal health. Water neutralizes body acids, fuels your metabolism, promotes weight loss, fuels detoxification, and supports the immune system.

     Drinking good quality, pure water is really important! Avoid tap water when possible, as it can be full of toxins and chemicals. Try adding a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt to your water… sea salt contains over 84 natural minerals that enhance your body’s ability to absorb and hold water.

    Pay attention to your body’s cues for dehydration. What are some common signs? Fatigue, sore throat, headache, brain fog, dry skin, dark-colored urine, heartburn, and even high blood pressure. It is easy to mistake these as hunger signs so begin tuning in to your own cues for thirst.

#3 Intermittent Fasting (The 12 hour Window)

     This is one of my favorite health habits… leave at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Generally, my dinner is finished before 8 p.m. (ideally earlier), and breakfast begins after 9 a.m. the next morning. Digestion is one of the biggest energy demands in the body, so implementing a digestive break is wonderful for overall energy, detoxification, and wellness.

     We burn either sugar or fat for fuel, and most people have only 12 hours of sugar reserves. If you eat frequently and don’t leave a fasting window, your body learns to rely on sugar as its primary fuel. You feel hungry more often and forget how to burn fat. Don’t fret! You can retrain your body and metabolism by eating more healthy fats and adding a fasting window to your daily routine.

Sun Worshiper © Matthew Thornton
Sun Worshiper © Matthew Thornton

#4 Get Outside In The Sunshine

     Living in the Caribbean, we are abundantly blessed with sunshine everyday. The sun can improve your mood, boost serotonin levels (the happy hormone), encourage efficient fat burning, and regulate sleep cycles. Perhaps most importantly, sunshine on your skin triggers the production of super important vitamin D.

     Vitamin D influences 10% of all genes in your body and is absolutely crucial for maintaining health. It supports the immune system and bone health, prevents cardiovascular disease, assists in calcium absorption, and may protect against cancer. Approximately 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, so get your levels checked during your next health examination. Ask for a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test [25(OH)D]; normal levels are between 50 and 70 ng/mL.

     Stay tuned for “Daily Habits for Long-Lasting Health: Part 2” in next month’s The Paper Trail edition. Cheers to your health and happiness!


Mercola, J. Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Repair Itself. Harmony Books, 2015.

Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.

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8 Ways to Naturally Boost your Immune System

Front Page, Health


It’s that time of year. Cold and flu season is here.

Luckily, there are many tricks you can add to your health toolbox in order to strengthen your immune system and fight off the sniffles. Daily immune support is the key! Try one or two of these easy immune-boosting tips while winter is still looming!

GARLIC contains allicin and other sulfur-based compounds that act as anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agents. This herb is teeming with medicinal properties that support the immune system, prevent cancer, fight allergies, and more. For optimal health benefits, eat garlic in its raw form, as heat weakens some of its healing components. When using garlic to cook, let it sit for a few minutes after crushing and mincing (this activates its potent enzymes) and add toward the end of cooking.


GINGER is a very effective anti-inflammatory that stimulates circulation and balances the immune system, restoring it to proper function. In addition, ginger warms the body and can promote healthy sweating, which is helpful at fighting cold and flu infection.

TURMERIC  is the wonder plant. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has strong antioxidant abilities (protecting your cells) and helps to maintain your body’s inflammation response. Modern science is consistently discovering new benefits of turmeric, every week it seems. Honestly, I cannot recommend it enough! Turmeric is a powerful medicinal plant that supports the immune system, protects the brain, staves off cancer, detoxes the liver, amps up fat digestion, calms arthritis, and much more! Turmeric is available in many forms: as a supplement, an extract, a powder (ground spice) used to cook, or the fresh root.

ELDERBERRY EXTRACT delivers bioavailable (easier for your body to use) anthocyanins (flavonoids with incredible antioxidant potential) and can enhance your body’s defense against viral infections, like influenza, by inhibiting its growth and shortening the duration of sickness. Check your local health food store for an assortment of elderberry products, including tinctures, syrups, lozenges, etc.  Red, purple, black, or blue foods typically contain high levels of anthocyanins,  so enjoy plenty of berries, eggplant, purple cabbage, black currants, grapes, beets, cherries, and black rice.

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES flood your body with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and immune-boosting nutrients, which help to protect and fight off disease. Here are some fantastic options: bell peppers, berries, camu berries, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit), cruciferous veggies (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, turnips, and watercress), dark leafy greens, mushrooms, and papaya.

MOVING YOUR BODY mobilizes T-cells, a type of white blood cell that protects you against infection. People who exercise regularly have fewer and milder colds and sickness, and according to Dr. Brian Clement, you can heal up to eight times faster with regular exercise. Not only does body movement help your immune system fight off bacteria and viral infections, but it fills your body with life-giving oxygen and stimulates the removal of acidic waste and toxins. And, you will SWEAT, which is very important for overall health and wellness.

HYDRATE. Your immune system is greatly taxed when you are dehydrated, and some experts estimate that 70 percent of Americans do not drink enough water. Make the effort to consume more fluids, and don’t underestimate the healing potential of hot teas (try pau d’arco, nettle leaf, astragulus or green tea). Try this simple tea recipe!


Turmeric Ginger Tea

A perfect elixir for healing, decreasing inflammation, and flushing those pesky toxins!

  • 1 1/2 liters of filtered water (~6 cups)
  • A few inches of turmeric root*
  • A few inches of ginger root*
  • 1 tablespoon local honey
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Wash, peel and mince the turmeric and ginger root. Keeping the skin on is perfectly okay, too.
  • In a medium pot, bring water to a boil, cool for 2-3 minutes, and then stir in turmeric and ginger.
  • Steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes, and then pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove root pieces.
  • Add honey, lemon, taste, tweak, and then soak up the goodness!
  • Store in the refrigerator and reheat as desired, or add to water consumed during the day.

* If using ground spices, try 1-2 teaspoons of each with 4 cups of water (depending on desired strength).


Fuhrman, J. Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free. Harper Collins Publishers, 2011.




Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.

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Breaking the Fear of Fat

Front Page, Health


“Most of what we need to know about how to eat we already know, or once did until we allowed the nutrition experts and the advertisers to shake our confidence in common sense, tradition, the testimony of our senses, and the wisdom of our mothers and grandmothers.” ~Michael Pollan

     It’s no secret that the typical American diet is greatly swayed by food fads and ever-changing government recommendations. Many of us have lost touch of our innate knowledge about how to nourish our bodies. If you feel confused about what is “healthy” and how you should eat, trust me, you are not alone.

     Over the years, Americans have been presented with many confusing “facts” and misinformation about food, and one very problematic piece of advice involves fat in our diet. We were taught that eating fat makes us fat, that high-fat foods can cause heart attacks and other chronic disease, and that fats should be consumed sparingly (as noted on the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid). You might be surprised to find out that this information is not the truth.

     The low-fat campaign started gaining momentum in 1953 when Dr. Ancel Keys published a study that linked dietary fat intake with coronary heart disease (CHD). Later, it was discovered that he “cherry-picked” the data from only seven countries that proved his correlation between dietary fats and CHD, rather than including all available data from 22 countries. If all countries had been analyzed, there would be no correlation found at all. Further, in 1988, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office released a report on the dangers of dietary fat and its connection with coronary heart disease that triggered a cascade of changes in the American diet for many years to come. Unfortunately, this report was flawed and not based on sound science.

     However, during the past 30-40 years, Americans have associated healthy eating with avoided dietary fat, and the food industry has taken full advantage by creating and marketing over 15,000 reduced-fat food products. This “fear of fat” has caused us to cut out nutritious fats and replace them with more processed grains, vegetable oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and other sugars. What has been the result? An unfortunate and drastic surge in diabetes and obesity, both of which increase heart disease risk.

     It is time to shift our thinking about dietary fats and happily welcome them back onto our plates. Did you know that fats are crucial for every system in your body, especially the brain, which is over 60% fat? In addition, they provide the building blocks for cell membranes, help to regulate hormones, protect the immune system, and increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (like A, D, E, and K). Eating the right types of fat can also promote weight loss and actually reduce risk of heart disease.

     Let’s get clear, the type of fat truly matters because not all fats are the same. Good sources of healthy fat can include: coconuts and coconut oil, avocados, olives and olive oil, nuts (i.e., walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and almonds), seeds (chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, and hemp), grass-fed meats, organic eggs, and butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk. It is really important to avoid margarine, vegetable oil spreads, and oils of canola, soybean, safflower, vegetable, peanut, cottonseed, and corn- all of which are highly processed, can be genetically modified, and promote inflammation in the body.

     It is not widely understood that some fats can withstand high temperatures better than others. To prevent damage or oxidation of oils when cooking, follow these simple tips. In general, saturated fats, like coconut oil, ghee, and organic butter are best under high heat, and avocado oil, known for its high smoke point, can also handle medium-high temperatures. Olive oil (mostly monounsaturated fats) keeps its integrity at medium-low temperatures but is ideally used raw on salads or veggies. Nut and seed oils (i.e., walnut or flaxseed) supply important essential fatty acids but should always be consumed raw, as they are very unstable when heated.

     Interested in learning more about this topic? Please consider joining a free online summit hosted by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Mark Hyman. In The Fat Summit, Dr. Hyman will interview 30+ of the world’s top experts, as they reveal the truth about fat – and what it really takes to lose weight, feel great, and reverse chronic disease. This event airs for free online January 25-February 1, but you have to RSVP to save your spot. Find out more here: The Fat Summit

Sources:, “Heart Specialist Calls for Major Repositioning on Saturated Fat, as It’s NOT the Cause of Heart Disease”, November 2013

Gary Taubes, “The Soft Science of Dietary Fat”, Science, Vol. 291, No. 5513 (March 30, 2001), pp. 2536-2541, 2543-2545, “The Cholesterol Myth That Is Harming Your Health”, August 2010

Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.

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