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Welcome to the Doc Grubb newsletter for November 2008.  November has two important holidays, Veterans Day on November 11th and Thanksgiving on November 27th. But did you know that November is also American Diabetes Month with National Diabetes Day on November 14th? The Great American Smokeout also occurs on November 20th and “Buy Nothing Day” is November 28th.

Most newsletters in November talk about Thanksgiving, and we’ll talk about diabetes and natural foods, but we’re going to really focus on tobacco in this issue of the newsletter.


Thanksgiving, an annual celebration of the harvest, began around 1621 when the pilgrims fulfilled a successful and bountiful harvest in the new world. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

              Because Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all we have received, it is also a perfect time to be thankful for the earth’s bounty and to take steps to protect our environment such as buying foods with as little packaging as possible. Buy foods that are grown locally whenever possible so that less energy will be used for food transport. Donate extra food to a shelter which are really hurting now for donations, or even compost the uncooked tops, bottoms and stems of fruits and vegetables. The compost will help your soil to become rich in trace minerals and your trees, shrubs, annual and perennial plants can easily absorb these highly prized gardener’s joy.

              Try not to use disposable utensils, plates, napkins or tablecloths during the holiday weekend but instead use plates and silverware you already have. Start a family tradition of using real plates, knives, forks, spoons and glasses.

Recycle beverage containers and the aluminum foil that accumulates during the meal and football games.


The American Cancer Society (ACS) started the Great American Smokeout in 1977 to tell people about the dangers of smoking and to challenge everyone to stop smoking and using tobacco products. Every year the Great American Smokeout is celebrated on the third Thursday in November and every year millions of Americans choose to quit smoking for the day or longer.

However, despite The Great American Smokeout and enormous efforts by multiple agencies, constant advertising and education, an estimated 47 million adults in the United States still smoke. Tobacco use can cause lung cancer, as well as other cancers, heart disease, and respiratory disease; and each year smoking is responsible for one out of every five people who die. The number of people who smoke throughout the world continues to rise as can be seen in this graph. Notice how the production of cigarettes has also shifted from the U.S. to other countries.

Did you know that one study in Canada showed that:

  • One out of three fifteen year olds smoke (those are students in grade 10).
  • 50% of Canadian youth have tried a cigarette by the age of 12 (that's grade 6).
  • Thirteen is the average age at which a person will start smoking (that's grade 7).

The use of tobacco has declined in the U.S. In 1965 42.4% of Americans smoked and in 2006 20.8% smoked. The number of cigarettes smoked by people who do smoke decreased from 19.8 cigarettes per day in 1974 to 13.9 in 2006, possibly because of education but also because of the constant increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes which now is almost $5.00 a pack! It is also getting harder and harder to find a place to smoke. In many cities restaurants are non-smoking; all government offices are non-smoking and most hospitals and now non-smoking. When I walk into my hospital every morning I see the smokers huddled together in the wind, rain and snow smoking.


Veterans Day, was first named “Armistice Day” and started in 1921 when a World War I American soldier whose identity was unknown, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The nation wanted to recognize the end of World War I fighting at the stroke of 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the famous “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”). Following the Second World War Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor those who have served America in all wars. Later, additional unidentified American war dead from WWII, Korea and Viet Nam were placed beside the unknown soldier of World War I. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, The Old Guard keeps a day and night vigil.

The national ceremonies for Veterans Day takes place at the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m. on November 11. A combined color guard representing all military services executes “Present Arms” at the tomb and the nation’s tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays “taps,” the famous bugle call to extinguish lights that was first played in 1862 in the Civil War.


Be grateful for all you have received, but with all of the Thanksgiving and Halloween parties at school and the great meal you will probably have at home, it’s important to know about Diabetes, a disease that causes the body to not make enough insulin to break down the sugars and starches in foods. More than 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise in both adults and children. But if you eat a healthy diet and exercise, you can probably prevent diabetes.

But how do you eat healthy with all of the great looking and tasting food available at Thanksgiving?

Eat a diet HIGH IN FIBER, no, don’t eat a rope. When you eat foods high in fiber like whole-grain bread, apples, or vegetables such as lettuce, potatoes and broccoli, you feel fuller. Fiber also helps food pass through your body easier because it absorbs a lot of water.

At Thanksgiving Dinner, you don’t have to eat everything on the table. Sample everything, but in smaller proportions. A great trick is to use a smaller plate. That way the amount of food that you do take LOOKS BIGGER!        

If you start groaning you know you’ve eaten too much. Instead of eating three large meals, eat three smaller meals and two snacks. I talk about this in my book. A sudden rush of sugar will give you energy but then you rapidly feel a let down. Large meals make the blood sugar swings even greater. Your body benefits from having an even source of calories and will perform better and stay healthier. If you do get hungry later on, have a snack, maybe a turkey sandwich with cranberries.

Stay active.  Take a short walk after eating instead of laying down for a nap. If you go to sleep your body will slow down and not be able to digest your food. If your energy levels are feeling low because you have a sugar let down, don’t grab a candy-bar or cookie. The cookie will definitely boost your insulin and energy levels but will leave you feeling worse than before. Grab and eat a piece of fruit such as an apple or a piece of whole grain bread.

     Don’t sneak into the kitchen for a late night snack because food digests slower when you are sleeping (think of that nap after the Thanksgiving meal and how bad you feel when you wake up). This means that you will be hungry when you wake up and eat breakfast. If you look at the word “breakfast” it can also be spelled as “break-fast.” Since you haven’t eaten for 8 hours your body has fasted and needs the energy you are giving it from your breakfast. Kids and adults who skip breakfast usually eat more food throughout the day than they would if they had eaten this most important meal of your day.

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                                     Mom's Lazy Thanksgiving-POEM

Tis the night before Thanksgiving
And all through our house
No turkey is baking; I feel like a louse,
For I am all nestled, so snug in my bed;
I'm not gettin' up and I'm not bakin' bread.
No pies in my oven, no cranberry sauce
Cuz I give the orders, and I am the boss.
When out in the kitchen, there arose such a clatter
I almost got up to see what was the matter.
As I drew in my head and was tossing around
To the bed came my husband, he grimaced, he frowned.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He scared me to death and I thought, "Here he goes!"
He spoke not a word as he threw back my quilt
And the look that he gave was intended to wilt.
So up to the ceiling my pillows he threw
I knew I had had it, his face had turned blue.
"You prancer, you dodger, you're lazy, you vixen
Out yonder in kitchen, Thanksgiving you're fixin."
But he heard me explain, with my face in a pout:

~ Copyright © Mariane Holbrook ~

November is also the “buy nothing today” month. In addition to not buying anything, donate something to charity.

How to Get Smoke out of a house

     We’ve talked about the Great American Smokeout, but if you’ve stopped smoking, how do you get the smell of smoke out of your house?

Cleaning EVERYTHING is the first step.

Fabrics such as clothes, curtains, carpet, towels, sheets, furniture and even electronics will retain smoke molecules. So for fabrics, you should wash or steam them or have them professionally cleaned. Use baking soda on the fabric of furniture and carpets frequently. Just sprinkle it on the furniture and let it sit for a while and then vacuum.

Clean all glass and mirrors frequently with vinegar and rinse.

Wipe down all the walls, including the ceilings. AFTER you’ve wiped down the walls and ceiling, paint them. If you cannot repaint, wash the walls with vinegar and water. You will be able to see yellowish discolorations on the walls, particularly in rooms that one smoked in by removing something hanging on the wall. Mop wooden floors.

Use an eco-friendly liquid cleaning agent and scrub EVERYTHING – window sills, floors and door frames. HERE COMES AN ADVERTISEMENT-my wife uses products from Mrs. Meyers ( and really finds them a great addition to our home.

Cedar oil placed around the house is a pleasant, non-offensive/non-toxic way to help keep the house smelling fresh.

Steam clean or shampoos the carpets , sprinkle baking soda or borax on the carpet and vacuum it up almost daily.

Get a furnace filter scent at the home improvement stores to use until the smell clears out of the duct work and change the furnace filter, even better have the air ducts professionally cleaned.

Let your house air frequently. Don't use things such as incense, candles, etc. Focus on absorbing the odor. Use small bowls of vinegar or charcoal placed in unobtrusive but strategic positions about the house. You can also buy the boxes of baking soda and place some of those around the house.

The smell of tobacco may linger for a while, but it will disappear.

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We are talking this month about the use of tobacco and eating healthy. You are the first line of defense for your children against negative advertising influences that will affect the rest of their lives. They took advertising for cigarettes off television many years ago, but your children see commercials for toys as well as foods that have little or no nutritious value. They are constantly exposed to advertising messages designed to make them believe they can’t live without a certain product. Don’t feel left out though because you see ads directed to adults that make you feel “I have to have that product…I can’t live without it!”


       There is no way to completely avoid advertising which is focuses on children, but there are some things you can do to reduce the effects:

1. Limit television and Internet use to no more than two hours a day each, less is even better.

2. Teach your children how to look beyond the commercial they see so that they understand why companies advertise and how commercials are made specifically to make you want to buy their product.

3. Teach your children so that they understand  things they buy will not make them better people. Build their self-esteem so that they understand that what they own isn’t who they are. It’s especially important for your daughters to achieve a healthy body image despite what the media tells and shows them.

4. Always remember that your children are always watching you to see if YOU do what you tell them to do. You can’t expect them not to want something if you are constantly buying things on impulse and they hear their parents fighting over bills.

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Thanksgiving is a great time to start making healthier, greener choices when you buy food for your Thanksgiving celebration. As we learn more and more about how the antibiotics and feeds used by major producers of meats effect our bodies, it becomes more and more important for us to eat healthier foods. For example, if you are planning on having a turkey this Thanksgiving try to find a supplier of organic turkeys and get your order in now. Look for organic and biodynamic meat (I’ll talk about this later) at your local farmers market, natural market or conventional grocery store. You might be surprised at what you might find in your local grocery. If possible, buy local fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving table.

If a turkey is certified to be “organic” it means that the turkey comes from animals raised without antibiotics, growth hormones or feed made from animal byproducts. Additionally, there have been no genetic modification, synthetic pesticides or use of fertilizer made from sewage sludge is allowed when fruits and vegetables are labeled “organic.”.

A different classification is that of “certified humane and free-farmed meat.” This means that the meat comes from animals raised with humane treatment standards. The farmers can’t use growth hormones or antibiotics, there is access to clean food and water, and the animals live in a safe and healthy environment. I can remember as an elementary student back in the 1950’s (yes, I’m THAT old!) that they took us to the stockyards in Louisville, Kentucky to watch the animals unload. No, we didn’t see any of them killed. How many of the children today actually understand that you get the meat they eat, animals have to die. We are totally separated from the concept that “life lives on life.”

Fruits and vegetables

Just like meat, fruits and vegetables have several classifications that are confusing. So let’s talk about what the classifications are.

Certified organic and biodynamic produce is grown without genetic modification, synthetic pesticides or use of fertilizer made from sewage sludge.

Fair-trade-certified produce is grown by farmers and workers in developing nations who receive a fair price for their product. Fair prices are assured because trade is done directly between farmer-owned cooperatives and buyers. Crops such as coffee, bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and grapes, are grown using soil and water conservation measures and restricted use of harmful pesticides.

When you hear the term “heirloom fruits and vegetables” this really means that they are traditional fruit and vegetable varieties that were raised before we started to homogenize all the types of fruits and vegetables with the industrial agriculture.  Biodiversity in produce began to dwindle as we started to use fertilizers, pesticides and the smaller farms began to disappear as the huge conglomerate farms became the standard.

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What if I told you the hardest substance to stop using is tobacco, would you believe me?

              What if I told you the fastest way to start a riot in a jail or prison is to take away the prisoners’ cigarettes, would you believe me?

            Most people start using tobacco when they are teenagers. Some tobacco addiction specialists actually call smoking a “pediatric disease” because most tobacco use begins in childhood and adolescence (the teen years). It is estimated that 5,000 adolescents a day experiment with smoking. Sadly, 40% of them (2,000 children and teens) will become addicted to tobacco.

It gets worse. One-third of children and adolescents who become addicted to tobacco will eventually die from a smoking-related disease. Smoking at a young age also leads to serious impairments in physical health. Cigarette smoking in adolescence leads to increased lung-related illnesses, decreases in physical fitness, and decreased levels of lung function. It is said that for each cigarettes a person smokes they lose 7 minutes off their life. The quality of life at the end of life is also so much worse because of emphysema and cancer of the throat, lungs and stomach.

Teenagers are often eager to be adults. I tell people that my son is “13 going on 30,” and tobacco use can be a way to rebel against dependence on parents and other adults. Many teenagers also want to be just like the celebrities they admire such as sports and movie stars so when they see their favorite sports start smoking or using smokeless tobacco they want to be just like their idol. Low self-esteem and depression can also lead teenagers to using tobacco use. I would like to see that ALL endorsement by celebrities for tobacco are banned.

Teenagers also start smoking to be just like their cool friends or to belong to the “in crowd.” Tobacco use tells the teenagers what to do and how to act in social situations. I can remember for myself hanging out with the cool guys and trying to smoke unfiltered cigarettes but for some reason I “didn’t get it” and never came close to smoking for which I am extremely grateful.

Teenage girls who are so worried about weight because of cultural and societal pressure to be slim and sleek often start smoking “to lose weight.” Unfortunately, tobacco becomes tied to eating disorders and frantic attempts to maintain alarmingly low body weight.

              Although most people understand tobacco use is harmful to anyone who uses it, most people don’t realize that the nicotine in tobacco is a strong drug that directly affects the brain. Nicotine causes changes in brain chemistry that leads to changes in mood and behavior.  When you take a puff on a cigarette, the smoke enters the lungs and the nicotine from the smoke enters into the blood stream and quickly travels to the brain. Nicotine from smokeless tobacco enters the bloodstream through the mucus lining of the mouth.

Like many substances, such as alcohol, or even chocolate, using tobacco can lead to physiological addiction and dependency on nicotine. The nicotine in tobacco initially produces a relaxing effect, increases mental alertness, and lifts a person’s mood because it interacts with specific neurotransmitters in the brain. In order to maintain these positive feelings the brain begins to rely on nicotine. Over time, however, more and more nicotine is needed to produce the same level of pleasurable effects. And when you start to feel effects of nicotine withdrawal, such as increased anxiety you automatically want to stop those feelings so, you smoke another cigarette or take another dip of snuff.

             Tobacco users rely more and more on nicotine to regulate mood and concentration. Healthy ways to lift mood, cope with stress, and anger such as exercise, being with friends or enjoying a funny movie or book are given up. Tobacco is also called a “gateway drug” in that many people who smoke move on to other drugs such as marijuana or worse, harder drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine or heroin to control their moods.

              I’d like to finish this newsletter, which has focused on smoking and tobacco use with a recent article that really reinforces how important it is that we protect our children from tobacco products and smoke.

Smoke-exposed kids show nicotine dependence signs

By Anne Harding Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008; 5:26 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children who have never had a single puff of a cigarette may report symptoms of nicotine dependence if they've been exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke, Canadian researchers report.

"I think it's very compelling," co-investigator Dr. Jennifer O'Loughlin of the Universite de Montreal in Quebec told Reuters Health. "It's just one more link in the chain that parents shouldn't be smoking in front of their kids."

Previous research has shown that children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or in the family car have nicotine and markers of nicotine metabolism in their urine, blood and hair, O'Loughlin and her team note in their report, published in the current issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors. One investigation showed that non-smoking children with higher concentrations of one of these markers, cotinine, in their saliva were more likely to become smokers 2 years later.

To further investigate the role of second-hand smoke exposure and nicotine dependence, O'Loughlin and her colleagues evaluated 1,488 children between 10 and 12 years old who had never smoked. At present, O'Loughlin noted in an interview, the best -- and only -- way to measure nicotine dependence is by symptoms, such as cigarette cravings and nicotine withdrawal.

Sixty-nine of the children, about 5 percent, reported at least one symptom of nicotine dependence. The most commonly reported symptoms included mental addiction, physical addiction, having a hard time not smoking when other people were, and feeling the need to have a cigarette.

The greater children's exposure to second-hand smoke at home or in motor vehicles, the more likely they were to exhibit these symptoms. Once the researchers adjusted the data by smoking susceptibility - how likely a child was to be influenced by the smoking behavior of their peers and family members -- the relationship remained.

This suggests, according to O'Loughlin's team, that the nicotine dependence symptoms children felt weren't solely due to social role modeling, but actually had a physiological basis.

The results, along with other recent findings showing that non-smoking adults exposed to second-hand smoke have nicotine withdrawal-like symptoms, "provide support for the hypothesis that second-hand smoke exposure in some youth may result in the development of psycho-behavioral symptoms believed until now to occur only among smokers," the researchers write.

"If replicated, these findings support public health interventions that promote non-smoking in the presence of children," the researchers conclude, "and, more specifically, uphold policy interventions to restrict smoking in motor vehicles in which children are present."


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