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menses/diet :: olive oil/weight gain :: sourdough starter :: dessicated liver/arsenic

By Sally Fallon

Question: I am a 16 year old girl who is in the process of converting to a traditional diet. I have been wondering how this might affect me since I am in a peculiar situation. When I was about 12, I got my first period and had it for about a year. It came regularly every month, which is a bit surprising since in the beginning it usually takes time to become regular. well, one month it didn’t come, but I wasn’t concerned. It never came back except for two occasions when I noticed some spotting. Also I am very flat-chested and only fit in a girl’s size sports bra, which is rather bothersome because I have to be careful of open necklines. A year after my menses stopped, I became vegetarian. When I told my doctor (a naturopathic physician, also vegetarian) about my situation, she was puzzled and could offer no explanation. At first she thought it might be because I lacked protein in my diet, but I highly doubt that since, after a year of vegetarianism/almost veganism, I chose to consume meat, dairy, and eggs again, and there has been no change. I am also in need of losing some weight that my body is stubbornly holding onto despite my new lower carb, higher fat diet. I would greatly appreciate it if you could offer me an explanation as to why all this might be, and any advice as to how it might be resolved. - Anika

Answer: Sometimes if the diet isn’t right during puberty, the body will take on a form that is not ideal, and it is very hard to change that after puberty is over. However, I do think high dose cod liver oil would certainly help, especially with the menses. A dose that gives 30,000-50,000 IU vitamin A with 3-5000 vitamin D should be tried. Also would be good to get on some red meat, especially liver. Best, Sally

Question: I’m a 21 year old, African American female and I have been battling my weight for about ten years now. Roughly 10 years ago my family began using extra virgin olive oil as our primary cooking oil (for everything from sauteing to deep frying (only once or twice a year)). I understand that olive oil is supposed to be good for your heart (and your wonderful cookbook book has dissolved any lingering qualms I’ve had about animal and saturated fats) but I suspect that it has caused me to gain weight (and possibly suffer from mild depression). When I use olive oil in my foods I always feel sluggish after meals and tired throughout the entire day. I definitely eat enough calories but I feel as though I somehow cannot access them. The other day I added about 2Tbsp of coconut oil to my tea and had a huge energy rush. In that instant I knew that this was how I was supposed to feel and I suspected that there were other foods which would behave similarly. When I read that the medium chain fatty acids allow the energy to hit my system without following the route that longer chain fatty acids do (like olive oil!) because of their size, I guessed that short chain fatty acids would behave something like the coconut oil. I completely cut olive oil out of my diet (animal fats have good amounts of monos anyway right?). I’ve had increased energy, focus and weight loss. I’ve known about the weight loss benefits of coconut oil for a while now so I’m wondering if you feel that saturated fats (generally speaking) can give people and edge when fighting fat? Have you heard of olive oil causing weight gain and energy issues in others? Do you think my lack of an affinity to olive oil may have anything to do with my African heritage (I understand, however, that the Greek are the most obese among Europeans)? - Rujeko

Answer: This is most interesting and a confirmation of what we say in Eat Fat Lose Fat, that olive oil causes weight gain. Much, much better to cook in animal fats, and also to take coconut oil (best way is to melt it in hot water and drink it like tea.) It is the monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil that tend to accumulate in the fatty tissue. Best, Sally

Question: In Nourishing Traditions Sally says that the starter mixture for sourdough bread takes seven days to make and that it has to go through a frothy, bubbly stage. Mine is frothy and bubbly after three days so does this mean it’s now ready to use for bread and that I should divide it and use one third to make the next batch of starter, or should I keep adding to it until the seven days are up and then use it? - Diane

Sally’s Answer: It has been ages since I made bread, so the only answer I can give is to just try. See what works for you and your climate. There is a good article on bread making at Our Daily Bread. Best, Sally

I. N. Cognito’s Answer: I would suggest that Diane’s sourdough starter, given the froth and bubble, is indeed ready after 3 days, so try it. There are so many variables when dealing with available bacteria. Love, I.N Cognito.

Question: I started taking Solgar dessicated liver supplements in October or November of last year. Around January/February, I started having some odd symptoms — tingling and pins and needles in my hands and heart papitations. My dentist (a WAPF dentist, Dr. Raymond Silkman) suggested in March that I could have heavy metal toxicity. I ordered a urine analysis and found that I have very high levels of arsenic. My husband, however, also did the urine analysis and he does not have high levels of arsenic. So it’s probably not our drinking water (and we have been drinking filtered water since October). I did a little research online and found that there are very high levels of arsenic in the groundwater in Argentina. The Solgar dessicated liver tablets are made from the livers of cattle in Argentina. Is it possible that that I am getting the arsenic from the Solgar dessicated liver tablets? - Ann Marie

Answer: This is most interesting, and the first I have heard of this. The brand I recommend is Carlsons, not Solgar, but I think Carlsons comes from Argentina also. I will do more research on this and get back to you. Best, Sally

Sally Fallon is founding president of the Weston A Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation with over 400 local chapters and 9000 members. She is also the founder of A Campaign for Real Milk, which has as its goal universal access to clean raw milk from pasture-fed animals. Author of the best-selling cookbook Nourishing Traditions and also of Eat Fat Lose Fat (Penguin), both with Mary G. Enig, Phd, Sally has a encyclopedic knowledge of modern nutritional science as well as ancient food ways. Her grasp on the work of Weston Price is breath taking and her passion for health freedom, inspiring. In each edition of Nourished Magazine Sally answers your questions about nutrition, health, food and medical politics. Send us an email with your question and we'll put it to her.

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COMMENTS - 23 Responses

  1. Hi I have got a question for you and I hope you can answer it. I love your book and plan to buy it as wedding gift for my in law when she marries. I can’t tahnk my parents-in-law for actually giving us your book years ago.

    I have two kids of my own and they both love milk and for awhile drank only raw milk and they went through litres upon litres every week. I was buying 8 litres, as I also use it in my cooking for porridge as I hate cooking porridge with water.

    How much milk should kids drink and is 8 litres too much per week?

    Also my kids love seafood, but how much seafood can they eat without getting affected with mercury levels?

  2. Hi Mum, we have forwarded your question to Sally and will post the answer in next month’s edition.

  3. Thanks.

  4. And I just re read my original question. Slight typo there. I said, “I can’t tahnk my parents-in-law for actually giving us your book years ago.”

    I meant to say, ‘I can’t thank my parents-in-law ENOUGH for giving us your book years ago”.

    My father in law was Patrick McCarthy of Toowoomba QLD, and he has passed just three years ago almost, but he too agreed with raw milk, being a dairy farmer and all.

  5. 5. Laurel Lovelace
    Jun 26th, 2008 at 5:47 am

    To Anika who asked about amenorrhea (missing menses):

    You might have PCOS which is a very common affliction these days. Look it up on the web. The best book on the subject is Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet’s “The Savvy Woman’s Guide to PCOS”.

    Hope this helps,


  6. Hello. I was wondering what Sally F. based her answer to Anika’s problem on. It is easy enough to opine that if you don’t get the proper feeding during puberty, your body shape will become not-ideal, and will probably be carved in stone. What research is this view based on? Or is it merely an opinion? Thank you.

  7. –sorry, I am adding this commentary to two different trails since I don’t know which is most appropriate—

    I have had a healthy lifestyle for a while and have been transitioning to Nourishing Traditions type of lifestyle for a few months. I never drink soda, 6-months ago I stopped eating cane sugar and most sweet things (even if maple syrup or honey-sweetened), I never eat processed, prepared foods, refined, and so on. I started the Quick&Easy weight loss diet 2 weeks ago when I weighed 140 lbs. I am 27 and not particularly over weight, my healthy weight is about 135 lbs but I’ve felt the best at 130 lbs. In the last 2 weeks I gained 5 lbs! It sounds like these things might take a bit to settle in so I will keep trying… even though I have a wedding in September that I would like to be able to fit into my clothes for!!! and I am now 15 lbs away from my goal!
    My main question is regarding the tbsp of coconut oil before meals. If my palate is getting tired of eating coconut oil so concentrated can I just make sure to include that same quantity of oil into my diet through my cooking throughout the day? or can I replace that tablespoon and have a cup of milk (or cheese or butter) instead? ie. is the tbsp of oil before a meal just for satiation purposes? I recognize that the oil does an amazing trick for satiation… never before have I been able to stick to 3 meals a day! however, can I obtain that satiation with other ingredients (without compromising my weight loss plan)– since I am starting to feel that I am going to gag next time I drink a cup of tea with coconut oil! =)

    Any advice (from anyone) would be great!


  8. Teresa, your ideas for including coconut oil in your diet are great. There’s no reason you can’t add it in the ways you suggest. Please keep us updated of your journey. There is so much to be gained from sharing - for all.

  9. Hello,
    Regarding the dessicated liver, have you tried His tablets come from grassfed cattle in New Zealand.

  10. Greetings,
    I’m in need of some help here and would love to hear from anybody who’s had a similar experience as me and/or has any kind of advice or suggestions to offer.
    I’m 39 years old and have struggled all of my life with being overweight. Over the years, my weight gain has been slow and gradual. Thyroid tests have checked out as being in the normal range.
    About 8 months ago a friend of mine gave me the “Nourishing Traditions” book, which has become my food bible. My diet has been very clean these past few years and I eat only unprocessed, organic and/or free-range foods. I’ve been making my own chicken stock (feet included) and using it for my homemade soups. From time to time I also drink some beet kvaas and/or cabbage juice tonic, although this has not yet become part of my daily routine.
    This summer I found a local source of clean, raw milk from pastured Holstein cows. I started doing a raw milk fast, drinking 4-5 quarts of milk per day. My hope in doing this fast was mainly to lose some weight; all of the research that I’ve done on it had indicated that weight loss was one of the benefits of this raw milk fast.
    I felt really great doing the fast, my body and spirit felt nourished and I experienced no hunger or cravings. After 2 1/2 weeks, though, I became very constipated and ended up taking a dose of epsom salts, which flushed me out. I decided to incorporate some solid food into my raw milk diet. I started eating a couple of eggs or a sausage (all free-range) for breakfast and would have 1/2 an apple (organic) in the afternoon. I was also doing 1/2 an hour of yoga in the mornings as well as using my rebounder from time to time. (I have tendinitis in my foot, which makes it very difficult to walk for exercise).
    After 3 weeks, I had gained rather than lost weight. My friend encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing, saying that my body would respond and adjust in time.
    About 3 months ago I started including coconut oil and coconut milk into my diet to help boost my metabolism. I’ve reduced my raw milk consumption and begun to have 1-2 small meals a day (mostly in the form of homemade soups, chicken, fish or scrambled eggs with a slice of organic whole grain sourdough). I’ve been making more kefir and yogurt and using them for smoothies, which I make with organic blueberries/peaches, coconut oil and stevia. I don’t use any other kind of sweetener. Most days I have 1 cup of smoothie in the morning and sometimes again in the afternoon or evening.
    Well, it’s been almost 6 months now and I’ve gained a lot of weight (about 35 pounds!). I’ve read that bone density increases and muscles become firmer on this kind of diet, which may account for a small fraction of the weight gain. When I saw my Rolfer today, though, she did tell me that I’ve gained some weight around my belly (which is now drooping lower than ever), so a lot of it has turned into additional fat deposits.
    The only benefit that I’ve derived from all this is that my digestion has improved dramatically. The bleeding hemorrhoids I’ve had for years are gone and I no longer have diarrhea/loose stools. And I do still feel well overall and have good energy most of the time.
    I feel extremely discouraged with the weight gain and know that going on a starvation type of diet (which seems tempting to me at this point) would ultimately be harmful and counterproductive. I know that following a healthy traditional diet is nourishing my body and giving it what it needs. So why am I gaining so much weight? Am I getting too many calories? Is it lack of adequate exercise? What must I do? Help, please!

  11. Rainbow, you may need to consult a practitioner who has worked with the Nourishing Principles. May I suggest you contact one of the practitioners on Nourished Magazine.

  12. 12. Cathy Mifsud
    Dec 4th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Hello Rainbow, in the meantime while you find a supporting practitioner you could make a few more changes to your diet along the lines of the candida diet I guess.

    Don’t use coconut cream, only use the virgin oil.
    Don’t drink milk unless its raw milk kefir or raw milk yogurt.
    Don’t eat fruit except lemon in dressings or water etc.
    Don’t eat grains not even sourdough bread.
    Eat your fish, meat and organ meats rare or raw. Soft boil your eggs and if you do scramble them use kefir and butter, never milk.
    Eat lacto-fermented vegies such as sauerkraut with every meal.
    Don’t drink with your food unless its a digestive aid like beet kvass or warm herb tea etc. Water for example will dilute your saliva pushing undigested food into your stomach. Kefir is a great drink with food.
    Drink fresh vegie juice with ginger
    eat lots of butter and always eat fat with your meat.
    Depending how your foot is dance to your fav music. I just love dancing around the house, gives the best figure!
    Also I’ve heard that there’s a period of time after the first bit of weight loss where the body puts it back on, then in time it starts to lose it again much quicker.
    Oh and use good salt like celtic, it will help regulate fluid. No crap salt, you’ll retain water but i guess you already know this.

  13. Thank you both so much for your advice and suggestions. I’ve already started new batches of beet kvass, cabbage juice tonic as well as raw milk kefir and yogurt and am in the process of finding additional support through the Cooking Traditional Foods web site.
    I’m also starting to work with a great book called “Energy Medicine for Women” by Donna Eden. She teaches how to work with one’s energy meridians to balance body, mind and spirit and to alleviate a lot of different health issues, including excess body weight.
    It’s a very painful process for me, since it brings up all of my body issues and I often find myself very resistant when it comes to doing the work. Every day I have to begin again and work very hard to be compassionate with myself and the process instead of giving in to despair and self-loathing. I’ll keep plugging away at it and hope that I’ll get a little lighter and brighter with time.
    Thanks again for your support!

  14. 14. Cathy Mifsud
    Dec 9th, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Rainbow, here’s a good one to help you feel good about your body also wonderful positive all rounder:
    This is for after the sun has gone down, the darker the better.
    Put on some beautiful music, what ever really does it for you.
    You’ll need to make some space in a favorite good sized room. Bare walls are great too so take down any pictures if you need to.
    You’ll need one candle and no lights on. You might want to draw the curtains if there’s too much light coming in from the street.
    Now, depending on where you position the candle will effect the shadow you make on the walls while you dance! Wear fitted clothing so you can see all your beautiful curves and movement. Every way you move is guaranteed to look fantastic as your shadow.
    I love making my shadow so it is much taller. This makes all my moves more exaggerated in my shadow on the wall and it flows so well. No matter what my shape or what I wore or what condition my hair was in or skin or how good or bad my dancing was, watching and dancing with my shadow always made me feel wonderful end even sexy and I always looked sensational too ! This always lifted my spirits when I was down. The more I danced, the more I got into the dancing zone the more amazing it felt.
    Soft flowing stuff can be great like Kate Bush ( I guess she’s heavy sometimes too ) and even heavier music like Concrete Blonde can be excellent!

    Also this nourishing diet will give you the strong foundations necessary for everything else good to follow more easily.
    Hope I didn’t go on too much about my shadow dancing but really give it a go, you’ll be surprised how wonderful and addictive it is.

  15. Dear Rainbow,
    Your lifestyle improvements sound amazing, and the advice from the nourisher and Cathy are also perfect for regaining health and vitality. I am a movement and lifestyle coach based in Sydney and I help people re-learn how to look after themselves. Losing weight and gaining a strong lean body are the by-product of taking a responsibility for their choices. This process takes time. One of the first things I say to my clients is this journey towards health is going to take a minimum of 2 years, for results that will last not just 3 months but for life. 2 years sounds like forever! But what I like to remind my clients is, it took a lifetime to create the body you’re in, 2 years really isn’t a lot of time to turn things around.
    One little bit of info I would like to offer to help keep you motivated is this:
    Fat stores toxins. If you’ve been over weight for most of your life, your body has accumulated a lot of toxic material. And thank goodness it has. Fat draws toxins away from vital organs, and shuttles them to the extremities and now more commonly around the mid section because the digestive organs have been so abused. The fat your carrying is what’s been keeping you alive.
    The milk fast and the other changes to your diet are creating a cleansing effect in your body. So why aren’t you losing weight you’re thinking? Cleanse usually = weight loss. Most cleanses recommend following a strict low fat, brown rice, fruit juice and steamed fish diet. Your body is starved of nutrients and often that is why people lose weight in the short term.
    What happens when you increase your saturated fat intake, is your body now feels it has another outlet for the toxins its been forced to shuttle off to your organs. So during this process of cleaning up the system, one of two things normally happen: You either gain a little more weight initially, or you get pimply. I was lucky to have both happen to me!
    Another important factor to consider is although I totally dislike the calories in calories out model of weight loss most nutritionists practice, that fact is that when eating more energy dense foods we need to be able to move our bodies more to utilise that energy- other wise it gets stored for later use in body fat.
    You ankle issues are something you can work around. Yoga is wonderful for creating more openness in the body, but it’s not going to shift the weight you’re wanting to shift. Holding static poses for long periods of time is wonderful for meditative purposes, but doesn’t carry over into strength you’ll need when picking up a heavy box or the agility you need when simply mopping your floor!
    If you have access to a pool (salt water is ideal) start doing some gentle laps of walking the length of the pool. Mix things up and walk side ways like your a crab or backwards to challenge your balance and proprioception. It’s so important to move the ankle joint without creating compression, torsion or sheer. Ligaments especially need movement to help pump waste products out of the tissues and bring nutrition in for healing. You could also use some arm weights and incorporate some bicep curls or shoulder raises while walking. Start off really gentle with a weight you can comfortably lift for 15-20 reps on each arm.
    There are many core exercises you can do with swiss balls and body weight that will help you boost your metabolism without aggravating your injury. You can check out some movement sessions I’ve put on line by clicking here:
    Never give up Rainbow. It truly is our birth right to be lean healthy and strong, like our ancestors once were.
    In health and happiness,

  16. Cathy ~
    Thank you so much for that wonderful suggestion to dance with my shadow. I love the dark and only having one candle lit; it creates for me a sense of safety and nurturing.
    I think my little space will be perfect for it and I will try it out real soon (this Solstice will be a good time for it). I live in rural southwestern Virginia in a small, round 1-room straw bale house. Having this “womb of my own” is the greatest blessing in my life and it’s the perfect space to do my healing work in.
    I’ve also thought about some day doing some henna tattooing as part of honoring my body and helping me come to a place of greater appreciation and acceptance of this part of myself.
    Thank you for all your support, Cathy!


  17. Dear Alana ~

    Thanks so much for your suggestions and support! I know I have to be patient with myself and the process and take things one day at a time. Two years seems like such a long time and it’s hard not to get discouraged. The info you shared about my body fat keeping the toxins away from my vital organs and thus keeping me alive will help me to appreciate my body more and all that it’s doing for me all the time. Learning to accept and appreciate my body the way it is right now is so important and the first step on the healing journey. It’s very hard work, though, and quite a painful process.
    I’m working with the Energy Medicine for Women book and also started using hand weights with my daily trampoline exercises. Thanks for sharing some of your movement exercises. I have a couple of swiss balls and will try to incorporate some of that work into my life as well.
    I appreciate your support so much. Knowing that there are folks out there rooting for me is in itself a boost.


  18. Gross! I put coconut oil in my tea from the suggestion of Sally and Rujeko, above, and had an immediate gagging reaction! I love coconut oil and cook with it often, but that was just too much I guess. I’ll try to find a new way for that coveted “huge energy rush” that Rujeko experienced!

  19. I was just wondering what you think about Erins comment about I am interested in ordering from his site, but want to know what was thought about his different products before proceeding.

  20. Hello,
    I use Coconut Oil on my body, hair and I LOVE to eat it right out of the jar!
    No gag here!!! I just goy used to it, I will eat it either way, hard or liquid..
    I also eat Cod Liver Oil, and Olive Oil..
    They are soooo healthy for you, and especially if you are looking to lose a few pounds..
    Best of Luck..

  21. Sally:

    Did you ever find out about dessicated livers supplements and arsenic toxicity, I recently started taking them for fitness, when I discovered the possibility?

    Please let us know!



  1. 1 » Solgar dessicated liver tabs might have arsenic?? Pingback on Jun 3rd, 2008 at 8:34 am
  2. 2 How to Avoid Heavy Metal Toxicity Pingback on Aug 1st, 2008 at 12:50 am

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