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Posts from the ‘Chemical-Free’ Category

We’re Ba-a-a-c-k-k-k…

sleeping-bear_5Dear Friends of Stony Creek Wellness:

Sorry for the long time since the last post. I was hibernating!

Actually, I was really missing my daughter Mariella’s help pushing me to get my blogs done! She has moved to the other coast to pursue graduate school in Speech Pathology, and hopes eventually to work with children and adults with autism. I am very proud of her and I will  just have to push myself harder to get my blogs done!

Well, though we’re still having night temperatures in the 40s in CT, it’s Memorial Day weekend, and we finally all can at least start thinking about fun, fun, fun in the sun.


We All Scream For Sunscreen

1 oz sunscreen

Unless you have a history of melanoma, vitiligo, or other contraindication, you should try to get at least 15 minutes of sun without protection between 11 and 3, to help raise your vitamin D level. Here is a link to more detailed information about vitamin D and sun exposure (important for vegans!):

If you stay in the sun longer than that, you need to protect your skin not just from UVB rays that cause sunburn in the outermost layer of the skin, but from UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and increase WRINKLES AND PHOTO AGING as well as promoting increased skin cancer risk.

Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen, don’t apply it often enough, or use the wrong kind!You need to apply a shot-glass sized portion (1 ounce),  every 2 hours.

Use a 15 to 30 SPF sunscreen. Most sunscreens with ratings higher than 45 and above do NOT provide additional protection against UVA rays and may actually PROMOTE skin cancer if you think you can stay in the sun longer than 2 hours without another shot! Also remember many of the claims “waterproof” and sweat-proof” are unreliable. Just reapply!

As you know, I believe it’s prudent to avoid unnecessary toxins. Here are two ingredients in sunscreen you may choose to avoid:

  • Oxybenzone: It’s a hormone imitator. It acts like estrogen. Men, need I say more? You don’t need it and you can find many sunscreens without it.
  • Retinyl palmitate: A vitamin A analog. OK to use at night for wrinkles, but in a sunscreen it could ACCELERATE the development of skin cancer ! It has no proven additional benefit for skin cancer protection, so save it for your night cream.

Safe for you and for Jaws too!

baby shark

Human use of sunscreens may be damaging the delicate and vital ecology of our coral reefs.

In Mexico if you go snorkeling you can only use biodegradable sunscreens, such as those with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Here are some coral- and human-safe types:

Here is my go-to site for sunscreen info. While some might find the EWG too alarmist, you will get accurate information about the ingredients and you can make your choice. 

Have a ton of fun in the sun!!


Dr. Nolfo

Summer Grilling: How To Be a Carcinogen-Free Carnivore!

Credit: Gary Larson, Far Side Comics

Ahhhh…..summer grilling! Cooking outdoors during the warm months is certainly one of the finer things in life. In my last post, I spoke about the importance of experiencing nature and spending time relaxing outside of our stressful, busy lives. Grilling meals is a simple and easy way to break out of your “indoor shell” – so today I’d like to talk to you about how to enjoy your outdoor meat cookouts while avoiding the many nasty carcinogens that we expose ourselves to during the grilling process. Thank you to the people at Cure Magazine for this very helpful information!

How does grilling meat expose us to cancerous toxins? 

– Grilling meat can produce two different types of carcinogens:  heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

– (HCAs) form when any animal flesh / muscle (as opposed to organ meat) is cooked at high temperatures.

– (PAHs) form when fat drips from the meat into the open flame on your grill. The chemicals from this process rise in the smoke and fire and contaminate the meat.

How can I prevent my meat from becoming contaminated with carcinogens? 

–  Choose lean meats and light, rather than dark, poultry.  Be sure to remove any skin and excess fat to reduce drippings into your grill.

–  Research has shown that steaming your meat for between 60-90 seconds immediately before grilling can completely eliminate the presence of (PAHs) in both beef and chicken.

–  Marinate your meats in lemon or vinegar-based marinades. Studies have shown that doing so can reduce formation of (HCAs) by up to 88 percent! Thick, sugary marinades tend to increase the level of char on your meat, thus increasing the odds of HCA formation.

–  Avoid charring your meat. Due to the high temperatures required to really “sizzle” your meat, the charring process increases the chances of (HCAs) and (PAHs) latching on to your meal.

–  Purchase a meat thermometer and grill your cut of meat to about 160º F. You don’t want to char the meat, but you need to ensure it is thoroughly cooked!

Other Cancer-Fighting Steps You Can Take This Summer:

– Grill your food on cedar planks or aluminum foil. Be sure to poke holes into the foil to allow the fat to drip – the foil will prevent the rise of fat content from the flame back onto the meat.

– Do not press your meat while it cooks or place your meat directly over the flame. Doing so will increase fat drippings and charring during the grilling process.

– Clean your grill and always replace your charcoal after every use to avoid rehashing any carcinogens that may have formed during your last grilling session.

Important Health Considerations for “Meatheads”

– To avoid a higher risk of colon cancer, limit your consumption of meat to 11-18 ounces per week. Keep your portion sizes to a maximum of 4 oz per serving.

– Avoid processed meats, especially products made with sodium nitrates. Nitrates are chemical preservatives added to processed meat that become carcinogenic during digestion. They also increase the sodium content of your food unnecessarily!

–  Look for organic or grass-fed meats on sale at your local market. Many supermarkets have daily deals on these items, so take advantage if you can and have piece of mind while you cook out!

Hope this had some insightful, summer information! Have a fabulous weekend and start practicing these healthy habits in the beautiful summer weather! Get Cookin’!

Don’t worry Vegan friends…next week something good for your grill!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

sources: Cure Magazine

Smoking Cessation: The Science of Quitting

Happy New Year to Everyone!

We started off the year with a blizzard here in Connecticut……we’re never short of fun surprises in this state when it comes to weather!

As you may know from previous posts, I DO NOT believe you need to make resolutions on January 1st. You can make changes ANY TIME you are motivated! January 4th, August 18th, whenever! But to make changes in behavior, it helps to know what drives your behavior.

In this regard, I’d like to talk a little about SMOKING and why people become addicted to cigarettes.

On New Year’s day while watching the Honeymooners marathon, I saw some pretty depressing commercials about smoking in which actual patients allowed themselves to be filmed dying from end-stage smoking-related illness. It made me think about why so many people smoke in spite of the super well-known health dangers and social taboos connected with smoking!

It’s because your brain chemistry is altered by smoking, and your brain then compels you to keep smoking.

This is a true chemical addition, so the same tenets hold as for addiction to alcohol and drugs. This can even happen with food: Dr. Kelly Brownell at Yale did research showing that the same area of the brain lights up when a “carb craver” eats sweets as when an opiate addict uses drugs!

The main problem is that nicotine, along with other chemicals in cigarettes, cause release and delayed metabolism of the neurotransmitter DOPAMINE. Dopamine stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain. Once your brain senses a pleasure, it drives you to want it again. It says: “This is good, I want more!”

This same reward mechanism can have survival value: for example, it’s tied with sex and thereby assures we’ll procreate as a species!

Your brain starts to associate the pleasure of smoking with “people, places and things,” which become additional triggers.  For some people, the feel, smell, and sight of a cigarette and the usual rituals of obtaining, handling, lighting, and smoking the cigarette are all associated with the pleasurable effects of smoking.

Memory and habit have their own neural pathways that are reinforcers of the addiction problem. Places and times can have traditions of smoking built into them, like after sex, after meals, or driving home from a stressful day at work. These particular rituals, times, and places associated with the pleasurable effects of smoking can cause cravings and make withdrawal worse.

The brain further compels you with the negative force of withdrawal: Nicotine enters the blood in 10 seconds or so. After you finish a cigarette, within a short time you start to experience nicotine withdrawal. Your brain says: “This is really bad! This is hurting me! I want more nicotine!” and then compels you to smoke again.

On the conscious level, negative emotions can then kick in: You can beat yourself up for failing to quit.  It becomes hard to believe that you can be an ex-smoker. So, once you understand how the chemical addiction works, you can learn to outwit your brain and you can stop beating yourself up.

Remember: Most people have to try 4 or more times to quit.

Here is an awesome web site that breaks down quitting into manageable steps based on the science of addiction:  Please pass it on to any friends who smoke!

Be good to yourself in the New Year!

Dr. Nolfo

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