Peanuts & Peanut Butter

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The PeanutThere is no food that speaks to the American childhood experience more clearly than the peanut, the source of that quintessential piece of culinary Americana, peanut butter. Peanuts were originally cultivated in South America by Peruvian Indians who are considered to be the first indigenous groups to domesticate the legume and archaeologists have traced the original specimens to around 5000 BC. From South America the Spanish brought the humble bean to Europe and to their colonies and outposts in what is today the south eastern part of the United States.

Peanuts really caught on during the civil war because they considered to be good, cheap protein. Farmers in the South had pretty much depleted their land of vital nutrients over farming cotton the lowly peanut had come to the rescue as an alternative crop. During and after the civil they ended up in the Northern states where they were sold, freshly roasted by street vendors in NYC and Boston and Philadelphia and a new American love affair was born.

Farming peanuts was a limited and labor intensive affair until the industrial revolution began to change agriculture around the turn of the 20th century. Right around that time George Washington Carver was developing all kinds of stuff from the peanut. All told, Carver, who was the head of the agricultural department at Tuskegee Institute, developed 300 different products with the peanut including various types of soaps and cleansers and milk and even ink! The reason Carver could make so many things out of the peanut is because there are so many incredible chemical active compounds in the plain old peanut.

Their complex nature is also is why peanuts can be such a problem food. In addition to the potentially thyroid suppressing compounds in peanuts, along with grains, dairy, and eggs are one of the most important of all food allergens. While peanut allergies are not as pervasive as as significant as dairy or grain the affect up to 6 million Americans and they be potentially life threatening. I remember when I was a pharmacy student working at an asthma hospital, a kid got an injection that was made with peanut oil and had an allergic reaction that was so severe it killed him. Peanuts can also be source of a toxic mold called aflatoxin that’s been associated with cancer. And unfortunately, peanuts are also a source of really problematic compounds called lectins that trigger various immune and autoimmune reactions.

One of the more common yet underappreciated reactions to peanuts involves the skin. For some sensitive folks, dermatitis can occur by simply by touching or breathing in peanut dust. And ingestion of peanuts has been linked to acne in susceptible children and teenagers.

If you’re looking for concentrated nutrients however, and you’re not concerned with allergic reactions, you’d be wise to add a handful or two of peanuts to a meal a couple of times a week. You can also throw some into a smoothie to enhance its nutritional value. Peanuts are a good source of protein and vitamins, including hard to find vitamin E (one ounce of peanuts contains 29% of the Reference Daily Intake level) as well as minerals like copper, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc and calcium. All told, a couple of tablespoonfuls of peanuts contains nearly half of the 13 vitamins necessary for the body’s growth and maintenance and more than one third of the 20 minerals needed! Peanuts are even a good source of resveratrol; one ounce contains approximately 73 mg. A naturally occurring plant compound resveratrol intake is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and increased longevity.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Fat Malabsorption Syndrome

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben


  • Fat Malabsorption will accelerate the aging process.
  • Disturbances after eating fatty meals or a history of gall bladder problems, liver or colon disease can be indicative of fat malabsorption.
  • Everyone can benefit by improving fat absorption.
  • Helpful supplements include lipase, pancreatin, bile salts, lecithin and choline.
  • These can be especially important for nerve and brain health.

One of the most underappreciated causes of aging and degenerative disease is Fat Malabsorption Syndrome. If you are dealing with any chronic breakdown disease where the body is progressively degrading and not healing and/or you are suffering from digestive distress after eating fatty foods, consider yourself a candidate for this ominous and often undiagnosed condition. This is especially true if you are sans gall bladder or have a history of liver, pancreatic or colon disease. And even if you have no obvious symptoms or disease, paying attention to fat absorption is a key part of any anti-aging protocol.

Helps Fat MalabsorptionIt wouldn’t hurt any of us to be using fat absorption supplements, starting off with digestive enzymes, specifically lipase, which is a generic term for a class of enzymes that dissolves fat. It’s found in pancreatin (available as a supplement) which is a group of enzymes that is made by the pancreas. These fat absorbing enzymes can improve overall health not only digestion. While they’re obviously important for the digestion of fats, they are also play in important part in the biochemistry of cell membranes and inflammation. Folks with arthritis may get tremendous benefits from pancreatin enzyme supplements as well as ordinary digestive enzymes. They can help thin the blood too.

Bile salts can help improve fat absorption. You’ll find these in most quality digestive enzyme supplements, or you can purchase them on their own.

And don’t forget about lecithin which a powerful nutritional supplement that is critical for the health of the brain and nervous system in addition to being important for the liver and fat absorption. Bile, the body’s superstar fat dissolving liquid, is largely composed of lecithin, the same stuff you can buy in a health food store. Most lecithin is derived from soy, a major GMO crop, but you can use rice or sunflower lecithin which are available via the internet (Organic Rice Lecithin, and Sunflower Lecithin). Food sources of lecithin include sprouts, peanuts, cauliflower, cabbage and eggs (the word “lecithin” comes from the Greek term for egg yolk). Lecithin is available as a powder or as a liquid. The liquid, is syrupy and thick and has a stronger taste while the powder is more concentrated and purified although a bit more expensive. Both go great in smoothies where lecithin’s emulsification properties will make your smoothie more “smooth”. Adding a raw egg to your smoothie is great way to get lecithin. You can also get lecithin capsules made are with the syrup. Lecithin really ups the nutritional value of all fats and fatty vitamins and will improve your body’s ability to assimilate these key building nutrients.

If you are trying to improve fat absorption you’d be wise to make sure your getting enough choline too. Eggs are a really good source of choline. Choline is a really fascinating nutrient. Its super important for the liver, can help diabetics process sugar and it’s is involved in the construction of important cell structures. Choline helps turn fats into something called phospholipids which make up cell membranes, the ultra-thin covering of cells. Cell membranes function as little computer chips. They are the brain of a cell and their information processing properties are dependent on phospholipids. Using choline to improve phospholipid production may provide support for anyone dealing with nerve and brain health issues including ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. They can be helpful for memory and learning too; almost all brain formulas on the market include phospholipids (lecithin is largely composed of phospholipids). As with lecithin, choline supplementation can positively impact fat absorption.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health