A Guide to a Successful New Year's Cleanse

Beet Juice

This is the time of year when we all begin to feel pretty overindulged. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to do something about it. So, if you want to join me for a day or two of nutrient injection and junk extraction (hee hee), then here’s your guide:

Tips for a successful cleanse

1-      Choose a day when you will be home.

2-      Plan ahead. Buy your groceries the day before, and make sure your juicer is clean and ready to go. About a week before your cleanse (even if you’re only doing one day), begin weaning your body off alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, meat, dairy, sugar, and wheat. Your body will have an easier time adjusting to liquids for 24 hours if you prepare it for purity.

3-      You will have better success if you drink a lot of water and tea throughout the day of. It will help keep your stomach full.

4-      Buy organic produce. The idea is to have as much nutrient absorption as possible by consuming only liquids, so why buy produce that is covered in pesticides? Try and get it all organic.

5-      Have planned activities at home to keep you busy (like a giant puzzle or a fabulous book), but don’t do anything strenuous that will make you starving (like working out).

6-      Don’t make food for other family members, if you can avoid it. The temptation to chow down has proven too great for me many, many times.

7-      Don’t worry about protein. This is a low-protein day, but that’s okay. You can fill up on protein-rich foods the next day.

8-      If you feel shaky and cold on the day of your cleanse (which is totally normal, especially in the winter), try taking a bath with Epsom salts. Although the salt will help your body to detox further, the warm water will feel really good and calm your confused nerves.

Green Juice

The Plan

7:00am:           16 oz. of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it.

8:00am:           Juice (in the following order): 1 chunk ginger, 4 carrots, 1 peeled    grapefruit.

10:00am:         Juice (in the following order): 2 green apples, 4 fennel fronds, 6 romaine lettuce leaves, handful of parsley, 1 large cucumber.

12:00pm:         16 oz. miso broth.

2:00pm:           Juice (in the following order): 1 chunk ginger, 1 small beet, 2 large carrots, 2 red apples, handful of basil, 1 large cucumber.

4:00pm:           8 oz. coconut water.

6:00pm:           Blend 1 cup water, 1 banana,

4 kale leaves, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup frozen pineapple, ½ cup rolled oats.

In addition to everything above, try to drink about 64 ounces of water or herbal tea throughout the day. The last “meal” is more solid, because it will help you to sleep on a fuller stomach, and create a bit of bulk for a good bowel movement in the morning.

  • If you don’t own a juicer, then you can blend fruits, veggies, and water in your blender. (Unless you own a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix, I don’t recommend trying to blend roots. Just do the softer items, like fruit, cucumbers, and green, leafy veggies.) You’ll get way more fiber this way, but most of us need more of that, anyway. The idea is to remove the foods that aren’t helping us, and inject our bodies with good nutrients, so this still kinda works.

aloe vera

Shopping List

Fruit

  • 1 lemon
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 green apples
  • 2 red apples
  • 1 banana
  • Ginger
  • Frozen Pineapple

Veggies

  • Fennel (with at least four fronds)
  • Romaine bunch
  • Kale bunch
  • Spinach bunch
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 beet

Other

  • Rolled oats (1 cup)
  • Miso broth (buy in packets in health food aisle)
  • Coconut water (unsweetened—look at ingredients. Should just be coconut water.)
  • Herbal tea
  • Epsom salts (for bath–if you want)

*Repeat this for 2 days if you want, but I don’t recommend anything longer, unless you have prior experience with cleanses.

Here’s to an amazing 2014, and a Happy Healthy Gut!

Falling Off the Proverbial Wagon: How to get back on QUICK

We Are What We Think

The reason I’m writing this blog is because for the last 5 days, I’ve been eating like shit. And I don’t mean that I’m eating things like cake and hotdogs and bacon. I still abstain from those things. (I haven’t had a hotdog or bacon for almost 3 years!) I mean that I am eating too much, too frequently, too little greens, and drinking too much alcohol. It’s all about the excess. Summer is a hard time to keep all your diet in check, and after 5 days of slowly slipping on my usual semi-strict diet, I’m definitely feeling the effects.

Combine that with the fact that I just broke my coffee press a couple of days ago and have no coffee here, and I’m kind of a mess. (And by “mess” I mean I’m slowly but surely entering Bitch Town, population ME.) Both coffee and cheese have crack-like effects on me, and since I don’t eat a lot of cheese anymore, coffee’s my crutch. With soy or coconut cream, of course.

Soooo….how do I get back on track? It’s actually pretty simple. Only it involves a lot of willpower, and I’m feeling pretty lazy. Probably a side-effect of my recent crappy diet…

STEP 1: Accept what I’ve done, and move on. This goes for anybody trying to get back on track, whether it’s quitting smoking, cutting back on drinking, altering food, whatever. It’s key to understand that we are all human, we make mistakes, and then then we need to motor off in the right direction. Leave the past behind.

“What you ARE is what you have been. What you WILL BE is what you do now.” –Buddah

STEP 2: Make a plan. In my case, I made today’s meal plan for myself yesterday. I was prepared. I made sure I had all the ingredients. If you’re quitting smoking, make sure you have no cigarettes around, and have gum and plenty to keep your hands busy. Be ready to distract yourself. I’ve been distracting myself with pre-cut watermelon, figs, and dates. Nature’s candy.

STEP 3: Stick to the plan. This is totally different than making the plan. Sticking to it requires that willpower that I was previously talking about. Sometimes it helps to write yourself notes to slap on the fridge. (Sometimes your kids make fun of you for this, but who cares.) If you need them, then use them. It doesn’t matter what others think. You know yourself best—don’t listen to naysayers or pessimistic people.

STEP 4: Make it a habit. The longer you can stick to your plan, the better your chances for success. Create a routine. Mark successful days on the calendar. Challenge yourself. Reward yourself. You can do it; anybody can. Be your own best YOU.

STEP 5: Acknowledge your hard work. And if you slip a little, remind yourself of step 1.

So, day 1 of desperately grasping for the back of that wagon is almost over. As I’m typing this, I’m finishing my salad for dinner, eying up the ½ bottle of wine on my counter (which I think I’ll be dumping—I know it’s a little sacrilege, but sometimes I gotta get drastic), and thinking about what I’ll do tonight to keep myself on track. If you need to change something in YOUR life, whether it’s to get back on that proverbial wagon or begin a whole brand-new routine, know that it’s totally attainable.

You are the only one who’s standing in your way. Get out of there! And if you need to, go replace your coffee press. 🙂

What Exactly is an Antioxidant? (Still unsure?)

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Still unsure about what an antioxidant is? It’s not a supplement, and it’s not a health food. Antioxidants are produced in plants to help them combat potential free-radical damage that occurs while they’re growing. All plants naturally contain antioxidants as a defense mechanism against cellular damage and disease. So, when we eat plants, we naturally infuse ourselves with free-radical fighting, anti-cancer components. You don’t have to be concerned about how many you’re getting, which plants have most, or what kind they are. (Although eating a varied diet of many different types of plant-foods is definitely recommended.)

Why can’t you just take a supplement? Because reductionism (the practice of isolating a nutrient and marketing it as such) does not account for the whole picture. The whole food is better than the sum of its parts. There is no proof that by taking a nutrient away from its source and consuming it on its own, that you will reap the same benefits that you would if you just ate the whole food.

Just eat plants. Plants are the original convenience food. Directions: pluck and eat. It’s that easy. Happy Wednesday to my plant-strong friends! Stay strong! xo

GMO vs. Sustainable

It's Your Choice

Is Preventative Surgery Better than Preventative Nutrition? (plus a little side-rant)

asparagus

Taking Our Health into Our Own Hands

Everybody’s talking about Angelina Jolie’s radical decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, in order to dramatically lower her risk of developing breast cancer in the future.[1] Her mother died from ovarian cancer at the age of 56,[2] and sadly, her aunt has just succumbed to breast cancer a mere 2 days ago.[3]

The breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2[4] have been a hot topic in the last few years, since their existence was made public. Because of the higher risk of developing cancer for women who possess these genes (there is a 45%-90% chance of developing breast cancer if you are a carrier),[5] thousands of women have been tested for the gene, and a percentage of those women have made the same decision that Jolie did: to have their breasts removed.

As someone who believes strongly in the power of food and its ability to keep the body at homeostasis (a perfect environment in which disease supposedly cannot grow), hearing news about women who undergo what some are calling “self-mutilation” in order to escape cancer is perplexing. Having said that, I’ve never had breast cancer, and cannot fathom the fear that swiftly resonates with the host of this potentially fatal diagnosis.

Judging others for their personal decisions is easy, but going through a health crisis yourself is not.

What People are Thinking

I spoke to many people on this subject, and those who are appalled at the very thought of preventative surgery have fairly good reasons, in my opinion. One person brought up the fact that Jolie may have never developed breast cancer anyway, and it’s akin to shaving your head just in case you get lice. Another was quick to point out that if someone is living in an acidic, stressful environment due to lack of nutrition education, care and/or proper sleep, that that person would most likely contract another form or cancer or disease, anyway. This group’s solution is also preventative: to care for your body forever and always by eating organic, GMO-free, whole, fresh, raw foods that create an alkaline state in which disease is void.

One such person from the group of preventative surgery naysayers is Dr. John McDougall, who wrote about his feelings on Jolie’s decision on the Forks over Knives website:[6]

“I applaud Ms. Jolie for making her story public. I do hope her life has been prolonged by this radical surgery. I would, however, discourage this approach for my patients, because I believe the harms far outweigh the benefits. Irrespective of any decisions about mastectomy, or any other medically prescribed treatments, all women and men need to have the opportunity to benefit from a starch-based diet. In 1984, I performed the first study ever published in a medical journal showing the benefits of a healthy diet for women with breast cancer (the McDougall Diet). Since then, dozens of other scientific papers have come to similar conclusions. Yet, doctors rarely mention the importance of food, as they send their patients off to therapies that they (in fact) know will have disastrous consequences.”[7]

My Own Thoughts

We all seem to be hungry for better healthcare, and we are scared of dying from preventative, chronic diseases. Because of this, we are willing to do just about anything to prevent early death; even remove our breasts. However, if we could all be better educated on the benefits of a good diet and its relationship to disease prevention (myself included), then we could accomplish much of this prevention without undergoing unnecessary surgery.

English: pink ribbon

Now here’s the side-rant: I need to bring up the pink ribbon campaign. I’m all for the idea having something to represent curing breast cancer, and I love that the symbol of this is so internationally recognized. But I have to say this, and I’m bracing myself for a little bit of backlash: I think that the pink ribbon campaign is a huge waste of money and resources, and I’d like to argue that it gives a false sense of something actually being done to help with the fight against breast cancer. Can we not trade in the ribbon for some basic nutrition education, or even to provide genetic testing for high-risk women at a lower cost? I think it could do much more in terms of educating people on what exactly they have control over (the food that they choose to ingest), and why exercising control over their diet is absolutely instrumental for their health and well being. The ribbon is cute, but education would go further. This next pic pisses me off.

KFC

This is what I mean about the pink ribbon. Buying a bucket of chicken from a fast-food franchise will not help cure breast cancer. In fact, it promotes it, because fried chicken is disease-inducing, not helpful. Just sayin’.

Conclusion

Before I went slightly off topic with my tiny rant, we were discussing preventative surgery. It will always be a personal decision, and no one has the right to belittle others for making decisions that are difficult and do not affect anyone but the person going through the health crisis. Whether it’s travelling to Mexico for high-dose vitamin C treatments,[8] removing parts of our body that may or may not end up killing us, or eating a strict diet in the name of great health and disease prevention, we are all different, and are all entitled to our own actions. But perhaps ALL of the preventative actions worth applying should be discussed before anyone removes his or her body part.

References:


The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, and Coconut Oil

Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s and Diabetes

There is always a steady stream of research being done on Alzheimer’s disease: an incurable type of dementia that affects memory, behaviour, and usually results in early death. [1] So, why is it recently being nicknamed type 3 diabetes?[2]

“When the body refuses to make insulin, the condition is called type 1 diabetes; when the body mismanages the hormone, it’s known as type 2. Now, scientists report new evidence linking insulin to a disorder of the brain: when the brain prevents the hormone from acting properly, the ensuing chemical imbalance may help trigger Alzheimer’s disease. The correlation is so strong that some researchers are calling Alzheimer’s disease “type 3” diabetes.” –Time[3]

The human brain is fed by glucose, or sugar. (This is one of the reasons I have such a huge beef with Atkin’s-type diets: you NEED carbs.) A recent study by Northwest University concluded that in the instance of insulin shortage (which the brain needs to properly break down glucose), one of the first things to be affected is memory.[4] Huh.  Are there any alternatives that the brain can use besides glucose, you ask? Well, looks like there might be!

What Does Coconut Oil Have to Do With It?

Ketones are a compound that can be used as an alternate source of energy for the brain in the absence of glucose, and coconut oil is a known source of ketones.[5]  Ketones can theoretically be used to synapse function in the brain, thereby restoring brain function. Once brain tissue dies, it cannot be brought back.[6] But ketones can help to restore brain function before any tissue death occurs. Interesting, right?

Now, there are always a ton of declarations concerning which foods may be killing us, which ones should be eaten voraciously for better health, and which ones are only food-like substances, and therefore should technically be avoided. We all are privy to television and newspaper reports that allege the amazing benefits or the disastrous effects that certain foods have on our bodies.

Should we drop everything and take to heart all that we hear about these foods? Certainly not! That would be exhausting. Usually I’m pretty skeptical when I hear something crazy-sounding, like “coconut oil may hold the key to curing Alzheimer’s!”[7] I ask myself who is making such a claim, who is backing the claim, and what studies have been done to prove that the claim is real and not just a really great idea? (‘Cause most are just really spectacular theories.) 😀

What Are the Studies Saying?

Basically, studies are indicating that we’re going to have to take all this coconut oil/ketone talk with a grain of salt. While there haven’t been any studies to definitively prove that consuming coconut oil will provide the brain with ketones needed to help stop or reverse Alzheimer’s,[8] there ARE several individuals who have been sharing personal success stories via the web.

Dr. Mary Newport is one such person, who accidentally stumbled upon the powers of coconut oil when (some might say successfully) attempting to treat her husband for Alzheimer’s.[9] She has written about her experiences with her husband, Steve:

“He is a very different person than he was a year ago and perhaps even two or three years ago. He has serious atrophy of his brain and will never be “normal,” but for now we are very pleased with where he is at and, should coconut oil stop or slow down the progress of his disease, it will be worth every drop that he takes. My sister Lois told a lady she works with about the coconut oil and Steve’s response to it. Her fa­ther began to give this to her mother, who has Al­zheimer’s and she has had a similar response, with more alertness, conversation and sense of humor.  ” [10]

In Conclusion…

Although there is no clear evidence as of yet to absolutely prove the miraculous benefits that coconut oil may hold in regards to curing Alzheimer’s disease, we need to ask ourselves: why should we wait? There are countless natural remedies that work well for tons of different ailments that are not “officially” recognized. These types of remedies, of course, are my favourite. If you know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s, I can’t imagine there being any harm in treating them with coconut oil, but I’m definitely going to put the disclaimer out there to first check with their physician or naturopath. Good luck!

References:  


Digestive Karma

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What goes around comes around. This is the principle of Karma. Put out into the universe what you would like to receive back, right? Well, the same goes for digestion. If you eat nutrient-void, crappy food, your digestion will make you pay. If you eat mindfully and consume light, nutrient-dense foods, your body will reward you.

Digestive Karma.

What you put in affects what you get out. It also affects your body’s ability to cope with stress (whether it be nutritional, physical, or psychological), whether your brain can process and comprehend clearly, your ability to fight disease and illness, and more.

Namaste. 🙂

The Trouble with Vegas…

I realize that the title of this post is ridiculous. ‘Trouble’ and ‘Vegas’ are totally synonymous, but I wanted to be specific about this, and give it a health and wellness spin. (Hmmm…can you tell I just got back, and have this info on my mind??)

Well, dehydration is trouble, and also goes hand in hand with a trip to Sin City. But I’m not only talking about excess alcohol intake– I’m referring to flying (which is dehydrating in itself), not paying attention to whatever signals your body is sending you (let’s blame that one on sensory overload), and the hour-long walk that you thought would take you ten minutes. Forgot your water? No problem! You can get from New York New York to Bellagio in ten minutes, right? Wrong! 🙂

Smoothies!

Smoothies!

 

What about the food? While there are tons of great restaurants located EVERYWHERE, we tend to not take the time for good food, and end up eating…um…food that’s a little greasier and a whole lot larger than we normally do. While we may walk it off easily (since Bellagio is STILL thirty minutes away…), our bodies don’t appreciate the influx of general yuckiness.

Ok, now for the alcohol. Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush: alcohol intake is likely to increase while in Las Vegas. Shocked? I didn’t think so.

Lack of sleep is the final straw for that dehydrated, greased-up, alcohol-soaked body of yours. When these four instances occur simultaneously, as they often do in Vegas, your body officially rebels. Off with your head!

So….how do we minimize the effects of Vegas? Like this:

For dehydration: make sure you are constantly throwing back the water. Drink it pre-emptively, before you even leave for the airport. Drink it at the airport, on the plane, keep it in your room, and drink it between alcoholic beverages. Your body will be very thankful.

For food: plan ahead. Keep healthy snacks with you at all times to prevent getting super hungry and gorging on street meat. (Ew.) Also, just because you’re in Vegas, does not mean you can’t eat a salad. Eat it! Also, eat lightly. Make sure you consume enough nutrition to lend you energy and soak up whatever alcohol you may be drinking, but don’t overeat, and don’t eat foods you don’t normally consume. Be kind to that tummy!

For binge-drinking: don’t. Remember that by pounding back the drinks, even if you don’t normally do it, you are placing an incredible amount of stress on your liver, as well as the rest of your body. If you are going to drink, go for clear spirits with clear mixes, such as vodka and water, or gin and tonic. Flavour them with lime. Drink alot of water between drinks, and make sure you’re ordering singles. By eliminating the sugar that you get from sodas, juices, and other mixes often found in mixed drinks, you stay more hydrated, and lessen your chances of a hangover. Your body won’t be working overtime to process the sugar. Just remember: moderation is key. Have a couple of drinks! Just don’t have six.

For sleep deprivation: I know it’s difficult to get to bed at a decent time when you can’t see a window, and have no sense of what time it is, but try and keep track anyway. It’s very easy to glance down at your watch, thinking that it’s probably 11:00pm, and be shocked to discover it’s 5:00am. Try to stick to a sleep schedule. You’ll be happy you did. Like, for the rest of the week. Even after you get home.

What’s that saying? Time flies when you’re having fun? Anyone planning a Vegas trip soon? 😀

 

A New Year's Reinvention

While spring is often associated with new beginnings and fresh starts, I would like to argue that the perfect time of year to reinvent yourself and create your line-up of both personal and professional goals is January first. While the month often brings frigid weather, and dark afternoons, the fact that it’s still a brand new year is motivating and inspiring. Instead of waiting until the cherry blossoms are out in full swing, why not take advantage of the slowness and limited daylight to hunker down and create a new situation that, in the spring, will already be well on its way?

Here’s what I recommend: decide what kind of life you want. Even if it appears unattainable, write it down. I’m talking about the end result. Factor in family, money, aspirations, intentions, dreams, wants, and needs.

Then, work backwards. How will you get there? We’ve all heard the saying “when there’s a will, there’s a way.” Implement that. Will it. Then DO it. Figure out what you need to achieve the “unattainable” and begin the process. You may not get there right away, but if you don’t begin, you’ll always be wondering about what would have happened if you did.

The difference between someone who has achieved and someone who has not, is usually just action. To achieve, you must act.

Happy New Year, and here’s to a happy, new YOU. Cheers!