Category Archives: Organics/Diet

Detox Drinks You Can Actually Drink

Yes, you could go on the master cleanse. Drink water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup and nothing else. It’s gross. If you like it, you’re lucky, but for most of us, it’s gross, and definitely not filling. This said, plenty of people have turned to the smoothie cleanse, though many of us are also inclined to put non-cleansing ingredients in that can actually interfere with our ability to achieve the weight loss and cleaning we want. There has to be some kind of balance.

There are plenty of benefits to cleansing ranging from weight loss to more energy to clearer skin. Here are a few easy recipes that could actually be more tolerable and more effective than what you’re used to.

  1. Celery Cilantro Cleanser – You will want to combine 2 celery stalks, 1/2 green apple, 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 head romaine lettuce, and 1/2 knob of ginger root in a juicer, and there you go. This serves one and it can really help with digestion and energy to start.
  2. Detox Water – Detox water doesn’t require any kind of blender, and it can be pretty easy. Make this a day ahead and then just keep it in your fridge. It’s also calorie free. In a 16 ounce pitcher of water, combine 16oz cold water, 1/2 a cucumber thinly sliced, 5 strawberries (sliced and stems removed), and 1 lemon (sliced thin).
  3. Detox Smoothie – There are of course plenty of smoothies that you can use to detoxify your body. This particular smoothie is low in sugar and easy to digest. It is full of fiber, and it can help you to cleanse the liver, colon, and kidneys with enough fiber to fill you. Mix 1 cup cold filtered water, 10 almonds soaked overnight and rinsed, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 1 teaspoon chia seed, 1 cup organic raspberries, and juice from a lemon. If you place all of these ingredients in a high powered blender, you get an easy smoothie.
  4. ABC Detox Smoothie – The ingredients are simple and as easy as A, B, C. You will combine 1 stemmed, cored, and sliced green apple, 1 beet skinned and sliced, 1 large carrot, and juice from a lemon. You can put all of the ingredients through a blender with a cup of water.
  5. Chai Detox Milk – You don’t have to use just water or juice based drinks to detox. You can actually try a chai detox milk. It can be used as a light snack or for breakfast. You may even start to crave this one. For this, you would mix a cup of brewed rooibos tea, 1 cup almond milk, 1 knob fresh ginger, liquid stevia to taste (you can skip this if you want), 1 tsp cinnamon, a dash of apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp raw coconut oil, and 1 tbsp raw almond butter. You can blend all of these ingredients in your blender and serve warm or over ice. You can also blend this with ice.
  6. Detox Juice – This juice has been used by some to reduce anxiety, clear bloating, aid in digestion, and hydrate the body for healthy energy. Combine 3 stalks of celery, 1 cucumber, 1 inch fresh ginger root, 2 slices fresh fennel bulb, 1 lemon, 5 stalks kale, and 6oz fresh coconut water in a juicer (except the coconut water). Add the coconut water to the other juiced ingredients.
  7. Winter Detox Juice – The body can suffer lower levels of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals in the winter. Potassium can also drop due to colds, electrolyte imbalances can happen due to dehydration, and stuffiness indoors can cause one to get sick faster. This winter detox can give you that winter boost for better health. Combine 1 navel orange, 1 green apple, 1 large carrot, 3 large kale leaves, 1 knob ginger, 1 stalk celery, and 1 lemon. Run these through a juicer and serve cold.

Is Stevia Healthy?

All of those other sweeteners are brain killers. You know Stevia is all natural. I’ve heard it before, as have many others. It seems ironic to me all things considered. It’s an artificial sweetener, period, end of story. Of course, the justification is the idea that artificial sweeteners are unhealthy, because they have different chemicals, and that’s not entirely true. The problem is that there is an entirely different story behind it and an entirely different problem.

Sugar is not exactly healthy, but there is one major reason artificial sweeteners are worse. They don’t function the way that your body expects them to. Have you ever heard the phrase that stevia is so much sweeter and has fewer calories than sugar? That’s the problem! The body tastes that sweet flavor and expects it to come with so many calories that your body has to burn off. Unfortunately, it doesn’t result in your body burning off a lot of extra calories. It results in your body relearning the process. Now, your body thinks that everything with that sweet a taste has fewer calories, leading you to eat more of it, even when it’s real sugar. It doesn’t change just because it’s Stevia. Ultimately, it taxes the adrenal glands, because the body works to account for sugar that is not there, and then it learns not to until you get more. In addition, this regular stimulation of adrenaline and cortisol can actually damage the adrenal glands and overall health over time. Think about decreased thyroid function and decreased immune function to start.

Second, note, Stevia has other chemical ingredients. Yup, you heard me. It has all of those nasty chemicals you thought you were avoiding by staying away from other artificial sweeteners. You can’t just take sugar and magically turn it into something else with no actual chemical changes. It has glycerine, Xylitol, and Dextrose. It’s that way for a reason.

Third is more taste related than health related. Stevia has an aftertaste. It doesn’t really taste like sugar, because once you hit the aftertaste….there’s no reason to do that to yourself. If you don’t want sugar, raw honey tastes 100X better!

Third, Stevia is not like fruit, it goes not support glycogen synthesis. Fruit and raw honey are excellent sources of nutrition, and they provide balanced sources of glucose and fructose. Don’t substitute sugar or sugar substitutes like Stevia for plain old fruits. There’s nothing healthy about that. Your body needs glycogen to release glucose into the bloodstream when you’re tired, etc. Stevia just doesn’t create that needed glycogen. Ultimately, the body ends up converting muscle protein and fat into glucose, which leads to weight gain, which is ironically what many are trying to avoid.

Fact is, there are many other things about Stevia that can ultimately be harmful. They market it as have your cake and eat it too, because surprise, they’re trying to make money! Don’t fall for it. It’s really not worth it.

Foods That Suppress Appetite

There is no magic bullet to weight loss. If you want to lose weight and be healthier, you are going to have to diet AND exercise. It’s just a fact of life. Realistically, low carb dieting for example (which is supposed to keep you full and help you to actually eat less) isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t eat foods that will help to suppress your appetite, including if you are not a meat eater. There are a few things that can help you along the way to eat a little less and not feel hungry along the way without having to suffer while you get used to it.

  • An Apple a Day – If you want to eat one thing that will help you to regulate your diet, an apple is high fiber, filling, and full of vitamins and minerals, making it a wonder food to say the least. The fiber helps foods to break down more quickly, therefore helping you to stay fuller for longer. It stabilizes blood sugar levels, preventing those spikes that can be destructive to dieting, weight loss, and oh yeah, eating too much. With just 14 extra grams of fiber in your diet, you can reduce your caloric intake by 10%. An apple will not be a full meal, but they can be especially helpful in tiding you over til your actual mealtime.
  • The Right Carbs – Beans, lentils, green bananas, and cold potatoes are all potentially good carbs. Whole grains, especially whole grain breads (or even pastas) as well as brown rice and quinoa, give you the options and variety while also keeping you full for hours after. It has to be cold potatoes, because when chilled, potatoes are made up of tight crystals of resistant starch. When heated, these crystals break up. Likewise, yams, peas, chickpeas, and barley are also quite effective in many ways.
  • Vinegar – I know, it seems odd. Why would vinegar on your food help you to eat less? Acetic acid on a carb rich meal will lower the glycemic index of carbs to a certain degree (don’t go overboard). It prevents the spikes in your blood sugar, therefore helping you to avoid snacking between meals and keeping you feeling full for longer. One study found that dieters who drank one and a half tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the morning ate 250 fewer calories throughout the day. In addition, some consider apple cider vinegar to be a cleanser that can help you to get rid of toxins, improve your health, and therefore lose more weight.
  • Dark Chocolate – If you want to get your chocolate fix, you should indulge in dark chocolate. According to experts, dark chocolate tones down emotional food cravings, flooding the brain with endorphins, a chemical that creates feelings of happiness and calm in the brain. It’s supposedly the reason why many say they are addicted to chocolate. Eating chocolate also lowers appetite. Of course, keep your use of dark chocolate under control. An ounce of dark chocolate has 170 calories and 12 grams of fat. So eating too much can still be unhealthy.
  • Chili peppers – That little bit of spicy specifically comes with a chemical that can be used to suppress appetite. In food form, it’s not likely to be huge, but it can still make a difference when combined with other healthy dieting and lifestyle techniques and choices. The capsaicin (responsible for the spicy taste as well) can slightly boost the metabolism, in the area of about 20 calories a day.
  • Pine Nuts – Pine nuts actually come in one of my favorite drinks, a Korean cinnamon drink. So the sugary taste might not be so healthy, but pine nuts have been used as natural appetite suppressants. In pill form, it takes over 1000 milligrams to act as an appetite suppressant. However, again, it is important with any of these for them to be part of a healthier lifestyle plan in general.

There are of course other things, other foods that can help you to suppress your appetite. A lot of them are fiber based. In general though, if you are focused on eating healthy, the rest (including natural appetite suppressants) will follow.

What is Clean Eating?

It’s not a bad idea to scrub some of your food a little bit cleaner. Especially when it comes to certain stores, trust me, you want to clean your food. However, that’s not what clean eating is about. Clean eating is about focusing on whole foods as opposed to processed foods and eating healthy. You are to focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In some small towns, this can naturally be harder. Your access to fresh foods is getting easier. For example, I recently saw that Bountiful Baskets is actually hitting a number of smaller areas such as Moab, Utah. Yes, Moab is a bit better known. The point though is that Moab is within driving distance of other smaller areas such as Monticello and Blanding (2 towns you may not have ever even heard of).

The idea is to make it easier for the body, avoid bad chemicals, and avoid too much processed sugar. Actually, avoid any processed sugar when it comes right down to it. It’s meant to provide vitamins without raising blood pressure, increasing sodium intake, or otherwise interfering with the natural functions of the body. The question is, should you really do it?

The term clean eating is a relatively new term, but the concept (the idea) actually originates in the 1960’s. It obsesses over the idea of processed foods, and it spans from processed fast food to certain types of meat, fish, and even fruits and vegetables depending on how severe you go. Some like the idea of free range chicken while others obsess over organic fruits and vegetables.

I can tell you right now that first, free range chicken aren’t really so free range. There are zero regulations on it beyond what would be put on normal chickens. You could give a chicken 1 extra inch of space in their cage and call it free range. Then again, you could use the same size of cage. When I contacted the sellers of free range eggs, I asked about the conditions. I was told their chickens couldn’t go outside due to the risk of disease. Ya, at least in my head, a happy chicken is one that has space to run around, may go outside from time to time, and still has a house where they can be protected from inclement weather. I guess that’s just me. As far as organic foods go, research has unlocked the fact that the nutritional benefits or organic fruits and vegetables really aren’t greater or better than what you can find in most grocery stores.

Ultimately, the rules of clean eating can vary widely. It is important for this diet NOT to be about losing or gaining weight, just eating healthier. Weight changes may or may not follow depending on the person. Some serious clean eaters choose to skip out on anything that has been processed at all. So even those fruit and nut bars you might find in your local Costco or health store are a no go. For some, cooking is a big no-no, because it takes the nutrients out. These are the clean eaters who are into raw dieting as well. For those who are super strict, they will not typically eat meats, dairy, grains, and other more processed foods.

Other plans can be more lenient and just avoid more obvious things. For example, some will eat whole grain breads and other things as long as they aren’t basically fast food and don’t have obvious chemicals.

So why does this matter?

The benefits of a whole food/clean eating type diet are abundant. Research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, improve heart health, help you to lose weight in some cases, and even reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are consuming whole grains and legumes, this has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes. In general, many have turned to low carb diets to avoid or treat type 2 diabetes. However, more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will put you in a better spot to start off with, especially when combined with a regular exercise program.

Adding these foods is essential to clean eating, but just as essential is cutting out extra salt, sugar, etc. Research has shown that reduced dietary salt intake can delay or prevent hypertension or decrease the chances of cardiovascular related health issues. Likewise, reducing the intake of sugary drinks like soda can help you to lose weight, reduce fat, and be healthier overall.

Is this the real thing?

All of the indications say that this is healthy. All indications point to the idea that clean eating is the way to go. It might not be necessary for everyone to go in the direction of clean eating. In fact, some might do better with other types of diets. However, clean eating doesn’t seem to have any obvious or large downsides or even risks. Unless you are allergic to most vegetables or something like that, chances are this might be a good way to go. It varies from person to person on how strict you could or should realistically go.

Clean eating is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle, and it actually provides a lot of flexibility to a lot of people. The key is to work within what you feel is reasonable. As with any change in lifestyle/diet, of course you may want to consult your doctor if you have any overwhelming health issues or concerns. Likewise, to stick with the lifestyle, it might be good for some to have a cheat day or a cheat meal from time to time. At the other side of things, you could work up to it, going a couple days on, a couple days off, and slowly working your way to greater regularity. Start by introducing more homemade smoothies, veggie mixes, etc.

This said, I’ve started my own somewhat clean eating move, and I’ve started with a program called Bountiful Baskets at about the same time. It goes through a number of states with A & B weeks. It currently includes Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Once a week, you can get a basket, 50% fruits, 50% vegetables. They recently put chicken into one basket, and then there was a slight uproar as many participants are actually vegetarians. However, at this point, they do have various add ons such as various types of bread available, you can buy multiple baskets, etc depending on the week.

The outcome does vary. One week, it included pumpkins, and I honestly had no idea what to do with that. However, this week, it was a bit more normal. I got 3 cucumbers, a head of romaine lettuce, 2 bags of carrots, about 16oz of cranberries, a stock of celery, about 6 potatoes, 3 large sweet potatoes, a stock of bananas, a bag of grapes, 7 apples, 5 onions, and a cantaloupe. The onions are the ones I’m having the hardest time figuring out what to do with, but for $17, I’ll live with a few extra onions mixed in with the rest of what I’ve gotten.

Is Antibacterial Soap Safe?

I have been known to joke that my nephew is going to be a bubble boy. He is obsessively protected from any type of germs, and I have actually brought up experts’ opinions about this multiple times. His dad already has major allergies, which is one of the things that experts worry about. So it might just be hereditary. Still the same, at his father’s request, I do some pretty serious hand washing before taking him, and I’m not the only one. People around the US have been using antibacterial soap for years, and we just assume it’s safe (as long as you’re not trying to eat it).

Antibacterial soap can be found in your dishwashing liquids, your laundry detergents, and everyday soaps. It is used to clean just about everything, and federal health regulators are just now starting to question it. Specifically, triclosan, a major germ killing ingredient used in many of these soaps may be ineffective and even harmful.

Let’s put all the talk about super germs in that .01% or whatever it is aside. Triclosan is where it’s at. Recent studies on this chemical have shown that it may lead to infertility, early puberty, and potentially serious hormone problems in people. It may be a bit premature, but then again aren’t we better safe than sorry?

Allison Aiello, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health states, To me it looks like the risks outweigh any benefit associated with these products right now. At this point, it’s just looking like a superfluous chemical.

Why are officials just reconsidering this now? Well, first they’re not reconsidering. Fun Fact (or not so fun): a number of chemicals found in everyday household products have never actually been approved by the FDA. Most of these chemicals were formally introduced decades before there were even laws that required scientific testing and review, and they just stayed. The US government just seems to think if it’s not broken, don’t fix it….or if it doesn’t seem broken, don’t fix it.

It’s not uncommon for these types of reviews to drag on for years. So I wouldn’t expect any real upsets or changes any time soon. Congress officially passed a law in 1972 that required the FDA to set guidelines for antibacterial chemicals typically found in over-the-counter soaps and scrubs, and obviously triclosan has slipped by. In 1978, guidelines for chemicals used in hand soaps and washes were passed by the FDA, and triclosan was determined as not meeting the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) standards. At that time, FDA regulators couldn’t find enough proof of its efficacy or safety. The FDA has continued to lag, not officially finding anything that was strong enough to clear the triclosan name OR remove it from the market. In case you haven’t heard though, the FDA tends to be a bit sketchy. Just think of MSG. You may not want it, and you may even search your labels for it. However, the FDA has too far for some, actually allowing manufacturers to hide it under other more vague names such as artificial flavoring.

Triclosan likewise has been approved to be used in Colgate toothpastes and other products meant to fight gingivitis. Again, there is NOT strong proof it works or strong proof it is safe, but I digress. What can we really expect from the US government these days?

Officially, the FDA has stated that reviews and research on triclosan should wrap up in late 2012. However, as you may have noticed, it’s now 2013 and the date keeps moving back and back and back. Critics haven’t let up. In March, the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit, which they hoped would force the FDA to complete their research. This lawsuit reinstated a previous lawsuit, because justices determined that they actually had evidence that proved that triclosan might be dangerous and harmful. As you may expect, Stephanie Yao, a spokeswoman for the FDA, has stated that triclosan is one of the highest priorities. If that’s high priority, it makes you wonder what happens to the low priority items.

At this point, the FDA website officially states that they don’t have proof it’s dangerous. The American Cleaning Institute (which has obvious vested interest in maintaining sales) has stated that they have provided tons of data that shows that triclosan is both safe and effective. However, they are not providing this extensive research to the general public. This group is associated with Colgate-Palmolive and Henkel Consumer Goods Inc (the makers of Dial soap). To put some perspective on all of this, the government was investigating this when Nixon was president.

Science has evolved, and we have discovered new ways to study and evaluate things. We have discovered new facts in many different areas, and realistically FDA guidelines do have to catch up. Dr Andrea Gore at the University of Texas at Austin states, I think the FDA is behind the curve. At what point do you draw a line and say we need to take this out of products that are being applied to our skin? What is enough evidence?

Could Red Meat Shorten Your Lifespan?

red meatsTalk to anyone on the caveman diet, and you’ll hear that more red meat, more meat in general is key. You’ll hear that it’s the ultimate way to lose weight and increase muscle mass, being and living healthier.

The actual science though shows otherwise. Extreme low carb diets are always going to lack certain key foods such as healthy fruits and vegetables in the amounts you need. Even on the caveman or other low carb diets, you can focus on lean meats and other fish based proteins as well as nuts, and you should. Ideally, you should focus on more fruits and vegetables.

Study after study is showing though that red meat may actually shorten your lifespan. In particular, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that red meat increases your heart risk while also increasing the risk of cancer or other diseases that can lead to an early death for obvious reasons.

Think about it. Red meat is high in saturated fats and calories in general. It is high in cholesterol and naturally increases bad cholesterol levels. Based on 2 long term studies on health, professionals at Harvard were able to track 121,000 middle aged men and women for as many as 28 years. 20% of the participants passed during that 28 year period.

For most, each serving of red meat per day increased the risk of dying by an average of 13%. Processed red meats like hog dogs, bacon, and salami increased the risk of dying by a greater 20%.

On the other hand, substituting in salmon, chicken and other lean meats, legumes, and whole grains or even low fat dairy significantly decreased the risk of dying by 7% to 19%. When participants ate less than 1/2 a serving per day, researchers say that it could cut the risk of dying by as much as 9% for men and 8% for women.

Cutting calories does not necessarily mean that you have to cut taste or even portion size. You don’t have to be a vegetarian, though being a vegetarian can further extend the average lifespan. The message of lead researcher An Pan PhD, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston is that you should try to reduce the red meat consumption to less than two to three servings per week.

Another Trader Joe’s Recall?

traderSalt Lake City health nuts just got a new mecca in Trader Joe’s. People have been signing petitions for years trying to get a Trader Joe’s in their state, but is the brand really so wonderful and infallible as you might think?

Just last week, Trader Joe’s announced yet another recall! This time, it’s for Trader Joe’s brand Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice. Recalling a whopping 4,865 pounds of this stuff, Trader Joe’s has cited Listeria, a scary food bacteria.

Luckily, this particular meal has not hit all Trader Joe’s stores yet, just those on the east coast. Earlier in 2012, store owners recalled Sunland peanut butter, Trader Joe’s BBQ chicken salad, Trader Joe’s Mild Salsa and Balela, Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash, and the Red Quinoa and Wheatberry Salad.

Of course, there are recalls every year at all sorts of stories. With the pure number of recalls at Trader Joe’s though, is there something wrong with the whole Trader Joe’s supply?

For the first time that I know of, Trader Joe’s is on par with other major food suppliers in the worst way: recalls. The truth is that anyone who sells that much food on that large a scale is going to be at risk. When you are preparing and selling food, there are numerous people who may touch the food, not all of whom will follow set guidelines. We are starting to see more recalls specifically in fruits and vegetables, which makes some sense if you consider that fruits and vegetables are less likely to be thoroughly cooked during preparation.

Overall, there are quite a few recalls every week. Trader Joe’s has been lucky enough to stay largely out of the fray for a long time. The bigger they get, the more risk they are going to be at for joining the ranks.

As far as listeria goes, it is described as the “classic deli counter bacteria.” The problem is that in this case, it was frozen, extending its lifetime indefinitely.

Trader Joe’s is taking the necessary steps, throwing away infected foods, posting signs around the store, and honoring their already standing 100% returns policy. Customers need to take some steps of their own though. Listeria can survive indefinitely on metals or plastic surfaces, especially in cold areas such as your freezer. Throwing it away or returning the packages won’t stop it. You need to clean any surfaces the packages may have touched, including your freezer, with bleach and water. Some experts would also suggest throwing out anything you are not planning on cooking thoroughly that was around it.

Personally, I’m not going to leave Trader Joe’s behind any time soon. I love their stuff. I will be a lot more careful though about just what I buy.