Probiotics ~ Superfood or Too Good to Be True?

With claims of healing everything from gut infections to skin disorders, are Probiotics worth the hype? If you’re like most people you have no idea of what they are, where they come from and what they can do for you. I’ll briefly give you the low down so you know exactly what the deal is.

What are Probiotics?

In essence Probiotics are microogranisms such as live bacteria and yeasts that are similiar to the beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut.  They are also called “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria”  Our bodies contain both – however when the “bad” bacteria outweighs the “good” issues will arrise. Now you may ask – how will the bad bacteria overgrow?  Simple – from the daily use of tap water (chlorine kills good bacteria, allowing bad to flourish), repeated or long term use of Steroids or Antibiotics, and a diet that throws off the balance (one that is typically heavy in processed food, sugars and unorganics will wipe out the good bacteria, allowing the bad to take over. Even the person living the utmost healthy existence, avoiding most of the practices that kill good bacteria – one round of antibiotics without replacing the good bacteria (via Probiotics) could set up a domino effect of some major health issues.

What can they do for me?

Pretty much – EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! Believe the hype, these little buggers are everything they claim to be – just look at the list below:

  • Enhanced immune system response
  • Reduces negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics
  • Aids in preventing and treating colon inflammation following surgery
  • Helps to prevent eczema in youth
  • Increased ability to digest food
  • Therapeutic for viral respiratory tract infections by enhancing the overall immune system
  • Reduces lactose intolerance
  • Reduces incidence of yeast infections, vaginitis and candidiasis
  • Increases ability to assimilate the nutrients from food
  • Alleviates many common digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS
  • Acts as a remedy for bad breath(halitosis)
  • Increases ability to synthesize vitamin B, calcium,zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium
  • Promotes anti-tumor and anti-cancer activity in the body
  • Protects against tooth decay & periodontal disease
  • Enhances the skin – Since the skin is a reflection of inner health a healthy inner ecosystem = healthy outer appearance. Additionaly the better absorption of foods, vitamins & minerals also will benefit the skin
  • Reported to assist weight loss – with the benefits of better digestion and food transit through the body, less energy is wasted on digesting foods plus a clean gut absorbs nutrients better. When you crowd out the bad bacteria and let the good bacteria thrive your belly will eventually flatten – no bloating, no gas so in turn you will lose a few inches.
  • Reduced cravings for carbs and sugar.

Wow – pretty exhaustive list, isn’t it?  And thats not even all the benefits. Basically, anyone following a healthy, unprocessed, organic, whole foods diet or cleansing regimen should definitely consider adding probiotics to their daily arsenal. One caveat though, if you’re going to continue eating “crap” – in the form of processed foods, excess sugars and unorganics – save your money! Probiotics are one of those things that will only work for you if YOU work for them.  As seen above they are delicate flora that can easily be wiped out.

In my opinion, I can’t live without them! As soon as I stop the eczema flares ( a patch on the back of my neck), my skin doesn’t look as healthy and my digestion comes to a grinding halt.  Now, I believe I just happen to be one of those people that really benefits from daily probiotic consumption (too many extended courses of antibiotics and medication).  My probiotic of choice is fermented veggies – I just made a delicious batch of Kimchi and I can’t live without my Kefir water or occasional kombucha. There are really soo many delicious food sources of probiotics – you must try at least one.  Now, with that being said, i also insure I back it up with daily dose of probiotic supplements – always rotating the brand/strength as they each offer something a bit different.  Soo eat up, drink up- To your health 🙂

3 Steps to Zap Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and health issues, everything from heart disease and Alzheimer’s, to fibromyalgia and even obesity!  

While many doctors are finally jumping on the bandwagon, offering anti-inflammatory diets and supplements, there are many practices you can do at home that will help in the fight.  
Here’s a quick primer on my 3-prong approach to an inflammation-free body!  
Start to integrate a few of these strategies today to see a difference within a few days. The more you do, the better you’ll feel!
 
1. Eat a healthy diet. 
Anyone dealing with chronic issues needs to choose organic as much as possible. While some doctors recommend eliminating carbs in general, I feel there is an easier and more sustainable way to quell inflammation while enjoying life! 
  • Aim to eat 80% unprocessed foods. Shoot for only 20% of your food coming from processed items – this would include pastas, breads, snack foods etc.
  • Give gluten the heave-ho! Even people who aren’t gluten intolerance see marked changes once they eliminate this toxic grain! 
  • High veggie diets are the way to go. Be sure to limit the infamous nightshades that increase inflammation – such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes. (Limit to 2 times a week.)
  • Choose sprouted grains and legumes. Many health food stores and even Whole Foods carry a wide array of sprouted products, from pastas to breads and even legumes. While sprouting doesn’t change the flavor of these products, it does enhance the body’s ability to digest them and unlocks the nutrients that wouldn’t be available in the un-sprouted form!

2. Be sensible about supplementation. 

There’s no need for a giant supplement arsenal here. All you need are a few key products: 

  • Whole foods multi vitamin. This should be part of everyone’s regime, it will pick up where a less than stellar diet drops off. Even those uber-healthy eaters should include a good multi from time to time.
  • Whole food Stress B formula. This is generally a broad spectrum B that helps the body defend against stress. Extras such as Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamins D & E can also be helpful. 
  • Omega 3’s. They’re THE inflammation busters when it comes to supplements. I like to include more than one and rotate every month or so. Ideally the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 should be 3:1 or better yet 2:1. Some great choices besides the standard fish oils are seeds such as flax, chia and hemp.
  • Spice it up! Spices as supplements? You betcha. Two great ones that are in the forefront as anti inflammatories are ginger and turmeric – use these as often as possible! Fresh or dried, in foods or desserts. 
3. Take some “Me time.” 
Stress is a big contributor of chronic inflammation. One of the easiest ways to combat added stress is to get in touch with yourself and really take care of your body. 
Taking a few minutes out of each day to meditate is a great start as is taking up yoga. Striking a pose not only helps with physical symptoms of inflammation like sore, tight muscles but pranayama (yoga breathing) increases oxygen and lowers stress.  
Finishing up your day by soaking in a tub also helps the body release stress and by adding a few everyday items you can increase the power of the bath tenfold – try some Epsom Salt & Hydrogen Peroxide.
While this list isn’t exhaustive and seems simple, it’s a step in the right direction and shows you that fighting inflammation can be achieved cheaply and easily at home!  
And to start out on your anti inflammatory quest try out my delicious  Anti Inflammatory “Cure All” drink that I recommend to all my clients to quell their inflammation (also kills candida!)
 
Enjoy this Anti-Inflammatory Cure-All
  • 1 cup non dairy milk alternative (coconut, almond or other nut/seed milk)
  • 1 tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp dried
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • Stevia to sweeten
Simply drop 1tbs Coconut oil in small saucepan on the stove. When melted, add grated ginger and turmeric. 
Stir to combine and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add non-dairy alternative, stir to combine, and finally whisk in other ingredients.  
Simmer to warm and enjoy! 

Superfoods to The Rescue

According to Wikipedia:

SUPERFOOD is the term sometimes used to describe food with high pyhtonutrient content that may confer health benefits as a result”

While this term has become a catch phrase for most “healthy” foods, the REAL SUPERFOODS are items that are more nutrient dense than the average.  I see the word “SUPERFOOD” being thrown around more and more.  As a society we’ve come soo far from what we view as food that the items that our ancestors ate daily (think grandparents – not that far back in time!!) are relegated to something “special.”  I’ve seen foods such as spinach, berries, mushrooms and even on occasion something like turkey(?), “whole grain” bread (??) or  red meat (???) with the overly used attachment of SUPERFOOD! In my opinion – with the exception of the bread, turkey & meat – these are everyday foods that we SHOULD be consuming! Fruits – such as berries and tomatoes or vegetables like kale, cabbage, onions and garlic should be part of a healthy well-rounded diet. Yes – they are chock full of vitamins & minerals but they aren’t the superstars that real & trueSUPERFOODS are. Most likely you’re not seeing the supefoods I’m speaking of in your corner grocery store! While they aren’t difficult to come by you will probably have to go to your local health food store or Whole Foods.  These foods are “AMAZING” they are really super nutrient dense, usually have multi healing purposes and also taste great!! As true superfoods are soo potent, many times the smallest dose is needed – little bit goes a long way – so no need to go gung ho.  My top picks for SUPERFOODS are:

1.  Goji Berries – jam packed full of nutrients; great source of protein as they contain 18 amino acids, including the 8 “essential” in addition to 21 trace minerals, TONS of beta carotene (more than carrots), vitamin C (more than oranges!), vitamins B1, B2, B6, vitamin E and IRON (more than a serving of steak). Strengthens the immune system touted as an anti – aging tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Its high ORAC value also means that it protects our cells from oxidative damage (aka: free radicals) – All of this in a small handful/day!

2.   Bee Pollen – This very concentrated low calorie “Food of the Gods” is loaded with Vitamins C & E making it a great choice for immune enhancement. Excellent source of Calcium, Iron, Potassium & Zinc and an especially rich source of B vitamins.  In addition to having a good amount of enzymes which assists with food digestion and mineral absorption, the  amino acids found in Bee Pollen control hunger, build muscle and burn calories. Also used to prevent acne & wrinkles and eliminates toxins.

3.   Raw Honey – A true healing superstar that is anti bacterial, anti viral AND anti inflammatory.  This liquid gold considered to be natures “multi vitamin” containing all the B vitamins, vitamin c and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, sulphur and phosphate. Boosts energy, fights infections, colds, soothes stomach, is a natural calming agent. The most common use for raw honey is to defend against seasonal allergies.

4.   Chia Seeds/Oil – Tiny little seeds that delivers lots of results!!  Balances blood sugar and excellent source of Omega 3’s (more than salmon!). Seeds are a source of plant based protein, high in fiber, calcium, magnesium & zinc (among other minerals).  They also keep you hydrated and fill you up!

5.  Spirulina & Chlorella –  Super GREEN, superstar Micro Algae – the benefits of both of these are truly astounding. A few noteworthy ones are: ounce per ounce spirulina contains twelve times the digestible protein of beef and 300x’s the RDA of vitamin B12!! And phytochemicals found in chlorella can actually rebuild nerve damage in the brain and nervous system!! Spirulina & Chlorella are used to treat AND even reverse: hypoglycemia, arthritis, depression, liver damage, high blood pressure, inflammation and asthma just to name a few.  Both proven to detoxify, heal and alkalize the body.

6.  Sea Vegetables – The healing benefit of seaweeds have long been known by coastal cultures. Sea vegetables contain 10-20 times the vitamins and minerals of land vegetables. The minerals are available in chelated colloidal form that make them bio-available. Excellent source of Iodine and Vitamin K, loaded with anti inflammatory, anti cancer, anti thrombotic, anti coagulant and anti viral properties. Highly beneficial against female estrogen related cancers.

7.  Coconut Oil – Once given a bad rap for being a saturate fat, coconut oil is finally being praised for its multipurpose, health enhancing benefits such as hair & skin health, stress relief, maintain cholesterol levels, weight loss and thyroid support, high blood pressure, diabetes and even HIV and cancer! The natural anti bacterial, anti viral, anti microbial and anti fungal owe much of its healing powers is due to Lauric Acid, Capric Acid and Caprylic Acid.

8.  Quinoa – Ancient Incan food that is frequently mislabeled a grain but is actually a SEED!  Amino acid rich, complete protein with a mild, nutty flavor that has been proven to be beneficial against migraine headaches due to its high riboflavin content. A true “whole grain” filled with fiber with lots of versatility – perfect sweetened with dried fruit for breakfast or spiced up for dinner. Light in flavor with high protein and fiber – a great combination that will fill you up without weighing you down.

Milk – Does it Do a Body Good?

Well the answer may be shocking to most of you but Milk certainly DOES NOT do a body good!  I grew up drinking a TON of milk, this is no exaggeration; I believe my parents bought a gallon specifically for me. I loved the stuff! Couldn’t get enough of it. I used to think it was the most wholesome food ever to exist. But then as I immersed myself into a healthier lifestyle I read some horrible claims (which later I knew to be facts) about my much beloved beverage.  I started to replace milk with Soy Milk (yea, yea yea, – NOT GREAT EITHER but it was a start). Let me put a new spin on milk that may just have you looking at it a different way.

What is Milk??

  • The maternal lactating secretion of female mammals.  All mammals, including humans are intended to be nourished during infancy by milk from THEIR MOTHER (i.e. breast milk).  Each species of mammal produces its UNIQUE type of milk designed specifically to strengthen the immune system and provide nourishment for thier babies – which are then weaned after their birth weight has approximately tripled.

Why Cow’s Milk?

  • Cow’s were chosen for their docile nature, size and abundant milk production. Cows just like any mammals produce milk for their young and most interestingly is that once a calve is weaned it will NEVER drink its mothers milk again – so WHY do we as humans feel that its OK to drink the milk that was specifically designed for a baby cow??

Why is this a bad thing? How does it endanger cows?

  • To get the most milk out of cows they are impregnated through artificial insemination yearly in order to keep their milk production high.
  • Calves are taken from their mothers a day within being born and the mother cows are hooked up to milking machines several times a day. Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones and intensive milking cows are forced to produce 10x’s the amount of milk they would naturally.
  • A cow’s natural lifespan is 25 years BUT the cows used in the dairy industry are killed off in 4-5 years!!

Detrimental to human health? Just the FACTS

  • Despite what we’ve been led to believe milk is not the calcium rich drink its promoted as. It actually increases calcium loss from our bones
  • Dairy is highly mucus forming
  • Contributes to candida overgrowth, fibroids, PMS, reproductive issues, headaches, migraines, bowel disorders
  • Can cause bloating, stomach cramps, flatulence, respiratory problems, worsen arthritic conditions.
  • Thought to cause diseases such as diabetes and cancer (currently being researched)

So to sum it all up – humans are the ONLY species on earth that regularly and happily consumes the breast milk of another species! Consider this – what if instead of the cow another mammal was chosen – would you be ok drinking the milk of a cat? dog? horse? Do you get the idea? Human milk is for human infants, dogs’ milk is for puppies, cows’ milk for calves, cats’ milk for kittens and so on.

Healthy Food Imposters

Egg yolks BAD? Milk GOOD? Don’t eat sugar, White Potatoes EVIL?  What to eat, what to avoid – so many rules, no wonder people are confused.   Some healthy food has gotten a bad wrap while others with no nutritional value are praised; I’ve tried to limit myself to the most popular ones.  MY definition of a health food would be one that promotes health – simple enough, right?  The foods in the “NOT” list have very little nutritional value and can actually hinder your other healthy efforts!  Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for some foods that are generally labeled as “unhealthy” but in reality are health promoting super stars.

“Healthy Foods” that are NOT :

  1. Bread – “whole wheat” and “whole grain” mean nothing.  Bread is still a highly refined, processed food usually containing corn syrup and trans fat.  Best choices would be “sprouted” Ezekiel bread or another sprouted brand – but again, be sure that the main ingredients are sprouted; I’ve seen many out there that say “sprouted” on the label only to investigate further to see “whole wheat” as the first ingredient!
  2. Breakfast cereals – Again, highly refined & processed; typically with added sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.  Any vitamins & minerals are added chemicals.  Best bet would be actual whole grains such as steel cut oats, amaranth flakes, quinoa or brown rice.
  3. Milk – (see previous post about the negatives of milk) – Additives, hormones, preservatives, steroids and pasteurization (which obliterates all nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and renders the protein useless.)
  4. Yogurt – Fat free is pretty much useless when typical yogurts contain added sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.  Any “supposed” health benefits from probiotics are negated by the refined sugars.  Frozen yogurt is no better – when compared to premium ice cream, the yogurt will typically have more additives.  Additionally, cows milk (most of the yogurt out there unless otherwise noted) is hard to digest.  Good options are:  Goat and Sheep Milk or dairy alternatives such as Almond or Coconut Milk.  Go for the varieties with no added sugar! Add your own fruit and stevia to sweeten.
  5. Snack foods such as Granola, Pretzels & Peanuts – Granolas are highly refined, high calories, loaded with artificial ingredients, high in sugar with small amounts of nutrients. Pretzels are processed, concentrated wheat void of any nutrition and basically just empty calories.  Peanuts are highly allergenic, carcinogenic from the aflatoxin mold that they carry and are very high in Omega 6 (which will knock off the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3)
  6. Corn Syrup/High Fructose Corn Syrup – Sorry but those commercials that say “it’s just like sugar” should be condemned!! First off – Sugar is NOT GOOD either!!  It’s a cheap sweetener that rapidly increases blood sugar and insulin; causes weight gain, diabetes, raises cholesterol, contains mercury, thought to cause cancer.  So, WHY is anyone consuming this?? While I don’t promote its use and definitely not ideal, plain old white sugar is actually “healthier” than this crap!!!  Best  sweetener choices are honey, fruit (such as dates) and my fave Stevia (natural plant based sweetener)
  7. Egg Whites – It’s become common practice to discard the egg yolk in favor of just using the white – this is just WRONG!  An egg has two parts – the white & the yolk – they are together because that is how nature intended; the white actually isn’t healthy unless it’s combined with the yolk. The whites solo are devoid of nutrition, have a higher tendency to cause food allergies, can’t be digested on its own and contains a glycoprotein that attaches to B vitamins (specifically biotin) preventing it from being used by the body.  The protein in egg whites are not as formidable without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile and make the protein more bio-available and therefore more muscle friendly.  It’s also erroneous thinking that the white has more protein – not the case at all – the yolk has almost as much protein plus is the source of all the nutrition (see below )
  8. Sports Drinks – It recently came to my attention that people still think Gatorade is GOOD!!  I guess I’ve spent too much time in my healthy organic bubble where I thought everyone sang the praises of coconut water as a superior hydration drink!  Sports drinks are awful; just the color of them alone makes me cringe!  Artificial colors, flavorings even artificial vitamins!!!  Coconut water is lower in sugar, has 15x’s more potassium, has more calcium, magnesium and sodium – all naturally occurring.  And most importantly is isotonic (which means it has the same salt concentration as the cells of the body and is similar to human plasma – which means quick hydration.   In studies coconut water restored blood volume quicker than sports drink and plain water.  The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published an article that discussed in extreme conditions some physicians have utilized coconut water as a source of intravenous hydration fluid instead of standard IV fluid for short term use. In World War II many wounded soldierswere saved in the Pacific using coconut water as emergency transfusions for plasma.  HA! In your face Gatorade!!

And my list of  Healthy Foods

  1. Egg Yolks –This one really does stump me – discarding the source of all nutrition just because it has FAT?? Really People?  I hardly think that 4.5 grams of fat is making a difference when you typically have “sides” with your egg whites such as sausage, ham & bacon (Yes, even turkey sausage or bacon are not the greatest) .  To me it’s almost the equivalent of someone ordering a triple cheese burger with diet coke on the side (merely using this as an example of “what are you thinking”). The complete egg (yolk AND white) is a nutritional powerhouse – Vitamins A, E, D, K, Carotenoids, Zinc, DHA, Lutein, Iron, B12.  Eggs (basically the yolk) will raise your good cholesterol.  MY suggestion would be to avoid all the sources of “man made” fats in your diet and go ahead – enjoy the yolk!
  2. Butter – Of course, I mean – REAL, Organic, preferably Pastured butter.  I hate to admit, I was guilty of shunning butter for over the past 20 years! It all started with a nutrition book I read (yes, I must’ve been about 11) that compared butter to Vaseline!!! OMG that was enough for me and I never used it again until recently when my nutrition mentor was singing its praises.   Here are a few reasons butter is actually good for you –it’s rich in the most easily absorbed source of Vitamin A (which is necessary for Adrenal & thyroid health), contains anti oxidants, rich in lecithin (essential for cholesterol metabolism), the saturated fats in butter have strong anti tumor & anti cancer properties, protects against tooth decay, promotes fertility in women, helps absorb minerals and has a highly absorbable form of iodine.
  3. Coconut Oil (and Coconut products)- The “super star” saturated fat that can benefit everything from weight loss to cancer to HIV. Actually, too many benefits to list!  High in lauric acid and is a microbial that fights viruses and bacteria.  It’s a quick source of energy as its fats are MCT (medium chain triglyercerides).   Assists in weight loss by balancing hormones and the thyroid.  Best sources would be “raw” organic, unprocessed virgin coconut oil.
  4. Potatoes – Natural starch, good source of energy.  Excellent source of fiber, high in vitamin B6, potassium, iron, copper and vitamin C and low in fat.  If you’re going to eat a starchy carb, a potato would be a great place to start.  When compared to plain ol pasta, the potato wins hands down – higher in fiber, nutrients and obviously not processed.
  5. Chocolate – natural antioxidant, high in magnesium and flavonoids that benefit the cardiovascular system and fight free radicals.  Best bet would be organic, unprocessed chocolate – with at least 70% cacao.  Look for ones with minimal added ingredients, high fiber content and lower sugar.
  6. Carrots – Whoever said avoid carrots because they are high in sugar definitely got it wrong.   They’re anti aging, prevent heart disease, improve vision and prevent cancer!  Carrots contain natural sugars and are full of cartenoids and antioxidants!  Once thought of having a high glycemic index and therefore potential to raise blood sugar – however, choosing raw over  cooked will eliminate this (much lower glycemic index, however when you add a fat – butter or olive oil to any food with higher glycemic index, the fat will naturally balance and decrease any surges in blood sugar)
  7. Natural fats – Whole, unprocessed, unheated natural fats found in such products as Olives, Avocado’s and Nuts.   Fats are needed for hormone production and blood sugar balance in addition to enhancing skin & hair health.  Organic, unprocessed, unfiltered oils fall into this category.  Raw is best when it comes to fat – unroasted nuts, unheated oils – these will actually assist your body in weight loss not add to it.

Health Extremes??

How healthy do i have to be?

This post is part informative/part gripe session!!  The one thing that aggravates me more than anything is people who criticize a healthy diet!! Someone PLEASE tell me since when is eating a diet of natural, organic, unprocessed foods (whether vegan, veg, omnivore or carnivore) considered weird and odd yet eating highly processed, chemically laden boxed & canned foods that don’t even exist in nature normal? I take a LOT of criticism for the way I eat – even those that consider themselves to be “healthy” feel that for them it would be extreme. However – what exactly is extreme? Is it My fondness for green juices or the fact that I refuse to eat “fake foods” aka things that don’t exist in nature or their natural state i.e. bread, pastas, cereals etc (the natural form would be wheat berries, wheat grass and grains). Sadly I find it’s more the latter – I’m not normal because I eat natural foods?? You know what I find ODD – those people that eat processed foods and think they’re eating healthy or the ones that count calories or even worse the ones that refuse to eat a potato fearing it’s a carb and therefore is an evil that will make them gain weight!!!  And dont even get me started on the bagel eaters, fast food goers or those that think a healthy lunch is a salad consisting of fatty creamy dressing over a few pieces of iceberg lettuce loaded with deli meats, mayo smothered tuna or canned veggies. Anyone who knows me well knows my utter obsession with potatoes (dare I say the white ones!) I love starches and eat them frequently – all varieties of potatoes, winter squashes, beets,  carrots and even some grains – brown rice, buckwheat, millet AND none of these make me gain weight or feel sluggish! I see NOTHING extreme about what I consume. I feel light, vibrant, full of energy and personally have been told I have a “glow” about me – how many “mainstream” eaters can confess to that? I follow an organic unprocessed diet – sometimes raw vegan, sometimes not; I enjoy every food that I eat; I don’t shun fat, carbs or sweets, nor do I count calories (p.s. I find all of that completely and totally unnecessary if you’re eating the right foods in the right combinations)
The one question I hear more and more frequently is how healthy do I need to be to reap rewards? Its typically assumed that to lead a healthy, “cleansing” lifestyle one must go to extremes, to deprive themselves of delicious, comforting food and to subsist on tasteless boring fare.  This is far from the truth! Everyone has different goals in mind, some want to lose weight, increase energy, prevent disease while others are on a path, they’re the ones fighting disease, the ones who have committed to a life long habit of only choosing nourishment that will allow them achieve a vibrant life – through clear thinking and a healthy body from the inside out.
The first group of people usually don’t have to go too far in order to reach their goals – a few tweaks here and there, however, its the latter group that tend to go gung ho initially and find themselves feeling soo extraordinary that they commit to live this way indefinitely.  I fall into the second group – yup the ol gung hoer’s BUT let me let you in on a secret, even if I didn’t “have” to live this way, I still would simply because it makes me feel fabulous!  I know what you are probably thinking – what exactly is this mystical “way of life, way of eating” that will give me vibrant energy, effortless weight loss, clear thinking, beautiful skin.  Its a few simple steps and it really is all up to YOU – how VIBRANT do you want to be? I’ll give you my personal example (remember, I’m considered somewhat of an extremist by some!)  – what don’t I eat – in a nutshell – processed foods and  being I have a natural tendency towards vegetarian diet, I avoid meats & dairy – but that doesn’t mean I totally shun fish, seafood and some delicious raw cheeses from time to time(easier to digest over pasteurized) and What I do eat – LOTS of veggies (remember there are THOUSANDS of different vegetables in the world vs only a handful of varieties of meat) tons of greens, nuts, seeds, occasional fish/seafood, grains, superfoods – basically if its natural (i.e. found in nature) I’m eating it.  Not extremely extreme is it?  I certainly don’t think so, especially when I eat the foods I love and am reaping a multitude of rewards. As you  read this you may be thinking “nope, I can’t do that” WELL, you don’t necessarily have to – remember I AM the “extreme” example.  Being I feel each individual is just that – individual, everyone had different needs; even two people with the same goal will reach it on a different path. Vibrancy is right around the corner for you; Its not difficult to achieve –  its knowing what to cut out and what to bring in – can it be any more simple?  Subtract the things that will weigh you down, add the things that will give you that pure vibrancy we all seek and covet.  My first, most important, “holy grail” of all suggestions is to stop eating processed foods – so if it comes in a box, bag, can or form unrecognizable in nature cut back or even better yet cut it out completely. This step alone will work wonders

4 Foods Women Should Never Be Without

While there are endless amount of healthy fruits and vegetables that should make up a healthy diet there are certain foods that standout as “superstars” in that they target specific conditions. One area every woman should be concerned with is HORMONAL Imbalance. Most doctors are quick to prescribe pills to combat this but there is a safer alternative (and cheaper!) — many foods hold the solution. The four foods below should be included weekly if not daily to support estrogen balance for women of any age.

 
 
1. Cruciferous Veggies – Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower are the BEST. They defend against female cancers, especially Breast Cancer.  The indoles found in cruciferous veggies inactivate the active form of estrogen making them weaker. Also found to have enzymes that de-activate carcinogens and contain compounds that suppress tumors and halt cancer cell growth. One caveat though – women with hypothyroid should eat cruciferous veggies cooked as in their raw form they can inhibit the uptake of thyroid hormone. Quick recipe tip – Slow Roast fresh broccoli stalks with a sprinkle of olive oil, sea salt and crushed garlic – even broccoli haters will be tempted to try this one.
 
2. Fiber Rich Foods – Whole Grains in unprocessed forms and Beans are needed to “sweep” out excess toxins – including excess hormones. Perfect choices are Brown Rice, Quinoa, Lentils, Split Peas and Garbanzos. Choose dry beans over canned to eliminate preservatives and BPA (found in the lining of most canned products)
 
3. Healthy Fats – Ovaries depend on unsaturated fats for hormonal balance and fertility. Perfect choices are deep water fish, avocado’s, raw nuts & seeds and unrefined, unfiltered oils like Flax Seed and Olive oil. Flax is especially important as it contains lignans, which balance hormones and stabilize estrogen/progesterone ratio. Added bonus is soft, supple skin, reduced wrinkles and lush hair!
 
4. Probiotic Rich Foods – Enzyme and Probiotic rich foods not only help with digestive balance but also support the immune system and help with radiant skin in addition to metabolizing and recycling hormones (this is a good thing!) Natural, vegetarian choices are preferred over commercially sold yogurts. Good options are Kim Chi or other types of cultured veggies, kombucha and kefir.

Fat after 30 & other myths

Something I take for granted is that there is soo much misunderstandings about just about everything – health, diets, weight loss, exercise, raw foods, etc.. Its very common for someone to have a question and find two radically different answers to it. I’m going to dispel some of the most common myths around:
Myth #1 ~  Muscle weighs more than fat – Let me ask you to do one thing – repeat that over and over again until it does NOT make sense! How can muscle weigh more than fat?? A pound is a pound, right?  You’ve heard the old adage about which weighs more a lb of feathers or a lb of bricks – neither weighs more – the same as muscle and fat!  This brings up yet another myth that muscle will turn into fat. O M G – that one is the most insane; how exactly can two different fibers in the body morph into each other?? And if that was the case, why doesn’t fat ever turn to muscle?? I believe this myth largely came to be due to the structure of muscle, which is dense & hard;  in effect stronger in comparison to fat which is soft, squishy, looser; so hypothetically if you were to take out a portion of fat and replace it with muscle you would in fact be able to fit more muscle in that area due in part to its denseness – but don’t mistake it for weighing more or coming to be due to some great metamorphosis of the fat that turned it into muscle! Ohhh if it was that easy! Now, lets be clear, the more muscle you have the leaner you will look and the less fat you’ll naturally have as muscle burns calories, which will reduce fat!
Myth #2 ~ As we age (specifically women) our metabolism slows down – Ok Ladies, sit tight for this one – I’ll let you in on a secret – there is NO such thing as metabolism!!! Is it something that you go to your doctor and ask to be taken out? Does it cause disease or health issues similiar to the heart, liver, kidneys, etc?  NO – the reason being is that the “metabolism” is NOT an organ!  It is what has been a “get out of jail card” for doctors instead of dealing with issues they will tell you – “No, you’re ok – as you age your metabolism just slows” What has become to be known as the “metabolism” is actually a series of organs that control metabolic processes in the body and makes up the endocrine system. There are 7 in total: Thyroid, Adrenals, Pineal, Pancreas, Ovaries, Thymus and Pituitary; each one has a specific purpose and typically if one slows down or malfunctions, it will pull the other ones down.  The good news is that each one can be strengthened and balanced in order to run at peak performance and that means – no weight gain with age!
Myth #3 ~ Cutting Carbs helps with weight loss – IN reality – cutting out anything you consume in excess result in weight loss! Carbs are NOT the evil-doers that protein promoting diets claim them to be.  It is the choice of carbs chosen.  Processed food, junk foods, sugary foods (all CARBS) will increase weight so of course if you were to eliminate them you’d lose.  BUT this is a case of don’t throw out the “baby with the bathwater” ~ All carbs aren’t bad, our brains in fact run on glucose that comes from carbs!!! Choose the right ones and you’ll be good to go.
Myth #4 ~ Vegetarians eat fish – Ohh this one is a biggie, so much confusion over the different terminology of eating habits.  Nothing distresses me more to see restaurant menu’s with “vegetarian entrees” that include Pasta in a cream sauce with shrimp or Salmon as the main dish! Or how many “vegetarians” have I met that eat cheese sandwiches!  Vegetarians do not eat dairy {including cheese, milk, eggs, yogurt or whey protein as whey is from dairy!}, meats, poultry and fish; they will typically consume tofu or other beans as their protein source. A balanced vegetarian diet should include unprocessed foods such as whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruit.
Myth # 5 ~ Vegetarians & Vegans have nutritional deficiencies –This has got to be the biggest fallacy ever!  There is NOTHING  in meat or dairy products that can not be found in vegetarian/vegan items.  In general those following a non meat eating way of living are more health conscious; while “junk” vegetarian foods exist, more and more people are shunning soy in favor of unprocessed healthy vegetarian foods.  Nutrients often sited as being lacking in vegetarian/vegan diets are protein, iron, calcium & b12; all of which can easily be found abundantly in  foods such as Hemp Seeds, Spirulina, Chia seeds, sea vegetables„ beans & nuts/seeds and an array of green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard & spinach. More important to note is vegetarian sources of protein are more easily assimilated by our bodies – which means our body absorbs them better!
Myth # 6 ~ More is better! –  The typical thinking goes something like this – if a small amount of something works, 5x’s that must work even better.  This applies to  everything from Exercise to Water consumption – moderation is key!!! Rarely is this one true I can’t think of one example where an excess of something is actually beneficial. I myself suffered for years the many ill effects from overexercise – in excess, exercise/weight lifting/cardio will all drain the body, exhausting the organs in addition to creating free radicals!  People have suffered from drinking too much water, eating too much protein, taking too many herbs! My advice – Easy does it.
Myth # 7 ~ All or Nothing – Sadly this mentality also exists. In a world where raw vegans are chastised for for having some “cooked food slip ups” or people beating themselves up for not completing a juice fast to carnivores thinking they like meat too much to ever give it up to eat healthy.  In a “perfect world” one can subsist on a {hopefully unprocessed} diet that includes both green juice and fish (sorry, I just couldn’t say meat although that would be a perfect world for some!) So, raise up your glass of wine (preferably organic!), have a piece of chocolate but also try to include other life enhancing practices into your daily life and you will definitely reap the rewards.

The 4 Keys to Lovin the Skin You’re In

While anyone is susceptible to body image, perception or self esteem issues, females seem to be most affected.  My opinion is that it has to do with the constant bombardment in the media of what is “IN” right now.  One minute it’s all about curves but underneath it all the common sentiment is thin is in. It’s no wonder women beat themselves up as they attempt to conform to sometimes unattainable standards. There is no single right way to be because everyone is unique and that’s how we are supposed to be. One thing is for certain — life is rough being a woman! Throughout my life I’ve noticed that being female almost always equates to being not entirely thrilled about your appearance. This isn’t stressing over a little premenstrual bloating or a bad hair day, I’m talking about a true loathing over one’s body, hair, facial features etc.

The first key is to STOP COMPARING YOURSELF to anyone. I don’t care if it’s your best friend or someone famous. Stop right now. You are YOU – big hips or small hips; large breasts, small breasts, tall, short, etc. Unless you’re going to resort to extreme surgery to “fix” your issues – suck it up or in a gentler way — find acceptance! If it helps you to feel better, realize the most sought after individuals are those that “broke the mold” so to speak. They found what worked for them and wore it proudly.
The second key is to BE THE BEST YOU that you can be. Take care of yourself, nurture yourself – in essence love yourself.  Once you find acceptance, truly appreciate what you have – make the most of it.  Instead of dreading the thighs that you wish were smaller – love them for the way they make you stronger! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting letting one’s self go. Part of being the best you can be is taking care of your body with exercise and eating right. No way to get around that, once that is out of the way work on your mind – how you perceive yourself.
I am a firm believer in what you think – you believe – what you believe – you become! The mind is a powerful thing. Now if you believe you’re wonder woman, please don’t expect to suddenly become a tall well endowed brunette with a golden lasso.  his is more about your perception of yourself affecting your attitude, what you put out into the world, you get back. EXACTLY – if you face the world lacking confidence in yourself, you certainly can’t expect anyone to have confidence in you. If you start your day with a sullen attitude, dull expression – don’t you dare wonder why you aren’t greeted with smiles and cheeriness.
The third key is to CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE. Nope, not Rosetta stone, but change your thoughts and what you say to yourself. Face it — we all speak to ourselves whether out loud or subliminally. I just overheard a women in a fitting room the other day say “Ughhhh I HATE my hips” Well if you hate your hips they will hate you back! Record how often you think or say something negative about your body; you will be astounded. Your challenge is to take a week (yes a full 7 days) and each day at least five times compliment yourself.  I know, sounds a bit hokey – but really try it. Look into a mirror and say (or think) things like “I look FABULOUS” or “I LOVE THE WAY THIS ______ (dress, pants, etc) LOOKS ON ME” and really mean it.
 
The fourth key is to BE YOURSELF –  once you begin to accept yourself and start being the best you possible dishing out daily compliments – be brave to show the world exactly who you are.  For instance, I’m a girly girl – I wear it proudly. This is the “real” me – sure sometimes I may look out of place all dressed up when the world is in jeans, but that’s OK because I’m being me.  This is how I feel comfortable and I really don’t care what people think and you know what – I’m accepted for it. I find people really aren’t sizing others up as much as we think they are – they in fact are probably too worried about themselves.
There you have it — my four keys to feeling a bit more comfortable in your skin. Come up with a game plan on how to put these keys into action.  I have a few steps every day that help me BE THE BEST ME I CAN BE (sorry for Seussism). Find what works for you. Mine are simple – I find nurturing myself with health supporting tasks make me feel my best.  I love myself by jumping on my mini trampoline, practicingyoga, implementing dry skin brushing so my skin looks and feels its best (while standing naked in a mirror – true acceptance there) and drinking lots of green juice.

NO Label Required – Listen to your body!

A common trap many health conscious individuals fall into is donning a label — Vegan, Raw Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore, Pescetarian, Fruitarian and so on. And let’s not forget adding in percentages —“Well, I’m 90% raw vegan 11.2% of the time and the other 88.8% I’m an omnivore.”

While this is a gross exaggeration, it really isn’t that far-fetched – I’ve heard numerous people try to break down what, how and when they eat! No one owes anyone an explanation of their dietary habits. There is no prize for those that stick to strict regimented menus. My humble opinion — LABELS ARE FOR JARS, CANS, BOXES AND BOTTLES, NOT PEOPLE!!
Many people I know stick to a completely raw vegan diet and it works wonderful for them. Then there are others that have dabbled in it (me being one of them) or have no desire to subscribe to just one way of eating for any length of time. My one caveat is I’m gluten free, unprocessed and organic; however, I don’t throw these “labels” around nor let them define who I am. The danger with this whole characterization by what one consumes is the pressure to always to stick to it. How frequent have you seen a raw vegan being practically crucified for taking a bite of something not raw vegan?
Lately, I’ve noticed more and more of the onetime-hardcore raw gurus switching gears BIG time and incorporating cooked foods and even, dare I say, flesh foods into their diet. They’ve come to the realization that their bodies weren’t performing  their best, and even not performing at all – many were facing health issues that have been remedied by a change in diet. This is in no way saying that what they were doing was wrong – it just wasn’t right for them and I applaud them for listening to the cues their body was telling them. I also feel it was extremely brave of them to come out, so to speak, and document their journeys. There is NO shame in saying, “Hey, I thought this was the best thing for me but it turns out it wasn’t.” Geez, it’s not like they’ve turned to a life of drugs and alcohol – they’re just eating some “real” foods.
I am a big proponent of listening to your body and doing what works for you as an individual.  I don’t make a big to-do about what I eat, and when asked I usually just say I eat organic, unprocessed. That’s pretty broad, but then again, WHY do I have to be specific?  That alone garners way to much attention. Sometimes I get a snide remark such as “You don’t eat real food.” To this I reply “Oh, but I do just that. I eat real food that doesn’t come from a box, bag, jar or can. I might be the ONLY person you know actually eating REAL food.” This usually quiets someone down real quick 🙂
The only label I wear is one that says I’m a person in touch with my body and its needs. I love my greenjuices and big green salads; however, I find that in the winter months they just don’t cut it for me – my body craves more warmth. I still consume my green juices but I add lots of warming spices such as ginger and sometimes the occasion sprinkle of cayenne. I eat cooked veggies (seriously THE world may just end!) and some cooked grains (my go-to is quinoa followed by brown rice and millet) and I love lentils and adzuki beans. I juice my beets and carrots in addition to roasting them and I love them just the same both ways and they are equally health promoting and nourishing to my body – in different ways of course.
While I fantasize about the Fruitarian lifestyle, I know for me it wouldn’t work! My mantra for the New Year is to “BE GENTLE.”  If you’re a raw vegan feeling a bit not yourself , add some cooked veggies or grains or whatever is your thing. If you’re a vegetarian and not satisfied, maybe add some raw dairy. Just don’t ignore your body because you’ve labeled yourself something and certain healthy sustenance may not fall under that labeling!