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September 2011

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I’m an avid watcher of The Biggest Loser TV show. Although it can be incredibly frustrating to watch at times, I love seeing these people transform their lives. They start out as these incredibly sad, broken people, and through time they are on the show, they begin to find themselves. They end the show with smiles you can’t wipe from their faces and an undeniable healthy glow.

Although their individual stories may differ, they have one thing in common (besides being overweight), and that is how they got to be overweight and sick. In the second week of the show, the contestants sit with a doctor and their medical conditions are discussed. They all end the same way, the contestant is in tears saying “I don’t know how I got here.” It’s really very heartbreaking. The truth is, it’s very clear how they “got there,” they just aren’t able to see it yet. In reality, even the tiniest decisions you make every day are what gets you “there,” it didn’t happen overnight. However, most of the contestants are in denial and aren’t ready to take responsibility for their actions. It is their own actions that got them “here,” but many fail to see it for many weeks. It is a true turning point when you see these people start to “get it.”

The way many people think about food is what begins their path to self-destruction. “It’s only one donut;” “I have been really good today;” “I worked out this morning;” These are dangerous ways of thinking. It is difficult for many people to draw a definitive line once these statements begin. It’s also difficult to keep track of how often you’re using them as excuses to eat something you know you should not. Instead of thinking about this donut as a reward for a good workout, think about what type of food your body requires to rebuild and repair the muscles you’ve broken down. The answer is probably not a donut. Or maybe you haven’t worked out yet. Instead of thinking “It’s okay, I am allowed to eat this donut because I’ll work it off tonight,” think about what type of food your body needs to fuel it through a good, hard workout. Again, probably not a donut. I will get more into what to eat before/during/after workouts in future posts, but a major shift in thinking is required first.

Another issue with this last statement is the word “allowed.” In this country, we typically treat the foods that are killing us as rewards. What would you say if after a workout I said “Great job today, now you are allowed to eat foods that will eventually kill you”? You’d look at me like I was crazy, right? Well, that’s essentially what is happening. Foods such as ice cream, candy, donuts and other pastries, fried and fatty foods, etc. are deemed as “treats.” How are people so shocked that childhood obesity is at an all-time high? Or that for the first time in history, our children will not outlive us. Are you ready to bury your child? Harsh, I know, but this HAS to be addressed. Our kids get all their homework done on time, or receive excellent grades on their report cards, and to reward them we give them foods that not only will make them sick eventually, but are also incredibly addicting. We try so hard to teach our children to stay away from drugs, but do you know how many “drugs” or chemicals are in processed foods like cheese puffs, doritos, oreos and other snacks they consume every day? These foods are manufactured to be addicting, and it works! If you offer your child one of these snacks, will they turn it away and ask for carrots instead? Probably not. We have to teach them how to make healthy foods something they’ll actually want to eat. But again, that’s another post.

In short, if you want to make changes to your body, you’ll first need to make changes to your mind. When you start to look at things like donuts and candy as things that make you sick, you start to want them less and less. The more sweets you eat, the more sweets you will crave. Don’t give in to those sugar cravings, it’s bad news! As you begin to eat healthier, you will begin to crave healthier food. Think about food as fuel, and that will help aid your shift in thinking. This will take time, so be patient with yourself. If you slip, ask yourself why, don’t ignore your actions, deal with them. You shouldn’t abandon your goals altogether because you “slipped”, nor should you beat yourself up about it, but you absolutely cannot ignore it. Ignoring the bad choices we make during the day is exactly what will get you “there.”

Peace, love and healthy thoughts,

Melissa

©Melissa Villamizar‘Tis the season for sinus infections! Almost everyone in the office has gotten some sort of flu, virus or sinus infection in the last two weeks. Well, I am determined NOT to catch anything! However, I feel terrible. I feel a sinus infection coming on, and there’s absolutely NO way I will take antibiotics. So in the spirit of “sinus infection season”, I thought I would share with you my steps towards a homeopathic cure.

Sinus infections can be caused by viral, fungal or bacterial infections, allergies and/or autoimmune diseases, and are highly contagious. So thank you to everyone in the office for sharing, that was kind of you. Let’s clink glasses and “cheers” with glasses of apple cider vinegar.

Noted as “the best remedy” to stop a sinus infection, it works best when taken immediately upon onset of symptoms. This magical mixture consists of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 8 ounces of water. It’s “supposed” to be consumed “all at once.” Good luck with that, this stuff takes some getting used to. If you’d rather sip on it, you can mix 1/8 – 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in 16 oz. of water, and sip on it throughout the day. This works well if you have an existing sinus infection as well. Apple cider vinegar is one of the best old-school remedies for just about anything. Sit down with your Grandmother, and ask her about apple cider vinegar. She’ll likely tell you it cures everything! However, one of the reasons it works so well in regards to clearing sinuses is because it thins mucus. It should also be noted that the ACV remedy must be started at the onset of symptoms, as starting it too late could prove ineffective.

It should also be noted that if you have a sinus infection, it would be wise to avoid all mucus-forming foods, such as dairy (ice cream, milk, cheese), gluten (wheat, oats, barley, bread, cereal), fried/fatty foods, sugar (sweets, pastries, soda, chocolate) and animal products (meat, eggs). These foods are typically more difficult for the body to digest, increasing the production of mucus.

Instead, increase your consumption of mucus-clearing foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables (especially citrus fruits and grapes), onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, horseradish and ginger. Also, if you are sick, it is best to consume foods in liquid form, because the energy that your body saves digesting food can be used to help you get well again. So if you’re really feeling icky, try juicing your fruits and vegetables or making a smoothie or a soup.

Cheers to a mucus-free fall! I’ll drink to that! (Apple cider vinegar, of course).

Update 9/30/11: I am happy to report that I do not have, nor did I ever get, a sinus infection. Hooray! Good job ACV! The first day (the day I wrote this), I sipped on ACV and water all day. I immediately felt better. There was less pressure in my sinuses, and I felt like my nose was running, yes! Mucus was draining! The 2nd day, I didn’t do anything, then day 3 and 4 (today is 4), I have been doing a little sipping again for good measure, as I do feel some pressure again. I can say though, that I do see a significant difference after drinking the ACV. I’ve also been on allergy medication for decades, and I actually stopped taking my Claritin this week because I read these drugs can be a factor in causing respiratory infections and sinus infections. Taking that medicine gives my liver something else to process, which can increase mucus production. Since that is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do, I cut it altogether. Risky, since every time I try to “kick” my allergy meds, I end up with a respiratory infection, but I’m feelin’ good! Raw foods and ACV are here to save the day!

Key Factors

There are three key factors that differentiate cleanses from one another. (4)

  1. How intensely (consider speed and side effects) does the cleanse switch the body into detox mode?
  2. How much nutritional support does it offer while the detox process is taking place? (Will it remove toxins from circulation?)
  3. Does the program create the conditions for the repair of the gut?

In the previous blog post, Why Cleanse? we discussed the reasons why it is important to not only release toxins, but to neutralize and eliminate them as well. Some of the cleanses listed below will release toxins quickly, others more slowly, but they vary in how successfully they neutralize and eliminate those toxins from the body. The safety of the cleanse is determined by how fast/slow and the amount of side effects that are encountered when the body enters detox mode as well as the intensity of liver detoxification. Please note, you should always consult your doctor before initiating a cleanse on your own. I recommend finding a doctor in your area that practices Functional Medicine.

Water Fasting

Definitely the most intense and least pleasant form of detoxification, this is usually done for spiritual reasons, and in my opinion is pretty unsafe. You just drink water. That’s it. Note, I am not a doctor, but I think most would agree with me here. Back when this cleanse was used more widely, there weren’t as many chemicals or toxins in the environment and in the body, so maybe it wasn’t so bad back then. However, many more toxins are released from our bodies today, and with minimal nutrient support for liver detoxification, this becomes a dangerous cleanse.

Alejandro Junger, M.D., author of CLEAN notes, “I witnessed many people try this method (water fasting) over the years. They all got very weak and sleepy and could not go on for long. Many water fasters suffered nausea, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes and other symptoms.”

The Master Cleanse

You may have heard of this one before, this is a liquid-only detox program where only drink this one specific “cocktail” of water with lemon, grade-B maple syrup and cayenne pepper, for as long as you can. “This method enhances elimination of toxins by the irritation that the cayenne pepper causes on the intestinal mucosa, not by “binding” fiber to the toxins to prevent reabsorption and pulling them out.” – Dr. Junger. This cleanse probably better suits people cleansing for spiritual reasons rather than physical. The Master Cleanse is not one of the best options in terms of a nutritionally-supportive cleanse goes, since it does not do a good job of eliminating toxins from circulation.

Juice Fasting

The juice fast is exactly what it sounds like. You consume only fresh fruit and vegetable juices, water and/or herbal teas. This fast is not as intense as the water fast, but it’s still tough mentally because you’re not consuming any food. You’d be amazed how much you miss chewing after just one day! Juice fasting is good because the juices provide the nutrients the liver requires for detoxification, but the juices should be mostly green (ie: kale, spinach, celery, etc.). Since liquids digest faster than solid foods, detoxification happens quickly with this cleanse. 

What is Cleansing?

A cleanse is a program done for a specific amount of time that puts the body in a more intense detox mode than it encounters on a regular day-to-day basis. Although a scary word to some, cleansing can actually be a very enjoyable and eye-opening process. You feel renewed, like a better version of yourself. Your thoughts are more clear, decisions are easier, relationships strengthen and digestion woes disappear. Even serious illnesses such as diabetes can be reversed in time. What may surprise you about cleansing, however, is that it is not a new concept.

Why Cleanse?

In ancient times, it was common knowledge that our bodies needed to periodically allowed to enter a deeper state of detoxification and that resting your digestive system was integral to life. This must occur in order for the body to handle the accumulation of toxins that build up everyday, but especially during times of excess eating, activity and stress. Human beings’ genetic evolution—the way our bodies work best—has been shaped by the fasting that was imposed on us by the hunter-gatherer way of life. For millennia, humans experienced periods of feasting followed by periods of imposed famine. (4).

“A focused period of detoxifying is a reset for the whole physical and mental body. It delivers an all-access pass to boundless reserves of energy you didn’t know you had. You find that every part of your body works better, imbalances are rectified, and irritating symptoms get a chance to melt away on their own—all by simply “switching on” a system that you were born with and that has been patiently waiting to server you.” – Alejandro Junger, M.D.

Today, people cleanse to remove fog and to regain energy, but more importantly, people are often very eager to simplify their lives and rid themselves of old habits. A cleanse gives people the opportunity to start fresh, create new, healthier habits, and leave their old habits behind. According to Dr. Junger, “There is an inevitable awakening in the mind and emotions, even if the stated goal of the cleanse is more physical, such as to enhance beauty, encourage weight loss, or look younger.”

It is also a way to boost healing systems when systems are taxed and are beginning to show signs of stress. With the digestive system resting, more energy can be diverted toward defense and healing.

How it Works

The detoxification process kicks in 8 hours after your last meal and needs 4 hours to function optimally. It is after that 8 hour mark that your body has finished processing the last meal you ate. Once digestion is completed, accumulated toxins from the tissues are released into the bloodstream so that they can eventually be neutralized and eliminated with the help of nutrients. If the toxins are not eliminated, not only can they be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, but the free radicals that they contain corrode tissues and damage cells on contact. This is one reason why late night eating is discouraged. If your body never finishes processing your food before you eat again, it doesn’t have the chance to release other accumulated toxins. The reason we call that first meal of the day “breakfast” is because that’s exactly what we’re doing, we’re breaking the fast that has occurred overnight.

In short, we are human. We accumulate stress, we are active, we eat in excess and we build up waste. With that, we also need to ensure that we alleviate that stress at some point, because if we don’t, that’s when things like fatigue and illness come knocking down our defense-wall doors. For a comparison of today’s most popular cleanses, please read Cleanses Compared.

 

This recipe is: Raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan.

 

One of my favorites! Also known as “Homemade GU”.

I am absolutely obsessed with this recipe! For my longer workouts (i.e. runs lasting longer than 1 hour), it is CRUCIAL to replenish lost electrolytes. (Read more about The Importance of Electrolytes here). I say “crucial” because in the Texas heat, it truly can be a matter of life or death. Even without the heat, it is still extremely important). Not only will replenishing lost electrolytes make you feel better, but you’ll get a better workout in, as you will abe able to avoid hitting “the wall” as they call it, when you run out of energy.

There is a popular product on the market called GU that I normally would eat in order to provide my body with the electrolytes and carbs that it needs to push on. However, I hate the artificial ingredients it contains and it actually makes my stomach hurt. The ingredients in this recipe are truly delicious. The main ingredients are dates, agave nectar, coconut oil and hemp protein, and the combination of these glucose- and fructose-rich ingredients is the best answer for a quick, easily digestible, high-energy snack.

Dates

Dates are great because they are rich in glucose, which is a simple carbohydrate. This is what the body will look to burn first as fuel. Glucose goes straight to the liver for immediate energy (your body does not have to convert it to anything first). “Glucose-rich foods are the best primary fuel sources before or during a high-intensity workout. However, it burns quickly, which means that if glucose is the only carbohydrate source, it will need to be replenished about every 20 minutes after one hour of intense activity to keep the body adequately fueled.” (1)

When the body runs out of simple carbs to burn, it will turn to complex carbs, which consume more of the body’s energy to break down before they can be used as fuel. This gel is easily digestible, and the carbohydrates here will get to the working muscles super fast!

Agave Nectar

Fructose has a lower glycemic index than glucose. This means it kicks in at a slower rate once consumed, and it burns more slowly, prolonging its effectiveness. This is where the agave nectar comes in.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This form of fatty acid is excellent for quick energy, as it goes directly to the liver to be burned as fuel (just like glucose).

All of the ingredients above are fantastic for shorter, high-intensity workouts. However, for a longer workout, hemp protein is included in the Coconut Carob Gel because the protein will slow the rate at which you burn through those simple carbs, prolonging energy levels. 

I am so thankful to have found this amazing, all-natural recipe in the Thrive book. Now I eat some of this “homemade GU” before every workout, no matter how long it’s going to be!

Notes

  • Recipe yields: ~ 3/4 c., about 8 oz.
  • Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 dates (organic; Don’t forget to remove the pits!)
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa nibs (optional; A superfood and a natural stimulant)
  • 1 tbsp. hemp protein
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients; process until blend reaches a gel-like consistency.
  2. Save the gel in reusable flasks, or in small zip block bags. If you use the small zip block bags, you can cut the corner of the bag off, and squeeze the gel out of the corner of the bag. Very easy while you’re working out!
The gel will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator, but is best when consumed fresh. Enjoy!

What is Tabata Training?

In short, it’s one of the best ways to lose weight, gain muscle and increase your athletic performance. It is very simple but very intense. Tabata is named after a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan, named Izumi Tabata.

How Does Tabata Work?

After about a 5 minute warm-up (or more if you feel it’s necessary), you will do one exercise at your maximum effort for 20 seconds. You actually should be working at 170% of your VO2 max. In layman’s terms, you should be working harder than you ever have before, basically working until muscle failure. After those 20 seconds, you will rest for 10 seconds. After your 10 second rest, you will move onto the second round of the Tabata (same exercise, for 20 seconds again). You will do 8 20-second sets, with 10 seconds of rest in between, for a total of 4 minutes. Four minutes may sound easy, but when you are working as hard as you possibly can, you will find those are the longest 20 seconds of your life! I’m not trying to scare you, just want to impose on you how important it is to work as hard as you can. That is the only way you will get the maximum benefits of Tabata Training. Also, you don’t want to spend the first few seconds “ramping up” to your full potential. With Tabata, you need to be at your MAX from the beginning, and you basically have to claw your way through the remaining 20 seconds.

You can use a regular stopwatch, or if you have an iPod Touch, iPhone, etc., you can download the Tabata Pro App from the iTunes store, it is the best app out there for keeping track of your timed intervals. (Shown to the right).

What Are The Benefits of Tabata Training?

There are a myriad of benefits to Tabata Training. For one, it is better for fat loss than steady-state training. When you do a cardio session at the same pace the whle time, your body will adjust itself to the speed you are going and tries to conserve energy (calories). By training in high-intensity intervals, you will be able to avoid this and burn more calories and fat. Another benefit is the afterburn you receive after interval training, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This type of training results in a higher EPOC, which means your body is burning more calories after your workout is over. You will increase your VO2 max (the maximum capacity of your body to transport and use oxygen during exercise, which reflects your physical fitness level). I also love being able to get a killer workout in a short amount of time. We’ll all tight on time these days, so if I can get a quality workout in, in half the time I would have spent in the gym, that sounds good to me! Also, the harder the workout is, the better you feel when it’s over. I feel so much more accomplished after a tough Tabata training than I do after doing comparable time on the elliptical machine at the gym. Boring!

How Often Should I Do Tabata?

It is important to note that you need to have a solid baseline of strength and endurance to attempt Tabata. If you are just starting an exercise program, make sure you give yourself enough time to gain the muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance to get through several rounds of these exercises before diving into a full Tabata workout. If you don’t feel you’re ready to take on some of the tougher Tabata exercises, you can apply the Tabata Training Method to other forms of exercise. So if you are on the elliptical machine, go hard for 20 seconds, then slow it down for 10. You can also apply High Intensity Interval Training methods to your workout (HIIT). This is similar to Tabata in the sense that you are working hard for a set amount of time, then recovering for a set amount of time. If you are a beginner in terms of fitness level, you can adjust the exercises and the amount of training time.

  • HIIT for beginners: I would try a 1 minute walk/1 minute jog. Do this for as long as you can, this time will vary by participant, 2-4 times/week.
  • Intermediate level HIIT: 1 min walk/1 min jog for at least 20 minutes, 3-5 times/week.
  • Advanced HIIT: All out sprints for as long as you can go followed by a 1 min jog, 5-20 minutes, 3-5 times/week.

Both Tabata and High Intensity Interval Training require rest, and should not be attempted on subsequent days.

What is an Example of a Tabata Workout?

For an example, please read my post No Gym? No Equipment? No Problem! There I give you an example of a recent Tabata Training my husband and I completed while out of town, without any access to a gym or training equipment. You can also visit Mindy Mylrea’s You Tube page, where she provides the public with a new Tabata exercise every week! I recently had the pleasure of taking a few of Mindy’s classes, they were phenomenal!

Can I Create My Own Tabata Workout?

Absolutely! There are a few things to keep in mind when developing your Tabata Workout. First, you’ll want to take your fitness level into consideration, please note the HIIT variations above. For a Tabata workout, the exercise needs to be something that you will fail at by the end of a 20 second bout. Any exercise that is intense and can ramp up extremely quickly will work just fine. You’ll want to make sure you’ve hit all major muscle groups with these exercises (arms, legs, core, etc.) and be sure to alternate strength and cardio exercises. Examples of good Tabata exercises are: sprints, jump roping and plyometric jumps. More specifically: Mountain Climbers, Plank with Push Ups, Squat Jumps, Burpees, Lunge variations, etc.

Happy Tabata Training!

Sounds like an infomercial, but it’s true! You actually don’t need any equipment at all to get a good strength and cardio workout. Here’s the Tabata workout we did this morning. High intensity intervals, a great workout in a relatively short amount of time. We got a full butt whooping in under an hour.

Tabata intervals consist of doing one exercise at your maximum effort level for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. You’ll repeat this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. The exercises should be completed at 170% of your VO2 max. In layman’s terms, you better work harder in those 20 seconds than you’ve ever worked in your life. You’ll then move onto the next exercise, doing the same thing… one exercise for a total of 8 rounds, on for 20, off for 10. I usually do anywhere from 7-10 exercises depending on what I want from my workout. For more on Tabata, click here.

Here’s what we did this morning:

Started with a 10 minute warm up, a slow 1/2 mile run, some plank walk-outs, squats, etc., then a fast 1/2 mile run, then straight into our Tabata intervals. It is important to note that these exercises should be done at your maximum effort level. You should to fail at some point during the Tabata set. If you’re not at muscle failure, you’re not working hard enough. When you get to the point that you can no longer do the exercise with correct form, you can modify the exercise so that you can do it correctly. Sloppy exercises won’t get you anywhere, so if you’re having trouble doing the exercise, do a version of it that you can be successful at. We rested approximately 60 seconds in between each new exercise set.

  1. Mountain Climbers — Modification: Walking Mt. Climbers or High Plank
  2. Reverse Lunge Alternated w/Curtsey Lunge — Do left leg for the first round, right leg for the second round, and repeat. Modification: Hold reverse lunge and do small pulses up and down.
  3. Knee-to-Elbow Push Ups — Modification: Knee-to-Elbow High Plank
  4. High Knee Run — Modification: High Knee March. Try to keep hands behind head, alternate right elbow to left knee, and vice versa. Do not lean forward, stay upright.
  5. Squat Jumps — Doesn’t have to be high, concentrate instead on keeping the knees soft to absorb the landing, deccelerate and keep the body moving as you go into the next jump. Use you arms as well. Modification: Remove the jump, stay grounded.
  6. Swinging Triceps Modification: Tricep Dips
  7. Brazilian Lunges — Often done w/gliding discs, but since we didn’t have equipment, start in a reverse lunge, left foot forward, right foot back. Keep your fingertips on the ground, stay down low, and move your right foot up so that it’s parallel with your left foot. Keep fingers on the ground, lean forward (back is flat, chest to left thigh), and move right foot backwards again, keeping left foot in place for the entire round. Alternate using right foot forward for the next round. Modification: Stand upright, leaning forward slightly. Left foot forward, right foot back, bring right knee up, keeping left foot flat on the ground, then return right foot back behind you. Repeat for the entire round.
As a cool down, we ended with 10-15 minutes of slow lunges, squats and core work, and of course, stretching. Enjoy!

In theory, if you are eating fresh, healthy foods, you should be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health, right? Maybe in theory, but not in reality. In the past, I was against taking any kind of supplement. I figured that if you were eating all of the right foods, there was no need to add anything to your diet. In a perfect world, or maybe say, 60 years ago, I was right. Today, however, the same healthy fruits and vegetables that we eat no longer contain the same nutrients that they did back then. Today, in order to get all of the 90 essential nutrients that our body needs every day to function optimally, we need to supplement our diet with vitamins and minerals.

According to the USDA, the decrease in the amount of vitamins in minerals in our food is so significant that since 1965, the nutritional content in apples is down 41%, watercress is down 88%, broccoli is down 50%, collar greens are down 85%, potatoes are down 57% and tomatoes are down 43%. So basically, you can eat as healthy as possible, and still be nutrient-deficient. Depressing, I know. Here’s an example… let’s say you ate a spinach salad in 1953. According to research done in 1997 (which of course was 14 years ago now), in order to get the same amount of iron that was in that salad back in the 50’s, you would have to eat 43 bowls of spinach. Forty-what?! Exactly. And you can taste the difference, too. Have you ever had a beautifully red, plump strawberry, but you bite into it, and it has no taste? We can add tons of chemicals to the strawberries to make sure they look gorgeous, but if the strawberries don’t have any minerals, they can’t take in any vitamins, therefore rendering them tasteless.

If these people have to remain completely covered while they spray insecticides on our food, how is possibly safe that we ingest it?
What happened between then and now that our foods have lost all their nutrients? The first place we need to look is at the soil that our foods are grown in. Nutrient-depleted soil produces nutrient-depleted foods. Very few nutrients exist in plants that have been grown in over-farmed soil. We grow crop after crop, each one of lower nutritional value than the one before, never replenishing the soil.

 

If the soil isn’t bad enough, the insane amounts of “processing” that we do to the food after it’s harvested is even worse! Say you live in the Northern U.S., it’s the middle of winter, and you are buying beautiful strawberries… where did those strawberries come from? They were likely transported thousands of miles over several days. In order to transport them, they were picked long before they were ripe (depleting them of the essential nutrients your cells need to do their chemistry). Poor strawberries, they weren’t ready yet! The food is then X-rayed to eliminate bacteria, which also kills nutrients, it’s pasteurized to kill pathogens, which also kills helpful enzymes, hydrogenated to make them shelf-stable, which alters your cells when you eat it, and often food is waxed to make it appear nicer in the store. Even the lovely pre-packaged, triple-washed spinach that you buy at the store is at risk. In fact, traces of fecal matter have been found in a large percentage of those packages. Other foods (like animal products) were likely given hormones to fatten them up (which in turn fattens YOU up) and to force them to produce milk more quickly. Not to mention the antibiotics they were given to prevent their weak immune systems from infection. (4) Now all of that is in your body. Nice.

 

One of the most powerful ways you can reduce your exposure to toxins and increase the nutrient content of your food is to buy fresh, organic foods from local sources whenever possible. It will be more expensive, yes. But do you know what’s more expensive than organic food? Cancer. You may want to look into taking a supplement or two as well. I would advise speaking with your doctor on which supplements are right for you. Often times supplements and medications cannot be combined. So how do you know if the supplement you are taking (or about to take) is a good one? There are several ways*:

 

• It contains a USP label that accurately states that the product has been tested for dosage, contaminants and that it dissolves.
• Put it in water, if it dissolves in 30 minutes or less, you know it will dissolve in your body and make it to your bloodstream.
• Must have an expiration date.
Lists scientific information, not anecdotal studies on humans or testimonials.

 

Keep in mind that anyone can make a label online, bottle and sell their product, and it could be total junk. Also keep in mind that dosages on supplements are often listed higher than the actual requirement. So if it says take “3-6 tablespoons”, take 3. They want you to take 6 because you’ll run out of the product faster, causing you to buy more. Tricky, tricky! Also remember that supplements are a dietary substance used to supplement your diet, not replace it. If you ever have any questions at all, always refer to your primary healthcare provider. If they are trying to put you on medications, or are not giving you the help you need in the way you need it (many doctors are not yet on the “whole foods for good health” bandwagon), you can always do an online search for doctors using “functional medicine” in your area.

Here’s to healthy, happy bodies!

 

* Sports Nutrition, Promises and Pitfalls of Dietary Supplements, Scott Josephson, M.S., R.D.