Mitch and I didn’t plan on having a baby so young (27 & 32 years young). So when I was feeling a bit off while in Costa Rica I honestly thought I had picked up a parasite. I was about to do a parasite cleanse when Mitch told me I was pregnant. “I’m pretty sure I would know if I was growing a tiny human or not,” I told him. But he kept saying your pregnant…..so I ditched the cleanse and peed on a stick instead. HA! Pee test came back negative. But Mitch insisted I take another one in a couple days. A couple days later I saw the line and the plus sign appear. Positive…. The test came back positive. How the heck did Mitch know I was prego before I did!!? Last time I was pregnant I knew without a doubt before even taking a pregnancy test. Mitch told me it was obvious, my boobs got bigger (yay!) I started taking naps, and I was getting picky with food. After finding out I was growing a tiny human my body started to get a little funky. I was so tired, a bit emotional and I couldn’t eat to save my life (and our babies life). For a good 7 days I didn’t eat or drink, just the thought of it made me nauseous. I remember one morning when Mitch was out “mowing” the lawn with his machete, I was in the house trying to make myself eat a bit of watermelon. I ended up curled up in our spare bedroom crying. OK, more like bawling because I couldn’t even eat a small piece of watermelon for our growing baby. Mitch found me, scooped me up and held me as I cried and I tried to tell him why I was crying. When I finally pulled myself together enough to talk through the “huffs and puffs” we decided that I would fly home to Canada to get the right herbs to get everything back into balance. The plane ride home was hard. I was so tired, nauseous and hungry that I kept feeling like I was going to pass out. When I was about to board the plane I got another hit of nausea and sat down. The flight crew asked if I was ok and I told them I just felt sick. They almost didn’t let me on the plane for fear I was carrying a jungle disease. They all calmed down when I told them I was just sick and weak from growing a tiny human. Once I got home and balanced out my hormones to stop the nausea and sprayed magnesium oil on my tummy, then I could FINALLY eat some nutrient dense foods and I started to feel human again. I felt so much better I even ran a 33km run with my sister for her birthday and a half marathon in Canmore a couple weeks later. Though I hated being pregnant, I had a beautiful pregnancy. I gained 17 pounds in total, no stretch marks, I was able to keep active and work, and eat pretty healthy, (thanks to my husband chef) I had a short smooth natural water labour of 6 hours, not bad for a newbie, but I worked pretty hard and “lotioned and potioned myself” for the best birth my body could give me. Fast forward 39 weeks and 3 days.
Dec 6th, 2017
I felt like I could have been pregnant for another 6 months. I was 39 weeks and everyone kept telling me it looked like I had 4 more months to go my belly was so “small”. Small is definitely not how I felt. I felt like I had swallowed 2 large watermelons! I was SO ready to be able to bend over again and find out what the gender of our baby was.
I left my midwife appt. at 9 am Dec. 6th and was only 1 cm dilated and booked another appt. for the next week. I hadn’t had any signs of labour so I thought I would teach another High Fitness class the next day. Later in the day I got hit in the face with tiredness, which was a bit odd because throughout pregnancy I was waitressing, teaching fitness classes, climbing mountains, working at a health food store and keeping quite busy without having to take naps, if anything I was wired at night and couldn’t sleep. So I listened to my body and I slept for about 2 hours and carried on with my day.
Dec 7th, 2017
My bladder woke me up at 2am and I had some teeny tiny cramps in my lower abdomen. Nothing that alarmed me so I went back to bed. At 4am I was woken up by longer and more intense cramping. I started timing my contractions out of curiosity and they lasted 45 seconds and came every 3-4 minutes. Again I wasn’t too worried but I texted my midwife to give her the heads up. I got a text back that said “call me” I called her and she said you are definitely in labour and will be having a baby shortly. I was told to call her again when contractions heated up. Labour came on fast, within 30 minutes I called my midwife again and she was on her way over. Before contractions came I was so curious as to how labour pains would feel. I heard it all from “ Oh I felt like I had diarrhea pains” to “ worst pain of my life, I was screaming, pull this thing out of me!” So I was curious as to how someone who kept active, ate well, meditated and practiced hypnobirthing labour pains would feel. Well I take back the curiosity, labour pains hurt ( thats an understatement) and I was trying my darnedest to not tense up and breath through contractions like I was taught in hypnobirthing, but wow, contractions, OUCHIIEEE! I had to remember that every contraction was not death pains, but rather my body doing exactly what it was made to do, to bring our precious baby into this world.
I was going to labour at home for a bit longer, because my water was still in tact but by 5 am my water broke and my mucus plug came along with it. So off to the hospital birthing suite we went. I was planning on giving birth at the midwifery clinic but on Thursdays a chiropractor takes over the clinic and can you believe he doesn’t want a woman in labour while he adjusts patients!? 😉
So it was off to the hospital birth suite, we grabbed the birth bag, our camera and the carseat and then I saw my husband crumple to the ground. Hospital room for 2 please, Mitch’s back randomly seized up! Talk about wrong timing! After a couple minutes he was able to straighten his back enough to drive to the hospital. The maternity suite wasn’t as bad as I thought, or maybe I was in so much discomfort that I didn’t care where I was. The giant jacuzzi tub became my best friend in labour. The heat took some of the pain away and the water took some pressure off my stomach and back. The beauty of a natural birth is that you can move around as you please, you can eat or drink, and you are given the power over your birth. It’s you and your husband unless the midwives need to intervene. Mitch was the best birth support ( and I had an AMAZING midwife!) I was scared that I would get crabby, snappy and be mean during labour but surprisingly I was calm and Mitch did everything right. My favorite memory of labour is when I started crying thinking the pain and discomfort would never be over and that our baby would take weeks to get here. I looked up and my sweet husband was holding my hand with tears in his eyes. He was just so sad that I was in pain and he couldn’t do anything to take it away. After a while my labour pains started to change they became harder and deeper and thats when the ugly noises started to come out, the noises I swore I would never, NEVER make. Loud, low moaning sounds and deep breathing. Im slightly nervous to watch the birthing video, but in the moment it’s what got me through the intense painful surges.
After an hour I was done with the water, and moved to the toilet for a bit (because I felt I was going to poop every particle of fecal matter out of me) and then I moved to the bed and back to the water. Thats when my midwife checked to see where the head was at and found out that my cervix hadn’t moved out of the way entirely. The head couldn’t come through because it was caught on my cervix, so I had to move to the bed, once my midwife moved the cervix lip out of the way baby came sliding through! I couldn’t believe that I survived and pushed out a 7 lb 11oz tiny human. The incredible joy I felt when she was placed on my chest a mother will only know. I can’t quite put my finger on how I would describe the love and overflowing joy I felt (and relief that there were no more contractions), but all you mothers will understand. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and let Mitch drink so he could understand. I held our tiny human in my arms as we waited for the umbilical chord to stop pulsating and turn white before Mitch cut it. Once the chord was cut, I could see our tiny mystery human was a GIRL!!! I had Mitch double check if it was a girl, just incase I was making things up.I wanted a girl SO BADLY!
After birth was very peaceful, there was no vitamin K shot, no antibiotics ointment put in the eyes, just skin to skin cuddles with Mom and Dad and some sparkling grape juice to celebrate life, oh and a bamboo diaper for baby sky and some funky absorbent undies for mom.
One of my big fears in giving birth was the horror stories I heard about the perineum ripping, I wanted to avoid that at all costs, so coconut oil was my best friend throughout pregnancy, I also took some other “lotions and potions” that helped make labour “easier” and make everything elastic down below. I didn’t tear but I did have a small pocket inside the labia that needed a couple stitches, but that was about it, thank goodness! Two hours later we were walking out of the hospital with our Sky Soleil (soul-lay). I wanted to take the stairs but the look my midwife gave me told me I needed to take the elevator.
I’m 110% sure I was high on adrenaline after birth because I came home, had some visitors and made a veggie packed lasagna while Mitch cuddled our lil squishy. Ahhh, adrenaline is a beautiful thing!
One of my other fears in giving birth was everyone told me to be prepared to not poop for at least 3 days and if you know me and how obsessed I am with my healthy poops 2-3 times a day, hearing the news about made me fall over. Luckily my body gave me the gift of 2 beautiful poops the next day. I took New Chapters concentrated elderberry capsules to help with inflammation and moving things along. I also put witch hazel and calendula oil on my organic pads to help out the swollen lady bits. I also used Complete Bone and Tissue ointment to help with healing and tea tree oil mixed with coconut oil for the hemorrhoids (I wouldn’t wish hemorrhoids on my worst enemy).
Birth is definitely not pretty or easy. It is definitely a labour of love and how women do it all over again is mind boggling to me right now. There is weird noises that you make, painful contractions, some poop, some blood, funky liquids that come out of you, discomfort for months, basically your whole world gets flipped upside down. But the precious little human I gave life to is so very worth ALL of the mess. It’s been 10 days since the birth of our Sky Soleil, so far she breast feeds and sleeps great. But my tailbone doesn’t feel great. Anyone else feel like they broke their tailbone after birthing a tiny human? Recovery is going great, I walked 10 blocks yesterday without waddling.. yay me! I think the hardest thing for me right now is holding still and taking it easy. How I wish i could teach fitness classes again, lift weights, jump and sneeze without my lady bits wanting to fall off. I could finally exercise 18 days after giving birth and oh what a lovely day that was!!
Update: My little squish is almost 2 months old and sleeps great at night, breastfeeds like a champ and is a BUSY BEE! She scoots all over the bed and wants to walk SO bad! She is not happy unless she is moving. She loves to fall asleep while strapped to me as I exercise. Being a mother is frustrating, exciting, exhausting, joyous, madness, exhausting and the biggest adventure Mitch and I have been on so far!
A couple things that I think really helped me have an active healthy pregnancy, 6 our labour with no complications, no tearing, and a quick recovery is :
1. I fueled my body with my personal opinion of a healthy diet (vegan, gluten free, corn free and peanut free diet).
2. I kept my hormones balanced to avoid unhealthy weight gain, hormonal driven mood swings, cravings and help prevent postpartum depression.
3. I kept active throughout pregnancy and used meditation and energy work to keep a connection with baby. ( If you want the info for my favorite energy worker let me know!)
4.I practiced hypno-birthing. This helped calm my fears of birth and get my mind ready to let my body take over during labour. It also teaches you how to breath properly during labour.
5. I took 2 herbal formulas 6 weeks before birth to prep and fuel my body.
6.I kept telling myself that birth is a natural and normal thing. The body knows what to do.
7. I had an AMAZING midwife who calmed my fears and empowered me through pregnancy, labour and postpartum.
One of my favorite exercises for weight loss are “table push-aways”. As soon as you feel satisfied, typically around 70% full, then “push-away” from the table and don’t return until you are hungry again. Overeating can not only lead to weight gain, but can be a major contributor to a myriad of health conditions. Check out the video below for a quick demonstration 🙂
Potential Side Effects of Overeating
|Digestive upset||Bloating / Gas||Constipation / Diarrhea|
|Trouble concentrating||Lack of motivation||Increased insulin resistance|
|Hurts the bank account||Negatively affects metabolism||Emotional and mental suffering|
|Weight gain||Poor Self Image||Inflammation|
|Tired / lathargic||Weakens the immune system||Future complications – heart disease,
diabetes, acid reflux, skin issues
Why Do We Overeat?
Food scarfing. One of the biggest problems some of us have is we tend to inhale our food, rather than enjoy it slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that we are full. So when you eat half a pizza in less than 10 minutes, even though your stomach is now full, you still have another 10 minutes to keep eating before your brain processes the information and pulls the reigns.
Dessert packing. There is this unique skill that humans possess in which despite how full they are, they can always pack in some dessert. Am I right? And most of the time it’s not just a spoonful of ice-cream but rather a whole bowl full, or the whole bag of candy or a couple pieces of pie.
The food we eat is not nutrient dense. Processed foods like cake, doughnuts, breads, candy and chips have little more to offer than sugar, fat and a ton of calories. Sometimes, even though our tummies are full of food, our body is empty on nutrition. Maybe you have eaten as usual one day or even more than usual, yet you still feel hungry? This could simply be your your brain telling you to eat more, because you are lacking certain nutrients.
Emotional comfort and to reduce stress. Let’s face it. Work, relationships, family, life is stressful. Many of us turn to food to help us cope which can lead to late night binges.
We have trained our bodies to override the “full” signal. You probably remember being a child being told you had to eat everything on your plate or else suffer some consequence. Or maybe you are one of those parents now doing the same with your kids. Also, portion sizes today have increased dramatically from what they used to be decades ago. And throw on top of all this a weird social status for being the person that can eat the most. There are lots of factors influencing us to override nature’s signals.
Social events. Many times, despite not being hungry, we find ourselves at a social events surrounded by food. We feel obligated to eat.
We mistake appetite for hunger. Much of the time we are not really hungry at all, we just simply want to eat.
Food tastes so darn good! Sometimes it’s just hard to stop eating when the food tastes so darn good!
What can I do to help prevent overeating?
- Eat whole plant foods. Whole plant foods contain lot’s of fiber that helps with satiety and are loaded with natural vitamins and minerals to satisfy your nutritional needs. Remove processed food from your diet and replace them with fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.
- Eat mindfully. Relax, begin with a prayer of gratitude, slow down, put your fork down occasionally and try to not eat alone.
- Get adequate sleep. This typically means going to bed earlier which will help prevent late night binging. Adequate sleep helps combat stress and improves overall health and mood.
- Identify trigger foods and avoid them. Whether it is skittles, Twinkies, bread, Oreo’s or ice-cream, what ever tends to make you lose control, don’t stock your home with them!
- Learn stress management. Food isn’t the only thing that can help comfort you. Check out our post here to learn more and for helpful techniques.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise usually makes us feel better about ourselves and relieve stress.
- Learn to identify true hunger from mere appetite. Click here to read a very insightful article on hunger vs. appetite.
- Practice “table push-aways”.
- Go for a little dessert before you have to undo your pant button.
- Stop and satisfied. This usually occurs when you are 70% full.
- Stay Hydrated. Many times when we crave food, we are actually lacking water. In fact, the majority of people are chronically dehydrated to some degree. For more information on the importance of drinking water, click here.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to not overeat. I have been known to out binge anyone and everyone. In the moment it fells so good, but soon after it feels awful. This year is a new year! Let’s control our appetites together!
*If reading isn’t your thing, watch the video below!
So I often get asked what I eat and how much I eat following a whole foods, plant based diet. Also, many think that removing animal products from their diet will lead to nutritional deficiencies. This post is to help others see what a typical day in the life of a whole foods, plant based eater looks like and hopefully will help calm any doubts that one may have about the nutritional competence of removing all animal products from their diet. The following photos are screen shots taken from the app Chronometer which is an amazing tool to help you track what you eat and give you a rough estimate on where you stand with regards to the recommended daily intakes of various nutrients.
Below is roughly what I ate on Dec 28, 2017. For breakfast I had a big bowl of traditional oatmeal with a banana and homemade nut/seed butter. Then I had a massive salad for lunch/supper, topped with beans and an avocado dressing. I ate a variety of fruits as snacks in between along with a sweet potato.
Below is a rough estimate of how many calories I ate and about how many calories I burned for the day, along with the breakdown of my nutrient intake.
You can see rather quickly that I satisfied and even exceeded the daily recommended intakes for almost all the various nutrients that are of concern to human health. Of particular interest is how I consumed 2.5x the recommended amount of fiber, satisfied all requirements for essential amino acids (without worrying about combining certain foods to make complete proteins), met my vitamin B12 needs just by adding a little nutritional yeast to my salad dressing and rocked it on my vitamins and minerals. Protein and vitamin B12 seem to be the main things that stop people from adopting a plant based diet, but it can be done! You will notice a few yellow lines which I’m not too concerned about. The recommended fat intake is rather high in my opinion and I prescribe to a low fat diet, so I typically consume less than 50 grams on a daily basis. My sodium intake is quite a bit lower than recommended but various studies show mixed results on how much sodium is too little so I don’t feel the need to make any significant adjustments there. My calcium intake is lower than recommended by around 200mg to US standards, but is nearly 300 mg over the recommended amount by the World Health Organization. In fact, many studies show that calcium intake in excess of 500 mg has no significant benefit to bone density or risk of fracture. I strongly believe that the US recommended calcium intake level is highly influenced by the dairy industry and is over-inflated. It’s pretty neat that I far exceeded the WHO’s recommended intake of calcium without consuming any dairy at all or taking a calcium supplement.
Don’t be afraid to go plant based! You may just save your life!
Health guidelines in America recommend a daily intake of fiber of 20-25 grams for women and 30-38 grams for men, yet the majority of individuals don’t even consume half this amount. In fact, less than 3% of Americans meet the recommended daily amount of fiber (1) . Can you guess why? Because dietary fiber is only found in whole plants and most Americans tend to consume more animal products and processed foods than whole plant foods like beans, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In fact only 1 in 10 Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (2).
There are currently two recognized classifications for dietary fiber – soluble and insoluble – but I feel that the main focus should be on a particular fiber’s fermentability, as this characteristic plays a crucial role in the health of your gut and your overall wellness.
Soluble Fiber is composed of pectins, mucilages and gums, and dissolves with water to form a gel-like substance. Try soaking a few spoonfuls of chia seeds or slippery elm bark in water for 15 minutes and you will know what I am talking about.
Insoluble Fiber is composed of cellulose and some hemicellulose, does not dissolve in water but rather absorbs water, thus adding bulk to your stool, which increases transit time in the colon and also helps clean the colon walls.
Fermentable Fiber, often called prebiotics, is literally food for your gut microbiota, the tens of trillions of tiny bacteria and yeasts that inhabit your intestinal tract. Some of these bacteria and yeasts can be taken as a supplement or in certain food products and are called probiotics. “Pro” meaning “for” and “biotic” meaning “life”. Much of the fiber you eat, while not digested by you, is digested by the probiotics living inside you through a process of fermentation. A byproduct of which are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are then absorbed by your body and used as energy (3). Interesting to note is that one of the main SCFAs produced by fermentation is butyrate, which is actually the preferred energy source for colonocytes (the epithelial cells of your colon) and promotes their growth and development (3). Fermentation of fiber also inhibits the growth of pathogenic organisms. Fermentable fibers include pectins, β-glucans, guar gum, inulin, and oligofructose. So, you eat; then your bacteria eat; then you eat again!
Health Benefits of Eating Lots of Dietary Fiber
|May reduce the risk of certain cancers||Reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes|
|Reduces the incidence of heart disease||Helps control blood sugar levels|
|Helps lower cholesterol||Lowers blood pressure|
|Helps keep you regular||Improves gut health|
|Aids in weight loss and weight management||Increases satiety|
You only need to do one thing to meet your recommended daily fiber intake…
Eat a whole foods, plant based diet. That’s it. Sorry folks, the answer is not Metamucil or any other fiber supplement. If you consume 70% of calories from whole plant foods, you will easily meet and most likely surpass the recommended daily fiber intake. If you go one step further and adopt a whole foods, vegan diet you will likely double or even triple the recommended fiber intake, eating between 75-100 grams of fiber. Remember, ALL animal products naturally contain NO fiber. There is not one strand of dietary fiber in eggs, cheese, yogurt, beef, pork or chicken. So just by reducing the amount of animal products you consume and replacing them with more whole plant foods will set you up for success. Here are a few tips to help you make the switch to a plant based diet loaded with fiber.
Switch to whole grains. Buy whole grain bread, preferably stone ground. Buy brown rice or wild rice instead of white rice. Use steel cut oats instead of instant oats. Buy whole wheat or brown rice pasta noodles.
Stop eating processed foods. Not only are those cookies, breads, cakes, pastries, candy, chocolate bars and chips loaded with empty calories, unhealthy fat and sugar, they have no fiber! Think about it though. One doughnut has around 300 calories and less than 1 gram of fiber while a blueberry muffin has over 400 calories with only 1 gram of fiber. On the other hand two cups of cooked oatmeal has 300 calories as well but packs 8 grams of fiber!
Have healthy snacks on hand. Have on hand a couple pieces of fruit, some cut up vegetables with hummus, roasted chickpeas, bean chips or handful of nuts and seeds. You can also make some healthy snack alternatives like baked vegetable chips or homemade granola.
Eat beans and legumes everyday. While beans are good sources of protein, they are even better sources of fiber. Just one cup of cooked beans/lentils will provide you with 10-15 grams of fiber, which is around what most Americans eat in an entire day! If beans make you gassy (your intestinal flora are having a fermented feast on all that fiber) then try eating very small amounts and increasing that amount every few days. This will help your intestines gradually get accustomed to breaking down the fiber in beans. Also, if you cook your own beans/lentils at home, try soaking them first overnight before cooking them. This tends to make them easier on digestion.
For More Information on Dietary Fiber
We have all been told at one time or another in our lives that we should be more grateful. While this will not only make others feel appreciated, it can also have profound effects on your health. A true win-win! Below are some of the many health benefits, be them emotional, physical or psychological, that you may experience by cultivating an attitude of gratitude. To view a more complete list along with a butt-load of references, head over here.
Benefits of Having an Attitude of Gratitude
- Improved sleep
- Reduces inflammation in the body
- Less fatigue
- Reduces stress
- strengthens the immune system
- Increases happiness
- Lowers depression and anxiety
- Drives out toxic feelings of anger, regret and envy
- Enhances empathy
- Improves relationships, especially marriages
- May improve your career
Now, despite how easy it is to give thanks, many (myself at the top of the list) struggle to make being grateful a regular part of their life. This could be due to the fact that we live in a fairly ungrateful world. Many people today have the “It’s all about me” attitude and very few people are ever content with what they have; instead they are constantly seeking more money, more awards, more stuff, more fame and more success. Whether you are a gratitude expert or ungrateful from head to toe, I think everyone can do with a little more gratitude in their life. Below are a few ideas that may help you develop this skill and trait. Maybe try incorporating one or two ideas each month and keep practicing until being grateful literally becomes a part of who you are, and not something you have to think about.
How Can I Develop an Attitude of Gratitude?
- Keep a gratitude journal. Each night record 3 things you are grateful for. Feel free to go the paper route or try using an app. I use Zest and I really like it.
- Offer prayers of gratitude. Try making it a habit of offering one prayer each day dedicated entirely to giving thanks
- Remind yourself. Leave notes or set reminders in your phone to be grateful for one thing in that exact moment
- Spend time with loved ones
- Serve others. Often times when we are helping others we are inspired to be more grateful for what we have
- Exercise. This helps clear the mind and reduce stress which paves the way for feelings and thoughts of gratitude
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Get out in nature. It’s almost impossible to be out in nature and not feel grateful
I’m grateful that you are here visiting our blog. Good luck on your own personal journey of cultivating an attitude of gratitude!
**Check out the Links Below For More In-Depth Learning About Developing an Attitude of Gratitude**
How Gratitude Can Change Your Life
10 Tips to Be More Grateful in Life
Discover the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life! – TEDx Talk
An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of Happiness – YouTube Video
Did you know that it’s quite possible that you are walking around deficient in one of the most essential nutrients known to man and don’t even realize it? That nutrient is water and some research claims that upwards of 75% of individuals are chronically dehydrated to some degree, which can be affecting their health in a number of ways (1). While I question the validity of that particular research study, I can tell you that from our own experience meeting with clients and talking with individuals, chronic dehydration seems to be a very common trend. Many of our clients who have suffered from digestive issues – especially constipation – headaches, fatigue, urinary tract infections, kidney disease, circulatory issues, high blood pressure and joint pain often will find that a major part of the solution to their problems is simply to drink more water. If you are only drinking a couple of glasses of water a day or substituting water for coffee, soda and/or other sugary beverages, it’s very likely that you are suffering from health problems related to chronic dehydration.
What’s the big deal about water? Just that your very life depends on it. An adult body is around 60% water, with the lungs being composed of 85% water while your hardened bones still contain around 30% water (2). Water is critical for:
- the life and normal functioning of cells
- proper digestion
- regulating body temperature
- blood circulation
- chemical and biological reactions that take place constantly within the body
- the transport of nutrients
- removal of wastes
- joint lubricator
- shock absorber for the spinal chord, brain and fetus.
Water lubricates the body as oil does a car. Low oil levels can damage the engine and lead to over heating; similar effects can occur with low levels of water in the body. Chronic dehydration would be like always keeping just enough oil in the car that the engine doesn’t seize, but never enough to remove the oil light from coming on. Many people don’t realize they are chronically dehydrated, as they have ignored the “oil light” for so long and often times even confuse the “oil light” to signify they should eat instead of drink. Dizziness, fatigue, headaches and food cravings are all signs the body is low on water – as well as low blood sugar levels – but many will choose to resolve these signs with snacks, sugar or other food instead of what the body really needs – water. Also, busy schedules and stress cause people to postpone or ignore entirely signals from the body to drink more water.
Signs of chronic dehydration:
- decreased urination with darker urine
- sore muscles
- joint pain
- chronic headaches
- muscle cramps
- digestive issues
- food cravings, especially sweets
- dry skin
- bad breath
- high and low blood pressure
- weight gain
- urinary tract infections
Okay, so how much water should I drink? Depends. There are a lot of factors that go into an individual’s need for water intake. Water is lost from the body through respiration, perspiration, urination, normal defecation and severe water loss can result from diarrhea, vomiting and tears. On average a person is said to need around 2.5 liters of water each day, which equals the amount of water typically lost each day. On average, a person will lose around 1.5 liters of water through urination, 400 ml through respiration, another 400 ml through perspiration and 100 ml through defecation. But not everyone is “normal” nor does everyone live under “normal” conditions. Exercise and people who live in warmer climates will lose more water in sweat; people who are sick or under stress will need more water, also pregnant and nursing mothers need additional water, and surprisingly, what a person eats will greatly affect water intake need. All food contains water, some more than others, and on average a person will intake around 1 liter of water through what they eat. Those who eat a lot more fruits and vegetables (they have a very high water content) may find they need to drink less water throughout the day than someone who may shy away from these foods. So, how much water should you drink each day? I would say at least 1.5 liters (6 cups) a day, but to assure you avoid chronic dehydration, I would suggest you double it and aim for 3 liters (12 cups) a day. Sure you might have to pee a few more times during the day, but I would much rather do that than run the risk of developing any of the problems associated with chronic dehydration.
Can I drink too much water? Yes, you can, but wow is it difficult. The kidneys can excrete between 20-28 liters (5-7 gallons) of water a day and between 800-1000 ml (30 oz) of water each hour. So unless you are chugging down back to back xtreme gulps from 7/11 (Yes, it’s real thing unfortunately at 1.5 liters (52 oz) in size) or plan on swallowing all of the water in the kiddie pool (okay, that’s a joke, but you get the point), you don’t have much to worry about.
Not all water is equal. It seems there are now as many choices of water as there are sodas. Which water is best for you is very much under debate and will very from one health practitioner to the next. I’m first all about making sure you are drinking enough water, be it tap, spring, reverse osmosis or some other form. Once you have made it a habit of consuming lot’s of water, then if you wish you may want to take steps to drink cleaner and purer water.
How can I increase my water intake? I get it, some people just don’t like the taste of water or have a hard time remembering to drink water throughout the day. Below are a few ideas that may help you.
- Always have with you a water bottle and make a point to keep it full. Sip on it throughout the day.
- Infuse (flavor) water with lemons, limes, cucumbers or orange slices to give the water a little flavor but without all the calories or sugar or juice. STAY AWAY FROM ZERO CALORIE SODAS, DRINKS and POWDERS.
- Drink herbal teas. A nice peppermint, chamomile or fruit tea are great if you tire of drinking plain water and they also have some small medicinal benefits as well.
- Some people will fill a gallon container and then mark lines on the container spaced a couple inches apart from top to bottom. Each line will have a corresponding time and the goal is to have drank sufficient water by the designated times so that the water level remaining matches the line. By the end of the day there should be no water left in the container.
- Drink a couple of glasses of water first thing in the morning
- Try setting alarms or reminders on your mobile device to drink water a certain times throughout the day.
Stress is completely natural and, biologically speaking, intended to be very beneficial. It is the body’s response to certain life demands or threats that helps you perform better. Like when you come upon a tiger and need to run away or when you are hunting gazelles with spears and need extra strength, alertness and focus. Oh wait. Fast forward to the present and that doesn’t happen to most of us anymore. Stress can help you though meet the deadline for a work project, make the game-winning shot, deliver an amazing presentation or react superhumanly to avoid an accident. The “stress response” of the body was intended for physical, immediate, short-term circumstances that occur infrequently. The problem is that for many people, the stress response is constantly activated more so emotionally than physically, leading to chronic stress that brings with it a variety of health complications.
The Stress Response: What Happens in the Body
When your body is under stress, it responds by releasing various hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol produced by the adrenal glands. These hormones cause an increase in heart rate, constrict blood vessels which causes blood pressure to rise, hones your sense of sight, smell and hearing and enhances brain function. All of these effects lead to the sudden increase in strength, stamina, speed and reaction time. The body is simply amazing!
Once again though, this response was designed to either help you win a fight or flee from danger. In my case it is mostly to flee from danger; I haven’t been much for fighting. My older brothers can attest to that. What happens though when the body is under chronic stress?
Possible Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Stress
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Digestive issues
- Weight fluctuations
- Cognitive difficulties
- Impaired immune system
- Autoimmune disease
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic yeast infections
Techniques to Effectively Manage Stress
Let’s face it. Stress is an inevitable part of life and you needn’t run away or hide from every stressful situation you are confronted with. You probably know a number of people in your life that never appear to get stressed out. How is that possible? Could it be that their life is gum drops and roses all the time? I doubt it. The key is to learn how to balance and manage your stress so that you can be healthier, happier and more productive. With practice, anyone can become stress masters! Some of the following tecniques are based on HealthGuide.org’s stress management section.
1: Identify what causes you stress
Sounds easy, but aside from the major stressors in one’s life, I wager there are many tiny things that are causing you stress that you are completely unaware of. Heck, just the way you think can influence your levels of stress. You alone play the biggest role in creating or maintaining your stress levels and you alone play the biggest role in controlling them.
Start a stress journal. Each time you feel stressed, record it. Over time, you will be able to identify patterns. Try and answer these questions:
- What caused your stress?
- How did you feel? (physically and emotionally)
- How did you respond?
- What did you do to make yourself feel better?
Ask friends and family. Often times it takes someone on the outside to help you identify what’s happening on the inside.
2: Replace unhealthy coping strategies with healthy ones
Contemplate your current coping methods for stress and identify which ones are healthy and productive and which ones are unhealthy and unproductive. The last thing you want is to respond to stress in a way that actually compounds the problem. Once again, you may find it beneficial to ask friends and family what they see as unhealthy coping strategies you may not of thought of.
Examples of unhealthy coping strategies are smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs (prescription and illegal), social isolation, food bingeing, procrastination, excessive sleep, distracting oneself with technology (Facebook, Instagram, movies, tv, video games).
Examples of healthy coping strategies are physical activity, deep breathing, meditation,yoga, friends, humor, hobbies, pets (careful though, pets can also cause a lot of stress as well), prayer, positive self-talk,service, organizing your space and a healthy diet.
Each day you should set apart time to allow your body and mind to relax. The following relaxation tecniques are some of my favorite and all have the potential to lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, lower respiratory rate and lower cortisol levels.
- Deep breathing. Breathing deeply sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax (1). It is extremely effective at managing stress. In summary you want to breath in and out through the nose and down into your tummy. This website does a good job at describing how to practice the technique of deep breathing (click here).
- Yoga. There are various modalities of yoga and surely one of them will feel right to you. Most classes are free for the first time so go out and experiment. Maybe group classes or paying a monthly fee isn’t something you want to do. That’s okay. Youtube offers an amazing selection of great yoga videos you can do at home.
- Meditation. Is training for the mind. Don’t think you need to become a monk to meditate nor do you need hours to do so. Even just a few minutes can be effective in reducing stress and relaxing. Click (here) to read up on tips on how to begin meditating.There is also great online meditation videos that will walk you through the process if you’re a newbie.
- Massage. I don’t think I need to talk much about massage therapy. Anyone who has recieved a professional massage has experienced its awesome benefits. If you haven’t ever had a professional massage, you need to!
- Reflexology. This really is a modality of massage, but deserves its own bullet point. Reflexology can directly stimulate energy meridians and organ function that may need support due to chronic stress, like the adrenal glands.
4: Physical Movement
Notice how I didn’t say exercise? Too many people equate exercise to strenuous activity. But even simple bodily movements can provide serious stress reducing benefits. Regular exercise (movement) helps improve mood, takes your mind off of current worries, increases the feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins, improves sleep and helps build self-confidence and self-worth. (1)
5: Tapping (Emotional Freedom Tecnique)
This technique is based on the theory that there exist energy meridians within the body and that by tapping with your fingers on different points on the body relieves stress and anxiety. Really? Tapping myself is supposed to help me? Surprisingly yes (3). I know countless people who swear by it. Before you dismiss it, why not give it a try? Click here to view an instructional video on tapping.
6: Avoid unnecessary stress.
Not all stress can or should be avoided, but seriously, there is a lot of stress in people’s lives that really shouldn’t even exist.
- Remember, you can almost always say “no”. Don’t wait until your plate is already overflowing with commitments. Learn to say no before you reach your limit. It’s easy, I’ll teach you. Repeat after me, “no”. Good job. Now, one more time, “no”. You got it!
- Stay away from people who cause you stress. Either limit your time with them or end the relationship.
- Take control of your environment. If driving in traffic stresses you out, take public transit. If crowded malls make you anxious, shop online. If doing dishes makes you want to pull your hair out, make your kids do it (haha… just kidding. Slightly.)
- Prioritize your to-do list. Only God could accomplish everything on some people’s to-do list. Prioritize your to-do list with the most important things to do at the top and then decreasing in importance towards the bottom. If you don’t finish everything on the list, oh well. At least you have accomplished the most vital.
- Simplify. Many of us love to complicate our lives by filling it with stuff. Try organizing your home or work space and get rid of unnecessary items. My wife and I try and live by the one-year rule. If we haven’t used something within the last year, we don’t need it!
7: Have fun!
Nothing relieves stress as quickly as laughing and having a good time. Research has proven it over and over again (5)(6). It also helps to take your mind off of matters that are worrying you and allows you to revisit them with a fresh perspective. As you prioritize your to-do list, make sure a little “me/fun” time is near the top each day.
8: Social Connecting
There is something magical and soothing about spending time with someone who listens to you and understands you. There is a brilliant Ted Talk titled “The Power of Vulnerability”, and I fully agree with what the speaker says. Don’t be afraid to take down your walls of defense and open up to those close to you. Facebook, Snapchat or email just won’t do here. It is the literaly face-to-face interaction with another human that helps reverse the body’s defensive stress response.
9: Learn the skill of adaptability.
- Put on the lens of positivity. Yeah, the traffic sucks, but at least your favorite song is on the radio.
- Take a bird’s eye view. Is the current situation really going to matter tomorrow? Next month? Next year? If not, I’m sure you can save your energy for more productive tasks.
- Adjust your standards. While perfection is nice, “good enough” isn’t all that bad either.
- Find things to be grateful for. It’s amazing how effective this is at relieving stress. You can be grateful for personal qualities, your family and your life in general.
10: Get outside!
There is something magical about being out in mother nature. Few things can call calm the soul like a gentle breeze, the sound of moving water, the melodic singing of birds and clean, fresh air. All it takes is 10 minutes or so outside to feel revitalized and calm. You could also practice deep breathing outside for an incredible stress reducing combo. To get even more benefit from being outside, take your shoes off and feel the grass and dirt beneath your feet. This simple act allows you to connect with mother earth energetically and is known as earthing. For more information on earthing and its amazing health benefits, visit our blog post here.
11: Accept the unchangeable.
Some things just are the way they are no matter what we do. Death cannot be changed. The financial market moves up and down independent of you. And no matter how well a guy aims, urine will always get everywhere.
- Learn to forgive
- Time to put on the lens of positivity again
- Communicate your feelings
Stress is real. You simply can not avoid it altogether. But you certainly don’t have to allow it to dominate you life. Start making steps to manage and control your stress today!
The dairy industry, along with government institutions, have convinced us that not only is consuming the milk from another species completely natural, but also a necessity. This magical liquid is needed for adequate growth and good health because it is loaded with calcium, protein and various other vitamins and minerals. We have also been told over and over again how dairy builds strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. But is dairy really a superfood and vital in obtaining optimal health? Could it actually be dangerous to one’s health? Let’s put dairy under the microscope of science and critical thinking and see how it holds up.
Nutrients in Milk
It’s true. Dairy is loaded with calcium, has lots of protein and contains other vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, vitamins B12, riboflavin and niacin. It is also fortified with the vitamins A and D. But how did all those nutrients besides the ones added get into the milk? They came from the cow’s food – plants. Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains will provide you and all humans with all of the nutrients found in dairy plus many others like fiber and antioxidants. There is one exception though – Vitamin B12* (see bottom of page). What I am trying to say is that dairy is not the only source of certain essential nutrients and humans do not need dairy to be healthy. In fact, all that calcium and protein may not be in your best interest as I will explain later. A recent journal article summed it up nicely, stating that “humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk” (1). Why not skip the middle man and get all of the nutrients you need from plants?
Some Non-Nutrients in Milk You Probably Want to Avoid
Artificial hormones. Many are already familiar with or at least heard of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) and recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). They are synthetic hormones given to dairy cows to increase milk production and have been under public scrutiny for potential health concerns in humans. Research has shown cows given artificial hormones have higher levels of IGF-1 (which has been linked to higher cancer risk) (2). They also suffer from increased rates of mastitis – infection in the udder – that require increased doses of antibiotics which may lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria that get transferred to humans (2). Interestingly, Canada, Europe and other countries have banned the use of these artificial hormones due to health concerns, yet the United States continues to allow them. Now you can find many dairy products that are certified to be free of artificial hormones. While it is a step in the right direction, artificial hormones are not the only hormones you should be worried about in milk.
Estrogen. Dairy is loaded with various natural hormones, principally estrogen and in turn can cause imbalances in your own hormones. Much research has been done on estrogen and it’s effects on health. Excess estrogen has been linked to thrombosis (blood clotting) which can then lead to a stroke, pulmonary embolism, heart attack and organ failure (3)(4)(5). Excess estrogen also increases risks of developing prostate cancer in men and breast and uterus cancers in women (6)(7). Excess estrogen can also delay puberty in boys and accelerate it in girls (8).
Toxic chemical residues. The environment of both humans and animals is becoming more and more toxic every day. Just like humans, animals are exposed to herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, air pollution, heavy metals, drugs and so on. Also like us, the toxins that are not eliminated get stored in fat cells. These toxic chemicals can disrupt endocrine function, affect the reproductive system, be neurotoxic, carcinogenic and immunotoxic. It just so happens that these chemical contaminants are passed along in maternal milk, not only in humans but also in cows as well (8)(9). I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to take my chances that the chemical contaminants in breast milk won’t cause too much harm during the brief period of an infants life. But what about the remaining 70+ years of that infant’s life continuing to consume dairy products?
Calcium and Strong Bones. Maybe.
The thought process is and has been for over a century that because bones contain lots of calcium, the more calcium we ingest the stronger our bones will be. And because dairy contains so much calcium, obviously consuming lots of dairy is going to lead to increases in bone mineral density (BMD) and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. But does it really? Let’s take a look at some of the research. According to one meta-analysis of nearly 50 cohort and randomized controlled trial studies, “dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there is no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures. Evidence that calcium supplements prevent fractures is weak and inconsistent.” (10) Another meta-analysis of over 59 randomized controlled trials concluded that, “increasing calcium intake from dietary sources or by taking calcium supplements produces small non-progressive increases in BMD, which are unlikely to lead to a clinically significant reduction in risk of fracture.” (11) This makes complete sense though when you stop and think about it. The body is extremely intelligent. If the body’s vitamin and mineral needs and reserves are met, it simply discards the excess. Also, there is a lot more that goes on to build strong bones other than just consuming calcium. Adequate levels of Vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon, boron, zinc, manganese, and copper are also needed, along with numerous hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, insulin, parathyroid hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisol, growth hormones, calcitriol and calcitonin (12)(13). Yeah, I know right? I find it humorous that the medical community and society as a whole focus so heavily on calcium when obviously there could be a number of factors effecting one’s current bone health.
So how much calcium does the body really need? It is believed that the minimum intake to sustain health is around 200mg per day. The World Health Organization recommends about twice this much at 500mg each day. The US recommends between 1000-1200mg per day. That’s quite a spread! Studies show that above 500mg of calcium daily little benefit to bone health is obtained (14)(15). Interestingly, the countries with the highest dairy intake also have some of the highest osteoporosis rates (16). Also worth mentioning is the fact that cow’s milk has nearly 4x the amount of calcium than human milk! Cow’s milk was designed for baby calves, not for humans.
*Side note: If you are really concerned about your bone health, I would first look at the amount of exercise you do rather than increasing calcium intake (17). Exercise is essential for bone health and I’d wager more people are lacking exercise than they are dietary calcium, especially in developed nations.
Increases IGF-1 Levels
Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a hormone produced by all mammals and plays an important role in normal growth and development. IGF-1 is largely responsible for childhood growth and continued growth of organs and muscles into adulthood. Because this hormone specifically promotes cell division, it has also been linked to promote various types of cancer growth, including breast, prostate, pancreas and colon cancer (18).
Well, consuming dairy actually increases levels of IGF-1 by either direct absorption from the milk itself or its digestion (19). One study showed that dairy consumption increased IGF-1 levels in adults by 10-20% and in children by 20-30%. And as another study pointed out, kids who drink plant milk instead of cow’s milk are slighty shorter than their peers (20). But ask yourself, is adding an additional centimeter to a child’s height worth the heightened risk of developing cancer later on in life?
Dairy and Digestion
Lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar molecule in milk and the specific enzyme lactase is needed for its digestion. Lactose intolerance is simply the lack or insufficient amount of lactase to digest milk. Infants are blessed with lots of lactase to allow them to live off of breast milk. Naturally, once a child is weaned, the body produces less and less lactase. Nature didn’t intend us to keep drinking milk. Many people become lactose intolerant while some retain sufficient lactase amounts to continue digesting milk. Did you know around 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerance (21)? Interesting how many governments, institutions and companies promote dairy as a part of a healthy diet when the majority of the population can’t even digest it properly! And some of those 75% may actually not be intolerant to lactose per se, but rather a specific protein in milk called casein.
Casein. Cow’s milk has more than triple the protein content of human milk with the protein casein making up around 80 percent. Casein only accounts for around 40% of the protein in human milk. So cow’s milk has more than 6x the amount of casein than human milk (22). Why does this matter? Casein has repeatedly proven itself to be quite the trouble maker with regards to health. As the casein is digested, the molecule bovine beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) is formed. BCM-7 has been linked to intestinal inflammation, which affects bowel transit time and consistency, can disrupt intestinal flora and lead to diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, various skin conditions like acne and eczema, ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease (23). BCM-7 is also known to increase mucus production also influencing various bowel disorders. Casein has also demonstrated in various studies to increase the proliferation of prostate cancer cells (24). Dr Campbell, author of The China Study, discovered through years of research that casein literally acts as a switch turning on and off cancer cell growth.
Dairy and Cancer
Breast cancer. – As mentioned briefly above in the estrogen section, dairy has been linked to increase the risk of developing breast cancer. This occurs due to several influencing factors including the onset of precocious puberty, increased levels of IGF-1, and increases in estrogen levels (7)(18).
Prostate cancer. – As mentioned briefly above in the dairy and digestion section, dairy consumption is linked to and increased risk of prostate cancer. This occurs due to several influencing factors including high intakes of calcium, increased levels of IGF-1, and the protein casein. (18)(25)(26).
Dairy and Type 1 Diabetes
Remember that I mentioned consuming dairy (and other problematic foods) can cause intestinal inflammation and lead to the development of a leaky gut? A leaky gut is definitely something you don’t want to have as it is influential in the development of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes. A leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is when the lining of the intestines is damaged to the degree that small perforations occur. These “holes” in the gut lining allow substances to pass into the blood stream that wouldn’t be allowed otherwise, like undigested food, waste, toxins, viruses and bacteria. Your immune system targets these foreign substances, develops antibodies against them and begins to attack them, as it should. An autoimmune disease can develop though when one of these foreign substances is so similar to a healthy and inherit substance within the body that the body’s immune system can’t distinguish between self and non-self. Your body not only attacks the foreign substances, but also similar healthy cells. Keep in mind that sometimes autoimmune diseases occur simply due to genetic bad luck. However, many times it is environmentally instigated. In the case of type 1 diabetes, one environmental factor is the consumption of casein from cows milk in the presence of a leaky gut (27). The protein casein leaks into the blood stream where the body recognizes it as foreign and develops antibodies to fight it. Well, it turns out that the casein protein is very similar in structure to insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas and in a matter of time all of these cells are wiped out. Again, maybe milk is not the super food it is touted to be.
Consuming Dairy is Absolutely Unnatural
I just have to end with this. Have you ever seen a grown cow push a calf out of the way in order to get a shot of mama’s milk? Or how about a dog for that matter? Or a cat? Have you ever seen any animal for that matter, under natural circumstances and once it has been weaned, return to drinking milk on a daily basis? If you have, please send me the video! It just isn’t natural. But let me pose an even stranger scenario. Could you imagine seeing the new born calf tromp its way over to the dog who has just given birth and try and get its fair share of dog milk? I’m sure you agree with me that it would be weird for a grown human to go back to drinking mom’s milk on a daily basis. Shouldn’t it be even more unsettling and more unnatural then to see a grown human drink the milk of another species? Cow’s milk is for calves. Monkey milk is for baby monkeys. Human milk is for infants. Stop fighting nature by stopping to consume dairy. You may just find that your health will improve.
Luckily, we live in a time of when companies have developed substitute foods for practically everything, oftentimes creating products that taste and feel identical to the food they were meant to replace. Gone are the days of the tasteless, cardboard-like veggie burgers. There are now vegetable substitutions for sausages, eggs, beef and you guessed it, a variety of your favorite dairy products. The really neat thing that is happening is that these plant-based options are now available at many mainstream supermarkets. You no longer have to search for the obscure health food store.
Plant milks. Take your pick from one of the delicious options in a variety of flavors of soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk or oat milk.
Plant cheeses. Choose from various plant cheeses made from cashews, tofu, almonds, aquafaba, potatoes, carrots, hazelnuts or coconut. Check out this website for some amazing, delectable, knock-your-socks-off plant-based cheeses! (click here)
Plant yogurts. Just like regular yogurt is made from the milk of animals, you can make yogurt from pretty much any of the plant-based milks as well. And many companies have! Walk into your favorite health food store and you are sure to find a variety of options to choose from.
Plant butters and creams.
Plant ice-cream. The options really neat. Not only can you make ice-cream using similar ingredients for the plant milks, cheeses and creams, but you can make some amazing, creamy ice-cream with just frozen bananas! A new name has even been coined for banana based ice-cream – NICE-cream. My personal favorite is to add lot’s of cinnamon to the banana mixture and then top with raw cacao pieces.
Wow. This post turned out longer than anticipated. I hope you made it through to the end and learned something new. Even better would be if you were to make the decision to ditch the dairy and come on over to the plant side! Milk is kind of a double-edged sword. Despite the nutrients milk contains, it can also pose as a serious hazard to health. As always, please feel free to leave any comments below or shoot us an email!
* Vitamin B12 is actually produced by certain bacteria found in the intestines and in the soil. Although humans also have the vitamin B12 producing bacteria, we tend to run away from anything with dirt on it so supplementation is almost always needed. The way I see it is you can either supplement your diet with vitamin B12 by consuming dairy and meat products, or buy a manufactured supplement.
Fasting is voluntary abstinence from food and/or drink for a period of time. Fasting is not a new trend, but has been practiced by civilizations throughout history. It is very common for members of religious sects to practice fasting as a means to obtaining spiritual enlightenment and closeness to Deity. But fasting has benefits far outreaching spiritual matters alone. Researchers are discovering numerous health benefits as a result of fasting as well. Results will vary of course from the kind of fast you choose to follow. This post is mostly geared toward fasting from food entirely, where only water is consumed. This type of fast yields the most significant health benefits.
Potential Health Benefits of Fasting
Weight loss. Guess what? If you don’t eat, you lose weight! Don’t worry, it is not unhealthy weight loss either as you will discover further in the post.
Increases insulin sensitivity. This is especially true in fasts where only water is consumed. Because you are not consuming steady doses of sugar/carbohydrates your pancreas produces less insulin. Lower levels of insulin has the side effect of increasing insulin sensitivity in cells. Also important to note is that excessive fat stores also appear to contribute to insulin resistance in cells. Intermittent or extended water fasting thus has the potential to help those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes by reducing fat stores and limiting sugar/carbohydrate consumption. (1)
Increases Levels of Human Growth Hormone. Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for normal development. Extremely low levels of HGH in adults leads to loss in bone density, decrease in muscle mass while increasing body fat. It is believed that many effects of aging are influenced by low levels of HGH. Synthetic growth hormone is available and while does produce various beneficial results, also carries with it high risks of side effects and is extremely costly. Wouldn’t it be awesome to increase HGH naturally? Fasting does just that, potentially increasing levels by 5-10 times! (2)(3)
Encourages cell recycling (autophagy). Cellular autophagy is different than cellular apoptosis. Apoptosis is the designated time of death of a cell (various cells have different life spans) and is a completely natural and beneficial process. Our body is in a state of constant renewal of getting rid of the old and replacing it with new. Here are a few fun facts: your lungs are constantly replacing themselves around every three weeks; your taste buds every 10 days; your skin every 2-4 weeks and your bones even are completely replaced every 10 years. But before cells die and get replaced, they can suffer damage and malfunctioning, much like a used car. Cellular autophagy then is similar to taking your car to the repair shop. The parts and pieces that aren’t working get replaced and recycled by the body to use in other ways and the cell gets a nice tune up. Increased levels of glucose, proteins and insulin all inhibit the process of autophagy or cellular recycling. Basically then, constantly eating throughout the day does not allow for cellular autopahgy. Only during the night can our body start doing some house cleaning and recycle and replace damaged cellular components. Often times though the night isn’t sufficient for all the cleaning and recycling that needs to be done. Fasting then sets the stage for deep, deep cleaning without any interruption from the ingestion of food. This celluar recycling helps prevent aging and keep cells functioning optimally. Essentially, fasting can lengthen your life and help you look longer. (4)
May help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the abnormal accumulation of amyloid beta (Aß) proteins in the brain. Current science believes that accumulations of these Aß proteins damage and eventually destroy the synaptic connections in the memory areas of the brain. Under normal circumstances, Aß protein is disposed of through autopahgy so that it can be recycled into other molecules as the body sees fit. For some reason, this autophagy process is hindered and the Aß proteins accumulate, leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Theoretically, fasting then may play a beneficial role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease by encouraging and stimulating cellular autophagy. (5)
Improves heart health. First, fasting has the potential to improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the blood. Both triglycerides and cholesterol are types of fat and higher levels of both are linked to various heart diseases. Second, fasting also helps lower blood pressure. (6)(7)
Decreases inflammation. While inflammation can have many causes, one main contributing factor is one’s diet. Processed foods, meat, dairy, over cooked food, sweeteners and alcohol all provoke inflammation in the body. Obviously then, going without food for an extended period of time will help lower dietary-related inflammation. Other provokers of inflammation are allergies, wounds, infection and day-to-day metabolism. Fasting has shown to also help lower inflammation generally, not just related to diet. (8)
Fasting leads to muscle catabolism. The body stores excess fuel as small amounts of glycogen and mostly fat, not as protein. Muscle is reserved until fat reserves dip so low – less than 4 percent – that the body has no other choice than to start burning muscle. Let’s put that in perspective. An average male of 70 kg (160 lbs) with 15 percent body fat is carrying around 10.5 kg (24 lbs) of fat. Each gram of fat equals 9 calories so this same person has almost 100,000 calories in reserve fuel. Even at 2500 calories per day expenditure while fasting (which is relatively high), it would take roughly 40 days to use up all this fuel. To assume that the body is going to start eating your muscles when there is all this fat around would be similar to you having a 3 month food supply of grains, beans, tubers, canned fruit and vegetables, and when famine hit, you went looking for tree bark and insects. Kind of absurd. Also, remember that during fasting HGH levels actually increase, helping maintain lean muscle mass. Take a look at the chart below. You can see that during fasting the body actually starts conserving muscle, not burning it.
Source: McCue, ed., Comparative Physiology of Fasting, Starvation, and Food Limitation.
Fasting is equivalent to starving. Starvation simply put is death brought on by a lack of food. The point of starvation is different for every person and highly dependent on the current situation. In fact, fear alone may kill a man faster than abstinence from food ever could. As mentioned above, an average person is carrying weeks, if not months of reserve fuel to feed him during a fast. Fasting then is abstaining from food until these reserves are consumed. Starvation then is abstaining from food after these reserves are depleted. I find it ironic that so many people are so concerned about starving (fasting) to death, while all the long encourage the constant stuffing oneself to death. Frankly, much of the worlds population in developed nations could seriously benefit from missing a few meals on a regular basis.
How does one fast?
My favorite thing about fasting by only drinking water is how incredibly simple it is. It is absolutely free and requires no preparation or planning. If you want to practice intermittent fasting (IF), simply stop eating and continue only drinking water for 12-48 hours. Intermittent fasting is repeated shorter fasts, possibly every day, every few days or every week. However, if an extended fast is what you are after, it is advised that before you start, you prepare your body by eliminating all processed foods, lower carbohydrate intake and increase healthy fat intake. The ideal scenario would be if you were already in a state of nutritional ketosis. Since during fasting you will switch from burning glucose to fat as fuel, it will be a smoother transition if you are already encouraging your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates as fuel. This will lead to less hunger pains and adverse side effects during the first few days of fasting. Also, you may want to take some form of natural laxative to empty the bowels as it is very likely you will not have any bowel movements during the duration of your water fast. Once you start your fast though, there is nothing else to remember other than to drink water (pure, filtered or distilled water is preferred). Rest is also strongly advised during an extended fast. Hunger usually disappears after day 2 or 3 and you may experience times of weakness and lightheadedness. Please don’t plan a marathon or an adventure in the mountains while fasting!
How does one end a fast?
Ending a fast may just be as important if not more important than all your fasting days put together! If all you are doing is intermittent fasting, something less than 48 hours there is not much concern on what you eat afterwards. However, if you are coming off an extended fast longer than five days but shorter than 30 days, some caution should be had. It is also suggested that during an extended fast your body will clearly tell you when it is time to end by the return of true hunger.
If you want to continue on with a ketogenic diet, then I would recommend breaking the fast with either a spoonful of coconut oil or half an avocado. Then later in the day some more coconut oil or avocado. The following day slowly add in more fat-based foods that adhere to a ketogenic diet plan, but I would still hold off on any raw veggies or meat until the third day.
If you plan to go back to a high carbohydrate diet, then I would recommend first drinking some coconut water to get some healthy electrolytes back into your system. Then for breakfast some fresh fruit, like watermelon, papaya or pineapple. I would have fresh fruit for breakfast and then again for lunch. For dinner you might have some light vegetable soup or boiled potatoes with the broth. The second day I would first eat fruit again for breakfast, then for lunch more cooked vegetables or maybe a small portion of oatmeal or other cooked cereal grain and dinner somewhat the same. By day three you should be able to basically resume old eating habits without any problems. But hopefully after your fast you will stay away from all processed foods and follow a whole-foods, plant based diet! Also, pay attention to each food you add to your diet and how your body digests it. After a water fast is a great time to test your body for any food sensitivities or allergies that may have been causing problems before.
While I do recognize the potential health benefits of a high fat, low carb and moderate protein diet, I still strongly believe that such a diet should only be used for the short term. For long term health and wellness, there just isn’t anything better than a vegan, whole foods, plant based diet.
Is fasting for everyone?
While most people are perfectly capable of fasting, even for extended periods of time, some will need to consult with a medical professional before starting any kind of fasting regime.
Those with diabetes, who are taking medications or suffer from gout, should first consult their health practioner before making any significant dietary changes, like fasting.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not practice fasting.
Those under the age of 18 should not fast any longer than 24 hours.
Those underweight or undernurished should not practice fasting.
I hope you have learned alot about fasting and are more confident incorporating fasting, be it intermittent or extended fasting into your life. I am sure you will discover for yourself some of the many health benefits described above!
*For a more comprehensive reading about fasting, please check out Dr. Fung’s new book – The Complete Guide to Fasting
Are some people really programmed naturally to stay up late into the night? I don’t believe so. Everyone has an internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness known as circadian rhythm. This sleep/wake cycle is controlled by the hypothalamus and heavily influenced by light and darkness (1). When darkness falls at night, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus letting it know that it is time to feel tired. This leads to the release of the chemical melatonin which makes you tired. There is some degree of variance in circadian rhythm from person to person, but typically this falls between a range of a couple hours. So while staying up till 10pm is understandable, staying awake past midnight is not.
The problem that many night owls have is that their lives are “off beat” from their circadian rhythm. Shift work, late night tv, video games, texting, Facebook,high stress, caffeine, college all-nighters, parties, sugar intake and other factors can all cause an individual to resist and override their natural sleep/wake cycle. I’m not saying that everyone should go to bed as soon as the sun sets or at one designated time. What I am saying though is that staying awake into the wee hours of the night is not only unnatural, but also potentially unhealthy.
Potential Health Benefits of Going to Bed Early and Rising Early
- Positive thoughts. One study found that those that go to bed early tend to worry less and have a more positive outlook on life (2).
- More in control and less stressed. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to wake up to an alarm clock? Well you shouldn’t really have to. One huge benefit of going to bed early is getting adequate sleep. Most of us need to be up by a certain time in the morning, so while the time of falling asleep vary, the time to get up is nearly constant. Those that retire early usually wake up naturally well before they have to be somewhere or do something. The night owls are often the same people who continue to hit snooze on their alarms until the last possible minute and then in a panicked hurry get ready for wherever they have to be. Poor or inadequate sleep are linked to feelings of irritability, stress and short tempers (3).
- Enhances your chance of success. Some research has shown that early risers tend to get better grades, are more proactive, better at solving problems, more cooperative, more conscientious, and have increased memory and concentration (4).
- Makes you happier (3). I think we have all experienced this. You just feel good and happier after a good nights rest.
- Strengthens the immune system. Have you ever noticed that when you are running on less than desired sleep that you are more prone to getting sick? Adequate and quality rest help keep you healthy and disease free by strengthening the immune system (5) . Maybe instead of the flu shot, people just need to get more sleep?
- More energy in the morning and throughout the day.
Tips to help you fall asleep earlier so that you can enjoy the health benefits of those listed above!
- Exercise early in the day
- Don’t eat late at night
- Listen to sleep meditation at the time you want to fall asleep
- Drink a warm glass of chamomile tea an hour or so before bed
- Don’t bring your electronics with you to bed. Try reading a book instead.
- Limit caffeine intake to the morning
Good luck on making going to bed earlier and waking up earlier a habit! In fact, I’m off to bed!
Did you know that one of the most effective ways your body communicates with you is through your poop? Constipation, diarrhea, green poop, black poop, small poops, large poops and smelly poops are all forms of communication. And it’s not just about how often you defecate either, but the quality and quantity as well. One of the most important things you can start doing right now is looking at your poop each time you sit on that white throne of yours. Let’s analyze your poop together!
First, let’s go over the shape and size of your poop.
Check out the chart below. The ideal poop shape is typically type 4. Type 4 is long (about 9-12 inches), at least 1 inch in diameter and it should coil in the toilet bowl or make an s-shape. Pencil-thin poops are usually a sign of inflammation or obstruction. Type 3 and 5 are okay, and you shouldn’t be too sad if you are having either of these. Type 1 and 2 are serious signs of a lack of fiber and water in the diet. Type 6 and 7 could be due to a dramatic increase in fiber intake, a cleanse of some sort or an infection.
Now let’s talk about color.
- Brown stools are ideal. The brown color is due to bile from your gall bladder being metabolized by the bacteria in your intestines.
- Red stools can be a sign of lower GI bleeding (hemorrhoids, colon polyps, or an inflammatory bowel disease) with worst case scenario being cancer. But before you rush off to the doctor for a checkup, ask yourself if you have eaten beets or maybe even something with a lot of red dye in it.
- Green stools usually is a sign of undigested bile or possibly Crohn’s disease (which causes bile to pass through your intestines too quickly). Taking antibiotics is also known to change stools green in some people.
- Yellow stools are usually a sign of liver and/or gall bladder issues. Dandelion root or milk thistle are great liver tonic herbs. Yellow stools may also be caused by giardia or a sign you have celiac disease.
- Balck (super dark) stools and may indicate upper GI bleeding. Iron supplements may also be the culprit here.
- White or clay colored stools are no bueno (sorry guys, I really wanted to use white text to coincide with stool color but I also wanted you to be able to see the text). This stool color is likely related to a liver disease or pancreatic disorder.
*Remember, color variation is quite normal if it is just for a day or two. Any color variation though lasting longer than a few days may require a visit to the doctor.*
Last but not least, is smell.
I mean, poop naturally stinks, but I am talking about those rancid, super strong smelling stools that even you can’t tolerate. Most likely, the toxic smell produced by your stool is caused by a change in diet. It takes time for the bacteria in your gut to adjust to new food or dietary changes. Other times it could be due to an imbalance in gut flora or dysbiosis. Really stinky poop may also be a sign of malabsorption, due to an infection, disease such as celiac or Crohn’s, food allergies or dairy protein intolerance. Sometimes medications and/or supplements may also be behind your smelly behind.
And before you go poop just yet, I want to leave you with a few suggestions on how to poop.
- Never push hard to get your stools out. If you are straining to poop, stop. Try increasing your water intake and fiber content (whole grains, veggie and fruits). Your poop should literally just slide out (with a tiny itsy-bitsy push) and typically you should be finished pooping in less time than it takes to pee.
- Squatting is more natural than sitting on a toilet and helps the bowels release. Try propping your feet up on a kids stool the next time you poop. Or you can always get really crazy and buy yourself a squatty-potty.
- RELAX. Try deep breathing when you poop if you are struggling. Don’t strain yourself!
- For women – wipe front to back! If you wipe back to front you will likely smear bowel movement into the vagina. In your intestines there is a relatively harmless E coli, a natural occurring bacteria kept balanced and checked by the gut. When E coli finds it way into the vagina though, it causes a UTI ( urinary tract infection) and those things are not pleasant!
- Before you flush, LOOK AT YOUR POOP. See what your body is telling you.
In summary, a healthy poop should:
- Be brown in color
- Long and snake-like, smooth with no cracks and at least an inch in diameter
- Stink, but not make your eyes water
- Occur at least once a day
- Should not hurt, but easily come out
What can you do to have healthy poops:
- Drink lot’s of water. Typically 2 – 4 liters. Most people are chronically dehydrated.
- Follow a whole foods, plant-based diet. This will provide you with lot’s of fiber that the bowels love to help push things along and clean the walls of the intestines
- Don’t eat meals just before bed
- Engage in light to moderate exercise every day which helps stimulate peristalsis
Happy pooping everyone!
Tea time! There are so many available tea options though, so which one should you choose? Better yet, which one would your body choose for you? All you have to do is walk into Teavana, Davids Tea or any health food store and you have shelves upon shelves dedicated to loose or bagged teas. Sometimes it can be a tad overwhelming. For your convenience, I have narrowed it down to the 3 teas that I think will do the most good for your beautiful body at any stage of your life.
Dandelion Root & Leaf Tea
This is NOT just an obnoxious weed growing all over your yard. It’s a magnificent herb used to help digestion, gently stimulate the liver and help with constipation. I started taking this tea a couple years ago when I was healing my bowel issues. Dandelion tea has a earthy slightly bitter taste that the liver and bowels love. The bowels and the liver go hand in hand, so if one is not working, 99.9% of the time the other is struggling as well. This beautiful tea gently stimulates the liver/gallbladder to help it secrete bile. Bile is the bodies natural laxative that aids in digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. When your food is properly digested and bile is flowing it helps combat inflammation in the intestines and allow your body to properly eliminate waste. Benefits of dandelion root and leaf tea include:
- Infuses the body with vitamins and minerals
Dandelion root – vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin B complex, as well as zinc, iron and potassium.
Dandelion leaf – vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron , potassium, and manganese. Other nutrients present in dandelion greens include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
- Helps heal liver and skin disorders
- Neutralizes an acidic body
- Mild natural laxative
- Helps digestion ( bitter tonic)
- Helps fight inflammation in the body
- Helps fight seasonal allergies
- Soothes heart burn
- Helps balance blood pressure
- Helps strengthen the immune system
- Gently cleanses the body
- Great coffee substitute
- Dandelion greens are great in a salad
*Do not ingest/use dandelion greens or roots if you suspect they have been sprayed with weed killer.
Red Raspberry Leaf
This plant has been used for hundreds of years as a yummy food (the berries) and the leaves as a great healing herb, especially for woman. But beware! This tea does not taste like the fruit it produces! It has more of a green tea taste, that’s earthy and slightly bitter. If you are looking for a great multi-vitamin drink, look no further than 1-3 cups a day of red raspberry leaf tea! I love drinking a cup first thing in the morning to start the day off right. I started drinking this tea more than ever during pregnancy to provide body-building and body-sustaining vitamins and minerals. I personally drank red raspberry leaf tea to help build my blood and boost iron levels, keep leg cramps away and balance out my hormones. Balanced hormones are key to a happy pregnancy! When your hormones are balanced and your body has been given the right fuel you don’t have a lot of common pregnancy symptoms like restless leg syndrome, varicose veins, rapid weight gain, and mood swings to name a few. And this tea is not just for women, men and children can also benefit greatly from this tea. Benefits of red raspberry leaf tea include:
- Infuses the body with vitamins and minerals such as the vitamins C, E, A and B complex and the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and chromium.
- Helps stop diarrhea
- Helps fight inflammation in the intestines
- Swish tea to help with gum disease or canker sores
- Helps balance hormones in males and females
- Tones the female reproductive system
- Helps increase fertility in men and woman
- Diuretic – helps eliminates fluid retention
- Helps reduce fevers
- Strengthens the immune system
- Prevents miscarriages and brings on labor when the body is ready
- Helps fight off flues and colds
Nettle Leaf Tea
Mother Nature’s gift to this world and basically my go to tea for just about anything! Some of my health clients complain that this tea is hard to swallow because of its bitter, grassy taste. Yep, there is nothing sweet about this tea besides its health benefits. I love to pair this healing tea with a peppermint tea to make it more palatable. I started taking nettle leaf tea (it has to be nettle leaf, not the root) in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy to help increase my bowel movements, elevate mood and energy levels, and infuse my body along with baby’s body with vital plant vitamins and minerals. Its a fantastic everyday tonic for the body. Benefits of nettle leaf tea include:
- Infuses the body with vitamins and minerals such as the vitamins A, C, *D and K and the minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulfur. *Nettle supplies your body with vitamin D3 (calcidiol) which is a precursor to biologically active vitamin D.
- Increases fertility in men and women.
- Nourishes mother and fetus during pregnancy, especially during the 2nd trimester
- Eases leg cramps and other body spasms
- Diminishes pain during and after birth
- Increases the richness and amount of breast milk
- Gently cleans the blood stream
- Helps relieve seasonal allergies
- Energizes the body without caffeine
- Promotes lymph drainage
- Helps fight Inflammation throughout the entire body
- Diuretic without taking potassium out of the body
- Helps heal kidney/bladder infections
- Helps with gout by reducing the amount of uric acid in the body
- Great tonic for pregnant woman due to high mineral content
- Helps with prostate enlargement issues
Just because Adam and Eve had a negative experience with fruit, doesn’t mean you need to fear it as well! Unfortunately, however, it appears that there is a very real fear of eating fruit these days. There are countless misconceptions about fruit mostly promulgated by high-fat and high-protein diets, but also by misinformed doctors and nutritionsits alike. But why is fruit – unarguably known by scientists to prolong life, reduce inflammation and protect against cancers, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and various other diseases – vilified?
Fruit will make you fat. This is just silly. You make yourself fat by your food choices and quantity eaten, but food in and of itself does not make you fat. There are thousands of individuals that literally live off of fruit – fruitarians – and I have yet to see one of them obese. The vast majority of people know pretty well what they need to do to lose weight but don’t want to make the necessary changes. So what do they do? They look for something to blame. And the group carbohydrates, of which fruit belongs, seems to be a popular scapegoat in our modern day. Now I will admit that there are a handful of people out there, lost in the sea of misinformation, who are trying there best to lose weight with little success. Please contact us. Now weight gain is heavily influenced by consuming more calories than your body needs, eating a lot of foods that are toxic to the body (meat, dairy, processed foods, oils, sweeteners) or can be due to hormonal imbalances. Right now you are saying, “See! I knew it wasn’t my fault. Hormonal imbalance for sure is to blame in my case.” You may be right. But what causes hormonal imbalances? Mostly a poor diet (think lots of animal products, especially dairy products), stress (which you are largely responsible for) and some times certain medications (which 80% of the time would not be needed if following a healthy, plant-based diet). Fruit does not make you fat. Please don’t fall into the modern trap that eating slabs of butter, a cheese and meat omelette or a triple bacon cheese burger without the bun is “healthier” than a couple of pieces of fresh fruit. Save yourself the time and effort from blaming fruit and instead use that time and effort to go grocery shopping and pick you up some delicious fruit!
Fruit is high in sugar (carbohydrates) so its bad. Nowadays I feel like many treat carbohydrates like “he who must not be named”, daring not to even say the evil word, let alone eat them! First off, you need to understand that your body and especially your brain is designed to run off of sugar! Everything you eat, be it simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, fat and even protein in some cases gets turned into a form of sugar called glucose to fuel your body. We absolutely need glucose to live a healthy life. But what about ketone bodies? Yes, our body can run off of ketone bodies but this is a safety mechanism meant for times of famine or fasting. There is no evidence that living off of ketones indefinitely is healthy in the long run. But we also need a lot more than just glucose to be healthy and thus you need to understand that there is a HUGE difference between eating a raw piece of fruit and a packet of skittles. Some carbohydrates in fruit are fiber, which is indigestible by the body and therefor has absolutely no effect on blood sugar levels (but has a lovely effect on bowel movements!). Also, one of the main sugars in fruit is fructose that is almost entirely metabolized in the liver and the rate at which it is converted to glucose is actually rather slow, much slower than other carbohydrates. Thus fructose’s impact on blood sugar levels is moderate, unless you are consuming high-fructose corn syrup which not only spikes blood sugar levels but also leads to other negative health consequences. So yeah, I guess a lot of fruit at one time (like 20 bananas) can spike blood sugar levels and lead to fat production and fat storage, not to mention be very taxing on the liver. This is one of the reasons why I am not on board with the fruitarians. But who of you eats that much fruit? I must admit that I have on occasion because dang the fruit is good down here in Costa Rica. Shame on me. Fruit also hosts various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which are necessary for proper functioning of all major organs, metabolism, good health and prevention of all major diseases that plague us today. The broad potential health benefits of eating fruit far outweigh a couple of very minor potential disadvantages. Do yourself a favor and taste the rainbow of natural, whole, raw fruit, and not just their simulated flavors in that packet of skittles.
If you have diabetes you should stay away from fruit. As I mentioned above, fruit contains fructose which is converted to glucose rather slowly. And understanding that about half of the natural sugars in fruit is typically fructose, there only remains the other half able to raise blood sugar levels significantly. But then we also need to add to the blood-sugar equation that fruit contains the carbohydrate fiber that actually doesn’t contribute at all to increases in blood sugar levels. Fruit is also mostly water, therefor a serving of fruit and a serving of cake will have dramatic differences in impact on blood sugar levels. This concept is accounted for with the glycemic load (GL), rather than the glycemic index (GI). Glycemic load is pretty much the saturation of carbohydrates in a food and any number below 10 for glycemic load is considered low with regard to impact on blood sugar levels, 10-20 considered moderate, and above 30 considered high. Let’s look at watermelon, for example, that has a GI of 72 (high), but only a GL of 7.2 (low) and skittles with a GI of 70 (high) and a GL of 31 (high). You would need to eat 4-5 servings of fruit to equal a serving of skittles.
You also need to remember that most diabetics have type 2 diabetes (95%) and that carbohydrates, regardless of their glycemic index, are not really the problem when it comes to this form of diabetes. The real problem is fat. A diet high in fat, especially animal fats and processed oils, leads to high levels of fat in blood which then can cause accumulations of fatty deposits inside the cell called intramyocellular lipids. These fatty deposits inside the cell are responsible for blocking insulin from allowing glucose to enter the cell, called insulin resistance. You can read more about type 2 diabetes in my blog post: Diabetes Mellitus – You Are Not a Victim of your Genes. Thousands of people who suffered with type 2 diabetes have actually been cured with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. There are various medical doctors leading the way with the idea of treating diabetes (and almost every other chronic disease) with a low-fat, high-carb, vegan diet, such as doctors John Mcdougal, Joel Furhman, Neal Barnard and Caldwell Esselstyn. Once you remove the animal fat and processed fat from the diet, the fatty deposits inside the cells are burned up and eliminated allowing insulin to do its job properly.
So when all is said and done, fruit’s impact on blood sugar levels really is minimal and you should not be afraid to eat it or other healthy carbohydrates (unless you continue eating a lot of fat), even if you are diabetic!
Fruit should be avoided if you have Candida overgrowth.
Why would we deprive ourselves of one of nature’s greatest healing foods when the body is at a time when healing is most needed? Fear of “sugar” once again. While it is true that the candida bacteria feed on sugar, so what? Your own cells function and thrive on sugar too, not to mention all of the beneficial bacteria needed to keep candida in check! The idea of “starving” candida out of the body by severely limiting carbohydrate intake can also be problematic as this is a known trigger that causes the normal candida to convert to its pathogenic fungal form (1). And again, I need to make myself clear that not all sugar is the same. A package of skittles and a bag of grapes will be digested very differently and have different effects in the body. Similar to diabetes, sugar is not the real problem here, especially not fruit. In fact, most carbohydrate/sugar consumed is absorbed by cellular activity before it can even be considered as food for candida. If carbohydrates (sugar, fruit) were to blame for candidiasis, why are there so many people that have healed themselves by going on a high fruit low fat diet? Heck, there are even some people who have adopted a diet entirely of fruit – that is a lot of sugar – and have healed themselves of candidiasis (2, 3, 4). The real problem is the imbalance in gut flora, allowing the Candida to over populate and eventually convert to a problematic fungi. Imbalances in gut flora can be influenced by an acidic diet (think the standard American diet full of animal and processed foods and devoid of fresh vegetables and fruit), use of antibiotics, poor immune system, diabetes, stress and intestinal diseases such as IBS, Chrohn’s, leaky gut and colitis. Concentrating on helping repopulate the good bacteria and healing the gut is what is needed, and fruit helps significantly in this effort!
*A great presentation given by a doctor on Candidiasis can be viewed here.
Benefits of Fresh Fruits
No need to cook.
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and various other micronutrietns and phytonutrients which are crucial for overall health, wellness and a strong immune system.
Loaded with fiber (soluble).
Low on the glycemic load.
Very little packaging.
No labels, so naturally nothing has been added or removed.
No toxic byproducts are produced through digestion, only byproduct is water.
Helps prevent and manage various diseases like diabetes, heart disease, colitis, hypertension and the list goes on and on.
Keeps your body hydrated.
Helps satisfy your “sweet tooth” cravings in a healthy way!
Remember, fruit is your friend, not your foe!
Just what exactly is true hunger? Most of us, myself included often times mistake appetite for hunger – we simply want to eat or there is food in front of us so we unconsciously tell ourselves we are hungry. Other times, what we think is hunger really is our body detoxifying from the nutritionally-poor food we are feeding it – think symptoms like headaches, irritability, cravings, fatigue, brain fog, or light-headedness. When we feed our body food lacking in the various array of micronutrients and phytochemicals, like animal products, processed foods, stimulants and oil-rich foods, digestion leads to the production of toxic metabolites and an increase in inflammation (1). As our body tries to eliminate these toxins, the uncomfortable symptoms already mentioned occur. Instead of recognizing these symptoms as positive signs of detoxification and allowing the body to continue cleaning house per se, we view the symptoms negatively, call them hunger pains, and try to rectify the symptoms with food. Dr. Fuhrman calls this “toxic hunger”. Eating will signal to the body to stop detoxifying and concentrate its energy on digesting once again, thus eliminating the toxic hunger pains. Ironically we then eat the same nutritionally poor food that will just cause the unwanted cycle to continue. This is one reason why so many people snack throughout the day, even if its just a piece of chocolate, a coffee, some candy, crackers or whatever else it might be, they are trying to stop these uncomfortable detox symptoms they associate to be related to hunger pains.
True hunger is believed to be felt in the mouth and throat, not in the head and stomach. According to a study conducted by Dr. Fuhrman, when individuals eat a nutritionally-dense diet, based on whole plants that are loaded with micronutrients and phytochemicals, toxic hunger symptoms greatly diminish, caloric intake is more easily controlled and managed, and they will often report hunger signals appearing more in the throat and mouth, rather in the belly and head (2).
Give it a try today, forgo the toxic hunger pains recognizing that it is merely your body detoxifying and is a very beneficial process, and wait till you feel true hunger to eat again. Remember it’s in the throat and mouth. I’m trying to do the same and would love to hear back from your experiences!
First off, I think we need to talk a little about genetics and maybe more importantly, epigenetics. You were born with a specific genetic code that does not change. Your genome is fixed. However, epigenetics (meaning above genetics) involves how much or whether or not your specific genetic code is expressed. Epigenetics is heavily influenced by environmental factors. We can see living examples of this with many sets of identical twins. Fifty years down the road, despite their genomes continuing to be exactly the same and containing genetic code let’s say linked to heart disease or diabetes or cancer, often times only one of the twins will develop the disease while the other remains disease free. Two sets of exactly the same genes with different outcomes. The take away is to understand that just because you were born with certain genes that are linked to various diseases does not mean that you will necessarily develop those diseases. Now in rare cases there are diseases that are inevitable due to genetic mutations, like Haemophilia and Huntington’s disease. However, with regards to most common illnesses like heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, even more important than genetics is your cells environment. Diet, lifestyle, gender, age, geographic location, climate, air quality, water quality and so forth all can potentially affect the expression of certain genes.
The same can be said with diabetes mellitus and its two different forms, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. While yes, there are various genetic variations that are linked to the development of either type of diabetes, these variations in a person’s genetic code do not determine absolutely the development of the disease.
TYPE 1 DIABETES
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease increasing world wide, and like many other autoimmune diseases, what triggers its development is largely unknown. Type 1 diabetes is the result of the inability of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is quite literally the key to unlock the door of the cell to glucose (the fuel that your body’s cells run on) and thus without insulin, glucose cannot enter the cells. Those unfortunate people who develop type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections the remainder of their lives (unless a miracle happens, which some people have reported, but I wouldn’t bet on it). Many falsely believe that type 1 diabetes is entirely genetic or inherited, this is not the case. Less than 10% of people with the genetic markers linked to type 1 diabetes actually develop type 1 diabetes. On top of the genetic tendency to develop type 1 diabetes, various environmental factors also exist that implicate the disease including viral infections, consumption of milk proteins early in childhood, pollutants, variations in gut flora and vitamin D exposure (1). Since type 1 diabetes only accounts for 4-5% of diabetic cases (approximately 1.25 million Americans) and not much can be done to treat the disease other than insulin injections, the focus of this post will be majorly on type 2 diabetes (2). That being said, many people have reported that improvements in their diet (switching to a whole foods diet and eliminating processed foods, be it vegan or paleo or whatever you want to call yourself) have reduced the amount of insulin needed to manage the disease.
TYPE 2 DIABETES
While type 1 diabetes is a result of the lack of insulin, type 2 diabetes is the result of increasing insulin resistance and develops over an extended period of time. What is insulin resistance? Let’s go back to the analogy of insulin acting as the key to open the door to the cell and allow glucose in. In the case of type 2 diabetes something is jamming the key hole, rendering insulin unable to open the door. That something is actually fatty deposits inside the cells (intramyocellular lipids) that act as insulin blockers, increasing the body’s resistance to insulin. What causes these fatty deposits in your cells? Lot’s of fat in the blood stream due to a high-fat and high-carbohydrate diet (what most Americans, Canadians, European’s and other developed nations eat). Returning to your glucose starving cells, they ask the pancreas what the deal is and why it hasn’t sent insulin to help bring in all the glucose floating around in the blood. Your pancreas, probably somewhat confused because it knows it is sending sufficient insulin to handle the blood sugar levels, produces more insulin to fulfill the request. If this issue continues, your cells continue to go hungry and your pancreas gets overworked, which may eventually lead to insufficient insulin production. The goal then of type 2 diabetes treatment is to increase your cell’s sensitivity to insulin. Metformin is the most common drug prescribed for this purpose. Some type 2 diabetes patients pancreas has taken too much of a beating and will also need to take insulin injections to help cover the shortages. I have good news though folks, type 2 diabetes is almost entirely preventable and sometimes even reversible!
I’m not going to state that type 2 diabetes is 100% preventable, because I don’t believe that has been proven. That being said, I would say that close to 99% of the time it is. Just think about this for a minute. Approximately 10 percent of Americans (roughly the entire population of Canada) who suffer from type 2 diabetes essentially are suffering from a disease that could have been avoided. China also displays a similar statistic with approximately 10% (just over the entire population of the western United States) of its residents suffering from the disease. Just 40 years ago only 1% of Chinese had diabetes – that’s a 1000% increase (3)! How is that possible in such a short time? Rapid Westernization. I repeat, type 2 diabetes is almost entirely preventable and need not even exist. I don’t care if everyone in your family including your dog and cat have type 2 diabetes, that does not mean you too will inevitably develop the disease. It’s quite possible that you can break the chain!
The single most important thing that influences the development of type 2 diabetes is diet. More specifically, a diet high in fat. The Chinese make a great example. Once they started adopting the western diet high in fat with lots of meat, dairy, oils, and processed foods, diabetes rates, using the words of the World Health Organization, “exploded”. Over 90% of those suffering from type 2 diabetes all over the world are overweight or obese (again, not a surprise as it is the accumulation of fat in the cells that lead to insulin resistance). And diet more than exercising helps maintain a healthy body weight. Shawn Talbott, PhD holder and nutritional biochemist stated that weight loss is typically 75% diet and 25% exercise (4). Simply put, you can not outrun a bad diet. But I hope you don’t get caught up in just reducing calories. I’ll admit that reducing calories heavily influences weight loss, but doesn’t necessarily lead to health. Extremely low calorie diets run the risk of nutritional deficiencies. And maybe just as important as how much you eat is what you eat. Your diet should be full of healthy, whole, life-giving food. 1000 calories from white bread are very different than 1000 calories from raw fruit, veggies and sprouted beans and seeds. You are probably thinking, “Here we go again. Mitch, will probably state that a vegan diet is the most adequate at preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.” You called it my friend. A study posted on the website of the American Diabetes Association (ADA -not to be confused with the American Dental Association, the American Dairy Association, the American Disability Act, the American Dietetic Association and a host of other possible definitions) found that a low-fat vegan diet when compared to the recommended ADA diet was 2x as effective at reducing the need for medication, 3x more effective at lowering blood sugar levels and 2x more effective at losing weight (5). Those results are great, but I think even better results could have been obtained. The low-fat vegan diet followed in the study did not eliminate processed food nor was it based on raw, living fruits and vegetables. I believe this is key to attaining optimal health. The diet I recommend to help manage diabetes and potentially reverse type 2 diabetes is a whole food, low protein, fruit-and-veggie-based vegan diet, void of all animal products and any processed garbage called food. Just recently two of my clients suffering from insulin resistance and using the drug Metformin no longer have any need for the medication and their blood sugar levels that once were in the 300-450 range without the drug are now consistently at normal levels around 100. One client had been taking Metformin for several years! This has all been achieved in under a month. I can’t promise you these results, but I have seen similar results over and over again with a whole food, fruit-and-veggie based vegan diet. If you have doubts, I suggest you give the diet a try for a month and see how you feel.
The second most important thing is lifestyle. The human body needs to MOVE. You don’t have to get a gym membership or spend thousands of dollars on a fancy road bike (although those sexy tights are very attractive) or start training for a marathon to reap the benefits of bodily movement. If you want to engage in more intensive forms of exercise like the ones mentioned, all the power to you. But moving doesn’t have to be complicated, leave you sore or require lots of time. It can be as simple as going for a walk in the morning, practicing yoga, gardening, hiking in nature, taking the stairs instead of the elevator (unless you work or live on the 47th floor or something ridiculous like that), walk or ride your bike to work if possible, jumping on a trampoline and so forth. The benefits of exercise for diabetics are three fold: 1. helps lower blood glucose levels as muscles during exercise can utilize glucose without the need for insulin; 2. increases the effectiveness of insulin, thus lowering a person’s insulin resistance and 3. influences weight loss which in turn will help lower insulin resistance. Instead of Nike’s slogan of just do it, your new slogan is just move.
Also an important aspect of lifestyle, one that greatly influences your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or helps manage it is STRESS. It is absolutely frightening the level of stress most people live under in our modern age. The majority of my health clients report stress levels of 10/10 and very rarely does anyone report lower than 8. Your brain consumes a lot of glucose, in fact, your brain accounts for approximately 20% of total calories burned in a day. Thus, mental stress can actually raise blood glucose levels which is exactly what diabetics are trying to control. Also, the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol typically released in response to stress directly affect blood glucose levels. Submitting the body to stress on occasion is not much of a threat to health, but chronic stress can severely wear you down, influencing the development of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, weight gain and a host of other ailments. If you are constantly under stress, do yourself a favor and seek out ways to reduce it. Some effective forms of stress reduction are deep breathing exercises, yoga, exercise, reading, being in nature, going for a walk, gardening, meditation and engaging in a favorite hobby. If you think you don’t have time for any of these stress management activities, your wrong. Make time now when you have the choice, because sooner or later, the negative effects of chronic stress will make you slow down, if not stop you completely.
Herbal Support and Supplements. There are some wonderful herbs that God has given us that may help you in the management of diabetes. If you are on current diabetic medication, you may want to consult your doctor before taking any kind of supplement as it could have negative drug interactions.
– Bitter melon (momordica charantia) appears to have insulin-like properties and is popular in Asian and Indian cooking.
– Cinnamon (cinnamomum aromaticum) appears to increase insulin receptor sensitivity. Cinnamon also helps tone and balance the pancreas which can also aid in diabetes management. And since cinnamon is down right delicious – I’m thinking of banana cinnamon nice-cream right now – why not try making an effort to get more of it in your current diet?
– Goldenseal and licorice, especially in combination help regulate the pancreas and the production of insulin.
– Chromium deficiencies are linked to glucose tolerance, hyperglycemia, glycosuria (a fancy word given to a decrease in insulin receptors) and lowered insulin binding (8). Chromium is essential in carbohydrate metabolism. Before you start taking large amounts of a chromium supplement however, if possible, I would first get your chromium levels tested to make sure you even have a deficiency.
And that’s it folks. I know this post is super long, and if you are still reading you’ve just won a golden ticket and you are on your way to Willy Wonka’s! But honestly, I think we covered some really important stuff here and I hope it was worth your time.
“It was good for the skin to touch the bare earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with their barefeet on the sacred earth… The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing.”
– Luther Standing Bear (Sioux Tribal Leader)
I have to admit, up until a few years ago, that on the occasions I saw someone walking barefoot around town, hiking barefoot or even running barefoot, I merely grouped them together as a bunch of attention seeking hippies. And yes, I classified them all as hippies, because, well, you know, they weren’t wearing shoes like civilized people! In all reality though, I think deep down I was slightly jealous. I hated wearing shoes. My feet always felt cramped, I was developing bunions, near the end of the day my feet felt exhausted, I had poor arches, had dealt with plantar fasciitis once before and the cherry on top of it all was my feet often stunk worse than moldy dish rags (the ones that have been left on the bottom of the sink for a few days in the middle of summer… yep, those moldy dish rags). Gold bond did nothing. Athletes foot cream was slightly helpful. I tried various shoe brands but could never find one that my feet just loved. I eventually switched to zero drop shoes and I saw some improvement, but my bunions persisted and my feet continued to stink like sewer. “Maybe those dang hippies were on to something,” I finally concluded. And after months and years of experimenting, I think they were.
I am still not able to run on asphalt roads barefoot nor hike mountain trails void of footwear, but I have made an effort to go barefoot as much as possible and have seen some serious improvement in the health of my feet, and possibly my general health overall as I will explain further below. I now rarely ever wear “shoes” – those constricting boxes forced upon us by society (yes, even the famous Altra with their supposedly wide toe boxes – and instead wear minimalist sandals when footwear is needed. Walking and running and working in sandals is so liberating! You need to try it! And I’m not talking about Chacos, or Birkenstocks or comfy flip-flops. I’m talking about a hard, perfectly flat sole of rubber strapped to your feet. No arch support, no cushion and no ankle supports. It’s the closest thing I can get to barefoot, without getting kicked out of the supermarket or church 🙂 Since wearing minimalist sandals coupled with going barefoot as much as possible, I have noticed my bunions decreasing, my toes spacing out a little more, no more foot fatigue and my arches have never been better! In fact, many studies are now revealing various potential health benefits of going barefoot. Below are just a few:
Potential Health Benefits!*
- Reduces inflammation
- Strengthens immune system
- Improves sleep
- Reduces chronic pain
- Reduces stress
- Reduces cortisol levels
- Reduces muscle soreness
- Speeds recovery time from illness
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Helps manage autoimmune diseases
How can grounding, or earthing as it is commonly called, have so many positive benefits? The earth is saturated with mobile electrons and freely passes them on to us humans, if we allow her to. But why would you want more mobile electrons flowing through you? The same reason why you want to consume more antioxidants from the magical fruit eaten by pink unicorns recently discovered in the lost city of Atlantis (Okay, I made that up. But I wouldn’t doubt that some company will try and use that story to sell a piece of fruit). Seriously speaking now, how antioxidants work is by giving up electrons to neutralize free radicals, or in fancy science language, reactive oxygen species (ROS). It’s conceivable that these ROS’s were also in the fire swamp with the ROUS’s – If you get that reference, you’re invited over for movie night. These ROS’s negatively impact the immune system and your body’s inflammatory responses. So, theoretically by grounding yourself with the earth, aka going barefoot, gardening without gloves, mud wrestling in your underwear, ect., you are actually helping to combat those nasty free radicals, which strengthens your immune system and reduces inflammation in the body. Also earthing helps stabilize the electrical environment of all your organs, tissues and cells, thus promoting their proper and healthy functioning (1).
I know it can be difficult if not impractical at times to go barefoot in our modern society, but that only means we should go to greater efforts to try and ground ourselves in some way throughout the day. Hopefully, you will find some potential options in the list below to help you benefit from Earthing!
How Can I Participate in Earthing?
- Going barefoot. Possibly the easiest and cheapest way (I mean you can’t beat free) is to have your barefeet contact earth for at least 30 minutes per day. The more moist the ground is the better the conductivity. This can be soil, grass, rock, sand or even water. This is one reason why the ocean feels so good, the sand and salt water are great condcutors and you are literally practicing grounding at it’s very finest! Grounding most likely a contributor to why people tend to sleep much better during beach vacations.
- Gardening. You’ve got to get your hands dirty though… no gloves. This is also an effective way to ground yourself. Typically you need to spend more time gardening though as your hands are not in constant contact with the earth, like they are when you are walking or standing.
- Mud baths. Probably the most intense and adventurous form of grounding, but you can’t get much more grounded than covering your naked body in mud.
- Swimming in rivers, lakes and oceans. Water is an amazing conductor of electricity. As long as the water is grounded that you are in, you are grounded. Sorry, swimming pools are a no go, not to mention all the yucky chemicals in the water as well!
- Earthing products. You can purchase earthing products or make them yourself. These products have conductive metal fibers built into the product that you can plug in to the grounding hole of electrical sockets (most newer homes have this grounding feature on all electrical sockets) with the electrical socket being grounded outside. It is literally the small round hole below the two flat holes on the socket. Has a similar effect as if you were sticking your feet in the dirt! These products can be ordered online from www.earthing.com in the US and www.earthingcanada.ca in Canada.
- Earthing mats – place under your feet at your desk or couch or in the kitchen
- Earthing throws – comfy cotton blankets
- Earthing pads – sleep on them, use on top of pillow, place under wrists while typing,
- Earthing bands – leg or arm bands that can be used while doing a variety of activities.
- Earthing sheets – fitted cotton sheets with silver thread sewn throughout.
- Earthing pillow cases
“The earth heals us through our feet. We heal others through our hands.”
*Here is the link to the study that looked at many other studies and saved me the time from doing it. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons
*You can also purchase Clint Ober’s book, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?
Hello? Is anybody home? It can’t just be me out there asking this question… Really? Just me? Well, here are a few reasons why I consider eating animal flesh and animal byproducts one of the craziest things us humans are doing right now.
Environmental Impact of Eating Animal Products
When you hear global warming (regardless of whether you believe in it or not) what comes to mind? Natural gas. Its those dang oil companies, major industrial plants and all those gas-guzzling vehicles that are ruining the protective ozone layer. What if I were to tell you though that eating little piggies and cow butt is also a major contributing factor and probably the easiest one to change? The UN pins livestock for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse gases (GHG), which by the way is more than all of the transportation sector combined (1). That’s right; all those belches and farts add up! So maybe instead of walking to McDonald’s to reduce your carbon footprint, let’s just pass on by the smorgasbord of animal flesh and pay a visit to the much less frequented produce aisle of our local grocery store.
It’s not just the animals themselves that are causing problems, but it’s all the resources required to sustain them as well. Every year millions go hungry, yet 3.5 billion people could be fed with the grain given to livestock. That’s a lot of farmland being wasted to feed animals instead of humans. Rainforests aren’t too happy about livestock either. The Amazon has shrunk in size by 20% in the last few decades and it isn’t with the intent to farm the land to feed a family. Around 90% of deforestation in the Amazon is for the sole purpose of feeding animals, not humans. And it’s not just the Amazon, but deforestation is threatening rainforests everywhere. Why should you care? Rainforests act as the earth’s lungs and help keep the air you and I breathe clean. For those that have experienced an asthma attack or have had the wind knocked out of them, it sure isn’t fun. If we don’t change things quick, we are dooming the earth to one continual asthma attack. That can’t be good for her or us
Fresh water is a precious commodity that is rapidly disappearing. I keep saying that it will be the gold of the future. While reducing time in the shower and turning off the tap when you brush your teeth are good ideas to help save water, they come no where close to how much water you could save by simply going vegan. You would have to skip around 26 showers for every whopper you consume (2). Please, if water gets that scarce, pass on the whopper and shower! In other words, livestock drink a lot of water, especially cows. The UN states that it requires about 15000 liters (roughly 4000 gallons) of water to produce 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of beef, while rice only requires 3500 liters (900 gallons) to produce 1 kg (2.2 lbs), bananas even less at 400 liters (100 gallons, and lettuce at 50 liters (15 gallons) (3). Seems that a vegan diet could help a lot in the fight to save fresh water.
And yes, eating fish is not much better! Deep sea fishing is causing the extinction of thousands of species and farmed fishing is still supporting deep sea fishing because fish are fed to fish! What the heck!?
Animal Rights (ALL animals, not just dogs and cats)
Irony. This world is full of it. But wow, how messed up is our society that we throw people in jail for abusing or killing a dog, while we pay others to mercilessly slaughter cow after cow, pig after pig, and chicken after chicken? You have the person that founded a dog reserve and dedicates his life to trying to help those poor innocent dogs, then sit down at dinner and chew away on pig flesh. Why is it okay to repeatedly rape a cow, steal her baby when it is born, hook her tits up to a milking machine, cram her in with other raped cows who have had their offspring stolen and have her stand day in and day out in her own urine and feces? Just so you can have a glass of milk? Would you like me to do that to your precious dog or cat? Would you like that to be done to you? I sure wouldn’t (not to mention they wouldn’t get much milk out of me). And just an added thought, no other animal species continues drinking milk after infancy, much less the milk from another species! Why humans ever started drinking the milk from animals is beyond me. I also think everyone who chooses to eat meat should first attend a slaughterhouse, a chicken farm and a pig farm and see what goes on. I also think every meat-eater should also have to kill and prepare, at least once, each of the animals that they choose to eat. I have a feeling there would be a massive influx in the popularity of veganism. And even if you are okay with the animal abuse and merciless slaughter, at least think twice about eating animal products for environmental reasons. I’m pretty sure Dori would chime in right now and say, “Animals are friends; not food.”
Health Impact of Eating Animal Products
Eating animals and their by-products not only harms animal lives but your life as well. The consumption of animal products is linked to increases in heart disease, diabetes and various forms of cancer, including breast, colon and prostate (4). One explanation for this is due to various carcinogens that occur in cooked and processed meat, like heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some studies show animal protein specifically to promote tumor growth by increasing levels of serum IGF-1 concentrations (5). Animal products are highly mucous forming, especially dairy and eggs. Too much mucous in the body leads to a sluggish digestive tract, compromised respiratory system and a congested lymphatic system, all of which influences the onset of disease.
Okay… Do you feel better now, Mitch? A little. I’m sure there are more reasons out there of why we shouldn’t consume animal products but this is good enough for me at the moment. I think there are a few influencing factors at play for why the world hasn’t changed their eating habits yet. I know these factors were influential when I myself didn’t think twice about consuming animal products.
- Marketing. The livestock industry has been incredibly effective at getting us to believe that our health depends on animal products, when this is complete bull****(pun intended). Dairy is not the only food with calcium and it’s easy to get all the protein your body needs from plants.
- Ignorance. The livestock industry has also cleverly removed the consumer from animal products they are consuming. Out of sight, out of mind. No one sees the abuse or the slaughtering. No one hears the animal’s cries for help. No one smells the awful condition in which the animals are kept. And no one feels the rapid scared heartbeat through the skin of the soon to be sacrificed animal. Heck, we have even given the meat from animals separate names. You don’t eat cow for dinner, but beef, steak, roast. You don’t eat pig flesh, rather ribs, bacon or pork.
- Racism. Some animals, like dogs and cats, are clearly far better than others and clearly shouldn’t be in the same category as cows, pigs, chickens and fish. In fact, dogs and cats are so superior that we even humanize them. “My dog is like my child!”. Well what’s wrong with adopting goats, sheep and pigs too?
- Superiority. Animals are just animals. They are stupid beasts. We humans are superior beings and can do with them as we please.
I don’t always agree with Charles Darwin, but I do when he said, “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”
*I am aware that current farming methods of mono crops also damage the environment and lead to animal suffering and loss of animal life, like birds (this is why the majority of my diet now comes from fruit – incredibly sustainable). First things first though. Let’s first concentrate on reducing animal products, then look at farming.*
As I was eating a watermelon this morning, I thought, “Too many people only appreciate you little watermelon for your pink flesh. If only they knew who you really are and what you have to offer. Well dab-nabit, I need to let them know what they are missing!” So here goes 🙂
Watermelon is actually a close cousin to the squash family (think cucumber and zucchini) and similar to the squash family, not only is the inside flesh edible, but so are the seeds and the rind. I know what you are thinking right now and yes, you were wasting perfectly edible and nutritious food when you would stock pile the watermelon seeds in your cheek like a chipmunk waiting to spit them at one of your annoying siblings. And although your garden soil loved the fresh watermelon rinds, your body probably would have loved them too. In fact, watermelon seeds and rind are the most nutritionally dense parts of the whole fruit.
So, cue the awkward question: “Is watermelon a vegetable then?” No. Ahhh… sigh of relief. “But you said it was a cousin to the squash family, and those are all vegetables?” Well, guess what? Santa ain’t real and cucumbers and zucchinis are actually fruits! But that’s a post for another day… back to watermelon.
Although it is great fun shooting these black bullets at others, next time try eating a few first. Watermelon seeds are a great addition to the diet, especially those of us who choose not to eat animal products, as they are packed with protein. Just 1/8 of a cup boasts around 10 grams of readily available plant protein. Watermelon seeds also contain a myriad of micro nutrients. They are packed with B-vitamins as well as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. Watermelon seeds also contain healthy fats and some fiber. And if you really want to get fancy – and unlock even more nutrition – try sprouting the seeds first before you eat them.
Yeah it doesn’t taste as good as the colorful sweet middle, but what it may lack in taste, it makes up for in nutrition. That juicy white stuff contains concentrated amounts of citrulline, a nonessential amino acid that is later converted to first, another amino acid called arginine and second, to nitric oxide. Why do you care? Because nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels and maintain their elasticity, all which contributes to healthy blood flow and a happy heart. Some studies have even shown citulline to help boost libido and may help some men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction(1). If you are a guy and reading this, you probably are now on your way to the supermarket to pick up some watermelon 😉 The rind also contains the vitamins A, B’s, and C, along with the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. So keep digging down past the pink stuff and enjoy some of the white meat! For those really adventurous, I dare you to eat the green stuff too (try and get organic watermelon if you plan on making a habit out of it).
Yes, the flesh is pretty good too nutritionally speaking. Among many of the same vitamins and minerals mentioned in the rind and seed, the pink flesh is extremely high in lycopene, even beating out the famous tomato in lycopene concentration. Why do you care? Because lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant, even stronger than beta-carotene. Some studies show that the higher the level of lycopene in the blood, the less likely a stroke is to occur (2,3). Also, lycopene is an anti-inflammatory and has displayed anti-cancer effects.
Soooo… who’s up for some watermelon, seeds and all???