Fruit: Friend of Foe?

Fruit: Friend of Foe?

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 Myths

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

Easily digested.

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!

Lower Bowel Formula

Lower Bowel Formula

The bowels are the foundation of health and are composed of the small (upper bowel) and large (lower bowel) intestine. The small intestine is roughly 20 feet long with the large intestine measuring 5 feet in length. It’s amazing to think they fit so compactly inside you! Most people think that the stomach is where the majority of food is digested, when in fact 90% of digestion actually occurs in the small intestine, with the remaining 10% in the stomach and large intestine. The small intestine is devoted to digesting carbohydrates, proteins and fats, along with absorbing water and the various vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients your body needs to thrive and survive. The large intestine is basically the sewage system of the body, designed to move any waste and toxins leftover from digestion out of the body.

On top of all this, the bowels also house some very important microbes, your personal gut flora. That’s right, there are billions upon billions of bacteria living harmoniously or inharmoniously inside your bowels. This gut flora can influence bodily processes such as metabolism, nutrition, energy production and even gene expression. When your bowels are not functioning properly or there is an imbalance of gut flora you may get gassy, bloated, stinky, irritated, headaches, lowered immune system, lethargic, back aches, loss of nutrients, acne, constipated, diarrhea etc.

The Lower Bowel Formula was created by Dr. Christopher to repair and strengthen not only the lower bowel but the entire intestinal tract. The formula is a brilliant combination of Barberry bark, Cayenne Pepper, Ginger Root, Lobelia, Cascara Sagrada, Turkey Rhubarb, Fennel, Goldenseal and Red Raspberry leaf. This formula is not a regular laxative; think of it more like bowel food that will feed, nourish, repair and rebuild. The herbs in the formula are all whole plants and contain no isolations of molecules. We use whole herbs so we can get the maximum healing properties from them.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these herbs and why they are in the Lower Bowel Formula.

barberry

Barberry Bark is an excellent liver tonic and has been used to help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (1). Why is a liver supporting herb in the Lower Bowel Formula? Barberry helps clean the liver and stimulate bile production. Bile is your body’s natural laxative and helps break down protein, fats and carbs. Without adequate bile production, your food becomes more difficult to digest and eliminate. 

cayenne-pepper

Cayenne pepper is a healing spice from the Gods. In this formula it was put in to stimulate peristaltic motion of the intestines, draw out toxins and help close small lesions on the delicate colon wall. Contrary to popular belief, cayenne pepper actually helps rebuild the tissue in the stomach and heal stomach and intestinal ulcers. I know, you are thinking we are crazy for saying that a hot spice will help heal ulcers, but it’s true. Try it!

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Ginger is the leader herb in this formula, guiding the herbs deep into the bowels for maximum repairing. Ginger also helps keep flatulence and is a well known digestive aid helping relieve feelings of nausea, motion sickness, upset stomach and bloating. Ginger is also a diaphoretic, stimulating the body to sweat. Try drinking ginger tea on a cold day to help warm you up.

lobelia

Lobelia is an antispasmodic herb and was added to the formula to calm a spastic bowel and strengthen the bowel nerves.

goldenseal

Golden Seal is quite possibly the “golden” herb for health. Golden Seal is a known stomachic, tonic, detergent, alterative, antiseptic and even antineoplastic! Goldenseal was added to clear up any infection in the GI tract, tone the bowel muscles, increase appetite and help fight inflammation.

fennel

Fennel is a soothing/relaxing herb used to help with flatulence as well. Fennel can break up obstructions in the liver, spleen and gall. Fennel also has antiseptic properties.

rhubarbroot

Turkey Rhubarb increases peristalsis by stimulating the muscular layer of the bowel, tones the bowel tissue and stimulates the liver to produce bile for better digestion and easier flowing bowel movements. Turkey Rhubarb also fights inflammation in the bowel which heavily influence the occurrence of constipation and diarrhea.

cascara

It isn’t a surprise why this herb with laxative effects was given the name Cascara Sagrada by Spanish conquerors, or Sacred Bark in English. If one day goes by and I don’t have at least one bowel elimination, I can develop a pretty sour mood indeed. For those who have experienced days of constipation (unfortunately, I am a member of this group as well), a good bowel movement is like a gift from God, relieving tension, pressure, irritation, frustration, anxiety and even depression. The active constituents in Cascara Sagrada are anthraquinone derivatives and their action is to stimulate peristalsis. The good thing about Cascara Sagrada, when taken as a whole herb as opposed to a tea or a decoction, is that the herb not only stimulates peristalsis, but also heals and strengthens the colon muscles. Proper elimination is key when detoxifying, and Cascara Sagrada helps support the digestive elimination channel.

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Red Raspberry leaf is extremely high in vitamins and minerals that feed the colon tissue and cleanse the colon walls. It has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and also helps soothe and calm the digestive tract. Red Raspberry leaves make for a great tea for children suffering from stomach and bowel complaints.

 For more information on Dr. Christopher’s Extended Cleanse, click here!

Candida

Candida

Candida is a yeast found naturally on the skin, in the mouth, in the GI tract and in the vagina. As candida is a fungi, it needs a host in order to survive. Usually candida and the host live in a symbiotic relationship, with balanced amount of friendly bacteria and the yeast. Instead of simply getting a free ride, candida may actually do some good for us, as some believe the  yeast may actually produce some B and K vitamins. Too much candida though, is however a problem. Candida can eventually eat through the intestinal wall and invade the blood stream, releasing toxins as they continue to metabolize their food. The skin will try and dispose of these toxins leading to skin conditions, such as hives, rashes, and psoriasis.

Causes of Candidiasis

Candidiasis, the overgrowth of candida yeast, can be the result of many different things, but most common is the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics do a great job at killing unwanted bacteria in our bodies, but they also eliminate much of the good bacteria. Yeast is not a bacteria, thus candida is not affected by antibiotics, rather it happily multiplies and starts taking over the now vacated places once belonging to bacteria. I’m not denying that there may be emergencies where antibiotics are needed, but they are prescribed way too much by today’s doctors. Honestly, if your doctor prescribes antibiotics for a cold or soar throat, you should fire him, especially since the cold is a viral infection not bacterial! If you must take antibiotics, please make sure to include either a probiotic supplement or lots of probiotic containing foods in your diet like organic sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, or kefir.

Another cause of candidiasis in women are birth control pills. They influence hormones and lead to an estrogen dominant environment, which, along with other side effects, does contribute to candida overgrowth.

Diet can also be influential in the development and reversal of candidiasis. Because candida lives off of sugar, a diet high in sugar and processed carbs – the typical North American diet – is quite simply giving the candida an open invitation to overrun the body. Any effort to restore balance between candida and friendly flora must also concentrate on diet any order to be effective. Removing absolutely all sugar, be it processed or natural sugar, and processed foods is critical.  

Stress strongly influences candida growth. A healthy immune system will have no problem controlling candida, while a depressed immune system will struggle. Anything that inhibits the immune system, such as illness or disease can influence an overgrowth of candida. Possibly, the number one immune depressant plaguing many today is stress. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, a hormone that actually depresses your immune system while simultaneously increasing blood sugar levels. Prolonged stress is quite literally providing the candida all the food it wants in an environment that supports excess growth.

Photo cred: http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/candida-and-inflammation

Cayenne Pepper

Latin Name: Capsicum Annuum

Cayenne pepper is one of our favorite herbs! Many cultures simply use the herb in cooking, but cayenne pepper is a medicinal superfood that can aid in healing just about any ailment.

Cayenne pepper is particularly high in vitamin A, but also contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, choline, along with the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Wow.

Below are cayenne pepper’s top 9 medicinal properties (in our humble opinion).

1. Anti-Irritant

Ever been told that spicy foods irritate the stomach lining? Actually, the opposite is true. Hot spices like chiles and cayenne contain the active substance known as capsaicin, which, “does not stimulate but inhibits acid secretion, stimulates alkali, mucus secretions and particularly gastric mucosal blood flow which help in prevention and healing of ulcers.” (1) So, cayenne has the ability to sooth upset stomach and sore throats, heal ulcers, and alleviate diarrhea. If you have stomach ulcers, the best thing you could do is take a capsule of cayenne pepper just before each meal. Trust me 🙂

2. Fights against the Cold and Flu

Cayenne pepper helps break up and move congested mucus, and with the elimination of mucus, cold and flu symptoms diminish. Cayenne pepper also aids the body in detoxifying and eliminating the build up of toxins that accumulate in the body.

4. Improves blood circulation

Cayenne pepper improves the circulatory system by widening the capillaries and regulating blood sugar. On a cold day, take a capsule or two of cayenne pepper with a glass of water and feel the warmth travel throughout the body.

5. Equalizes blood pressure.

If someone gets a serious cut, put some cayenne on the wound and have the person ingest a few capsules of cayenne. Very soon the blood pressure will equalize in the body, allowing the blood to cot. Due to its blood pressure equalizing properties, cayenne pepper also promotes heart health and balances the body’s LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

6. Digestive Aid

Cayenne is a well-known digestive aid. It starts by stimulating the production of saliva, an important part of proper digestion. Cayenne pepper also stimulates the digestive tract, the production of enzymes and gastric juices. Cayenne pepper is believed to aid in intestinal peristalsis, enhancing both assimilation and elimination.

7. Boosts metabolism

Cayenne pepper has shown the ability to suppress hunger and regulate glucose levels in the blood. It also aids in lowering LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and aids the body in burning excess fats

8. Topical poultice

Cayenne has been used to treat snake bites, various sores and wounds. Mixed with wintergreen/peppermint oil in an coconut oil/beeswax base, you have yourself one of the best natural sore muscle ointments!

9. Anti-Bacterial Properties

Cayenne has been used traditionally to protect food from bacteria contamination and is an excellent preservative. Try adding a little cayenne to some of your favorite dishes!

Photo by Jonathan Niederhoffer on Unsplash