You’re going to drink WHAT?!

I’m going to drink my veggies. Beets, Aloe, and Lemons, oh my! And I’ll tell you why ….

The actual definition of health, according to reliable sources such as Gray’s Anatomy (the textbook serving as the basis for the entire medical community, not the TV show) and Webster’s Dictionary is: The ability to function at 100% physically, mentally, and socially. So, health IS our ability to function. Health is not about symptoms, its about how well our body works for us. It would also logically follow that health is therefore not available in prescription bottles, it comes from what’s happening within.

I am notorious for saying “FOOD IS FUEL” – like gasoline to our cars. It’s what makes our bodies run, down to the the cellular level. When we eat/drink, our body breaks down that food, uses the nutrients as building blocks for our cells, and processes the waste. What do those important cells even do ? Good thing you’ve asked…. They can either promote health by repairing tissues and working as an incredible machine, or …. they can destroy health by being damaged and disease ridden. So what we eat/drink is actually quite important.

The typical American diet is seriously lacking in nutrients and quality. One of my favorite ways to bring large amounts of macro nutrients from veggies into the body is Juicing!  Juicing can reduce your risk of cancer, improve the immune system, remove toxins from the body, improve digestion, and help you loose weight. Sounds good right?

But, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Well I am healthy already, I eat plenty of fruit.”  The truth is that we should not be consuming much fruit at all. FRUIT IS SUGAR, no matter how natural or healthy or organic. And what does sugar do in the body? It slows its function down, leading to a lower quality of health, and converts into FAT. Vegetables are the most important food we can consume, and have the most valuable nutrients to promote health.

Why is Juicing better than consuming vegetables by chewing? It allows your body to absorb more nutrients, as well as giving it a break from the work of breaking down and digesting food.

Juicing is not as difficult as it sounds. I find that my juicer is quiet, easy to use, and easy to clean. The majority of my recipes are actually quite tasty too!  I’ll share two of my favorites below….

“The First – Time Juicer”  is 3 parts apple, 3 parts carrot, 1 part ginger. Note: This is a great recipe for an upset stomach, or promoting clear skin. 

“The Detox Juice” is a great recipe for detoxing the body:  1/2 green apple, 1 lime (can leave skin on),  1/2 beet (raw with skin on),  2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1” piece of ginger.  Note: Ginger is great for digestion! Beets (use sparingly, they can be dangerous) help our liver to detox toxins and waste from the body, and carrots are great for the eyes and skin. 

Advice in these articles does not substitute working with your physician on your personal nutritional status. Please comment with questions or recipe suggestions!

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You are what you eat – the Do’s and Don’ts of Eating

Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat?” That phrase is literal – our food is our fuel for our body. Food makes this amazing machine run, even down to a cellular level. If you put junk in, your insides will also be junk! Somewhere in time, we became accustomed to using food as entertainment, with feelings, and so forth. This country is in desperate need of a shift of our mind set – back to thinking that we “eat to live,” not “live to eat.”

A few DON’Ts for Eating:

a)     Don’t overeat and don’t go for that second helping. If you are trying to lose weight, try to eat about 50% of what you would typically put on your plate.

b)    Don’t eat foods that are full of sugar and carbs. When consuming food, ask yourself “How does this food benefit me? What nutrients does this have to actually improve the way my body functions?” I can say with certainty that a “coffee and doughnuts” type of breakfast will not make the cut. If you can’t answer this question – it’s time to rethink your approach to food!  

Some DO’s:

a)     Consume a diet that is about 45% cooked vegetables, 30% raw vegetables and fruits, and 25% nuts/grains/proteins/beans/meat.

b)    Do take charge of your health! You are the only one who is responsible for your health, and you are in the driver’s seat! And, it is never too late to start making some changes.

Sweet Deceit: High-Fructose Corn Syrup

This country consumes more sweetener made from corn than from sugarcane or beets, gulping it down in soft drinks and juice, as well as in packaged foods and baked goods. Popular items like bread, spaghetti sauce, breakfast cereal, ketchup, pickles and barbecue sauce are laced with high-fructose corn syrup, the most common added sweetener today.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we consumed almost 63 pounds per person, per year of high-fructose corn syrup in 2001, and today that number has shockingly risen to 129 pounds per year.

It’s made by milling corn to produce corn starch, then processing the starch to yield corn syrup, which is almost entirely glucose. Enzymes are then added that convert some of the glucose to fructose. Almost all nutritionists identify high-fructose corn syrup consumption as a major culprit in the nation’s obesity crisis. So why are we using so much of it?

It’s incredibly cheap! Sugar is twice as expensive as high-fructose corn syrup. The inexpensive sweetener flooded the American food supply in the early 1980s, just about the time the nation’s obesity rate started its unprecedented climb. What a coincidence!

Given how ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup has become, and the misleading television commercials funded by its producers that may have fooled some of us, some people are becoming aware and concerned about possible adverse health effects.

Researchers at Princeton University found that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain. A study demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say this work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States. The steady increase of high-fructose corn syrup into our diets has effected our perception of flavor and is contributing to our overall intake of empty calories, and sugar addiction.

Other health concerns lie in the quality of the corn being used to produce the finished product. Usually high-fructose corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn that has been exposed to pesticides, which come with their own well-documented side-effects and health concerns. Yuck!

Recently, I made it my personal goal to avoid eating foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup. This plan proved much harder than I thought. Reading labels was enlightening. I found that nearly everything on the shelves of the grocery store contains some form of hfcfs, including some items labeled as “natural foods.” You’ll find it on the labels of everything from salad dressings to protein bars, even most fat-free coffee creamers have it! Eating less processed foods is an easy way to avoid it. I buy the product with the least number of ingredients and eat as much fresh, unprocessed meals as possible. Pick up the book The Whole Truth Eating and Recipe Guide by Top Chef and nutritionist Andrea Beaman.

I am challenging you to try this for a week. If you don’t decide to boycott high-fructose corn syrup completely, at least become aware of how prevalent it is and how much better off you could look and feel without it. This is one more step towards living well!