A cup of joe…..friend or foe?

I’ve mentioned that I grew up not drinking milk and still never do. So why has my bone density “off the chart” for a 20-year old even though I’m mid-forties? I’ve been tested multiple times now using different tests. I don’t know, but these are my guesses. They’re based on what the literature says about what affects bone density:

  1. I do regular weight bearing exercise (I’m hit or miss with weights, but I do a ton of yoga)
  2. I don’t drink soda
  3. I have strong vitamin D levels (it’s a hormone as much as a vitamin) from both sunshine and supplements / sea vegetables
  4. I get a lot of highly bioavailable calcium from greens (by the way, chia seed has five times more calcium useable by your body, than dairy does)

Here’s another thing I don’t do, though, that may have a major impact:

  1. I don’t drink coffee

Yeah, sorry. The coffee thing really has to go, too.

I am doing a speaking tour in July with Dr. Rashid Buttar, bestselling author of 9 Steps to Keep the Doctor Away. (I found him in my cancer studies.) Another doc who is horrified by the fact that his profession has degenerated into almost exclusively drug pushers, and refuses to participate.

We’ll be in Raleigh and Charlotte NC, Atlanta GA, and Columbia SC. He’s about the most colorful doc I’ve worked with so far (and that’s saying a lot because Dr. Tom Lodi is one-of-a-kind)!

Dr. Buttar says in his book that he’d rather have his patients drink a glass of red wine every few days than a cup of coffee in the morning. (Keep in mind he has never tasted alcohol, himself.)

You want caffeine, he says? Get caffeine pills from the drugstore. (He writes this facetiously, and I repeat it with the same intent. Caffeine is a terrible idea. But the point is, if the vehicle you drink to get your caffeine fix is packed with carcinogens, there’s a more direct and less toxic way to deliver that stimulant to your bloodstream.)

Coffee, he says, contains 208 different acids.

Keep in mind—since we’ve been thinking about alkaline water this week, right?—that your body has to expend a lot of energy and resources to neutralize acids. It takes 20 pounds of alkaline to neutralize 1 pound of acid, according to the reigning expert on pH balance in health and nutrition, Dr. Robert O. Young.

And, Dr. Buttar points out, when you shift your body towards acidic—and coffee likely deserves to make a Top Ten list for Most Acidic Foods—you predispose yourself to all the diseases everyone dreads. Because acidic environments are the perfect disease climates.

Osteoporosis. Cancer. Arthritis. Degenerative nerve diseases. Heart disease.

Arthritis for regular coffee drinkers is pretty much inevitable—but earlier rather than later.

So coffee drinkers are wondering, what do I replace coffee with? There is a brewed dark chocolate drink you can make, that is out in health food stores now. It’s called Crio Bru. Anybody else have ideas? I’m kinda useless here because except for an occasional raw kombucha, I don’t really drink anything besides water.

(Kristin has recently committed to her brother to quit Diet Pepsi once and for all, and she shared with one of you last week here in blog comments, that she’s created the “party in her mouth” with naturally sweetened green tea, and chia added. That’s been working for her.

Don’t give up if the first substitute you try doesn’t do it for ya. Something will. Don’t quit till you’ve kicked the demon to the curb for good.

Seven reasons not to drink soda…..part 1 of 2

I watch the addiction of a few people close to me, to soda. One of my closest friends drinks it every day and calls it her “binky.” She kicks the habit but always goes back—because when she quits diet soda, she finds herself taking up sugar. Another tells me he is not addicted but seems to be in denial. I see him drink it 2 or 3 times a day. I’m not saying this to judge—just to express my concern, because soda is not food. It’s toxic acid.

One of my tennis teammates is 70 years old, athletic and quick and has never been overweight. One of the Jackson brothers, two local osteopathic surgeons, told her regarding a surgery they were planning related to her arthritis, “If you are going to drink soda after the surgery, I won’t do it. It will just quickly undo my work.”

If you drink soda, you can virtually guarantee that you will have arthritis by age 50. (Both my parents, nearing 70, have “bone on bone” arthritis problems, and neither of them drink soda.)

Oh, and guess what. I don’t care how young you are—50 is coming up faster than you think! If you’re 25 and think that when you’re 50, you’re washed up and don’t care about anything anyway (I thought this when I was 25)…..well, you’re wrong. When you’re 50, you love your life, you want lots more of it, you care about how you look, you’re a sexual person, and you have lots of goals. (For some reason, 5 years from that age myself right now, I feel the need to tell 20-somethings to care more about their future! I wish I had! I wish I didn’t eat so much sugar in my 20’s and get so much sun.)

I wonder if seven sobering facts about accelerated aging and disease risk from drinking soda would help any of my friends—including you?—kick the habit? Share this with anyone you know who loves the burn of carbonation—or is addicted to the caffeine rush—or maybe both.

I’ve been quizzing my readers who talk to me at classes about their soda addiction. I ask them what they like about it, and carbonation is a major answer. Try drinking kombucha from the health food store once a day instead. Synergy brand is most popular. Or if you need the caffeine boost and haven’t gotten your nutrition to the level where it sustains you, rather than needing the caffeine kick, drink an unsweetened, or stevia-sweetened bottled green tea from the health food store.

Tomorrow, the 7 reasons…..

Nutrition is usually a gradual process of changes and improvement!

I think it’s important you know how gradual my health changes were. Because I don’t want you to be discouraged if you like how you feel eating whole foods, but your problems didn’t disappear overnight.

I’ve written about 21 health problems I had in my 20’s that have all gone the way of the Dodo.

Aren’t people supposed to develop more and more health problems the older they get? We’ve come to think of this as normal and inevitable. I have a tennis teammate, Gloria, who will NOT divulge her age. She has a beautiful little body that any 30-year old would love to have, she eats right, and she’s never been overweight in her life. But her daughter plays with us and is 52! That puts Gloria well into her 70’s, and I’m telling you, she is an excellent tennis player, runs as fast as we do, and doesn’t have joint problems!

So, you might start drinking green smoothies and even though you’ve read the crazy-awesome testimonials people send to me on this site, you aren’t at your ideal weight with all health conditions gone.

Me neither. I started making serious changes at 28 years old, but they were gradual and hit-or-miss for quite a while. Two steps forward, one step back. I was 100% about it for my little boy, whose health crisis was desperate, but I was still addicted to some processed foods and didn’t quite give up animal products. I gradually read more, implemented more, conquered my addictions more—but not overnight. My behavior lagged behind my education. I was frustrated by that, mad at myself, sometimes.

I was diagnosed with 20/20 vision when I was 40—that was the last degenerative condition to completely resolve. That and insomnia, which resolved when I started taking amazing fulvic acid (now in the form of GreenSmoothieGirl Ultimate Minerals)—love the minerals, the chelating ability, the detoxifying ability, the power in that product. My eyesight was completely restored after 12 years of an increasingly whole-foods, plant-based diet.

All the other problems disappeared much faster than that—some were virtually overnight. Quick to disappear were all my hypoglycemia and eczema. (Seasonal allergies took quite a few years and happened when I started eating raw local honey.)

The migraines ended when I completely gave up artificial sweetener and caffeine.   Circulation problems (cold hands and feet) went away when I started to get medium-chain fatty acids in the form of coconut oil in my diet and on my skin. The weight problem went away when I quit eating sugar every day.

I quit getting sick when I stopped eating sugar every day and started eating probiotic (cultured) foods. My energy returned, more and more—what I ended up with is something I wouldn’t have had the vision to hope for. I have tons of energy, every day, from early till late.

But let me say this, and it’s important: green smoothies alone would not have been enough for me. I would have been still overweight—but just less so, and healthier.

More commitment is needed, more than just green smoothies. Take more steps!

chocolate: friend or foe?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Is chocolate actually good for me? Will you do a good/better/best on all the carob and chocolate options? I’m craving chocolate after having a baby and want to know what’s best.

Answer: It’s a confusing subject because so many products have been made from cacao, the seed of the fruit, the whole food, that is the source for “chocolate.” (Most processed chocolate products manufactured by candy companies have precious little cacao in them, if any–they are often chocolate-FLAVORED products.)

Chocolate has been given a lot of attention lately because of some of its nutritional properties. It’s tempting to WANT to see it as a cure-all. Why?

Because it has compounds in it that make us (myself included) crave it. In fact, just writing this, I had to take a break to find chocolate, because I was daydreaming about it. There’s a built-in desire to call chocolate a health food.

No, I’m not about to tell you to avoid chocolate. (Whew!) Unprocessed dark chocolate is a very complex food with hundreds of chemical compounds, many of which are very beneficial nutritionally.

Those who market it tout its ORAC score (a cumulative antioxidant score) of over 13,000, higher than virtually any other food, even green tea and acai berries. Dark chocolate contains heart-healthy, cancer-preventing nutrients linked to helpful blood thinning, protection against diabetes, mental alertness, even weight loss. It’s high in minerals as well.

(A caveat, however: those same nutrients can be found in other, lower calorie and lower fat, raw plant foods that cost less than $1/lb. And along with the healthy dark chocolate usually comes lots of fat and sugar, and usually quite a bit of processing that loses some of the health benefits.)

If you do eat chocolate, find cacao content at 60% or above. If you’re accustomed to processed “chocolate,” you may barely recognize the dark, bitter, earthy taste of the whole food.

Cacao is the seed of the fruit, the whole food, that chocolate comes from (before it is typically and often processed to a nearly unrecognizable form). Cacao is also called cocoa beans or nuts or seeds. Dried cocoa beans are called cocoa nibs.

A very aggressive network marketing company sells little daily bites of chocolate–not organic, not raw, but high in cacao and sweetened fairly naturally–that calculate to be about $60/lb.

That is correct, $60/lb. And they’re selling it by the UPS truckload–even though superior products cost 1/6th that amount in retail outlets. The only good thing I have to say about that is that they’re feeding you about the right amount, daily: a small nugget of dark chocolate. These products are still very high in fat and some type of concentrated sweetener, so more is not better.

And if you’re eating lots of expensive dark chocolate and can’t afford a whole-foods pantry, please re-evaluate your spending decisions.

If you’re going to eat chocolate, preferably eat organic, fair traded, high cacao-content (60% or higher), naturally sweetened (agave, maple syrup, stevia, etc. rather than cane sugar). I do not really believe any labeling of chocolate products as “raw.”

First, there has to be some processing; and second, since virtually all chocolate is coming out of third-world countries, policing that is difficult at best and impossible at worst. (Same issue we’ve been discussing with agave.)

Carob is a chocolate “wannabe” that does not stimulate the dopamine receptors in the brain like chocolate does. It doesn’t contain natural stimulants theobromine and caffeine like chocolate does, which may cause people to feel unwell. If you like the flavor of carob, that’s possibly your “best” option in the good/better/best analysis below.

But most people seek chocolate for a reason: it has the feel-good amino acid tryptophan which makes the brain transmitter serotonin that depressed people lack. In short, chocolate makes us happy.

So here it is:

Good: dark chocolate, naturally sweetened (no HFCS or other refined sugars)

Better: Dark chocolate (60% cacao or better, 80% if that’s not too dark for you). Free traded, organic, naturally sweetened bars are about $10-15/lb. at health food stores. Or make your own recipes using non-alkalized, unsweetened cocoa powder.

Best: make your own recipes (Ch. 11 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods, or other raw-food recipes) with raw cacao nibs.

Use sweeteners like stevia, maple syrup, raw agave. Use virgin coconut oil or avocadoes for the fat. Or skip chocolate altogether and use CAROB if you like the taste of it better.

In terms of the products you can purchase, the ORAC scores tell us this:

Good: non-alkalized (non-Dutched) unsweetened cocoa powder

Better: Dark chocolate, roasted cacao powder

Best: Raw cacao powder or raw cacao nibs

how to buy yourself diabetes for only $0.50 a day

You know drinking soda is bad for you.   Perhaps you and I talking a bit about  WHY will be just the trigger you need to kick the habit—or get your kids to do so.   Have  a kid you care about  read this.   According to the Nutrition Research Center (Oct. 2007), here’s what you can expect in the first hour after drinking one can of Coke:

Within 10 minutes, 10 teaspoons of sugar, 100 percent of your recommended daily intake, shoots to your bloodstream.   (Keep in mind that nowhere is refined and acidic corn syrup or sugar actually “recommended.”   Good sugars don’t come from a can of Coke.)   Phosphoric acid cuts the flavor—otherwise, you’d throw up from the overwhelming sweetness.   That same phosphoric acid is draining calcium from your bones and teeth.

Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar goes through the roof, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.

Within 40 minutes, the enormous caffeine stimulation causes your pupils to dilate, your blood pressure to rise, and your liver to dump more sugar into your bloodstream. Dopamine stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain (just like street drugs do).

After 60 minutes, you start to crash.   You’ll feel shaky and desperately crave more sugar and caffeine.   Run to the machine for another can of Coke, and do it again daily until you develop diabetes.   Shouldn’t take too long.   Then you’ll have daily blood testing and insulin shots to look forward to, plus a shortened life expectancy and a host of very unpleasant  risks, like  limb amputation, for instance.