Scientific studies: valid or not? Look at who pays for them!

scientific study: diet soda vs. water
Scientific study says diet soda is better at aiding in weight loss than water. This statement is based on funding bias and not true research.
scientific study: diet soda vs. water
Scientific study says diet soda is better at aiding in weight loss than water. This statement is based on funding bias and not true research.

In May of 2014, the journal Obesity published a “scientific” study saying that drinking diet sodas assists in weight loss.

The study’s authors say that diet soda might be even more effective than water at aiding weight loss. They looked at 303 men and women in a weight loss program. One group consumed 24 oz. of diet soda along with water, and the other group drank only water.

After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the diet soda group lost 4 pounds, on average, more than the water drinkers. So the conclusion was diet soda contributes to weight loss.

Love it? Me neither.scientific study: diet soda vs. water

Guess who paid for the study. Stop and think for a minute . . . take a guess.

Yep, it’s the American Beverage Association. (Their profits don’t come from water.)

If a scientific study sounds outlandish, always look for who paid for it. That information used to be hard to find. Now, disclosure regulation and the internet make it easier.

You’re smarter than that. There’s never going to be a health benefit to diet soda. Drink water!

15 Ways I Optimize Health and Energy Every Day—Besides Good Food! (part 2 of 4)

yoga-poses-text1. YOGA!

It changed my life. I’m more flexible at 46 than I was at 16. But yoga has done more for me than that. It has helped me quiet my mind and tune in to the most elemental things: breathing, and just “being.” I have also seen improvements in spinal, joint, ligament flexibility and dexterity. Yoga opens energy meridians, improves brain function, decreases risk of injury, and elevates mood. It makes you feel youthful, more athletic, more sexual, and more joyous!

I don’t just do an hour-long yoga practice, with an instructor, three times a week. I do it in airports and on airplanes, too. Just for a few minutes. I’m often upside down in an inversion, when I’m talking on the phone. Lately, my work philosophy is: sit less, do yoga more.

There are more ways than just yoga to connect your body, mind, and spirit. Tai Chi, Pilates, meditation, and many other practices. Yoga is my personal favorite, and there are so many kinds, to explore. My favorite, when I take the time and am willing to stand in a puddle of my own sweat for 90 minutes, is Bikram Yoga (“hot yoga”). You’ll never feel more amazing than 20 minutes after Bikram Yoga.

Namaste.

2. CONTROL MY THOUGHTS AND SPEECH.

control thoughtEmotionally healthy people are physically healthy people. And emotionally healthy people don’t nurse grudges, don’t spend their social time with people cataloging the ways others have wronged them or the hurts of the past. I’m not saying I—or any emotionally healthy person—doesn’t ever feel, or act, negatively. (I’ve literally never seen my own father in a bad mood, or talking about negative things. But I also feel he doesn’t PROCESS negative things, which is where we get important clarity.)

In my case, I just minimize negatives I’m a fan of MOVING ON. I’ve felt gloomy for a few hours at a time. Never longer. If a dark cloud comes on the horizon, I make note of it, I don’t rush it out of the sky, and I’m willing to sit with it.

But I look for, expect, even require, the blue sky on the other side of it.

My health requires that.

I refuse to allow a week or year of my life to be destroyed—by a dark mood, by the poor choices of others, or by negative events of the past. If I have a bad day, I don’t climb in bed and brood. I work—solve problems. Or I go skiing, or for a bike ride, because in the great outdoors, I’ve learned I find more clarity of thought, and more joy.

If I am feeling troubled, I use a thought process to work through it. I remind myself, “It’s just a feeling!” And, “Luckily, all feelings are temporary.” I dig, to find out out why I’m having the negative or intense feeling or thought. I give it some space, sit with it if it’s demanding attention, without judgment. If I’m having trouble figuring it out, I talk with someone who knows me well, and they help me to decode it.

But if the feeling is hijacking my happiness, I give it wide berth, don’t let it take over. I want my attention back on stuff that makes me happy, not sad.

I actively cultivate happiness and hope with what I listen to and spend my time doing.

I’m careful with what I do with my mind. I don’t let it go to low places. I haven’t watched TV in five years. I don’t look at pornography or watch dark or scary movies. I do read books. Fiction and non-fiction. Fiction by Annie Lamott, Jodi Picoult, Michael Chabon, Ayn Rand, and many more favorites. I take on challenges, spend time with and talk to people I love, discipline my thoughts and feelings away from pointlessly “spinning in circles.”

I write, solve problems, collaborate with others, and just generally work—a lot. Because I love my work and consider it a blessing to have meaningful work.

3. CLEAN WATER—HAVE IT EVERYWHERE.

clean waterI had a water feature in the entry of my last home. I love oceans, and rain, and putting my feet in rivers, and taking a bath after a hard workout, as well as gliding through frozen snow on skis – just thinking about water recycling in the atmosphere. I am made up of more than 70 percent water, and so I drink it all day long to bathe my cells and flush out kidneys, liver, and colon. Especially I drink two glasses of water when I wake up in the morning dehydrated. I do not drink it with meals, where it dilutes gastric juices, but rather, between meals.

I try to drink clean, alkaline water, and have it with me everywhere I go. People who drink lots of water are much less likely to overeat.

4.  DETOXIFY REGULARLY.

When I come back from a vacation trip, or if I had a not-so-great Saturday night restaurant meal with friends, I spend a day, or several, letting my body rest and clean itself. That is, I drink mostly green smoothies and fresh vegetable juices.

I skip a meal pretty often, never breakfast, but often dinner. Sometimes I’ll eat all raw plant food for several days. Sometimes a whole day of  nothing but watermelon. Or a whole day of nothing but green smoothies.

I get in my sauna often and do the GreenSmoothieGirl Detox twice a year.

I try to pay attention to my body’s need to repair, from any insult or injury or overwork. Horse owners know that it is unwise to ride their animals hard and then put them away without sufficient cooling down. If I have an extreme workout, which I occasionally do, I slow down afterward to help my body recover properly.

5.  SURROUND YOURSELF WITH EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE.

rumiHave you heard that you tend to have the average income of the 5 people you hang around with most? I believe, too, that we eat similarly to those we are closest to. We think similar thoughts and have similar feelings. We are either lifted up, or pulled down, by those we allow to be closest to us. Who are the five people closest to you—and do they add energy, or drain it?

I’m protective of my physical and emotional health, so I seek out people who make me want to be my best self, and try to give that to them. I love to be around people who are trying to be THEIR best selves; growing, learning, reading. I enjoy exploring  principles, goals, science, faith, questions, and new knowledge with my friends, rather than gossip and idle small talk.

And, although I have friends who struggle, whom I try to help—I minimize contact with people who consistently bleed energy and don’t choose to progress.

My next posts are the remaining 10 DAILY PRACTICES that I believe lead to HEALTH AND ENERGY!

 

and the oxalate controversy rages on……

We got lots of interesting email in response to my rebuttal to the wildly exaggerated and completely undocumented article posted by one “Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist” that tells people not to drink green smoothies and says they can “devastate” your health.

Heidi, a “low oxalate” blogger / site owner wrote a response. I like to look at all viewpoints and appreciate that she listed lower-oxalate greens for those who wish to concern themselves with this issue. She has eliminated some health problems by carefully reducing oxalates for 20 years. Those include turnip and mustard greens, dino kale, curly kale, romaine, cabbage, and collards.

Hopefully Heidi has been creative to keep lots of greens and raw roods in her diet while controlling for oxalates. If not, we eliminate one compound causing a problem and dozens of other compounds desperately needed and hard to find in other sources.

I disagree with Heidi that it’s a good idea to boil greens, as has been passed around the internet as a solution to the “problem.” George Mateljan surveys the literature well and concludes that this does not significantly reduce oxalates. And of course we know boiling destroys most of the food’s other best properties—enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

I do not disagree that there are a few people who are not metabolizing greens well, and I absolutely agree that improving gut health is key to reversing many conditions. Greens have many critical properties that other foods do not, and these nutritional benefits are desperately needed by virtually everyone. So I’m very reticent to embrace the idea that we eliminate an entire class of foods—or we nuke them to death—because a few people have degenerative gut issues wherein an “anti-nutrient” becomes indigestible and even harmful.

As counterpoint, if you have become alarmed, you owe it to yourself and your health to read another viewpoint. Author Victoria Boutenko, my friend and companion in green crime, has written this extremely detailed, source-rich article on all the research that oxalates are FRIEND RATHER THAN FOE. I covered the more neutral ground of referencing the macro study that concluded the evidence does not support oxalates being harmful, nor does it support that cooking greens neutralizes that compound.

We had a few comments on facebook or on the blog that someone who drinks green smoothies got kidney stones. I know people who eat some whole foods and got cancer, too. It’s a major logical fallacy to leap to the conclusion that because you eat one healthy thing, that healthy thing is causing a disease. Even if you started green smoothies two weeks before you get a kidney stone, that doesn’t mean anything. Kidney stones take a long time to build up before they release and begin to cause pain—and possibly damage. Although I cannot rule out that a nutritious food played a role in oxalates binding to calcium, I think far more likely culprits for the vast majority are long-term indulgence in soda, salty foods, and animal proteins—and low water consumption. Please read George Mateljan’s meticulous reviews of oxalate research and conclusions, and/or Victoria Boutenko’s report below.

Before you change your diet to eliminate or massively reduce the highest micronutrient foods on the planet from your diet, the foods that are the crux of the primate diet worldwide (we share more than 98% of their DNA), you ought to read this documentation suggesting that greens may actually prevent kidney stones. We already know they prevent many, many other modern health risks.

Read Victoria’s report HERE.

Can green smoothies “DEVASTATE” your health?

Sarah the Healthy Home Economist online recently posted an article about how green smoothies can “DEVASTATE” your health.  The content was so unsubstantiated that at first I refused to respond to it. But Amanda said, “She has a big audience and people are freaking out about it.”

Sarah cites the oxalates phenomenon, wherein a natural compound (oxalates) occasionally bind to calcium to cause kidney stones. (She infers, without citing evidence, that other more serious health consequences could also be possible.) Greens have oxalic acid in them. Sarah makes several logic leaps and concludes that no one should be drinking green smoothies.

I’m not going to promote her blog article by pointing to it here. She rates her content for how controversial it is. Controversy generates more readers, I guess. It also has the potential to do harm, if what you’re saying is (a) undocumented, (b) contrary to hundreds of studies about the benefits of greens, and (c) featuring a bizarre and untenable conclusion.

Just because someone posts stuff on the internet does not automatically endow that person with credibility. Her argument locks in on a detail — that greens are high in oxalic acid — and misses the larger picture.

Only one source is listed at the end of her article and none are quoted or referenced. The source is a PhD’s book on oxalates and autism and “chronic disorders,” but she never quotes the author or anyone or anything else, so I’m not sure how many of her claims came from this one guy, or what.

I don’t bet the farm on one book or one source. There are quite a few other sources that show that some of the anti-nutrients in our most nutrition-dense foods, actually work together synergistically for our health, rather than against it. I’ve done quite a few blog series on anti-nutrients such as oxalates, goitrogens, purines, and phytates, concluding that none of the anti-nutrients should generally cause people to avoid foods containing them.

Note that at the end of the article, Sarah says to eat greens, if you like them, but not very much. Always cook them, she says, and eat them with butter.

Wow! Really?

Let me quote Dr. Norman Walker in his book Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices: What’s Missing in Your Body?

“Spinach should never be eaten when cooked unless we are particularly anxious to accumulate oxalic acid crystals in our kidneys with the consequent pain and kidney trouble. When spinach is cooked or canned, the oxalic acid atoms become inorganic as a result of excessive heat and may form oxalic acid crystals in the kidneys.

“When the food is raw, whether whole or in the form of juice, every atom in such food is vital ORGANIC and is replete with enzymes. Therefore, the oxalic acid in our raw vegetables and their juices is organic, and as such is not only beneficial but essential for the physiological functions of the body.

“The oxalic acid in cooked and processed foods, however, is definitely dead, or INORGANIC, and as such is both pernicious and destructive. Oxalic acid readily combines with calcium. If these are both organic, the result is a beneficial constructive combination, as the former helps the digestive assimilation of the latter, at the same time stimulating the peristaltic functions in the body.

“When the oxalic acid has become INORGANIC by cooking or processing the foods that contain it, then this acid forms an interlocking compound with the calcium, even combining with the calcium in other foods eaten during the same meal, destroying the nourishing value of both. This results in such a serious deficiency of calcium that it has been known to cause decomposition of the bones.”

So according to Dr. Walker, what Sarah is telling her readers to do is really terrible advice.

One of my favorite sources is George Mateljan, because his staff, and his book The World’s Healthiest Foods, review and quote a tremendous amount of empirical data before making claims. Each section contains an extensive bibliography, and the conclusions are scientific and objective.

He says that a review of the peer-reviewed research reveals that the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is small and does not outweigh the ability of those foods to contribute significant calcium to the diet, since spinach is rich in calcium.

So, one of the primary recommendations of most the sources I’ve read, to avoid stones forming in the body, is to get plenty of calcium from plant sources.

So, the high calcium content in spinach may actually inhibit the formation of stones, even though spinach is also high in oxalates. This is at least some logic or evidence, then, underpinning my theory that there are far more synergies than we currently know about in whole, raw plant foods leading to their clear, incontrovertible place (based on volumes of published research) as the necessary mainstay in our diet. We know that people the world over who eat mostly whole, raw foods simply don’t get sick. We don’t always know WHY.

So screaming that the sky is falling about one compound—in an entire class of our most nutritious foods—seems not only unwise, but even irresponsible, if you have an audience and give nutrition advice.

The jury is still out on so many of the issues Sarah the Healthy Home Economist takes strong, unilateral stands on. For instance, what really causes oxalic acid buildup. (She quotes ZERO evidence that greens do.) Whether greens are high in oxalates are only ONE issue related to whether they cause kidney stones. What if they also have dozens of other nutrient compounds, and fiber, that PREVENT stones from forming? A relevant example would be Mateljan’s review of the published, peer-reviewed literature on spinach, oxalates, and calcium as mentioned earlier.

After I investigated this issue, I wrote this in Chapter 1 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods:

“The research is not clear that restricting foods such as spinach helps prevent stones in those who have previously had them. Many researchers believe that dietary restriction cannot reduce risk of stone formation. In fact, some foods that were assumed to increase stone formation because of oxalate content (like black tea) have appeared in more recent research to have a preventative effect.

“Further, cooking has a small impact (about 10%) on the oxalate content of foods, with no statistically significant lowering of oxalates following blanching or boiling of greens. It appears that the nutritional advantages of eating raw greens continue to far outweigh any benefit of cooking them.”

And yet, with slim evidence, if any, Sarah says green smoothies can “devastate” your health and advises at the end of the article, “Skip the Green Smoothies!”

She undertakes no discussion of the true baddies that cause kidney stones:

Soft drinks

Sugar

Animal proteins

Salty foods (or any refined salt)

Oxalates in spinach (also strawberries, soy, and many other foods) can be difficult to digest for a tiny percentage of the population who are suffering from a few very rare disorders (absorptive hypercalciuria type II, enteric hyperoxaluria, primary hyperoxaluria). But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here. If you don’t have these disorders, and 99+% of those reading this don’t, greens are not just good food—they are powerful good medicine!

Leafy greens are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, and cooking them as Sarah instructs kills 100% of their enzymes, and most of their vitamins and minerals, too.

Sarah the Healthy Home Economist uses hyperbolic words to terrify people that eating nutrient dense foods could kill them, but she cites no research whatsoever. She implies that cases of painful sex are on the rise (where does that data come from? Is there any data?) and that oxalates are a “possible culprit.”

There are no references to check, and the bigger issue to me is, if people develop kidney stones, or crystalline deposits in other parts of the body, are greens the real culprit? How would you isolate that factor? Show me the study that did.

It’s terribly unlikely that greens are why we have lots of kidney stones, since almost nobody in America eats very much green food.

And in addition to thousands of testimonials we’ve received, my own research (175 subjects) shows massive health benefits to the green smoothie habit, as published in my bestselling book, The Green Smoothies Diet. In that research, not one person reported kidney stones as a side effect of starting the daily green-drink habit. And yes, we asked.

Nutritionally, crystalline deposits are likely caused by highly acidic foods, especially salt, and not drinking lots of water.

So let’s minimize or eliminate the baddies, listed above. Let’s eat more of the foods that have been linked by hundreds of studies world-wide, to ideal weight and minimized disease risk.

(Dr. Joel Fuhrman does this best, in Eat to Live, quoting literally hundreds of published studies showing the benefits of eating plant foods. This is highly recommended reading.)

Let’s don’t kill greens with cooking, and slather butter on them.

If you’re worried about oxalates, let’s not “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” because people who don’t metabolize that anti-nutrient well need the nutrition in the leafy greens as much as anyone, if not more. Instead:

Let’s rotate greens, use a wide variety in our green drinks—not just spinach. Amanda says a friend of hers had oxalate issues and one took a calcium-magnesium supplement and the pain went away. Several experts I have read suggest getting more calcium from plant sources.

And, eat some good fats with your green smoothie, like avocado or coconut oil or flax oil, to increase calcium absorption. One of my favorite lunches is a quart of green smoothie, with some homemade guacamole and “corn chips” (organic corn tortillas, quartered with a pizza cutter and broiled on both sides, no oil or salt needed).

“After I eat chocolate cake, I want to die”

I got this email from my friend Matthew:

He had just read this quote: “When I eat chocolate cake, 20 minutes later I’m under my desk wanting to die, When I eat broccoli, in 20 minutes I feel good. But given the choice I always eat the cake.”

Matthew asks: “Why do people choose the chocolate cake?

“Have I ever talked to you about how Tony Robbins talked about training himself to push his plate away when he was full? He grew up in a home with the ‘doctrine of the clean plate’ (or something like that) and had to retrain himself. The psychology of how to train yourself about what is okay and what is not okay is fascinating to me. (I have taught my kids to waste food anytime they want for example, and that was SO WRONG in the tribe I grew up in.)

“I wonder if you wrote some blogs about how to train yourself and condition yourself to have feelings and opinions about healthy eating that are more useful. How about Affirmations for Health by YOU?”

I told Matthew that I was raised with the same rule: you must finish everything on your plate. I’m developing a meditation to go to the very root of why we sabotage ourselves nutritionally, and correct those subconscious beliefs. (I wrote about this in a blog series months ago called, “I love my body. It serves me well!”)

What are your beliefs about yourself and food, that cause you to make poor choices over and over? What are the words you say in your head? Could you write them on a 3×5 card and think about whether they are useful or harmful?

What if you could write NEW beliefs and statements that you could replace those with, which are more useful? It would work only if you repeated those beliefs over and over.

Do you “make” your kids finish their dinner? At my house, you don’t have to finish anything—except your green smoothie, fruits/vegs, or salad. You can skip the rest of the dinner.

Parents, or anyone with opinions, what do you think? I know it’s no longer popular at all to ‘make’ kids do ANYTHING. But I ‘make’ myself eat 60-80% raw greens/vegs/fruit before I consider eating anything else—so it isn’t as if I’m requiring anything of my kids I’m not doing myself. I have done this for so long that I don’t even think about it. It’s not deprivation or neurotic; it’s just habitual.

I have some rules for eating. All of them are based on common sense. All were developed by learning that I don’t feel good if I ever break them. I’ve never written them down until now; they’ve just been in my head. Here are my 13 rules:

1. Don’t eat after 7 p.m. except on a very rare occasion.

2. Always drink a pint of water as soon as I wake up.

3. Never eat sugar on an empty stomach–always with lots of raw food and some good plant protein (like almonds, greens, or beans).

4. If I eat any concentrated sugar (besides fruit), it’s only once in a day.

5. Never eat processed meat.

6. After working out, drink only water for a while.

7. Every meal or snack is 60% or more raw plant food (often 80-100%).

8. Don’t drink soda.

9. Don’t buy anything from fast-food restaurants.

10. Don’t eat anything with MSG in it.

11. Don’t add salt to food.

12. If a meal is below 80% raw plant food, take digestive enzymes.

13. If I eat too heavily for a weekend or more, I take a few days to detox. I might eat all raw food, two quarts of green smoothie instead of one, wheat grass juice, extra water–or even a couple of days of nothing but Meal Replacement.

My quirky weight-loss strategies, part 3 of 3

Another of my strategies is that I’m not afraid to skip a meal. I never, ever miss breakfast. And at lunch, because I always work out in the morning, I’m ravenously hungry. I don’t skip that either. But I often skip dinner, probably once a week on average. If I’ve had a big, late lunch, or a big late afternoon snack. Or if I’ve got a couple pounds to lose. It’s so good for your body to give it a rest.

I make sure I have at least a quart of green smoothie made FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. Then it’s made, so I’ll be sure to drink it since I’m not going to let it go to waste. And about 1 or 2 days a week, I have nothing for dinner except a green smoothie.

I go to bed hungry occasionally. Your body gets used to it. Your digestive system needs intermittent rests. (Don’t do this night after night, though.) It works best on a night that I’m really busy. If you’re really that hungry that you can’t sleep, eat a apple or banana (the magnesium in a banana will help you sleep). Or eat a big spoonful of chia seeds and chase it with a big glass of water. (It fills you up, for 40 calories and outstanding protein and nutrition.)

So, my second tip:

2. Skip dinner one or two days a week as needed, or have nothing but a quart of green smoothie. Have a day or two a week where you drink TWO quarts of green smoothie instead of one.

I virtually never eat after dinner, and I really try to avoid eating dinner late. (Eating late is only necessary occasionally because of a social situation.)

I drink a ton of water, most of it in the first half of the day. It helps your metabolism in countless ways. I drink a pint of water first thing, when I wake up. I don’t drink water with meals, but when I begin to feel just the tiniest big hungry, I drink a glass of water. Then I wait 20 minutes to eat a meal. That way the water is purifying, rather than being mixed with food and diluting gastric juices.

3. Don’t eat late at night.

4. Drink a ton of water.

I also never snack on sugar or processed foods by themselves. If I DO eat those foods, I don’t do it more than once a day and I do it only after a really good, 80%+ raw meal.

5. Don’t eat sugar/dead foods alone, only after a high-raw meal, and not more than once a day.

Finally, and this is a weird one, wear form-fitting clothes. ALL the time, even when you’re at home. The fastest way to lose track of how much weight you’re gaining is to do the baggy-sweats thing. Big, elastic-waist pants is you saying to yourself, “I’ve given up. Now I’m going to hide!”

They don’t have to be uncomfortable. On a day I’m working at home, in front of my PC, nobody’s around, like right now? I wear bike shorts or low-rise spandex pants and a very fitted t-shirt. If I’m up a couple of pounds, I’m annoying myself and I get serious about changing that situation.

6. Dress a little bit sexy. Even when there’s no one to impress but yourself, wear things that won’t let you get away with anything.

(Notice I said A LITTLE BIT. Please take this in the spirit it is intended, which isn’t to be provocative; it’s to wear things that keep you aware of any gradual onset of weight.) I never count calories, and I rarely get on a scale. This Strategy #6 keeps me honest.

You already know that keys to maintain a healthy weight are to rarely (if ever) eat animal proteins (and never processed meat), exercise regularly, and eat abundantly of whole, raw plant foods.

But these are my quirky, “works for me” habits that I believe lead to stable weight on the low end of the weight chart. I will be on a quest to learn more of these secrets that have served healthy people well, over a lifetime. Share your own tips here!

Effects of alkaline water for a GSG reader

Jenni forwarded me this email from GSG reader Linda who participated in one of our ionizer group buys. Jenni is my customer support lead, a GSG reader I met at Costco 2 years ago. She is thinking about getting a machine in her home in the current group buy, so I think she asked Linda, as she was corresponding with her, what her experience has been.

We get the ionizers for about 40% off by leveraging our group buying power. That’s about 60% off what you’d pay for the Enagic (Kangen) machine that is multi-level marketed. We are doing one right now, so write craig@greensmoothiegirl.com for the price sheet and details. Here are my mini-reports on the benefits of alkaline water. And here is Linda’s experience with her ionizer:

“I just wish I had some good before and after pictures for the full effect.

I’ve had many changes since starting to drink the ionized water, but I can’t tell you how dramatically my skin and complexion has improved. I have rosacea that has almost completely healed, and have had MANY people comment on how clear and plump my skin looks.

Other benefits I’ve gained since  drinking alkaline water are weight loss (16 pounds to date), improved digestion and elimination, and I used to getting very tired and weak in the afternoon at work and that has not occurred since bringing the water with me to work and drinking it there.

I use the acid water as a mouth wash, and my dental hygienist told me several weeks ago that the tartar build up on my teeth was much less now from 6 months ago. The acid water has also brought a few of my dead house plants totally back to life.

I had a live blood analysis done last fall and will be repeating it again this fall, I’ll be anxious to see what effect drinking alkaline water has done for me on a cellular level. I’ll let you know when I find out!

Thanks again for your help – I am glad to help my aunt get a unit for her family.”

Linda

that ubiquitous blue, sugary sports drink

That blue drink. It’s everywhere. I’ve never tried it, but it’s in the photo with my son in the dugout from last week.

One of my kids reported to me not long ago, “My soccer coach says I HAVE to drink Gatorade, because it’s good for us and she doesn’t want us passing out.” I told her, “I’ve never tasted Gatorade in my life, and I’ve run 10 miles at a time, or played tennis for 3 hours and haven’t passed out yet. There was no Gatorade until 20 years ago or less. [Thanks, University of Florida! Not.] What do you think all the distance runners in Africa are doing? All you need is what I already give you–good ol’ water. Mom trumps the coach in this case–I am not buying Gatorade.”

Chemical food dyes, chemical sweeteners, chemical electrolytes, no thanks. Good water and fresh fruits and vegetables, plus some nuts or seeds for good fats, are the best thing to fuel a workout before or after. I also love Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie–what I make every morning–for a perfect electrolyte and fat/carb/protein ratio for athletics, 400 calories. It’s in the Breakfast recipe collection or Ch. 11 of 12 Steps.

Hello from 13,000 feet up in the Andes

Hola y buenas dias de las montanas hermosas del Andes Peruvianas! Prospero Nuevo Ano!

I am here in the rarefied air of the Sacred Valley of Peru near Cusco and will write more when I ´m home. But there ´s a rare opportunity to get on the only PC here in the hotel because I ´ve opted out of going for Chinese food with the group. We ´ve had virtually no down time to write, but when I ´m home I ´ll tell you the most interesting parts of this incredible adventure.

Today we visited a tiny village called Huilloch at 13,000 feet in the Andes, a place untouched by tourism that my friend Van knows. They are as fascinated by us as we are by them. They dress in native, homemade clothes, colorful wool skirts and unique inverted hats. The Peruvian government brought them rudimentary electricity 3 years ago, taking them from the 17th century to the 19th, and then, in an explicable move the village elders are unhappy with, threw them into the 21st century by bringing them the Internet in a central location in the village.

The female head of the village women ´s arts association (they make crafts and clothing by hand to sell) invited us into her home. Isabel, her daughter Virginia, and her baby Jefferson live with Virginia ´s husband and his mother, and two others, in a mud hut, one of the nicest in the village, that is half the size of my master bathroom. These are the poorest people I have ever met.

Twenty guinea pigs live under the small bed that sleeps two (the others sleep elsewhere, and there ´s a small fire in the corner somewhat vented to the outside). They speak Quetchwan rather than Spanish and only Van speaks rudimentary Quetchwan. He told them in los Estados Unidos, we name guinea pigs and never eat them. They thought that was hilarious.

The children are healthy and strong with strong white teeth, unlike the children in town (and at the Sunflower Orphanage we are here serving) who all have snotty noses, blackened teeth, and stunted growth. That ´s because the children of Huilloch are far from civilization and processed food, and the water they drink is mineralized stream water. I met and photographed a 120 year old woman wearing ancient Incan gold rings she found in her childhood that, if sold (she has no idea), would probably support the village for a year! She is one of three in the village! She chews on coca leaves all day (the plant that cocained is derived from) and is without teeth, but she is lucid and funny and walks on her own with a stick.

We played soccer against the women and girls of the village in a muddy field full of puddles. Even with their wool skirts and flipflops that flew off when they ´d kick the ball, they absolutely schooled us in their native sport. Emma and I both nearly scored once, but the score, in the end, was downright embarrassing.

I just received my laundry from a very poor local woman who took 1 1/2 days to do it by hand (for $3! don ´t worry, I paid her more), and none of it is folded, so I am off to complete that task. I will tell you more when I return next week about the phenomenal, heart breaking, life changing experience my daughter and I and some GSG readers have had here. And I will post photos, including one of the 120 year old village elder.

I hope that all your dreams come true in 2010! Much love,

Robyn

Raw green food and kidney stones

I have more requests to address oxalates.

It’s another one of those “they” things: first they tell us greens are good for us, and then they tell us oxalates will cause kidney stones and other problems.   Many people are fearful of kidney stones since they’re not only common (estimates are than 10 to 15 percent of Americans are diagnosed at some point), but also terribly painful.

Here’s the thing: it’s a gross oversimplification to say greens contain oxalates, oxalates cause kidney stones, and so you shouldn’t eat greens.   First of all, calcium is so plentiful and highly bioavailable in greens, and calcium binds to excess oxalates to render them harmless and easily removed from the body.   With all but a few serious health problems where specific nutrients are banned by your doctor, green foods are VITAL and should be eaten DAILY.   Some evidence says BLENDING oxalate-rich foods neutralizes it–voila, green smoothies!)

Foods high in oxalates include soy, beer, wheat, nuts, beets, chocolate, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries.   I eat wheat, nuts, beets, chocolate, spinach, and strawberries regularly, most of them daily.   But if you have a problem with kidney stone formation, I would address eliminating three deadly S’s rather than greens: SODA, SUGAR, AND SALT.   Those chemically upset your body’s ability to utilize minerals like calcium and magnesium, leading to stones.

I know a schoolteacher who suffered with stones and eventually kidney failure, probably because for 30 years she didn’t want to have to leave her classroom to go to the bathroom, so she avoided drinking water.   Drink LOTS of water to avoid kidney stones!