What to Drink When you Give Up Soda

Watermelon Juice
By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

It used to be that there was nothing I loved more than a refreshing can of Diet Coke on a hot summer day. Now, I would never touch the can of chemicals.

If you haven’t given up soda yet, this might convince you. A 2007 study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that one daily soft drink (diet OR regular) is associated with:

  • A 48% increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a key predecessor of heart disease and diabetes
  • A 31% greater risk of becoming obese;
  • A 30% higher risk of having a larger waist line;
  • A 25% higher risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high blood sugar;
  • A 32% greater risk of having low levels of good cholesterol;
  • A trend toward an increased risk of high blood pressure.

I know it can be hard to give up the soda habit, and it’s really important not to trade soda for other unhealthy drinks like Gatorade, Red Bull or Crystal Light. Here are some ideas of healthy and refreshing drinks you can enjoy instead of soda:

Fizzy Drink Options

1. Club soda with a splash of juice, lemon or lime.

2. Agua Fresca: Puree about 3 cups of watermelon (or canteloupe, strawberries or mango) and strain the pulp. In a pitcher mix the strained fruit puree with 1.5 cups of water, the juice of 2-3 limes and stevia to taste.

3. Kombucha is a great fizzy, festive alternative to soda. You can get it in many flavors, and it has good bacteria that can help your digestion, instead of harmful chemicals.

4. Virgin Mojito: Pour some club soda with lime, mint and stevia to sweeten. Enjoy over ice.

5. Mineral Water like San Pellegrino or Mountain Valley Spring Water is another refreshing choice for when you want something bubbly.

Cool & Hydrating Options

6. Coconut Water is great for replacing electrolytes on hot summer days.

7. Green Juice: Have a green juice over ice for a refreshing snack. This Mojito Green Juice recipe has lime and ginger for a nice tangy kick.

8. Protein Shake: A protein shake can be a small meal and a refreshing drink, all in one. I love a Sustain shake spun through the blender with some almond milk, ice and cinnamon.

9. Homemade lemonade with fresh lemons, water, and some honey. Or herbal iced tea is great too!

10. Almond Milk Horchata: Here’s a simple recipe for paleo horchata that uses almond milk, raw honey, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. (I would use less honey than what the recipe calls for.)

And of course, don’t forget about good old-fashioned water too! You should aim to have half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014| 3 Comments

The Scoop on Fluoride

Drinking Water

Have you ever heard of Fluoridigate? If so, you are one step ahead of me!

“FLUORIDEGATE is a new documentary that reveals the tragedy of how government, industry and trade associations protect and promote a policy known to cause harm to our country and especially to small children who suffer more than any other segment of the population. While their motivation remains uncertain, the outcome is crystal clear: it [fluoride] is destroying our nation!”

Now, those are not my words, but the words of the people behind this documentary. I am not one for sensationalized messaging or shock therapy. I like to take in all of the food and nutrition information (some true and some not so true) and make sense of it for you (and for me). So this is what I gleaned from this somewhat overbearing film: Have you ever thought about why public water is fluoridated? Or why companies like Poland Spring sell fluoridated water in cute bottles. Does your toothpaste contain fluoride or not? And to what extent is fluoride necessary in overall health and wellness?

Perhaps I can shine a little light….

What is Fluoride

Fluorine containing compounds are called fluorides. Oddly enough, fluorine is a highly toxic gas but at the same time very small amounts are necessary for the health of most organisms. That being said, the way you get the fluorine needed is through fluoride that is found in dental products like toothpaste and fluoride treatments as well as drinking water (where the fluoride is often from industrial by-products). Other not so commonly considered sources of fluoride are: processed beverages and foods (that use fluoridated water), pesticide residues typically found in grape products, dried fruit, dried beans, cocoa powder and walnuts; tea drinks (tea leaves absorb fluoride from soil, particluarly old tea leaves); pharmceuticals such as the commonly used anti-biotic cipro; teflon pans and the environment (especially in and around heavy industry).

Why is Fluoride Used

The use of fluoride is best understood with a little history lesson.  In a nutshell, in the early 1900’s researchers were trying to understand the cause of “mottled tooth enamel” called the Colorado Brown Stain (which was later called fluorosis). By 1933, the focus shifted to the relationship among fluoride concentrations, fluorosis and tooth decay. The conclusion—there was a widespread fluoride deficiency thus fluoridation of water became a public health policy of the US Public Health Service in 1951 and by 1960 the majority of the US was adding fluoride to the water supply.
While fluoridation continues to be dental science’s main weapon against tooth decay, there is tremendous controversy about its prevalence in drinking water (and more).

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Posted by on Aug 25, 2014| 3 Comments

10 Cleanse-Friendly Condiments

Turmeric and Cinnamon
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

When you’re on the Be Well Cleanse, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor. We wouldn’t do that to you! We love delicious food, and we know you can clean out your system while still enjoying lots of delicious foods and condiments.

While you may be cutting out gluten, sugar and dairy, there are plenty of herbs, spices and condiments you can use to delight your palate and make you forget you’re even detoxing. While all herbs and spices are cleanse friendly, here are a few of our favorite condiments that will pack your Cleanse recipes with delicious flavor.

Mustard

We love all kinds of mustard, especially dijon mustard – but make sure there’s no sugar added. It’s great in salad dressings, on top of vegetables, and especially spread on top of avocado slices with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Coconut Aminos

This is a great coconut-based replacement for soy sauce! Since soy is cut out completely on the cleanse, use coconut aminos instead. You won’t even miss the soy.

Tessemae’s Dressings

Conventional salad dressings and ketchups usually contain sugar or corn syrup. These dressings are all either unsweetened, or sweetened with dates or honey. Be sure to check out their ketchup and hot sauces!

Coconut Oil

This is our favorite oil for cooking. It can withstand a higher heat without breaking down, and has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also adds an incredible flavor to any dish – sweet or savory! Try it.

Turmeric

Turmeric is the ultimate anti-inflammatory spice. It’s incredible in any savory dish, especially a stir-fry packed with lots of veggies. Be sure to pair it with black pepper, which greatly enhances it’s healing effects.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is fantastic for balancing blood sugar levels, which makes it a great spice to add to any meal. It can bring a slight sweetness to foods, so add it to your shakes or sprinkle it on top of berries for a healthy dessert.

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Posted by on Aug 22, 2014| 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen:
Peppered Chia Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Roasted Chickpeas

I love creating recipes to share with my clients that are made from simple ingredients and can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, but for those on a busy schedule, it’s much easier to eat healthy when you have straightforward, easy-to-make recipes on hand. My Peppered Chia Roasted Chickpeas are made from five simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen.

All you need to make this yummy treat is drain and rinse a can of organic chickpeas. Toss them with coconut oil, chia seeds, sea salt and pepper — make sure the chickpeas are coated evenly and then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet, then pop the tray in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the chickpeas are golden brown. Let them cool for 10 minutes and your peas will be ready to eat!

These Roasted Chickpeas are great as a snack, a salad topping, or a way to add flavor to a salad, pasta dish or stir-fry. Best of all, they can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days so you have a great go-to ingredient so you always have a healthy choice when you’re feeling hungry.

Peppered Chia Roasted Chickpeas (Serves 2)

Ingredients
  • 1 (15-oz.) BPA-free can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. organic coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. whole or ground organic chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chickpeas with coconut oil, chia seeds, sea salt and pepper; toss to evenly coat chickpeas.
  3. Transfer chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Store chickpeas in a container for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Use chickpeas as a snack or add to salads, stir-fries or pasta dishes.

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014| 0 Comments

The Best Mattress for a Healthy Night’s Sleep

A Good Nights Sleep

A good night’s sleep is a major component of a healthy lifestyle, and yet it’s elusive for many people. I’ve talked at length about circadian rhythms, the importance of creating a sleep routine, and other sleep tips, but cleaning up your sleep environment can have a big impact too. Your mattress plays a big part in that.

Here are the 3 most important questions to consider in choosing a mattress to support a healthy night’s sleep:

Is It Made From Toxic Materials?

You’re ideally spending 7-8 hours a night cozying up to your mattress, so make sure you choose one that is as natural as possible. Avoid PBDEs used in mattresses as flame retardants. A good natural mattress will utilize a non-toxic Kevlar flame retardant or a wool layer. Always ask questions about the flame retardant, as wool, even organic, must be bonded together with synthetic adhesive fibers, which are often toxic. Some companies can make you a mattress without the flame retardant if you have a note from your doctor.

If your body can work on its own vital processes instead of combating toxins while you sleep you’ll wake more rested.

Does It Optimize Blood Flow?

Is your mattress really comfortable? Comfort is not just about the first 10 minutes, it’s about the whole 8 hours.

Optimized blood flow is a crucial element of a restful night sleep that is rarely considered. You want to find a mattress that creates unrestricted blood flow through proper support and pressure relief. Memory foam is one of the best options to ensure this.

Poor circulation can cause pain that leaves you tossing and turning. Every time you’re roused to change your sleeping position, you reset your sleep cycle, which again can leave you feeling groggy and tired even after a full night’s sleep.

Will It Give You Good Support?

You’ll want to avoid spring mattresses, as the components are generally the lowest quality on the market. Spring mattresses are also the biggest culprit of triggering pressure points, especially with the loss in support that occurs after just a few years of use.

Natural and organic latex mattresses are durable and work well for a clean air environment, but they fall short when it comes to properly supporting your body and reducing those pressure points.

Memory foam is a material that gives you all the body support benefits but without the clean air benefits of natural latex.

Quick tip: If the natural mattress you’re looking at is topped with wool, make sure the wool layer can be easily removed and washed. Wool is a nesting ground for dust mites which are a pain for most allergy sufferers.

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2014| 4 Comments

Treat Media Consumption Just Like Binge Eating

News Media

A few months ago, as I was wrapping up the next day’s work preparations and shutting down my electronics for the evening, I noticed a new email in my inbox.

It was a New York Times News Alert informing me that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The brief email offered few details but informed me that President Obama would be appearing on TV imminently with an announcement.

Compelled, I clicked the link to the promised live-video stream and waited, looking at a placeholder screen and this message:

The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will address the American people in the next few minutes. When Mr. Obama begins speaking, his remarks will appear in this live video stream from the White House Web site.

Wow, I thought. Historic moment. I should watch this.

A minute ticked by. As I waited, I began reading the headlines of related articles. I perused the page’s unrelated live Twitter feed about Syria. I reread the placeholder message to see if anything had changed. I started thinking about hitting social media or turning on the radio to see what else was being said about the breaking news of bin Laden’s demise.

And then, I thought better of it.

I reminded myself of a commitment that I’d made almost a decade ago in the wake of another major news event — 9/11. My commitment: to become a more discerning and conscious consumer of media.

To me, that means making thoughtful choices about what I watch, read and listen to. It means noticing how I wind up giving my attention to various media streams, and why. It means being aware of the impact my media habits are having on me, and on those around me.

It especially means noticing when I am getting sucked in by something I hadn’t planned to. And it often means turning off or tuning out media — from TV and radio to books, magazines, Web and social-media content — that I find irrelevant, unhelpful, or inconsistent with what I deem to be the best use of my focus and time.

It does not necessarily mean always looking away from things that I find disturbing, surprising or provocative, but it does mean evaluating whether I am being catalyzed to grow and respond constructively, or merely being bombarded in a way that leaves me feeling helpless, hopeless and disempowered.

Over the course of the past decade, I’ve found that this approach to monitoring my media intake has served me well, and it has saved me countless hours of frustration and distraction.

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Posted by on Aug 18, 2014| 0 Comments

The 8 Most Common Genetically Modified Foods: Are You Still Eating Them?

GMO Foods

Reprinted with permission from NaturallySavvy.com

The publicity and interest in “going green” has increased awareness to serious environmental issues surrounding global warming. However, genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—also called genetically modified foods or GM foods—are another significant environmental issue that has disappeared in the shadows lately.

What Are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms are created by taking genes from organisms such as bacteria, viruses or animals and inserting them into other, often unrelated, species. GM food refers to any food product containing or is derived from GMOs.

Proponents of genetically modified foods point to their many benefits which includes: boosting agricultural production and potentially ending world hunger; decreased use of pesticides by creating pest-resistant crops; and enhanced nutritional value by fortifying plants with additional nutrients.

Read more about GMOs creating superweeds

However, critics of GMOs, warn that creating new organisms, which would never occur in nature, pose serious unknown and unpredictable health and environmental risks.

The Big Eight:

The United States is the world leader in the production of biotechnology crops accounting for nearly two-thirds of all biotech crops planted globally.

Approximately 70 percent of foods in our supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients including products made from these most common genetically modified foods:

1. Soy: soy flour, lecithin, soy protein isolates and concentrates (protein shakes). Products that may contain GMO soy derivatives: vitamin E supplements, tofu, cereals, veggie burgers, soy sausages, tamari, soy sauce, chips, ice cream, frozen yogurt, infant formula, sauces, protein powder, margarine, soy cheese, crackers, breads, cookies, chocolates, candy, fried foods, shampoo, bubble bath, cosmetics, enriched flours and pastas.

2. Corn: corn flour, corn starch, corn oil, corn sweeteners, syrups. Products that may contain GMO corn derivatives: vitamin C supplements, corn chips, candy, ice cream, infant formula, salad dressings, tomato sauces, bread, cookies, cereals, baking powder, alcohol, vanilla, margarine, soy sauce, soda, fried foods, powdered sugar, enriched flours and pastas.

Read more about severe illness associated with GMO soy and corn

3. Cotton: oil, fabrics. Products that may contain GMO cotton derivatives: clothes, linens, chips, peanut butter, crackers, cookies.

4. Canola: oil. Products that may contain GMO canola: processed foods, chips, crackers, cereal, snack bars, frozen foods, canned soups, candy, bread, hummus, oil blends.

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Posted by on Aug 15, 2014| 3 Comments

Is Food Affecting Your Mood?

Food and Mood
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

We all have our ups and downs, but if you’re feeling anxious, depressed or lethargic and can’t seem to shake it, your diet may be to blame. Have you ever heard that the gut is considered the 2nd brain? Gut health is a major factor in feeling happy, so food and mood are very intimately linked. There are certain foods that could be contributing to your mood swings more than others — a diet high in processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals has been shown to have a significant impact on mental health.

Here are 5 culprits that may be zapping your vitality and leading to major mood swings.

Gluten

Even people without a gluten allergy can become foggy-brained and lethargic after eating gluten, and many people who give up gluten for long periods of time and then reintroduce it report they experience heightened anxiety. It can also suppress your immune system, which can lead to feeling fatigued.

Sugar

Sugar will put you on the mood rollercoaster – fast! A sugar high might give you a boost of energy quickly, but the crash can bring you to even deeper lows, leaving you feeling unmotivated, anxious and depressed. This leads to more sugar cravings to lift you back up, keeping you on the up and down ride until you decide to call it quits.

Coffee

Coffee, when used in moderation, can often be a pleasurable way to start the day and get a quick jolt of feel-good energy — but it’s often used for instant gratification when you’re already exhausted, and if that’s the case, you’re creating an energy deficit in your body that only leaves you wanting more to stay even-keeled. Although coffee does have some health benefits, the energy highs and lows can lead to heightened anxiety and depression if you’re using it as a drug.

Alcohol

There’s a reason why alcohol is called a “downer.” Think about the last time you had a hangover, or even felt slightly affected by alcohol – the mood dips that follow a night of drinking are almost impossible to escape. The constant self-medication rollercoaster of alcohol and caffeine is often par for the course for most people, which can become a slippery slope.

Processed Foods

Foods that are chemical-laden and contain processed vegetable oils, additives, artificial colors and artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on your emotional state. Processed foods contribute to inflammation in the body, which affects brain health.

If you’re feeling overly moody, Cleanse Plus can help you eliminate these foods, clean out your gut and make room for more happy feelings.

Want to boost your health – and your mood? Try these 5 Superfoods That Fight Inflammation.

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014| 1 Comments

Artificial Food Dyes and Kids: Not a Good Mix

Macaroni and Cheese Food Dyes

report released by the National Cancer Institute showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007. And today, cancer is now the leading cause of death by disease in kids under the age of fifteen.

Correlation is not causation, but the escalating rates of conditions like cancer, diabetes and food allergies have a lot of parents paying attention to what is in their food.  Some cancer doctors even call it the “doorknob syndrome.”  A patient is diagnosed with cancer, spends hours in the office being walked through procedure options, then as they turn to go, with a hand on the doorknob, turn back into the office and ask, “Is there anything I could be doing differently with my diet?”

We are quickly learning that our food is full of a lot of non-food ingredients.

About 15 million pounds of petroleum-based dyes are used in food each year.  And a certain kind of red food coloring, known as “Red 3,” is a known carcinogen that the FDA banned from our medicines and makeup in 1990, but it’s still used in our foods.

But instead of making the long overdue move to do something serious about getting rid of toxic food dyes so ubiquitous in our food supply, dyes derived from synthetic chemicals that studies have linked to cancer, the FDA, upon learning this, fell back on two simple words: “more research.”

In kitchens across this country, eight dyes, currently being used by manufacturers, can be found in everything from packaged macaroni and cheese to breakfast cereal to practically every piece of candy your child has ever put in his or her mouth. Links are being found to hyperactivity in kids (ADHD), cancer and serious food allergies.

But here is the truly amazing thing, and for those of us who have fed our kids these color-laden foods, perhaps the toughest thing to stomach: Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart have already removed these artificial food colors and dyes from the same products that they distribute in other countries. Skittles?  Don’t have them.  M&Ms?  Don’t have them either.  Neither do cereals, fruit snacks and just about any food you’d think to put in a kids mouth. They did it in response to consumer demand and an extraordinary study called the Southampton Study.

The Southampton Study was unusual in that it tested children on a combination of two ingredients: tartrazine (yellow #5) and sodium benzoate. The study’s designers knew that a child very rarely has occasion to ingest just a synthetic color or just a preservative; rather, a child who is gobbling up multicolored candies is probably taking in several colors and at least one preservative.

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2014| 4 Comments

Could SLS In Your Cream be Making Your Eczema Worse?

Skin Cream

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) states that about 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from eczema, a type of dermatitis that causes chronic irritation, redness, cracked, and dry skin. The condition can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and even painful, and can continue to flare up for years.

Patients struggling with eczema know that it’s best to use soothing creams and lotions to reduce symptoms, but many don’t know that the products they’re using could actually be making their eczema worse. A recent study, for instance, found that using some emollient creams actually made for soothing eczema could aggravate the condition‚ all because of one ingredient—sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Eczema Cream Increased Skin Dehydration

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology (2010) showed that aqueous cream BP—one of the most widely prescribed emollients for the treatment of eczema—actually reduces the thickness of healthy skin over a period of four weeks by more than 10 percent, increasing water loss by 20 percent. Professor Richard Guy, one of the study authors, said the cream was likely to aggravate those dry, itchy rashes that are common in people with eczema.

What did the researchers think caused this problem? They stated the most likely ingredient was sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

SLS is a chemical compound used as a foaming agent in personal care products like body washes and shampoos, as well as in detergents and industrial products. In skin care, it’s often used to create a creamy, rich texture. In toothpastes, it has been found to increase the risk of canker sores or mouth ulcers, and is known to irritate skin with prolonged exposure. In fact, SLS is used in lab tests to purposely irritate and damage the skin’s outer layer.

It’s no surprise then that researchers believe the SLS in the aqueous cream is what caused the thinning of the skin. Professor Guy offered this conclusion: “Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals. So to use this cream on exzemous skin, which is already thin and vulnerable to irritation, is likely to make the condition even worse.”

What to Use Instead?

This study shows how important it is to maintain that protective outer layer in skin. That layer is what keeps skin healthy and moist, and when it’s stripped or damaged, skin becomes dry and cracked. Compromised skin is even more fragile, as some of that outer layer has already been damaged. Therefore it becomes critical to read the ingredient list and make sure you’re using products that won’t contribute to that damage.

Those suffering from eczema may be better off using ointments rather than creams, and choosing products that contain safer ingredients. Check with your dermatologist, read the label, and consider trying Purely Shea 100% Organic Shea Butter, and Earthbound Organic Chickweed and Calendula Cream, or other similar nurturing products.

Have you found a safe product to use on your eczema? Please share!

Source: Tsang M, Guy RH. Effect of Aqueous Cream BP on human stratum corneum in vivo. British Journal of Dermatology 2010; Article first published online: July 22.

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014| 0 Comments