Interview With Sophia Ruan Gushee About Her New Book A to Z of D-Toxing

A to Z of D-Toxing

DR L:  A to Z of D-Toxing is a reference guide for people to reduce their toxic exposures from consumer products. It’s comprehensive in scope and detail; yet, it’s very readable and user-friendly. And you created this while expanding your family from one child to three children. What inspired you to pursue this ambitious project during such a busy time?

SOPHIA:  First, I must admit that I was never interested in protecting the environment or concerned about toxic exposures before I became a mother. Because I had always been very healthy—rarely got sick—the environment and toxic exposures seemed irrelevant to me. Becoming a mother changed my perspective profoundly, however. While my children were healthy, their biological fragility was obvious to me.

After I had my first born, I skimmed several childcare books at night. Since having a child doesn’t come with a manual, I was seeking basic information, like how to nourish my daughter with a healthy diet and nurture healthy sleep patterns. Because I had a full-time job outside the home, I could review these materials only at night. I would then accidentally encounter alarming claims as I was supposed to be soothing myself to sleep: claims like popular baby products containing carcinogens, endocrine disrupting chemicals, neurotoxicants, and reproductive toxicants. I really disliked that I had no control over when and how I was learning this information. Since I often wished for an informed, wise source to give me an overview of what I should know and what I could buy/do, I decided to create what I wish I could have given my younger self.

DR L:  Your new book is incredibly detailed, yet fairly easy to comprehend. How did you drill down and what was your threshold in labeling a particular item as a “no” vs. a “yes”?

SOPHIA:  My children inspired the details in the book: My purchasing activity ramped up significantly as a mother, and my curiosity about the ingredients and materials in everything I buy grew as I learned that many of these ingredients end up in our bodies and threaten our health. Plus, healthier options can be more expensive so I wanted to understand what I was really getting for my money. For example, mattresses and carpets can be expensive. New, or imminent, parents often make these purchases for a new child. With many options that span a wide range of prices, I wanted to understand the benefits and “risks” at each price point that I could afford. I knew that I would eventually learn about risks in my household products (whether I wanted to or not) and I wanted to try to make purchases that I wouldn’t regret later. So, the details in my book are a result of me trying to figure out a high impact strategy to prioritize my efforts and budget. (more…)

Posted by on Dec 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

Holiday Gifts for the Healthy-Minded

holiday gifts for the healthy-minded

It’s that time of year again when holiday shopping is in full swing and finding the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift is top priority. Whether some of these items have been on the holiday shopping list before or are brand new, here at Be Well, we present you with our roundup of our favorite holiday gifts for the healthy-minded–physically and spiritually.

For the Healthy Cook, Instant Pot programmable pressure cooker

“As Dr. Lipman often says, home cooking is one of the quickest routes to healthier food and a healthier body. Preparing healthy and delicious meals takes time however, and in our busy lives, time is often in short supply. Reward your favorite cook (or yourself!) with the Instant Pot to simplify and speed up your meals. One of the only multi-cookers on the market with a stainless steel insert, you can avoid the dangerous PFOAs contained in the non-stick coating of most slow cookers or pressure cookers.” – Health Coach Laura Kraber

For the Energized Exerciser, The Grid foam roller

“Most people do not own one, but it’s so important muscle release.” – Health Coach Courtney Blatt 

For the Focused Meditator (in NYC), one-month membership to MNDFL Meditation

“A beautiful and convenient space that will allow you to get into that meditation practice you have been meaning to try.” – Chiropractor Dr. Keren Day

Be Well Note: For those not in NYC, subscription to meditation apps are amazing gifts too!

For the Beauty Indulgers, Pursoma salt baths and Beautycounter face oils

“Luxurious and good-for you beauty products are both healthy and indulgent.” – Health Coach Katrine van Wyk (more…)

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

5 Ways Not to Get Fat Over the Winter

Ways Not to Get Fat
By Be Well Health Coach Courtney Blatt

The winter is rapidly approaching and, let’s face it, most of us tend to pack on a few extra pounds over the next few months. Here are five ways not to get fat and to stay on track (so  you don’t have to start over in January):

1. Eat Fat

Healthy fats are essential for keeping us satiated, starving sugar cravings and lubricating our joints…something that often inhibits us from from staying active during the winter.

Thanks to poor information from the FDA and bad marketing practices from major food companies, many of us have been brainwashed to stay away from fat. What most people don’t realize is by choosing fat-free products, you’re consuming highly processed foods full of sugar and carcinogenic substances. Instead, stick to whole foods and make sure to boost your intake of Omega-3 fats such as wild salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

2. Drink Bone Broth

Bone Broth is a magic elixir. I felt a cold coming on last week and swear bone broth kicked it right out of my system. It’s rich with easily absorbable minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur to keep your body strong and healthy. It also contains glucosamine which supports joint health and gelatin/collagen which is amazing for gut health. Furthermore, its amino acids help reduce inflammation. Home run! The stronger your immune system, the more energy you’ll have throughout the Winter months.

3. Don’t Let the Holidays Be an Excuse

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve put considerable effort into living a healthy lifestyle. The holidays roll around and you find yourself stressed, busy and surrounded by unhealthy food choices. Why let all your hard work go out the window? This year as you head into the holidays, be mindful. Set realistic goals and allow yourself to indulge a bit at times. (But, of course, only when it’s worth it.) (more…)

Posted by on Nov 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

How to Stick a Fork* in Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance

“The reason I have trouble finding a good antibiotic when my son has an ear infection is directly related to the cost of [that] cheap hamburger.”   – Michael Pollan in Modern Meat, Frontline

What would happen if our children’s serious infections no longer responded to antibiotics? If an infection in the uterus of a mother who has recently given birth couldn’t be treated with antibiotics? If there were no longer a cure for meningitis, or any number of life threatening infections?

The magnitude of this reality is upon us as we enter into an era that is, according to major public health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, defined by the global health crisis called antibiotic resistance.

What is antibiotic resistance? In short, it means that infectious bugs are outwitting our antibiotics to the point that the antibiotics we have are no longer effective against them, and even many previously benign bacteria and viruses have now become pathogenic – or disease causing.

The bad news is that there are not many new antibiotics on the horizon to solve this problem. The good news is that much of the antibiotic resistance we are facing can be reversed if we do it fast. This requires that we not only get more savvy in our medical use of antibiotics, but that we bring voting antibiotic-free to our forks!

Enter The Microbiome

Perhaps the most exciting scientific revelation of this century will turn out to have been the realization that the health of our gut microbiome is central to our overall health as human beings. Not just because its functions are fascinating and more intrinsic to human health than we ever imagined, but because the microbiome may just be the missing link that, until now, has prevented a broad medical and scientific acceptance of the fact that we are not separate from the natural world, and cannot dominate it into submission and still expect to maintain our own health.

The belief that we can override nature, which has prevailed in medicine and science since Descartes, is failing us.

The Microbiome, Health, and Disease

The microbiome is elegantly defined as “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that share our body space.” The human body amazingly houses over 10 times more microbial cells than human cells. Most of these “bugs” are harmless; many are helpful.

Emerging science is illuminating the myriad roles that these organisms play in our well-being. They protect us from unwanted and dangerous microorganisms, participate in metabolism, detoxification, and even in our mood through the “gut-brain” connection. This latter pathway has led the way into research on “psychobiotics,” the role of gut microflora in depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia.

A predominance of the right type of gut flora species, Bifidobacterium, helps protect us from becoming overweight, while an overabundance of another less friendly bug, Clostridium difficile, can lead to death from diarrhea in a matter of days. (more…)

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Protein Smoothie for Thanksgiving Breakfast

Thanksgiving breakfast
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

We say it time and time again: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!  And this can be especially true during the holidays.  A healthy and nourishing breakfast keeps you satisfied and energized, allowing you to really enjoy your Thanksgiving, which usually includes cooking a delicious meal, catching up with family, and resisting those tempting treats!

Enjoying something nutritious and satisfying for Thanksgiving breakfast will help prevent you from grazing on the snacks and sweets that are typically around during this holiday season.  Additionally, making time for breakfast the day of Thanksgiving can keep you from feeling starved by the time dinner rolls around.  This way, instead of feeling ravenous and grabbing as much as you can at the first sight of food (we’ve all been there), you will be able to make food choices from a more informed and calm place – choosing foods that you actually want to eat and being able to enjoy them!

At Be Well, an ideal breakfast consists of a good quality protein, a healthy fat, and some fresh vegetables, all of which we combine into the smoothie recipe below.  We have found that this combination offers the body key nutrients, essential amino acids and necessary fats that support a healthy and happy body, fueling your system with all that it needs and setting you up for a day of healthy choices.

Assuming that you will be getting your fair share of pumpkin and sweet potatoes throughout the day, we loaded this smoothie with a high dose of greens and wholesome foods to boost your metabolism, enhance your digestion and balance your blood sugar!

Thanksgiving Greens and Protein Smoothie

Wishing you a happy, healthy and balanced Thanksgiving!!

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

5 Tips to Reduce Thanksgiving Stress

Thanksgiving Stress

Every year, at about this time, I can’t help but notice that the closer we get to Thanksgiving, the more uptight and anxious many people become. For some, it’s the stress of preparing the big turkey dinner, for others it’s the thought of traveling long distances during the heaviest travel period of the year, and then there’s the stress of the upcoming holiday season that kicks off moments after the Thanksgiving dishes are cleared.

Short of waiting out the holiday at a silent retreat, there are ways you can take on Thanksgiving without compromising your health or sanity. Here are a few tips to help you handle Thanksgiving stress and truly embrace the spirit of the day with an open heart, calmer mind.

Going Somewhere?

Flying to family gatherings, during the heavy traffic season, is for many people a challenge. If you’re one of the intrepid travelers, try the following to help take the edge off and keep stressors low:

  • Fly at non-peak hours to beat the rush and off-peak days, like the Tuesday before and Friday after Thanksgiving.
  • Travel with a light carry-on, so if you do get bumped or plans change, you won’t have to worry luggage loss.
  • Carry a few healthy snacks to support health while en route.
  • If flying makes you nervous, instead of booze or prescription pills, try Be Well’s Stress Support formula which contains nutrients and herbs to help you with stress and relax.

Re-imagine Your Experience

When you arrive at the airport (if not before), instead of bracing yourself for combat, change your mindset. Commit to practicing the concept of ubuntu, which is understanding, caring, respect and compassion for others. No matter how difficult the check-in or TSA agent may be, respond with compassion to keep tempers from rising and situations from escalating. Be prepared to go with the flow and if there are delays, try an online guided meditation to help you relax while you wait at the gate. If you need a laugh, as well as a reminder of how wondrous airplane travel actually is, take a look at comedian Louis CK’s wise take on travel (be advised though, the language is a bit salty). (more…)

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | 1 Comments

How to Curb Emotional Eating
3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Emotional Eating

By Be Well Health Coach Laura Kraber

Our relationship to food is inextricably connected to our cultural and family traditions, our social lives and our daily routines. Whether fueled by boredom, anger, or sadness, it is all too easy to eat for reasons other than hunger — “emotional eating”— which can lead to weight gain, sugar addiction, digestive distress, and other problems.

To conquer emotional eating, it is essential to confront the difficult feelings that are usually at the heart of our self-sabotaging behavior. In the same way that functional medicine seeks to uncover the root cause of illness, rather than simply treating symptoms, in functional nutrition, we need to recognize and address the root causes of emotional eating.

The next time you find yourself staring down a pint of ice cream or a bag of potato chips, take a few minutes to quietly and compassionately ask yourself these three questions, as a first step towards addressing your stress-related eating.

1. What am I feeling right now?

The first step is awareness – bring mindfulness to your emotions, to your cravings, to your mood. Commit to taking a few minutes to write down your feelings — either in sentence form, as a free-form list, or however you can best unearth and capture the emotions that are driving you to eat when not hungry. (more…)

Posted by on Nov 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

What You Don’t Know About Unpronounceable Beauty Ingredients

beauty ingredients

You might assume that any ingredient with a long or difficult-to-pronounce name must be bad for you, but that’s a myth. Take a look at our product ingredient lists and you’ll likely find a few scary-sounding words—but, unlike what you may have been led to believe, that’s nothing to worry about. Why? Beautycounter uses the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) system, an internationally recognized way of standardizing labels on cosmetic products. It’s designed to help companies stay consistent, minimize language barriers, and provide consumers with greater transparency.

Here’s what you need to know about INCI and deciphering cosmetic labels:

There are over 16,000 ingredients on the INCI list, making it the most comprehensive list of ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products.

In the U.S., the FDA requires that all cosmetics include a list of ingredients using standardized INCI names. It’s also required in Canada, the European Union, and many other places. However, despite the FDA regulation, the policy is not well enforced.

Complying with INCI means we identify our ingredients by their proper Latin names instead of trade names (for example, prunus armeniaca kernel oil instead of apricot kernel oil, or butyrospermum parkii instead of shea butter). You can see that even very simple, safe ingredients may have fairly complex spelling or pronunciation.

To make it easier for you—the consumer—we may also include each ingredient’s common, more recognizable name in parenthesis.

In addition, ingredients are listed in the order of highest to lowest concentration—except ingredients with a concentration of 1% or below and color ingredients, which can be listed in any order at the end.

Want to learn more about Beautycounter’s ingredients? Click HERE to check out our Ingredient Glossary, a comprehensive collection of every single ingredient used in our products. All of our ingredients have gone through our Ingredient Selection Process, which means that they have been carefully assessed for safety, and no ingredients are hiding as “fragrance.”

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Which Almond Butter Tastes the Best?

Almond Butter

Almond butter is stealing the spotlight these days as more and more people embrace healthy fats and proteins as the building blocks of their diets. And now more and more brands of nut butters are competing for space, crowding supermarket shelves in a bid for attention. But which is best and why?

We decided to put several high quality nut butters to the test. We purchased seven different brands from three different stores, including a local health food store, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market. We selected only those without sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils, seed oils and salt, and we made sure to include different varieties: Raw, roasted, chunky, and creamy.

Finally, we made certain to find some very discerning taste buds, employing seven taste testers from our offices, and set up this blind taste test as an afternoon treat!

1. Justin’s Classic Almond Butter Roasted

Type: Creamy, roasted.
Ingredients: Dry roasted almonds, sustainably sourced palm fruit oil.

Justin’s comes in individual serving sizes. These squeeze packets  are great for travel, kids’ lunches, and anyone who wants portion control. We recognize that palm oil, a saturated fat, is one of the ingredients, and we are okay with that. Saturated fats can be part of a healthy diet as long as it’s sustainably sourced. The only downside with Justin’s is the fact that it’s not organic ☹.

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “Palm oil, a saturated fat, is good for you”
  • “Truly delicious…”
  • “Slightly sweet, smooth, not salty.”
  • “Good for blending!”
  • “Easy to eat, spread, and comes in small package.”

2. Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter

Type: Raw, crunchy.
Ingredients: Raw Almonds

Our unanimous verdict on Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter is that its liquid-y texture is less than optimal for spreading on foods, but it tastes good and has an excellent price point! But, alas, this one is not organic, either. ☹

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “Very liquid-y, even once it’s mixed.”
  • “Too sticky”
  • “Would be harder to eat, because it’s so liquid-y … it sometimes drips right off the (gluten free) toast.”

3. Costco

Type: Roasted.
Ingredients: Raw Almonds

This almond butter is affordable and comes in a large jar so it’s great for using in smoothies and baking.

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “Requires mixing.”
  • “Nice nuttey flavor”
  • “Great price point!”

4. MacraNatha Organic Raw Almond Butter

Type: Creamy
Ingredients: Organic raw almonds

On the plus side, we found this almond butter to be very flavorful, and it’s organic, too! But on the negative side, we had a very hard time mixing it together. There was a layer of oil on the top, and the ground almonds in the base were very hard. This almond butter would be best used with a recipe that calls for a blender!

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “Very expensive, and it separates.”
  • “Separated and very hard to mix together.”  
  • “I’m put off by the consistency and lack of spreadability.”
  • “Thick, nice flavor!”

5. Gopal’s Sprouted Almond Butter

Type: Sprouted, creamy, unsalted.
Ingredients: Organic Raw Sprouted Almonds

This almond butter gets points for healthiness, as it’s organic and made from sprouted almonds. Sprouted almonds are better for nutrient absorption, and they are lower in phytic acid, too. For the health nut, this ranks as the “healthiest” option in our test.

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “Totally different flavor than I’m used to.”
  • “A little bitter and chalky!”
  • “Grown-up, health-nut version.”

6. Once Again Almond Butter

Type: Creamy, lightly roasted
Ingredients: Lightly roasted, unblanched, organic almonds.

This one gets five stars, as it was a crowd favorite! It wins all around for its flavor and texture, and for the fact that it’s organic! We nominate this one as our top choice.

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “This is perfect!”
  • “Good taste, smooth, organic.”
  • “A little sticky.”

7. Woodstock

Type: Crunchy, roasted
Ingredients: Organic, dry roasted, unblanched almonds.

Again, we liked the flavor of this, one as it was roasted as well. We voted this one as the runner up!

Taste Tester Quotes:

  • “Great texture.”
  • “I’m into the roasted taste.”
  • “Organic!”
  • “It’s nice that it doesn’t separate.”

For some of our favorite recipes that call for almond butter, check out Paleo pancakes recipe, pumpkin pie green smoothie, and chocolate mousse with a chili pepper.

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Lipman’s Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving recipes

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a time to enjoy family and friends and to celebrate the bounty of seasonal food at this time of year.  Over the years, I have gathered a handful of Thanksgiving recipes that have become my go-to for a delicious and, yes, healthy meal.  So, in addition, to cooking the turkey on the outdoor grill and to simply roasting sweet potatoes (no marshmallows please), you’ll find these dishes on our Thanksgiving table.

Paleo Spiced Nuts, Serves 4

By Elana’s Pantry



  • ⅔ cup almonds
  • ⅔ cup pecans
  • ⅔ cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


Place nuts in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Toast until lightly browned. While nuts are toasting, prepare spice mixture. Combine chili, cumin, black pepper and salt in a small bowl. Coat nuts with olive oil, then coat with spice mixture. Serve. (more…)

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 | 0 Comments