Tag: health

Gut Health: The link between gut bacteria and cancer risk and response

Gut Health: The link between gut bacteria and cancer risk and response

Gut bacteria: The key to health All disease begins in the gut. ~ Hippocrates We have 70 trillion cells in our body. And we have 100 trillion cells in our gut. Meaning the gut bacteria we house far outnumber our own cells. There’s a reason […]

Move your body: The immunity and health boosting power of exercise

Move your body: The immunity and health boosting power of exercise

Cheer for life! It’s fall, and that means one thing: Football! Ok it also means apple picking and pumpkins and pumpkin spice lattes for the basics. But it always reminds me of my cheerleading days, and lately all sorts of throwbacks have been popping up […]

Wellness Wednesday: Why I Love this Healthy Nudge

Wellness Wednesday: Why I Love this Healthy Nudge

Wellness Wednesday – A Healthy Reframe of Hump Day

September swooped in and bang life got busy busy! In a good way; in a motivating and inspiring way. I’ve been so caught up with everything going on that I’m just getting to my blog post now, but I was still inspired to go ahead with this Wellness Wednesday post even though it’s Thursday!

Because that’s part of what wellness is to me: not getting too caught up in my to-dos and the oopsies and the should’ves that I forget to prioritize ME and my self-care, and not allowing self-imposed deadlines to get in the way of little, unexpected life moments that fill life with beauty and magic.

Yoga, Bonaire, Travel
Yoga in Bonaire

Life Unexpected

As it is, I did have a full schedule with a few external deadlines and deliverables the past few days, as well as several appointments, so I was planning to squeeze my blog in yesterday evening, after my gym session and a quick run to grab some groceries, since it didn’t happen Tuesday evening. Which was fine. Life was just wonderful and I was just letting myself go at a pace that suits me.

So I walked in to the grocery store, grabbed some grapes, then low and behold, I quite literally ran into one of my close childhood friends – our carts nearly collided! Over the years I’ve run into her sporadically, and she had reached out with such sweet support and encouragement while I was in the midst of my crazy last year, so naturally we wanted to catch up with each other. We proceeded to talk for about 40 minutes, right there in the produce section, standing next to the grapes.

My Wellness Wednesday Moment

So much for a quick grab-n-go dinner so I could get to my beloved blog! But chatting with her – connecting in real life with this human who has known me for over a quarter of a century (what!?) – was genuine food for my soul. Moments like these are precious and priceless. The blog would be there when I got home, but this moment wouldn’t last.

And that’s the thing – life is so complex these days, and it moves so darn fast. It’s so easy to get caught up in our ‘busyness’ and the directives of our to-do lists, but sometimes the more productive thing when it comes to our health and wellness is just to slow down and appreciate the moment. As I stood there, I realized that this was it: this was what Wellness Wednesday really meant for me.

Beach, nature, East Hampton
Nature vibes in East Hampton 

Wellness Wednesday: A Healthy Nudge

So I’ve adopted Wellness Wednesday as part of my vocabulary – and even as the title of my weekly email newsletter! – as a simple reminder to be mindful of what nourishes me, and what makes life meaningful.

It’s a health little nudge to be mindful of my choices and decisions – what I eat, but also how I choose to spend my moments, and what I choose to give attention to. It’s a little mid-week reminder that our life is what we choose to make of it. And it just provides a little perspective – a little mindset shift. Life sometimes throws us curveballs, but generally, I’m as busy as I choose to be.

The full picture of health and wellness

Wellness isn’t just what we eat, how much we exercise, or whether or not we go on a cleanse. Those things are of course crucial pieces of the wellness puzzle, but wellness also means taking the time for self-care, like meditating, taking a bath, getting a massage, or doing a restorative yoga class.

Wellness also includes taking the time to slow down and do things that feed and nourish our soul, like reading a novel, spending time with family, or catching up with an old friend. It’s taking the time to be out in nature – breathing in fresh air to fill our bodies with oxygen and exploring natural wonders that fill our minds with awe.

And these other aspects of wellness are not just about slowing down or getting away from the hustle and bustle – wellness practices also include any activity that enhances our sense of wellbeing, and that includes travel and adventure and engaging in novel experiences. These things provide us a sense of expansion and growth, which is essential to our sense of satisfaction.

Estes Park, Colorado, Mountains, nature
Estes Park, Colorado

What does wellness mean to you?

But really, wellness is personal. Whatever food nourishes your body, whatever activities bring you a sense of ease, calm and joy, whatever gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment – these are all things that factor into your wellness, and therefore all things that should take priority in your life.

To me it means eating lots of plants and various sources of protein, yoga and exercise, movement that challenges my body, hot baths and the occasional massage, reading books and writing my blog, and prioritizing travel and novel adventure as much as possible.

But for all of us, social connection is so important. Humans are social creatures. We thrive on intimate connection and the support of community. True, some of us are introverts and some of us are extroverts, but even the introverts who require alone time to regenerate also need intimate social connection.

Regardless of what our to-do lists and self-care practices dictate, sometimes the priority should be the beautiful person in front of you. Because people make life meaningful, and moments are really all we have.

 

On Top of the World with First Descents: My 1-Year-Outta-Chemo Cancer-versary

On Top of the World with First Descents: My 1-Year-Outta-Chemo Cancer-versary

Life after cancer: Young, fancy and free A year ago last Wednesday – August 23rd – was my last day of chemo. The first step on the road back to normalcy. My unofficial return to freedom, to life. To life after cancer. My last day […]

Why Cleanse: The benefits of cleansing and signs your body needs one

Why Cleanse: The benefits of cleansing and signs your body needs one

Cleanse your system the fun way The words cleanse and detox often cause strong, guarded reactions. The idea of deprivation or consuming bizarre foods you can’t even pronounce is simply not appealing to most. But before you turn and run… truth bomb: you don’t have to […]

The Truth Behind Detoxing – Miracle cure or mythical crock?

The Truth Behind Detoxing – Miracle cure or mythical crock?

 Detox Me, Maybe?

Juice cleanses. Detox programs. Cleanse supplements and detox teas. These days, these products are ubiquitous in the world of wellness and nutrition. But what’s all the hype about? Why is detoxing beneficial and really – is it?
As with all things health and nutrition, there are two camps squarely opposing one another: those that say detoxing is the answer to all ailments and the key to optimal wellbeing, and those that say it’s all a complete crock made up by opportunistic marketers.
Juice cleanse / detox

Detoxing: It’s a crock

Ask a traditional doctor or medical professional and it’s extremely possible if not likely they’ll laugh off the notion of ‘detoxing.’ The truth is, our bodies are designed to naturally detox on a daily basis: it’s literally the job of our skin, liver, kidneys, and even the lungs and digestive system to ‘detoxify’ and remove waste. So as they say, nothing you eat or drink will magically make them work better. Fact, through and through.
As the title of this article so bluntly states: you can’t detox your body. Case. Closed. The article elaborates that ‘toxins’ don’t even really exist in the world of medical science: “Much of the [detox] sales patter revolves around “toxins”: poisonous substances that you ingest or inhale. But it’s not clear exactly what these toxins are.”
Toxins, they argue, are impossible to measure, so therefore, they must not really exist or worth worrying about.  The article further claims that detoxing is a ‘scandal… a criminal exploitation of the gullible man on the street.’
Ok, so according to them detoxing is a crock made up by charlatans. They do bring up a fair point – the markets abound with detox products and programs of all kinds that tout themselves as being a miracle cure. And yes, many will set you back a pretty penny. So, are all these supplements and programs complete bogus?
 
Are we just suckers wanting to drink a magic potion and make it all better? 

Detoxing smoothie

Detoxing: It’s the ultimate cure

Then we have the camp that claims detoxing can cure everything, from constipation to cancer. Let’s take a little closer look at the claims of the miracle doctors.
The truth is you can google ‘detox to cure…’ and virtually every ailment will show up depending on what letter you type next. To be clear, any good cleanse protocol should help with constipation. A good detox/ cleanse diet should eliminate difficult to digest foods, increase plant-based fiber consumption, and increase hydration. If done right, this basic approach should clean out the system.
Will detoxing cure constipation? Well, that entirely depends on what an individual does after the detox. Any good protocol should encourage you to continue eating a balanced, plant-heavy diet post-cleanse.

Clean green detoxing salad

But let’s focus on arguably the most extreme case: cancer. (Also, I’m biased.)

There are endless claims of people having cured their cancer from cleansing, juicing, and detoxing, and just as many resources explaining the ins and outs of curing cancer through these methods. I’m a huge proponent of healing naturally whenever possible. However, the reality is that many people who have eschewed the traditional ‘cut, poison, burn’ methods of surgery, chemo, and radiation and gone the alternative, natural route have, very unfortunately, also not survived.
It’s true: many people have been entirely cured of cancer utilizing exclusively natural methods. Many patients with terminal prognoses have lived much longer than the doctors ever suggested they would. Many fighters had a vastly improved quality end of life by forgoing aggressive cancer treatments. Many survivors cured stage IV cancer naturally and never had it come back. Many thrivers have successfully achieved Radical Remission.
These cases, however, are, unfortunately, little studied and while it’s lovely to believe that certain alternative healing methods truly do work, and while there actually is much logic (to my mind) supporting these methods, it’s truthfully impossible to determine precisely why and how these individuals healed. For these reasons, I think it’s extremely dangerous to claim that detoxing and juicing can cure cancer. 
Each and every person is unique, and each and every cancer case is extremely individual, and what worked for one may not work for another. Personally, I do think detoxing and cleansing is extremely beneficial when it comes to healing from cancer. When doctor-approved and supervised by a trained health professional, detoxing can help heal cancer and many other diseases.
I believe there’s a time and place for both traditional and complementary methods of treatment, but every individual facing a serious diagnosis must choose the best healing methods for themselves, armed with education and information on each approach.

Raw vegan green detoxing blender soup

Revisiting the counter-arguments

The Guardian article quotes Edzsard Ernset, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter Medicine: “If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, he says, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention – “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”’
Here’s the thing – many of us are not perfectly healthy. Many people are facing a health crisis. Many people do not have a healthy body, and it stands to reason that everything is not working perfectly well in that less-than-healthy body.
And, the reality is, environmental toxins are a thing, and they’re a thing we should all be concerned about, according to the CDC itself. On average, the study found 212 chemicals in people’s blood or urine, 75 of which had never been measured before in the US population at the time of the study. Alarmingly, tests have found that these 200-plus chemicals are also found in newborn umbilical cord blood– babies are now born with hundreds of chemicals in their bodies.
Traditional medical practitioners and articles like the one published by the Guardian will claim that there is no scientific proof that things like spirulina and nettle tea actually work to detoxify the system.
However, there is a reason there is little ‘scientific’ proof: they don’t study these substances because funding for these studies often doesn’t exist. The fact is, there is no money to be made by the medical or pharmaceutical industries from natural products and supplements that heal and cure, so studies on these natural substances with healing potential are limited.

For more analysis of these arguments, this articledoes a nice job rebutting some of the claims made by the Guardian article and explaining the mechanisms of detoxing.

Cruciferous crunch detox bowl

FLC Syndrome – The Reality of our current State of Health

Mark Hyman, MD, asserts that half of us suffer from FLC: the Feel Like Crap syndrome. And the reason we feel like crap is because we eat crap.
Given the contaminated state of our food system and the less-than-natural environment in which the majority of us reside, I must agree. Simply put, if you overload the system with crap and (dare I use the word) toxins, your body will not be happy.
You don’t need a medical degree to comprehend that ingesting unnatural compounds and excessive amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats can trigger our immune systems to attack and cause inflammation. You don’t need a PhD in biology to understand that not eating the right food or getting enough nutrients will not supply the cells in our liver and other organs with the nutrients and proteins it needs to keep those enzymes working properly.
Detox juice

Why does detoxing work?

By stripping the crap from our diets and replacing it with real, whole foods, we give our bodies the chance to reset, and YES, to do just what they were designed to do: detox! The result is natural detox the way it was designed, without interference. Elimination approaches result in detox done right: with the all the nutrients and resources the body needs to get the job done right and to get the job done thoroughly.
Think about it like a messy desk – if you keep piling papers and files on top of the already existing piles of papers and files, you’ll never clear off the desk. But if you stop piling more stuff on top of what’s already there and start sorting through the existing mess, you’ll give yourself the chance to clear what’s there in due course. Same goes with the body: if you stop feeding it crap and just give it clean fuel and resources, your body gets the chance to get rid of the crap that’s still in there without being further burdened by continual crap piled on top of the existing crap.
Basically, if you don’t give your body the chance to properly reset, it’s like sisyphus rolling that rock up a hill: you might have good days, but you’re never going to get over the hump because you’ll keep falling back into the Feel Like Crap state.

Detox -friendly breakfast

Detoxing vs Cleansing: It’s all in the name

The key thing to understand when trying to come to grips with the notion of detoxing is that the term ‘detox’ is used very loosely, and it means different things to different people and different programs. One detox diet can consist of consuming solely lemonade with maple syrup and cayenne alternated with tea for ten days (the infamous master cleanse) while others (like mine) call for not a single juice – just real, whole foods. And there are countless products on the market using the term ‘detox’ that it’s difficult to suss out what’s legitimate and what’s putting a popular label on a product just to sell.
Because the term ‘detox’ is so incredibly loaded these days, I prefer to use the term ‘cleanse’ as it sounds a little less harsh and rigid. And that’s precisely the approach I take. My cleanse approach is entirely whole foods based, juice optional. I have personally done a couple 3-day juice cleanses to see what the hype is about, but that’s not how I approach cleansing on the whole.
Truthfully, it’s entirely unnecessary to do a juice cleanse if you’re not into consuming an entirely liquid diet. I use real, whole foods, with soups, smoothies, salads and simple veggie sautées on the menu, snacks allowed, supplemented with plant-based protein powder and even some chicken or fish if you really need it.
When you approach cleansing from this standpoint, the two camps are really not quite as far apart as they sound at first glance. To give the naysayers the credit they’re due, they all of course recommended eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in plants and healthy protein while cutting the refined and processed foods. Really, that’s what it’s all about: cutting the crap and allowing your body to reset.

Detox warm apple pie smoothie

Ahh, but what about that protein factor?

The lack of protein is a concern mentioned in each and every article dissing detoxing. To be sure, protein is absolutely essential for proper bodily functioning. But the truth is, not every protocol calls for a complete avoidance of protein, and people underestimate the amount of protein contained in plants.
A 3-day juice fast – a common product on the market and the most extreme I’ve gone and would ever feel comfortable recommending to a client (assuming medical permission was granted of course) – is short-term and your body will certainly not shut down over such a short period of time.
And frankly, if you do it properly, a juice cleanse provides far more protein than people realize: a primarily green juice plan can provide up to 20-30 grams of protein per day. It’s also possible to supplement the juices with plant-based protein, as I recommend doing with smoothies (and even soups!) on my approach.
And the fact is most of us consume far more protein than is actually necessary. The US Dietary Reference Intake (DRI)/Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 46 grams each day for adult women and 56 grams each day for men. Meanwhile, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the average female eats about 70 grams of protein while the average American male consumes 102 grams.
To be sure protein requirements vary by size and activity level, yet on the whole we clearly consume far more protein than is actually necessary. Which, in itself, may actually be doing a disservice to our bodies if we are replacing plants with excess protein.

raw vegan creamy celery detox soup

So how do you know if you need a cleanse?

The symptoms of toxic overload are extremely varied and can impact the entire bodily system. Seemingly unrelated conditions may all result from this underlying issue. You might want to consider a gentle cleanse if you:
  • have trouble sleeping
  • get headaches
  • gain weight easily, especially in the belly
  • feel exhausted and depleted
  • feel a lack of focus and energy
  • have trouble losing weight
  • experience bloating or gas
  • have digestive complaints
  • have excessive sinus problems
  • suffer from joint pain
  • have acne, eczema or other skin problems
  • feel stuck, unmotivated, or irritable
  • feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • experience mood swings
  • crave sugar or starchy food
Symptoms often include relatively minor annoyances like some listed above, which are plenty frustrating. But toxic overload can also be a factor in more serious conditions such as autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.
Next up, I’ll dive more into the details of Why Cleanse: the signs and symptoms that you need a cleanse and the benefits of cleansing.
Ready to dip your toes or learn a little more about cleansing? Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free 3-Day Cleanse Guide, which includes recipes for the featured images not linked above! 
Life After Cancer: A Masterpiece in Progress

Life After Cancer: A Masterpiece in Progress

Cancerversary: Reflecting on a year out This month will mark the one year anniversary of finishing chemo. Tomorrow marks the one year of finishing round 5. When I think back on a year ago, I think about the whirlwind I was in the midst of. […]

Why Go Dairy-Free (or not): The Great Dairy Debate (and dairy-free alternatives)

Why Go Dairy-Free (or not): The Great Dairy Debate (and dairy-free alternatives)

Pass the Cheese Please… Or not. So one of the things I miss most since I upgraded my diet after diagnosis is cheese. I am not alone. Cheese is one of the foods people miss most when they go dairy-free or vegan. I briefly dabbled […]

Quick and Easy Raw Vegan Feta Cheese

Quick and Easy Raw Vegan Feta Cheese

Dairy-free’s the way to be

Being dairy-free certainly has its advantages. I feel great, my skin seems to have improved, and my eczema doesn’t flare anymore. But it also has its downsides: cheese! Or the lack thereof to be clear. Like many others who cut dairy from their diets, I miss cheese tremendously. All of it. Pretty much the only varieties I didn’t like were Swiss and cream cheese (weird? yea maybe. don’t ask me why but I never liked either).

(more…)

Sugar: The Dietary Devil, and why you should cut sugar

Sugar: The Dietary Devil, and why you should cut sugar

The White Devil Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from reality, you know that the sugar skeleton is finally out of the nutrition closet. It’s worse than gluten, it’s worse than dairy, and yes, it’s even worse than fat.