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If I had to profess my undying love to any particular fruit or veggie, it would be a hard call between avocados and coconuts. What is not to love about this amazing creamy fruit that can be combined with both sweet and more bitter meals. Plus I can make yogurt or pudding with it, smoothies, and add it to salads. Since I have long been rescued from the hell that is processed food addiction, I would say avocados do for me what ice cream or yogurt does for die hard dairy lovers. The creamy texture, literally makes my heart sing, and ears perk up when I hear someone say the lovely name avocado. Oh, and the joy of cutting one open and it being completely perfect! I could go on and on. I know I’m tripping, but I really love them that much. They are also on my list of aphrodisiacs, so perhaps (***clears throat and bats eyelashes***), avocados are exciting for me in more ways than one. For grown folks only: the name avocado comes from the Aztec word ‘ahuacatl’ which, um, literally, um, means testicle (I don’t like that word, hence the hesitation). I assume you can guess that avocados got the name from the way they look. So beyond just eating avocados, you also have the option to make some dirty jokes about them. LOL.
So what groovy benefits do you get from eating avocado, which is also known as ‘alligator pear’? Well, they happen to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet! Avocados contain 25 essential nutrients including vitamin A, B, C, E, K, copper, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, protein, phytochemicals, and fiber. You would actually need to eat at least two bananas to get the amount of potassium in one avocado. Avocados have a large fat content, almost twenty times the amount of fat in other fruits but they are extremely good-for-you monounsaturated fats. People often worry that because of this avocados will make you gain weight. Not the case, I’ll get to that in another post soon. If you eat avocados from Florida which are huge, note that they have 50% LESS fat than the Haas kind, so they are sort of the “low-fat” brand of avocados.
Onto the long list of fabulous things the wonderful fruit named avocado can do for you. Some key benefits include: maintains a healthy heart and reduce risk of heart disease, efficiently lowers bad cholesterol and can boost good cholesterol, helps to regulate blood pressure levels, has anti-inflammatory properties that help ward off inflammation related diseases, promotes eye health and prevents macular degeneration, regulates blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of stroke because of high levels of folate, protects against breast cancer and has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer, contains glutathione which fights free radicals in the body, boosts immune system, slows aging, and encourages a healthy nervous system. If all of those benefits alone were not a mouthful add to that the fact that avocados are known the world over for boosting the health and natural glow of your skin.
My challenge this week is: How many ways can you eat an avocado? While I go off to work on that, I hope you have now been convinced that avocados are an awesome food to add to your diet. As much as I would love to keep my love for them all to myself, I know there’s more than enough love to go around so you can count on me to continue spreading the gospel. -XoXo Raw Girl
Even the hustlers who claim they “grind” 24-7 and survive on three hours of sleep, can’t debate that eventually the human body will crash if you do not get enough rest. Not sure if you all heard about Ariana Huffington’s come to Jesus moment where her lack of sleep let to a serious injury an stitches in her face, chronicled in her book Thrive. Even a CEO needs rest, and she discovered that she actually performs better and makes better decisions when fully rested rather than trying to run the rat race on empty. It’s clear that this AHA! moment was the catalyst that eventually caused her to leave the Huffington Post and move onto found Thrive Global where she promoting health, wellness, and good old sleep.
Recently, a friend reached out to me who was having sleeping problems about whether or not she should take medication. It has become all too commonplace for those with sleeping issues to resort to taking sleeping pills which can have a myriad of side effects known and unknown. She unfortunately lives in Los Angeles, where popping sleeping pills is like eating candy. Everyone seems to do it. The better solution is to look at your lifestyle, caffeine intake, stress, or racing thoughts and get to the bottom of what you can change to get some real long term sustainable rest.
After giving this advice to my friend, I then told her as she is working on it to give Valerian Poppy a try as a natural remedy to help her sleep on the interim. I used Valerian Poppy as a sleeping aid when recovering from a bad car accident that left me in so much pain it was hard to get to sleep. I would put a few drops in water and I was usually out in 10-15 minutes. Again, I believe dealing with the source of the issue is always best, but this herbal remedy may be something you want to give a try if you are really struggling. Like any herb, can have interactions with other medications so I recommend you take it alone or speak to your doctor about any potential adverse effects of mixing with your current medication. The exact effective dosage isn’t exactly clear either, so the safest bet is to experiment without overdoing it. I usually put one dropper full into a glass of water.
Want additional information about sleep that could help you revolutionize your rest? Check out the book Power Sleep by Dr. James Maas, a world renowned sleep expert. That book changed my life and made me a bit of a sleep natzi in college. I’m sure you will find once you have experienced true, good quality rest, you’ll start getting a little gangsta about your sleep too. -XO
What mineral is required for thyroid hormone synthesis, regulates cortisol and immune function, and is a powerful antioxidant? Iodine, which may seem like an insignificant mineral is required for all of those things and more. Currently the world is using less and less iodized salt for preparation in food, and this places many of us in danger of becoming iodine deficient. Deficiency in iodine causes abnormal swelling of the neck or goiter, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, depression, and in women, iodine is essential for maintaining breast health. Breast cancer incidences in Japan are virtually nonexistent because women consume twenty five times the amount of iodine that American women do. Iodine deficiency is also the most preventable cause of brain damage. Pregnant women who are deficient are at higher risk for having a stillborn child or one with birth defects. For veggie lovers who are vegetarian or vegan, if you are not including seaweed in your diet, you are putting yourself at greater risk for deficiency. Is it me, or did seaweed all of sudden get really sexy? Keep in mind you can add seaweed to soups, make nori wraps or veggie sushi, sprinkle dulse flakes on your salads, and more to ensure you get your iodine in.
The recommended daily allowance for adults over 19 years of age iodine is 150 micrograms daily. It’s important to not consume too much iodine because toxicity can also cause health problems such as gastrointestinal upset, acne, increased salivation, fever, nausea, vomiting, and elevated levels of thyroid hormone. The best way to boost your iodine intake on a vegetarian diet is to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet such as: kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, arame, hiziki, kombu, irish moss. Black eye peas and navy beans also have a decent amount of iodine, strawberries, cranberries, organic yogurt, navy beans, cheese, and potatoes.
Most minerals have inhibitors, or nutrients that can block the proper absorption and uptake by the body. In the case of iodine, goitrogens are substances in chemicals, foods or drugs that can interfere with iron uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogens are found in soy products, cassava, sweet potato, peanuts, pine nuts, raw cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips etc. Don’t get spooked about consuming these foods, which have other nutrients that are beneficial to the body; just take care especially if focused on increasing iodine intake to not consume meals with these foods at the same time of iodine supplementation.
Ensuring that your iodine intake is optimal can prevent radiation induced thyroid cancer, decrease the pain of fibrocystic breasts, and also prevent mental retardation, which is a direct result of iodine deficiency. Although it is not always the first mineral that comes to mind are essential, clearly the lack of iodine can have a drastic impact on health. Hope this article inspires you to do a double take when you pass the seaweed in the grocery store! Just make sure that the seaweed you choose to consume is organic and free of heavy metals. -XO Raw Girl
7 Foods Rich in Iodine. (2015, February 25). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/
- National Institute of Health. Iodine. Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.
- Gastaldi R, Muraca M, Beltramo A, Poggi E. Iodine deficiency and its consequences for cognitive and psychomotor development of children. Italian Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;40(Suppl 1):A15. doi:10.1186/1824-7288-40-S1-A15.
- Zimmermann MB, Boelaert K. Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015 Apr;3(4):286-95. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70225-6. Epub 2015 Jan 13.
- Ross, A. C., Caballero, B. , Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K.L. & Ziegler, T. R. (2014). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. (11th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
- Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
Until my travels to Ghana, I knew nothing about one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, one of the most nutrient dense fruits on the planet, baobab. African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) has been dubbed the “tree of life,” due to it’s exceptional nutritional profile and all parts of the tree being used for food, drinks, to feed animals, medicine, and even fibers used for weaving. Baobab grows on large and strangely gorgeous trees that look like something out of a fairy tale and take up to 200 years to mature and produce fruit. YEP that’s right, 200 years. Meaning if you planted a baobab tree today you would not live to see it grow into its full glory. Not only do they take a long time to mature, but they live long: the oldest recorded living baobab tree thus far was 1,000 years old. The fruit of baobab is football sized and the pulp of the fruit is white and powdery with a sweet, slightly tangy taste.
This strange but fantastic fruit packs in a jaw-dropping amount of nutrition: it has four times the potassium of bananas, two times the calcium of milk, and twelve times the fiber of an apple. Baobab is made up of almost 50% fiber that is soluble and pre-biotic; meaning ingesting it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the guy. The fruit actually has more soluble fiber than psyllium, which is used in laxatives to boost elimination and maintain a healthy digestive tract. You can consume baobab in powder form, adding it to shakes, smoothies, and even use it as a natural sugar replacement. Now that the word is spreading you will find bars and nutritional supplements with baobab as an ingredient as well. I’m sure if you have the chance to try it, you’ll understand why this unique fruit with a funny name is aptly called the “Queen of Superfruits.”
XO Raw Girl
One multivitamin a day, may keep the doctor at bay and get you closer to achieving the goal of optimal health if combined with a healthy diet. Yesterday I watched “That Vitamin Movie.” I found the film absolutely riveting and believe it is a must-see for every human being on this planet right now. Most of us in the health world are already of the mind that we should, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” as Hippocrates once said. But the inevitable truth is that in our modern times not only is the Standard American Diet horrifying low in any real nutrition, even those of us living on plant-based organic diets can still fall short of the mark because the nutrient density of food is diminishing over time. It’s also really difficult to juggle work, life, school, babies, and whatever else life throws at us and still manage to create a meal plan for ourselves that gives our body the nutrition it needs. Unless you have a fabulous chef named Francisco on call, (which I dream about all the time), you know exactly what I mean. And our body will not function optimally without vitamins, which serve as coenzymes for major chemical reactions. If we don’t get the micronutrients we need, some reactions in the body simply won’t happen and this will leave us running on empty and susceptible to disease.
The great news is vitamin supplementation can save the day! Do you take a daily multivitamin? After watching the vitamin movie you will realize that taking one after every meal may not be a bad idea. In fact, they gave a cheap multivitamin to prisoners after every meal and it significantly altered the mental state of those who partook. Megadose vitamin therapy, which is basically taking seemingly very high dosages of vitamins that can’t necessarily be found over the counter is something many of us have never thought of doing when we get ill. Why do this? Well, people have cured cancers, chronic fatigue and pain problems, depression and even yeast infections by taking high doses of vitamins. The best part? No one has ever died from taking too much of a vitamin, while millions are dying from taking prescription drugs. Vitamins are not only cheaper than drugs, they can also be more effective. There was more than one account in the film of people with cancer who took megadoses of vitamin C and recovered. There was even a young girl who had an adverse reaction to a vaccine and was having convulsions, who was cured by a doctor in Japan, with high doses of vitamin C.
After one year eating 100% raw, I realized that my health was not optimal because I was not supplementing. That is when I started the practice of incorporating superfoods into my diet daily to ensure my body was getting adequate nutrition. Vitamins are just as essential and even more useful especially if you don’t have time to make a superfood smoothie. In the film it’s recommended that EVERYONE take up to 16,000 mg of vitamin C daily, and also ensure vitamin D levels are met in order to boost immunity. Getting enough vitamin C can also improve athletic performance. In the film they told the story of the Puerto Rican basketball team that beat the American Dream Team at the Olympics after taking intravenous vitamin C therapy. Two separate studies conducted on HIV patients, one of which was at Harvard University medical school showed that HIV patients who took vitamins were half as likely to progress to AIDS as those who did not take any vitamins.
Physical health is not the only facet of wellness that can be affected by taking your vitamins. Niacin or vitamin B3 has been shown to dramatically accelerate recovery from alcohol withdrawal related depression. Taking Niacin can also naturally lower cholesterol without the same dangers and potential side effects as taking prescription drugs. Studies have proven that there is a brain-gut connection; and the healthier your gut is, the easier you will be able to deal with stress and more likely you are able to withstand the unexpected with level emotions. In that same vein, certain micronutrients in the right combinations and doses can help treat depression and even severe mental health problems such as dementia and bipolar disorder. Here’s a great example from the film: an older woman diagnosed with dementia was given high doses of vitamin B12 and recovered completely within a few weeks.
Hopefully you are inspired to start popping some vitamins like I was after absorbing this information. Please watch the film online and spread the word. It may seem like a funny thing we’ve all taken for granted, but vitamins can definitely improve the quality of your health.
-XO Raw Girl
Hope you all had a very happy holiday and somehow made it through the weekend without overdosing on refined sugar and booze. Tis’ the season for sweets, apple cider, cocoa, and reflection on whether or not you actually achieved those health goals you set last January. We all know “those people” who get gym memberships at the beginning of the year, start cleanses, and become yoga natzi’s only to fall completely off the wagon come spring. We know them because if we took a good look in the mirror we’d realize that at some point we have fallen way short of the mark when it comes to our health. Here’s four quick ideas for ways to ensure you wrap 2017 a healthy living rockstar:
- Stop Settling. You need a goal that will get you up in the early AM or make you want to put in a workout after a long day at work. Instead of making goals about weight loss or body fat percentage try imagining the kick-ass new and improved version of you at the end of the year. What is he or she doing? Is she entering a body building competition? Running a marathon? An expert fitness pole dancer? Stunting on folks with your catwalk in the office thanks to reformer Pilates? If you can dream it, you can achieve it.
- Track Your Progress. There are so many apps nowadays that can help you keep a food diary, log workouts, or even track your daily steps. No excuses my friend. In order to keep the beginning of the year pep going a great way is to have a tried and true tracking system that works for you. When you start tracking, it helps to have an accountability partner or bff who calls you out on your cheat day.
- Celebrate Your Wins. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our goals that we forget to take a moment a do a happy dance when we’ve hit the mark! As you create a plan for your health in the upcoming year, make sure you give some sort of treat or reward on the road to achieving the goal.
- Invest in a Trainer or Coach. We’ve all done a double take at some point in the gym at the random guy in the corner doing strange exercises with even stranger form. Just like you need a check up with your doctor or dentist every now and then, if you are looking to achieve health or fitness goals it cannot hurt to check-in with a health coach, nutritionist, or trainer. There is power in the meeting of minds and agreement. Not only will having a Sensei egg you on when you want to give up on that last rep, it may propel you much further than you can go on your own, and save you some time in the gym with more effective workouts. If you’ve hit a plateau or are in a food rut diet-wise, a nutritionist or health coach may get you excited about new recipes to spice things up. Make sure you get referrals for health professionals you work with so you can ensure your investment will reap dividends.
-XO Raw Girl
Last week, I braved the elements and ventured over to a traditional Chinese medical clinic for a session of acupuncture. My first experience with acupuncture was years ago, when I was living in Brooklyn and training for a marathon and got seriously injured. After one session with a therapist my ankle and knee healed very rapidly. If you are like I was at first, the idea of getting poked with needles in order to promote your health may seem a bit cray-cray. However, my most recent session really opened my eyes to that fact that there is nothing crazy about it at all. In fact acupuncture not only balances the organs and the overall energy or “chi” of the body, in is effective in treating numerous conditions including: chronic pain, digestive issues, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, infertility, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, asthma, sport injuries, weight loss, acne, migraines and more. If you want to see some incredible testimonials just get on YouTube and search for acupuncture. More research is being conducted, but acupuncture can also have a very positive effect on relieving stress, anxiety, and even depression.
So how does this work? There are a lot of different scientific theories floating around about why acupuncture produces results, but the basic idea is that the insertion of thin needles releases any blockages or disruptions in chi (or qi), which then travels through channels in the body called meridians. Think about your body like a vehicle. When any part of the vehicle is not functioning optimally it affects the flow and eventually whether or not the car will run properly. When our organs are either overworked or weak, because of the wrong fuel (diet), or other factors, eventually we get clogged up in some areas and may show outward signs of imbalance. Acupuncture acts like a retuning of our overall energy flow so that balance can be restored.
If you are still a skeptic, don’t knock it until you try it.
~Xo Raw Girl