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For the next couple of months I’m completely immersed in the study of micronutrients, also known as the yummy minerals and vitamins your body needs to function optimally. So I’ll be posting some articles to shed a little more light on micronutrients, and perhaps get you thinking about supplementing with food or at the very least ensuring you are getting in your daily multivitamin. Macronutrients are the essential dietary staples the average person worries about ie: fats, carbs, and protein. However micronutrients are so incredibly essential that deficiency in certain ones can literally stop hundreds of necessary chemical reactions in the body! The danger of talking about micronutrients in isolation is that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Your body needs a wide-range of nutritional goodies to keep you functioning at your best, so please do not take the focus of these articles as a sign to start supplementing in excess one particular nutrient. It’s important to get regular blood testing with a doctor to ensure you are not deficient in key minerals or vitamins your body needs.
Are you aware that iron deficiency is not only the most common deficiency in the United States, it’s actually the most common deficiency worldwide? Which means most of the people you know including the man in the mirror, may be iron deficient. Iron serves as a catalyst for many redox reactions in the body, is important for energy metabolism, oxygen delivery, oxygen transport and storage, and even DNA synthesis. It is essential for exercise and athletic endurance/performance because of its role in oxygen delivery. Female athletes or those that are endurance runners or participate in a mix of anaerobic and aerobic activities are more likely to need additional iron because of menstruation. Sorry ladies! Unfortunately because “Aunt Flow” comes to visit us every month we lose more iron than our male counterparts. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron for men 19-50 years of age is 8 mg and for women in the same age range is 18 mg. If you are vegan or vegetarian you also may need 1.8 times more iron than your meat-eating friends.
How do you know if you should supplement? Symptoms of iron deficiency can include: fatigue, increased heart rate, palpitations, impaired exercise and work capacity, pica (you know those people who love to chew on ice?), spoon shaped nails, and more. The thing about iron supplementation as you may well know is that it can cause constipation, nausea, abdominal pain and host of uncomfortable side effects. So for those that are physically active it may be best to ensure you are getting more iron from your diet and not from an over the counter supplement. When you increase iron consumption also keep in mind that vitamin C actually helps to increase iron absorption, while oxalates (found beets, spinach, etc.), calcium, and manganese can inhibit or decrease the absorption of iron. This is what makes pomegranates an iron supplying superfood, they have a rich source of vitamin C and iron the perfect combination to make sure the iron is absorbed by your body. Below are some great food sources of iron. If you are anemic, you should consult your doctor and ensure you supplement but do not overdose on the amount you need to get your levels back up to normal. -XO Raw Girl
Some great VEG food sources of (non-heme) iron include: quinoa, legumes: lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo, pinto, tofu, soybeans, soy milk, tempeh, fortified cereals, cacao, Nuts and seeds: cashews, pumpkin, pistachio, almonds, peanuts, sunflower, sesame, tomatoes, swiss chard, collard greens, kale, spinach, black strap molasses, dried figs, raisins, pomegranates, whole grains, cacao.
Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
Alauntye, I., Stojceska, V. & Plunkett, A. (2015). Iron and the female athlete: a review of dietary treatment methods for improving iron status and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 38. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31829a6f6b.
WebMD: Foods High in Oxalates
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
MSM, also know by science geeks the world over as methylsulfonylmethane, is an organic sulfur compound made during the earth’s rain cycle. This miracle supplement when taken in the powder form really should be called “Botox in a bottle,” as it does wonders for anti-aging by boosting collagen production especially when paired with vitamin C. MSM is great for acceleration of healing of skin, joints, or connective tissues. Taking it as a supplement can be useful to those suffering from arthritis, leaky gut (helps heal lining of colon) and those looking to speed recovery from injury. Here’s an additional perk that comes with adding MSM to your life: it lays a coat over intestinal areas making it virtually impossible for parasites to attach themselves. When the parasites are unable to make their home in your body, they are flushed out of your system through the process of elimination.
Time and time again I have come back to MSM whenever dealing with an injury I want to heal. Most recently when my face was burned, I made sure to include MSM twice a day into my healing protocol along with my Heal & Glow Face Mask to accelerate the process. If you find your hair is breaking or nails are brittle, this is great supplement that will solve those issues and have you whipping your hair back and forth.
How to take it:
For best results using the MSM powder, added it to your water along with a source of vitamin C like lemon juice. Start with one teaspoon of MSM powder in 16 ounces of water, and gradually work your way up to 2 to 3 tablespoons per day to see some really impressive results.
-XO Raw Girl
Here we are at the end of 2016. I’m aware it’s been too long since I’ve shared here on the blog. Much love and appreciation to all of you who have subscribed and purchased books this year. I’m back just in time for the holidays and I have a whopper of a story to share as you can probably tell from the photo!
About a week ago on Monday, December 28th, I came home to my apartment in LA absolutely exhausted. I was that kind of tired that it is borderline drunk. I don’t even remember when exactly I fell asleep. At 5 AM the next morning, I shot out of bed and my face felt like it was throbbing! I ran into my bathroom and when I looked in the mirror I couldn’t help but let out a shriek. Staring into my reflection I saw that an area on my cheek was inflamed, swollen and BURNED. After staring, shrieking, pacing, and then catching my breath I realized that somewhere in between my bathroom and my bed the night before I fell asleep with a product from Keihl’s called “Deep Pore Cleanser” on my face.
Then the rage bubbled up slowly. How could it be that a product that is supposed to cleanse my skin could burn my face?!! I called a dear friend who is an eco-esthetician and she schooled me like I school people on the dangers fast food. “Those products are totally toxic, you have to stop using them immediately.” She then mentioned that ever since Keihls was bought out by L’Oreal that there was no real guarantee that the products had truly natural ingredients. I couldn’t help but think: I’m supposed to know this! Even though I’d made a huge effort to buy only vegan makeup brands, and change my beauty products, as I stood there with the burn on my face I was aware that I needed to do much better. That I would do better. Once I healed the burn on my face.
Fast forward to Thursday. I woke up, and yes the burn was still there and it was creepier looking than ever, check the picture above. I had a red carpet event on Saturday, and I was supposed to be leaving to travel to New York the next day to make it in time. I was contemplating canceling my trip because I was 1) worried about being Scar Face on the red carpet, and 2) I didn’t feel like putting makeup over the scar in case it would aggravate it. In a fit of frustration, I had a little deja vu moment as I threw out of the Keihl’s products in my possession. This feeling was all too familiar. I remembered how horrible my skin was when my acne was at the height of cray cray. After tossing out all of my beauty products I realized I would need something to replace them with! So I called an awesome store in West Hollywood called Green Line Beauty that sells only organic, natural, and vegan beauty products. The owner wasn’t in but the lovely woman I got on the phone with calmed me down. “The body is a miracle,” she said. “It really does have the power to heal itself. You will heal.” She went on to say please don’t stress because freaking out will only impair my bodies’ natural immunity.
I got off the phone with my eco-beauty guardian angel for the day and took a deep breath. She’s right, I thought. Years ago I healed my skin of crazy acne and scarring all over my face. This little ScarFace burn hasn’t got anything on my healing mojo. It was a done deal at that point, I made up my mind that it would heal miraculously and that whatever I needed to use to facilitate the process would show up. And then of course what happen next was a bloody miracle. I went to my local natural grocery store and was led to the herb section by my favorite store clerk who suggested I make a natural mask. Twenty minutes later I left with herbs in tow excited to attempt to create a healing concoction in my kitchen.
What resulted is a mason jar full of goodies I’m calling Raw Girl’s Heal & Glow Face Mask. Not only did my inflammation go down to a scab in a day, in two days it literally peeled off and is now completely gone! Guys, I’m really exited about my mask not only for generally skin healing but for dark spots from acne scarring, general natural glow and more. So I’ve decided to experiment with my blend this month on a few friends and family member guinea pigs who are dealing with skin issues or just want a beauty boost.
I am now taking orders for only up to 50 jars of the mask to start. I won’t sell more than the first 50 because I want to ensure everyone has an awesome experience with it. All orders filled over the holidays will be shipped out priority on January 8th, 2017, and if you send in a review you will receive 25% off a reorder. I’m selling the mask for $35 bucks and it’s MASON JAR SIZE! I want to make sure that you will get as much value as possible. Will upload photos soon. For now, I have not included any stabilizers so it’s natural enough that you could technically eat it and be okay. CLICK HERE to read more about it and order or click the graphic below. For now only taking fifty orders within the U.S. Would so love your support! Will be exciting to hear that many others are healed miraculously just like I was, or at the very least are basking in their new found glow.
Wishing you and yours a peaceful and burn-free holiday season.
-XO Raw Girl
Hey Veggie Lovers,
For any of your based in South Africa, I’m excited to announce that Wellness Warehouse is hosting me this month on Saturday, May 28th, 2016 from 1200h-1500h for a book signing in their Wellness Cafe. I will be selling signed copies of my latest book Got Veg? How to Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet, and also have my ebook The Acne-Free Diet available for purchase. If you are based in Cape Town or know others who are please spread the word. All are invited to purchase your book, mingle, and grab something from the cafe! For more about Got Veg? visit this link: http://rawgirltoxicworld.com/gotveg/ . -XO Raw Girl
When I returned to South Africa this year, I have to admit I fell into a panic about food. Since last year I have been traveling non-stop, without my usual arsenal of veggie-friendly appliances: blender, food processor, chef knives, and last but never least, my glorious dehydrator. At the grocery stores here in Cape Town like Spar, Woolwooths etc. I started to realize after asking questions that it was more than likely that none of the produce was organic. While grocery shopping, I would ask about it and get a puzzled look or shrug in response. For the first week I had no desire to eat at all until I was saved by grace at a cute veg-friendly restaurant called Sexy Food. One of the lovely waitresses told me about Oranjezicht City Farm. After googling I was overjoyed to find out the farm held a weekly farmers market rain or shine just a block away from my pad. So every weekend since March I’ve been skipping with glee over to the market to grab some fresh produce and delicious veg food. There’s something really special that we lose when we confine ourselves to shopping at a grocery store. We miss out on the connection with people who sweat and toil to yield the harvest, and the direct connect with nature. We miss out on the reality that there are seasons, and sometimes we must eat only what will grow. If you are in Cape Town check out the farmers market on Saturdays (you may spot me there). Wherever you live, do a little research to see if you can buy your veggies locally, or try starting your own garden. If you make the effort I’m sure you will reap a harvest of not only good health, but joy in supporting the cycle of life as mother nature intended it. -XO Raw Girl