8 Reasons Dieting Doesn't Work

The common definition of dieting is “to restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.” But the unfortunate news is that while dieting can result in short-term weight loss, most of the time it doesn’t result in any long-term health benefits.  In fact, dieting usually causes people to store more fat on their bodies when their diet’s over than what they started out with!  If you’re not convinced that dieting isn’t the best option for losing weight, read my point-by-point argument:

1) Dieting is DE-motivating and Negative: After all, nobody reads or hears the word “diet” or “dieting” and has happy thoughts. By it’s very definition dieting is about restriction; the emphasis is on the “cant’s” and “do-nots.”  Starting with such a negative focus creates a de-motivating association with living healthy. Abundant health depends on having a positive and sustainable outlook towards food.  We already have enough stressors and downers in our lives — the last thing we need is to add dieting to the list. Besides, stress can cause an increase in cortisol, which causes the body to store extra fat. In other words, worrying about weight-loss can actually cause weight-gain!

2) The Brain is Highly Efficient at Regulating Weight: Did you know that the brain is hardwired to protect your body from starving by closely regulating your weight?  The brain is getting constant feedback from and sending messages to the rest of the body through hormones like leptin and ghrelin. These hormones powerfully influence feelings of hunger and satiety.  They also interact with your body’s overall metabolism; if your brain gets the idea that your body isn’t getting the normal nutrition it’s used to, then it will actually signal your body to go into starvation/preservation mode.  When your body goes into starvation body, your metabolism slows down (which means it burns fewer calories) and will automatically store extra calories as fat the next time you eat a decent meal.  

The lesson: The body is very good at maintaining stasis. Even if someone has a lot of extra body fat, dieting will cause the body to try and preserve that fat and even add more to it once the diet is over.  This is the reason why so many people have stories of losing x amount of pounds and then later gaining it all back again.  

3) Dieting Promotes Unhealthy Cycles of Ups and Downs: Dieting results in unhealthy cycles that have physical and mental consequences.  One feels elated when losing weight but then extremely depressed when the pounds are put back on again.  The feelings of depression can cause stress, hormone imbalance, and increased weight gain. When fat is regained, people are often motivated to take extreme dieting measures, which lead to the same vicious cycle. Eventually  people come to a breaking point by either giving into obesity or making a real lifestyle change.  Sadly, it’s often not realized that a lifestyle change is the key until a life threatening consequence arises, such as diabetes, stroke, or high blood pressure.

4) Dieting Involves Sacrificing Important Nutrients for Health: Many diets call for extreme amounts of various macronutrients, such as high-protein or very low carbohydrates.  The problem is that if someone doesn’t feel energized or mentally focused (which can occur on low-carbohydrate diets), he or she probably isn’t gong to be able to continue dieting for very long. Another common diet is the low-fat diet, but many people don’t realize that fats are essential for proper hormone function and cellular regeneration.  Fats are needed for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and form the building block of cellular membranes.  In the long run, it doesn’t make sense to give up foods that the body needs for optimum health. 

5) Dieting is Expensive: One of the reasons dieting is so popular is because there’s a lot of money to be made in the weight-loss industry. Because there’s so much money in it, large corporations hold nothing back when it comes to using aggressive marketing campaigns to convince people of the importance and effectiveness of their name brand diets. Then there are celebrity diets — eager to make a profit from their latest dieting books, big claims are made, and people rush to learn the latest “weight-loss secrets.” The pre-made “diet” foods and reading materials that are part of most of these programs aren’t cheap either!  Industry experts know that most people are willing to pay a large price to lose those extra pounds “quickly and effectively.”

6) Dieting is Dangerous: Depending on how extreme the diet, some weight-loss programs put the body at risk for hormonal, electrolyte, energy, fluid, and micronutrient imbalances. These imbalances can cause weakness, increased blood pressure, insomnia, digestive damage, and cellular aging.  It’s far healthier to have excess body fat than put the body’s overall health at risk using dieting drugs, extreme “cleanses,” starvation methods, or unprescribed hormones.

7) Dieting Reinforces a Negative Self-Image: Dieting with an emphasis on weight-loss is often motivated by a desire to be thin, not for health reasons, but in hopes of improving one’s image. When dieting is used to obtain some elusive “model image” it can quickly become a depressing and vain pursuit that reinforces one’s own negative self-perception.  When “skinniness” is used as the gauge to determine good health, it becomes difficult to determine when one is “skinny” enough.  After all, there is always someone in the media, some model or actor, that is skinnier.  Moreover, our self-perceptions aren’t always accurate, especially when they’re influenced by a previously existing, negative self-worth.  Things get even more challenging when we’re not able to meet our dieting goals.  Overall, dieting, especially with an emphasis on weight-loss, generally does very little to improve self-image, and even less to improve one’s health.

8) The Healthiest People in the World DO NOT Diet: Since the research shows the dieting doesn’t provide weight-loss results and doesn’t improve health, where should we get our cues for healthy eating? Logically, a good place to start is with the eating habits of the healthiest people in the world.  The evidence suggests that the healthiest people tend to be from pre-industrial cultures or are people who eat mostly whole-foods. The healthiest people don’t diet at all; they don’t restrict themselves from eating in order to lose weight.  Instead they eat intuitively by listening to their bodies, and they live a lifestyle of healthy eating.  The things they make available for themselves to eat, day in and day, are nutritious and satisfying.  

It makes sense the people who eat a balanced diet of whole foods are healthy and tend to have minimal excess body-fat. After all, since the brain is hardwired to preserve and protect the body, the only way to maintain  a healthy percentage of body-fat is by consistently giving the body what it needs. When the body get’s the nutrients it needs in the right balance — healthy fats, protein, good carbs, vitamins, minerals — then the brain will signal the body and let it know that it’s had enough to eat.  Also, when the brain knows that the body will consistently get what  it needs, then it won’t go into starvation mode.  Instead, the brain will allow the body to access its fat stores for extra energy as needed

The Take Away: If you feel like you need to lose some extra body-fat ask yourself a few questions: What is your motivation?  Are you willing to make a lifestyle change?  If you’re not willing or you don’t feel educated enough to make a lifestyle change, read and study until your convinced  that eating whole foods (vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, nuts, whole dairy) is the most delicious and healthy way to live.  It may take time to make a total  change, but it’s essential to make a commitment towards eating the best way possible for the rest of your life.

Ideally, losing excess fat is achieved by leading an active lifestyle (including incorporating exercise) and eating whole foods.  A sustainable rate of weight-loos is about 1-2 pounds per week.  But, in all reality, weight can be a poor indicator of health. Instead, focus on healthy living and the rest will take care of itself.

References: “Why Your Brain Doesn’t Want to Lose Weight,” By Sandra Aamodt on Ted.com; The Schwarzbien Principle, By Dr. Schwarzbien.

Originally posted 2013-09-12 16:46:36.

Increase Confidence and Testosterone with Posture

In her research, Harvard professor and sociologist, Amy Cuddy, discovered that posture has a direct impact on confidence levels and key hormones like testosterone and cortisol.  Even if we don’t have confidence in ourselves mentally, how we hold ourselves physically can cause a boost in confidence.  By simply making a practice of holding certain “power” or confident postures, it’s possible to permanently improves one’s confidence and success.

In one study, Cuddy divided participants into two groups.  She had members of one group hold “power postures,” arms open, hands on hips, and expansive body language, for several minutes, while members of the other group held “weak postures,” arms and legs crossed, heads down, etc. After only a few minutes the group that held power postures experienced a 20% increase in testosterone and a 25% decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone).  By contrast, the group that held weak postures experienced a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol levels.  Cuddy’s studies also found that people who held power poses before a job interview increased their likelihood of being hired.

Improve your health and life by practicing expansive, open, and confident posture.  The benefits of good posture far surpass just maintaining a healthy spine.  Learn more by watching Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk:

Originally posted 2013-09-11 13:06:31.

Don't Let Genetics Determine Your Future

There is a growing belief among scientists and in popular health circles that our genes determine our future.  More than ever, people are interested in knowing the makeup of their genetic code.  We’re genetically testing our babies before they’re born or submitting DNA samples to one of the many new genetic testing companies to determine our genetic fate. Genetic testing is quickly become the new horoscope reading for the wealthy or “scientifically minded.”  

The actual science, however, reveals another story.  Our genes are not an unchangeable blueprint for the construction of our bodies — they’re more like a garden bed with a variety of different seeds.  What grows depends on the quality of the soil, what nutrients are added, and if the garden receives regular sunlight and water.  The garden can grow anything from weeds to healthy vegetables.  Our genetic code contains coding for multiple expressions of any given biological trait.  We can actually become stronger, smarter, and healthier by influencing our genetic expression. How do we do this? We do so by living the way we were created to live: eating real foods, exercising, and loving those around us.  Watch the short talk below by Dean Ornish to see the compelling evidence:

Originally posted 2013-09-05 11:07:11.

Optimum Carbohydrate Loading For Ultra-Endurance Athletes

While I’m generally a proponent of eating a low carbohydrate (for weight-loss) or moderate carbohydrate diet (for sustainable health), a number of studies indicate that ultra endurance athletes, athletes who compete in events longer than 90 minutes in duration, perform better when they have an adequate supply of glycogen.  Glycogen is the body’s stored form of glucose, and is one of the primary sources of energy for endurance activities where the average percentage of vo2 max is greater than 65%. Glycogen stores, which are found in the muscles and connected to the liver, are best replenished by consuming an ample amount of carbohydrates.

While studies have found that ultra-endurance athletes on a low-carbohydrate diet can adapt to better utilizing fat for energy, it turns out that these athletes are not able to perform as well as a athletes with adequate stores of glycogen.  Numerous studies indicate that endurance athletes on high-fat diets experience greater levels of perceived exhaustion and usually aren’t able to perform as well as athletes on high carbohydrate diets.

While in rats and some people, it’s been found that extremely high fat diets (greater than 75%of the diet), do promote high levels of endurance in combination with training, the greater body of evidence supports high-carbohydrate intake for increased ultra-endurance performance.  Should growing evidence change this indication, we’ll let you know! Otherwise, follow the carbohydrate-loading recommendations below to optimize your ultra-endurance performance.  

Amount of Carbohydrates for Optimal Training and Competition
The optimal amount of carbohydrate consumption for ultra-endurance exercise it thought to be between 2.5 and 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight.  Of course, this is a big range.  This means if you weigh 150 lbs and regularly run more than 90 minutes per day, you’ll need 375 – 675 grams of carbohydrates per day.  You can start to narrow down this range by topping out your carbohydrate intake at 600 grams per day.  At least one study indicates that carbohydrate levels above 600 grams may not provide additional benefit.  Further narrow down this range by calculating your basic macronutrient and energy needs to determine how many additional calories you need from carbohydrates.  For example if your basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn just living) is 2500 calories and you burn an additional 3,500 calories running a 50k, then you should eat the full 600 grams of carbohydrates, which equals 2,400 calories.  However, if you only burn 1,475 calories running a half marathon, then you’ll only need to consume the minimum of 375 grams of carbohydrates (375 X 4 cal = 1,500 calories).

Ratio of Macronutrients
The best ratio of macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates) for ultra-endurance athletes is a topic of debate, but I think the current evidence suggests that a balanced ratio, high in proteins, is optimal for muscle regeneration and energy production.  

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Start with the amount of protein your body will need to repair itself from the tremendous catabolic effects of endurance exercise — approximately 1 to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you’ll need a minimum of 150 grams of protein per day (600 calories from protein).
  • Aim to meet approximately 40% of your body’s basal metabolic need for calories by an intake of healthy fats (butter, avocados, coconut oil, meat, eggs).  For example if your basal metabolic rate is 2,000 calories, aim to get 800 calories from fat (89 grams of fat).  Fat is vital for a healthy nervous system and for repairing cells.
  • From there, fill the rest of your caloric need in with carbohydrates based on your amount of training/competition.  For example, once you’ve obtained 1,400 of your calories from protein and fat, you’ll still need 600 calories from carbohydrates (150 grams of carbohydrates) just to meet your minimum calorie need, assuming it’s 2,000 calories.  So, if you burn an additional 3,000 calories per week running, then you’ll need to include an additional 750 grams of carbohydrate in your diet, which can be spread out evenly throughout the week.  To optimize glycogen storage, you can also concentrate the consumption of these 750 grams of carbohydrates in a few days, which will help you achieve the recommended 2.5-4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight.

Macronutrient Overview

  • Protein – 1-1.4 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight
  • Fat – 30-40% of total basal metabolic calorie need (daily calorie need without exercise)
  • Carbohydrates – 2.5-4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight, depending on energy expended in ultra-endurance training.
  • A side-note: For the most part, high quality fats and carbohydrates are interchangeable for energy needs, feel free to vary the ratios of carbs and fat based on your individual calorie needs and how you are feeling during exercise.  Keep in mind that eating the most balanced ratio of protein:fat:carbs possible will promote improved digestion, nutrient absorption, and stable blood-sugar levels.

Quality of Carbohydrates
While carbohydrates are frowned-upon in paleo and low-carb fitness circles, the evidence indicates that its not the amount of carbohydrates that negatively impacts health, as mush as the quality of carbohydrates.  Get as many of your carbohydrates as possible from whole-food, nutrient-rich sources, such as greens, sweet-potatoes, beets, carrots, quinoa, and raw, unfiltered honey.

Avoid processed sugar, such as that found in candy, sugar, ice cream, and other refined foods.  These types of sugars negatively affect the body’s health in numerous ways. Read our previous article on Why Sugar is Toxic for more information.

Carbohydrate Loading
The original method of “carbohydrate-loading” involved a seven day process of limiting carbohydrates for 3-4 days during intense training, followed by 3 days of rest and carbohydrate gorging. While effective at increasing glycogen stores, this method proved taxing and disrupted athletes’ ability to engage in optimum training levels before an event. 

The most recommended form of carbohydrate loading is merely an extension of normal carbohydrate fueling.  Instead of drastic depletion and repletion, ultra-endurance athletes should increase the amount of their carbohydrate intake towards the upper level of 600 grams per day,  starting 3-7 days before a competitive event, while simultaneous tapering down their amount of training.  

Best Times for Carbohydrate Consumption
For optimal energy supply and glycogen repletion, healthy carbohydrates should be consumed immediately before and immediately after training or competition.  

  • From 2 hours to 30 minutes before an event, endurance athletes may experiment with consuming .5 to 1 gram of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight.  The more carbohydrates one plans to eat, the earlier the carbohydrates should be consumed.
  • Endurance athletes should also aim to consume about .5 grams of healthy carbohydrates within 30 minutes after an event. 

Amount of Carbohydrates During the Event
Endurance athletes can digest and utilize approximately 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute of activity. Thus, during ultra-endurance events, athletes should be consuming about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.  Just remember, everyone is little different in terms of what they are able to digest, so the actual amount will take a little bit of personal experimentation.  You may be able to utilize anywhere between 45 and 75 grams of carbohydrates per hour.  

A Note on Weight-Loss Versus Athletic Performance
Keep in mind that these recommendation are for ultra-endurance activities of 90 minutes in duration or longer.  Also, such high-levels of carbohydrate intake are primarily for improving athletic performance, not for weight-loss.  If weight-loss is your goal, it may be better to stick with a low-carbohydate/high-protein diet and mix your endurance training with high-intensity exercises, such as sprinting and weight-lifting.  

Sources: “High Carbohydrate Versus High Fat Diets in Endurance Sports,” by Asker E. Jeukendrup; “Endurance and Ultra-Endurance Athletes,” Jones and Bartlett Publishers

Originally posted 2013-09-03 17:35:05.

Product Recommendation: Lems Boulder Boot

If you’re looking for a minimalist boot with a barefoot-like feel for backpacking or hiking, look no further.  At CREUS, we only recommend products that we truly believe in.  One of our goals is to help you find products that are of the highest quality and good for your health–Lems Boulder Boot meets both of these qualifications.

I tested Lems Boulder Boot a couple weeks ago on a 25 mile backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail (JMT).  My wife, a couple of friends, and I did an “out and back” from Tuolumne Meadows to Donahue Pass.  After wearing my Vibram Five Fingers on the Lost Coast Trail, I decided that for the JMT I needed a shoe that would provide a little more ankle support and warmth, as well as keep the dirt off my feet.  After shopping around, I decided to go with Lems Boulder Boot, and it didn’t disappoint.  Here are a few things I liked about the boot:

Zero-Drop
There are very few minimalist boots on the market right now.  Among the boots that are available, the biggest issues are the design and quality of the sole.  Most of the boots I looked at are either “minimalist-inspired” and still have a slightly built up heel, or the soles are of questionable durability.

The Lems Boulder Boots has a perfectly flat sole, which allows the foot to follow a natural gait pattern and the arch to function as it should.  I’m of the opinion that hiking in a zero-drop boot also helped prevent my feet from sliding forward (which can scrunch the toes and cause blisters).

HIking-john-muir-trail-minimalist-bootsExcellent Ground Feel
Lems has managed to achieve what feels like an optimal sole thickness for backpacking.  The soles were thick enough that I didn’t have to worry about every detailed foot placement, Iike I’ve had to do when backpacking in Vibrams Five Fingers, but thin enough that I could feel the ground.  

For me, having good ground feel is a very important part of backpacking, for two reasons: For one, I enjoy feeling the ground beneath my feet, experiencing the wide variety of terrain I’m walking on.  With ground feel, my feet become another avenue for experiencing and remembering the amazing terrain.  Secondly, adequate ground feel, with zero drop, provides improved traction and a lower center of gravity.  Combined, these two factors improve balance and can help prevent twisted ankles (which often occur because of the increased torquing leverage caused by thick soles).

Lightweight
At 9.9oz, Lems Boulder Boots are one of the lightest boots on the market. If you’re a backpacker, you know that the lighter the gear the better!  These boots feel lighter than many trail running shoes I’ve worn, making each step airy and enjoyable along the trail!

Durable Construction
Amazingly, the lightweight construction doesn’t seem to interfere with the boots’ durability.  More miles are needed to discover the actual endurance of the boot, but after the 25 mile hike over rough terrain, the boots look little worse for wear.  Keep in mind, I was hiking a 50lb pack, and I weight 205lbs, so the boots were definitely taking some pressure against the hard granite.  From what I can tell, the soles incurred little wear, the stitches are tight, and there are no signs of anything coming unglued.  

Comfortable
Probably the most important aspect of any boot or shoe is the level of comfort provided.  Thanks to their soft-lining and spacious toe box, Lems Boulder Boots are very comfortable.  My toes had plenty of room to wiggle around in and my fore-foot had plenty of space to spread out (both important when it comes to backpacking).  I should also mention that I was the only one in the group not to get any blisters, and this was the first time I wore the boots other than around the house!

Another advantage of Lems Boulder Boots is that they provide the comfort of ankle support.  It was great to know that I had the benefits of a minimalist shoe with the extra protection of an over-the-ankle boot.  Thanks to the good ground feel, I don’t think I ever slipped, but if I had, I’m happy to know that the boots would have provided some protection against spraining one of my ankles.  

Photo-9_3_13,-11.42.51-AM-1

Other Considerations
If you’re looking for a completely water-proof or technical mountaineering boot, then Lems Boulder Boot probably isn’t the right fit for you, but they’re a an awesome step in the right direction as far as minimalist boots go.  Lems Boulder Boots are water repellent, but they don’t have a one-piece tongue, and you aren’t going to want to go marching straight through streams with them (but you shouldn’t have any problem walking across boulders in the stream).  

Also, if you aren’t an experienced bare-footer or wearer of minimalist shoes, backpacking or hiking in Lems Boulder Boots isn’t a good idea until you’ve had some practice.  If your feet are used to wearing shoes with built up heels and arch support, it will take some time before they are strong enough to hike or carry weight while wearing minimalist shoes.  For more on the benefits of minimalist shoes and/or barefoot running, read our previous blog on barefoot running

To check out Lems Boulder Boots, visit Lems Shoes!
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Originally posted 2013-09-03 13:15:27.

Safe and Sustainable Seafood

With the oceans becoming increasing polluted and overfished, it’s important to be aware of which types of seafood are safe to eat and are caught with concern for God’s creation.  Some fish, like shark and swordfish, for example, are at the top of the food-chain and accumulate extremely large amounts of heavy metals in their meat.  Heavy metals, like mercury, are harmful to human health, especially in high concentrations.  

Other fish aren’t as toxic up front but they’re raised or caught in ways that are toxic or damaging to the environment.  While damaging creation might not affect human health immediately, it always does in the long run.  To ensure that you and your family are eating fish that are healthy today and good for the future, refer to the lists below:

Healthy and Consciously Caught Seafood to Enjoy Often (low levels of mercury): Up to eight 6oz servings per month
Abalone
Arctic Char (farmed)
Catfish (US)
Clams, Mussels, Oysters (except for Gulf Coast Oysters)
Crab: Dungeness & Stone
Crab: Blue
Crab: King (US)
Flounders, Soles (US Pacific)
Pollock: Alaska (US)
Salmon (AK)
Salmon (CA, OR & WA wild)
Sardines: Pacific (Canada & US)
Scallops (farmed)
Scallops (wild)
Shrimp (Canada & US wild)
Shrimp: Pink (OR)
Squid (US)
Tilapia (Ecuador & US)
Tilapia (China & Taiwan)
Trout: Rainbow (US farmed)

Consciously Caught Seafood to Enjoy Sometimes (some mercury):  Up to six 6oz servings per month

Bass: Striped (US hook & line, farmed)
Cod: Pacific (US)
Cod: Atlantic (imported)
Cod: Pacific (US trawl)
Halibut: Pacific (US)
Lobster: American
Lobster: Spiny (CA, FL & Mexico)
Mahi Mahi (US)
Monkfish (US)
Sablefish/Black Cod (AK & Canada)
Tuna: Skipjack/Light canned (imported
troll, pole and US longline)
Tuna: Skipjack/Light canned
(US troll, pole)

Consciously Caught Seafood to Enjoy On Occasion (moderate/high levels of mercury): No more than three 6oz servings per month

Grouper: Red (US Gulf of Mexico)
Tuna: Albacore/White canned
(Canada & US troll, pole)
Tuna: Yellowfin (US troll, pole)
Tuna: Yellowfin (imported troll, pole)
Tuna: Albacore/White canned
(US longline)

Seafood to Avoid (very high levels of mercury or caught in a way that damages creation):

Abalone (China & Japan)
Caviar, Sturgeon (imported wild)
Cod: Pacific (imported)
Crab: Red King (Russia)
Lobster: Spiny (Brazil)
Mackerel
Mahi Mahi (imported)
Marlin
Orange Roughy
Salmon: Atlantic (farmed)
Sharks
Shrimp (imported)
Snapper: Red (US)
Squid (imported)
Swordfish
Tilefish
Tuna: Albacore/White canned
(except Canada & US troll, pole
and US longline)
Tuna: Bluefin
Tuna: Skipjack/Light canned
(except troll, pole and US longline)
Tuna: Yellowfin (except troll, pole
and US longline)
Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)

To obtain a complete and updated list of fish that are caught according to standards of good stewardship, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium link below.  

References: Updated Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Buyer’s Guide, American Pregnancy Association Mercury Guide

Originally posted 2013-08-31 09:00:04.

Got a Meeting? Take A Walk!

Today the average person is sitting more than nine hours a day! This amount of sitting is unprecedented and has enormous health consequences. In addition to causing poor health, too much sitting can squash the imagination and productivity. Get inspired to make use of walking meetings by watching this quick video. Think outside the box by getting outside the box!

Originally posted 2013-08-25 13:01:24.

Eat These Vegetables As Soon As Possible

greens 03Real, living food is perishable.  We’ve learned to sacrifice nutrition for convenience, but this has been a major mistake for our health.  

All vegetables should be consumed as soon as possible, as they all start to lose their nutrients and antioxidants as soon as they’re harvested, but some vegetables are more perishable than others.  The most sensitive vegetables also happen to be among the world’s healthiest vegetables. The reason for the nutrient loss is that harvested plants use their stored nutrients to fight off starvation and oxidation. Unfortunately, the nutrients they use to survive are the same nutrients that provide incredible health benefits for humans.  With this in mind, consider posting the list below on your fridge as a reminder to eat up your recent purchases.

Vegetables to Eat Right Away:

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage (when cut)
  • Mushrooms: Crimini, shitake, white button, etc.
  • Leafy greens: spinach, lettuce, arugula, chard, beet tops
  • Herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Green beans

Additional Tips to Maximize Your Vegetables’ Nutritional Value:

  • Many store-bought vegetables have already been cut off from their life-source for 2-4 days before being purchased (due to transportation and sitting on the shelf). Purchase fresher vegetables by shopping at a locals farmers market, growing your own vegetables, or asking your grocer what vegetables came in on the most recent shipment.
  • Most vegetables loose their nutrients when cooked.  Eat your vegetables as raw as possible or lightly steamed.  Microwaving is OK as long as you don’t overcook them and use a microwaving steaming method.  
  • If you’ve chopped your vegetables up, be sure to store them in a airtight container and consume as quickly as possible. Exposing cut vegetables to air for prolonged periods increased their oxidation. 
  • Chopping leafy greens immediately before consuming, however, does make more nutrients available for absorption.  Cut your lettuce, cabbage, or dark greens into small strips 10 minutes before eating to maximize nutrient release.

References: Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Fruits and Vegetables, Eating on the Wild Side NPR Interview

Originally posted 2013-08-19 09:00:46.

How I Killed a Sea Turtle.

sea turtle plastics north pacific gyre garbage patch plastic bagsLast December, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Hawaii and go snorkeling in Maui!  The water was blue and clear.  The reefs were beautiful and teeming with life. Among the many fish we saw, one of our favorites was the state fish of Hawaii, the Humu-humu-nuku-nuku-apua’a.  But I’d have to say that our favorite creature overall (dolphins included) was the sea turtle!  

These guys were so chill and seemingly indestructible.  They weren’t bothered at all that we were swimming in their surf —  they just looked at us and swam by at their own pace.  I could almost hear them saying, “Wasup bro!” as we passed one another.  Inadvertently, we almost swam right into one that was surfacing for air.  We were so happily splashing about looking for sea turtles through our foggy snorkel masks that we didn’t even notice the one that was right in front of us!  While it’s not a good idea to get as close as we did to that sea turtle, it was amazing to see him up-close, catch a glimpse of his unique skin art, and slap some fin (OK, maybe not).

After that encounter, it felt like we had become friends with a turtle that day, so you can image how sad it was to discover a few months later that WE HAD KILLED SOME OF HIS FRIENDS!  Yes, I am responsible for killing sea turtles. I must give a response because I’ve participated in the thoughtless wastefulness that has resulted in the death or sickness of numerous sea turtles.

You see, I’m guilty of using plastic bags and other plastic products even when I knew that plastic is a material that never goes away.  And now there’s a MASSIVE garbage dump floating in the Pacific Ocean that’s estimated to cover 3,000,000 square miles of ocean!  This garbage dump, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is composed primarily of small plastic particles.  These particles are toxic, and birds (like Albatrosses) and sea turtles are eating the plastic and becoming sick, even dying.  Fish are also consuming plastic from the Garbage Patch, and it’s thought that the ingested plastic in the fish may pose a toxic risk for humans.  This. Is. Simply. Unacceptable.

It’s been said that if we want to see change in this world then it is has to start with us.  

Well, I want to make a change.

According to researchers, 80% of the plastic found in the ocean is from land waste such as plastic shopping bags.  If that’s the case, I’m not going to make excuses for forgetting to bring my own reusable bags to the grocery store anymore.  I will minimize my use of plastics as much as possible.  This goes for me and for CREUS, too.  All of our products are currently in recyclable packaging, but we want to do more to be better stewards of God’s creation.  Keep an eye out, because we’ll be aggressively moving towards biodegradable packaging options wherever possible.  

This wasn’t supposed to turn into an angry tirade or an ode to environmentalism, it’s just that it makes sense to be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.  I know how easy it is to go along with the waste and consumption that’s accepted by our society.  The plastic bags are right there.  They’re so easy and convenient.  The disposable doesn’t require any forethought or any planning.  I know, I’ve been there too, but we can’t really live life by floating downstream with the rest of society.  Join me in living intentionally, thoughtfully, and lovingly towards all of God’s creation — every man, woman, child and….sea turtle.

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Sources: Environment California, Global Analysis of Anthropogenic Debris Ingestion by Sea Turtles

Originally posted 2013-08-08 16:49:49.

The Life-Giving Power of Generosity

Olivia Making a DonationProverbs 11:25-
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

It’s a human tendency to self-protect and hold onto things we might need in the future.  From a survival standpoint, holding on to resources just makes sense.  After all, if one has more…fill in the blank…he’ll be better able to enjoy life or take care of himself down the road. 

Fortunately, the truth of generosity is much more paradoxical and freeing than the simple logic of self-preservation.  

We read in the Bible that “he who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for Christ’s sake will gain it.”  The idea that self-sacrifice, or the giving of one’s self, is essential for life is central to Jesus’ message.  Today, many people have expounded upon this truth with messages about positive thinking, “paying it forward,” etc.  

While generosity certainly isn’t a tool for getting what one wants, it is a way of life that resonates with who we were created to be as humans.

Thankfully, what resonates with our purpose as humans is almost always good for our bodies.  And while we really didn’t need anyone to tell us that giving to others makes us “feel good,” a number of scientific studies have found that the “good feelings” that result from sacrificially giving to others translate into significant health benefits.  

One of those studies looked at 423 elderly couples over 5 years to determine what factors most highly affected their well-being.  The individuals who reported regularly giving tangible help to their family members, friends and neighbors had a 50% lower death rate than those who didn’t!  Research obtained in the making of a documentary about longevity (sponsored by National Geographic) further confirmed the importance of generosity to health, as one of the things the longest living people have in common is a sense of purpose and importance in the lives of others.  

So, while it might seem counter-intuitive that giving sacrificially to others would be good for one’s health, the truth of generosity is backed by the reality of good health. We were created to love, to give, and to be involved in the lives of others.  

References: Philanthropy Across Generations, The Creation-Based Keys to Longevity

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Originally posted 2013-08-02 09:01:01.