Is Komboucha Good for You?

Sometimes healthy foods and drinks can be odd or not very tasty, but most of the time they’re simple and delicious.  Kombucha, a drink many people enjoy and use for its purported health benefits, seems to fall somewhere in between these two spectrums.  In my opinion, kombucha, though acidic and somewhat sour, is still tasty and refreshing. The health benefits are debatable, though lean towards positive.  My suggestion is that if you enjoy kombucha and feel it energizes you, keep drinking it, but don’t expect it to be some type of miracle elixir and don’t overdo it.

If you’re a little lost at this point, let me catch you up: kombucha is a drink that’s fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (referred to as a scoby).  It was first used for its health promoting properties in China (likely beginning several hundred years ago) and remains a folk remedy for colds and other ailments around the world.  Several years ago, my wife and I traveled to Ukraine to volunteer with an organization that helps orphans (the organization is called Operation Lazarus – check it out!).  While there, one of our new Ukrainian friends invited us to visit her grandmother in the countryside.  You can imagine our surprise when this Ukrainian babushka offered us home-brewed kombucha that she had sitting on top of her refrigerator!  At the time, we thought that kombucha was a new American health trend.  When we asked her about it, she said that she and many of her neighbors had been drinking this “mushroom” tea for its health benefits for many years!

Kombucha is usually brewed using black or green tea sweetened with sugar.  The sugar serves as food for the bacteria/yeast colony.  The fermentation process reduces the end amount of sugar and produces a number of different acids in its place; among these are acetic, butyric, and gluconic acids.  The acids give the drink a slightly vinegary taste and are also credited for kombucha’s suspected health properties.  The longer the drink is fermented, the more acid is produced.  Most kombuchas are fermented for less than a month.  

The research regarding kombucha’s health benefits is limited.  I couldn’t find any human studies, only a hand full of studies that have been performed on rats.  The studies that used rats, however, are promising and indicate that kombucha may support liver and kidney health, as well as improve metabolic function.  The drink’s health-promoting properties are likely a result of the various functions of the acids.  Some of the acids kombucha contains are used by the body as energy, to increase stomach acid production, kill harmful bacteria, and decrease gut permeability.   

While there are several recorded incidences of people getting sick from kombucha, these sickness resulted from drinking too much of it, not properly fermenting it, or fermenting it in toxic containers.  I’m of the opinion that drinking kombucha is generally safe, as it has a long history of use and when properly fermented, the acids kill any harmful bacteria that may try to develop during fermentation.  If you’re not so sure about getting a scoby and brewing kombucha yourself but still want to give it a try, there are several companies that manufacturer kombucha in controlled environments.  You can find it for sale at health food stores and grocery stores like Whole Foods.  For the healthiest option, look for kombuchas with the least amount of sugar.

The take away: As with many other folk remedies, there’s likely some accuracy in the health claims surrounding kombucha, but enjoy it in moderation. 

A Systemic Review of Clinical Evidence
Whole Health Source: Butyric Acid
Hypoglycemic and Antilipidemic Properties in Rats
Hepatoprotective Properties of Kombucha

Originally posted 2013-02-10 19:37:00.

Whole Oranges vs. Orange Juice

Have you ever wondered if drinking orange juice is as healthy as eating the whole orange? Perhaps you haven’t, but many people seem to think that drinking a serving of fruit juice is equivalent to eating a serving of whole fruit. This misunderstanding is reinforced by claims the USDA allows fruit juice companies to make on their products, such as “One serving is equal to one serving of fruit.” I’m not quite sure how the USDA arrived at supporting such a statement (probably because of the lobbying pressure from large food companies), but to say what is in some cases little more than liquid sugar is equal to a serving of whole fruit is preposterous. Don’t get me wrong, some juices are better than others, such as the less refined ones that are unfiltered or with pulp, and fruit juice is usually healthier than soda, but even juice with a little bit of fiber left in it doesn’t compare nutritionally to a serving of whole fruit.

Whole oranges and orange juice provide the perfect opportunity to compare the differences between the two. Check out the picture above of the three glasses of processed oranges. The glass on the left contains the juices of three hand squeezed oranges while the two glasses on the right contain the pulp and juice of three whole oranges that I liquified in a blender (minus the peel). Three whole oranges produced almost twice the volume of material as the juice alone. That extra material is the pulp and pith which contain a number of important nutrients that work together to make the whole orange a highly nutritious food.

To start, the high fiber content of a whole orange helps the body properly process the high fructose content of the juice. The fiber actually blocks some of the sugar from being absorbed, which makes the orange more nutritious for the amount of calories it contains. The fiber also makes a whole orange much more filling than the juice (it’s far easier to consume several glasses of high sugar orange juice than several whole oranges). If you eat a whole orange you’ll also be more satisfied and less hungry for calorie-dense, nutritionally-deficient food later on.

In addition to the benefits of the extra fiber in the pulp, a whole orange contains numerous health promoting micro-nutrients that aren’t found in the juice alone. One of the most researched is a flavanoid called hesperidin, which is concentrated in the pulp and inside of the peel. Hesperidin shows promise as an anti-inflammatory, in lowering blood pressure, and in promoting healthy cholesterol. One animal study also found that a diet rich in orange pulp increased bone density!

I’m not saying that we should never drink orange juice again; studies have shown that fresh-squeezed orange juice has significant anti-oxidant properties. It’s just important to know that the juice isn’t as healthy or satisfying as the whole fruit. Juices and other drinks can be a hidden source of surplus calories for those trying to live healthfully. A diet that emphasizes whole fruits over juices contains fewer sugary calories and more health promoting nutrients!

Originally posted 2013-01-12 02:35:00.

Lose fat, improve your health….with whole fat dairy?

There is a misconception, pehaps a result of the low-fat craze or the desire to blame our health problems on one cause, that whole fat dairy causes increased body fat and a number of other health problems.  Many have also stopped drinking milk or eating dairy products because of the health problems that can be caused by lactose.  In this article I will explain why the right kind of dairy is actually healthy and why many people don’t have to worry about eating lactose. 

While it can be difficult to wrap our minds around, especially given the message we’ve heard over and over againt that eating fat is bad, whole fat dairy can actually promote fat loss when coupled with an overall healthy diet.  Here’s how: high quality, whole fat milk contains a specific type of fat called coagulated linoleic acid (CLA) that may contribute to fat loss.  In addition to it’s potential fat-loss benefits, CLA also has anticarcinogenic properties.  Since non-fat milk doesn’t have any fat it doesn’t have any CLA either.  Also, CLA is only found in milk from cows that eat a natural grass diet.  By contrast, most cows raised in industrial dairies eat grains like corn rather than natural grass.  You can ensure your milk is from grass fed cows by looking for a label that says “pastured” or “organic.”  Organic milk has to come from cows that have been, at a minimum, partially pastured.  Also, cows that produce organic milk haven’t been treated with growth hormones.

Moreover, whole milk from pastured cows is rich in nutrients and has the ability to satisfy hunger.  Feeling full is an important part of being able to lose unhealhty weight, and whole milk helps accomplish this more than non-fat, low-fat milk, or other sugary drinks like soda or juice.  Milk from pastured cows is also rich in potassium, high quality protein, vitamin A, calcium and vitamin K2 (which isn’t found in industrially raised cows).  Together, these nutrients work together to support lean muscle mass, strong bones, and healthy teeth. Therefore, when milk replaces other less nutritious calories it can improve your overall health. 

Milk from pastured cows has even greater benefits when found in other forms.  For example, regular consumption of yogurt can have an even more pronounced effect on feeling full.  Yogurt also contains high amounts of iodine, an extremely important nutrient for women’s health.  It also contains healthy bacteria for a strengthened immune system and improved digestion.  Another benefit of yogurt is that those who are lactose intolerant can often eat it without any problems, as the bacteria in yogurt break lactose down into easily digestible sugars.

Cheese is another little recognized health food.  Cheese is especially high in K2, a vitamin that is different from the common form of Vitamin K and is gaining recognition for its importnant role in bone heath and preventing artherosclerosis.  Cheese is also high in calcium and protein.

Perhaps most suprising, butter from pastured cows is healthy too and might actually promote fat loss when eaten as part of a diet low in refined sugar and whigh in whole-foods!  While butter is high in saturated fat, the saturated fat is readily used by the body for energy and does not cause a spike in insulin.  Butter from pastured cows is also extremely high in vitamin K2, which helps the body deposit calcium in the bones and teeth, rather than in soft tissues like the arteries (one of the major causes of atherosclerosis).  Whole butter is also high in Vitamin A, an important nutrient for the skin, eyes, and immune system.  Finally, since it is almost pure fat, butter is extremely high in CLA! For a good source of butter, I recommend Kerry Gold (from Ireland) or a local organic butter.  You’ll be able to tell it’s from cows that eat grass by its distinct orange tint, indicating its high nutrient content. Another potential benefit of butter is that it contains little to no lactose.

Which leads me to the issue of lactose intollerance.  Avoiding lactose is one of those health trends that spread when a few people have good results with it and then assume that everyone else needs to do the same.  For most people of European descent, however, lactose consumption doesn’t pose any problems.  Lactose is the form of sugar that is found in milk.  The body breaks lactose down into glucose by releaseing lactase (a digetive enzyme).  Most humans can eat lactose when they are babies because their bodies still produce lactase.  Good thing, because they depend on their mother’s milk for survival.  Unfortunately, many people’s bodies stop producing lactase when they grow older, leading to digestion problems when dairy is eaten.  The bottom line is that unless you are actually lactose intollerant, you don’t need to stop eating dairy, just be sure to eat dairy from cows that eat grass (the food they are designed to eat).  If you have digestion problems or feel bloated or have other reactions after eating dairy, try going without it for a while to find out if that is the problem.

If you are lactose intollerant and still want to enjoy the health benefits of dairy, you might be able to eat yogurt, butter, or whey protein, as these products are low in lactose (be sure to consult with your doctor first).  Also, not all forms of lactose are the same, different cows produce different kinds of lactose. Old varieties of cows, called the A2 variety, such as Jersey and Guernsey, produce a milk that some people who are lactose intollerant can drink.  Most mass-produced milk, however, is produced by new varieties of cows (the A1 variety), like the Holstein, that can cause symptoms such as excess mucus production and other forms of lactose intollerance.

A note on raw vs pasteurized milk.  Many in the natural health community argue that raw milk is far healthier than pasteurized milk – I’m not convinced.  Based on the studies I’ve looked at ,the most common form of pasteurization used, Short Time High Temperature (STHT), has a minimal effect on milk’s nutrients.  Some milk is pasteurized using an Ultra High Temperature process, and this can have a more significant effect on milk’s nutrients and should be avoided.  In my opinion the benefits of STHT pasteurization outweight any small losses in nutrients.  Unless you get raw milk from cows rasied in your backyard of from someone you trust who lives very nearby, the risk of bacteria contamination is real. The more times raw milk is handled and the futher it has to be transported, the more opportunites there are for bacteria contamination or growth.   Raw milk consumption continues to result in sickness or death every year.  Some foods simply need to undergo a minimal amount of processesing to ensure edibility. 

The most important things to ask when purchasing dairy are: “Is it organic?”, “Are the cows grass fed?”, and, perhaps, “What kind of cows does it come from?”  Organic, whole dairy from grass fed cows is nutritionally superior to any other type of dairy and offers a whole host of health promoting nutrients!  So, put down the non-fat milk from cows fed corn and soy and enjoy the rich goodness of a cold glass of whole milk from happy cows that eat green, nutrient-dense, grass!

Pubmed study on dairy and body composition:
Dr. Weston Price study on K2:
Pubmed study on dairy and appetite:

Originally posted 2012-07-29 22:48:00.

Coffee Nutrition 101

Ahhhh, there’s nothing like a fresh cup of coffee to wake up with or to provide that extra boost of energy during the day.  But do you ever wonder about coffee’s impact on your health?  Coffee has been consumed for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.  The use of coffee increased with the spread of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries.  In Europe, Coffee was first considered a man’s drink, while coffee drinking by women was considered taboo.  Perhaps these early Europeans knew about the negative effects of coffee on women’s fertility?  The health effects of coffee have been debated for centuries, but today we have more information about coffee than ever.

With that, I’ll save the good news for last and start with a few of coffee’s negative health effects:

  • There is some evidence that regular consumption of coffee may cause miscarriages or inhibit a baby’s development in the womb.
  • Moderate to high consumption of coffee (more than 2-3 cups per day) inhibits calcium and iron absorption.  Both nutrients are especially important for women’s health; however, men need to be aware of calcium deficiencies as well.
  • If consumed while stressed, the caffeine in coffee increases the body’s production of adrenaline, and therefore further increases stress levels.
  • Generally, coffee consumption does not increase blood pressure; however, it can increase blood pressure levels in those who already have high blood pressure.
  • If you are trying to gain weight, coffee consumption will make it more difficult .  Coffee speeds up metabolism and can interfere with muscle recuperation.  Efficient muscle recuperation and function depend on proper calcium absorption.
  • Caffeine dependency occurs after only a few days of regular consumption.
  • Finally, unfiltered coffee can raise LDL (usually considered bad) and overall cholesterol levels. Filtered coffee, however, has minimal effects on cholesterol levels.

Despite all the potential negatives, take heart coffee lovers; low or moderate consumption of coffee has several positive health effects.

  • For one, coffee consumption holds promise for preventing type 2 diabetes in men and women.
  • Regular coffee consumption might also aid in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Coffee, like most plant-based foods and beverages, contains anti-oxidants that may help prevent some forms of cancer, such as colorectal cancer.
  • The caffeine in coffee speeds up the body’s metabolism, which can help with weight loss when coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Lastly, I won’t fail to mention coffee’s most beloved and well-known benefits: the caffeine in coffee speeds up mental and physical reaction times and temporarily reduces feelings of sleepiness. How would many of us start the day, finish that term paper, or get through that Monday shift at work without a cup (or two) of coffee?!

Like all drugs, the caffeine in coffee has positive and negative side-effects.  You have to decide if the good effects outweigh the bad.  And of course, taste and enjoyment are important considerations as well!  Overall, the key, as with so many other things in life, is moderation.  If you drink coffee, it seems wise not to drink more than 1-3 cups (6 oz) per day.  Also, try to stick to organic and fair trade certified beans.  Non-organic coffee is one of the most pesticide ridden crops in the world.  The good news, however, is that the percentage of organic crops is growing.  Coffee production can also benefit local economies when growers and workers are guaranteed a fair wage.  So, if you love coffee, keep enjoying it, but sip it slowly.  Go for a short, rather than a venti cup of coffee next time you’re at Starbucks (even better, go for a small rather than a large cup at your local coffee shop), and savor the flavor!

Originally posted 2011-06-21 18:34:00.

Green Tea Recipes

Green tea recipes don’t just come in a cup! You need a fork, spoon and straw to savor all the ways green tea can spice up, and “health-up”, some of your favorite foods. In fact, green tea has been shown in numerous studies to help reduce high cholesterol, boost energy, and lower the risk of heart disease, liver disease and diabetes. Try these green tea recipes to find out how this superfood can add amazing health benefits and flavor to your favorite meals, snacks, sides and drinks.

Green Tea Dressing Recipe: Mix in a quarter cup of prepared green tea with your favorite vinaigrette, and then drizzle the antioxidant-boosted dressing over your favorite mix of greens for a salad topped with richer flavor and a lot of health.

Green tea recipes with chicken:

  • Steamed Green Tea Chicken: Toss chicken pieces in a steamer filled with green tea, already brewed! Steam the chicken as you would normally, for a meal infused with flavor and antioxidants.
  • Green Tea Glaze: Mixing brewed green tea with a little honey (to thicken) and your favorite spices makes a sweet, health-filled marinade for chicken when you barbecue, broil or bake it.

Green tea drink recipes:

  • Green Tea Infused Milk: Mix equal parts brewed green tea with milk for a light and healthy drink. Try this drink hot with extra strongly brewed green tea for what would basically be a green tea latte. 
  • Green Yogurt Smoothie: Add in a cup of brewed green tea (instead of plain water) when you toss your fruit, yogurt and milk in the blender for a smoothie with a tint of green color and a boost of flavor and health.

Green tea recipes with grains:

  • Green and Great Oatmeal: Oatmeal gets even healthier with a dash of green tea! Just steep a green tea bag in a pot of boiling water, then remove the tea bag and add your oats to the tea-infused water and mix together. Add a little honey and you’ve got sweetness, a burst of antioxidants and a good dose of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • French Toast with Tea! Green tea French toast may sound a bit far-fetched, but once you dip your toast (use whole, sprouted grain bread for a healthier recipe) in a bowl of brewed green tea mixed with an egg and a dash of milk, you’ll never go back to your old recipe again. The rich flavor and green goodness will make this breakfast treat welcome at any time of day.

Green tea recipes go great with many breakfast, lunch and dinner staples. So perk up your energy, boost your health and add a bit of green goodness to your diet with these flavorful recipes.

Sources for “Green Tea Recipes”:


Originally posted 2013-12-17 07:49:09.

Gout and Decaf Coffee

What do gout and decaf coffee have to do with each other? Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the build up of uric acid in the blood, and decaf coffee is a delicious, post-dinner drink. The connection is not readily apparent, but studies indicated that consumption of decaf coffee can reduce the incidence of gout.

Gout and decaf coffeeGout and decaf coffee research — more people are familiar with the many health benefits provided by caffeinated coffee, but decaf coffee offers some health benefits as well. Several studies have found a direct correlation between drinking decaf coffee and reduced risk of gout. The likelihood of gout decreases with an increased consumption of decaf coffee. The benefits increase with up to six cups of decaf coffee daily.

One of the largest studies looking at the gout and decaf coffee connection involved nearly 15,000 participants. The study’s researchers primarily looked at how drinking coffee affects serum uric acid levels (since uric acid is the primary cause of gout). The results were astounding. According the report, “…the serum uric acid level significantly decreased with increasing coffee intake, but not with tea intake. Furthermore, there was no association with total caffeine intake from beverages.”

While the mechanisms responsible for reducing uric acid levels aren’t exactly known, it’s clear that something in coffee other than the caffeine can help reduce the likelihood of gout. This is good news for all the late-night coffee drinkers out there or for people who love coffee but can’t have the caffeine! 

References used in “Gout and Decaf Coffee:” “Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and serum uric acid level: The third national health and nutrition examination survey;” Arthritis Care and Research.

Originally posted 2013-11-20 12:37:55.

Coffee Benefits

Coffee Benefits

Coffee benefits the body and the senses! With its invigorating aroma, rich taste and natural burst of caffeine, coffee has earned its place as America’s favorite hot pick-me-up. This versatile brew owes its fame and flavor to a humble tropical fruit that, when sliced open, reveals a seed commonly called the coffee bean. Throughout the years, research has shown that this marvelous bean not only grinds up to produce a delicious drink-and even a great addition to some desserts like tiramisu-but it also has some major health-boosting benefits. Read on to learn how coffee benefits the joints, boost athletic performance and delivers several other surprising health benefits.

Coffee Benefits the Joints: Gout, a painful arthritic condition that afflicts the joints, results from an accumulation of uric acid (a substance that breaks down chemicals in certain foods) in the body which leads to crystal deposits in the joints. Coffee consumption has been shown to benefit the joints by decreasing uric acid levels, thereby lowering the risk of gout.

Coffee Benefits the Skin: A recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School, in partnership with Brigham & Women’s Hospital, demonstrated that women who consumed more than 3 cups of (caffeinated) coffee daily lowered their risk of a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma by 21 percent. Men who drank over 3 cups of coffee per day reduced their risk of this skin cancer by 10 percent.

Coffee Benefits the Liver: Approximately 30% of American adults suffer from NAFLD, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Studies indicate that drinking 4 cups of coffee can benefit the liver by reducing the dangerous accumulation of triglycerides (bad fats) in the liver cells. Fewer accumulated triglycerides means decreased risk of NAFLD.

Coffee Benefits the Brain: A recent study involving rats indicated that an unknown compound in coffee, combined with caffeine in coffee, helped raise blood levels of GCSF, a type of growth factor that helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Coffee Benefits Your Mood: A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that women who drank at least 4 cups of coffee daily had a 20% lower risk of depression compared to women who consumed less or no coffee. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health also reported a 50% reduced risk of suicide in men and women who consume between 2 and 4 cups of coffee daily. Researchers believe that the caffeine in coffee may help stimulate the central nervous system as well as increase production of certain chemicals in the brain which help maintain positive mood, thereby reducing the risk of depression.

Coffee Benefits Athletic Performance: A study performed by the University of Birmingham indicated that caffeinated coffee, (at least 5 mg of caffeinated coffee) can boost endurance athletic performance when consumed one hour before exercise.

Coffee not only offers a quick and delicious pick-me-up, it serves up a surprising number of health benefits. So pour yourself a mug of your favorite flavor of java, and drink to your health!

Sources for “Coffee Benefits:”


Originally posted 2013-11-18 13:15:03.

A Health Lover's Guide to Coffee


A Health Lover’s Guide to Coffee

83% of Americans drink coffee; we drink more coffee than people from any other country. Why? Because it’s a dangerous concoction of delicious and addictive substances. Nothing smells better than a cup of freshly brewed coffee — except the aroma of organic, uncured bacon. Anyway… back to coffee.


Legend has it that coffee was discovered by the 9th century Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi. Kaldi supposedly noticed that his goats would act odd (hyper) after eating the coffee plant. Nothing was written about Kaldi discovering coffee until the late 1600s, so it probably isn’t true. The first documented coffee brew was by Sufi monks in Yemen in the mid-1400s. Middle Eastern/East African trade has led to many unbelievable benefits to world society, but in my opinion, none of them come close to the discovery of coffee.

Coffee in America

Coffee came to America during early Colonial trade and gained a lot of popularity following the Boston Tea Party. American’s found the best of both worlds: a delicious morning beverage with the added benefit of not relying on Britain to get it. Like most things brought to America, coffee has become ingrained into our culture (think Pokémon and techno music… only more tasty). Coffee has received a bad reputation for supposed “unhealthy effects.” Bollocks, I say! Coffee, when brought up with care and treated in the proper way, can actually have extensive health benefits.


Caffeine has been shown to decrease post-workout muscle soreness and speed recovery almost half as fast when compared to a placebo! Caffeinated athletes not only performed better in a trial to exhaustion, they were also ready for competition 48 percent fast than those who somehow managed to avoid the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee.


Coffee is very high in antioxidants that accomplish many wonderful things in your body. Coffee consumption has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease inflammation in arteries which can lead to heart disease. One study showed that doubling your coffee intake can lead to an 8 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol (an extreme measure, but good to know its healing effects).

Reproductive Health

According to the National Cancer Institute, coffee consumption has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Likewise, the scientific journal Caner Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that coffee consumption in women can lower their risk of endometrial cancer up to 25 percent. An extremely high amount of coffee consumption was sued for these studies (6 and 4 cups per day respectively), but often times medical studies need to go an extreme to rule out other variables. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed 6 cups of coffee in a day; however I’m positive my two per day is enough to reap this beneficial effect.

Brain Health

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease stated in 2009 that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that the mere smell of coffee reduced stress associated with sleep deprivation in rats. So if you need to wake up extra early, coffee not only tastes, it balances your hormones!

Coffee Tips

  • Always buy organic. Coffee beans are a fruit, so they are treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and who knows whatever else. Buying certified organic coffee from a reputable source will keep your coffee free of toxins.
  • Prepare with care. Most commercial coffee pots brew coffee with water that is too hot. This heat can kill some of the beneficial antioxidants and leave your coffee tasting burnt. About 190 degrees is the perfect temperature is a French press or with a simple cup-and-filter.
  • Prepare it fresh. Good coffee should have a “roasted on” label so you know when it was roasted. Coffee is at its best three to 10 days after roasting. “To refrigerate or not refrigerate?” Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Just drink it within two weeks and you won’t have to worry about it!


USA Today:
Huffington Post:
Charles Poliquin:

Photo  by @Doug88888

Originally posted 2013-11-04 06:21:03.

Is juicing healthy?


Until recently, fresh fruit or vegetable juice has had an untarnished reputation. After all, what could be unhealthy about drinking down all the nutrients contained in the healthiest foods known to man? But that’s just it, when we drink juice, we aren’t really getting all the nutrients those fruits and vegetables have to offer. And that’s where the opponents of juicing come in — juicing skeptics claim that since we’re missing a few of the nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables, juicing isn’t a healthy option. So what’s the verdict? Should we completely give up fresh juice just because it doesn’t contain all the components contained in whole fruits and vegetables? Here’s how we weigh in:

Some juices aren’t as healthy as others: Opponents of juicing makes some good points, fruit and vegetables juices are missing a lot of fiber, and they can also be high in sugary calories. Fiber is a crucial part of the diet — it provides roughage to ensure proper digestion and stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. The fiber contained in fruits and vegetables also acts as an anecdote to the high amount of sugar found in many fruits. Fiber actually prevents the absorption of fructose, while effectively carrying it out of the digestive tract. 

But here’s the thing, not all juices contain a ton of sugar, and just because you’re not getting all the fiber doesn’t mean that you aren’t getting a ton of other important nutrients.  It is, however, probably a good idea to avoid juicing fruits that are high in fructose, like oranges and apples. While these juices can still provide some wonderful nutrients, they supply a high amount of fructose. Too much fructose in one serving can cause fructose malabsorption and the growth of harmful bacteria. If you’re watching your body fat, fruit juices can also pack a significant amount of sugary, fat-depositing calories. 

Fruit and vegetable juices demonstrate a number of researched health benefits: The research backing up the health benefits provided by fruit and vegetable juices (especially vegetables juices) is impressive. Juicing provides a convenient way to consume an immense amount of vitamin, minerals, and phytonutrients. These nutrients are responsible for giving beet juice its cardiovascular, endurance, and anti-cancer benefits, carrot juice its anti-colon cancer and eye-health promoting properties, and leafy green juices their ability to improve sugar metabolism.  

We prefer to view vegetable and fruit juice as a supplement to a healthy diet: Since vegetable and fruits juices provide so many amazing nutrients and health benefits, it makes sense to include them in your diet. Imagine if you ate a healthy whole food diet, with plenty of fiber, plus you supplemented your daily diet with a glass of freshly juiced greens and carrot juice. You’d be giving your body a great big hug, providing it with the nutrients that can actually help optimize your DNA! Most of us are short on some vitamin and minerals — juicing is an easy way to boost nutrient and anti-oxidant intake with the complex forms found in nature.

Make juices healthier by using them with healthy fats or in smoothies: Some of the most important vitamins vegetables contain are various forms of fat-soluble carotenoids. Since juice doesn’t have any fat in it, your body won’t be able to absorb the fat soluble vitamins very well unless you eat a little fat at the same time. When you juice vegetables, be sure to drink the juice with a meal or eat a little healthy fat, like a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil or a few capsules of fish oil, at the same time. Also, since you’re missing out on most of the fiber, try adding your vegetable juice to a smoothie that contains a cup or two of whole fruits and vegetables like frozen berries, whole spinach, or romaine lettuce.  

A few other considerations when juicing: Some of the best fruits and vegetables for juicing also tend to be the ones that contain the highest amounts of pesticides. Be sure to only use leafy greens that are certified organic, and wash all root vegetables or fruits that have edible skins thoroughly before juicing. Finally, in order to prevent fructose malabsorption, limit the amount of fruits you juice, and try to emphasize leafy greens and other vegetables.

References: “Effects of carrot and tomato juice consumption on colon carcinogenesis in humans,” Journal of Nutrition; “Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults,” Journal of Nutrition; “The effect of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich foods v. supplements on macular pigment levels,” Journal of Nutrition; “Mitigation of starch and glucose-induced postprandial glycemic excursion in rats by antioxidant-rich green-leafy vegetables’ juice,” Pharmacognosy Magazine.

Originally posted 2013-10-28 15:14:40.

Learn to brew the perfect pour over cup of coffee!

coffeedripperOk, ok, I might sound like a coffee snob, but what can I say, I love coffee!  Besides, learning the nuisances and flavors of the food you love doesn’t make you a snob does it? In my opinion, the more you learn about the flavors and descriptions of a particular food, the more you can enjoy it.  This is one of the beautiful things about language and human culture; they’re gifts God has given us to enjoy life.  Without qualifying my praise of pour over coffee further, read on to learn the ins and outs of pour over coffee and how to brew the perfect cup.

Pour over coffee has been around for a long time, it’s essentially what an automatic drip coffee maker does.  The beauty of using a manual pour over is that it brings out the full spectrum of delicious flavors contained in whatever type of coffee you are brewing.  It accomplishes that by achieveing the best possible extraction of the coffee beans.  Pour over brewing also provides the flexibility (for advanced coffee brewers who are so interested) to experiment with adjusting water temperatures and coffee grind coarseness to achieve the perfect brew for a particular type of coffee bean.  To begin:

First you’ll need a pour over device, such as the Hario 60 glass brewer depicted to the right.  Hario’s brewer is particular good because it allows an even and fast extraction of the coffee grounds, which helps bring out the sweet notes of the coffee without extracting too many of the bitter flavors.

After you have a dripper, start the brewing process by getting your water boiling (the ideal water temperature is about 200° F or just under boiling).  You’ll need about 12 oz of water for an 80z cup of coffee.

After boiling the water, put the filter in the funnel and rinse it with hot water. This helps the water flow more smoothly thru the dripper once you begin the pour.  Rinsing also washes away any remaining paper residue flavor and preheats the cone.

Next grind your beans to a medium grind.  It’s best to use a burr grinder, as this will ensure the smoothest and best tasting extraction of coffee.  A blade-style grinder can result in an uneven grind, with some beans ground to small (causing increased bitterness) and some too coarsely (resulting in weak flavor).  For one 8 oz cup of coffee, you’ll need about 1.5 – 3 tbsps of beans.

After you add your grounds to the pour over cone, pour just enough water onto the grounds to wet them, then let them rest and “bloom” for 30-45 seconds.   The blooming process is critical for achieving the best possible extraction of flavor.  It’s called “blooming” because when freshly roasted beans are used, pouring hot water over them will cause a release of CO2, which lifts the grinds and make them look like they’re blooming.  It’s importnat to let all the gas escape before pouring the rest of the water over the grinds, as the escaping gas will actually keep the water off of the grinds and prohibit optimum flavor extraction.  Once the coffee grinds have bloomed and collapsed (having released all the CO2), then the hot water can surround the entire surface area of the grinds and extract all those good flavors and oils.  If you don’t use freshly roasted and ground coffee, you’ll notice that you won’t be able to achieve the blooming effect; all the CO2 has already escaped the roasted beans.

Avoid beans that aren’t freshly roasted.  They go stale and don’t taste nearly as good as beans that were roasted within the last three weeks (not to mention you won’t get the cool blooming effect).

After you’ve let the coffee bloom, pour the remaining 12 oz of hot water over your grinds, circling the edges of the pour over funnel.  You may have to let the water drain then pour again.


To see how it’s done, watch this video:

Originally posted 2013-06-11 23:31:11.