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.

How to Make Your Own Coconut/Olive Oil Body Butter

In this article you’ll learn how to make the healthiest, most luxurious body butter you’ve ever used.  Big claims, I know, but try it for yourself and see!  There are several benefits that come with making your own coconut/olive oil body butter:  For one, you get to add far more nutrients (vitamin E and vitamin D) than what’s added to typical store-bought body butter creams, which is essential because the outer layer of the skin needs topical nourishment for optimum health. Second, you’ll know exactly what will be going on your skin (no laundry list of unknown chemicals here).  And finally, what homemade recipe would be complete if it didn’t save you a bit of money? This recipe makes 16+ oz and only costs several dollars to make.  

I custom crafted this body butter recipe to contain high amounts of fat-soluble vitamins E and D, which have incredible benefits for restoring and protecting the skin from sun and age-related damage.  This recipe also calls for extra virgin olive oil, which has anti-oxidant and healing properties of its own. Beeswax is added to make the end product have a creamy/buttery texture that applies smoothly to the skin (plain whipped coconut oil, like some recipes call for, is more oily).  

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup of water
1 tbsp of vitamin E oil (d-tocopherol)
1 tbsp of vitamin D oil (cholecalciferol)
1 tsp of essential oil (if desired – I used tea tree oil)
2 oz of beeswax (pellets are easiest, but you can also make your own shavings from bars)

This homemade coconut/olive oil body butter is incredibly easy to make, and it will nourish your skin like no other.  Simply combine all of the ingredients, except for the vitamin oils, in a pot on the stove.  Heat the mixture on low (heating just enough to melt the ingredients) and stir frequently until ingredients are blended and melted.  

As soon as the ingredients are heated just enough to melt, pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Immediately begin beating with an electric mixer and add the vitamin oils.  

Beat for a minute or so then place the mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes.  Remove from refrigerator then beat on high for another 3-4 minutes.  The body butter should be congealed, smooth, and creamy.  If it’s still too warm and liquified, you may need to let it sit for a few more minutes, occasionally mixing it with the blender.  The main goal is to prevent separation or lumps by keeping the body butter mixed while it’s cooling.  The end result should look like the picture above, which I produced using the same method and recipe.  This is a great all-purpose body-butter cream, excellent in winter and summer months, effective enough for men and gentle enough for babies (my wife likes it for her legs)!  Enjoy!

NOTE: If you are allergic to bees or beeswax this recipe is not for you!

Recommended Products: Coconut Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Liquid Vitamin D, Bees’ Wax

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Originally posted 2013-01-11 03:02:00.

Office Job Hazards: Nearsightedness and Eye Strain

In the last “Office Job Hazards” post, I wrote about the hazards of sitting too much.  This time we’ll take a closer look (pun intended) at how reading or looking at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time can cause myopia (nearsightedness), eye strain, and dry eyes, as well as possibly contribute to macular degeneration.  Thankfully, there are several strategies to help prevent these problems.

Almost all of the hazards posed by working in an office or in an office-like setting (such as in school), revolve around repetitious movements that put too much strain on one area of the body.  Our bodies are meant to move around in and interact with living, dynamic environments.  Forcing our bodies to conform to the efficiency and uniformity of dead machines damages them.  An example of this is the strain and damage caused to the eyes by focusing at one distance for too long.  Every year, like other first world diseases and medical problems, myopia (or nearsightedness) continues to affect more people around the world.

While the mainstream medical community tends to focus on the role of genetics in disease and health problems, the evidence indicates that nearsightedness is primarily caused by environmental factors.  For example, a study of Alaskan Eskimos in the 1960s found that 60% of the children were nearsighted but that most of the parents and grandparents had excellent vision.  What changed to cause such an increase in nearsightedness?  The children were the first generation to begin schooling at an early age. Nearsightedness has also increased drastically in Asian countries, such as Singapore, where education and technological jobs are on the rise. In the U.S., myopia is estimated to affect 41% of the population.   With the increase in office jobs and education levels, more people are focusing at close distances for much of the day.

What causes myopia: Focusing at a short distance for long periods of time causes the eyes’ focusing muscles (ciliary muscles) to lock up (also called accommodation).  The stress of the ciliary muscles locking up causes the eyes to elongate, leading to permanent nearsightedness.  Children and adolescents are especially susceptible to developing permanent nearsightedness, as their eyes are still in the process of developing. To make things worse, they’re often prescribed distance glasses that can actually make their vision worse over time (by forcing the ciliary muscles to continue accommodating even at long distances).  Adults with clear vision are less susceptible to developing myopia than children, but if they engage in too much close work without taking the proper precautions, adults too can damage their vision.

Strategies for prevention: A number of preliminary studies indicate that it might be possible to prevent nearsightedness by wearing convex /+ reading glasses while doing close-up work (such as reading a book or looking at a computer screen).  The strength is supposed to be just strong enough to make the close-up text slightly blurry but still readable.  The theory is that reading glasses prevent the ciliary muscles from having to work too hard (accommodate), which prevents them from locking up.  As long as the ciliary muscles don’t lock up, the eye retains its normal shape and, therefore, retains normal vision.  For more information check out http://www.preventmyopia.org and talk to an optometrist who understands the environmental causes of nearsightedness.

In place of, or in addition to, using reading glasses, the symptoms of nearsightedness can be prevented by:

  • Spending more time outdoors (big surprise!), 
  • Resting the eyes while working (looking at different distances around the room), 
  • Using plenty of light while reading and working at the computer.  

Dry eyes and macular degeneration: While the evidence is less conclusive, looking at a computer screen all day might also contribute to dry eye syndrome and macular degeneration.  It’s possible to reduce the symptoms of dry eye syndrome by resting your eyes during the work day, drinking plenty of water, consuming enough omega-3s, and using eye-drops at night. 

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which causes blurry eyesight, is largely attributed to oxidative damage caused by exposure to blue-light.  Ultraviolet blue light is emitted by the sun, but it’s also emitted by electronic screens.  While the research is limited regarding how much computer screens contribute to AMD, we know that enough dietary consumption of vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin can help prevent macular degeneration.  All three of these pigments (which are also called carotenoids) are concentrated in the eyes’ retinas and help filter out blue light and prevent oxidation.  Some of the best sources of carotenoids are spinach, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, and romaine lettuce.

We were designed to depend on God’s creation, rather than artificial environments, for optimum health (including clear eyesight), so EAT plenty of greens, Play outside, and REST your eyes from close-up work.  If you do a lot of close-up work, you might consider looking into the preventative measure of getting reading glasses.  Remember, children are especially susceptible to developing myopia.  Don’t let them sit too close to the TV (at least 6-feet away).  Also, if your child begins to develop myopia, do more research before you let the doctor prescribe him distance glasses.  Reading glasses, as counter-intuitive as it seems, are probably the better option and might even save your child’s vision.

References:

Originally posted 2013-01-09 05:03:00.

Eat. More. Berries!

Out of all the possible types of food, berries are probably one of the healthiest and most widespread on planet earth.  If I had to choose only three varieties of foods to eat, berries would be one of them.  They are loaded with powerful phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and great TASTE!  Various varieties of berries can be found on almost every continent, from pole to pole, and they grow well without any tending; I think they are one of God’s greatest food gifts to us.  While fresh berries can be expensive, frozen berries are almost just as nutritious and more versatile.  Also, since berries grow wild in most places, they are one of the few foods that can still be gathered for free if you’re willing to invest a little bit of labor (also a great opportunity to get outdoors for fresh air and sunshine).  Read below for some of the nutrients found in berries and their amazing benefits:

Flavonols:  Flavonols are a class of flavanoids, which are pigments that help plants perform secondary functions like filtering UV rays, attracting pollinators, and protecting against diseases.  A few of the most plentiful flavonols in berries are kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin.  In humans, these flavonols have been found to have significant health benefits. Quercetin and kaempherol may help reduce the severity of mild allergies, improve cadiovascular health, have anti-inflammatory effects, and improve athletic endurance.  Myricetin has shown the potential to increase fertility, improve cholesterol ratios, and act as an anti-carcinogen.  

Ellagic Acid: Ellagic Acid is an organic compound and an anti-oxidant.  Preliminary studies have found that ellagic acid (found in high concentrations in the seeds of blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries) has potential antiproliferative effects and cardiovascular benefits.
 
Anthocyanins: Anthocyanins are the red, blue, and purple pigments found in high concentrations in blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries, and acai berries.  Anthocyanins in berries may be particular effective against mouth, throat, and colon cancer.  There’s reason to believed that they might also help prevent Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.
 
Vitamins and minerals: In addition to the numerous phytochemicals berries contain, they can also be a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, potassium, and manganese (they also contain small amounts of almost every other vitamin and mineral).

It’s important to remember that the organic compounds listed above aren’t always effective when isolated as supplements.  Whole foods, like berries, contain hundreds of nutrients that work synergistically to improve absorption and utilization of these important compounds.  

With all these health benefits in such a tasty, low calorie, high-fiber food, what are you waiting for?  Berries are delicious in cereal, in smoothies, in baked goods, and as a simple snack.  Look for them fresh, frozen, and freeze dried. 

Eat. More. Berries!

References:
Ellagic Acid’s Antiproliferative Effects
Quercetin and Allergies
Black Raspberries and Cancer

Originally posted 2013-01-07 21:38:00.

Dry Skin and the Soaps You Use

To prevent the spread of germs, many are washing their hands more frequently, leading to dry skin, especially during the winter months when the common cold is rampant and the air is harsh and arid. While nutrition plays a very important role in the quality of a person’s skin (coenzyme Q10, omega 3s, and drinking lots of water), it is also crucial to care for skin from the outside. Skin is, after all, the largest organ in the human body, and the outermost layers are primarily moisturized externally.

Why does washing my hands dry out my skin?

Hot water
Frequent contact with water, especially hot water, can strip skin of its natural oils.

Removal of glycerin
Thanks to the industrialization of soap production, glycerin is frequently removed from our modern soaps. Glycerin (also called glycerol when in its pure, chemical form) is the natural byproduct of the soap-making process. Combining fat (animal tallow or vegetable oils such as coconut, olive, or palm kernel) and an alkali (lye, sodium, ash) makes soap, which produces the moisturizer glycerin. Around the late 1800s, commercial soap-makers found that glycerin could be extracted from soap and re-sold for high profits, as it is used to make dynamite, medicines, and many cosmetic products. Since glycerin became such a high-demand product, it is stripped from most soap and thus leaves the modern consumer with hands stripped of moisture.

Antibacterial soaps
Antibacterial soaps have been found to dry skin, and, furthermore, don’t show any long-term benefit of truly fighting bacteria. In fact, frequent use of antibiotic soap begins to produce antibiotic resistance to bacteria and can strip the skin of its natural defenses.

Sulfates
Commercially made liquid soaps are frequently made with sulfates (commonly sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate) for their lather and foam producing properties. However, sulfates also dry out the skin. How well a soap lathers does not determine how well it cleanses, so there isn’t much added benefit of adding sulfates, except for the nice foaming action.

Thus, most soaps sold in modern convenience stores are extracted of natural moisturizers and instead filled with ingredients that dry our skin.

How can I prevent having dry skin from soap use and frequent hand-washing?
Since washing our hands regularly is said to be the best way to prevent the spread of germs, giving up hand washing is not an option. There are several things you can do, however, to prevent dry skin:

  • Use tepid water when washing. Hot water can further dry out skin. Many of us love hot showers, but this is another good reason to turn the shower temperature down, even if just a little.
  • Find soap that contains glycerin or make your own!
  • Avoid anti-bacterial soap.
  • Use soap that is sulfate-free. Sulfates are found in many household products such as body washes, hand soaps, shampoos, facial cleansers, and even toothpaste.

Originally posted 2013-01-04 22:18:00.

Yoga and Spirituality

In the last 30 years, yoga has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds.  For many, yoga is a form of spiritual practice and meditation believed to bring spiritual healing, power, and connectedness.  Indeed, yoga has its roots in Eastern religion, and its movements were developed to help practitioners connect to the power of various Hindu gods.  While it’s somewhat surprising that science-minded Americans and Europeans would throng to this ancient religious practice, yoga’s focus on the body, its health benefits, and its superficial spirituality have combined to make it a particularly attractive way to escape the monotony and spiritual deficits of our technological society. Here’s the dilemma for Christians: as a spiritual practice yoga is rooted in asceticism/masochism and the lies associated with idol worship, but as a physical and mental discipline yoga has many proven health benefits.

So, is yoga something Christians should do?
Since, for followers of Jesus, there is no law but the law of love, the answer to this question is somewhat nuanced.  First of all, we have to keep in mind that God created the human body and the way it moves, as well as the things that benefit it.  No religion or system of belief has the right to monopolize the realities that affect human health.  If a particular stretch or movement is healthy for the human body, then it’s objectively healthy for the body, regardless of the beliefs attached to it (such as the belief that a particular movement has spiritual meaning).  We have the freedom to agree or disagree with such beliefs.

The real problem is not yoga’s stretches or exercises, but the beliefs attached to these movements and the false message of spiritual healing and human connectedness apart from Jesus Christ.  Healing and spiritual wholeness/connectedness can’t be achieved by our own human efforts or by doing the right poses.  Real healing comes from recognizing that all life comes from the One and Only God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ!

That being said, God created us to move, to enjoy his Creation, and to live freely, and I believe the movements embodied in yoga can be part of healthy movements and exercise for believers.  In my mind, the problem of doing yoga is similar to the problem addressed by the apostle Paul regarding eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul advised the Corinthians that eating meat sacrificed to idols isn’t a problem for believers who are not held in the power of lies and idol worship, but that doing so could be bad for the consciences of those still entrapped in lies (1 Corinthians 8). In the context of yoga, a believer is free to practice the movements and stretches of yoga if he has a clean conscience.  However, believers who participate in yoga in a group setting might be inadvertently contributing to the power of lies in the lives of those who do yoga as a spiritual practice.

Each believer needs to seek the Lord for direction in this matter and follow his conscience.  Personally, I find that yoga stretches have been extremely helpful in reducing back, neck, and joint pain (which medical studies support).  There are also several yoga routines I do that provide an excellent workout and improve flexibility.  For those who have practiced yoga in connection with Eastern spiritual beliefs in the past, it might be too tainted to continue practicing as a believer.  For others, however, yoga can be a perfectly healthy and pure activity.  It’s also possible to find classes, such as at the YMCA, as well as instructional DVDs, that solely emphasize the physical health benefits of yoga, rather than the spritual beliefs connected to yoga as a religion.  In some places it might be more difficult to find yoga classes that aren’t influenced by New Age religion, in which case using an instructional DVD at home might be the best option.  At any rate, as believers we have freedom to live by the Spirit–the primary consideration is walking in love towards others.

References:

 

Originally posted 2013-01-07 05:49:00.

Git Fit Faster with HIIT!

Why HIIT?

You don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill or run miles and miles at the break of dawn before work to loose weight and get healthy.  In fact, it’s possible to get fit with less time and less overall work than previously thought.  The answer is H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training).

It used to be believed that high intensity training  wasn’t effective at promoting weight loss because it caused the body to use carbohydrates, instead of stored fat, for energy.  Yet, it turns out that while high intensity training does burn the body’s carbohydrates at first, it promotes fat loss, muscle growth, and cardiovascular health more effectively than traditional aerobic exercise in the long run.

High Intensity Interval Training stimulates the production of fat burning hormones and enzymes that keep working even when the body’s at rest.  Also, since High Intensity Interval Training takes less overall energy per workout than an aerobic exercise of comparable duration, it causes less of an increase in appetite.  A smaller appetite means fewer calories consumed, and fewer calories consumed typically means a healthier body.

So what exactly is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training exercises are comprised of short, intense intervals of work (approximately 90% max heart rate), alternated with brief periods of rest or low work (approximately 70% max heart rate).  For success, it’s important that the exercises are undertaken at max effort, for anywhere between 20 sec to 2 minutes, followed by 1-4 minutes periods of rest.  A typical HIIT session lasts from 10 to 20 minutes and is usually performed 3 to 5 days per week for best results.

HIIT can be performed doing almost any type of exercise, whether outside or on machines.  Rowing machines, elliptical trainers, stair steppers, stationary bikes, sprinting, cycling, cross country skiing – all can be adapted according to HIIT protocols.  The type of exercise dictates how long you can perform your maximum effort and how long you need to rest. Here are a few sample exercises:

Rowing machine:  10 intervals of 2 minutes max effort, followed by 1 minute of rest/light rowing.
Sprinting: 8 intervals of 20-30 sec max effort sprints, followed by 2 minutes of rest/light jogging.
Cycling: 8 intervals of 45 sec max effort sprints, followed by 1.5 minutes of rest/slow peddling.

Just remember, if you aren’t able to give your max effort, you are beginning to lose the benefits of high intensity interval training.  Try adjusting your workout by doing shorter intervals that will allow you to give your max effort.  HIIT is a great way to improve your health with a limited amount of time.  If you can, do High Intensity Interval Training outside where you can enjoy fresh air and sunshine at the same time!

Advisement: If you’ve never done high intensity exercises or it’s been awhile, ease into your HIIT program over time! Your body needs time to strengthen the ligaments, bones, and muscles that support high intensity exercise. Also, before beginning any new exercise protocol, or if you have health problems, consult your doctor first!

References:Evidence-based Exercise, Six Weeks of High-Intensity Interval Training, High Intensity Interval Training in Overweight Young Women

Originally posted 2013-01-04 21:13:00.

The Creation-based 3 Day Cleanse

The ideal cleanse will flush out the digestive system, give the liver and kidneys a rest, promote a healthy metabolism, provide restorative nutrients for every cell in the body, and serve as a jump start toward healthier eating habits.  The Creation-based 3 Day Cleanse meets these goals because it’s simple, obtainable, short, and effective!  Long/extreme cleanses are often counterproductive because they either cause the body to store more fat when the cleanse is over or they’re unrealistic and provide few immediate or long term benefits. 

By integrating foods that should be consumed as a part of an every day diet, the Creation-based Cleanse promotes long term health.  Its short duration promotes healthy weight loss (if desired), as well as ease of participation.  It really doesn’t take long to cleanse the digestive system, and while long term cleansing of the cells can take months or even years of healthy eating, our 3-day cleanse will help get you on the right track.

Here are the things you’ll need:

Purified/spring drinking water (approximately 9 liters or 2.5 gallons)
1 lb of organic frozen spinach
Cage-free/organic eggs or plain organic yogurt
Wild-caught salmon
3+ lbs of organic vegetables (carrots, romaine lettuce, celery, greens)
Extra virgin olive oil
3+ lbs of organic fruits (especially berries – frozen are fine)
Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt

Things you won’t need:

Refined foods, soda, juice, sugar, grains (baked goods, cereals, or rice), dairy (besides plain yogurt), or meat (except wild-caught salmon).

Instructions:

The basics: Drink lots of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables!  For added cleansing and detox take a teaspoon of sea salt per day.  Avoid anything that takes long to digest or can prevent the effectiveness of the cleanse (grains, dairy, meat, refined foods, sugar).

Drinks: Drink primarily pure, unchlorinated drinking water (aim for 10 cups per day).  You can also drink coffee or tea made with pure water.  Coffee and tea are diuretic and contain healthy anti-oxidants (just keep the caffeine below 200 mg per day).  Avoid juice, soda, or alcohol, which contain high amounts of sugar, processed by the liver.  Also, avoid any artificial sweeteners or other chemicals. 

Breakfast: In order to help cleanse the digestive system as well as promote the maximum amount of antioxidant and nutrient absorption, it’s important to eat the right combination of foods as well as the most easily digestible ones.  If you aren’t lactose intolerant you can eat either plain, unsweetened yogurt or eggs for your protein/fat content along with fruits and vegetables.  If you choose yogurt, set some berries aside the night before to add to your yogurt.   Go crazy with the berries, and add as many as you can to your yogurt, or make a berry smoothie with yogurt and water.  Blueberries are probably the best, but raspberries and strawberries are good too! There are so many things you can do with eggs, and they serve as a great vehicle for vegetables.  Try scrambling them with spinach (after you’ve lightly sauteed it first), mushrooms, and onions.  

Snacks: One of the primary goals during this cleanse is to eat as many vegetables as possible!  Vegetable fiber promotes healthy bowel movement, and the hundreds of phytochemicals vegetables contain help purify the blood and heal the body’s cells and organs. In between meals, cut up celery and carrot sticks and dip them in hummus; eat an apple or orange; enjoy a handful of raw nuts, or make a berry/banana smoothie.

Lunch: Make a romaine/spinach salad with a hard-boiled egg, a romaine lettuce and banana smoothie, an avocado milk smoothie, or make a big pot of vegetable soup to have for all three days.

Dinner: Enjoy a 4 oz fillet of salmon (wild, alaskan-caught) with a side salad, sauteed greens (spinach, collard greens, or kale), steamed broccoli, and/or steamed carrots.  If you don’t feel like salmon and veggies, enjoy some vegetable soup or a large salad topped with nuts and an olive oil/vinaigrette dressing.

Salt water cleanse: Taking extra salt can stimulate the digestive system and have a slight laxative effect, further promoting your cleanse.  Sodium chloride (table salt) also competes for cellular absorption with any harmful heavy metals you may have inadvertently consumed.  Pink Himalayan and Celtic sea salt also contain a wealth of important trace minerals!  If you choose to participate in this part of the cleanse, add 1 teaspoon of one of these salts to 16 oz of warm water.  Stir till dissolved then drink.  The best time to drink the salt water mix is early in the morning, about an hour before breakfast, or in between meals.  

You are going to rock the Creation-based 3 Day Cleanse!  I believe that you’ll feel so good at the end that you’ll want to continue eating more vegetables and fruits in your everyday diet! Your body’s digestive system, cells, and organs (especially your liver), will thank you for eating the way God intended us to eat.  

If you want the cleanse to be part of achieving a healthy body mass, emphasize leafy vegetables over fruit and be sure not to binge after the cleanse is over.  After you complete the cleanse, continue to avoid refined foods and sugar, but integrate more free-range meats and some healthy dairy and whole grains.

Originally posted 2013-01-03 01:55:00.

Honey, the Queen Bee of Sweeteners

Honey is truly the queen bee of sweeteners! It’s sweeter than sugar but with a ton of health benefits. Compared to the industrially refined granule stuff associated with obesity, diabetes, cancer, and a weakened immune system, raw honey is practically a superfood. Of course it’s no surprise that a food that’s found naturally in creation turns out to be healthy, even when it is almost pure sugar.

But that’s the clincher, honey isn’t pure sugar. When it’s raw, unfiltered, and minimally processed, honey contains a wealth of life giving nutrients. These nutrients are indicated by the various colors honey comes in, ranging from light amber to nearly black.

One of honey’s ingredients is propolis, which inhibits bacterial growth in the hive and is used by bees to strengthen the structural stability of their hive. It’s composed of pollen, resins, and essential oils from the plants and trees around the hive. Propolis has been found to reduce inflammation and have anti-bacterial and anti-tumor effects. The propolis in honey is thought to be one of the reasons honey is effective as a topical wound healer.

In addition to propolis, raw honey contains water, various amounts of vitamins and minerals, organic acids, amino acids, pollen, flavanoids (which are found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects), and beneficial probiotics. Overall, honey contains over a hundred different components, and while the amount of these nutrients in honey is small, their cumulative or synergistic effect seems profound.

Studies indicate that consumption of raw honey reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, increases blood-levels of antioxidants, and may fight against some of the causes of cancer. On a more practical level, one study found that daily consumption of 70g of natural honey slightly decreased test subjects’ body-weights. Honey is also ergogenic (which means it enhances athletic performance). Its 1:1 fructose to glucose ratio activates the liver to store glycogen, which serves as an optimal source of quick energy for athletic activities like running or weight lifting.

In addition to the growing body of evidence indicating honey’s nutritiousness, honey is a creation-based food with a long history of use as both a food and medicine among thousands of cultures throughout the world. Some cultures, such as the Hadza, a hunting and gathering tribe in Tanzania, consume honey as up to 19% of their diet and have excellent health. So don’t let honey’s sugar content scare you off. It’s refined and processed sugar that we should be concerned about, especially considering that sugar consumption is increasing globally every year (in correlation with a global increase in cancer, obesity, and other first-world diseases). Currently, global honey production is about 1.2 millions tons per year, and while that might seem like a lot, it’s only about 1% of the total refined sugar production!

The next time you want to add a little extra sweetness to your tea, cereal, yogurt, or other foods, reach for raw honey instead of lifeless white sugar granules. There’s just one caveat, try not to heat the honey up too much – high temperatures can damage honey’s delicate nutrients.

“…eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” Proverbs 24:13

References:

Honey and wound healing
Review of studies about honey

Originally posted 2012-12-10 09:34:00.

The manly and best way to shave:

The healthiest, manliest, and most ecologically friendly option for your face is probably not to shave at all, but for those of us who aren’t ready to commit to the Grizzly Adams look (or for those whose wives or girlfriends aren’t so fond of the idea), we need to find the manliest way to shave.  Personally, I’ve been in pursuit of the best way to shave for years.  Don’t make me toss in my man card, but I’ve found it difficult to shave without irritating my skin.  The good news is I’ve found a shaving method that won’t irritate my skin and is also ecologically friendly, affordable, and natural.  It revolves around a blade, a bowl, and a brush.  You won’t have to buy aerosol cans of petroleum-based shaving cream, plastic shavers that you keep throwing out, or overpriced multi-blade razors anymore.  Follow the simple instructions below for the best shave–it’s the way men were shaving for years before all the latest marketing schemes:

You’ll need: A double-edged safety razor – these are made of stainless steel, and you’ll never have to replace it.  You’ll only have to replace the single, incredibly sharp blade (and you can purchase a year or two supply for only $10); a shaving bowl or small bowl that fits a cake of round soap; a cake of round shaving soap, I recommend Mr. Beardsley’s Shaving Soap or some other natural soap; a shaving brush, and a pre-shave oil.

1) Take a hot shower and gently scrub your face.  The hot-steam is important for a good shave – it opens the pores and softens the beard.  A proper shave takes time.  If you don’t have time to take a shower, you don’t have time to shave!  The other alternative (though not as good) is to wash your face with hot-water and then let a hot towel rest on your face for several minutes.  

2) Gently rub a pre-shave oil onto your face.  There are oils made specially for shaving, but you can also use pure almond oil (adding a little bit of tea tree oil creates a nice blend).  The oil moistens the beard and skin and allows the razor to slide gently over your face. (This step is optional.  I personally prefer shaving without a pre-shave oil.)

3) Splash hot water on your face, then use a shave brush and a little bit of hot water to lather up the soap in your shave bowl.  Apply the lather to your face in circular motions.

4) There are several things to keep in mind when you start to use your razor.  First of all, shave very gently, letting the weight of the razor do most of the work.  The goal is not to remove the beard in one stroke, but to reduce your beard with several passes of the blade (since there’s only one blade, it won’t irritate your skin).  Secondly, it’s vital that you pay very careful attention to the various directions your beard grows on your face and neck and to shave with the grain.  After most of your beard is removed and you still want a closer shave, you can experiment with gently passing the razor across the direction of your beard.  Finally, use your razor at the lowest angle possible.  This is usually about 30 degrees.  Find this angle by placing the shaver perpendicularly on your skin, then slowly lower it until it will shave your beard.  

5) Continually rinse your razor with hot water while shaving.  If your skin starts to get cool, you can place a warm wash cloth on your skin for a few seconds to help re-open your pores.

6) Reminder: TAKE YOUR TIME.  You will get faster with practice.  

7) After finished shaving, rinse your face with cold water.  You can use an astringent if desired, as well as a natural lotion/oil to re-moisturize your skin. 

A few extra tips: Store your shave brush on its side or bristle down to keep water from damaging the bristles or handle.  Coat your razor blade with your pre-shave oil after each shave to prevent oxidation and to keep the blade sharper longer.  I use tea tree oil, which is also antibacterial.  

This routine has worked wonders for me, and it’s a lot more affordable than using all the latest shaving gadgets.  Relax, reflect, and enjoy the process.  The integrity, moisture, and health of your skin is also highly dependent on your diet.  Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, berries, and omega-3’s daily.  Happy shaving!

Originally posted 2012-12-08 06:05:00.