Fitness

Detoxify Everything (Health Hacks, Volume II)

It seems appropriate, in light of the fact that I have never consumed more cheese (chocolate/bacon/eggnog) than I have in the last two weeks, to do a post on detoxification. Around the holidays it’s easy to be aware of how polluted you feel, when indulgences wait around every corner, and your waistband gets tighter by the hour.

But even in our normal, mostly “healthy” lives, we are subjected to toxins on a daily basis—from pesticides on our veggies, to allergens in the air, to chemicals in our food-storage containers.

So this month’s health tip is to create detoxifying rituals to combat this constant exposure.

I’m going to start with the obvious one: drink more water. Drinking lots of water not only flushes toxins, it keeps our digestion regular and helps with weight loss. Furthermore, it makes our skin supple and allows our brains to run at maximum efficiency. Read tips on how to adopt this healthy habit into your routine here.

Then, Sweat It Out

You knew this was coming: of course exercise is on this list, because at the end of the day, strengthening your heart and circulatory system and maintaining agility is the key to vitality. But eliminating toxins is yet another bonus of working up a sweat.

A study published in Scientific World Journal (1) compared the amount of phthalates (a toxin found in personal care and household items) eliminated from the body based on the type of elimination—sweat or urine—and found that sweating was the superior method. In fact, the amount of toxin present in the sweat was twice that found in the urine. So flush your system with water, but don’t think that replaces a trip to the gym.

I’ve got great news though: even sitting in a sauna is an effective detox. As your body gets hotter and blood flow increases, toxins that are stored in body fat get released. These toxins might include pesticide residues and drugs—legal or otherwise.

Take Epsom salt baths to detoxifyThen, Soak It Away

I love any health tip that includes adding baths to the repertoire. The key here is to add 2 cups of Epsom salts, which contain magnesium and sulfate. The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells. Your skin is highly porous, and adding the right minerals to your bathwater triggers reverse osmosis. This process actually pulls salt out of your body, and harmful toxins along with it.

As an added bonus, Epsom salt absorbed through the skin replenishes magnesium levels in the body. This helps produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical in the brain that creates feelings of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy.

And get this! There are a gazillion more uses for Epsom salts, so please go read about them here. Then I bet you’ll want to thank me for telling you to take more baths and proving that they’re soo good for you.

You’re welcome.

Try Something Different

“So drink water, work out and take baths, that’s it?” you might be saying. “Those are things I already do!”

I know, isn’t that awesome? Just ramp it up a notch. And then check out these two things you might not be doing.

Take Activated CharcoalActivated charcoal flushes toxins

Activated Charcoal—not to be confused with charcoal used in your grill (giggle)— has a negative electric charge that causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. This in turn helps promote a healthy digestive tract by removing the very toxins that cause allergic reactions, oxidative damage and poor immune system function, in addition to reducing bloating and gas. Hurray!

To optimize your health, routinely cleanse the digestive tract by taking 10 grams of activated charcoal 90 minutes prior to each meal for two days, according to Dr. Josh Axe, certified doctor of natural medicine, chiropractic and clinical nutritionist. During the cleanse, eat only organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, and wild fish.

Oh and guess what else?

Activated charcoal can prevent hangovers. Dave Asprey, of Bulletproof Coffee Fame, suggests 2000 mg after you’re done drinking, in order to feel, well, bulletproof the morning after.

I like it.

Eat Broccoli Sprouts

There is so much talk about super foods it’s overwhelming to know where to begin. So if you only add one new thing to your diet, it ought to be these babies.

Broccoli sprouts contain a chemical called sulforaphane which greatly enhances detoxification, excreting mercury, carcinogens and air pollutants, just to name a few. Compared to vitamin C, which fights free radicals directly for approximately six hours after exposure, sulforaphane prompts our cells to make antioxidant proteins that can fight for more than 72 hours. Not only are these little powerhouses thought to combat cancer in multiple ways, studies suggest they contain 1000 times more nutrients than mature broccoli, and can even cause a reduction in symptoms of autism.

With a little patience, broccoli sprouts are easy to grow in your kitchen. You can get organic broccoli seeds here. Visit Ali and Tom’s amazing Elimination Diet site for instructions on how to grow them, and start reaping the benefits today of this simple addition to your wellness routine.

For a great list of other foods you should eat after a binge, check out this article.

And Now For Something Delicious

If you’re kicking off 2017 with a cleanse, juicing is probably top of your list. For that reason, I wanted to include one of my all-time favorite juice recipes, that just so happens to have extra detox properties due to the addition of beets. Since beets tend to have an earthy flavor (I’ve been told by more than one picky eater that they taste like dirt), the addition of fennel and apple work against that flavor profile, resulting in a juice that is just slightly sweet, deliciously refreshing, and not remotely dirt flavored. During a cleanse where grass-flavored green juices abound, I consider this combo almost a dessert-like treat.

Beets contain antioxidants and minerals that have been shown to be cleansing and detoxifying. These include betaine, which helps the liver cells eliminate toxins; pectin, which clears the toxins that have been removed so they don’t reincorporate back into the body; and betalains, which have high anti-inflammatory properties that encourage the detox process.

And there’s no need to peel raw beets before juicing. Just give them a scrub, roughly chop, and juice away.

 

Beet-Fennel Detox Juice
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks and fronds included
  • 1 small beet, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 sweet apple, like Fuji or Honeycrisp, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 handful parsley, with stems
  1. Place all items into a high powered juice extractor and turn it on.
  2. Pour into a chilled glass, or place in freezer for 20 minutes before enjoying.

Print

 

*Of course, I should remind everyone that this blog is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you.

 

 

 

Three Reasons To Eat More Chocolate (That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of)

chocolate-968457_1280Perhaps justifying our lust for chocolate is the reason scientists have spent so much time studying it. After all, we like to be told that dark chocolate improves blood flow, lowers bad cholesterols, and elevates mood while reducing stress.  But it turns out there are more reasons why you should help yourself to some of the good stuff.

Throw Out Your Cough Drops

Seriously, I’ll take a creamy truffle over a menthol-flavored cough drop any day. And now it sounds as if you can. In a small British study conducted in 2005, participants were asked to inhale capsaicin, the stuff that gives chili peppers their sting. A variety of proposed remedies were tested, and the most effective one turned out to be hot chocolate. Researchers found that theobromine, a compound found in cacoa seeds that acts like caffeine in the human body, was more effective than codeine to stop coughing. So next time you’re under the weather, test this theory by taking two (squares of chocolate, that is) and calling the doc in the morning.

chocolate-1402017_1280Leave the Sunscreen At Home

Just kidding. Although scientists in Germany discovered that ingesting the cocoa solids and flavonoids present in dark chocolate can defend our skin against the effects of UV rays, effectively staving off skin cancer. Not only that, but the study participants receiving cocoa every day noted smoother, moister skin with fewer rough patches. This caused researchers to speculate that there might be benefit to adding the ingredient to beauty products. So if you’ve ever eaten a death-by-chocolate dessert and thought, “I could absolutely bathe in this,” it sounds like maybe you should.

Add Chocolate to Your Diet Plan

Now the founders of Weight Watchers might not agree with us on this one, but research conducted by an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego suggests that healthy adults who eat chocolate more frequently tend to have lower body mass indexes than those who snack on it less often. This result occurred despite the fact that those who ate chocolate more often did not eat fewer calories or exercise more than other participants. The theory is that the metabolic benefits of eating modest amounts of chocolate might lead to reduced fat deposits and potentially offset the added calories. Are you excited yet?

Develop X-Ray Vision

That would be cool, wouldn’t it? But chocolate won’t make that happen. What it will do, however, is improve your ability to read light-colored words on a light-colored background, called “visual contrast sensitivity.” Furthermore, it an improve your ability to detect moving dots on a moving background, known as “motion sensitivity.” Study participants ate both white and dark chocolate at separate times and then took similar vision tests. Relative to white chocolate, testing the dark resulted in higher performance in both categories, as well as improved spacial memory. Think about it like this: driving at night is low-contrast, and images are hard to distinguish from one another. Increasing your ability to make out those objects also increases your safety, so we think what we’re hearing here is that chocolate can save your life.

chocolate-1202606_1280And Did You Know…

Sixty percent of women in a recent British poll ranked chocolate as the most smile-worthy experience, ranking higher than the sight of other smiling people and even loved ones!

Tips for Finding the Chocolate That’s Actually Good for You
  • Pick the chocolate containing the fewest ingredients possible.
  • Cocoa solids or cocoa mass should be first one listed.
  • Sugar should not be. Nor the second.
  • Choose one that’s both 72 percent cacao or above.
  • Buy organic, since chocolate is a heavily-sprayed crop. In fact, seek out fair-trade, and locally-sourced dark chocolate to get maximum health benefits.
  • Dutch processed cocoas have alkalized the chocolate, removing some of the beneficial flavonols. It’s fine for baking but not as good for sipping.
  • It sounds as if soy lecithin in chocolate is not so scary. Unless you’re allergic to soy, that is. We’ll talk about this more soon.
 Oh, and FYI

Portion control is paramount to making a chocolate obsession work for you, so aim for half to one ounce per day, which is about a two-inch square of most chocolate bars.

Now aren’t you just dying to go do something delicious with chocolate?

 

Simple Pleasures

What scents make you nostalgic?Whenever I commute on my bike I am bombarded with a cacophony of scents. They come on as invisible clouds, and many tell a story about what is happening in that particular spot in that exact moment in time. Sometimes however, the phrase “accosted by odors” seems more appropriate. Charcoal clouds of bus exhaust? One of the joys of living in LA. Marijuana smoke? Ahem. One of the joys of living in Venice. The attractive, if not slightly over-dressed woman stepping out for the evening, followed by a suffocating wave of perfume always gives me a laugh. Where is she going that she thinks men will enjoy literally drowning in her scent? I often smell the aromas of dinner cooking and imagine I can tell exactly what’s on the menu. Tonight I definitely smelled lasagna. If it wasn’t lasagna, then it was Chef Boyardee mini raviolis. Either way…

There’s never a dull moment in my study of smells and tonight’s ride was no exception. At one point, I got a whiff of the crisp scent of Lysol cleaner and it reminded me of how lovely a freshly cleaned space can smell (it’s a testament to my busy schedule that I haven’t smelled this my own home in quite some time). Freshly cut grass in front of Venice High School took me back to my childhood on Fletcher street and our acrobatic antics on the front yard. But by far my favorite was the Christmas Tree Farm on the corner, boasting freshly cut trees that did, indeed, smell brand new. That scent, combined with the one a half mile later of wood burning in a fire place, triggered that wondrous sense of nostalgia and plunged me right into the holiday spirit. It’s still warm here in the last week of November, but I’m dreaming of freezing nights with perfect stars, and boozy eggnog in front of a roaring fire.

What scents make you nostalgic?