Kathy Freston on Veganism

March 4, 2011

In this months O Magazine, Kathy Freston, wellness expert and best-selling author, shared her secrets to mindful eating:

  • To make a change, you have to lean into it. When I decided to become a vegan, I did it gradually: one thing at a time over the course of a few years. If I had pushed myself to stop eating all animal products at once, I might have given up.
  • There’s fun in the hunt. Veganism is like a sport for me. I roam supermarket aisles searching for new foods – recently, I found a coconut-based ice cream that’s unbelievable. And I love the challenge of “veganizing” recipes: mashed potatoes with soy milk, or pizza topped with tapioca-based cheese and veggie sauce.
  • Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. Eating consciously is an exercise in kindness, and the more I work at it, the more empowered I feel. When I eat food that’s grown in the ground or in trees, my mind is clear, my body thrives, and I’m more deeply connected with the world.
  • Seitan is a vegan’s secret weapon. At a dinner party a few years ago, I served “veal piccata” – but with seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. One of my guests, a Midwestern guy who loves his meat, said to me, “That’s the best veal I’ve ever tasted.” I felt so proud for pulling off the switch.
  • I’ll be forever grateful that alcohol is vegan. An occasional martini is good for the soul.

Kathy’s New York Times best-selling book, Veganist, is out now: http://www.kathyfreston.com/kathy_freston_books.html. Here is a link to view the article online: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Wellness-Expert-Kathy-Freston-on-Veganism-and-Mindful-Eating.

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The Frontier of Integrative Medicine

March 1, 2011

Today The Dr. Oz Show was titled ‘Andrew Weil’s Medical Renegades: Fighting for Unconventional Answers’. Dr. Oz said the show was about the new frontier of medicine. Modern medicine is constantly evolving and adapting. But it takes courageous medical renegades, usually at the skepticism of their colleagues, to challenge conventional wisdom and bring about change. Dr. Andrew Weil is one of those renegades. He is the man behind the integrative medicine movement – the combination of the vastly different practices of Western and Eastern medicine.

Integrative medicine focuses on the belief that the body can heal itself. Dr. Weil said his work is to give doctors more of a sense that their job is to figure out what is obstructing the healing process. It is not about putting cures into people, but rather allowing the natural healing mechanisms to come into play. He said the way you affect change is to train a new generation of health professionals who understand integrative medical philosophy. He founded the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1994, with the intent of doing just that. Dr. Oz said now medical schools across the country are starting their own programs.

When Dr. Oz brought Andrew Weil out, he mentioned that a lot of people call him the Guru of Alternative Health Medicine. Dr. Weil said he doesn’t like that term, because he’s not a guru, he’s a physician and a teacher. He also said he is not a practitioner of alternative medicine, he is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, he is thoroughly trained in regular medicine, and he has broadened his knowledge base to include other things. He is not a chiropractor or a Chinese medical practitioner or an Ayurvedic physician. He’s a medical doctor. He thinks the term alternative medicine is accurate, if it is used to describe practices that are not learned in regular medical schools. But he worries that the suggestion of alternative medicine is that you are trying to replace conventional medicine, which is not his aim. He said conventional medicine does some things very well. He said it’s not about replacing conventional medicine, but rather about broadening it’s knowledge base and making it more effective.

Dr. Oz mentioned that he gets really angry when he hears from so many viewers, that their doctors don’t listen to them. Dr. Weil said the problem is the doctors are trapped in the system. Medicine is now a rabidly for-profit system, and most doctors work in corporate situations, where somebody tells them how many patients they have to see in an hour. He said sometimes this only allows them 5-7 minutes per patient, which has totally changed the way medicine is practiced. Weil said he feels it’s the reason so many physicians are leaving the practice of clinical medicine. They find it so unsatisfying to work in these kind of situations.

Andrew Weil hand-picked three people he wants us all to know:

Dr. Jim Nicolai – He has been practicing integrative medicine for 10 years. After medical school, he felt like medicine needed to change. He didn’t want to practice the way he was taught in school. He thought the way Dr. Weil talks about how to be a physician, was how it should be. He feels stress is the major health complication for all of us. 75-90% of all visits to doctors have a stress-related component. An integrative approach for stress focuses on how you live – that is the first treatment – lifestyle. Dr. Nicolai said one of the biggest benefits he sees in his own practice, is the ability to address more than just the physical problems.

Dr. Russell Greenfield – He was in Dr. Weil’s first class of the Program for Integrative Medicine, back in 1997. He was an emergency physician for many years, but felt like more could be done to stop illnesses and disease from even happening in the first place. He thought patients needed more education. Russell practices food science. He said understanding how specific foods can impact health and well-being is one of the most important things in integrative medicine. He said you can prevent things like heart disease and cancer, simply by the things you eat. (This revolutionary idea was discussed in an excellent documentary I watched last year – ‘The Beautiful Truth’, as well as another documentary coming out later this year – ‘Forks Over Knives’.)

Dr. Victoria Maizes – She has worked with Dr. Weil for about 13 years. She said integrative medicine believes there are 2 experts – the physician, and the patient (who knows better what does and doesn’t work for them). Maizes specializes in women’s health. She said a lot of patients come to see her because their doctors have told them they need to start taking certain medications for their bones. She said one of the tools she uses is a decision-tool – what is the risk of a fracture, then they look at Vitamin D, but also things like soy foods and tea, which are not a part of conventional medicine.

Dr. Oz said the purpose of the show is to give us all access to some of the best doctors in the world, the ones we need to know about. He then asked the panel how people at home can find physicians like the four of them. Dr. Maizes said the American Holistic Medical Association has a list of physicians that believe in this philosophy. You can also ask your doctor for a referral for alternative treatment. Andrew Weil said patients have to demand this. If we want doctors that are knowledgable about these practices, we have to demand it. Dr. Maizes said she believes the future of medicine is teamwork. It’s not about your physician knowing everything, but rather your physician working in conjunction with a nutritionist, chiropractor, etc. Dr. Greenfield said the problem is insurance doesn’t cover prevention, so many of these practices aren’t covered. He said that is one of the main things the integrative medicine practice is focused on changing.

The “Dream Team” then revealed their secrets that can change your health forever:

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Dr. Greenfield said this is not something you go on and off of, but rather you incorporate it into your life. The focus first and foremost is to stay away from highly processed, highly refined carbohydrates. What you want to eat most of are cold water fish (with their Omega-3s), extra virgin olive oil, and a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Even pasta can be healthy if you only cook it for 6-7 minutes, and keep it al dente. Lowfat dairy can be part of a good anti-inflammatory diet too. Yogurt (like Greek Yogurt or Kefir) contains probiotics, which promote healthy bacteria. He said probiotics help with food allergies, as well. You want to look for products that contain live organisms/cultures. Those that have been previously treated with heat don’t offer the same benefits. Tempeh and miso paste are good as well.

Mind-Body Connection – Dr. Oz said this is probably the area where Andrew Weil’s vision and traditional medicine differ the most. Dr. Weil said he learned nothing about it in medical school. The mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind. When you understand how they interact, it opens up a whole vista of possible treatments for common conditions, that are cost-effective, interesting, and even fun to do. Dr. Nicolai said the best thing people can do to tap into the mind-body connection is learn how to breathe. The biggest challenge is that the breath is linked to stress-on or stress-off, and most of us know how to breathe only with the stress on. He teaches all his patients how to breathe right. The first thing you want to do is be able to breathe fuller and deeper. He likes a count of four – four in, four out – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Imagine any areas of tension you may have, all through the body. Tense those muscles, and then release with each breath, allowing it to relax, allowing those muscles to release their tension. Tense as you inhale, relax as you exhale. That on its own will remedy most stress related issues.

Supplements & Herbs (part of Ayurvedic & Chinese Medicine) – Dr. Maizes said many of her patients come to her for menopausal problems. She recommends flaxseed for this. She said it’s great for 3 reasons: 1) it’s a plant-source of Omega-3 fatty acids, 2) it’s got fiber, which most of us don’t get enough of, and 3) it contains ligdens, which help reduce hot flashes. She recommends flaxseed in addition to soy foods and Vitamin E. Dr. Weil pointed out they pass right through you in whole form, you have to grind them first. Dr. Maizes said if flax and soy and Vitamin E aren’t enough for hot flashes, she also recommends black cohosh. Black cohosh is an herb from Native American practices. You can take it as a pill, or in tea form. Next is astragalus. It comes from Chinese medicine, and is an adaptogen. It helps protect the exterior. It reduces the risk of getting colds or respiratory infections. She recommends it for anyone that travels on planes a lot, or is around kids a lot. She said it’s great to get you through the flu season as well. Dr. Weil said it is also good for more serious things. He has many patients with cancer that are going through chemo or radiation, that take it to protect the bone marrow. The next supplement was ashwagandha, which comes from India. It’s also an adaptogen. It’s good for people who are stressed out or exhausted, but can’t sleep. It’s one of the few adaptogens that help people rest, most are stimulating. The final supplement was a combination of two – acetyl l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid. It’s marketed under the name juvenon. Research has shown it protects the mitochondrion cells, which are respiratory factories. It retards cellular aging.

Here is the link to the episode: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/Secrets-of-Integrative-Medicine-Pt-1. For more information on Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Jim Nicolai, Dr. Russell Greenfield, and Dr. Victoria Maizes, visit their respective websites: (www.drweil.com) (www.miravalresorts.com/The-Experience/Miraval-Specialists/James-Nicolai-M.D.) (www.bewelldoc.com) (http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/about/directors/maizes).

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Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

February 26, 2011

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Even if you haven’t used Dr. Bronner’s products, you’ve seen them around, or at least heard of them before. They’re the bottles that are literally COVERED in writing. You know the ones. The bottles you’ve picked up out of sheer fascination, only to discover it’s covered with sayings like “Only if constructive-selfish I work hard perfecting first me, like arctic owls – penguin – pilot – cat – swallow – beaver – bee, can I teach the MORAL ABC’s ALL – ONE – GOD – FAITH, that lightning-like unites the Human race!”, or “For we’re ALL-ONE OR NONE! ALL-ONE! listen children eternal father eternally one! EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? ABSOLUTE NONE!”, and then your fascination turned to confusion, and you put the bottle back on the shelf. That Dr. Bronner’s soap.

Well I’ve been on the hunt for a more natural hand soap, and have seen several different brands at Whole Foods, Henry’s, Sprouts, and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. The problem is they all come in the same standard size pump that you throw away once you’ve used it up. And while yes, I do want to use natural products, I also do not want to be that wasteful. I have soap dispensers at home that I refill when the soap is out. This is where my dilemma comes in. I do not see many refill options for natural soaps. Which is ultimately what brought me to actually trying Dr. Bronner’s soap.

I was at Trader Joe’s the other day, and happened to notice they sell a large bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, perfect for refilling my dispensers. And, you know Trader Joe’s, it was quite a bit cheaper than what I’ve seen in other stores. So despite all the mumbo-jumbo on the bottle, I decided to go for it. I tried the 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap. It’s called 18-in-1 because it apparently has 18 different uses, but I’m not exactly sure what they are. Although the bottle does say “Towel Massage, Do a Facial Pack, Then Wring Towel Out & Fingertip Massage Your Hair & Scalp. Enjoy the Creamy Emollient Lather on Baby, Bath, Beach (huh? like you clean the beach with it? perhaps this is why they call it “magic” soap?), Body, Dentures, Deodorant, Shaving & Aftershave. Use on Silk, Wool, Pets, Diapers, Car, Hands & Feet.” If you count all those things it does add up to 18, sooo I guess there they are.

It is certified fair trade, and not tested on animals. The ingredients are 100% vegan (yay!), as it says “Health is our greatest wealth”. The ingredients include: water, organic coconut oil, organic olive oil, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, organic peppermint oil, mentha arvensis extract, citric acid, & Vitamin E. I love when a product contains only ingredients I can pronounce and identify! The bottle is also made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. Sounds great!

HOWEVER. My one complaint about this soap, is similar to the complaint I had about Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash from Trader Joe’s – it’s very runny. There is nothing creamy or emollient about it. And I prefer my soap to be more, well, soapy. And this just isn’t. But more than that, the bigger problem is it forms soap-clumps on the tip of each of the dispensers. So when I go to use the soap, often times it shoots out at odd angles, as it tries to push past the clump on the tip. I have been sprayed on my shirt many a time. I have learned to adjust by scraping off the clump before pressing down the pump, but hello-o, not everyone that washes their hands while they’re here knows to do that. I mean I suppose I could hang little signs from my soap dispensers, but come on.

Although, I will admit, on close examination of the bottle to write this post, I do see where it actually says “Soap can clog and spurt with pump dispensers.” Huh. So there that is as well.

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The Satisfaction of Enough

February 22, 2011

A few days ago I wrote about how on this journey to live more consciously, I am struggling with balancing my desire to have “things”, with my desire to simplify. My new ideas about less is more, don’t exactly gel with my previous lifestyle of more is more. This internal debate reminded me of an article I read in O Magazine quite some time ago, which was all about simplified living. I had to do some digging to find the article, since it was from January 2009, but I wanted to share it, as it is a good read, and quite relevant.

“Back to Basics”: Overwhelmed by consumerism and sobered by the economy, more Americans are embracing the less-is-more philosophy of “voluntary simplicity”, trading possession obsession for personal fulfillment. Allison Glock drops in on a few devoted followers and discovers that for them, enough really is enough.

All Kristen Martini wanted was a simpler life. Not a simpler way to make a goat cheese omelet. Not a simpler way to drop five pounds. Not a simpler mop and broom system that traps lint in those hard-to-reach places. No, the goal was nothing less (or more) than a simpler way to be.

“Essentially, I wanted to stop consuming so much. I wanted to let what I have be enough.”

Kristen, 37, a good friend, tells me this as we drive to Orlando, Florida. We are headed to meet two members of the Simple Living Institute, an organization devoted to helping people attain happiness through a lifestyle called voluntary simplicity, or simple living, whose most devout followers whittle down their possessions to only what they need to get by. The movement has been gaining momentum recently, advanced not only by the faltering economy but by a persistent ennui many Americans are feeling. Hounded by the nagging suspicion that no matter how many cars, coffee presses, or perfect-fit T-shirts they own, their personal fulfillment remains elusive. Many of us are coming to recognize that time spent watching Real Housewives of Atlanta is not time that buffers the soul. We are experiencing the dawning, sometimes painful realization that stuff, even really cute stuff, in the end is kind of a drag.

“A few years back,” Kristen continues, “I was married and doing the country club thing, and I met some friends who were living very simply. I saw how much happier they were than me. They were authentic. I realized then that the endless shopping was not making me happy.”

Not even a tiny bit?

“Maybe for a few minutes. But then what? I saw there was more to being alive than collecting possessions.”

Kristen gives me a wan smile. She knows I am a collector, that I am drawn to stuff like dogs to ripe garbage. Old things, mostly. Crappy, kitschy, vintage bric-a-brac. Linens. Mason jars. Handknit doilies. Kristen is aware that I have never, not once, passed a yard sale without stopping.

She was once like me, but for the past 14 months she has been teaching herself how to be free of the burden of too much. “How many Florida-themed salt-and-pepper-shaker sets can you own?” she asks wryly. (I stop my mental count at seven.)

We met last year at our children’s school. I noticed her immediately. She was wearing jeans and a cotton tank top, her hair loosely pulled back with a gauzy scarf. She looked pretty, bohemian. More, she looked peaceful. We quickly discovered we had more in common than third-grade children: We are both liberal do-gooders. We both enjoy a stiff cocktail. And we are both single moms, a boot-camp bond if ever there was one.

Kristen lives with her 8-year-old twins, Aidan and Ellie, in a stucco cottage in the woods. The house is miniature and remote, at the end of a long unpaved drive. It is 800 square feet, with low wood ceilings and stone floors. The family of three shares one bedroom and two beds. The single bath is the size of a telephone booth. The first time I visited, I was both impressed and appalled. “Maybe you shouldn’t have put the house in the dryer?” I teased.

Before renting the cottage, they had lived in a 3,600-square-foot, five-bedroom house with two kitchens. There was a playroom. There was a laundry room. There was enough space not to see each other for hours at a stretch. “I didn’t even use some of the rooms,” Kristen says. In the cottage, privacy is nonexistent, yet she loves her home with unbridled fervor.

Her new lifestyle has a precedent. “I lived in the woods when I was 21, 22,” she says. “I had my own garden. I was really into my nice, quiet, cheap life.”

Then she got engaged to a businessman and told herself grown-ups didn’t live in the woods, without a television or a set of china. So after she got married, she found herself in a huge home, full of things, which she took great care in placing here and there, while ignoring the signs that all was not well beneath the surface.

The babies were a distraction for a time. Then they weren’t. Depression followed. And insomnia. Then medications, therapy. None of it worked. Kristen found herself unable to get out of bed. She lost 20 pounds. Her husband, earnest and traditional, was confused by her unhappiness. After all, they were supposed to be living the American dream.

“I knew it was time to get out when my life started to make me physically sick,” she says now.

Kristen realized that to become the person she longed to be, she had to leave her marriage. So, after much soul-searching, she abandoned her old life in its entirety—her spouse, her furniture, excess clothes, collectible salt and pepper shakers—and returned, with her children, to the woods of her youth.

“The day I moved, I brought only my car, a few clothes, and food,” she says. “I got to the cottage around 4 in the afternoon and went out looking for firewood. As I made a big pile by my door, I kept thinking, I’m getting my do-over!

Kristen started keeping a journal.

“I want to explore, to climb trees, to kayak different rivers,” she wrote. “I want to continue building strong, healthy friendships. I want to make a difference. I want to sleep on my own. I want to grow spiritually and emotionally. To have more patience and stillness. To be quiet inside. I want to be at ease with myself, to create, to give, to love, and to laugh my ass off.”

“So, how’s it going?” I ask as we zip down I-95.

She smiles. “So far, really, really good. My electric bill went from $150 to $35.”

“You can’t warm that place with body heat alone?” I joke.

“You’re just bitter because your bill is $500 a month,” she shoots back good-naturedly.

True, I am one of those Americans whose house is too big for their income. One of those poor schmucks who have to work long hours at jobs they wish they didn’t have just to pay to heat rooms they don’t need. Meanwhile, Kristen, who earns a small salary as an elder caretaker, has cash to spare. This keeps her high on the juice of freedom. So intoxicated, in fact, that she craves more. Hence our trip to learn more about the Simple Living Institute, a group she hopes will offer additional ideas for paring down her already austere life.

“I can do more,” she says excitedly. By which she means, have less. Such is the heart of the simple living philosophy: Become conscious of what you genuinely need, and the rest, punt like a rotten apple.

“I do have friends who just don’t get what I’m doing,” she says with a shrug. “Many of my friends from my old life think I’m a little nuts. But my true friendships are getting much deeper. The other people who do this, we make time for each other. We care about community. We volunteer. We create time to do the things we believe in, in lieu of just mindlessly accumulating.”

Instead of shopping, Kristen now gardens. Instead of buying new clothes, she trades with friends. Instead of racing to get her kids new bicycles from a big-box store, they prowl the thrift shops until the right one turns up.

“I also stopped dyeing my gray hair, which has mortified some of my girlfriends,” she says, laughing. “I don’t care. I don’t want to spend time altering myself anymore. I want to be happy as I am, with who I am and what I have.”

“Me too,” I think. I’d like to feel cage-free, unburdened. Minus the gray hair—I draw the line at voluntary aging.

The notion of voluntary simplicity has been around for centuries; see: Buddha, Jesus, Thoreau, the Shakers, the Amish. In 1936 a Quaker named Richard Gregg published an essay titled “The Value of Voluntary Simplicity,” thus coining the term. Over time the concept evolved into a movement, though it remained a fringe lifestyle. But 2008 was something of a perfect storm for the voluntary simplicity movement. The mortgage crisis, the banking meltdown, the spike in gas prices, and the unfettered baking of our atmosphere has led an unprecedented number of folks to put down the credit cards and start thinking about plan B. According to Wanda Urbanska, 52, the amiable host of PBS’s Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska and the de facto Martha Stewart of the voluntary simplicity movement, the lifestyle is gaining mainstream appeal. At least 10 percent of the population, by some estimates, have embraced the tenets of living simply.

“This isn’t a fringe thing anymore,” Urbanska says from her home in Mount Airy, North Carolina, considered a simple-living hot spot. “There is a shift going on. When I first started talking about this in 1992, I was seen as a wacko zealot. Now simple living is fashionable.”

Urbanska’s ratings have gone up each of the show’s four seasons, and PBS just upped her viewership range to 75 percent of the country. “People keep telling me this is just what we need at this time,” she says. “They want to get back to basics, assume financial independence and environmental stewardship. For the first time, the culture is saying bigger isn’t better. When you are in debt, it’s hard to live with any pleasure. People are starting to feel there is so much more to life. Everything you bring into your house becomes a responsibility. You have to care for it, clean it, and ultimately, dispose of it.” She sighs. “I don’t want to say it’s empty to shop, but to me, a great conversation is worth way more than anything I could pull off a shelf.”

One of the movement’s pioneers is Vicki Robin. In 1980 she and her business partner, the late Joe Dominguez, began running frugality seminars around the country, traveling in a motor home and staying with friends. They donated all their profits to other causes. They later wrote Your Money or Your Life, a seminal book that espoused the benefits of spending less. The Pacific Northwest is one of the movement’s original strongholds, and in the 1980s Robin, now 63, moved to Seattle. Today she lives in a small apartment above a garage on Washington’s Whidbey Island and drives a two-seater Honda Insight hybrid. “For me, frugality equals freedom,” she explains. “I don’t have any debt, I know how to live within my means. I am not scared by the economic bogeyman.”

“Money doesn’t buy you happiness” may be a cliché, but science supports the idea. In 2005 Tim Kasser, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and the author of The High Price of Materialism, with his colleague Kirk Warren Brown of Virginia Commonwealth University, published a study that compared 200 voluntary simplifiers with 200 typical Americans. Though the simplifiers earned an average of $26,000 per year, about $15,000 less than the typical group, they were found to be “significantly happier.”

“You hear that in order to be happy you need lots of money or stuff,” says Kasser. “That just didn’t turn out to be true.”

In fact, Kasser says those results suggested that the very things society teaches us to crave—wealth, status, prestige—can actually lead to persistent feelings of depression and dissatisfaction.

“People who pursue intrinsic values—self-acceptance, making the world a better place, helping polar bears—are much happier than people who chase popularity, money, and image,” says Kasser. “If you orient your life around personal growth and family and community, you’ll feel better.”

Consider that even though the average family income has more than doubled since the 1950s, our level of happiness has essentially remained stagnant. “Take a deeper look at what you are really after with all this stuff,” suggests Kasser. “Love? Acceptance? Feeling competent? Find more direct ways to achieve those goals. Live your values. In our sample of typical Americans, 27 percent said they’d made a voluntary income reduction already. To me, the good news is that fixing this is something that is accessible to everybody. We can shift our goals.” 

Other voluntary simplicity advocates are seeing similar results. “This past year, more than 100,000 people have expressed interest in the tenets of simple living,” says Carol Holst, cofounder of Simple Living America, a Los Angeles–based nonprofit that offers advice for people looking to “find the satisfaction of enough.”

“We take the stand that you can be fulfilled without things,” says Holst. “Once you reach that conclusion for yourself, life really changes. What used to seem empty and futile becomes joyful and exciting.”

She reiterates that this is voluntary simplicity. “Listen, if there was something I really wanted, I’d do it,” says Holst. “No guilt. Ed Begley Jr. jokes about how this movement isn’t about living under a rock in Topanga. It’s about feeling satisfied, not deprived. About filling up, not emptying out. Our approach is to empower the individual. There isn’t any finger-wagging. This isn’t a high bar. It can vary greatly, depending on your needs. Maybe you stop watching television. Maybe you join a gardening club.”

Or maybe, like Kristen, you flush your whole past down the composting toilet.


The Simple Living Institute’s Econ Farm is a five-acre parcel in the central Florida woods, about 40 minutes from Walt Disney World. A marshy woodland thick with mangroves, moss, and wild ferns, it’s named after the Econolockhatchee River, which flows through the land. This is where Tia and Terry Meer help spread the simple living gospel. The couple has just finished building a 1,024-square-foot log cabin, where they intend to become as close to self-sufficient as possible. Harvesting rainwater and solar power. Eating food they farm on the property and bass they catch in the river. The Meers already grow a lot of what they consume. “The first thing we did was put in 50 blueberry bushes,” says Terry, a lithe, apple-cheeked blond who smiles as he talks. “Then orange, lemon, and lime trees.”Terry, 34, and Tia, 29, met in college in Florida and formed an instant bond. After graduation they moved to Hawaii, where Tia, who was raised on a family farm in Pennsylvania, became a gardening consultant while Terry designed solar-energy systems. They ate papaya picked from trees, biked to Waikiki Beach, and “had a very simple island life,” Terry says.In a way, the Meers have re-created a version of that life in central Florida. They built the cabin from a kit. Costing only $50,000, it is a no-frills square structure held aloft by stilts and built of sustainable materials, with shelves and counters found on Craigslist or at the local “freecycle” site. They don’t use air-conditioning, yet the space remains cool and breezy.

“Our next-door neighbor pays $400 a month for electricity,” says Tia. “Our bill is about $30.” Their grocery bill is equally lean, about $100 a month (which may explain why they look as fit as greyhounds).

The Meers do not own a television. They have reduced their possessions to what can fit comfortably in a few duffel bags. They ask for nothing at Christmas. “I grew up on a houseboat,” says Terry. “On a boat you really see how little you need very quickly. Everything has a purpose. There isn’t space for anything else.” 

Yet in the quest for less, compromises have to be made. The couple wanted to run their appliances on solar power. But since the county required them to install electricity in order to get a certificate of occupancy, they spent their budget to meet the mandate and plan to convert to solar later. “We weren’t allowed to be off the grid,” Tia says. “We couldn’t use our own water exclusively. We had to clear more trees than we wanted. It was disheartening. It conflicted with the whole concept of the house.”

Tia and 11 other community members started the nonprofit Simple Living Institute in 2002. Its mission: “to provide cooperative education empowering individuals and organizations to be responsible stewards of their well-being and the environment.” They hold workshops and educate people about organic gardening, worm composting, and alternative energy. The group has about 1,000 people on its e-mail list, and a recent Simple Living Kids’ Festival saw 32 families racing around the Econ Farm, gleefully looking for raccoon tracks and snake skins.

“Economically, people are starting to understand the benefits,” says Terry of the voluntary simplicity movement. “I had lost hope for a while there, to be honest. But now I see people coming around. They understand that if you don’t have clean air or water or soil, money isn’t worth a whole lot.”

Over lunch at Tia’s sister’s vegan restaurant near downtown Orlando, I notice Tia’s flawless skin and enviably radiant hair. I want to ask if showering with rainwater or eating homegrown grapefruit keeps her looking so fresh, but I don’t want to appear superficial. So instead I ask her what voluntary simplicity means to her.

“I want to live in a way that preserves the Earth for future generations,” she says, picking up a spinach leaf from her salad.

“We are making these choices consciously,” Terry adds. “But I think in the future, people will have to make some of these choices whether they want to or not. I feel very good being able to go out into my garden and pick dinner or catch a fish. I don’t have to spend money or time driving to a grocery store. Once you simplify and localize, you save so much. And in these troubled times, people see the logic of that approach.”

Today Terry owns his own company, Alternative Concepts and Technology. He installs solar panels and makes $40,000 a year. Tia works in habitat restoration and makes $24,000. Their bills, including student loan payments, health insurance, and food, run about $1,500 a month.

“I’ve never liked money,” says Terry. “I’m happier when I’m not spending it. I’ve never been motivated to make it. That’s why we built our house ourselves. No mortgage. Our retirement is what we are doing: the location, the cabin, the fruit trees. They’ll grow as we grow.”

To Tia and Terry, the cabin represents the ultimate sovereignty, a true test of self-reliance, and a chance to spread the word. Kristen finds the whole visit inspirational, especially the talk of “humanure”—human waste recycled as compost. (That this portion of the conversation happened over lunch distressed no one but me.)

“It comes down to a personal philosophy,” Terry tells Kristen as he crunches on an organic blue corn chip. “You don’t need to have as much as you can get. People work 50 hours a week to afford all this stuff. But you end up with only an hour to spend with your kids or your wife. That’s not living; it’s living to work. I’d rather harvest sweet potatoes than work all day at a job I hate.”

I ask the Meers if either one of them was ever tempted to buy an item they didn’t need. They look at me with something akin to pity.

“I worked at a convenience store once,” Terry offers helpfully. “That hurt.”

“We drive a pickup truck,” Tia says, head lowered. “Cars are our biggest vice.”

“In the future, we’re going to build a garage with solar panels on top so we can plug in an electric car,” Terry adds quickly. “I mean, that’s the long-term goal.”

It’s dinnertime when we leave the Meers’ cabin. Kristen and I decide to find a hotel. We have not made a reservation, preferring the enlivening randomness of spontaneity. After all, this is Orlando, a tourist Mecca. Finding a modest hotel should be as easy as crossing the street. Ninety minutes of interstate driving later, we grasp our misjudgment.

“I do want more meaning in my life,” I think. I do crave the freedom of less. But right now, I am exhausted. I stink of marsh and hummus. And I have to pee. I am a single mom, riding with another single mom, on possibly the only free night we will have for months. “Call information,” I tell Kristen. “And ask for the address of the nearest Ritz-Carlton.”

Kristen shoots me a look.

“You’ll get a bath!” I add. “With bubbles. And wine.”

She dials. With gusto, I might add. It occurs to me that sometimes the simplest thing to do is to treat yourself.

The next day, back in her tiny cottage in northern Florida, Kristen has decided to unload even more furniture. The space feels crowded, she says. And how many places do you need to park your butt, anyway?

“Depends on the butt,” I say.

Kristen squints and hands me a chair. She says she has been having a struggle with her daughter, Ellie. She has told Ellie all about the importance of soil, of reducing waste, of the impact on the environment, about consumerism. “But you know, those are pretty big concepts for an 8-year-old. Especially one who only really wants new school clothes.”

Even so, Kristen is confident she made the right choice for her family. “At first there was a lot of ‘I’m bored.’ They didn’t have their own rooms, or a million toys, or computers. But since then, we’ve found games to play, we go for walks, we talk more, we lie in bed and draw, we are literally closer together.”

Kristen is also healthier. No more sleeping pills. No more antidepressants. Her journal wish list is coming true.

And then there are the nights when she cooks dinner and, through her open windows, hears the sound of her children running in the woods, the piercing, manic joy of kids throwing stones and kicking leaves and squealing at ghosts behind every windblown tree. “When I hear them playing outside, I think, “This is exactly what I wanted. This is the experience I was looking for.”

She runs her fingers through her short, graying hair. Her face is calm, relaxed.

“Some people say one person can’t make a difference, but I like that expression about how throwing one sea horse back in the ocean makes a big difference to that sea horse. I wanted to sleep at night knowing I’d done my part.”

She smiles, wistful for a moment. “I do miss sleeping in my own room.”

“That would certainly make some things simpler,” I say with a wink.

We laugh. And then the two of us walk outside to the garden, talking about whether or not we’d have sex with Bill Maher, and winter flowers, and what sort of old ladies we’ll be, all the while consuming nothing but the easy joy of each other’s company. 


You can view the article here: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Meet-Followers-of-the-Simple-Living-Philosophy/1

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Less is More. No. More is More. Wait!

February 19, 2011

I love Peter Walsh. I’ve loved him since his days as the organizational expert on TLC’s Clean Sweep. Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit organizationally OCD myself (my spices are alphabetized, my closet is separated not only by season, but also by color and type – ie. tank tops/short sleeves/three-quarter sleeves/long sleeves/you get the idea). Even my bras and chonies are organized by color categories. I like to think it’s because I’m the product of an emotional/I-can’t-get-rid-of-anything-because-I-like-options-and-I-might-need-it-someday hoarder, and a passive/enabler-turned hoarder. Because of that, I’ve gone the other way. I’m always looking for things to take to Goodwill or sell on eBay. It feels good to purge.

I think this is why I have always enjoyed shows like Clean Sweep, While You Were Out (I mean, come on. Who doesn’t like the idea of leaving your house and having it magically cleaned/transformed/organized while you’re gone? You mean, I can leave, not do any of the labor, and come back to a place that’s more fabulously decorated than I could ever have afforded or done myself? Uh, yes please!), Clean House (“Who wants a clean house?” in my Niecy Nash voice), and now, Enough Already!, by Peter Walsh. On a side note, I do not particularly care for shows like Hoarding, and its evil step-sister Hoarding: Buried Alive, because 1) they make me uncomfortable (but not in the good, I’m expanding beyond my comfort zone and growing, kind of way), and 2) they don’t have the fairytale, all wrapped-up-in-a-pretty-bow happy ending, like the other shows.

I actually just finished watching an episode of Enough Already!, so am feeling rather inspired. YES, Peter. Enough IS enough! If it’s not enhancing my life, bringing me joy, or loving me back, I don’t need it! Get it out of here! Simplify, simplify, simplify! Less IS more. But, wait. Wai-wai-wai-wai-wait. Not THAT much less. 

I mean, I AM a woman. A woman who likes options herself. And yes, purging feels good, but options feel good too. I happen to like shoes. And handbags. I believe in the transformative power of a great outfit. I believe hair, and make-up, and clothes, make a huge difference in the way we look, and subsequently feel. I like all types of music, so have a rather extensive collection. I like movies, and books. I have a lot of dishes (because I never wanted to be the mother that freaks out when God forbid somebody drop a dish on accident, and now my whole set is off because I only have 7 plates dammit!). I mean, I suppose I could whittle my shoes down to the basics – nude, brown, and black, but what’s the fun in that? Is there really harm in having shoes in every color?Then on the other hand, I’m also trying to live more consciously. Consume less. Leave a smaller footprint. Care more about people/animals/the planet, and less about things. So, this has left me somewhat torn. Torn between my desire to have a lot of the things I like, and my desire to simplify my life and focus on what really matters – people, relationships, charity, community service. Ugh. Why does life have to be so complicated?

But that’s the thing. It doesn’t. Life, like most things, is as complicated as we choose to make it. Perhaps my problem lies in being a Libra. We like balance. Why can’t I have both? Why can’t I indulge my material side, and my conscious side? After all, aren’t they both dualities of me – my physical and spiritual sides? I think this theme is exactly what I loved so much about the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, she says “What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing? … I wanted to experience both. I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence – the dual glories of a human life.”

So do I.


Image Source: http://thisisnthappiness.com/post/5670509208/more-is-more

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Vegan Thin Mints? There IS a God!

February 16, 2011

We are in the throes of Girl Scout cookie season. Ordinarily, this would be when I am in Thin Mint heaven. But alas, since I switched to a vegan diet last October I can no longer partake, since they contain milk ingredients. Not that I should have them anyway, since they also contain partially hydrogenated oils. Oink. But I loooove Thin Mints! And frozen? Fuggedaboutit! Thin Mint ice cream isn’t too bad either. Ugh. Moving on…

I am all for showing people that you can follow a vegan diet, and not feel deprived. So what do I do here? Well I poked around on the internet, and found 2 solutions – one quick and easy, another requiring a bit more effort.

Newman-O’s Hint O’ Mint Cookies: These are a “cream” filled chocolate wafer cookie made by Newman’s Own Organics. They look exactly like an Oreo. I got the mint flavor, so it tasted more like I was enjoying a Thin Mint, instead of a regular Oreo. They contain no animal ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats. These cookies are SO tasty! They totally satisfy my Thin Mint craving. Yay! LOVE when I can find a healthier version of an old favorite. Unfortunately, they aren’t sold in your regular supermarket, but rather can be found in higher-end markets. (Think Andronico’s, Henry’s, Nugget, Sprouts, Whole Foods.)

Vegan Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s Thin Mints: If you’re not familiar with vegan Chef Chloe, where have you been? haha  I learned of her when she was the first vegan chef to win Cupcake Wars, on the Food Network. Not only is she a vegan whiz when it comes to cooking and baking, she is uh-dorable! So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that she has “cracked the code to the vegan thin mint”, as she says. Now admittedly, I have not attempted these yet, so cannot speak to the ease of making them, or the flavor. However, her recipes that I have tried, have all been insanely good, so I trust her judgement. So if you don’t have a store near you, where you can just hop in the car and buy some Newman-O’s Hint O’ Mint cookies, or if you prefer homemade goodies anyway (and deep down, who doesn’t?), instructions are below. Good luck!



  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup vegan margarine
  • 3 tbsp soy, almond, or rice milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp pure peppermint extract

Chocolate Coating

  • 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract


To make the Cookies

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until combined. Add margarine, milk, vanilla, and mint extract. Pulse a few more times until the mixture comes together. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and knead it with your hands until it comes together and all the flour is incorporated. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough into a ball and place onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each ball. Evenly flatten the dough with your fingertips so that it is about ¼ inch thick. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool completely.

To make the Chocolate Coating

Melt chocolate chips and margarine in a double broiler or microwave. Stir in the mint extract and mix until smooth. Dip completely cooled cookies into the chocolate and remove with a fork, gently scrapping off excess chocolate using the side of the bowl. Or, spread a thin layer of the chocolate on top of the cookies. Place cookies on a parchment-lined plate or tray and refrigerate until chocolate coating sets. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

(http://www.newmansownorganics.com/food_newman-os.html) (http://chefchloe.com/sweets/vegan-thin-mints.html)

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Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine

February 14, 2011

A couple of days ago I finally checked out a really popular vegan café in Sacramento, Sugar Plum Vegan Café. Which was delicious, by the way. Well that kind of got me in the spirit of exploring other vegan restaurants, which brought me to Loving Hut. I took myself there today because I’m single, and it’s Valentine’s Day, so I have to love myself. (Not like that. This is not that kind of blog!) Anyhow, since I have to shower myself with love, I took myself to Loving Hut. (Get it? Corny, I know. But I can’t help it sometimes! Have you met my dad?) Anyhow, my sister told me about Loving Hut, after she ate in the location in Palo Alto. I had never heard of it before, so looked it up. What I learned, totally excited me about eating there!

Apparently Loving Hut restaurants is the fastest growing international vegan fast-food chain in the world. The restaurants are family owned. Their website says “Loving Hut was created with the vision that all beings could live in peace, love and harmony, with each other and the planet”. Their mission is to show people that a plant-based diet is compassionate, peaceful, sustainable, healthier, and delicious! It is the brain-child of Supreme Master Chef Ching Hai. The menu varies at each location, because every city is unique and they believe in giving Loving Huts’ chefs the freedom to create menus using great local ingredients. They aspire to bring out the best of all cultures. Loving Hut restaurants feature dining, take out, catering, and even frozen & dried foods sales.

I live in Sacramento, but ate at the Elk Grove location, as I was in that part of town today. I have since looked up the menu at the Sacramento restaurant, and even these two locations have different menus! They are similar in the sense that they both have a very heavy Asian influence though. Think soups, won tons, fried rice, chow mein, noodles, “meat” entrees, etc. At the Elk Grove restaurant, I had the Golden Beauty, which was delish! It was crispy soy protein, minced lemongrass, onions and peppers, sautéed in chili oil. You can get it either mild or spicy – I got it spicy. It came with a little side salad of cucumber, carrot, and cilantro. I took it home and served it over brown rice.

My daughter and I INHALED this meal. I can’t even tell you how good it was! It did not taste like soy at all! My daughter kept asking “mommy, are you sure this isn’t chicken?” It was so good. Even a meat-eater would have been perfectly satisfied with this meal. I will DEFINITELY be eating here again. Loving Hut has a section on their website where you can view where their restaurants are located. If you have a Loving Hut near you, you have got to check it out.


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Affirmation – 2.13.11

February 13, 2011

Today’s affirmation from the Center for Spiritual Awareness is: “Getting to know myself is an ongoing process. I change and that’s a good thing. Others around me change and that’s also a good thing. I give folks room to change. What was true yesterday may not be true today and I pledge to keep up.”

This affirmation is a good reminder for me that I am not the only one who is changing. I am such a different person than I was ten years ago, or even ONE year ago! So how is it that I expect others to remain the same? I can’t tell you how many times someone (a man) has told me they have changed, only for me to say “Yah. Riiight. Uhhh, sorry. People don’t change.” (bitter, much? haha) Clearly I need to be more open to this idea. It’s not like I am so great and amazing and advanced, that I am the only person capable of changing. Although I am pretty great and amazing… 😉

For more information on the Center for Spiritual Awareness, visit their website. (www.csasacramento.org)

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Sugar Plum Vegan Café

February 12, 2011

I’ve known for a long time that there is a vegan café in Sacramento that is supposed to be really good. But to be honest, before I switched to a vegan diet, I didn’t care. Why would I? As far as I was concerned, it didn’t pertain to me. Well I did switch to a vegan diet this past October, so I figured it was high time I check it out.

Sugar Plum Vegan Café is 100% vegan. They use organic and local ingredients, as much as possible. They have a bakery that has a large selection of gluten and soy-free goods, and they also cater. Their motto is “If it came from a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant don’t”. Clever! So I went there for brunch with my daughter today, and it was SO. GOOD. She was a bit skeptical, because she’s not vegan, so wasn’t convinced there would be anything on the menu she’d like. This made me a bit nervous, because sometimes when a kid already has their mind set that they won’t like something, they won’t. Or at least, they won’t admit that they do. 😉

Luckily, we were both in for a surprise. My daughter had the Tofu Frittata. It looked just like real egg, only was made from tofu. It was topped with pico de gallo and avocado. It came with potatoes, “bacon” tempeh, and whole wheat toast.

I had the Yam & Avocado Panini – two things I never would have thought to put together in a sandwich, but the combo was amazing! It was (obviously) yam, avocado, cheese, roasted onions, and poppy seed aioli on ciabatta bread. And let me just say, they did not skimp on any of the ingredients. It comes with a side salad.

And did I mention the cheese? Wow. The “cheese” in this panini was SO GOOD. I felt like I was cheating! It looked, acted, and tasted JUST LIKE real cheese! I cannot even express to you how excited I was to have it. Cheese is the one aspect of the vegan diet, that I have not found a suitable substitute for. I am perfectly satisfied with alternative milks, meats, desserts, etc., but had yet to find a good “cheese”. Until today. I had to know what it was. The staff told me it is made by Daiya, and is made from tapioca. I will definitely be buying this!

If you live in the Sacramento area and eat a vegan diet, or are vegan-curious, or even just like good food!, you must check out Sugar Plum Vegan Café. They do a bottomless brunch on Sundays which is supposed to be phenomenal. They are located at 2315 K Street in Midtown Sacramento. Oh, and my daughter had no problem admitting she liked the food here. 🙂


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Dr. Oz’s Alternative Health All-Stars

February 8, 2011

Today The Dr. Oz Show was titled ‘Alternative Health All-Stars’. This seems to be a side of medicine that Dr. Oz is getting more and more interested in. He said they will be showing us the holistic approach to healing, touting the benefits of foods and supplements for your body. Dr. Oz said he brought the three experts together because they share a common thread, which is that they are always looking into the future. The experts on today’s show were: Dr. Arthur Agatston, Cardiologist, and author of The South Beach Diet; Dr. Christiane Northrup, OB/GYN, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; and Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Dermatologist, nutritionist, and creator of the Perricone skin care line.

Dr. Arthur Agatston created the famous South Beath Diet. His diet is high in fiber, rich in vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, and good fats. Years ago he decided to challenge the Heart Association diet. He said guidelines always lag behind science, by about 5-10 years. He said the Heart Association diet and his diet are really the same now. Agatston said heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. today, which is unnecessary since it is preventable. So much of chronic disease is from inflammation, oxidation that is effecting all of our organs. We are in a sense rusting. He said the key to good health is a 3-prong diet: good fats (like olive oil, canola oil, Omega-3s), good carbs (whole grains), and lean proteins. He said the worst fats are saturated fats, in particular the trans-fats (which are found in baked goods). He said good fats are inflammation fighters because when there is inflammation in arteries, they get sticky and clotty. Good fats lubricate arteries and reverse that. Everything flows through. Good fats and good carbs (like whole grains, walnuts, flaxseed oil, Omega-3s) are good for lowering triglycerides – the fatty particles in blood. Dr. Oz said the #1 cause of aging is high blood pressure. Agatston said whole grains, fresh vegetables – the more colorful the better, and low-fat yogurts – all have huge benefits in this area.

Dr. Christiane Northrup forever changed the way we view, and treat, women’s health. She said you cannot treat a woman in the pelvis, without understanding what’s going on with her emotionally. She said one’s thought and beliefs, feeds down to one’s ovaries and uterus. Northrup believes in the mind-body connection. She studied the macrobiotic diet, and saw the amazing impact diet had on people’s health – she had never seen in her conventional training. When she opened her practice, she incorporated healthy eating. She said medicine is a reflection of the culture. It is up to us to change it. The biggest mistake doctors make, is they don’t understand that what’s going on in a woman’s body, is a reflection of what’s going on in her life. As soon as they grasp that, treatment plans will change to reflect things like diet changes and meditation. Too many doctors look at the body in a mechanical way. They just want to look under the hood and fix what’s wrong with the car. Northrup wants women to know that a diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increases insulin, and increased insulin = increased blood sugar. This wreaks havoc with your hormones, regardless of your age. Anything that decreases stress hormones (diet, exercise, meditation), will balance hormones automatically. Dr. Oz then talked about estrogen, since it is the hormone that defines women. It is extremely volatile, and is blamed for a lot of other diseases. Northrup said too much estrogen, not balanced by progesterone, acts as a growth hormone in the cell and causes abnormal cellular growth (estrogen dominance). She said body fat produces estrogen, so that’s why it has become such an issue, because so many Americans are overweight or obese now. She said the best way for women to regulate their hormone levels is to pay attention. For example, when you PMS, what really happens is that things that are important to you in life, come to the surface and hit you between the eyes. If you pay attention to what triggers the tears or the outburst, then you know what to treat. On a side note, she said for people who need hormone therapy, you MUST use a bio-identical kind. Synthetic versions, that are man-made (so they can be patented), will never match the naturally occurring hormone. Synthetics do something different in the brain.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone realized the transforming power of antioxidants in our food. He was the first physician to point out to the public that things we eat, can change the way we look. He believes what you eat affects your health. He thinks we can reverse the aging process. Perricone’s groundbreaking research showed how antioxidants can fight inflammation, which is what is at the base of aging and age-related diseases. He said the biggest contribution he has made to medicine is the fact that we are what we eat. He feels the skin is a perfect barometer of our inner health. He has never seen beautiful, radiant skin, on an unhealthy patient. Even acne clears up from good diet, because acne is an inflammatory disease, just like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Perricone said his latest research surrounds nutrigenomics – which describes how the foods we eat interact with our genes. It means we can suppress disease, and improve health. We can take control of our health. We are not stuck with our genetic inheritance. He said the best things to eat are fresh fruits and vegetables, cold water fish (They have healthy fats in them. That’s how they keep moving in cold water. The oil doesn’t freeze over.), stay away from sugars and starches. You want to put something directly on your skin that is an anti-inflammatory. Perricone recommends products that contain DMAE, which is a topical anti-inflammatory. He said water cress is good for fighting cancer. It contains an element (sulforaphane) that up-regulates the good genes, detoxifies your body, makes the skin beautiful, and decreases your risk of every form of cancer. He recommends eating whole foods over supplements, because as physicians they isolate one little chemical, when there are hundreds of other things that work synergistically to make it more effective. (*I actually read about this somewhere recently. That when you get your vitamins and minerals from food, it is much more beneficial than taking supplements. It’s not just the vitamin that you need to get the value – you also need all the other components in foods, that work together to give your body the true benefit.)

Dr. Oz wrapped up the show by sharing alternative health secrets:

  • Adding lemon to tea is good for a sore throat – fiction. He said the lemon is actually a problem because it is acidic, which can often irritate a sore throat further. You can use it for the flu, but not a sore throat. Try honey, (or agave!) instead.
  • Chia seeds are effective for weight loss – fiction. Dr. Oz said they have a great Omega-3 fatty content, but a big trial was done recently that showed it doesn’t do much for weight loss.
  • Garlic can treat foot fungus – fact. Garlic has a compound in it that can fight off fungus. It has a lot of antifungal nutrients in it. You can rub it directly on your toes.

Here is the link to the episode: (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/alternative-health-all-stars-part-1). For more on Dr. Agatston, Dr. Northrup, and Dr. Perricone, visit their respective websites: (http://www.southbeachdiet.com/sbd/publicsite/about-dr-agatston.aspx) (www.drnorthrup.com) (www.perriconemd.com)

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