Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lemon H20 and Detox

Every morning, I try to start off with a large glass of warm lemon water.  I won't lie, my attempt at living a raw lifestyle has been... well, a process.  I love cooked food.  Sweet and salty prepared food is more exciting (well, duh) than raw vegetables.  Some doctors still debate as to whether food is physically addictive, but I don't think anyone could dismiss the psychological dependence that people have on food.  I take steps forward and steps backward.  But lemon water is my constant.  It's my morning tea.  But why lemon water?

Most people have heard about the benefits of alkaline foods.  And most people know that lemons are full of tart citric acid.  So lemons make us acidic?  Nope, our bodies interpret lemons as alkaline, because they form an alkaline ash during digestion. The citric acid in lemons then absorbs into the blood, helping to clean the liver, lungs and kidneys--dissolving uric acid and stirring up the bowels.  If you are fortunate enough to have good bowel movements, the harmful acids that the citric acid stirs up will be expelled.  If you don't have good bowel movements, start eating fiber--eat a few tablespoons of flax seeds with almond milk and a spoonful of jam!  (to make an easy almond milk, blend one part almonds to two parts water in a blender and strain.)  As long as you don't have diverticulitis, you'll be fine eating this odd, but somewhat tasty and filling flax porridge.  The mucilage in flax will expand in and further help grab poisons.  Psyllium is another option.  Plant mucilages like flax and psyllium escort waste right out of your body.

Magnesium, in conjunction with calcium, has an important part to play in the formation of albumen in the blood.  Lemons contain potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and  magnesium. They're useful in treating heartburn, fevers, the common cold, asthma, and the flu.

Partly because of these minerals, lemon is considered a natural appetite suppressant, and is said to dislodge toxins from fat.  I'm skeptical of these sorts of claims, but if in fact cellulite is the result of the overtaxed lymphatic system not being able to remove toxins from pockets of fat, lemon water would seem to help.  This however, could be a myth promoted by the alternative health industry; who knows. 

Although diet may affect cellulite, it's important to remember that hormones do too; estrogen, specifically.  Anyways don't stress yourself over a few dimples :)

We live in a charged universe.  Lemons are one of the few foods on the planet to contain predominantly negatively charged ions.  As you read this, your computer screen may be emitting positive ions.  The screen itself has a positive static charge, and will draw negative ions toward it, while releasing positive ions into the air.  Our planets ionopshere is supposedly overloaded with positive pollution caused by human industry, and our bodies expend negative ions with every move we make.  According to a Dr. Neal Nedley, a medical doctor who specializes in preventative medicine, plants actually grow faster in negatively charged fresh air, and the silica in the lungs function more efficiently.  

Negative ions are mostly found in forests.  Albert P. Kreuger, a microbiologist and experimental pathologist at the University of California, found that even small amounts of negative ions can kill airbourne bacteria.  In fact, electrons make us alkaline; acidification of the blood is caused by loss of electrons.

I understand that negative charge effects alkalinity, and alkalinity has a positive effect on the body.  But most of the studies have concerned with negative ions in the atmosphere, not in food - but what's on and around our bodies is also inside them. 

Ok, so I'll still be reading, and I'll be sure to update this post if I find out any new or conflicting information.  I'm NOT going to tell you to go out and soak your feet in ion baths or buy an electric ionizer; we live in a money-driven world, and sadly people will promise anything at the promise of making money.  Nobody has all of the answers; I'm not even sure that the raw food diet is absolutely the healthiest diet.  My point of contention is tea.  A lot of raw vegans argue that hot tea throws the body out of balance, whether it contains caffeine or not.  But sometimes I need a little warm-up.  I've tried living without caffeine; I'm simply not ready to give it up yet.  I love cacao.  I love coffee.  I know my body, and you know yours.  It's up to all of us to make informed decisions.  Personally, I know that dairy is mucous-forming, full of pesticide concentrations, and contains a chemical called casiein that reacts with opiate receptors in the brain like heroin does.  Caesin is also used in glue and plastics.  I knew for years, and still ate it.  I had to wait for my time to change.

Dr. Max Gerson's cancer treatment institute in Mexico (alternative cancer treatment cannot be legally practiced in the US) has been heavily criticized.  The alkaline diet has, too.  I understand why: diets make money.  However, authors of a 1990 study reported that patients using an alkaline detoxification therapy in conjunction with standard cancer treatment reported that "the diet appeared to help patients to live longer than usual and have fewer side effects."  

Linus Pauling was criticized for suggesting vitamin C to treat common colds, just as people in the 70s were quackified for questioning the safety of lead paint.  The longest-lived people in the world, the Hunzas and Okinawans eat a primarily alkaline plant-based diet--and the Okinawans live near one of the most polluted waterways in Japan.  Acidity creates inflammation.  The highly acidic north American diet leaves one in four people with cancer, and the survival rates that pharmaceuticals offer is grim.  The health benefits of alkalinity have been demonstrated for hundreds of years, and the evidence is all around us.  Such cultures demonstrate that the cure for every disease is in prevention.  Many alternative practitioners think that every disease points to one singular cause: an overload of toxicity.  No doubt our bodies are excellent at maintenance, but I hardly think evolution has had a chance to catch up with all of the chemicals we constantly eat, breathe, and drink.  As I take my shower, I may think of the choloroform (chlorine vapor) that rises from the hot water as something my body can handle - well it is - but what about the dust from nearby demolished high-rises, diesel smog, the smokestack I can see from my bedroom window, and the browned food that I eat that will eventually cause acrylamide to form inside my body?

If you get a chance, I suggest reading John Robbin's "Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the Worlds Healthiest and Longest Lived Peoples."

Skepticism is the basis for modern science, but beware of who is funding "non-profit" studies.  Pharmacy is BIG BUSINESS.  In the 90s many of us were convinced shyness was a disease by makers of Paxil.  Now ads appear constantly for depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction.  I was skeptical of the researchers, skeptical of the skeptics, skeptical of health gurus, and so I gave detox a try.  And I felt a difference.  Most of the people who say that detox doesn't work have never tried it.  Your body will tell you right from wrong.  Don't say "no pizza... ever" because the first thing you'll want to do when you "fail" is eat a slice of pizza... then after "blowing it" maybe you'll have a milkshake!  There is NO failure when it comes to your body - it's yours and nobody else's, and you're the same awesome person if you're drinking a milkshake or not.  Eventually, if you can ease into giving up cooked food - if only for two weeks - your cravings will disappear.  Carrot burgers (recipe coming soon) will taste great, but don't expect others to agree unless their systems have also been cleaned up! 

For more intense detoxification, try lemon water in addition to a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables.  A week to a month will be all you need to feel better and begin to heal yourself from the inside.  You will see a difference in your skin; your acne WILL vanish. If you eat completely raw for as little as a week, I can almost promise that your skin will be as smooth as when you were a kid.  You will loose your taste for doughnuts and chips.  Your sleep will become as natural and regular as the sunrise and sunset.  Try cleansing during the spring, a time of year that the body naturally detoxes. 

Luke munching on Wheatgrass (to make: soak Hard Red Wheatberries overnight and wrap in towel, rinsing in a strainer every 10 hours until little sprouts appear.)

Ann Wigmore observed  that wheatgrass inspires a the same relaxing response as "crashing waves," because of the negative ions it lets off.  Could be.  I do have a hard time sleeping with a tray of wheatgrass by my bed.  But I think it's more my cat's interest in the grass that keeps me up. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Make a Simple Scrub

I make various scrubs—some are cold-infused with herbs, some with spices, another with antioxidant-rich cacao nibs.  Scrubs can be made with honey, molasses, agave nectar, or any humectant; they can also be oil-based.  This recipe is for an oil-based scrub.

Since recipes for scrubs aren’t as fragile as balms or creams, you can have fun with experimenting with various ingredients.

A brown sugar & agave scrub scented with ginger.

Mix together:
1 cup solid oil (such as coconut)
1/2 cup liquid oil (optionally combined with a quarter size amount of melted beeswax) 
up to 3 cups ground salt/ sugar
Essential oil of choice 

Simple enough...

Mix everything, adding the sugar/salt last.  Use as much or as little sugar/ salt as you like.  To ensure a uniform consistency, and to save your poor arms, a stand mixer might be helpful.

If you use virgin coconut oil, it will contain a high level (>50%) of Lauric Acid.  In other words, you might just scrub your skin raw with it.  In fact, Lauric Acid will help fight acne and keratosis pilaris (tiny bumps that often crop up on the upper arms) but if you have sensitive skin, be warned: you will need to use another oil such as sunflower.  Combining the oil with a wax will help it form a softening protective barrier over the skin.  Please avoid emulsifying waxes; they always contain Polysorbate-60, a toxic ester.  There are many natural vegan waxes available, such as Candellia.

If you have access to shea butter, use it to replace coconut oil for a foot scrub. 

Your skin WILL feel oily before you dry off.  Try to like the feeling.  Coconut oil is non-comedogenic and mildly anti-bacterial, meaning it will not only not cause breakouts—it will fight them.  Neither will it over-moisturize.  This type of scrub is suited for use on the body.

For facial exfoliation, try patting on a mixture of soy yogurt, ground oats, and splash lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.   Fresh strawberries will help slough off dead skin, as well.

Easy Body Butter!

Mix the following:
1 part Shea Butter (use unrefined!)
1/4 part solid oil, such as coconut
a drizzle (to preference) liquid oil
Essential oil (optional)

Any cooking oils will do.  You can go as cheap or fancy as you want to.  I prefer cold pressed oils and Nutiva extra virgin unrefined coconut oil—I've tried them all, and this is the best—but you don’t have to.  Buy the cheap stuff at the grocery store.  Try it out, see if you like it.  I'm sure you'll find that it’s a heck of a lot better than most of the other stuff out there.

What about shea?  That you'll probably have to order online.  Unrefined shea does have an unusual ash-like scent, but is packed with antioxidants that are chemically stripped from refined varieties. I think you'll find that the benefits of unrefined shea outweigh the smell.

I'll go ahead and assume you don't want any fuzzies growing on your butter, so please sterilize and dry your utensils completely before using them!  Or at least make sure there is not so much as a drop of water in your container.  If you don't care to serilize, most likely nothing will be growing in your butter unless you incorporate water in the mixture.

I use a stand mixer to blend everything (Kitchen Aid,) starting with the more dense shea butter, and ending with the liquid oils.  It's a simple method that works well.

One little note:  be careful what essential oils you use to scent this product.  Clove oil, for example, contains high levels of Eugenol, a hepatotoxic compound that may damage the liver over time.  Even lovely Bergamot is carcinogenic.  That being said, I just noticed this morning that my natural Zevia soda contains Wintergreen - another toxic essential oil.  A little obviously won't kill you, but please be careful.

Good luck!