Thursday, January 27, 2011

The how-tos for healthy grocery shopping

While health food stores are becoming more mainstream, not all of us have the luxury of living close to one. Last week when I was catching up on my favourite blogs, I saw a great video online from Dr Frank Lipman.

In a short and sweet 3 minute video, he offered some very practical tips on how to navigate an ordinary supermarket and come out with a healthy basket.

Watch the full video:

Here’s a quick summary for you:
  • Never go shopping when you’re hungry
  • Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible (or as author Michael Pollan says, don’t eat food that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise)
  • Shop the outside aisles where the fresh foods are
  • Your first choice should be fresh foods, then frozen, then tinned 
  • Take a copy of the dirty dozen and clean 15 guides with you (this is a guide to the fruits & vegetables with the most and least pesticide residue after testing). You can view it here in an earlier Dose
  • Choose organic dairy, and if you don’t eat dairy, a good alternative is almond milk, as are dairy products made from goat’s and sheep’s milk
  • Choose plain, Greek yoghurt over flavoured and low-fat yoghurts which are generally laden with sugar or artificial sweeteners 
  • When it comes to meat, avoid processed meats and opt for natural grass-fed meat and organic, free range chicken. If they're unavailable or out of your price range, the next choice would be antibiotic and hormone free meats, and then lean meat as most toxins are in the fat. 
  • Avoid fruit juice unless you squeeze it yourself; all bottled juices from shops and supermarkets are pasteurised, a heat-treating process that destroys enzymes, lowers vitamin concentrations and alters the taste. 
  • Avoid cereal with cartoon characters on the packet as it's usually very high in sugar
  • Avoid the bakery sweets; if you have a sweet tooth, go for raw chocolate 
I’ll add my own piece of advice to that – avoid the confectionery and snack aisles.

Happy shopping.

Do you have any further tips on healthy supermarket shopping? Any particular products or brands to recommend?

Friday, January 21, 2011

How does alcohol affect your liver?

Since we’re in the business of detoxing and all that jazz, we thought it was high time we got up close and personal with that lovely (not so little) organ of ours: yes, the liver.

The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body (the largest organ overall being on the outside: the skin). Soft pinkish-brown in colour, our liver weighs approx 1.4 to 1.6 kilos (yikes!). It sits in the upper right hand side of the abdominal cavity, just below the diaphragm.

Its job: multi-faceted. The liver is the master of all trades: detoxification, metabolism, glycogen (glucose) storage, protein synthesis and hormone production to name a few.

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty, the question we all have playing on our minds. How have the end of year (and new year) festivities taken their toll on our livers?

How is your liver really doing? To get a clearer picture, here are a few useful facts:

  • When you sip on that beautifully chilled glass of pinot gris, you’re essentially asking your liver to halt all of its normal activities and deal with the incoming toxin of the moment: alcohol. Processing alcohol (or more specifically its component ethanol) is the priority – normal metabolism slows down; toxins build up.
  • Your liver can only metabolize about ½ an ounce of ethanol (contained in a beer, a shot, a small glass of wine) in an hour. Any more than that (put your hand up if you're guilty) and the alcohol spills into other parts of your body (yuck!), circulating until your liver is ready to metabolize it. This is one of the reasons we feel so awful the day after a bender - your body is deperately trying to catch up.
  • If you drink in excess frequently, your liver’s ability to break down lipids (yes, fat) can be reduced on an ongoing basis and these lipids then build up in the liver (hence the term ‘fatty liver’). 
  • Symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, skin trouble, bloated tummy (to name a few) are all signs that your liver needs some TLC.

There is still hope to repair your poor liver. Aside from moderating your alcohol intake (try drinking a glass of water for every alcohol drink… this really helps you to pace yourself!), we suggest that you give your liver a break every now and again to allow it to rest and repair. Detoxing your diet is a great place to start but a juice cleanse can really push your liver cleanse that step further!

Oh, and if you really want to give your liver that extra bit of love and attention, supplement with milk thistle. Flordis do a great supplement called Legalon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drink more purified water (because it's good for you)

water bottleWater. Drink more and drink good quality, pure water. It is as simple as it sounds. Our bodies are around 70% water and it is recommended that you drink 30ml per kilogram of body weight.

For precisely this purpose, we're giving away a stainless steel water bottle (that lovely looking bottle to the left) with every 3 and 5 day cleanse delivered from today until we run out (we have around 500 to give away, give or take the few that I will keep for myself).

According to Wiki (the source of all arguable truth), in 2004 only 42% of the world's population had access to clean water. So in Australia we are incredibly fortunate to have access to such good quality water, though you can do better than tap water and we believe it's worthwhile investing in a good quality water filter.

Good water filters remove bacteria and toxins (and make your water taste nicer!). Purifying your own water is also much cheaper and better for the environment than buying bottled water.

To make our Spicy Lemonade and Cashew-coco smoothie, we use water filtered by our beautiful clay water filter from Southern Cross Pottery. Upfront, they are not cheap, costing from $229 upwards, however the replacement filter lasts for 12 months or 2000 litres and the water costs 11.5c per litre in the first year and 2c per litre thereafter. The water is honestly the best I've tasted and I've also invested in one for home. I know I sound like an infomercial, but I promise I have no friends there and I'm getting no kickbacks (yet, anyway).

Not quite as effective or cheap in the long run, but very easy and convenient, are the Brita OnTap filters, available from Kmart, Target, etc.

Here's to water!