Hit Your Body’s Reset Button

Hey, so speaking of  New Year’s Resolutions… like blogging at least twice a week?  Oops already… this one’s a little late!  However, I can honestly say I have been working on my blog—just trying to learn the ropes at WordPress!  As you can see from my site, much work is yet to be done… but I’ll get the hang of it soon 🙂

SO… better late than never, my New Year’s Post:

Ah, the new year… that time of re-evaluation.  What are my daily habits like?  How am I doing on my short- and long-term goals?  What are my new goals?

Many of these habits and goals have to do with our health.  Did you meet your health goals for last year?

I won’t lecture you on the importance of good health and healthy lifestyle habits.  If you are reading this at all, you already know health is important!  Hopefully, from this blog, you are getting some tips and practices to help you have more energy, feel happier, get spiritually connected, and more.

In this post, I will give you a list of practices I suggest you cram into a week for a New Year’s “reset.”

I won’t call it a cleanse because it’s a much milder program than the kinds of restriction a cleanse entails.  However, it will help you physically and energetically “cleanse” as well as give you more energy.

A concept that I try to embed in many of my posts is that physically and energetically, we have natural waste that needs to be removed, and making sure our lifestyle supports this removal is paramount to having good health, having enough energy, to mental clarity, and long-term disease prevention.

When you eat and drink, you later go to the bathroom.  When you inhale, you also exhale. Energetically, you take in fresh prana from the environment, and once that prana is used, dirty or used-up prana exits the energy system naturally.

Perfect setup right?  Only problem is that most of us don’t expel our natural waste products, including dirty energy, as quickly as it is created, for various reasons.  Hence buildup.  We know about buildup because we hear about it in the lower-tract regions.  Well, our chakras can get “constipated” too!

If we don’t heal and cleanse constantly and quickly enough, blockages occur–energetic as well as physical.  Both types are primary culprits in causing fatigue.  (Anyone wish they had more energy?)  Serious blockages that worsen over years cause serious health conditions.

Catching up on the body’s usually-slowed waste removal is an incredibly powerful healing secret, physically as well as energetically.  Just by expelling dirty, used-up prana, the body instantaneously and rapidly draws in lots of fresh prana.  You feel awake, alert, energized–and cheerful!

By unclogging our systems, you detoxify your system (to varying degrees, depending on the technique) which automatically gives you more energy.  Instead of your body using its resources to try to flush out old stuff, you have that energy for other things.  Your digestion will improve and you will absorb nutrition from your food better.

Putting it another way: Your physical body and energy body is a series of tubes—plumbing!  There’s always some junk here and there in all of us.  But we often have some major jams that need an extra boost to get cleared out.

So let’s get started!

Here’s your to-do list!  Some of these practices are energetic, some of these are physical.  The best part of all is that what you do energetically also affects the physical body.  What you do physically also affects the energy body.  So you are healing both all the time with the things on this list.  Why not just stick to one type of the other?  Because the healing will be much more rapid and powerful when you do both.

These things work!  They are easy, and they get results.  But as I always say, experiment for yourself.  Maybe something here sounds weird.  Well you won’t know unless you try, right?  And if it doesn’t seem to do the trick, no problem!  You can toss it out and nothing lost.

A note on foods.  Don’t read so much into the food list.  It is not a list of the “only healthy foods you should ever eat.”  It is a list of foods that will assist your body in cleansing.  Some foods help cleanse, some foods do more building of the body.  Since the theme is flushing out old stuff, the do’s and don’t’s are toward that end.  True, sugar and coffee aren’t “health foods,” but they are not on the “don’t” list because they don’t have a large effect on your body’s cleansing processes.  Of course, since our end goal is health, use your common sense on eating as healthfully as possible.

There are other cleanses out there!  You might feel you need more.  You might want to get sugar out of your system because you have been having too many cravings, etc.  This is not the only or best cleanse out there.  It’s just one way to eat to help your body get caught up on digestion and elimination, and inclusive of energy healing practices that will assist healing you on a deeper level.

So this is just an experiment for you.  Try it if you like!

You can do this for 1 day or 7–or more!

Food:

No’s

-Meat

-Cheese/Milk/Yogurt (small amounts of dairy as ingredients are fine)

-Dessert (a bite of something here and there is ok, just avoid sitting down to a sundae or bowl of ice cream)

-Alcohol

Why?  Energetically, these things are heavy.  Pork is incredibly clogging to the energy body, at the heaviest end of the spectrum.  (If you are a person who eats pork frequently, I can almost guarantee you will feel at least some difference by removing it for a few days and you will understand what I’m talking about.)  Removing heavier foods lets your energy flow more easily which gives you more energy—because your energy flow is not being hampered.

Yes’s

-Vegetables (load up please!)

-Fruit

-Grain

-Beans

Of course, any foods that irritate your system specifically are best left out for any cleanse or “reset”.  There are too many possibilities to list!  But by all means, tailor it.  I do suggest keeping out the “No” foods in any case for the reasons I listed.  As I mentioned, it’s a temporary way of eating for an intended purpose, not a “bad guys” list for all time.

Daily:

Green Smoothies, 2 glasses a day

Some people can easily substitute 1-2 meals for a few glasses of green smoothies instead.  They are fairly filling—more than you expect.  But if you are not one of those people, I recommend a smoothie for breakfast because on an empty stomach is the perfect time to flush through all the greens so they cleanse and push through (hooray fiber!) anything that was not fully digested or processed previously.  Then for either lunch or dinner, eat a big salad with anything on top that isn’t on the “No” list.  Sometimes I even sauté vegetables and put them on my salad, like brocooli and mushroom, and it makes it filling and delicious!  You can also try your favorite nuts and seeds, and don’t forget your favorite dressing.

(For Green Smoothie recipes, you will find plenty of recipes online.  I personally just fill my blender about 50% with leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard, etc) and 50% fruit (pear, banana, apple, berries, etc).  It doesn’t matter too much which greens and fruit you choose.  Pear and banana will make the texture the most drinkable, however.  If you’re new to drinking green stuff, start with spinach, it’s easiest on the palate.)

For the third meal, there are thousands and thousands of hearty and delicious meals without meat and cheese, and free recipes left and right online.  Try a simple Thai dish with rich and delicious coconut milk (one of my favorites!).  You can sauté vegetables and make a Chinese-inspired stir fry.  Soup options are endless, as are baked vegetable ensembles for the casserole dish and the oven.  Pizza without cheese is delicious—just get a super fresh tomato or pesto sauce and slather it on!  I love artichokes, mushrooms, garlic, and onions on my pizza….

Energy

As with the physical body, things can get backed up here.  Stress energy is a main culprit.  Treat yourself to the practices here and let the bliss begin….

Daily:

Either morning or evening, take a salt bath.  You’ve heard it from me before, and you’ll hear it from me again!  Fill your bath with 2-4 pounds of table salt (not Epsom salt which does not have a cleansing effect).  Table salt contains green prana.  Green prana has the effect of breaking down dirty, congested, clumped energy.  It disintegrates it, while the water helps draw it out of your body.

For even more cleansing, drop 10-15 drops of tea tree oil OR lavender oil into the bath. You can alternate the two oils.  Soak for 20 minutes maximum. Then rinse off afterward with a quick shower.

Twin Hearts Meditation:

This is a guided meditation created by Master Choa Kok Sui designed to cleanse, heal, and energize your energy system as well as heal your physical body (anything that happens to our energy affects our physical body automatically!).  Not to mention give you spiritual connection!  Do this daily.  You can even do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening to give yourself an extra boost.  Don’t be fooled by its simplicity.  It is extremely powerful!   www.pranichealing.com/meditation-twin-hearts

There are too many benefits of this meditation to list!  You will find many throughout my blog.  The short version: by simply following along, a downpour of energy flushes through your entire system, pushing out old, stale, congested energies.  You are then flooded with fresh prana.  It’s like getting an energy transfusion with the hit of a button!

There are three CD versions of it some of you may already have.  The link above is free, and is a shortened version.  There is also a slightly longer CD version guided by Master Choa Kok Sui.  Then there are two more with an extra 7 minutes or so which guide you through specific healing for your physical organs in one, and for your mind/emotions for the other.  If you happen to have the latter two CDs, I suggest alternating these two versions during this week.  You can purchase them on the Pranic Healing website, www.pranichealing.com.  If you are practicing Arhatic Yoga, pack it in to this week!  (www.pranichealing.com/courses/arhatic-yoga)

Just remember not to start Twin Hearts less than about two hours before bedtime.  (For Arhatic, you have probably already figured out when you need to do it J)  These meditations can be fairly energizing and, for some people, cause them to have trouble falling asleep.

This is a great time to get some Pranic Healing (PH) for even deeper cleansing and healing.  You can use PH to cleanse physical organs such as your liver and lungs, you can use it to clean all major chakras, you can use it to cleanse and remove negative mental/emotional energy and blockages of all kinds—stress, depression, anger/resentment, trauma, and more.  (I am available for sessions on a limited basis.)

Other Cleansing Practices:

If you want to treat yourself to even more, here are a few other tried-and-true ways to cleanse and heal.  Pack these into your Reset Week as your schedule allows!

Massage

Colon Hydrotherapy

Sauna and Steam Room

Sleep!  Go to bed 10pm or earlier!

Exercise-sweat, sweat, sweat

Best wishes for fantastic health in 2015!

Blessings,

Meghan

How to Drink Greens (and Why!)

Originally Published August 5, 2013

This post is devoted to a vastly underrated and under-recognized food that deserves to be in a class of its own–leafy greens!

In health discussions and articles, virtually all the nutrition attention goes to macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  Out of these three, protein gets the most attention.  Yet the average American gets twice the protein they need in any given day.  So it’s baffling to me why we’re all still talking about protein all the time.

What is much less often mentioned is that almost every one of us is terribly deficient in micronutrients: vitamins and minerals.  These deficiencies cause our immune systems to have trouble functioning, make us feel fatigued, and also cause us to have more food cravings and even simple hunger.  Hunger, of course, hits when our body needs nutrition, not just when our stomach is empty.  If our last meal had little to no nutritive value, we will be hungry again sooner.

I do not recommend relying on vitamin and mineral supplements in most cases because these are almost always chemical versions–imitations–of these nutrients, produced in a lab, and have been shown to be unhelpful and even harmful in scientific studies.  By taking isolated vitamins and minerals, you are also missing out on MANY nutritional components that come with the whole food, making food many many times more nutritious than manufactured supplements.  Real nutrition is also highly assimilable and absorbable while chemical “nutrients” are hard to absorb and mostly get flushed out of the body–clearly not worth the money!

How do we quickly and easily get lots of vitamins and minerals every day?  Green stuff!  Interestingly, the closest animals to humans consume a huge amount of greens daily.  Chimpanzees eat about 40% of their diet as leafy greens.  Many animals consume greens as their main, staple food.  Imagine–cows eat practically nothing but grass and managing to maintain a massive body size and weight!

Leafy greens such as kale are loaded with micronutrients: vitamins and minerals–which most of us are starving for.  Getting this less-then-ubiquitous nutrition can be extremely powerful for our health and in healing.  Remember, getting enough nutrition often dramatically decreases cravings for unhealthy foods.  It also gives you a full feeling that lasts a long time.

American cuisine usually only involves greens in the form of salad or a leaf of lettuce on a burger.  We usually don’t eat salad every day anyway.  There could be some greens in soup or stir-fry’s, but they are then boiled to death.  When we eat greens raw, we are able to get the full benefit of their nutritional profile.  Cooking destroys most vitamins as well as many minerals.  Cooking also destroys 50% of the protein of any food, and believe it or not, raw greens are a great source of protein, as they are assimilated at a far higher rate than traditional sources.   We need to see green on our plate at every meal possible–even breakfast!

Raw greens happen to be rather tough to break down.  The cell wall is made of cellulose, one of the toughest natural substances.  It is cellulose that allows a plant to defy gravity and stick straight up out of the ground toward the sun.  Without very thorough chewing (or cooking), the cell wall will stay intact, keeping the nutrients inside, unabsorbed by our bodies.  Most humans do not or cannot chew thoroughly enough to break down the cell walls due to jaw strength, jaw problems, lack of the right habits, or even dental issues.  Without proper chewing, greens can be difficult to digest, cause indigestion, and end up causing us to dislike them.

I came across a brilliant solution to the difficulty of getting plenty of raw greens into our diets and absorbed by our bodies daily in a book by Victoria Boutenko called 12 Steps to Raw Foods.  Her book is designed to help readers transition to a mostly or completely raw food diet, and while that is not my personal goal or a goal I would suggest to most people, her book is full of fascinating and useful information.

The solution is green smoothies.  Ok, before you close the browser window, allow me to continue!  The recipe is just 40% greens and 60% fruit.  The fruit overpowers the greens and the taste is sweet and entirely palatable.  If it isn’t sweet enough for you, add more fruit or sweeter fruit.  While the combination sounded strange to me at first, it tastes surprisingly “normal” and even delicious!  One big glass each morning, and I know I have already consumed a significant amount of nutrition needed for the day.

Green smoothies take just a few minutes to prepare and clean up after.  Smoothies can also stay fresh for a couple of days so you can make a big batch in advance if you like.  Drinking raw greens and fruit in the morning continues the “fast” we are on during the night while we sleep.  It gives us a final flush and cleanup before we move on to heavier foods later in the day.  The fiber is also an excellent component of breakfasts and can get our bowels moving as well.

I personally feel so full and fulfilled after drinking about a glass and a half of green smoothie, I can often go many hours without eating and can end up eating a pretty late lunch.  This may not be true for everyone, as all our calorie needs are different, but it says something to me about the completed-ness of the meal.  Other breakfasts do not usually satisfy me as much, or if they leave me feeling full, it’s with a sense of heaviness like I over-ate.

I am often asked if making a green smoothie counts as “juicing.”  No.  Juicing involves using a special piece of equipment, a juicer, which extracts the liquid and nutrition from the plant, leaving the pulp separate as waste.  You are left with a smooth liquid the consistency of water.  A smoothie blends the whole plant, fruit or green, in the blender with water to make it a drink but does not extract anything to throw out.  It is thick.  For the many differences between juicing and smoothies, see my previous post, Smoothies vs. Juicing: Which is Healthier?

How to Make a Green Smoothie

Here is a very simple “recipe” to start with.  You can find probably hundreds online and also experiment yourself with your favorite fruits and greens.  You will want to ideally use a high-speed blender like Vita-Mix or Blendtec which will thoroughly liquefy your greens.  Other blenders may work fairly well in the beginning while the blades are sharp, but once they dull, the speed will not be enough to effectively break things down, so you will want to sharpen the blades regularly if you have one of these.

Fill the blender 40% full of one or more greens such as spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens or another.  I have listed these 4 roughly in order of sweet to bitter.  If you are still doubtful about taste, start with spinach.  Then move to swiss chard, kale, and lastly to dandelion greens.  Dandelion greens are fantastic cleaners, but they are on the bitter side to use your sweetest fruit when you use them.

Choose about 3 pieces of fruit which should fill about 60% of the blender.  I use a pear in every smoothie.  The texture makes things really smooth, and if it’s ripe, it’s nice and sweet.  You can also try banana, apple, peach, berries, cherries, and anything else you like.

So for instance:  40% full spinach, 1 pear, 1 apple, handful of blueberries.  Then add 2-3 cups of water depending on your preference of how thin/watery you like it.  For me, 2 cups is plenty, but you may like starting with 3 cups to make it even more drinkable.  If the texture seems too thick and chunky still, try blending it longer, sharpening your blades, or adding more water.

I hope you enjoy your smoothie, and make sure to leave a comment and tell me about your experience!

What Does a Vegetarian Eat For Lunch?

Originally Published April 10, 2013

To me, breakfast and dinner are pretty easy to do without meat.  I’ve been doing green smoothies for breakfast for a couple of years.  On the weekend, I’ll have eggs or French toast, and I’ve even been making oatmeal from scratch lately.  There are tons of options for dinner as well:  soup, stir-fry’s, pot pie, marinated/roasted vegetables, gratin, my husband’s curries, and certainly more that I’m forgetting right now.

But the traditional American lunch seems to be the sandwich, and that seems to have meat in it.  As a kid, I ate roast beef, corned beef, and turkey sandwiches.  There was lettuce and tomato, but that was definitely besides the point.

Is a good sandwich possible without meat?  Yes!

It took a little while for me to figure it out, but it’s definitely possible, not difficult, and delicious.

And DON’T let restaurants fool you because for the LONGEST time, the only vegetarian sandwich I ever saw had cucumber, sprouts, cream cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  Ugh.  It was awful–totally bland–but my only option at some places.  This type of menu item coming from a fully-stocked kitchen could easily fool you into thinking that was as good as it could get with a veggie sandwich.  Not so.

At first, my meatless sandwich consisted of simply avocado, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise on sprouted grain bread that was slightly toasted.  Even this little number is way better than the restaurant one described above, at least in my opinion.  I still love this simple combo, but I have expanded a little to make something much better.

What do I think of tofu-based “fake meat” products?  Usually not worth the money.  I have tried most of them, and 90% are tasteless.  Unless you simply want to add texture and a few grams of protein, save your money.  There are, for me, two exceptions, and one of them I am using daily at the moment.

For several years, my sandwich was the one above with a product called Tofurkey in the “Hickory-Smoked” flavor.  Not quite all natural (I don’t know what “smoke flavor,” listed on the label, is…), but fairly healthy and tasty.

However, I got excited enough to write a post on sandwiches thanks to Field Roast’s deli slices.  I have tried Wild Mushroom and Smoked Tomato, and the latter is my favorite.  This is, by FAR, the best meatless ready-made product you can add to your sandwich out there.  It adds taste and flavor, not just a placeholder for the traditional animal product that used to always go there.  It doesn’t pretend to be or try to be meat.  It is in its own category of, simply, “deli slices.”

I’ve also been into goat cheese lately, so I spread a little on my sandwich as well, and voila!  Plenty of taste, nutrition, substance, and texture that any conventional “Joe” would find satisfactory.

You can add flavor to your sandwich with simple things like dijon mustard and a little shake of salad dressing.  You can also use some roasted, marinated, or sauteed vegetables from last night’s dinner and put them in.

Another nice option is to spruce up a grilled cheese sandwich by sauteing a few slices of mushroom and onion and adding it.  Tomato is a classic addition to a grilled cheese as well.  Once, I made grilled cheese with tomato and threw a few spoonfuls of fresh salsa on my plate and dipped the sandwich in it.  It was delicious!

A word on “fake meats,” while we’re on the subject.  I generally don’t like them.  They usually have chemicals, a bunch of soy sauce perhaps, and even sweetener added.  Stay away from big-name brands in this department, as they’ve got flavor imitators down to a science–literally–and not in a healthy way.  If you are looking to take meat away and replace it with something to taste like it, you will be disappointed.  Meat is meat, and tofu with flavor enhancers is not meat, nor should it be construed as such, in my humble opinion.  I don’t feel, as vegetarians looking for healthy diets, we should be on a constant quest to experience meat again without eating it–we should be on a constant quest to experience vegetables and other plants.  And if you don’t love vegetables, you probably aren’t ready to take out meat.  Not that you won’t be at some point if that’s your choice!  But learn to love vegetables first, or you WILL be missing something nutritionally if you suddenly remove meat.  As long as you are eating a variety and reasonable  quantity of vegetables, fruits, and legumes, reducing or eliminating meat will not be a problem nutritionally for just about everyone.  As with any other food, the closer you can consume it to its original form in nature, the healthier it will be and soy “Chick’n Strips” definitely does not fall into that category!

Can We Eat Without Meat? Part II: Physical Aspects

Originally Published October 20, 2012

I am chagrined to see, looking at my Part I post on this topic, that it’s been two years since I wrote it!  I had intended to write Part II just a couple of months later.  Better late than never, but…. this was pretty darn late!

Anyway, last time I wrote about the spiritual aspects of eating meat.  This included the energetic aspects that we learn about in Pranic Healing such as how meat looks  energetically, what it consists of energetically, and how it acts on our bodies as a result.  If you haven’t read this post, you can check it out here

I want to discuss the physical aspects of humans eating meat in this post.  By physical aspects, I refer to the physiological compatibility of humans consuming animals.

This extremely important to discuss because virtually every person in my particular culture (United States) believes without a doubt that humans were designed to eat meat.  They believe it is not only harmless, but essential food for us to function.  This is taken for granted as common sense and rarely questioned.

As I try to point out in every discussion I have about eating meat, while I choose not to eat it, I strongly feel it is a personal decision and respect what each individual decides to do–especially when they have made that decision thoughtfully.  I do wish more people would simply put more thought and education into what they eat and why, and that is why I aim to educate people more on this issue, especially from a side that gets far less attention than the mainstream one.  Also keep in mind, there is much in between being a hard-core carnivore and a strict vegetarian.  If your enthusiasm for meat-eating changes one day, you can simply and easily reduce the amount of meat you eat each week without making any lifelong promise never to have it again, and you can still enjoy many of the health benefits that come with that.

I was inspired to write this post on this specific aspect after reading David Wolfe’s book The Sunfood Diet Success System where there is a fantastic chart in Appendix A toward the end of the book.  I have seen small facts here in there in this direction, but the chart Wolfe created here is, in my opinion, extraordinary.  He has listed 17 physiological aspects of carnivores and compared them to the same part of the body or physiology in herbivores and then in humans.  You can then compare for yourself which category humans seem to fit into.  I would love to copy and paste the whole thing here because it is so surprising, but in the interest of space as well as copyright laws :), I give just a few examples instead.  (In the original chart, there are 17.)

1.Carnivore: All four feet are clawed (to rip into flesh).

Herbivore: All four feet are hoofed (cloven) or hands and feet contain individual digits (fingers or toes) with nails.

Human: Hands and feet contain individual digits with nails and opposable thumbs.  Hands are perfectly designed to reach out, grab fruit and peel it.

2.  Carnivore:  Shape of face allows the carnivore to dig into a carcass and rip out the entrails

Herbivore: Shape of the face allows the animal to pull vegetation off of plants

Human: Shape of the face clearly indicates that humans have no ability to rip out entrails with their mouth

3. Carnivore:  Tongue is rough and thin

Herbivore: Tongue is smooth and thick to manipulate vegetable matter into the back molars for grinding.

Human: Tongue is smooth and thick to manipulate vegetable matter into the back molars for grinding.

4. Carnivore:  Liver contains uricase, an enzyme used to break down uric acid; it can break down 10-15 times more uric acid as a herbivore (uric acid is a by-product of meat digestion.)

Herbivore: Liver has a low tolerance for uric acid.

Human: Liver has a low tolerance for uric acid.

5. Carnivore: Intestines are 3 times as long as the trunk of the body; their design facilitates rapid expulsion of fleshy matter.

Herbivore: Intestines are at least 8 to 12 times as long as the trunk of the body; they are designed for extracting all nutrients from plant fiber.

Human: Intestines are at least 12 times as long as the trunk, and an integral part of the most sophisticated juice extractor in the world: the human digestive system.

6. Carnivore: Saliva is acidic

Herbivore: Saliva is alkaline; it contains enzymes specifically designed to break down starchy carbohydrates

Human: Saliva is alkaline; it contains ptyalin, an enzyme specifically designed to break down starchy carbohydrates.

When our physiology tells us we certainly seem to be herbivores, why and how did so many cultures around the world and through history end up eating meat, even making it a mainstay of their cuisine?  The fact that so many do is often used as evidence that we are meant to eat meat.

Without getting into a lot of details, most definitely do.  However, there are still many that eat very little animal products.  What seems to be roughly true to me is that the further away from the tropics humans get, the more meat they eat.  Essentially, the further away we get from plant options, the more we eat meat to fill in the gaps.  As a general rule, traditional humans eat meat when necessary to supplement their diet out of necessity due to lack of plant options.

Yes, some of you say, there are exceptions to this–true!  I can only wager a guess, and my guess is that humans are curious creatures, and they like what tastes good.  Someone a hundred or so years ago figured out how to refine sugar–just as people thousands or millions of years ago figured out how to make a spear and throw it hard enough to kill a deer.  Both sugar and meat taste good, but the health impacts of consuming neither were studied before they were embraced as part of our diets.

Looking at traditional cultures has become very popular as we strive to discover what we are meant to eat as a species.  We know something has gone very wrong with our modern diets.  Sickness and disease abound, yet in indigenous, traditional cultures, there is little to none of it.  If we are so advanced, why do we suffer from literally thousands of health problems these people have never even heard of?

Of course, studying them is highly valuable.  The most obvious fact we have gleaned from this research is that when we eat food in its natural form, some would call it its whole food form, it will be the healthiest for us.  Using technology to manipulate our food by allowing it to stay on the shelf longer, by adding chemicals for certain flavors, by spraying it with chemicals during the growing process, by genetically modifying it–all hurt and take away its healthy, nutritious properties.  This leads to malnourishment, disease, and more.  While meat could be called a “whole food,” in a similar yet much more primitive way, eating meat still requires technology for humans to do it.  Our bodies do not include instruments for hunting, killing, and putting into consumable form, animal products.  Instruments are required to do that, so for us, I would argue, it is not a natural part of our diet.

Whether eating meat is harmful to us, which is the million-dollar question we are all asking, has become a little more complicated.  We have recently become aware that they way we produce meat products on a massive scale is extremely unhealthy–for the animals and, subsequently, for us who consume them.  Almost all meat produced is created by confining the animals to tiny living spaces, giving them no exposure to sunlight, and involves feeding them an unnatural diet that causes them to become sick in order to fatten them up as quickly as possible.  (They are then fed tons of antibiotics because they are constantly sick.  If simply given their natural diet–grass for cows, for instance–the need for medicine would go away.)  The meat created this way has been proven through thousands of scientific studies to be harmful to people when consumed.  We know that those who consume this meat have a far greater risk of many diseases, including deadly ones.

There are now two sets of meat products–those created naturally by letting animals exercise, eat their natural diet, and live healthfully, and those created the conventional way.  Because most or all studies done on the healthfulness of meat products are done using conventionally-produced meat, we now have a hard time differentiating between the health impacts of each, which are vastly different products.  Consumers of natural meat products naturally dismiss scientific studies that use conventionally-produced meat products because these are such different foods, as they probably should.  What I would like to see is studies done using grass-fed cows, free-range hens, etc. so we can understand what the impacts of eating regular, natural meat products are, as opposed to the impacts of eating the meat of sick and unhealthy animals.  It doesn’t take a scientist to know that the latter is going to hurt us.

In a wonderful lecture by Kevin Trudeau I watched online as part of David Wolfe’s Longevity Now conference, Kevin said he had researched and even spent time with traditional cultures around the world in an effort to find out what these healthy, robust people eat, and to see how we could emulate it.  What he found is that all these healthy people ate incredibly different diets from one another.  He mentioned one that ate monkey brains as well as others that were vegetarian.  What they had in common which  he came to believe were the most important factors for health and longevity included  their relaxed attitude about life.  They had a sense of humor, the habit of letting go of any upsets, and having simply calmer dispositions.  All these cultures shared that.  Now THAT is some wisdom for the ages.

Special Announcement! (…and is a Painless Pregnancy Possible?)

Originally Published May 01, 2012

Wonderful readers,

I wanted to share with you some exciting news.  Many of you already know, but for those who do not:  I’m pregnant!

My husband and I are thrilled to welcome a baby boy into our family sometime around July 15th.

I would like to discuss a little bit about the first question I am asked when I tell people I am pregnant, which is “how are you feeling?”

I have been feeling absolutely great–physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The typical “roller coaster” of pregnancy I so often hear about has not been part of my experience, and I wanted to discuss that a little for two reasons:

1.  To share the perspective that pregnancy is not always a painful and grueling experience and

2.  To tell you what my lifestyle habits are like in case you or someone you know would like to try the same things to create a happy, healthy pregnancy.

As I will discuss further below, pregnancy, as well as other things in life, are not 100% predictable, no matter how much good advice we follow.  Everyone will have a different experience, and for some, this will be related to their lifestyle habits, and for others, it may not be related to that.  Again, I relate my experience only in the case that you may learn something that would be of interest or of use to you.

Here are all the symptoms I would likely have had by now, according to the popular book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting:

Morning Sickness

Fatigue

Frequent Urination

Nausea

Vomiting

Heartburn

Indigestion

Flatulence

Bloating

Food aversions and cravings

Mood Swings, Irritability, Irrationality, Weepiness

Constipation

Edema (swelling of hands and feet)

Varicose Veins

Headaches

Faintness or Dizziness

Skin breakouts

Trouble Sleeping

Nasal Congestion and Occasional Nosebleeds

“Pink toothbrush” from bleeding gums

Scatterbrain

Trouble Concentrating

Elevated Blood Pressure

Leg cramps

Backache

Out of these, I felt nauseous about five times and got about 5-7 headaches.  I have become a more picky eater, but not had real aversions to certain foods.  The only cravings I have had were for salad and frozen berries my first trimester.  I have had frequent urination lately due to the bigger size of the baby.  I have had trouble sleeping for most of the pregnancy.  (I asked Master Co who was just in town to do a little healing on me after class, and with about 3 minutes of work from him, my sleeping is about 80% better–yay!)

I had mood swings for about two weeks around the beginning of my second trimester.  But I had stopped exercising and meditating for that period.  With my first meditation after that time, and with my continuance of a meditation schedule, I have not had another one since.

I don’t say any of these things to brag.  There’s no pregnancy contest going on which I am striving to win.  Women live all kinds of different lifestyles and still have easy or difficult pregnancies, sometimes for no logical reason.  Pregnancy is also not an area of expertise for me in my health practice or education.  I cannot, with any certainty, pinpoint exactly why I have experienced what I have (or haven’t) or which lifestyle choices resulted in my being free of which symptoms, other than some more obvious ones.

I will give you my little two cents, though!  Some comes from my own gut feeling, and others are some things I do know for sure, such as the benefits of exercise and meditation which apply whether you are pregnant or not.  Again, I tell you my experience only so you can keep an open mind if you become pregnant in the future, that pregnancy isn’t always all misery and pain, and so that you can, if so inspired, try some of these things for yourself in case they work for you.  Of course, most of the things I have done to stay healthy during my pregnancy are things I recommend everyone do anyway, and which I was doing before I became pregnant!

Whether pregnant or not, I stand by my three tenets of health which I called in a previous blog, The Triumvirate of Health.  These are 1.  Healthy diet  2.  Exercise 3.  Meditation

The Power of Thoughts and Expectation

In the case of pregnancy, I would add another specific thing to this list which I feel made a difference, and that is positive thinking.  If we internalize every horror story we hear, whether about pregnancy, childbirth, or getting a tooth pulled, we are far more likely to experience the worst possible scenario, rather than the best possible scenario.

I will credit my dad with teaching me this one.  We should never assume we will have a difficult or painful experience with something just because someone else did.

I remember as a child knowing I had to go to the doctor for a strep test or, in one case, to get a tooth pulled.  I was very scared and crying and didn’t want to go.  My dad gave me a really important talk on the fact that just because something sounds scary or you have heard your friends talk about how horrific it was doesn’t mean a single thing about what YOU are going to experience when you go through the same procedure.  Not only is everyone different, but people also like to exaggerate or simply dramatize for the sake of storytelling what they went through.  (I’m not saying everyone does this.  But not every account is 100% accurate, and it is better if we keep that in mind.)

My dad also said if we keep a strong expectation that something will be difficult or painful, it is far likelier that it will be.  However, if we instead create the expectation that maybe it will be or maybe it won’t, but another’s experience has absolutely no bearing on mine, then we have a much higher chance of having an easy experience.  As it turned out, the tooth pull and the strep test were no big deal.

During my pregnancy, I happily listened to others’ experiences whether first-hand accounts or through my reading of books and the web.  With any story I didn’t want for myself, I simply told myself, “that was their experience.”  I thought and felt this in a 100% non-judgmental way.  I was only saying neutrally that just because something happened to one person, it does nothing to increase any likelihood that it will happen to me.  When I heard a story I did like and did want to repeat, I internalized it and told myself, “it will probably be like that for me.”

Our mental attitudes are very powerful.  They are not 100% all-powerful all the time, however, and I am not saying that a person who had more difficulty only had to tell themselves it wouldn’t happen, and it would have been that easy.  I only mention that these attitudes have an impact and increase your chances of a particular outcome.  If a person, instead, powerfully feared and dreaded a particular experience, getting more and more fearful with each negative story, they instead add a few more energies going against them in creating the experience they would want.

Morning Sickness

If there was one topic I had to stay focused on, it was morning sickness.  Morning sickness is experienced by something like 80% of women.  Books even say your baby will be healthier if you have morning sickness.  Every previously or currently pregnant woman will talk about it, as it’s a pretty difficult part of pregnancy.  I didn’t like the sound of that, so I worked to program myself that morning sickness is not necessary, and it’s not necessary in order to have a healthy baby.  I guess I don’t know yet if my baby is healthy, but I at least got to experience a pregnancy without morning sickness.

I have wondered quite intensely what the purpose of morning sickness is, as it happens in so many healthy women.  I have come up with a guess of my own, but let me be the first to say I certainly have no idea if it’s true, and I could be dead wrong.  I present it only as food for thought.

I was reading a book which was a true account of a man meeting a spiritual teacher of sorts who lived as a recluse in the woods (The Ringing Cedars of Russia).  He was given a detoxification protocol to follow for three days, and included in that was consuming certain herbs that caused him to vomit.

It suddenly crossed my mind that perhaps a pregnant woman’s body intentionally goes through a detox or cleansing period to flush out toxins, waste, or negative energies before caring for and nurturing a fetus.  This would make sense and serve a very useful purpose, as well as explain why babies can end up healthier when coming from mothers who went through it.  I thought maybe I didn’t have it because I did a couple of detoxes last year.  Again, I don’t know, but it’s a decent guess, right?

Another possible factor is vegetarianism.  I read about a doctor online who puts his pregnant patients on a vegetarian diet if they are vomiting, and it works for almost all of them.  As you may have read in my other posts, meat contains a lot of dirty energy.  By removing this food from our diets, we are taking in less gunk that our bodies have to work to get rid of, so it kind of fits with my theory 🙂  Again, just a theory!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Diet, Exercise, Meditation

If you are practicing these things consistently, you have given yourself a HUGE head start in preventing health problems and discomforts of all kinds, as well as healing from any you may presently have.

It is incredibly important to implement all three.  They seem to have a compounding effect so that to get the full benefits of each, they all have to be practiced regularly.  Many of us are good at one or two, and this is good, but you won’t even get half the benefit that way.  It is much better to implement them all moderately than one or two constantly.

During my pregnancy, I have eaten mostly the same as I did before.  I do green smoothies for breakfast 4-5 times a week and have my regular meatless fare for lunch and dinner.  I have been less interested in Indian food and spicy food, but it doesn’t cause me any upset to eat it.  I have just had a preference for blander food.  I have been eating more sweets, but it’s more out of the cultural programming of, “you can treat yourself when you’re pregnant!” than out of any real cravings.  I figure I’m still getting tons of healthy food in me the rest of the time–a little more in the “treats” category shouldn’t be a big deal.

I’m exercising about three days a week–less vigorously than before.  I’m just doing 20-30 minutes on the stair stepper.  I did keep running for a while, as this is my preferred workout, but it’s no longer practical.  I still lift weights and it has really helped me to keep toned and not gain excess weight.  I did gain about 5 pounds of fat in the first trimester, but other than that, it seems like most of the weight is connected to the baby and his direct needs than body fat.

My meditation routine feels more essential than ever to me.  I am absolutely convinced that it is the reason I have avoided mood swings.  Mood swings seem to be pretty much universal for pregnant women, but aside from a little bit of emotionality when I stopped meditating, I have not had any change in my mood or mental state.

Master Choa’s Twin Hearts Meditation also has additional unique properties that go even further than powerfully calming our minds and emotions.  The meditation is like getting a 20-minute energy healing session, as it flushes out dirty, congested energy from the aura and chakras.  It also powerfully energizes the entire energy system and physical body.  I feel this is the reason I have not experienced fatigue but maintain the same energy levels I did pre-pregnancy.

If there was one gift I could give to all pregnant women (and probably all people, period), it would be this meditation.  (You can do a mini-version of it for free at www.pranichealing.com or purchase the full CD at the same website.)  I feel and acutely understand what regular practice of this meditation does for me because when I stop, I have about a two-week countdown before I start to feel like I’m back on the usual roller coaster of life again.  The intense discrepancy between the two is really not pleasant, as it’s almost shocking to feel my sense of calm wear off.  I really don’t know how I ever lived without it.

Energetically, the meditation has a regulating effect.  Because of the immense downpour of spiritual energy generated, chakras that are depleted get energized, chakras that are congested get cleansed and purified, and other irregularities get smoothed out.  As some of you may remember from other blogs, this is extremely powerful for our health because physical and mental health problems manifest first in the energy body before they manifest in the physical body.  Energy moves and changes quickly, while our physical selves take extra time to conform and mold to our energetic blueprint.  When we do Twin Hearts, we are altering and healing our energy bodies, preventing physical ailments before they start.  I know that just by practicing this meditation, I have prevented small and large discomforts I would otherwise have experienced during my pregnancy.

The Gift  of Self-Healing, Pregnant or Not

I have an added advantage of also being  a Pranic Healer and so have been able to perform healing on myself when something came up.

For instance, I did have nausea a handful of times.  Each time, I did Pranic Healing, and it went away within 15-30 minutes.  Without doing any Pranic Healing, it is entirely possible that the problem could have worsened and turned into a more persistent, frequent, and severe one.  The same thing happened with headaches.  I had a few bad headaches, a couple of which I would call migraines, in my second trimester.  I was able to heal the headache in 15-45 minutes.  Due to the healing, I may have removed some congested energy and blockages permanently which may have otherwise caused headaches again and again later on.  I have not had a headache or any nausea in months now.

Knowing just some simple healing techniques has saved me the trouble of various ailments as well as all the downfalls of medications which might otherwise have been taken.  Many over-the-counter medicines are not safe during pregnancy anyway.  Even if you’re not pregnant, why take pills, made of chemicals which toxify our bodies, when we don’t have to?  Minor discomforts can be healed with Pranic Healing in the time it would take for a pill to kick in.  And Pranic Healing can help prevent it from happening again, unlike the pills we are so used to popping that only numb symptoms.  As an occasional guest has been surprised to find, we don’t have medicines of any kind in our house–we just don’t need them.

Soooo…. for those whom I have convinced!! 🙂  The next Level I class is being taught by Arnon July 27-28 in Bellevue.  See www.pranichealing.com/events and select your state for more info.

Another note: some of you have inquired about Pranic Healing sessions—I have put that portion of my practice on hold for now until after the baby is born.  I am not sure yet when I will resume sessions, but I will let you all know as soon as I do know!

My husband, Ajay, has decided to offer Pranic Healing, however.  He is doing only distance healing sessions for now.

He can be reached at mailkaul@gmail.com.  Ajay is a fantastic healer with about 15 years of experience now.  He first learned Pranic Healing in India from Grandmaster Choa Kok Sui himself, and I highly recommend him as a healer.

The Colds Season: Causes You Didn’t Know About and Solutions You’ve Never Heard

Originally Published January 18, 2012

This won’t be another article about hand-washing.  I think that one’s pretty obvious, not to mention given an abundance of print space elsewhere.  🙂

I hope to give you some extra tips you haven’t already heard that you can easily and swiftly apply yourselves at home.  It is most important to jump on a cold quickly because colds are really easy to heal when you just start to feel it coming on, but are likely to require much more effort once they’ve gotten going.

First off, I strongly suggest thinking through a little bit about how and why you get colds.  This will be different for different people.  Often times, there is a connection between a stressful event happening in your life, lack of sleep for prolonged periods, lack of exercise or meditation, eating unhealthy food or too much sugar/junk food, going without fresh air for a long time, anger or other negative emotions coming up, and coming down with something.  All these things lower our energy significantly.  When this lowered energy persists, our defenses are down and our immune systems are weakened.  There can be some delay between an unhappy event and a physical reaction in the body such as a cold of several days or a week, perhaps more, so we have to pay close attention and connect the dots.

It is important to realize difficult things happen in our lives that we brush off without realizing or admitting the impact they are having on us.  We have to acknowledge that, yes, that experience really upset me.  And there IS an energetic response to that that will affect your health.  Stress and any negative emotion block, congest, and lower our energy or prana in the body.  Without the right amount of energy flowing properly, our bodies cannot function normally.  So these small and large upsets affect our health.  When we realize this, we can start to understand how our lives, habits, emotions, and events affect us.  This gives us the power to be one step ahead of the game and prevent small as well as big health challenges.

I know you are thinking of being exposed to another person who is sick as a primary reason for getting sick.  I don’t feel this quite counts because we really are exposed to germs practically all the time.  It is easy to blame it on the sick kids we were around or the airport we were in, but with a strong immune system and a high level of energy, this additional exposure does not make a big difference.  I am now into my fourth winter at my other part-time job where at least three times a year, some bug goes around and at least half the staff gets it and has to call in sick.  I have yet to catch anything from work.  What causes us to catch them is our own immune systems and energy levels.

Aside from noticing and taking care of stress and negative emotions, we have to manage our day-to-day energy as well.  I know people who don’t stop until there is nothing left.  They have an admirable inner drive to work hard and help others, but we simply can’t help others or be at our best at work when we’re running on an empty tank.  It also opens us right up for colds, flu, and worse.  Don’t max yourself out.  It’s kind of like how we know to “eat till your stomach is no more than 75% full.”  You can keep eating, but it’s not good for you, and it’s gonna hurt.  So go until your energy is 50% depleted, not 95%.  Learn to “quit while you’re ahead” and not feel bad about it!  This is a habit and takes practice.

I personally haven’t been sick for quite some time (knock on wood)–aside from right now!    It can be fairly predictable for me.  My own learning has inspired what I call the Triumvirate of Health (see previous blog) which includes:

1.  Exercise

2.  Healthy Diet

3.  Meditation

When I do all these things consistently, I feel almost invincible.  My mood is up, my physical energy is up, my sleep is high quality, and even unexpected situations are dealt with smoothly.  When one or more of these fall to the wayside, there goes the quality sleep, there goes the good mood, and there goes the usually-endless energy.  So that’s kind of what happened with me.

Another intriguing theory behind colds, fevers, and flu that I feel is worth mentioning is that they are actually just the body detoxing.  You haven’t necessarily “caught” anything.  If you have ever been on a detox such as a juice fast, you know that the symptoms, whether from reading about it or experiencing it, are cold- and flu-like in nature.  I learned this idea from Matt Monarch, co-owner of www.therawfoodworld.com.  He puts out a fantastic, educational newsletter.

It may be that rather than having a viral or bacterial infection, our bodies have decided now is the time to unload some extra toxins (or, energetically, flush out a bunch of dirty energy).  The process of flushing something out means it leaves your tissues–or chakras–and circulates through the bloodstream or energy body before being expelled through the proper channels.  These include the bowels, lungs, skin, etc.  During this circulation process, the crud is moving through us and makes us feel yucky.  This causes us to feel low-energy, fuzzy-headed, etc.  We also eject toxins through mucus which in the form of a runny nose or cough.

While most of us run to the drug store for the nearest dose of relief, this greatly hampers the process your body is trying to undergo.  Remember, the number one source of toxicity is prescription and non-prescription drugs.  If you are stopping this flow of discharging toxins and dirty energy, your body will only hold onto it for later.  You are increasing your chances of getting sick again, and missing a chance to get healthier than you were before.

What can rapidly accelerate this process instead is something Matt Monarch is openly an enormous fan of, and that is colon hydrotherapy or an enema.  Our bowels are, of course, a main place for elimination of waste and toxins.  Virtually all of us have a clogged colon.  This is caused by over-eating, not chewing our food properly, consuming pasteurized dairy, consuming meat, not consuming enough fiber, and not consuming enough raw foods which have live digestive enzymes in them, helping to better digest our food.  By cleaning the colon, you immediately allow your body to rapidly get rid of significantly more waste, and this has been shown anecdotally to clear up fevers and minor illnesses in MINUTES.  Pretty amazing.

Other ways to facilitate rather than hamper your body’s natural detoxification process is to eat very lightly (most of us have decreased appetite when we are sick, and I believe this one reason why).  Fresh juices, salad, light soup, and smoothies are great.  Go easy on bread, dairy, and meat or cut them out until you feel better.  Say no to sweets for the time being.  Of course, drink lots of water.

So I feel those are the two main causes of colds

1.  Lowered defense system from lack of healthy habits, stress, and over-working

2.  Toxic buildup the body is trying to get rid of.

When you know what lowers your body’s defense systems and tends to allow infection in, you can act preemptively against illness before you get it!  Let’s say that a really busy week at work tends to allow a cold to come in.  When you know such a week is coming up, or even when one sneaks up on you, take extra good care of yourself.  Eat super-healthy, get as much sleep as you possibly can, and implement a relaxation routine in the evenings after you get home such as a warm bath and soothing music.  Meditation can be a life-safer in these situations as well.  As always, I recommend Master Choa’s Meditation on Twin Hearts because of it’s powerful cleansing and energizing effects.  Doing this regularly would be an extremely powerful tool to use against getting sick, no matter what time of year.  Yes, some of these things take time and effort, but getting sick eats up your time quite a bit more, and it’s not half as fun as some pampering!

When a stressful interaction happens between you and another person, take the time to process it and acknowledge it.  Do what it takes to feel better whether it’s talking to a friend, having a counseling session, doing some meditation, or writing about it.  Take care of your feelings sooner rather than later, or they can come back to bite you in the form of a nasty cold–or much worse.  More illness, disease, and pain than you can ever imagine is caused by negative emotional buildup over years and years, and simply letting it out is more powerful than any amount of hand-washing one can do–in my humble opinion!

Energetically, there are a few things you can do to greatly assist healing as well. First, take a salt bath.  This has to be regular table salt to have the energy effect you want.  Salt water draws out dirty energy from your body and breaks it down.  Soak in this water for 20-25 minutes, not longer.  You will need 2-4 pounds of salt, so stock up at Costco with one of their 24-pound bags.  Daily is best.

Next, a short visualization exercise has worked for me several times.  I actually read this in a book by Eckhart Tolle.  It’s very simple.  Sit or lay down and imagine a powerful waterfall of white, sparkling light pouring over the top of your head and into your entire body, down to your feet.  Make it as vivid as you can, and try to imagine this for 3-5 minutes.  Picture every cell bathed in white light.  This literally does bring additional prana into your body which you need in times of low energy or sickness.  If it seems like the energy is stuck or dark in some places, imagine the dark spots coming out and being flushed and filled with the fresh, clean prana.

Please, get enough sleep.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  It’s very hard to convince people to do this.  It’s very hard to convince people that they might need more sleep than they think they do.  Our bodies get trained by alarm clocks very quickly, and just because you wake up on Saturdays at 6am feeling alert does not mean you got all the sleep you needed.  It means your body has been trained.  It takes un-training to be able to sleep in again after so many years of alarm clocks.  Take a nap, for heaven’s sake.  When you get home from work, just lay down even if you don’t think you’re tired (heck, even if you’re not sick!).  Chances are, you’ll doze off and feel great when you wake up.  We are a culture of chronically sleep-deprived people, and we cannot expect our immune systems to function properly under such conditions.

Get outside and get some fresh air into your house.  We are taught to be afraid of cold air and cold weather, but we are warm-blooded animals, and our bodies keep our optimal temperature very well in colder conditions.  I feel that part of the reason we get sick in the winter more is not from lower temperatures but because we are indoors so much, in stagnant air that has not moved and has had the opportunity to house bacteria and germs.  In the summer with windows open, our indoor air is exchanged for fresh air on a constant basis.  So open your windows for an hour or two at a time whenever possible, and get outside and get fresh air and fresh air prana into your lungs.  It will do wonders.

Here’s to a healthy 2012!

Juicing vs. Smoothies–Which is Healthier?

Originally Published November 08, 2011

I would like to describe in a bit of detail what the differences are between smoothies and juicing.  There is sometimes confusion between the two, though they are two different ways of liquefying and consuming your food.  Both are extremely healthy and have some similar benefits as well as some different ones.  Based on your goals, one may be better for you than another.  If you are just starting out with efforts to incorporate healthier food, however, the details will not be too important yet.  The important thing is to get started, and if you are doing either of these, then that is great!

Firstly, I feel it is important to get some liquefied greens in our bodies.  Leafy greens are so nutritionally dense, they are simply some of the healthiest foods we can be eating.  They are chock full of minerals, some of which are otherwise hard to come by.  By liquefying our leafy greens, we can more easily absorb them.  Although we may do our best to chew our food thoroughly, in reality, it doesn’t always happen.  Food passes through us unabsorbed, and un-used all the time.  Using the blender to chew our greens is a great way to break down that food and get as much nutrition from it as possible.  By making a delicious drink with our greens, we have a tasty alternative to other vegetable dishes, such as salad, that we may not always be in the mood for.  Starting the day off with such a drink for breakfast is a super-healthy, energizing way to start the day.  Making such a drink daily is one of the best possible habits we can get into!

Smoothie and Juice: What’s the difference?

A smoothie is made with a blender.  The blender cuts and mashes the food into a liquid.

A juicer is more of an extractor.  A juicer takes a food and extracts the liquid from it, separating out the pulp.  You can put in an organge and get fresh, liquid orange juice with no pulp.  Same for kale, watermelon, ginger, and any fruit or vegetable you can think of.

Pros and Cons to Juicing vs. Smoothies

There are many health enthusiasts who insist that juicing is THE way to go.  When you liquefy fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, you absorb more nutrition in them than if you chewed the food.  On top of that, by separating the pulp out of the food, you make absorption even higher.  With the pulp out of the way, the juice (read, nutrition) can make the most direct contact with the intestinal walls, where the nutrition is absorbed.  This optimal absorption is what juicing is so famous for.  It also makes otherwise bitter and tough greens palatable and easy to consume when mixed with a little fruit juice.

Some say juicing is not ideal because you are no longer consuming the whole food.  You have extracted parts of it out for consumption while tossing the rest.  This is unnatural.  My response to this is to say that I think of juicing as being a way to take supplements, but 100% fresh.  Vitamin supplements and other supplements, including fish oil, for instance, are not whole foods.  They extract the nutrition or a particular nutritional component from the food as a way to supplement our diet.  We don’t further process the food when we juice.  We just remove the pulp for optimal absorption.

When we juice, we can also take in an enormous plate or bowl of fruits and vegetables–many servings–in a simple glass of juice in just minutes.  It would be extremely difficult to eat this quantity of food in a day, and it would be too filling because of the pulp.

Some people argue juicing is not “natural” and that we are refining or processing the whole food by taking parts of it out.  This does make sense, but in our nutritionally-deficient society, sometimes this type of “processing” is necessary to get all the nutrition we need.  We have depleted our soils and destroyed our environment to the extent that not only does the soil have a mere fraction of the minerals and nutrients it did 100 years ago but due to our polluted and stressful world, we need more nutrition than ever to stay healthy.  Eating only a whole foods, organic diet is, unfortunatley, still usually not enough.

One concern that is mentioned about juicing is in the case of fruit or higher-sugar vegetables such as carrots and beets.  By removing the fiber, the juice will dump sugar into the bloodstream much faster than it otherwise wouuld.  Often times, I feel this concern is much larger than warranted.  If a person is doing a juice fast for a limited period, I think including fruit juice is perfectly healthy.  Frankly, if this person is coming off of soda, burgers, and junk food, some fruit juice is the least of their worries.  An exception might be a situation of type II diabetes.  However, if a person starts integrating large amounts of straight fruit juice or carrot juice in excess, it definitely could cause their blood sugar to get out of balance.  As with ANY dietary change, it is critical that you closely observe how you feel when you eat or drink something.  No amount of books or blogs can tell you what a dietary regime will do to YOUR body.  If you feel fantastic with some fruit juice, then great.  If you feel sugar highs and crashes, then it’s time to cut back.

The pulp, which is the “downside” of juicing is also the plus side of smoothies.  I plan on getting a juicer in the future, but I am personally still doing green smoothies (more about those below).  The reason I still do smoothies is for the fantastic fiber which we get from the pulp.  Yes, it’s a little less pleasant to drink than the smooth, sweeter juice, but it is still plenty sweet and very helpful in getting our daily fiber intake taken care of.  The fiber also lets it be very filling.  On mornings when I drink my green smoothie, I can usually wait to eat lunch until 1:00 or 2:00.  Even by dinner, I’m usually not terribly hungry, but just a little.  This simple drink is so nutritious and filling, it significantly reduces the amount of food I eat the whole rest of the day.

So Where Do You Start?

Let’s say you want to get more nutrient-dense, leafy-greens into your body?  Do you go with juicing or green smoothies?  It depends.

I recommend green smoothies for the average person or for a “beginner” health foodie.  First of all, almost all of us has a blender.  High-speed blenders are best, as they break down the tough cell walls of the plant cells better, helping absorption, but anything will do to start.  They are super easy to make and delicious to drink.  They are filling.  I feel that green smoothies are the perfect “bridge” between a regular traditional American cooked/whole foods diet and the world of raw food.  It’s a way to experience the energy and higher nutrition content of a raw foods diet without committing to something too life-altering.  You can have your morning smoothie and eat whatever you are used to the rest of the day.

Juicing can also be done by anyone, but I would particularly recommend it to someone who has been doing lots of health food for a while and wants to take it to the next level.  Good juicers are quite expensive and usually cost at least a few hundred dollars for a good quality one.  Juicing is best done in the morning for best absorption (when the stomach and digestive tract are most empty).  However, you might easily find yourself hungry in another hour.  You may not be able to rely on morning juice for an actual meal but, again, for more of a supplement.  This may not be true for everyone, as there is a huge amount of nutrition packed into a single glass of juice, and when we are satiated nutritionally, the body turns our hunger signals off.  It will depend on the individual.

Another great use for juicing is fasting and cleansing.  Green juice fasts are absolutely fantastic for your health and for ridding the body rapidly of toxins.  They are great for weight loss as well (as long as you go to a modified, healthy diet after the fast).  Check with your naturopathic doctor before beginning a fast or cleanse.

What is a Green Smoothie?

Green smoothies were more or less created by Victoria Boutenko, author of several books, including The Raw Family and Green For Life.  She came up with the idea in an effort to get more leafy greens into her diet when she could see they were really lacking.  A green smoothie consists of approximately 60% fruit and 40% leafy greens.  The greens can be anything from kale, swiss chard, collard greens, dandelion greens, to spinach.  The fruit can be anything you like.  For the green smoothie or any smoothie, you use a blender and thoroughly blend your combination of greens and fruit.  Adjust the fruit until it tastes palatable.  This is not meant to taste like liquid salad.  Green smoothies have grown exponentially in popularity, thanks to Boutenko, as people who have integrated them into their routine have noticed increased mental clarity, more energy, weight loss, better sleep, and many many other benefits.  It’s so easy to add this smoothie into your day as a way to start a healthier diet.  You don’t need to change anything else at first.  But as you start enjoying how you feel, you probably will!

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