Q: I haven't had sex for a while and then when I did, well this morning I woke up with a UTI [Urinary Tract Infection]. I know some of the symptoms of UTIs, one of them being that you always have to pee! And this is how it is for me, I keep having to pee and then I do so, but it feels like there is still more to come out. I have this pressure in my bladder and I feel a bit hot. I know sometimes fever and a burning sensation can be there, but so far there is no burning. I don't want to use any remedies from the pharmacy, but want a natural solution. HELP!!
~Lady in the Loo
A: Whether you have sex regularly or just once in while, it is advisable that you pee both before and after sex. Emptying the bladder after sex is highly recommended for both men and women as it helps to flush any unwanted bacteria from the urethra. Remember that safe sex also means practicing good hygiene, and that includes washing hands and having clean genitalia.
Because the anus and vagina are close in proximity to one another, it is much more common for women to have a UTI. This is also one of the reasons why moms always say to wipe from front to back!
As for UTI help here are:
10 Natural Remedies + Tips to Treat UTIs
1. Cranberry Juice. Cranberry juice contains D-mannose, a substance that can help to inhibit the bacteria E. Coli, the most common bacteria that causes UTIs. Be sure to drink pure cranberry juice and dilute it with water. Note that if you have digestive issues and/or candida this might not be the best option for you.
2. D-Mannose. D-mannose in supplement form is considered a very safe alternative to both prevent and treat UTIs. D-mannose works like a natural antibiotic and is 10-50x stronger than taking cranberry juice alone. Dosage: 1 tsp every 2-3 hours for 2-5 days. You can buy D-mannose from health food stores and online. Read more about D-mannose HERE.
3. Water. Since the bacteria are trying to colonize your urinary tract, you want to drink as much water as possible to flush them out. Double or triple the standard 8 glasses of water a day; go for 2-4 liters of pure water to move the bacteria OUT.
4. Go Pee. Often. Yes, it's not a pleasant sensation to pee at this point, as there can be burning, cramping, bladder pressure and a sensation of having to pee again right after peeing. Nevertheless, the more you pee, the more you flush the bacteria out. If you have to pee, get up and have to pee again, do so. Just think that the more you pee, the more bacteria are getting flushed out.
5. Eat High Water Foods. Fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, and veggies such as cucumber, greens and celery help to flush out the bad bacteria because of their high water content and diuretic action.
6. Avoid Stimulants & Irritants. Coffee, tea, spicy foods (e.g., cayenne, hot peppers, Mexican, Thai and curry dishes) and alcohol make your UTI worse by irritating your bladder while sugary foods (pastries, sugar, sweeteners, cakes, cookies, muffins, etc.) feed the bad bacteria. Best to avoid for a few days while the UTI clears. If you are still having symptoms after 5 days (even mild ones), continue to avoid these substances for up to 1-2 weeks. Note that fruit juices, medium-high glycemic fruits (mangoes, bananas, dried fruits) and citrus fruits may cause your symptoms to persist, so cut them out for a while to let your urinary tract heal.
7. Flush with Diuretics. Juniper berries, Uva Ursi, Self-heal (prunella vulgaris), Gravel root, Corn Silk (zea mays) and Cleavers/Clivers are herbal diuretics that make you want to pee. Make a standard infusion using 1 ounce whole (not powdered) herb to 4 liters of boiling water in a 1-liter mason jar. Place on the lid and screw cap and let sit 4 hours, then drink throughout the day. Feel free to dilute the tea with water if you like. You can buy such herbs from health food stores and online, such as Mountain Rose Herbs. Note that while these herbs may be available in supplement (pill) form, get the loose herb so that you can make a tea and flush out the bacteria. You can read more about helpful herbs & remedies by Susun Weed Here and safe herbs during pregnancy Here.
8. Heat Helps. While heat often helps bacteria to multiply, if you have a bladder infection where you are experiencing pressure in your bladder, a hot water bottle placed over the bladder can help to relax the area. Make sure you place a towel between your skin and the hot water bottle to avoid burning yourself.
9. Nope to Soap. While scented soaps smell nice, your vagina has its own natural scent and way of cleaning itself out, thank-you very much. Wash with water at this point and avoid ALL soap (even unscented, it can further irritate the area). Cotton underwear and "going commando" (especially while wearing a skirt or dress) allow the area to breathe and remain dry. Also avoid douching and having intercourse at this time (you probably won't be interested anyway). Try using unscented soap (like Dr. Bronner's) for your future needs.
10. Yes to Probiotics and Natural Killers. Probiotics are happy critters that live in the intestines and in vaginas. Since vaginal yeast can help to contribute to developing a UTI, make sure to get in a healthy dose of probiotics every day as both prevention and treatment of UTIs. Good sources of probiotics include kefir (dairy or non-dairy), sauerkraut, fermented veggies, kimchi and kombucha (see Here for recipes and how-tos). Natural killers refers to the cells (NK cells) that are responsible in the body for doing away with infections. You can boost their numbers by taking Echinacea ( purpurea or augustifolia) for 5 days. Standard dosage.
Remember: think flush, flush---> the more you pee, the better you'll feel (in a few days)!
To happy peeing days ahead,
Q: I was wondering if you could tell me the difference between a retention enema and a regular enema?
~Lookin' to Cleanse Out
A: A retention enema means a liquid that is held in the large intestine. Usually, 1-4 cups of liquid is held between 15-30 minutes. The purpose of a retention enema is to:
1- reinoculate the intestines or
2-add nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals (especially useful for those with malnutrition) or
3- help with parasites and candida
To reinoculate the intestines, a cup of probiotic liquid is used. This could be 1 cup of non-dairy or dairy kefir or even some watery yogurt. You could also use 1-2 capsules of probiotics added to a cup of warm water. This retention enema is best held for 30 minutes. If no bowel movement follows, that's fine, as the purpose is for the probiotic liquid to be absorbed by the intestines.
To help with malnutrition, 1 cup of a mineral-rich infusion is used. Nourishing infusions include Nettle, Oatstraw, Linden, Red Clover and Horsetail (there are other herbs that can be used as well). To make an infusion: place 1 ounce of dried herb in a mason jar. Add boiling water to the top, place on lid and screw cap and let sit 4 hours to overnight. Strain and gently warm to finger hot (see further directions below). Mint and Chamomile are two other gentle herbs that can be used to help with gas, bloating and spasms. Because they contain volatile oils, you want to make a standard tea and let the herbs sit 5-10 minutes at most. Let cool to body temperature before using.
To help with parasitic and candida activity, you want to use either 3 opened capsules of anti-parasitic herbs to 4 cups of warm water OR use 4 cups of anti-parasitic decoction or infusion. Common herbs used for such purposes are: Wormwood & Mugwort (infusion; 1 oz. herb to 4 cups boiling water in a mason jar, let sit 4-8 hours then strain and use) and Black Walnut hulls & Pau d'Arco (decoction). To make a decoction: place 2-3 TBsp of herb in a pot with 4 cups water in a glass or ceramic pot (stainless steel would be OK too). Let come to a boil, then simmer on low, covered, 20-30 minutes. Let cool and strain. Add in 2 cups of water and use (to make 4 cups total). Regardless if you are using the infusion or decoction, use 4 cups of the "tea" and hold for 15 minutes before having a bowel movement.
In comparison to retention enemas, a regular enema is used to help cleanse the intestines and move the bowels, such as for constipation or fecal impaction. Enema bottles sold in the store are a salt solution that you can easily do at home. More liquid is used in a regular enema and held for less time compared to a retention enema: 4-8 cups of liquid is used and is held briefly for 5-10 minutes. Popular enema recipes used to cleanse the bowels are:
When it comes to a coffee enema, this type of enema can be viewed as a cross between a retention and regular enema. 4 cups of coffee are held in the intestines for the duration of 12-15 minutes. Unlike retention enemas or regular enemas, the purpose of the coffee enema is to stimulate the release of bile in the liver and to increase the production of glutathione, which is an important liver enzyme needed for detoxification. The coffee enema is used extensively by the Gerson Institute in cases of cancer, candida and other degenerative diseases 1-5 times a day.
To make a coffee enema, 1-3 TBsp of light to medium ground coffee (you can grind the beans prior to making the enema) in 4 cups of water is brought to a boil, then covered and simmered for 15 minutes. Let cool then strain out the coffee grounds. Add additional water to make 4 cups of liquid, then use. If cramping occurs or the coffee "stays" in the intestines, do a retention enema of 4 cups of Mint or Chamomile tea and hold for 5-10 minutes prior to doing the coffee enema.
For all enemas: the water should be tepid/lukewarm/finger hot. Cold liquid can cause cramping in the intestines and it obviously makes sense not to use hot liquid. Place the liquid in an enema bag or enema bucket. Air may be trapped in the tube, so allow a tiny bit of liquid to pour out into the sink with the air, then close the nozzle. Lube the nozzle (coconut oil works fine) and lie on your right side. You might want to place a pile of towels on the floor and bring a book along while you are waiting. Hang the bag onto a sturdy object (or place the bucket onto a sturdy object), insert the nozzle and open the valve on the hose. Allow the liquid to pour in gently, closing the nozzle if you feel cramps and then reopening the nozzle once the cramps have passed. Once all the liquid has passed into you, close the valve and wait it out. You might want to use a clock or timer while you wait. You can also massage your intestines with your left hand while you wait, however if the movement causes cramps or makes holding it more difficult, then just lie still. Meditation at this time could be another option while waiting.
Once the time is up, you can evacuate the liquid (if it is a retention enema, there may be no need). Don't force it out, just let it run out naturally. Massaging the intestines is good to help the liquid come out: follow the path of the intestines by going down the small intestines on the left side of the body close to the navel all the way done to the pubic bone, then above the pubic bone to the right side and up the ascending colon, along the horizontal transverse colon above the belly button and down the descending colon. Essentially, you are making a large spiral by following the anatomy of the intestines, as if you were following the course of food from the small intestine to the large intestine and out the body.
One final note: enema bags are commonly made of rubber and sold at drugstores, however there are higher quality ones made of silicone available (such as on Amazon). Large enema buckets made of stainless steel are also available online and make cleaning them easy. Indeed, one of the most important things when doing an enema is cleanliness. You want to make sure the pot or mason jar you is clean and the enema bag is clean. A good rule of thumb is to clean out the bag and hose with the hottest soapy water you can stand, rinse well, then add in the liquid and use right away. Always make sure you clean the bag and hose before using.
I hope this information has been most helpful. To your cleansing success,
P.S. If you are in Malaysia or are visiting the area, you can have colon hydrotherapy using a coffee enema :)
Q: I'm sure you've heard this question many times, but I was wondering how vegans get in their protein? I've gone vegan and am not attracted to all the soy products, plus beans are nice, but what else is there?
~Hankering for Plant Protein
A: Thanks for the question! When it comes to protein, people are really talking about complete sources of protein, which includes all 18 amino acids. Some sources of vegetable protein may have all 18, but may be rather low in 1 or 2 of them---> which is why you'll often see a grain paired with a bean in many vegetarian recipes. The truth is that you do NOT have to eat grains and beans together in the same meal, but can eat them separately in the SAME day. In fact, you can eat a variety of plant proteins throughout the day without worrying about whether they are a complete source of protein or not.
Don't worry if you aren't into grains as there are lots of alternatives! One good rule of thumb is to think green :)
GOOD SOURCES OF [VEGAN] Plant PROTEIN
A Few Tips
To healthy days ahead,
Here is a comparison of some the differences between a green smoothie and a green juice.
Both green smoothies and juices use leafy greens.
Green smoothies are a puree of leafy greens with slippery fruits such as bananas, mangoes, and peaches. Green smoothies are versatile in that the liquid used can vary and various "extras" can be added to give the smoothie extra nutrition. They are filling, contain fiber, and can be suitable as a meal. They are made using a blender. If you want a smooth puree every time and are planning on making green smoothies often, invest in a high speed blender that will last for many years. Good choices are Blentec and Vitamix.
Green juices are the juices of leafy greens and harder fruits such as apples, grapes and pomegranates that are pressed using a juicer.
There are 2 types of juicers: centrifugal and masticating juicers. Ideally, you want to use a masticating juicer which crushes and then presses the fruit to yield a high result of juice. This process is done with minimal heat (called low revolution per minute or RPM) so that the nutrients are preserved in the juice. Good choices include Green Star and Omega.
To increase the amount of juice yield, you can use a press. The Norwalk Juicer is an expensive piece of equipment that has both a masticating juicer and a hydraulic press. After juicing the produce, the remaining pulp is then pressed under pressure and an estimated 50% more juice is extracted. While a juicer alone will crush open the cell walls to extract nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc, higher amounts of these nutrients are extracted when a hydraulic press is used. In fact, this is the machine that the The Gerson Institute, which treats cancer and other degenerative diseases, uses. Note: the Welles Press, while cheaper, is estimated to yield only 10-15% more juice.
Centrifugal juicers, while offering a less pulpy juice and often being less expensive than masticating juicers, use a high speed blade that creates heat and thus some of the nutrients are lost. This would be a second best option. A third option is to use a blender and blend the greens and fruit into a thin puree with liquid (like making a runny green smoothie) and then straining out the liquid using a nut milk bag. Cell walls using this blender method are not crushed open.
If you're using a juicer and you'd like a less pulpy juice, you can pass the juice through a fine mesh sieve, or pour through a nut milk bag. Some juicers may come with a sieve for such a purpose, but you might want to use a nut milk bag as an extra step. Up to you.
Both green smoothies and juices are excellent ways of getting in fruits and veggies. The issue with green smoothies is that the slippery fruits used tend to be high in sugar, so there is some concern about creating sugar imbalances. The key is to use just enough fruit to make it taste nice, but still be just slightly bitter. In the beginning, more fruit will be needed as the taste buds are used to the sweet taste (the bitter taste is the most underdeveloped taste). With time, less fruit will be needed as the body will adjust and crave that bitter taste (which helps the liver and is good for heart health). Another option is to use fruits which are low glycemic. For example, while apples have a hard texture, you can peel and core them first before blending them. Some people call tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini as fruits. You can puree them with greens as a veggie smoothie and even add in a sweeter fruit like mango or banana and drink it all up.
The 2nd concern with green smoothies is the goitrogens, which are foods from the Brassica/Mustard family that can interfere with thyroid functioning. This applies to those that have a thyroid issue and it may be true that some, all or none of these veggies will be bothersome. In other words, it is person-specific. Veggies include mustard greens, kale, bok choy, collard, kohlrabi, cabbage, arugula and broccoli. Symptoms after eating such foods vary, but common ones are fatigue, foggy thinking, feeling bloated and gassiness. The usual recommendation is to steam these foods for 10-15 minutes before adding them to the blender. If symptoms persist despite cooking, avoid eating that food(s). In a similar vein, some foods which are high in oxalates, such as spinach, chard, beets and rhubarb can be bothersome for some and can lead to kidney stones. As with the goitrogens above, cooking first destroys the compounds; so cook first, then puree or juice.
The 3rd concern about green smoothies is that their insoluble fiber content makes them too rough for tender, inflamed intestines. Those that have candida or fructose issues may also find they get bloated and gassy from green smoothies. If this is your case, green juices will be a much better option. To add soothing soluble fiber to your juice and help soothe intestines, you can add 1-2 TBsp chia or flax seeds to your juice. If you find you are bothered by them when whole, grind first before adding to your juice. They will offer a gelatinous quality to your juice and intestines.
Looking for some interesting ways to supercharge your green smoothie with lots of goodies, such as adding in herbs and probiotic? Check out THIS ARTICLE HERE.
To greenie days ahead,
Q: It's a bit of an embarrassing question, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a prolapsed anus?
~Pain in the butt
A: No need to feel embarrassed! The body is a fragile entity. When a "problem" arises, this is the opportune time to bring our awareness and re-connect with this mystery.
In Chinese medicine, an anal prolapse is called "sinking qi of the spleen." It means the spleen definitely needs some attention, is cold, tired, and in serious need of some loving, or in TCM lingo, tonification. The spleen = all matters of digestion, so you're best to turn your attention to your diet.
TCM, like naturopathy, is big on dietary changes. When the spleen is so weak that it has prolapsed, cold foods are counter-indicated. These would include raw fruits and veggies (including salads, smoothies and juices) and cooling foods such as tomato, watermelon, millet and tofu.
Foods that help to tonify the spleen are warming in nature and include whole grains (a great warming gluten-free one is GF oats-> soak overnight before cooking) and warming spices such as ginger, cumin, cinnamon and cloves. As an example, an easy breakfast for you could be 1/2 cup soaked GF oats. Cook the next morning and add in 1/2-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Sweeten to taste with stevia.
Foods that are easy to assimilate and that are low-glycemic seem recommended in your case. Stewed fruits (e.g. applesauce) and pureed soups are warming and easy to digest. Veggies that are yellow, orange or golden help to tonify the spleen, so you could add in carrots and squash (e.g. acorn squash, summer squash, zucchini, etc.) to your soups. The Allium family, which includes onions, shallots and garlic, might also be beneficial. Use stevia or stevia blends (such as Lakanto) to sweeten tea and baked goods, as other sweeteners (yes, even molasses, honey and maple syrup) are counter-indicated. You could also look into congee recipes, which are watery soups used in TCM for those with weak digestion that are made with rice and water. The typical recipe is 1 cup rice + 8-9 cups water or stock, cooked on low heat 2 hours or in a crock pot (ideal) on low for 8-12 hours. Often herbs (e.g. shiitake mushrooms) are added to give taste and boost immunity.
Indeed, herbs are often suggested in TCM to help support organs in the body. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is an herbal formula commonly used to help with anal prolapse. It includes herbs that lift the qi and tonify the immune system, such as astragalus, and herbs that warm the spleen, such as actractylodes and ginger.
Seeing an acupuncturist/acupressurist might be most helpful. There are points on the body that can help to lift the energy and to tonify the spleen. Moxa might be indicated in your case, especially on the point situated on the top of the head, called Governing Vessel 20. Spleen 5 is another point often used for prolapses, and there are many points on the spleen meridian (or line) that could help. Nevertheless, the therapist will have a better indication of what points to use once you give him/her the full details of your unique "case."
Good luck and may the qi be with you :)
PS. An osteopath might also be helpful in your case as you can retrain the muscles that hold the anus in place (e.g. the levator ani muscle). Of course, your doctor might also be helpful in these matters, perhaps recommending the services of a gastro-enterologist to investigate.
Many foods can be healthy, but sometimes you have to watch just how much you are putting into your mouth. Here are 5 foods that will leave you flushed out if you don't watch out.
1. Vitamin C. Due to its antioxidant property, Vitamin C in high doses is helpful when you have a cold or the flu. It's also recommended for those with chronic diseases, such as those with cancer. In high doses, however, Vitamin C will flush you out. Sometimes called the Tolerance Test or Titrating to Bowel Tolerance, take 1/2 tsp of ascorbic acid powder in a glass of water every 15 minutes. When you get the runs, you know you've gone too far. Lessen the dosage by 25% <- this is your ideal dosage to take. Do understand that the healthier you are, the less Vitamin C you need (that also means you may be someone who doesn't have a bowel movement in 24 hours using the tolerance test, in which case Go HERE to READ MORE). If you get the runs within 24 hours of ingesting 10-15 grams of Vitamin C or less (that's 2-3 tsp of ascorbic acid powder) you are healthy and in great shape!
2. Melons. Melon-me-so good, but have you ever overindulged on watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe? If you have and it sent you running to the bathroom, know why: melons are diuretic! So while a good piece is satisfyingly thirst-quenching on a hot summer's day, too much will have the opposite effect. <-Note that diarrhea can displace your electrolyte count, so try this DIY Electrolyte Recipe:
Mix together and drink on up. Can increase the amount of juice to 3/4-1 cup. Enjoy!
3. Raisins, Dates, Figs, Prunes and Dried Apricots. While these tasty num-nums are super sweet when dried, it is easy to overindulge on them if eating them just by themselves. Not only will all that sugar send your blood glucose spiking high, but the high fiber content will see things moving along. A good idea: eat them with nuts and seeds such as in a trail mix to tamp down on the amount of sugar you are ingesting.
4. Maltitol and other Sugar Alcohols like Xylitol, Erythitol and Glycerol/Glycerin. If you've ever reached for a package of sugar-free candy or chocolate and eaten the whole thing, Warning, Warning! There is usually a label on the package that states that the substance ending in "-ol" (e.g. maltitol) may cause a laxative effect. And for good reason, because sugar alcohols are not properly absorbed by the digestive tract and can cause bloating, gas and yep, diarrhea. Glycerin (which is also called glycerol) is a substance commonly added as a humectant to many foods, so if you find yourself running for the loo and aren't sure why, check the package label to see if glycerin is an ingredient. While not exactly "healthy," these treats are OK for those with diabetes and others watching their sugar intake. Moderation is the key word!
5. Green Juices & Green Smoothies. The new craze at juice bars and in many places is to add greens to your fave protein shake or fruit frappe. Yet if you are someone who hasn't gotten on board with the whole green health kick, then your intestines may find you suffering at the bathroom door. All this to say that greens ARE really healthy for you, being low glyceminc and low in calories, however you might need to build up your tolerance if you and greens have just started to get acquainted. So while your friend might be adding half if not the whole head of kale into a smoothie, go easy and start with a leaf or two. In a similar vein, note that other green goodies can find you running to the loo, such as wheatgrass shots and liquid chlorophyll (they work on detoxing your body) and aloe vera juice or gel (a known mild laxative).
Got things that have this kind of effect on you? Comment below so others can beware! Sharing is caring ;)
Hello there, Asoka!
Q: Wanted to say I've been enjoying reading your column. My question is, are there some exercises I can do while water fasting? I exercise regularly and I'm worried about losing muscle while fasting. Also, I am hoping that the water fast will help me to lose weight and fix my chronic digestive issues. Any additional info on the water fasting process would help.
~Gettin' Jiggy while Fasting
A: Since water fasting can be an intense experience, rest is really what is emphasized during this time. You have to understand that water fasting means no calories are coming in whatsoever. This is a time when the body goes into detox mode. Indeed, the body has about enough stored energy (called glucagon) for 1-2 days. After this, the liver goes through a process called gluconeogenesis, which is where it transforms protein from the body into glucose. At around the 14th day, or about 2 weeks into a water fast, the body switches from using protein as its main source of energy and starts to use fat (it turns fat into glucose). Glucose is needed for proper brain functioning and the reason the body turns to fat stores is because of something called protein sparing. Protein sparing means that the body understands that it cannot continue to "eat" muscle from the body as the body must continue to move and function, plus fat is much more readily available as most people have adequate fat stores on their body. Interestingly, whether you're a man or a woman, a person needs 2-3% body fat to survive. Of course, it is recommended for women to have at least 12% body fat if she wants to conceive, but we are talking just figures here.
And in so speaking of figures, the goal of water fasting is to cleanse the body, not to get to a certain body fat percentage. In fact, even though weight loss occurs on a water fast, at about an average of 2 pounds per day, or about 20-30 pounds on a 28 day water fast, you can expect to gain about 10 pounds back (this will vary from person to person). These 10 pounds represent water that will be gained back, stool (the average person holds about 2-3 pounds of waste on any given day) and muscle.
Water will be the first few pounds that will drop from your body, followed by muscle. As noted above, it will be about 2 weeks into the fast that the body will finally dip into its fat stores. Remember that most people are advised and do go to a retreat center to do a water fast (you can check out The True North Health Center, Tree of Life Center or Tanglewood Wellness Center), and the goal is usually to help with a chronic health issue, not solely to lose weight. Generally speaking however (and this will depend upon the person), people who are obese or overweight should continue to benefit from their lighter bodies, provided that they continue to eat healthfully and for their body requirements.
Getting back to your question on exercise, muscle will be lost during an extended water fast. When you get back into exercising after the fast, you should fully expect to go slowly, adapt exercises and gain strength as your body gets stronger and you progress along. If you've been doing weight training steadily beforehand or were an avid cardio fan, your body will bounce back quite readily. The other good news is that with a continued healthy diet, any fat lost from water fasting should stay off. And a further good news still: chronic health issues, such as your digestive issues, should see a mighty big improvement, if not complete healing and remission.
Because muscle is lost during fasting, indeed because your body is converting muscle into energy (glucose), you don't want to be doing weight training during water fasting. In fact, your body will be experiencing detox symptoms which will most probably mean that you'll feel grumpy, tired and just not want to do much of anything. However, because toxins can tend to pool in the lower legs, especially with prolonged sitting, light exercise is recommended. Walking is one of the best ways of helping to clear toxins from the body. Very gentle rebounding, tai chi, chi gong and yoga are other suitable exercises. The health center where you will be staying will be able to provide you with more information and with all the necessary support that you need.
Again, rest is really what is advised during a water fast. So take this opportunity to enjoy the holiday, because you'll be back to the "old action" soon again.
Yours in cleansing harmony,
Q: Could you tell me about some detox symptoms that I would experience if I go on an extended juice fast? Or if I were to do a water fast?
~Looking to Fast
A: Detox symptoms while fasting can vary from person to person. The main organs that are responsible for detox are the liver, lungs, kidneys and skin. Detox, however, is systemic and is experienced by all systems of the body.
Common liver symptoms include:
Common lung symptoms include:
Common kidney symptoms include:
Other common symptoms include:
These are the physical symptoms, however emotional detox occurs as well. Anger and anxiety were two emotions mentioned previously, but sadness, grief, rage, fear or over-worrying could also be experienced.
Over-worrying is a TCM term for thinking that goes round and round, and many persistent thoughts revolve around food. Indeed, there is quite the psychology when it comes to the mind. While using Western psychological strategies can be most useful, meditation is the key technique to watching the mind and its array of mindless chatter.
Many who fast speak about the spiritual connection. On an extended fast, thoughts may turn to one's mortality and the existential angst that it brings up --- a shift in perspective about the road traveled, what one values and treasures in life, and the path yet to be lived but filled with the desire for appreciation and wonderment.
Do note that detox symptoms may be present on a juice feast of 3-5 liters of juice, but will most certainly occur on a juice fast of 1-2 liters of juice, and on a water fast. I am making this distinction between "feast" and "fast" in terms of quantity of juice consumed. Of the three types of fast, juice feasting would be the easiest as the most amount of calories would be consumed, followed by juice fasting, followed by water fasting.
In terms of safety, juice feasting is pretty safe to do on your own. You may feel hungry because no meat, dairy, grains and fat are consumed, however sufficient calories are coming in. Juice fasting borders on being unsafe, depending on the duration of the fast and your previous experience with fasting. Water fasting is usually done at a retreat center, where your vital signs can be monitored. Water fasting for a short duration of time (1-3 days) could be beneficial for you or for others experiencing an acute health issue, such as severe digestive distress (e.g. severe bloating and gas), flu or food poisoning. Since extended water fasting has been shown to be an excellent method of ridding the body of toxins, as well as helping with a host of issues, including edema, high blood pressure and digestive disturbances, you may want to further investigate The True North Health Center and Tanglewood Wellness Center.
To your happy detox adventures,
I was wondering, how long can a person fast for on a juice fast and water fast? Are there some people who shouldn't do a fast, like a juice fast?
~Lookin' for Fastin' Info
A: Fasting is practiced by all major religions and is one of the oldest ways of healing the body. Fasting is an excellent way of purifying the body from overeating and to aid in removing toxic buildup in the body. In Europe, it is common to fast at a health center for an average of 14-21 days. However, fasting health experts consider a supervised water fast of up to 40 days safe and a juice fast up to 100 days safe. Short-term juice fasting of 7-10 days and water fasting of 1-3 days done on your own is considered generally safe by many health experts.
When you fast at a health retreat center, you will be able to get the support that you need. This means that if you are taking medication, the center can assess your situation and advise you on your individual condition. Indeed, at the True North Health Center, they do an assessment of your situation to see if you are a candidate for fasting before venturing to their center.
In general, the following people should not fast:
Unless you have sufficient knowledge of and experience with fasting, for chronic diseases and for extended fasting, you might want to work with a health care professional who can better guide you (this could be locally, online or at a retreat center). Being at a health center, however, means that you don't have to worry about the usual stresses in life, such as preparing meals for your family, doing household chores or having to be at work. It also means being surrounded by other people who are undergoing similar experiences as you and who can support your goal to a more healthful you (friends and family may frown upon your fasting efforts as it's not such a common occurrence in North America).
There are various health centers that support fasting. The True North Health Center, Tanglewood Wellness Center and the Tree of Life Center Us might be some great places for you to explore.
To a more healthful you,
Q: When is the best time during the year to do a fast, such as a juice or water fast (or even a green smoothie cleanse)? How many times per year should a person do a cleanse/fast?
A: The ideal time to do a cleanse is in the spring time. The heavier and darker days of winter hibernation now past, the longer and sunnier days of spring beckon a time for lighter meals to recalibrate the body. Spring is a time of rejuvenation and is associated with the liver/gallbladder in TCM. As you may know, the liver is a major organ that is responsible for performing over 500 functions in the body and it is also one of the few organs in the body that can regenerate itself. A rest is most welcome during this "spring cleaning" time, whether it be in the form of green smoothies, green juices or green soups.
Indeed, green is the color associated with the liver, and both bitter and sour foods, such as leafy greens and citrus fruits, respectively, help with detoxification of the liver. Other beneficial foods (that can be juiced, made into a smoothie or soup) include the Brassica family, micro-greens, beets, and wild spring greens such as Violet leaves, Plantain leaves and Dandelion leaves. To help with fatty liver or to help clear out the gallbladder, radish and daikon radish are highly beneficial. Apart from citrus fruits, low glycemic fruits such as berries, green apples and pomegranates are good choices.
Besides the yearly spring cleaning of the house, there are 3 other times of the year that one can cleanse/fast. In TCM, the 7 days before the start of each season is a transitional time governed by the Earth element of the Spleen/Pancreas and Stomach, which rules over all matters of digestion. Since we currently understand the crucial importance of a healthy microbiome, we can also understand why doing a fast during these time periods can be highly valuable. However, some do rely more on the actual temperature of the season to assess when is the best time to fast. For example, with global warming, snow might still be making an appearance in the spring month of March, so one might wait until the warmer days of Spring have truly arrived.
Besides the spring cleanse, the next most common time to fast is during the fall. Just as you cleanse yourself from the winter with spring cleaning your windows and walls and preparing the garden with seeds to sow, fall is a time to reap in the harvest and lay down the garden, in other words, to prepare the body for rest during the colder months ahead. During the cooler transitional days of fall, when days can be either warm and sunny or cooler and windy, some people might fast on cooling green juices or smoothies while others might prefer warmer and lighter fare, such as pureeing the bounty of fall into warming soups (e.g. doing a soup fast).
The third time to cleanse would be during the 7 days before the summer solstice, however some do use the hotter and humid days of summer to eat lighter fare, such as refreshing salads or cooling juices and smoothies.
The fourth time to engage in a fast would be the 7 days before the winter solstice (again using TCM timing), and this would be a time where warming soups or congees would figure in most prominently. Some people do find that doing a cleanse before the holidays helps them with the overabundance that occurs during the holidays, while others find that doing a cleanse after the holidays helps them to reset the body. A cleanse during this time could take the form of a soup fast or could be something as simple as eating less calories, say for a week's time, with the specific goal of rebalancing the body. In general, fasts during the winter time are not encouraged in TCM as it is a time of the kidneys, and many people lack strong kidney energy (one of the reasons why many catch colds and flus during this time).
One last word about fasting: while fasting can follow the seasons, as described above, if a person has an excess or full condition (in other words a chronic degenerative disease such as cancer, fatty liver from alcohol abuse, etc.), then a fast can occur at any time during the year. While one's personal "eco-system" takes priority over what season it is, the goal is to have a healthy body that can enjoy the bounties and beauties that all seasons have to offer.
To your fasting success and health,
Q: My friend recently did a juice fast. It was her longest yet, she went for 10 days. To be honest, I think she cheated a bit by taking in some smoothies. I don't think she understands the difference between a green juice and a green smoothie. She eats organic but like most people it's meat, dairy, etc. She says she wants to go vegan but that it's a work in progress. Can you tell me what's the difference between a green juice and a green smoothie and whether she should do another fast (she says she wants to)?
A: Your friend seems to be taking some positive steps in the right direction, congratulate her! It seems her green juice/smoothie experience was her attempt of getting herself onto a more vibrant path towards health. Indeed, many turn to plant-strong nutrition to fuel that feel-good vibe.
Green juices are different compared to green smoothies because juices don't have any fiber. They are made using a juicer with leafy greens and often low glycemic fruits such as apples. In comparison, green smoothies are made in a blender with greens, water, and often medium glycemic fruits such as bananas and mangoes. The fruits in a green smoothie tend to be "slippery" and are hard to juice, such as with peaches or kiwis.
On a juice fast, it's common to juice not only greens but other veggies as well. Beets, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery and green herbs like parsley and coriander are often used to help with detox and cleansing.
Because juices don't contain any fiber, a juice fast is a much faster way of getting the body to detox. Faster doesn't mean better, however. A juice fast can be a pretty intense experience, especially if the quantity is reduced (1-2 liters of juice) and/or if the juice fast goes for an extended length of time (e.g. 21 days). Usually, 3-4 liters of juice is consumed, with the emphasis being on juicing veggies. Even a 3 day-weekend juice fast might be a lot for some people, which means if you are new to fasting, you want to take it slow and easy (1 or days to start) to give your body a chance to adapt. Once your body adapts, you might be able to go for longer, such as 7 days, 10 days, 14 days, etc. There are many resources online where you can juice with other people, share your experiences and your recipes (this is one resource).
In comparison to juice fasting, a green smoothie fast is a much gentler approach to fasting. The body is able to get in a sufficient amount of calories and will feel full because of all the fiber. However, since no meat, dairy or fat is consumed (as with juice fasting), it is therefore possible for someone to experience detox symptoms on a green smoothie fast, especially if the person has been eating poorly (i.e., junk & processed food). Detox symptoms are also more likely to occur the longer you are on the fast (e.g. 14 days).
Whether your friend wants to pursue another fast is up to her. You can tell her that a person doesn't have to fast in order to be healthy and that many health practitioners recommend a whole, real foods approach to food, that is, just eat real food (no junk, processed or packaged food).
A few things to try and consider when doing a green smoothie fast:
I wish your friend a happy journey on her path to vibrant health :)
PS. You might be interested in Supercharging your green smoothie with superfoods, probiotics, herbs and more. You can find out how HERE.
Q: I've been dyeing my hair with products from the health food store, but found out they contain chemicals, and I find they leave my hair dry and damaged. I have a bit of grey hair. Is there something natural I can use? What about henna?
A: When it comes to products sold in health food stores, we have to keep in mind that they are not all "natural" and certified organic. For example, potassium sorbate is an additive that is often added to olives. It is also true that beauty companies do not have to divulge all the ingredients used in a product, and we should be aware that in order to make such products shelf stable, i.e., that have a long shelf life, chemicals are used. When it comes to hair dyes, chemicals are certainly added, regardless of any marketing or the word "natural" on the box.
There are a few herbs that will dye your hair naturally. They are henna, indigo and cassia.
Henna dyes hair red (used alone on black or brown hair, the effect is not that noticeable, but will dye grey hair red and create highlights). As with any herb that can be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, look for organic and body art quality. High quality henna suppliers will note the source (where it was grown) and the year the herb was harvested. This ensures the herb will color well. Take this point into account, as there are well-meaning companies that sell henna in a box (or mixed with indigo/cassia in various shades), however quality may be compromised as you have no way of assessing how old the herbs are in the package. Bear in mind that herbalists regard herbs ground into a powder, such as henna, to oxidize more quickly and give a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year. Also bear in mind that henna must be stored in the freezer in order to maintain its freshness and potency.
By "quality" you will notice a difference when you mix henna in a bowl: old henna will be lumpy when liquid is added and clumps may form, making it hard to stir into a uniform paste. Fresh henna will not have this issue and will smell stronger and fresher. Old henna will still dye your hair, but perhaps your hair might be more coppery or brassy or perhaps the color will fade more quickly. From personal experience, you will get consistent results using high quality henna. Older henna (or those sold in boxes) will still work, but results will vary.
Indigo dyes hair black, while Cassia dyes hair blond. Again, look for high quality suppliers, noting when the herb was harvested and that it is organic. Henna, indigo and cassia can be mixed together in various combinations to make shades of blond, brown (light/dark) and red (auburn/ mahogany). Sometimes other herbs are used to enhance the effect of these primary herbs, such as hibiscus tea/powder, coffee, and amla (a berry).
You can buy henna, cassia and indigo separately or make your own combination. Recipes are available online for you to experiment with, such as This One.
The main caveat about using these herbs is that they are messy and take more time (a few hours) for the color to take. The advantages, nevertheless, outweigh the disadvantage:
Concerning that last point, here are a few ways to get you into a routine of "keeping it clean:"
---> Wear an old sweater and place a towel over the area where you are going to apply your dye. Use a salve ("it's not petroleum jelly") on your forehead, cheeks, ears and neck to prevent the color from staining your skin. Use disposal gloves, and apply the color. Applying the color is no different than other dyes: you want to make sure all the roots and strands of the hair get covered. Then, don a shower cap and get some housecleaning chores or other work done while you wait. You'll find that rinsing your hair in the sink is a lot cleaner than in the shower. You can use shampoo and conditioner OR just conditioner, as you prefer. The dye will continue to be in your hair for a few days, so use a separate towel the next few times you wash your hair (you'll see color on the towel, but it washes out). Wear a bathing cap if you go swimming.
For dry hair:
----> If you find your hair gets dried out with henna, you can use a hair mask prior to using henna OR add in some conditioner or honey with the henna. You can obviously deep condition hair any time after dyeing hair with henna. An easy recipe is to puree 2 avocados or bananas in a food processor, with 1 tsp of honey or maple syrup, if desired, and apply to hair. You could also add in 1-2 tsp of melted coconut oil instead. Let sit 2 hours then rinse out.
A few recommended products & places (none of these are affiliates):
Individual herbs (these are both excellent resources): HennaCanada & Mehandi
where you'll find how-tos on what acids to use to mix with the herbs (i.e., lemon juice, apple cider vinegar), how thick the dye paste should be, how long it should "cure," etc.
One last point: if most of your hair is grey or white, then do a mix of indido/cassia/henna that matches your natural hair color. Dye your hair and then if you want to change it (e.g. go more red), you can then play around with other herbal combinations (or just use one herb, e.g. henna).
To bright hair days ahead,
Q: I find my grandmother's recipes to be quite outdated. Are there some ways to make baked goods healthier? And vegan/vegetarian? And suitable for those with allergies (e.g. egg-free)?
Thanks so much,
A: Grandma's recipes consisted of lots of fat (lard, oil, shortening), sugar (white or brown) and white flour. There was also cholesterol eggs, full fat milk (or buttermilk), and more fat when the aluminum pans were greased.
Today's recipes don't have to be laden with all that richness, heaviness and calories. You can make delish muffins, cookies, quick breads and cakes with other ingredients AND still preserve great taste. Oh, and boost health, too! Here's how.
The Standard 2 cups White flour, Replace with Equal Amount:
The Usual 1/2 (or more) Cup Oil/Shortening/Butter/Lard: ditch the love handles
The Usual 1-2 cups Sugar: ditch the empty calories
The Usual 2 Eggs: ditch the cholesterol
The Usual Dairy: 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
Ditch the Aluminum Pans:
Ditch the Margarine/Butter Greasing Method
Be Optional About Salt
.......................................A Few Other Substitutes...................................................
Chocolate Baking Squares/Cocoa Powder (this stuff is roasted so the caffeine amount is high), replace with equal amount of:
Instead of the Usual Chocolate Chips and/or Nuts, opt for Healthy Fruit Ideas:
Frosting: Puff Out Sugar with this Sugar-Free Recipe Idea:
Avocado OR Banana OR Coconut Milk Frosting
Puree the bananas OR avocados OR coconut milk in a food processor with rest of ingredients, adding in stevia to your sweet liking taste. You can add in a touch of water or non-dairy milk to help thin it out, if needed. Note that other sweeteners such as Lakanto, stevia blends, xylitol, erythritol OR coconut sugar can all be used (estimate about 4-6 TBsp). Also note that you can use carob powder instead of the cocoa powder.
To your healthy sweet baking days,
Q: Can you talk about Jing and recommend some Jing foods and herbs?
A: For the love of Jing! Do note that most Jing foods are of animal origin (although there are a few plant-based ones). Also, note there are many different types of Jing herbs (i.e., for libido, adrenal burnout, longevity, bone repair/development, etc.). I've provided a few recipes as well, so read on!
Besides consuming Jing foods and herbs, the spleen/pancreas and liver must be functioning properly in order for such foods and herbs to be properly assimilated. In Western medicine speak, this means that we want to have normal blood glucose levels, a balanced relationship with insulin, and a liver that is able to detox the body from toxins and digest fat adequately. Key to this concept is having a healthy microbiome (not only did Hippocrates known about this in ancient times, but so did the Chinese, which is why they placed the spleen/pancreas and all matters of digestion as being of central importance).
Foods Which Build Jing
Herbs Which Build Jing
You can also find these herbs sold individually in Asian markets, sometimes on Amazon, and on herbal websites (e.g. iherb.com and dragonherbs.com).
Note that there are other Jing herbs out there, including Eucommia, Astragalus, mushrooms such as Reishi and Chaga, and He shou wu/fu ling.
Kidney Foods Which Support Jing
Because Jing is located in the kidneys, foods and herbs which nourish the kidneys also nourish Jing. These foods are black (or dark purple) in color and/or have a salty taste. Some examples:
Herbal Recipes to Tonify Adrenals
Equal Part Whole Dried Herbs:
Crush to small pieces using a high speed blender. Put into a mason jar and cover herbs with 100 proof vodka + 1 inch vodka above the herbs. Let sit 2-4 weeks. Strain and bottle. Dosage: 1 oz 1-2x daily.
Source: The Way of Chinese Herbs by Michael Tierra
1) Equal part black sesame and goji berry <- Helps to protect hair from greying.
2) Equal part prepared rehmannia and goji berry, 1/2 part licorice root <- sweet brew which tastes sorta like a mocha berry coffee, good to help with anemia
3) 2 cups dried nettle + 4 cups boiling water in a 1-liter mason jar. Let sit 4-8 hours then strain. Add in a bit of mint (1-2 tsp dried) for a bit of flavor.
1) 5-6 slices Astragalus root + 4 cups water. Let simmer 20-30 minutes, then strain liquid. Drink as is or use as a base in your smoothie or soup recipe.
2) 1/2 cup Schizandra berry + 1/2 cup goji berry + boiling water to the top in a 1-liter mason jar. Let sit 8 hours to overnight. Strain. Use the infusion to make jello: 2 cups infusion + 1 sachet gelatin (or 1 TBsp agar agar powder). Add stevia to sweeten to the 2 cups infusion. If you find it too tart, use 1 cup infusion and 1 cup of your fave juice (apple, pear, grape, etc.). Simmer the infusion and or infusion/juic on medium heat 5 minutes to dissolve gelatin/agar, then let cool. Add in additional if desired. Place in fridge to set.
NOTE: If you are concerned about the use of chemicals in Chinese herbs, look for organic sourced ones such as Longevity Warehouse.
To your long and prosperous life,
Q: Can you offer me some food and herbal advice for cramps during my period?
A: Having cramps during your period is known as dysmenorrhea, NOT PMS. In TCM, we can make two different kinds of distinctions according to your symptoms: a cold/deficient type and a hot/excess type. You can check the table below to see which category you fit into. The KEY defining symptom is that if heat helps, you're in the cold category (think about using a hot water bottle over your abdomen). If heat makes it worse, then you're in the hot category.
Q: Can you offer me some food and herbal advice for constipation?
A: Sure! For starters, do note that both in Chinese medicine and Western medicine, constipation is defined as having NO bowel movement in 3 days time. Most health practitioners recommend having at least 1 bowel movement per day.
Also note that there are 2 types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water and the body doesn't digest it. It serves as a "broom" to remove waste from the body. Most fruits and veggies contain insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is soluble in water and has a gelatinous quality to it. Soluble fiber helps to softens stools. Good examples are chia seed, flax seed and psyllium husk.
There are 2 types of patterns seen in TCM related to constipation: hot/excess and cold/deficient.
The 1st is more of a pattern seen in men, however it is still very common in both sexes. Constipation arrives because there is not enough fiber and water in the diet. Typically this is a pattern due to overeating on processed/junk food, on high amonts of fatty food such as meat and dairy, and on overconsumption of sugary foods such as pastry and candy. The recommendation is to clean up the diet with fiber-rich and high water content foods (e.g. veggies). Herbs are useful in moving the bowels and should be paired with demulcent herbs to avoid gripping/stabbing pains. Probiotics are useful in repopulating the gut flora, while enemas/colonics can be viable, temporary solutions to remove old, hard waste.
The 2nd is a pattern seen more in women, in which constipation is due to a lack of bodily fluids. In this pattern, the diet is generally OK but the interfering pattern tends to be hormonal (e.g. adrenal, thyroid or menopausal issues) and is called a yin deficiency pattern in TCM. TCM uses a gentle method of "building up the yin" (or regulating the hormones in Western medicine speak) with foods and herbs. Note that building yin takes time to build.
Exercise is an excellent "treatment" for both types :)
Q: Can you help me find some herbs for my parasite problem?
A: Note that herbs in both Chinese and Western medicine are divided into hot and cold categories in order to better match the right herb to a person. Another criteria we can use to find the right herb is whether a person is strong or deficient. Using these 4 criteria, we can then talk about different 4 categories or types: strong + cold, strong + hot, deficient + cold, deficient+ hot.
To do: find which type you are. Take the herbs for 10 days on, 5 days off. Repeat 3-9 more times until symptoms of parasites are gone. Make sure you eat a low glycemic, low carb diet in order to starve out the parasites (such as the paleo diet, a grain-free vegan or vegetarian diet, or the candida diet <-inclduing the Body Ecology diet).
Herbs can be found at most health food stores and online (such as Mountain Rose Herbs).
Q: I know using sugar is not good for you and I'm looking for some alternatives to using sugar. I know you have healthy sugar-free recipes on your website. Could you tell me more about them and a few tips on how to use them in recipes?
A: Here are 12+ sugar substitutes* that are low calorie and won't spike blood glucose levels, including monk fruit, xylitol, stevia, yacon syrup and more. Note that you can also use flavorings and spices in your recipes so that you can use LESS sugar.
*These sweeteners are suitable for those with diabetes, trying to lose weight and those wanting natural, healthy and/or low calorie sweeteners. For those with candida, the best choices are stevia, monk fruit and Lakanto.
Xylitol and Erythritol
Are called sugar alcohols. They are white in appearance and are fermented products. Xylitol and erythritol can be derived from corn, so be wary if you have corn allergies (note that xylitol can also be derived from birch, so good for those with corn allergies). They naturally occur in food and are considered safe for consumption. They are medium-priced compared to the price of organic sugar and make good substitutes in baked goods. They are about 60-80% as sweet as sugar.
Tip: instead of using the standard 2 cups of "sugar" in recipes, use 1/2-3/4 cup of xylitol or erythritol, taste test the dough, then add in 1-2 tsp of stevia (or more) to sweeten (more about using stevia as an enhancer sweetener below).
Note that because xylitol and erythritol are fermented, those with digestive issues (e.g. small intestintal bacterial overgrowth-SIBO) may experience gas and bloating. Some may also exprience diarrhea when large amounts are consumed. If you have candida, you may be able to tolerate these sweeteners, however stevia would be a better choice.
Is a fructooligosacharide (FOS, a prebiotic food which the probiotic, friendly gut flora feed off) and is found in chicory root, jerusalem artichoke, dandelion root, yacon and burdock root. You can buy inulin as an extracted product (such as from the agave plant or from chicory) as a white powder. It's not as sweet compared to organic sugar, but you can pair it with another sweetener (e.g. stevia) and use it where a small amount of sweetener is needed e.g. no-baked goods, smoothies, tea, coffee, etc.
Tip: in no baked goods, try using 1-2 TBsp with another sweetner e.g 1/2 cup xylitol.
Note that inulin (a prebiotic) can cause gas and bloating in some in some individuals.
Is a fruit from South America. It's sold in North America in its powdered form and has a vanilla-like taste. Lucuma is rather pricey and isn't as sweet as organic sugar, however when just a small amount of sweetener is needed (e.g. tea. coffee, shake), lucuma will work fine on its own.
Tip: For recipes that require a large amount of sweetener such as baked goods, pair lucuma with another sweetner e.g. 1/2-3/4 cup xylitol or erythritol + 2-4 TBsp lucuma (the lucuma will also give your baked goods a slight vanilla-like taste).
Not suitable for those with candida.
Available as a syrup or powder, yacon = the tuberous roots of the yacon plant (Smallanthus sonchifolius). Yacon is not as sweet as organic sugar and has a "dark" molasses-like taste. Because of its particular taste and being pricey, it's best to use yacon when only a small amount of sweetener is needed (e.g. tea, coffee).
Tip:Try pairing 1-2 TBsp with another sweetner (e.g. 1/2-3/4 cup xylitol or coconut sugar) in no-baked and baked goods to benefit from its molasses flavoring and prebiotic properties (inulin).
Note that yacon is high in FOS (fructooligosaccharides) and thus some may experience gas and bloating. Not suitable for those with candida.
Coconut Sugar & Nectar
Or Coconut Palm Sugar, is the sugary sap (or nectar) collected from the tree's flowers, heated to allow the water content to evaporate, and then sold as a thick liquid or dried as a crystallized powder. It has a low glycemic index of 35, contains inulin and some essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It makes a good sugar subsitute for both baked and no-baked goods and is considered 50-75% as sweet as sugar. It is one of the pricier sweeteners out there.
Tip: A good one to use for quick breads when paired with stevia. Try 1/2-3/4 cup coconut sugar + several tsps of stevia.
Not suitable for those with candida.
Stevia is a plant that is 20-40 times sweeter than sugar in its whole form and 100-200 times sweeter in its extracted form (glucosides). You can grow stevia yourself (she is an annual and Wo mentions that she grows well indoors during the cold winter months) and harvest her green leaves. The green leaves can be dried and then ground to a powder where small amonts of sweeter are needed (e.g. coffe, tea). The leaves can also be used to make a brief infusion (steep the leaves 30-60 minutes) and the strained liquid can then be used to sweeten recipes (e.g. replace the liquid in quick bread recipes with the stevia infusion). Stevia can also be turned into a glycerite (steep the fresh leaves with glycerin to cover for 6 weeks, then strain) or tincture (steep the leaves in 100 proof vodka for 6 weeks, then strain). Both can then be used to sweeten recipes where a small amount of sweetener is needed e.g. tea, coffee, smoothie.
Since stevia has a bitter principle, stevia is often sold as Rebaudioside A (somtimes Reb C, sometimes known as stevioside), which is the extracted sweet part of the stevia plant. Reb A can be purchased as a powder or in liquid form.
Since stevia is so sweet, by herself she doesn't do well in recipes requiring large amounts of sweeteners. Instead, she shines as an enhancer sweetener; in other words, you can use LESS of your regular sweetner because stevia is very, very sweet.
Tip: use 1-2 tsp (or more) of stevia paired with 1/2-3/4 cup of another sweetner (e.g. xylitol, erythritol, Lakanto, yacon, coconut sugar) in baked good recipes.
Stevia is one of the best sweeteners for ALL kinds of digestive issues, including leaky gut, SIBO, parasites and candida as she has NO calories and does NOT contribute to an imbalanced microbiome (does NOT feed the "bad bugs").
As known as glycerol, food grade glycerine is a sugar alcohol that has a sweet taste, about 60-75% as sweet as sugar. It is not that expensive, has a low glycemic index and is often added in small amounts to foods as a humectant, thickener and/or sweetener.
Tip: You can use glycerin in small amounts to sweeten coffee, tea and smoothies. When paired with another sweetener (e.g. xylitol, Lakanto), it serves as an enhancer sweetener (plus adds moisture). Try 1/2-3/4 cup xlylitol + 2-3 TBsp glycerin in baked recipes <- Very good to try with "drying" flours such as oat and coconut. You can try using glycerin as the main sweetener in no bake recipes, then add in 1-2 tsp (or more) stevia to sweeten.
Like all sugar alcohols, can have a laxative effect when large amounts are consumed. Might be suitable for those with candida. Do note that being derived from a vegetable fat, it can bog down the liver and lymphatic system, so not for those with liver issues.
Monk Fruit/Lo Han/Lo Han Guo
Is a fruit from China that has a mocha-chocolate taste in its whole form. Because it has a bitter principle, it is sold as an extracted powder. It's not very sweet on its own and does well when used in small amounts, such as for tea or coffee. You can use monk fruit as a flavoring (e.g. 1tsp-1 TBsp) in no-baked recipes or use it in combination with xylitol and stevia for baked good recipes (OR try Lakanto which contains monk fruit, stevia and erythritol). <- Note that Lakanto is pricey, but you can purchase the 3 sweeteners and then make your own combination :)
Note that you can buy the whole fruit from Asian markets. To do: open the shell carefully and pull out the inner part. Crush this inner part to a fine powder using a coffee mill. Again, each fruit is different, so some taste sweet while others have a slight bitterness to them.
Suitable for those with candida (including Lakanto).
Fruits are a natural source of sugar and many are aware that dried fruit such as raisins, dates and apricots can be used to sweeten recipes. Interestingly, when you soak these dried fruits for 4-8 hours, you can then use the sweet soak water and use it in the place of liquids (water/ milk) in your baked good recipes.
Tip: replace the water in your oatmeal recipe with raisin or date soak water, cook, then sweeten with stevia if need be.
Another way to sweeten a recipe is to use fruit juices in place of water/milk in baked goods. For example, cranberry juice can be used in a cranberry recipe, orange juice in an orange quick bread recipe, while grape, pear and apple are all sweet juices that be used in many recipes. Using fruit juices to sweeten your recipe means that you can use LESS sweetener to your recipes.
Tip: try using 1/2-3/4 cup xylitol, erythritol or Lakanto AND use a fruit juice to replace the water/milk/oil in the recipe. If the dough is still lacking a bit of sweet, add in a bit of liquid stevia, then bake.
Yet one other idea is to use fruit butters or mashed fruit to replace the oil in recipes AND at the same time provide sweetness (meaning LESS sweetener will be needed).
Tip: replace 1 cup of oil with 1/2 cup fruit butter or fresh fruit pureed (e.g. peeled and cored apples blended in a fruit processor, mashed bananas, apple butter, etc.), then use 1/2-3/4 cup sweetener such as xylitol, erythritol, coconut sugar or Lakanto.
Note: fruits suitable for candida include the sours: berries, lemon, lime, pomegranate, tart cherry, and granny smith apple in small quantities.
Natural Sugars Which Spike Blood Glucose (NOT for those with candida)
Brown Rice Syrup
Is a thick syrup derived from boiling down the liquid from brown rice. Aside from arsenic being found in brown rice, the syrup is low glycemic and can be suitable as a sweetenr in moderation for those with diabetes, and those seeking weight loss or a healthy sweetener. It is not as sweet as sugar and works best when a small amount of sweetener is needed such as for coffee, tea or cereal. Some have noted that it has a slight rice-like "particular" taste. If used in baked goods, pair with another sweetener.
Tip: try pairing equal amounts of brown rice syrup with another sweetener such as xylitol, Lakanto, coconut sugar or erythritol in baked and no bake recipes.
Note that Sorghum Syrup can be used similarly to brown rice syrup.
Raw honey has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, as well as a host of minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese. These are detroyed with heat, so be sure to AVOID using honey in baked recipes. Honey can be used just like sugar, and is great to use on special occassions in no bake recipes. As well, a bit of honey to sweeten tea or coffee in moderation is fine if there are no blood sugar issues. Where honey really "shines" is when the immune system needs a lift, such as during a cold or the flu. Herbalists have often steeped herbs in honey for just such an occassion, such as with sage honey, violet honey or the pricey manuka honey. Note that honey is high in calories and has a high glycemic index of 64.
Tip: A tablespoon of honey (or an infused herbal honey) in a cup or two of warm water helps to soothe sore scratchy throats. Note that you can use LESS honey in a recipe if you pair honey with stevia. <- To do, sweeten the recipe with half the amount of honey, then add in 1-2 tsp (up to 1 TBsp) of stevia to sweeten. Add a touch more honey if need be.
Not suitable for those with candida.
Is a very thick syrup derived from sugar cane. The juice is extracted from the sugar cane, boiled down, then most of the sugar is removed before being boiled down a third time. The syrup has a particular "dark" taste and is rich in iron, potassium and magnesium. Because of its special taste, it is often used with other sweeteners in a recipe. Make sure you choose organic and unsulphured. Note that it is high in calories and has a glycemic index of 55. It is 60-70% as sweet as sugar.
Tip: Use 1/2-3/4 cup xylitol, erythritol, Lakanto or coconut sugar + 2 TBsp of molasses in a baked good recipe. 2 TBsp of molasses replaces about 1/2 cup of sweetener in a recipe. <- Good idea to make molasses or gingerbread cookies :)
For those with iron deficiency, 1-2 TBsp can be used as a supplement daily (barring there are no digestive/parasitic/candidiasis issues). Wo made a video on iron deficiency, which you can watch HERE if interested. You can also make an infusion of 1/2 oz. each parsley, nettle and yellow dock (+ 1/2 oz mint for taste, optional), then add a touch of molasses to taste.
It is a thick syrup derived from tapping maple trees. It comes in different grades/colors depending on how long it has been processed/boiled down. It is as sweet as sugar and contains B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, manganese and zinc. Note that it is high in calories and has a glycemic index of 54.
It can be used just like sugar to sweeten baked and no-bake recipe.
Bonus: Birch Syrup is similar to maple syrup in that it is high in minerals and B vitamins. It has a glycemic index of about 50 and can be used like sugar. Birch Water is what is tapped directly from the trees before it is boiled down (before the water is evaporated). Birch water is excellent to flush out toxins from the lymphatic system <- beneficial for those interested in detoxifying and those with edema/water retention.
Flavorings to Use so that LESS Sugar is Required in Recipes
When you add the following flavorings to your recipe, they not only make your recipe taste good, but you can get away with using LESS sweetener.
Flavorings to add to recipes include:
***ALL Recipes on Go Wild Be Free are Sugar-Free!!!***
Here are a few good ones to try:
Q: I'm looking for a few tips to help me out with some liver issues I've been experiencing. Any advice would be helpful.
A: I've provided a list of symptoms for someone who has liver issues (in TCM lingo this is called Qi Stagnation of the Liver or qi ye gan). I've recommended some specific foods, herbs and strategies to help the liver, including castor oil packs, glutathione, the gi gong exercise of "beating the bag" and the inner smile meditation technique.
Signs that You Have an Issue with Your Liver
(Qi Stagnation of the Liver, qi ye gan):
Note: there are other classifications in TCM involving the liver (heat in the liver, yin & blood deficiency and wind issues) for which there are specific foods and herbs, however the following suggestions are useful for ALL liver issues :)
Generally speaking, do BE NICE to the liver:
As noted above, the bitter taste helps the liver to digest food better, so if you have chronic digestive issues, take 1 dropperful (30 drops) of one of the following tinctures in a bit of water 15-30 minutes before meals (right before the meal if your case is very bad) and be sure to swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds before swallowing:
Specific herbs that will help tonify and detox the liver are:
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil is a viscuous liquid known for drawing out poisons from the skin and lymphatic system. To do: Place some of the oil on the skin where your liver is located and/or place some oil on a piece of flannel cloth (or 1-2 sheets of large gauze). Put the cloth/gauze over the skin where your liver is located, then use plastic cling wrap and wind the cling wrap around your waist to hold the cloth in place. Place a towel over the area and then hold a hot water bottle over the towel. Sit or lie down for the next 20-30 minutes (up to 1 hour) while the oil helps to detoxify the area, then remove the cling wrap and cloth and wash the area with soap and water. Recommended: 1x a week or 2x a month.
Glutathione is an important enzyme that the liver produces for detoxification purposes. You can take a supplement or you can try this cofee enema technique that is used by the Gerson Institute.
To do: put 2-3 TBsp of organic ground coffee in a pot with 4 cups water. Let come to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool, then pour through a sieve lined with a coffee filter. Add additional water to make 4 cups of liquid. Make sure the liquid is finger hot as too cold or too hot will shock the intestines. Put the liquid in a clean enema bag (wash it out with soap and water prior to using). Hang the enema bag up, lube your nozzle and anus and lie down on your right side. You may want to place some towels on the floor first. Open the valve and let the liquid flow in. If you feel cramps, close the nozzle and wait until they pass. Remember that you can open or close the valve at any time, so you can monitor how much liquid flows in. When the enema bag is empty, set a timer for 12-15 minutes. You can massage your intestines during this time, lie quietly and do breathing or meditate or read a book. When the time is up, evacuate (don't force) the enema out. Massaging your intestines from the small intestine to the large intestine can help the liquid to pass more readily out.
Nb. If the liquid seems "stuck," try: 1- first do a mini enema of 1-2 cups of pure water OR chamomile OR mint tea (hold for 5 minutes before evacauting), then do the coffee enema. 2- Add 1-2 tsp 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to the coffee enema, then add to the enema bag. IMPORTANT: follow the instructions on the bottle, you want to use 3% hyrdogen peroxide, NOT full strength.
Coffee enemas, besides removing waste, have also been shown to increase glutathione levels. How they work: during the time you are holding in the coffee, the stimulating action of the coffee irritates the liver into producing more glutathione. Since the liver cleanses the blood every 3 minutes and you are holding in the coffee for 12-15 minutes, for the next 4-5 cycles, more glutathione is produced, hence your liver is better able to detoxify. Interestingly, the coffee enema used to be a technique that was recommended by the Merck Manual back in the 1970s.
There are various ways to help with stress, including tai chi, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and qi gong exercises. Since the liver is the organ most prone to being affected by stress, here are 2 techniques that you may find useful:
Q: Tell me more about the green smoothie. How can I add extra nutrition to the green smoothie?
A: Keep reading to find out how to supercharge your green smoothie using herbs, probiotics, wild foods and more!
Green Smoothie---> Fruits, Greens, some kind of Liquid, and optional Add-ins are what's in a green smoothie.
They tend to be medium to high glycemic and have a slipperiness to them. Examples: mangoes, bananas, berries, peaches and pears. Try using exotic fruits to add some variety. Good choices include litchi, kiwi, pitaya and papaya.
Any green will do, such as kale, chard, collard, spinach and lettuce. As a variation, you can steam the greens first before adding them to the blender (leftover cooked greens also work well). Wo recommends that for those with hypothyroidism, veggies that are in the Brassica/Cruciferous family should be cooked/steamed first as they contain goitrogens which can interfere with thyroid functioning. Similarly, those who are sensitive to oxalates (e.g. spinach, kale) should also cook/steam those veggies first.
To add extra nutrition to your smoothie, usee wild (and not so wild) greens. These "weeds" are high in vitamins and minerals and include Plantain, Sheep Sorrel and Dandelion greens, Grape leaves, Red Clover leaves, Stinging Nettle (parboil 5 minutes first), Borage leaves, Nasturtium leaves and Chickweed. Greens with a slipperiness to them are great to add to smoothies and good choices include Hollyhock, Mallow, Marshmallow and Violet leaves. Add them raw or parboil first. Note that you can grow all these plants in your garden :)
Standard liquids in a green smoothie are water, milk and non-dairy milk. To add extra nutrition, consider using:
Add-ins: Superfoods, Supplements, Flavorings & More
Another way of getting in herbs is to use them in their powdered form. Instead of using dandelion or burdock infusion, you could open up a capsule or two and add them to your smoothie. Bar in mind that powdered herbs have a 6-12 month shelf life when purchased from health food stores, however you could always powder your own dried herbs using a coffee grinder or high speed blender. Herbs that you could add in are vast, from Astragalus to boost immunity to Yellow Dock for iron deficiency, from Rhodiolia to help with adrenal burnout to Ashwagandha to help with a host of issues.
Superfoods can add in extra nutrition, provide "medicine" and/or flavor. Good examples include:
Other goodies to add in:
Q: I'd be most interested in some weight loss advice.
A: Here are 10 weight loss strategies using a combination of TCM and Western Medicine thinking. Enjoy :)
Be Nice to Your Kidneys!
Strategy 1: Sleep 7-8 hours, Be in Bed Between 9pm-12 am.
It's a common fact that people with excess cortisol have more inflammation in their bodies, have belly fat and have more trouble losing weight. Getting enough sleep is central to weight loss as it allows the body to repair and rejuvenate. According to Chinese medicine, we should be in bed between 9pm-12am at the latest.
Be Nice to Your Liver!
The liver does over 500 jobs in the body and in TCM the organ that is most affected by stress is the liver. An imbalanced liver results in anger, irritation and frustration and as Wo points out, who isn't walking around with "them things?" The liver is also responsible for the "free flow of qi," which means that ALL negative emotions affect the liver adversely.
Strategy 2: Eat Clean, Real Food.
Cook your own food with real ingredients Make each meal consist of 70-80% veggies (or 1 lb of veggies a day).<- Here's an article by Cat to help you out with that. Sit down, chew and enjoy your meal. Be thankful to the farmers and people who grew the food you are eating now.
Strategy 3: Minimize Toxins in Your Environment.
The liver is an organ most affected by toxic chemicals in the environment, so eat organic food (or grow your own in mineral-rich soil) and choose natural and chemical-free products for your home and beauty needs. On the EWG's Skindeep Cosmetic Database you can rate the toxicity of the products you are using and on the EWG's Food Scores you can assess the toxicity in the foods you are eating.
Strategy 4: Don't Eat After 7pm.
In TCM, eating late at night puts a stress on the liver. Since the liver is an organ which plays a major role in digestion (especially fat digestion), having undigested food in your belly while you sleep will impede weight loss. I've seen some people implementing just this one strategy of not eating late at night and have noticed weight loss results. A strategy to try for sure!
Be Nice to Your Spleen!
Strategy 5: Minimize Damp Foods-> Minimize Sugars and Carbs
In TCM, the spleen (which is associated with the earth element) is in the center of 5-elements theory and it rules over all matters of digestion. It's not a hard concept to understand compared to Western medicine, where the microbiome figures most prominently as a central aspect of health. In fact, many health practitioners have noted that issues with the digestive system lead to and occur concurrently with many other chronic health issues in the body.
Since many people have parasites, candida, imbalanced gut floras, problems digesting carbs and problems with blood sugar regulation (not to mention constipation), eating low glycemic veggies and fruits is an excellent strategy to follow. This is a good resource to see which foods are low glycemic. For some carb-free recipes, check out this article by Cat :)
Strategy 6: Create a Healthy Microbiome with Probiotics.
Having good gut flora is the key to having a proper functioning digestive system, one that can digest and assimilate the nutrition from food for your body.
Instead of spending money on pricey probiotics, you can easily rebuild your gut flora by making your own cheaply and easily. Check out this article by Cat where you can find recipes on water kefir, dairy kefir, sauerkraut, fermented veggies and more.
A couple of probiotics in capsule worth mentioning: S. Boulardi helps with candida infections while L. Plantarum is a good choice for everyone including those with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. HealthForce contains L. Plantarum as well as the prebiotics burdock and yacon.
Be Nice to Your Lymphatic System!
Strategy 7:Get That Lymph Moving!
Rebounding is an excellent way to move lymph and remove toxins from the body. It creates circulation in the body while being beneficial in reducing cellulite. It's an excellent way to increase bone density while being gentle on the joints. Those with reduced mobility can purchase a support on some models. Cheap models can be purchased at big box stores for less than $50 (you can check out this midrange-priced one HERE).
Strategy 8: Do Weight Bearing Exercises, Burst Training or High Intensity Interval Training->Burn Calories Even While not Working Out
When you do weight bearing exercises, whether using body weight only or with actual weights, you continue to burn calories long after you've finished working out. There are a number of ways you can lift weights, including supersetting, pyramiding up or down, and doing exercises in a circuit. "Circuit training" has become popularized as high intensity interval training (HIIT), where one exercise is done for so many seconds followed by a very short rest period (commonly 50 seconds on and 10 seconds rest) and then the sequence is repeated for x number of minutes (20, 30, 45 and 60 minutes are common). HIIT routines are intense as they involve using large muscle groups, often with additional weight (or body weight only or with plyometric movements). Another method is burst training where you are pushing yourself hard for 20-30 seconds, then cooling down for 60-90 seconds, then repeating this sequence for x minutes. As an example, you could run as fast as you can for 20 seconds, then walk for 90 seconds. Both HIIT and burst training stimulate type II twitch fibers as well as growth hormone (also known as the youthing hormone). You can read more HERE.
Strategy 9: Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be an excellent strategy to help you with your weight loss goals as it:
1- Stimulates growth hormone
2-Normalizes insulin sensitivity (in TCM lingo that would be helping to tonify your spleen)
3- Normalizes ghrelin (also known as the hunger hormone).
When used with strategy #4 above, intermittent fasting can then look like this: don't eat after 7pm and then delay eating breakfast by a few hours, or perhaps go for brunch or just do lunch. Feel free to incorporate a morning workout and then choose a protein-rich meal after training. Read more: HGH and intermittent fasting by Dr. Mercola
Strategy 10: Get in Your Minerals
Wo recommends getting in herbal infusions to help with weight loss. Herbs in this category include diuretics and lymphatic stimulants such as Self-heal, Nettle and Cleavers, and herbs that work on the liver (in terms of fat loss and detox) such as Dandelion root, Burdock root, Chicory root, Milk Thistle and Red Clover. These herbs are gentle and can be taken daily or 2-3x a week.
Q: Could you tell me more about the concept of fasting?
A: The acronym FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type, and I've used these 4 categories to discuss fasting. If you'd prefer to find out what fasting is and what are some different Types of fasts to better understand, scroll down to the Type section first, then go and read on about the other parts of fasting (Frequency, Intensity and Time).
Frequency. How often should you fast? How many times per year/month/week? Depends on the Type of fast (e.g. intermittent fasting is every day vs. doing a spring detox 1x/year).
In general, most health practitioners advise doing a fast 1x a year, during the spring time (the spring detox). This is to cleanse the body from the harsh winter and to eat lighter foods, which could take the form of a liquid fast such as soup, smoothie or juice, or it could simply mean laying off heavy and fatty foods. Since the liver does over 500+ jobs in the body and is one of the major detox organs and since spring is ruled by the liver in TCM, spring is the ideal time to do a fast.
Other health practitioners may advocate doing 4 fasts a year in order to help with the transitions between each season. For example, one might do a juice, smoothie or soup fast to transition in from the hot days of summer into the cooler days of fall. Fasting in this way can help the body to adjust to the new season and the new foods that will be eaten.
Intensity. How intense is the fast in terms of detox symptoms? How are you managing your detox symptoms? Detox symptoms will depend on you personally, but will also depend on the type of fast as well as how long it goes for. More intense the fast (e.g. water fasting), more intense the detox symptoms. Fasts which involve liquids (juice, water) will be more intense than those involving solid foods (e.g. mono fruit fast).
Common detox symptoms include: headache, irritability, dizziness when standing, lack of concentration, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, skin rashes and nausea. The 4 organs of Detox are the liver, lungs, kidneys and skin and you can experience physical symptoms in all 4 of these. You can also experience mental and emotional detox symptoms.
Time. How long is the fast (hours/days/weeks)? How long the fast will run depends on the type of fast, your previous experience with fasting and how intense the fast is (in other words, how you are managing your detox symptoms). Short fasts are 1-3 days, medium fasts are 7-14 days and long fasts are 14+ days. A specific type of fast that focuses on time is intermittent fasting, which is when a person does not eat for an extended period of time between meals e.g. last meal at 7pm then no eating until breakfast 7am, so fast lasts for 12 hours.
Resources: Intermittent fasting by Dr. Mercola and general article on fasting by Dr. Mercola
Type. What is fasting? In theory, anything can be construed as a fast. Fasting involves some type of caloric restriction and/or only specific foods/solids are consumed. Detox symptoms can range from mild to severe and are commonly experienced during a fast.
Junk food-------SAD-------Wholefoods-----Vegetarian/Vegan/Plant Based
One way someone can be on a "fast" and experience detox symptoms is just by cleaning up their diet. Someone who eats junk, processed or fast food or is eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) can experience detox symptoms just by moving to a whole foods diet (or even a plant based diet). A whole foods diet includes meat and examples are Paleo diets and TCM diets. As well, someone who eats meat and who incorporates more plant based foods in their diet (more vegetarian and vegan meals, such as meatless Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) could also be on a "fast" where they might experience detox symptoms. In comparison to other types of fasts where caloric restriction is the rule (or where only certain foods are allowed to be eaten), these detox symptoms will be mild.
Another way of looking at fasting is moving from eating foods which create acidity in the body to eating foods which create an alkaline balance. You want to get in a ratio of 80% alkaline foods to 20% acidic foods. Here's a chart for your reference :)
Fasts involve either solids, where you are chewing food, or liquids, where you are swishing/drinking some kind of beverage. Fasts which involve solids are easier than liquid based fasts and symptoms will be more prominent on liquid fasts.
Types of Fasts
-> from Solid to Liquid, from Fiber-filled to Fiber-less, from Less Intense to Most Intense:
About Juice Fasts
Juice, herbal tea and water fasting are liquid fasts which contain no fiber and are the most intense in terms of detox symptoms.
Juice feasts/fasts involve freshly made juices. The difference is in the amount of juice drunk: 5-6 liters is a "feast" where one has adequate calories coming in vs. a fast of 2-4 liters of juice where there is caloric restriction. The majority of the juices are made using veggies while 1 of the juices can involve just fruits or fruits and greens (too much fruit feeds parasites and candida, which is one of the reasons why people fast in the first place).
About Herbal Tea Fasts
Herbal "tea" fasts can be almost as intense as water fasting. The amount of calories in herbal infusions and decoctions is low (e.g. 30 calories in 1 liter of infusion) however there is nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals (sometimes carbs and protein) whereas in water fasting there is none. The infusions and decoctions that are most helpful are those that help with detox symptoms while being tonifying and nutritive. There are many herbs which can be helpful (TCM, Ayurvedic and Western herbs) such as:
About Water Fasting
If you are fasting on your own, 1-3 days is doable (in European countries where fasting is more recognized 10 days is seen as being doable---but do use your judgement!) . Otherwise, unless you are a health practitioner, you are best to go to a water fasting center. Most people with chronic health issues will benefit from doing a 21+ day fast, with 30-40 days of fasting being considered safe.
Resources for where you can get assessed to see if you are a good candidate for water fasting and where you can water fast:
Tanglewood Wellness Center
True North Health Center
On Colonics and Enemas
Some people choose to do colonics and enemas while doing a juice, herbal tea or water fast. Because there is no fiber in these liquids and because toxins/parasites bind to fiber and are then evacuated out, detox symptoms can be greatly reduced through the use of colonics and enemas. Since many people have parasites and candida (and are often constipated), I recommend using them and have personally found benefits in their usage during such types of fasts.
Q: Can you offer me some a few food combining tips to help with my digestion?
A: Here are 3 simple rules for eating carbs, protein and fat in order to maximize digestion :)
There are 3 macromolecules: fats, proteins and carbs. Technically, carbs include all fruits, veggies, starches and grains. For the purpose of food combining, Wo defined carbs as starches and grains and made fruits and veggies separate categories. Thus, the 5 food groups are:
Digestive Times of Food Groups: fruit 30 min, veggies 1-2 hrs, carbs 2-3 hrs, protein 2-3 hrs, fat 3+ hrs, complex meal 4-5 hrs+
Strategy 1: Eat Melons Alone. Melons do not combine well with any other food group except for other melons. You can eat honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe together, but combining with other fruits may indeed result in digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.
Strategy 2. Eat Fruits Alone. Fruits do not combine well with other food groups, so ideally you want to eat them all on their own. You want to eat fruits 1/2 hour before any other food/meal OR 3 hours after a meal.
There are 3 Types of Fruits (and this is how you would eat them):
Strategy 3. Eat Carbs & Protein Separately. Starches and grains when paired with protein can result in gas and bloating. In order to optimize digestion, eat:
Bonus Rule: Seaweeds and Greens are two foods which pair with ANY other food (including fruits).
Remember, we're talking about optimizing digestion, so if you can tolerate mixing things up without digestive issues, these "rules" won't apply to y'all!!
Q: Is there a way to eat beans without getting gassy?
A: Yes! To make beans more digestible, you want to make sure you soak, cook and use carminative herbs. Check out the 5 steps + additional tips below :)
Steps to Make Beans More Digestible
1. Soak Beans. Soak beans 8 hours/overnight. Since beans are seeds in their dormant form, all seeds need water in order to germinate. Soaking beans is thus the 1st step in the germination process. In order to help tenderize beans, even at this early stage, you can add in a piece of kombu or kelp.
2. Sprout Beans. Optional but Highly Recommended, especially if you have some kind of digestive compromise. Sprouting beans is really simple: simply drain and rinse beans and leave them to germinate in a colander (i.e., to develop "tails."). Different beans have different germination times e.g. chickpeas 1 day, lentils 3-4 days, black beans 5-6 days. Be sure to rinse beans with water 2x a twice (morning and evening).
What you are essentially doing is germinating the seeds (beans) hydroponically, that is, just using water. Using a colander is a dirt cheap method of sprouting beans, but there are other methods you can use as well, including using an automatic sprouter. You can find out more about different germination times and other methods used HERE.
If you have digestive compromise, you really want to sprout your beans before consuming them. The reason? Sprouting means you are breaking down the molecular structure of the beans (seeds), that is, the seeds are slowly growing to become plants. Sprouting therefore makes beans much more digestible than not sprouting them.
3. Cook OR Blanch Beans. If you've chosen to sprout your beans, you may be able to blanch beans for 5-10 minutes and not get any gassy symptoms. Blanching will help to remove the bitter taste from the sprouted beans ---and some believe that the short cooking time means that more vitamins and minerals are preserved. However, you can still go ahead and cook your beans, and you'll want to cook them well especially if you have any kind of digestive issue. If you only soaked the beans, you'll definitely be needing to cook them before eating them!
Beans do have different cooking times, and you can consult this chart HERE to see how long to cook them for. Generally, small beans like lentils take 30-45 minutes while larger beans like black eyed peas require 2-3 hours of cooking. You can always cook beans (any size) using a crock pot. Simply add beans and water to cover and cook on Low 6-8 hours.
Did you add a 3-inch strip of kelp/kombu to the water when you soaked your beans? If you did, just add it in to the cooking water and let everything cook on up. If you didn't, consider adding a piece now in order to make beans more tender.
4. Add in Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). In order to further help break down the sugars in the beans, consider adding in 1-2 TBsp of ACV to the cooking water. The acid in the vinegar will help to tenderize the beans. No need to use ACV with "mother," but you can if you like.
5. Use Carminative Herbs. There are many common herbs that are known to counter gassiness, so adding them to the cooking pot is highly beneficial. Warming herbs include Mexican, Thai and Indian spices, such as Ginger, Fennel and Cumin. Cooling Mediterranean/Italian spices include Oregano, Thyme and Basil. Mint and Coriander are two other cooling spices you can use. If you are using beans to make desserts, consider using the warming spices of Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves and Anise. Finally, you might be interested in the herb Epazote, also known as Wormseed. It has both bitter and vermifuge properties and is commonly added in Mexican cuisine to curb gassiness. Add in a few fresh leaves or 1-2 tsp of dried herb.
6. Additional Tips To Ensure a GAS-less Experience
7. Still Can't Tolerate Beans? Go For Bean Tea.
In Chinese medicine, beans are known as an excellent food to reduce dampness in the body and for weight loss. Beans are therefore helpful with vaginal secretions, candida, edema, nasal drip and excess weight. Beans are also chock-full of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and a host of other minerals.
If despite soaking, sprouting and cooking beans, you still get gas, then get in the benefits by drinking the cooking water, that is, bean tea. To do: Use 1 cup of beans (best ones: mung or aduki beans) + 6 cups water. Let come to a boil, then simmer on low covered for 2-3 hours. Strain out liquid (a nut milk bag comes in handy for this). Drink 1-3 cups throughout the day. Feel free to dilute the "tea" with additional water if you like.
8. Tried Bean Tea and Still Can't Handle the Beans? IF ALL FAILS you need to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria before investing in the bean experience again! Consider following FODMAPs, Paleo-Autoimmune or the GAPS diet. Don't worry, once you've rebuilt your digestive system, there'll be plenty more beanful days ahead :)
Q: I noticed that you have gorgeous skin! Do you have any secrets to share?
A: Diet and lifestyle play a huge role in having glowing skin, including watching out for toxins in the environment. Check out my commonsense tips and tricks below. My "secrets" include getting in bitters and adequate minerals
1. Water. Water is necessary for proper cellular functioning, as well as to flush out toxins from the body. Since the body is comprised of 80% water, water figures in as a vital element in having glowing skin. Be sure to drink filtered or spring water (tap water is full of toxins that you most certainly want to avoid).
2. High Water/Real Food Diet. Not only do you want to be eating a clean diet with real food (as opposed to junk and processed food), but veggies and fruits are 80-90% water. A clean diet also includes eating organic foods (or growing your own organically), and avoiding toxic foods such as GMOs and hydrogenated/trans fats. A good rule of thumb to follow is to make each meal comprised of about 80% veggies.
3. Exercise. There are various cardio and weight training modalities out there--- the body is designed to move! Movement allows the body to flush out toxins, work the cardiovascular system and provide benefits to the musculo-skeletal system. Find what interests and works for you and just do it :)
4. Work the Lymphatic System. The Lymphatic System is an important yet highly underrated system that plays a vital role in removing cellular waste and toxins from the body. While exercise in general helps to move lymph, rebounding ~or jumping on a trampoline~ has been shown to be a highly effective way that is even touted by astronauts.
2 Herbs that help to flush waste, edema/water retention, toxins and excess weight out of the body are Cleavers (Galium aparine) and Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris). Cleavers is in the same family as coffee and you can juice it, steam it and use it like spinach or make an infusion or tincture with it. Self-heal makes a tasty infusion :) You can find both out in the wild or get seeds and grow them yourself.
5. Bitters. In TCM lingo, herbs that purify the blood are helpful in removing toxins from the body. Most of these herbs have a gentle and tonifying action on the liver and are common weeds that you can find growing in the wild. These include Dandelion root, Burdock root, Chicory root and Red Clover. These can be taken as an infusion (let sit 8 hours) and drunk daily (or 2-3 X a week). Milk Thistle is a good herb that also helps with fat digestion.
While bitter tasting foods are not appreciated in today's Western diet, they play a vital role in removing toxins from the body. Bitter foods include cultivated greens such as kale and chard and wild edible greens such as Dandelion and Plantain leaf.
6. Go High on Minerals. The herbs mentioned in #5 above are high in minerals, which are sorely lacking from most modern day diets. Since soils are depleted or deficient in minerals, growing your own food in mineral-enhanced and enriched soil is a good idea. Other herbs that are high in minerals are Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) and seaweeds. Nettle makes an excellent nourishing infusion that you can drink daily and is high in protein, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and iron. You can find Nettle growing in the wild or grow her yourself. Use 2 cups Nettle for every 4 cups of boiling water. Place in a 1-liter mason jar and let sit 4-8 hours before straining.
Seaweeds are high in minerals and are said to be a yin food in TCM. There are a host of seaweeds that are available, including Wakame, Kelp, Dulse and Nori.
You can also take a mineral supplement such as Concentrace Minerals. To start, use 3-5 drops a day and gradually increase until you get to 10 drops a day. Take in a bit of water before bedtime.
7. Limit Chemicals & Toxins/Use Natural Products. There are many toxins in the water, food, soil, air, etc. While some people have filters to clean their air, chlorine filters on their shower and water filters on their tap, a good rule of thumb is to buy natural products for your home and body. Note that companies, even natural ones, do not have to divulge all the ingredients listed on their products and that the cosmetic industry is highly unregulated. You can check the EWG's website to see how clean the ingredients are in the products you are using.
Being quite the au naturel kinda gal, I like to make my own skin care products. You can check out this simple mud mask recipe HERE and this Rose Hip Face Cream HERE. If you'd prefer to buy your own, you can check out Anne Marie Gianni's skincare line.
is a Health Practitioner with a Background in Chinese Medicine. Get in Some of her Savvy Adivce When She Answers Your Health Question.
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