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23 Dec 2011

Hunting Shakeology Ingredients ~ The Superfoods

Formulation, Ingredients, Nutrition, Superfoods No Comments

By Darin Olien

OK, how did the more than 70 ingredients end up in this fantastic blend of potent nutrition and yumminess? Like I mentioned in the previous article, I started with some questions. I asked myself, “What do most bodies require in this day and age?” “What is not being delivered in food today (and even good, organic food)?” “What are the gaps in nutrition that need to be filled for the majority of people?”

Woman Drinking Salad, Glass of Shakeology, and Shakeology Ingredients Bouquet

But the first question was, “Why do we even need a shake with that much nutrition anyway? What’s wrong with the food we eat anyway?”

The fact is, these days, our food is lacking nutrients. The nutrient density of our food has continued to plummet as the value of money has trumped the value of quality. It is insane, but true!

The facts are well documented. Pushing farm production has depleted soils. Crops of non-nutritive foods have replaced nutrition-dense foods. And pesticides and genetic modification are wreaking havoc with the chemical and genetic markers that have evolved over the centuries. That means we’re putting more food into the pipeline that has less of what we need and more of what we don’t need. On a biological level, our bodies hardly recognize the food we are swallowing.

Ask yourself . . . how do you expect your body to live tirelessly, vibrantly, with the power to defend itself from disease if what is being fed into it is like putting dirty gas in the tank of a Ferrari? What a waste of a beautiful sports car!

If we want our health to improve, we need to be aware so we can choose differently, and in this case, we chose to create something to fulfill the deep desire of EVERYbody’s need to be fed more nutrition. So we started by filling in those gaps, giving the body what it really wants and requires!

The result is 70-plus ingredients, feeding the body the equivalent of a supercharged multivitamin and protein-rich health smoothie. As important as the ingredients are, what drove their inclusion was the body’s need for these vital ingredients, the cornerstones of Shakeology’s creation:

  1. Fresh PeasWhole foods. So many supplements on the market are just fragmentations of the complete matrix of real food. Think of it like taking the most popular scene from a 2-hour movie and calling THAT the movie. It’s incomplete without the character development, plot, and nuance that make it a holistic experience. The same goes with food. On a biological level, your body needs the whole “movie” to get the complete benefit of the vitamin or mineral that is the star. You just cannot replace or reengineer the incredible balance and creation of whole foods. So we selected high-quality, potent foods, herbs, grasses, and ingredients, and then processed them minimally to preserve the integrity, phytochemicals, natural vitamins, minerals, alkaloids, phytosterols, etc. This was a huge aspect of Shakeology getting the whole, deliverable nutrition in bioavailable ways.
  2. Vitamins and minerals. We included quality nutrition from potent and varying whole food sources (“nutrition, right off the vine” as I like to call it). And then we backed that up by adding in a well-balanced vitamin and mineral profile since whole foods fluctuate from crop to crop.
  3. Enzymes. Enzymes are critical for optimal health. But since enzymes flood the food only in the last days of ripening before harvest, enzyme supplementation is critical for the majority of people. Even if you eat all raw foods, the enzymes are still low. And cooked food has ZERO active enzymes.A very quick note . . . why enzymes? They have been called “The Fountain of Life!” They are behind EVERY single process in the body! Yes, EVERYTHING requires enzymes! The labor force of the body that digests, absorbs, allows for signals to be sent, creates new blood cells, etc., is all governed by enzymes. You would be shocked at how starved your body has been for enzyme support. That’s why the addition of these vital forces to Shakeology was so critical!
  4. BacteriaPrebiotics and Probiotics. We’ve all heard about foods with additive probiotics, like yogurts for instance. Did you know that your body can actually manifest its own probiotics if you feed it prebiotics? With the way people eat today they have created a thriving environment for UNHEALTHY BACTERIA in the body. That has created all sorts of debilitating breakdowns of the body: candida, fibromyalgia, even the foundation for mental and emotional fatigue . . . and on and on. The prebiotics of the amazing yacon root (which I will get into in future posts) is food for the “healthy” bacteria, and in turn creates an environment for healthy probiotics to flourish. By getting our internal “ecosystem” in balance, you have the potential for a vibrant, thriving body and life! It’s complex, and even difficult to fathom an ecosystem inside your own body, but it cannot be underestimated. You need prebiotics to help you foster probiotics!
  5. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane). MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in FRESH, RAW fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and grains. But within hours of harvest, MSM changes and is virtually gone. That’s why it is very difficult to get MSM naturally, because where ancient man ate what he picked almost instantly, today it is picked, processed, packaged, and palleted for months before it hits the table. MSM is long gone. But why is it important? MSM is critical to the connective tissue and the fluidity (or space) between cells! MSM gives them “room to breathe.” When the body becomes very rigid, tight, painful, and stiff, oftentimes MSM is at very low quantities in the body. Since we are not eating our own foods immediately after harvesting, we MUST supplement this vital component, or the body has a hard time staying healthy and flexible on a cellular level, which translates throughout the body on a biomechanical level as well.
21 Dec 2011

Is Too Much of a Good Thing Bad? ~ Conscious Business

Consciousness, Nutrition, Optimum Health, Quality of Life, Superfoods 1 Comment

Is too much of a good thing bad? I have been bumping into this question frequently, both in my private life and in my research. The words of Paracelsus come to mind, “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.”  We can safely assume that the “poison” mentioned by Paracelsus is not something that causes immediate death, but rather a harmful or dangerous compound or agent. In the present day, we commonly think of poisons to be well-classified, widely-known plants, animals, and industrial chemicals that are generally accepted as being dangerous. There are other dangers, however, which are the poisons lurking in our supposed, “safe foods.” Real nature can even be a poison at times and because it is natural we allow for it to hide in plain sight.

To further consider what we refer to here and now as “poison,” think of the many products we encounter that contain refined sugars or synthetic sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup or aspartame.  These chronically damaging elements exist in products where we expect to find them as well as other, relatively benign sources.  If these sugars and sweeteners are to be found in nearly all of our foods, their dangers are compounded not just by what they do to our bodies but by the fact that their presence could mean the absence of other ingredients.  Using this logic is makes sense to then question if too much of anything will eventually be problematic, as it could replace the benefits or variation.  Could this even be true for superfoods?

Let us begin by noting that superfoods have been important elements to important societies throughout history. Never the less, these foods often attained their “super” status due to their extreme scarcity or the difficulty certain societies had in trying to obtain them. The scarcity of the foods could be because they only came from far away regions or because they were only available during certain parts of the year. Perhaps these specific foods were brought in through trade with other clans and civilizations and were generally not readily available.  Historically, this was also common for most foods until fairly recently when globalization and agricultural advances began allowing for us to carry apples, bananas, and basically any other commodity in our local markets all year round. The fact that all-year availability of certain products is a new phenomenon suggests that we may be silencing the wisdom of nature for our own convenience. Maybe seasonally-constrained product availability is nature’s way of saying that too much of a good thing is not so good.

This article might seem paradoxical when considering that Darin’s Naturals is passionately dedicated to the discovery of superfoods and development of a conscious chain of production from plant to palate. This has been our objective since the inception of the company, yet emphasis on conscious production includes promoting consciousness on the part of the consumer as well. We aim to invite our readers to become more conscious of the magnificence of these great foods and what must go into your own choice to consume these foods in order to receive the most out of them. The evolution of the plant begins with the appreciation of its richness by the farmers and workers in its native regions. It is with consciousness and respect that the most powerful plant is cultivated and through which the body will reap the greatest benefit.

That said, we must refocus on the question at hand. Is too much of a good thing bad? I believe when superfoods or densely nutritious foods are consumed on a day-to-day basis for prolonged periods time, in very few and extreme cases it can overload the body much the same way any over-consumption can. Is this something we should be worried about? Most likely this is a minimal threat, yet there are many factors to consider. Human beings are omnivores so consuming certain foods while willingly omitting others because of their supposed superiority/inferiority is not something I would immediately accept into my personal practice. Meat-based eating vs vegetarianism is a continuing hot debate in the health world, especially because these two opposite practices have been accepted as the quintessential nourishing traditions by some groups. In my experience, however, these two groups of eaters are comprised of the most frail, health deprived individuals. It is my belief that this comes as a result of the dependency on a handful of products and the deliberate, voluntary rejection of others. To be candid, this is only truly made possible by the fact that globalization has granted unnatural access and means to consume the same limited choice of ingredients all year long.

Another point to consider is the ‘tolerance’ we build to certain compounds. The body has 3 basic routes of metabolic processing. Food is either used, stored, or eliminated. The body is essentially built with its own RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), since one person does not have the exact same requirements as another. This implicates that under various situations you can require more or less vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, etc. How does this relate to over-consumption of certain foods? Basically we do not want to cause a metabolic disturbance that affects how the body is reading and regulating nutrient intake. When we consume something frequently, however, the active non-essential compounds in these products can cause the body to build a tolerance, thus flooding the body with too much of the good stuff and way too much of the not-so-good stuff in that product.

Let’s consider the most widely consumed stimulant in the world, caffeine. Although I am not a big coffee drinker, I have seen my family’s coffee budget grow from year the year. Dad’s coffee intake would creep up from 2 cups a day to more than 8 cups and this intake growth is not uncommon for coffee drinkers. The idea here is not to pass judgment on coffee drinkers, but to make a point of how the body builds a tolerance to certain non-essential elements. Research shows that the same is true of compounds like flavanoids and polyphenols, which we have come to know as vegetarian sources of antioxidants. Keeping this in mind, it is evident that over-consumption could create some kind of metabolic disturbance. Thus far superfood over-consumption has not been properly analyzed to see if such a disturbance could occur and what side effects this would have.

I am by no means suggesting that you stop consuming superfoods! What I do wish for is that you, the consumer, are able to recognize that you are a conscious being that can take ownership over what you choose to consume and how much you choose to consume it. Some companies will almost convince you that it is possible to live on one or two specific products. Perhaps this would be true in a world where only two products were readily available, however, we live in a world of abundance with endless ways of finding the nutrients the body requires. Health and nutrition are part our personal journeys and what we offer here is merely one opinion of the many that exist. We believe that dedication to self-education is the best way of forming your own opinions and finding the information that rings most true for you!


21 Dec 2011

A Clean Mouth ~ Natural Dental Care

Herbs, Optimum Health, Quality of Life, Superfoods 1 Comment

I have to confess that one of my weak links is my mouth, specifically my teeth.  This is the result of poor hygiene as a kid and the overall mouth culture I grew up with.  It appears that this is not uncommon, as it happens that odontology, with its many specializations, is the fastest growing area of orthodox medicine.  Today’s lifestyle choices and the multitude of toxins we are exposed to regularly take their toll on our mouths.  While brushing one’s teeth is important, a clean mouth and proper hygiene go far beyond white teeth or a pretty smile.

It is through the mouth that we nourish and hydrate ourselves, as well as through which we are able to communicate with each other.  Keeping these functions in mind, this article will examine some ideas for proper mouth hygiene so that we all can have both the beautiful smile we hope for and the health benefits of a clean mouth.  If you have been reading our Darin’s Naturals blog articles, you are well aware that we favor simplicity and effectiveness.  The things that we recommend in our blogs are methods that we practice in our own lives and that we willingly share so that you may try them out for yourselves and draw your own conclusions.

Our first recommendation for a clean mouth references a topic we discuss constantly, microorganisms.  The teeth are the only non-shedding surfaces in the body and bacterial levels can reach more than 1011 microorganisms per mg of dental plaque.  With this said, it is important to realize that microorganisms play a significant role in mouth health. Few people realize that tooth decay is largely due to the creation of certain acids generated by bacteria.  This is created through the conversion of food material stuck between the teeth after eating.  Often this problem escalates when one’s diet contains high volumes of sweets and simple carbohydrates.

In order to combat tooth decay, we recommend consuming foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics.  Our ancestors did not have the benefit of buying exotic foods from their farmer’s market.  Instead they ate a wide range of accessible, fiber-rich foods to serve as their probotics, as well as cultured foods.  For us, there are plenty of available, inexpensive choices, including kefirs, yogurts, kimchis and sauerkrauts, etc. Darin’s Naturals hopes to promote a proactive approach by our readers.  In other words, although you can buy these foods from a high quality, reliable source, we always recommend making foods like yogurt and kimchi for yourself.  “There is nothing like the real thing, baby,” and making your own whole foods is as real as it gets!

We are conscious that there are people who do not have the time to make their own prebiotic/probiotic concoctions, yet still seek good health.  Udo Erasmus has a line of products called Udo’s Choice and I have been consuming this essential oil blend for quite some time now and have nothing but praise for it.  I’ve become increasingly interested in one particular product, the Super 5 Oral Lozenge, due to its peculiarity and wisdom.  I found this product to be so unique as it was the first I had encountered that could be sucked on and allowed to dissolve in the mouth for the purpose of introducing and subsequently promoting the colonization of friendly bacteria inside the mouth.

My second recommendation for mouth health is a high quality mouthwash.  One of my personal favorites, which I honestly credit with saving the integrity of my teeth and mouth, is Dr. Schulze’s Tooth and Gum Formula.  This can serve as your mouthwash at any given time of the day, preferably as you wake up and before you go to sleep.  This wonderful formula contains powerful herbal antiseptic and circulatory and immune stimulant, while also proving being very effective for pain-relief and breath freshening.  Tea tree oil, habanero pepper, Echinacea, and a wide range of other organic herbs are used in this formulation.  Generally I am quite hesitant when it comes to recommending products, but I am truly confident in the benefits of this mouthwash.

My third recommendation for proper mouth hygiene is to use a tongue cleaner.  This is another one of those easy to use, easy to clean, cheap yet effective products. It took me some convincing to begin using a tongue cleaner, since I believed that simply brushing your tongue worked just as well.  I am so grateful to have given this a chance and now I wouldn’t consider going back to basic tongue brushing.

Ancient Chinese and Indian cultures have practiced tongue cleansing for hundreds of years.  The Indians practiced it as a daily ritual to remove toxins they called AMA.  Tongue cleansing devices are designed to clean the bacterial build-up, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. The bacteria and fungi that grow on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems.  Additionally, decaying bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds on the rear of the tongue; these molecules account for 80 to 95 percent of all cases of halitosis (bad breath).

Arguments arise when considering which is the best type of tongue cleaners.  Some suggest using brushers, while others prefer scrapers.  Personally, I always recommend a stainless steel U-shaped cleaner.  Never the less, in some cases this can be too harsh on the tongues of certain people.  If this is the case for you, try other varieties as new cleaners appear on the market frequently.  Tongues, like any other part of the human anatomy, are unique to everybody, so what works for one person might not be helpful for another.  Be mindful of this and do not give up if your first purchase of a tongue-specific cleansing devise doesn’t work for you.

As surprising as it may seem, mouth care may be somewhat closely related to a person’s overall health.  Recent studies have found that there could be links between an unhealthy mouth and issues with heart, pancreatic, and fertility health.  Local osteoporosis has been identified as a result of periodontitis lesions exhibiting gingival inflammation, as well as destruction of the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. This leads to bone loss and apical migration of the junctional epithelium, resulting in the formation of periodontal pockets.

In recent articles, it has been proposed that periodontitis may affect the host’s susceptibility to systemic disease in three ways: by shared risk factors, by subgingival biofilms acting as reservoirs of gram-negative bacteria, and through the periodontium acting as a reservoir of inflammatory mediators. Subgingival biofilms constitute an enormous and continuing bacterial load. They present continually renewing reservoirs of LPS and other gram-negative bacteria with ready access to the periodontal tissues and the circulation. Systemic challenges with gram-negative bacteria or LPS induces major vascular responses, including an inflammatory cell infiltrate in the vessel walls, vascular smooth muscle proliferation, vascular fatty degeneration and intravascular coagulation. LPS upregulates expression of endothelial cell adhesion molecules and secretion of interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and thromboxane, which results in platelet aggregation and adhesion, formation of lipid-laden foam cells, and deposits of cholesterol and cholesterol esters.

The proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, gamma interferon, and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) reach high tissue concentrations in periodontitis. The periodontium can therefore serve as a renewing reservoir for spillover of these mediators, which can enter the circulation and induce and perpetuate systemic effects. IL-1β favors coagulation and thrombosis and retards fibrinolysis. IL-1, TNF-α, and thromboxane can cause platelet aggregation and adhesion, formation of lipid-laden foam cells, and deposition of cholesterol. These same mediators emanating from the diseased periodontium may also account for preterm labor and low-birth-weight infants.

In this article we have addressed some, but not all of the potential systemic threats of poor mouth hygiene.  As with most of the body’s biochemistry, the process bridging poor mouth hygiene and potential systemic disease is extremely complex, involving genes, lifestyle, and other external and internal factors.  While it may be possible to live a long fruitful life of over 100 years without exhibiting proper mouth hygiene, it is not the norm, meaning that preventative care is extremely important.  A healthy mouth remains an integral part of an overall healthy body.

Thank you for reading about this often-forgotten topic.  We appreciate and delight in your thoughts and comments!



  1. Harold C. Slavkin, DDS; Bruce J. Baum, DMD, PhD I (2000). “Relationship of Dental and Oral Pathology to Systemic Illness”. JAMA -The Journal of the American Medical Association (284(10):1215-1217).^
  2. Raul I. Garcia, Michelle M. Henshaw, Elizabeth A. KrallI (February 2001). “Relationship between periodontal disease and systemic health”. Periodontology 2000 25 (1): 21–36. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0757.2001.22250103.x New Directions in Dentistry by Gordon Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD, ScD Issue Date: February 2002, Posted On: 8/26/2005   
  3. Christensen GJ (August 2005). “Special oral hygiene and preventive care for special needs”. Journal of the American Dental Association 136 (8): 1141–3. PMID 1616137
  4. Li X, Kolltveit KM, Tronstad L, Olsen I (October 2000). “Systemic diseases caused by oral infection”. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 13 (4): 547–58. PMC 88948. PMID 11023956.
  5. Li X, Kolltveit KM, Tronstad L, Olsen I (October 2000). “Systemic diseases caused by oral infection”. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 13 (4): 547–58. PMC 88948. PMID 11023956.
  6. Review of the Oral Disease-Systemic Disease Link. Part I: Heart Disease, Diabetes Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene, November–December 2006, 40(6):288-342
  7. ORAL-SYSTEMIC HEALTH (YOUR ORAL HEALTH AND OVERALL HEALTH) American Dental Association – Oral Health Topics
  8. PERIODONTITIS AND OSTEOPOROSIS FACTA UNIVERSITATIS Series: Medicine and Biology Vol.12, No 2, 2005, pp. 100 – 103
  9. Osteoporosis and Periodontal Disease Division of Periodontology, Department of Dentistry, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, School of Dentistry, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.
  10. Ensslen SC, Riedel HH, Bieniek KW, Hafner R (1990). “[Male subfertility and oral bacterial diseases]” (in German). Zentralblatt Für Gynäkologie 112 (13): 823–5. PMID 2238984.
  11. K.J. Joshipura, E.B. Rimm, C.W. Douglass, D. Trichopoulos, A. Ascherio, W.C. Willett (September 1996). “Poor Oral Health and Coronary Heart Disease”. Journal of Dental Research 75 (9): 1631–1636.
  12. V. Karhunen, H. Forss, S. Goebeler, H. Huhtala, E. Ilveskoski, O. Kajander, J. Mikkelsson, A. Penttilä, M. Perola, H. Ranta, J.H. Meurman, P.J. Karhunen (January 2006). “Radiographic Assessment of Dental Health in Middle-aged Men Following Sudden Cardiac Death”. Journal of Dental Research 85 (1): 89–93.
  13. The Myth Behind Tongue Cleaning Healthy Forever: To Scrape Or Not To Scrape
21 Dec 2011

It’s a Skin Thing! ~ Vitamin and Skin Health

Consciousness, Optimum Health, Quality of Life, Superfoods No Comments

Lately, I have been pondering the state of our health and what we are able to understand about it.  I often go online to study and review different positions on the matter from within the diverse holistic/alternative community.   Naturally, I have encountered everything from the more classical, orthodox opinions and methods to the most unorthodox, sometimes fanatical approaches.  These ideas and informational resources can be extremely confusing, even for someone like myself who has been involved directly in this field for over ten years and perhaps indirectly involved for all of their life.   In contemplating this conundrum, I have begun to wonder why even holistic approaches are starting to complicate something that should be easily understood.  I was reminded of this particular issue while listening to an interview of a “green chemist” and owner of a highly respected holistic company.  He posed the question that if most animals have no formal language and do not have to visit a doctor in order to instinctively cure or manage their ailments, why have humans come to rely on blind submission to a medical proxy?

When people learn that I work in this field they typically ask me the same round of questions.  “How do I get more energy?  How can I look younger?  How do I lose weight?”  I confess that I have fallen into the “know-it-all” category at times.  I recognize, however, that this is not the way to effectively communicate my ideas or to have a permanent effect on those with whom I share them with.  The “know-it-all” attitude is also not the proper approach when one aims to promote action and personal responsibility.  Considering all of this I have come to the realization that once again in order to keep interest in health alive one must consistently offer bold, fresh ideas and innovations, while also making sure they are simple, uncomplicated and easily accessible to the masses!

I previously wrote an article entitled “Back to Basics.”  One of the key points discussed in that article was the importance of detoxification, which is commonly thought of in terms of detoxification of individual organs, most commonly the lungs, liver, bowel, or kidneys. In my meditation on the current situation of health’s ever-growing complexity, I remember one of my mentors, Dr. Christopher, a fervent believer in the dissemination of simplistic, “back to the roots” health theory.  Along with many other traditional herbalists and holistic doctors, Dr. Christopher discussed treatment of the important and uniquely visible organ known as the skin.  The skin is our largest organ and serves as our direct interface to the outside world.  The skin accounts for roughly 12-15% of total body weight and covers an area of approximately 18-20 square feet.  The entire epidermis is replaced, on average, every 27 days.  The skin is responsible for protecting our internal organs, muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments from damaging exposure to the outside world.  Some of the other important actions of the skin include synthesis of vitamin D, protection of vitamin B folates, excessive water loss prevention, temperature regulation, lipid and water storage, detoxification, UV ray protection and insulation.

Most of us are very well aware of the importance of a healthy gut flora since we hear about it from various sources, including mainstream medical establishments.  When we consider friendly flora we usually think of the large and small intestines, which are the main focus of available health-industry products designed to promote colonization of these specific strands of flora in our bodies.  Unfortunately, hardly any companies in the industry consider the friendly bacteria in our skin, which includes an astonishing variety of 1000 species from 19 phyla, at an estimated count of 50 million individual microorganisms per square inch.  There is an entire ecosystem living on our own skin and it is the presence and actions of these bacteria that allow for the skin to provide its many benefits.  It is important to note that mucous membranes and epithelial tissue found throughout the orifices of the body are actually extensions of the skin and require their own friendly flora balance.

Given these quick facts, I would argue that we should consider keeping our skin as healthy and vibrant as we possibly can.  I do not recommend expensive cosmetics and creams or useless machines that simply give the illusion of healthy skin.  For the sake of our health and the ability to see health at work, let us consider a course of action to help this cause in favor of our skin.

Tips for Healthy Skin:

1.  We already discussed the importance of skin flora.  PH is critical to the livelihood of good flora and the alteration of the PH can affect the make-up of flora, enzymes, and other bioactive compounds.  It is important to balance the PH in our own skin, just like how we concern ourselves with the balance of our PH in our internal organs.  While there are mechanisms in place to auto-balance the PH of the skin, our environment often makes this more difficult.  Every day we are exposed to many new toxins, which creates not only a volume issue, but a differentiation issue as well.  For this reason, we should be proactive in tipping the balance towards health and using APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, my first recommendation for creating that balance.  This is something you can use 1-2 times per week on non-irritated skin with no sign of sun burn, abrasion, open cut, etc.  Preferably use the apple cider vinegar shortly after coming out of a swimming pool, sauna, or steam bath.  The practice of application requires the use of a small cotton towel dipped in water of lukewarm, hot, or cold temperature.  Have a mid-sized bowl previously prepared with water and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  Dip the cotton towel in the apple cider vinegar mixture and brush the towel across the entire body, repeating the process once more to be sure you have covered all of the skin.  Allow for this liquid mixture to sit on your skin for about 1 minute then remove it with the same strained cotton towel you used to put it on or with a clean towel.  I suggest using Braggs, a company which makes excellent apple cider vinegar and other high quality products. There are other decent brands to use, just make sure you can see the “mother,” a string-like substance floating around the apple cider vinegar.  The “mother” is a good indicator that the product is alive and has been processed properly.

2.  My second tip for a healthy skin is to use a loofah glove or dry brush and sponge.  These are quite common and can be found in almost any supermarket or health food store for $5 – $10.  These sponges have become an integral part of my health practices, as they are powerful tools for keeping skin clean and vibrant.  The ritual for using these tools takes no more than 5 minutes daily and is typically performed shortly after waking up or shortly before going to bed since the process can revitalize you or relax you depending upon the time of the day.  Use the glove or brush on dry skin by brushing in the direction of your hearth, meaning if you start from your legs or arms, go from down to up, as it is believed this best stimulates your lymph fluid.  This motion also goes against the androgenic hair, which helps remove dead cells, old body hair or any other lodged, useless debris, local or foreign.  Loofah gloves or a dry brush are just two options, as you can also find other organic materials such as sisal.  If you are used to softer synthetic sponges, proceed slowly and cautiously since the loofah may irritate skin initially.  There is no need to worry as this is not harmful and making the transition will result in great benefits to both the skin and the lymph system.

3.  Salt scrubs are my third recommendation.  This can be as easy as purchasing decent quality salt granules, mixing them with water and oil, and scrubbing parts of the body with them.  This usually works extremely well on parts of the body that have thick skin, such as the elbows, knees, back, and feet.  This can be done once per week and is best to do just before applying your apple cider vinegar mixture. You may choose to purchase commercial brands or make your own blends at home.  The benefit of this procedure is the exfoliation of dead cells, toxins, and the skins own excretions and other debris.  Salt scrubs also tone the skin and allow for better blood and lymph flow in the top layers of the epidermis. You can also add essential oils, such as a few drops of lavender essential oil for relaxation, which also has antibiotic and other therapeutic properties.

4. Hydrotherapy is another good practice to implement.  This is a powerful therapy that benefits the body in many ways beyond simply promoting skin health.  This form of therapy is commonly practiced outside of the United States, mainly in Europe.  There are expensive tools that can be purchased for hydrotherapy, however, I believe in keeping things as simple and affordable as possible.  One way to implement hydrotherapy is to heat the water in your shower to as hot as you can handle and let this water hit every part of your body continuously for 1-2 minutes. Next, turn the water to as cold as you can handle it for the same amount of time.  Alternate these steps 3 times, using both hot and cold water.  Finish with a cycle of hot water if you are about to relax and/or go to sleep.  Finish on a cycle of cold water

to feel invigorated. A good filter on your water is also beneficial.

5. Infrared saunas are another great resource for keeping your skin healthy and beautiful.  The general idea is to sweat, which can also be achieved by steam baths or through exercise, of course.  Infrared saunas are a good alternative for those who can’t handle the extreme heat of orthodox saunas. The goal here is to either find a place that uses the far-infrared panels.  These panels stay cold while emitting infrared rays that will heat the body without heating the local air.  This is more of an optional, pampering alternative than my previous recommendations, yet it is still worth a try if you have the opportunity.

Above are my 5 recommendations for maintaining the health of our largest organ with easy-to-understand, back-to-basics simplicity.  I have found these methods helpful as part of my own regimen though as stated in the beginning of this article, when it comes to health it is best not to take anyone’s word for it, even if the word is coming from your herbalist!  Try out these methods a few times for yourself.  If they feel good on a physical and emotional level, keep practicing with consciousness and awareness.  If you have a negative reaction, be aware that sometimes there are adverse reactions when practicing new techniques while the body becomes adjusted to them.  Also consider that special care must be practiced when suffering from an ailment.  These recommendations are purposely simple and should not pose any harm on healthy individuals.  I hope you enjoy these practices and I thank you for reading!

Oh and don’t forget the most important thing for your skin… Hydration!



“Skin care” (analysis),, 2007, webpage: HCcare

Dean W (August 1981). “Effect of sweating”. JAMA 246 (6): 623. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320060027013. PMID 7253113. – letter

Searle AJ (January 1982). “Effects of the sauna”. JAMA 247 (1): 28. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320260016012. PMID 7053434. – letter

21 Dec 2011

Chia Porridge ~ Chia Recipe

Ingredients, Nutrition, Optimum Health, Quality of Life, Recipe, Superfoods 3 Comments

Chia Porridge

This is another quick and easy, highly nutritious recipe to enjoy in the morning or as a snack.  In order to begin you will require the following:


1.  30 grams or 2 heaping tablespoons of raw organic if possible chia seed.

2.  Enough water to cover chia seeds for soaking overnight, as well as enough water to make smoothie blend.

3.  Fruit of choice.

4.  Alternate spices, sweeteners, and add-ons of choice.


1. Bowl

2. Blender



1.  Add the dry chia seeds to the bowl and cover with water to about 1 inch depth.  Allow this mixture to sit overnight, preferably in the fridge or leave outside with a cheesecloth cover to avoid contamination from insects.

2. The next morning you will notice that a jello-like consistency has formed due to chia’s mucilage being activated by moisture.  Allow this to sit, as nothing else is required of it.

3.  In your blender add the rest of your ingredients.  The most basic possible mixture would include only banana and some water, blend until you obtained a desired consistency. Some might want it watery others might want it thicker.  It’s up to you. What will determine the end consistency will be what fruits you use and the fruit-water ratio you use.

4.  Add the blended mixture to the bowl with the chia mucilage and mix well, making sure it is all combined together evenly.


The recipe above is the most basic one.  Most likely you will not be raving about this one, but it is a good start to an interesting dish.  You can consider the following tips to help you kick this recipe up another notch:

1. Instead of water you can use any other liquid including fresh fruit juice, lemonade, water kefir, raw milk or even homemade yogurt, kefir, or coconut water.

2. You may choose whichever fruits you prefer to include, although in my opinion the sweetness and consistency of bananas are the best for this recipe.  Watery fruits like watermelon, apples, and others do not work as well when blended but you may choose to slice them up and add them at the end.  Frozen or fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or others can also be added.

3.  My favorite part is adding the superfoods or other elements in any presentation you wish.  My personal favorite add-on is a blend of lucuma powder and Artisana coconut butter along with dried inca berries, chopped almonds and cacao nibs.  You can think of your own variation, since chia seeds are relatively bland in taste there are numerous elements that can be added without altering their taste.

That is all, beautiful people!  Now you have another easy recipe with plenty of room for improvisation, so let those creative juices flow! Until next time, enjoy life and all of its delicious treats!

21 Dec 2011

Indispensable Kitchen Utensil 4: Glass jars

Ingredients, Kitchen Utensils, Nutrition, Optimum Health, Superfoods No Comments

We continue with a multi-part series that you will find in this and many issues to come.  Each newsletter we will discuss another tool that can help you to grow, clean, cook, and prepare healthy treats in your own kitchen.  Some of these items will sound familiar, while others you may be hearing about for the first time.  There is no need to be intimidated! Gathering all the necessary components of a healthy kitchen can take time.  What is most important is that you make an effort to fully learn how each new product can assist you in generating nutrient-rich, life-giving meals for yourself and your family!

Indispensable Kitchen Utensil 4:  Glass jars


I love glass jars for the simple reason that they are such a multipurpose kitchen accessory.  Glass jars are a useful tool if you wish to store, sprout, soak, or clean veggies or other products.  One particular aspect which I personally appreciate about glass jars is their effectiveness compared to other containers when practicing fermentation. I am a strong believer in the benefits of fermentation  and I highly recommend it to anybody and everybody interested in reaping the most out of their food.  Additionally, fermentation is the ultimate practice when requiring that food preserves for a length of time.  An important note of caution is that when fermenting, the process will create CO2 emissions which must be dissipated otherwise it  will compress the space within the jar, creating pressure of surprising force.  This challenge can be resolved by  using a plastic lid with a small hole to cover your glass jar.  This can be done easily by puncturing the lid with a knife, which allows enough space for the CO2 to dissipate without concentrating.  Forgetting to allow the CO2 to dissipate may result in a highly undesirable event, such as the jar exploding, leaving you with a major safety hazard and quite a mess to clean up.  Fermentation also creates a very distinct smell that you most likely would prefer to not have exploding all over the kitchen. If you choose to go with the traditional metal lids which tend to come with glass jars, be sure to ¨bleed¨ the jar every couple of hours.  “Bleeding” is the process of turning the lid slightly, as if opening, until you hear the hissing noise created as the CO2 and other gases escape.  There are other lids which come with a valve which serves to allows CO2 out without letting oxygen in.  This is pivotal because fermentation is what is known as an anaerobic process, or one that occurs in the absence of oxygen.  A great online store that carries these diffusing valves for jars is Cooking God´s Way.  Their web page has various kitchen tools and supplies, as well as mouth watering recipes and thoughtful suggestions.  To look for the air-tight lacto-fermentation kits, log onto their web page and click on shop.  There you will find the option to select the lacto-fermentation kit.  When fermentation is the goal, the glass jar is your power tool for breaking down foods into especially viable, potent nutrient sources!

23 Oct 2011

The Birth of Shakeology® Eat Healthy

Consciousness, Formulation, Ingredients, Nutrition, Optimum Health, Quality of Life, Superfoods, Travel No Comments

By Darin Olien, The Ingredient Hunter

Sometime in the middle of 2006, I was well into traveling, hunting, and discovering many plants, nuts, fruits, and other superfoods around the planet. I was heading to the source and meeting the people in the fields, rainforests, and mountaintops of places like Peru, Costa Rica, Bhutan, Australia, Tahiti, and places in between-drawn by an insatiable curiosity of what is out there. The places I have been are some of the most abundant and ecologically diverse places in the world and home to an amazing display of vibrant, health-filled plants. With the herbal discoveries I was making, I was passionately formulating many concoctions—testing, eating, experimenting, importing these miracles of earth. I fueled myself as well as friends and some extreme athletes and celebrity peeps.


One day in 2006, I got a call from my Argentine friend, Miguel, who had met a woman at our local vitamin shop who was doing some similar things on the nutrition front. I met and had an amazing, synchronistic conversation with the vibrant and brilliant Isabelle Daikeler! We had very similar points of view and many synergies on nutrition, wellness, and life, really. It is rare that I find someone who is living, demonstrating, and traveling on a path of true commitment to vibrant living like Isabelle is. She told me she had heard of and even tried some of my formulas and thought there might be an opportunity for me to work with her husband’s company. A week or so later, I was back at their home, out by the pool, and met Carl Daikeler for the first time.

Shakeology®Carl, too, was very open, caring, and willing to share where he was coming from. He shared with me his vision of the company, where they are now and where he really would like to go and his desire to impact the lives of millions of people and crank up the company’s nutritional division! He said he was thinking about a meal replacement called “The Healthiest Meal of the Day.” He says to me, “I know you have formulated these other things but could you take us in this direction and formulate a top-notch, incredibly nutritious, yummy meal replacement?” The first thought was: Of course I could do that, it’s what I love to do! You see, I have so many ideas in my head for developing avant-garde formulas and using exotic ingredients that of course I want to get them out there to people, millions of people. And here is this guy, giving me an opportunity to do my thing—to take the ball and run with this vision—well, I am in! And I know without a doubt nothing would have happened if it hadn’t been for Isabelle trailblazing her knowledge and understanding to Carl, slowly downloading him information about this world of Super-Functional nutrition! And she was such a blessing and hugely instrumental for me then and now, even being able to have this groundbreaking opportunity by the ground she forged with the company well before I arrived. And I have to tell ya, the thing that sealed the deal for me was who Carl and Isabelle were as people, the caring they had and the large vision, rooted in creating a rewarding impact for millions of people.

I have never set out to work for a big company or a corporation or other people, for that matter. I have always been an entrepreneur, doing my own thing . . . traveling around, formulating, discovering, adventuring, answering to no one . . . doing exactly what I wanted to do. So, to even consider working with a big company was a big deal for me . . . probably because I am a control freak and didn’t want to have to compromise or cut corners like so many companies end up doing. I have had my experiences with other very large nutrition companies saying they wanted the latest and the greatest, and when it came down to it they were not really willing to do what it takes, not willing to take the risk of giving the customer something extraordinary without cutting corners. That is gonna be a deal breaker for me because I don’t cut corners so I naturally turned away from them and continued to do my own thing. It always came down to $$, margins, and their lack of vision from my point of view. It’s like when Ferrari made their car . . . they put the very best parts in it and said, “We are not skimping on quality and if people want the best they will pay for it,” so they did it! Well, I knew I wasn’t gonna skimp and Carl proved he wasn’t gonna either, so we were able to put the Ferrari of shakes together in Shakeology®. Now, Carl knows better than me, but I remember the tension in those meetings at Beachbody when I told them how much it would cost to put something like this together and there were more than a few business dudes in that room who thought I was nuts and it probably couldn’t and wouldn’t work! Well, the big boss man, Carl, always pulled through and saw it and believed in it even when others didn’t . . . he knew we had to do it no matter what it takes, even if it was more expensive than the average swag product on market. All of that and the invitation from Carl and Isabelle made the difference for me. And from my point of view, Carl basically said in the beginning, “I trust you can do this, so go do your thing!” He supported me in being me and gave me the freedom to create what is best for the product and people. So we had a deal, and with a smile and a handshake we started rollin’!

Shakeology® IngredientsHow do I put a formula—this formula—together? I first had to start from scratch, a clean slate! I didn’t want to start with a point of view of something or someone else’s ideas. My first question was . . . what is “Shakeology”? (Of course, we were not calling it that at the time. Carl came up with that brilliant name later.) When Carl asked me to create “The Healthiest Meal of the Day,” I was beyond stoked! Because I have seen, smelled, tasted, discovered, and experienced some very amazing superfoods in my life and in my travels, the opportunity to start getting that potency and vibrant nutrition into as many BODIES as possible was and is exciting. And given where some of the plants are from and how they are grown, there is no way most people would be able to experience these superfoods otherwise.

It can be quite a daunting task to formulate something that is for everybody when every body is different! However, there are things that are universal when you start to look at what is missing in most people’s diets in our society today. That is where I started to formulate from—by filling in the gaps of what people’s bodies require, what the typical Beachbody customer’s body requires. I asked myself, what are the nutrients that are not being delivered in “normal” eating conditions today? In addition, one of the biggest keys was using ingredients that are as close to their natural, whole-food state as possible. And last, I know firsthand that it doesn’t matter how good it is nutritionally if it doesn’t taste good. If it’s not convenient and good-tasting, it will not work and no one is going to consume it. But, I knew it was possible to make it taste good . . . it hadn’t been done before, but I knew I could do it while not making the fatal mistakes others make, like cutting corners and using synthetic, artificial sweeteners and lower-quality ingredients . . . not this one, not a chance! With all those potent herbs, grasses, and exotics in there . . . whew, it took some time but we pulled it off! Hats off to all the guys in the lab . . . we spent many hours, days, and months playing with the formula and ingredients to get it to not only deliver super nutrition but to taste delicious!

VegetablesIt is an exciting thing because even though there are thousands upon thousands of supplements, foods, herbs, and perceived miracles out there, there are so very few that are any good. One of my philosophies when I put formulas together (and, really, how I approach all of life) is to treat others as if they already KNOW even if they don’t know! So, even if they don’t know cognitively on some level their body does! Meaning, I put the best product together I can at the time with the highest-quality ingredients, testing, sourcing, using sustainable means, period. The selling will come from that integrity, quality, and nurturing we put into the entire process and product. People know when they are being told the truth or a lie. Long story short, that golden rule thing is something that naturally comes out in what I do and formulate . . . because for me, that’s what I would want in a supplement, myself. Have I told you that I am selfish? I don’t do anything I don’t want to do especially when it comes to quality eating and supplementation. My friends certainly know this! I think of myself when putting together supplements and I only put the things in that I would myself consume. I have never understood why people would do things or promote things that they do not do or believe in themselves. So, of all formulas I produce, foods I consume, recommendations I give, chances are I have lived it and am living it! I certainly did with Shakeology. (And, by the way, I drink it every day!)


04 Oct 2011

Robyn O’Brien on Genetically Modified Foods ~ GMO and Allergies

Consciousness, Ingredients, Nutrition, Optimum Health, Organic Foods, Quality of Life, Superfoods No Comments

04 Oct 2011

End of Summer Salad ~ Raw Food Recipe

Herbs, Ingredients, Nutrition, Optimum Health, Organic Foods, Quality of Life, Recipe, Superfoods No Comments

Raw Food Recipe for Summer

Raw Food Recipe End of Summer Salad

Raw Food Recipe End of Summer Salad

This is a quick, easy, and potent medicinal raw food recipe. end of summer salad that complements almost any meal!  In the southern hemisphere, where I live, winter is ending and so is the body’s attraction to warm soups and stews.  Winter hibernation ends not only for animals, but for plants alike, as the surroundings explode with color and life.  Accordingly, the body seeks colorful, spirited salads.  Much like the autumn season up north, the glorious sights and smells of this time of year encourage us to spend our time outdoors, not cooking elaborate meals in the kitchen.  Where I live, those of us who have spent months indoors during the harsh winter are thrilled to move our lives outside and into the beaming sunshine.  Up north, you may be enjoying the cooler-than-summer, warmer-than-winter temperatures and enjoying the last long daylight hours of the year.  Since we absolutely do not want to waste precious time inside, this salad is a perfect way to nourish yourself quickly and easily so you can take it on the go or enjoy it sitting on your porch or in the backyard.  Let’s prepare this delicious raw food recipe summer salad!

The following raw food recipe summer salad serves two people:

1 Large bowl to mix
1 mixing utensils (Spoon, Fork, etc.)
1 Avocado
1 Lemon or lime
1 Small bundle of parsley (or herb of your choice)
6-8 Medium-large olives (green or black)
6-8 Medium-large cherry tomatoes (or tomato variety of your choice)
1 cup Sprouts (any sprout of your choice)
  1. Washing Vegetables for Summer Salad

    Washing Vegetables for Summer Salad

    Scoop out the seed, then cut avocado into cubes or slices.  If you prefer, you may mash it into a paste.

  2. Wash properly all of your fresh produce, even if it is organic.
  3. Chop your parsley.  I suggest parsley simply because it is easy to obtain or to grow at home.  You can, however, use any herb you like including, basil, cilantro, mint, sage, etc.
  4. Cut your tomatoes into whatever presentation you like.  You may also choose to consume them without cutting them into pieces.
  5. Pit and slice your olives.  You may use green or black olives, depending on your preference.
  6. Add your cup of sprouts.
  7. Place all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl now or as you go along.
  8. Squeeze a whole lemon or lime into the ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Mix well, making sure to spread the lemon or lime juice evenly throughout the salad ingredients.

You’re finished!  The entire preparation should take no more than ten minutes!


Raw food Recipe tip!

Raw food Recipe tip!

Save your avocado seed!  If you live in a sub-tropical to tropical region, plant it and watch it grow!  Your neighbors, local birds, and critters will thank you deeply when the tree begins to bare its fruit.  Remember, this is a large tree, so leave enough room around the seed for the tree to grow without being invasive.

There are many wonderful products for washing your produce which will not harm you or your fruits and veggies. If you are purchasing products from your local farmers market, ask your provider for tips on what to use washing their foods.  A bit of water with apple cider vinegar may be all you will require!

As a reference, I tend to chop my herbs to be medium-sized.  When too finely chopped, herbs may get stuck in your teeth, while if not chopped finely enough, the herbs may mask the flavor of other ingredients.

Personally, I like to use cherry tomatoes in this recipe.  You can grow them indoors and they are generally easier to care fore than other varieties of tomatoes.

Raw Food Recipe  End of Summer Salad substitutions:

  • You can use apple cider vinegar instead of lemon or lime juice.
  • For those daring enough, you can finely chop some garlic, onion, and fresh hot pepper (habanero is my favorite) and add it to the rest of the ingredients.  If you are suffering from digestive complaints you can skip this part all together or add a very small amount.
  • You can soak about 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in a very small amount of water as well as lemon or lime juices to get the mucilage activated in the chia seeds and create a gelatinous consistency. This will take about 2-3 hours, though it is preferable to let the mixture soak overnight.  You can also do this with flax seeds if you cannot find chia or prefer the taste of flax seeds.
  • Sacha inchi oil, olive oil, or any other oil can be used if you desire, though the avocado and olives naturally have sufficient fatty acids which makes the use of isolated oils unnecessary.
  • You can use a good high quality organic whole milk cheese if you desire.  When I am in LA I like to purchase some from the local farmers market.  It tastes divine!

    Daring addition to the Raw Food Recipe

    Daring addition to the Raw Food Recipe


Though you may think of this as a veggie salad, in reality this is more of a fruit salad.  Avocado, olives and tomatoes are fruits not veggies!

04 Oct 2011

The Soda Bubble POPS! The History of Soda

Ingredients, Nutrition, Organic Foods, Quality of Life 2 Comments

A cousin of mine recently reached out to me for guidance in defining a healthier lifestyle.  At the young age of 38, she already suffers from high blood pressure and several other ailments. Tired of the physical and emotional toll of illness, as well as the financial burden of medications, she came to me, eager to change whatever necessary in order to start the healing process.  Although very willing to integrate different eating habits into her diet, when we began discussing soda pop the mood quickly changed. She asked ¨How can orange juice and soda make me sick? I have been drinking them all of my life!  And isn’t orange juice meant to be healthy?”  Needless to say, it is usually those ¨supposed to be healthy¨ constants in our diet which are responsible for keeping us in poor health.  People may be puzzled, if not angry, when it is suggested that certain foods and drinks could be making them sick after having long been told by the FDA and other “experts” that those same foods are harmless.  What the public has not been told is that in reality many of these foods are commercially healthy, not biologically healthy.  In other words, the manufacturing and selling of these foods provides a certain group of people with a lot of money while providing others with a lot of health complications.

Naturally, food is deeply entrenched in the story of all mankind.  Foods define our cultures and they are undeniably significant to our histories.  It is no surprise that we may defend the foods we’ve eaten all our lives as if we were defending a family member.  Most of us whom have decided to make wise choices based on common sense, gut feeling (sometimes literally), or scarce and usually ridiculed independent scientific research, know better than to consume certain foods, yet we lack the knowledge to articulate a reply when asked how those foods could make someone sick.

In this new article, lets try to pop the soda pop bubble once and for all!  Firstly, there is no natural source from which one can obtain soda pop.  Sprite does not come from squeezing lemon and lime into carbonated water.  A lesson I borrowed from Michael Pollan instructs to “imagine what you eat in its original state¨.  We can picture broccoli growing in a field or whey coming from milk of a cow or a goat grazing. If we apply this food rule to soda, however, we would have to imagine ourselves in a lab or factory, wearing goggles and special clothing while blending ascorbic acid, carbonated water, phosphoric acid, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents etc. This sounds to me more like a concoction for a Molotov bomb than a drink suitable for humans!  Still, a great majority of people who are addicted to soda usually reply that hygiene measures are required, thus follows the need to dress as if working in a nuclear power plant.  Clearly we must do more than list the unnatural components of soda and the unnatural methods of producing it in order to encourage soda addicts to stop consuming the beverage.

Let us try to understand the history of soda or ¨soft drinks.”  In 1767 the talented Englishman, Joseph Priestley, discovered how to infuse water with carbon dioxide which resulted in what we know today as carbonated water.  Carbonated water is the base for any soft drink, discovered by Priestley when he dripped sulfuric acid onto chalks, creating carbon dioxide and then encouraged it to dissolve into water.  Later in the 18th century, Swedish chemist John Jacob Berzelius started adding flavors to the carbonated drink, creating the first form of soda. In the United States soda water was being sold as far back as 1806, primarily in pharmacies using fruit syrups and phosphoric acids as additives to the carbonated water. Later pharmacists started infusing herbs such as birch, sarsaparilla, and dandelion to potentiate the believed healthy effects of drinking carbonated water.  By the early 20th century bottling the drink started to become popular.  An effective method of keeping the bubbles in the glass bottle was perfected, creating an exponential growth in the sales of the drink.  The actual sodas we know today in terms of  formulation, packaging, and method of sales began to surface around 1920.

 Now that we have briefly discussed the history of soda pop, let us consider some of the contemporary concerns with the effects of soda on human health.  The first concern is quite simply the volume issue.  Research concludes that in the 1920′s the average serving size was 6.5oz served in the classic glass bottle. Through World War II this product was thought of as a treat, consumed 2-3 times per week at maximum, usually on the weekends.  After WWII, sugar became more abundant and accessible, thus the serving size quickly grew to 10oz.  After 1960, 12oz aluminum cans became popular, while today the general soft drink container for individual consumption is a whopping 20oz.  It is not just the increase in serving size that is alarming, but also the overall the fact that since 1982 there has been a 40% increase in the overall amount of soft drinks and fruit drinks that are consumed.  Companies pay billions of dollars to promote and advertise their soft drink products not because the product is good for our health, but to support their own financial interests.  The annual revenues produced by the sale of soft drinks provides certain companies with profits exceeding the entire yearly budget of some countries!

Mexico is a unique case and a complete paradox.  It has the second highest incidence of obesity (24%) in the world, behind only the USA, yet researchers oddly find that some of the obese also suffer from malnourishment.  The obesity in Mexico is not simply the result of inactivity and high calorie content in food.  Mexico probably has the world’s richest history with regards to nutritionally-dense crops.  Mexico is the birthplace of products like vanilla, peanuts, cacao, chilies, corn, chia, tomato and more. In recent years, however, the traditional Mexican diet has been largely replaced by cheaper, more convenient foods and soft drinks.  Mexico is the leading consumer of soft drinks as of 2010, consuming a whopping 135 liters per capita.  The US is the second highest consumer of soft drinks, taking in about 96 liters per capita. Other statistics point out that realistically the numbers are more like 142 liters per capita for the US and around the same for Mexico.    Regardless, of the exact figures, these are all extremely high volumes!  Let us do some number crunching; 142 liters equals 4,802 oz or about 400 12oz cans per person per year.  One 12oz can contains around 150 calories so this becomes an extra 60,030.5 calories per year.  People are consuming an 165 extra calories a day from soft drinks alone.  With this information, it becomes clear how people in 3rd world countries are dying from obesity when most of the world assumes these deaths would be due to lack of food.

Dr. Neugebauer, who resides in the Yucatan for part of the year in a  small,  predominately Mayan town, once shared a comical yet tragic story from a prior visit to the local market.  He told Darin and I of a woman who came into the market with a box of oranges which she sold in a short span of time.  She then used the money she earned to purchase a family-size carbonated drink. Sadly this is the trend that is becoming dominant around the world, primarily in emerging economies like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa.  People do not notice the lack of greens in their kitchens, yet they go unhinged at the realization that there is no soda in the refrigerator!

Relevant to the issues already discussed, I would like to share the following picture which I borrowed from the book, Hungry Planet. This book attempts to show the intimate food choices and spending for ¨typical¨ families from all over the world. This fascinating book allows readers to learn about what different people consume on a daily basis.  Needless to say, there is a sharp contrast between countries in terms of what the people eat, how much they eat, and how much they spend on their food.  I was deeply intrigued by the Casales family from Mexico, pictured above.   At first glance you notice the amount of food eaten in relation to the size of the family.  Secondly you see the wide range of fresh produce which composes most of their diet.  Yet, as you begin to look more closely, it becomes obvious why Mexico is suffering from an obesity epidemic.  If 60% of the Casales family’s diet is comprised of fruits, veggies, and grains, could soft drinks and other lifestyle choices be responsible for declining health in their family and their county?

Let’s continue by investigating the composition of the drink to see if and why it is  responsible for some amount of sickness and poor health in the global population.    The current soft drinks we consume are a far cry from the original carbonated sodas.  In the past, soft drinks were made up of carbonated water and recognizable simple ingredients, like refined sugar from sugar cane, fruit juices, herbs, or extracts.  Today the ingredient list includes unpronounceable food colorings, stabilizers, preservatives, and a broad range of chemicals to drive down production costs and make for greater revenues.  I will discuss some of the most common ingredients in soft drinks and the possible reactions they have on the body.

1. Phosphoric Acid- When we think soft drinks phosphoric acid is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, yet it is a crucial ingredient, especially in dark colored sodas. Phosphoric acid is used industrially to remove mineral deposits.  It is used to balance PH by reducing it to desired ranges and it can be applied in  dentistry for whitening teeth. Within the body research has concluded that it plays a key role in malabsorption, leeching the body of calcium through the binding of the acid to calcium and magnesium molecules in the gut and converting them to nonabsorbent salts. It can potentially increase the PH of the stomach which leads to acid reflux and other abnormalities.  Similarly, it increases the PH of the small intestines, perhaps causing the intestines to malfunction along with the other parts of the body that are damaged by a generally acidic environment.  When looking on the label, phosphoric acid will sometimes be listed as food grade classification E338.

2. Refined Sugar- The best case scenario would be to get a soft drink which is made of actual sugar from sugar cane.  This is not always the case, because sugar is an expensive commodity compared to other industrial sweeteners.  The high circulation of information about artificial sweeteners being unhealthy has forced some companies into using real sugar again for the sake of marketing purposes.  In truth, sugar is not all that inspiring either and by no means is it any healthier than using artificial sweeteners.  For starters,  sugar creates a  high incidence of uric acid buildup in the body. Most of us know this is the catalyst for gout.  Another study is in the process of providing proof that uric acid buildup is also a catalyst for high blood pressure.   Other conditions linked to high refined sugar consumption are artherosclorosis, chronic inflammation, gut flora disbiosis, immune supression, weight gain, diabetes 1 and 2, organ malfunction, and others. This just came out on 60 minutes.. Is Sugar Toxic?

3. Water – Out of all the ingredients in soft drinks this may or may not be the most benign.  In India the water used for the making of well-known soft drinks was discovered to have extremely high amounts of pesticides.  All around the globe, water sources used for making soft drinks have been found to have high levels of unwanted residues.

4. HFCS- This acronym is short for high fructose corn syrup.  It has taken the place of sugar as the sweetener of choice in many products, not only for soft drinks. This ubiquitous product has found its way into basically every food item we can imagine, mainly due to its abundance, stability, cheap price, and its sweeter-than-sucrose flavor. The average individual consumes around 63lbs per person/year, even though much debate has arose questioning the legitimacy of HFCS as a sweetener.  Studies have revealed that the effects of HFCS on the body are similar or worse than those of refined sugar. Possible effects of consuming HFCS include glucagon and human growth hormone impairment, weight gain, quick conversion to adipose tissue, insulin abnormalities, acute and chronic inflammation, cross linking of proteins, glycation, and an increase in small dense LDL which can get stuck in endothelial junctions of arteries and capillaries, creating plaque formation. .

5. Caffeine- There is an old saying which states ¨When God made the poison, he made the antidote to go along with it.¨  This is the case with caffeine, possibly the most broadly consumed stimulant around the world. In nature you find caffeine in a broad range of seeds, leafs, and fruits, yet the amount of people dying from the chronic consumption of these products is extremely rare.  Isolated, pure caffeine, however, serves as a diuretic, central nervous system stimulant, and cortisol and adrenalin stimulator  It can cause diarrhea, sleep alterations, mood alterations, and an increase in stomach acid, possibly leading to peptic ulcers.

6. Sodium- Each soft drink can contains as much sodium as a slice of pizza, 40 grams in regular soda and 50 grams in diet soda.  This is a staggering amount of sodium being added to an already high-sodium diet.  This may result in PH imbalances, digestive abnormalities, electrolyte imbalances, fluid homeostasis, blood pressure increase, and kidney diseases, among many other potential ailments. Most people wonder, “If there is so much sodium in these drinks why does it not taste salty?”  The answer is that the extremely high amounts of sweeteners are added, in part, to mask the taste of the sodium.

7. Other artificial sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners, like sucralose, aspartame, saccharine, and neotame are able to keep up with the demand for sweeter drinks with less calories, while also reducing the cost of production. Research indicates that the acute consumption of foods containing these chemicals can possibly cause gut flora disbiosis, immune alterations, destruction of nervous system oligodendrocytes (excitotoxicity), propensity towards cancer and other cellular abnormalities. Nearly all of the massively produced sugar substitutes are made by controversial agro-chemical and GMO companies, like Monsanto.

We’ve only discussed some of the dangerous ingredients in soft drinks. Think not only of the ailments caused by individual ingredients, but the idea of consuming all of these chemicals concurrently! Also remember that many fruit drinks on the market are made by soft drink companies and the same attitude towards quality and cost is applied to those products as well.  Consider that the the degree of dependency associated with consuming these products is quite impressive! It is relatively simple to understand the dependency on these drinks from a biochemical perspective. There is not an actual insulin receptor for HFCS, thus it must be metabolized in the liver. Insulin does not go up, because there is no receptor, and it follows that leptin levels do not go up either. The result is that the brain does not acknowledge the consumption of calories and the negative feedback mechanism is not activated. Furthermore, the sodium in soft drinks actually makes us thirstier and more likely to consume more of the product.  HFCS and other alternative sweeteners cannot be effectively metabolized through the Krebs cycle, thus the liver converts these carbs via lipo-neo-genesis and stores it as adipose tissue… fat.  This acts as a endocrine organ with its own unique and complex hormone system, which maintains itself by increasing its ¨food¨ requirements.

There is absolutely no reason why an individual should consume these types of drinks, even for leisure or sporadically. Most of the drinks on the market have ingredients that are so foreign to the body that they need to be isolated and metabolized strictly in the liver. What do you call a molecule which is isolated and exclusively metabolized by the liver? Such molecules are known as POSIONS!  Tragically, children from 8 – 18 consume the most soft drinks of anyone. Parents must take care to protect their kids from the fancy marketing schemes of which younger generations are an easy target. Some companies do try to provide a high quality soft drink, yet they are few and far between. Healthy soft drink companies often go bankrupt as there is less of a market for a slightly more expensive, yet higher quality product. If you choose to continue consuming these drinks, choose the German company, Bionade or Odwalla, which is somewhat popular in the US, better yet, DRINK WATER.  Or, keep looking for healthy drink companies and support their effort to clean up the soft drink industry!


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