Leah proudly announces her move to Stanford Healthcare and is exclusively seeing Qualcomm employees who want Acupuncture services at the Qualcomm Health Center at 10155 Pacific Heights Road, San Diego, CA.

Are GMO Foods All The Same?

GMO foods soy edamameWe write a lot about GMO foods and eating organic  on this blog because they are so terribly destructive to our bodies. However, there is a common idea floating around that all GMO foods are the same.

Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth. Each GMO crop is different and was created by man to do different things. Just yesterday, I sat down with a woman who was recently educated about the nastiness of GMO foods. She knew they were bad and knew they are everywhere but she didn’t have the foggiest idea about the variety and harmfulness of each one.

First, let’s set the stage about GMO….

  • A GMO food is a Genetically Modified Organism – That is, your food DNA is mixed with some other DNA…it  could be yeast, it could be a bacteria, heck…it could even be mixed with insect DNA (odd but true).  It is NOT a HYBRID like taking two roses and putting them together to create a bigger, more colorful bud. It is unwinding DNA and putting it back together with foreign DNA. This is called ‘recombinant DNA’ in scientific parlance.
  • If you are not eating 100% organic, you can bet your bottom dollar you are eating GMO foods. They are everywhere….they are in foods you would never suspect.
  • The most common culprits you find in almost all processed foods are GMO corn and soy. Our government subsidizes corn production so there is corn in everything….corn syrup, baking powder, maltodextrin. Here is a list of some of the not so easily identified culprits.

So…How are GMO foods different? Well, to go through the entire list would take longer than we have, so I am going to focus on the two biggest GMOs: corn and soy.

  • Soy GMOs: Almost 95% of soy in America is a GMO. Soy is a nasty one because they have created it to be “Round-Up Ready”. What this means is that they can spray all the Round-Up (you know, that herbicide you spray on the cement cracks to kill the weeds) you want on the soy and the soy won’t die, just the weeds around it. Sounds good, huh? Too bad we all have Round-up  in our blood now, from eating all the Round-Up laden soy. Yuck! Not so good, after all.
  • Corn GMOs: Again, unless, you are eating organic corn, you can bet it is a GMO corn. This GMO is designed to explode the stomach of corn pests – a special kind of pesticide. Hmmm….Questions to think on is whether there are structures in our guts that resemble the stomach of those pests? Is it exploding the cilia in our intestines, too? How long before our guts can’t take any more, and you become intolerant of every food on earth?

My personal advice is a bitter pill. Don’t trust any food in a regular super market. Even if they say it is organic, the watchdog groups are up in arms about their lies. Choose to shop at farmer’s markets and food providers that take pride in using non-GMO foods. Also, try your best to stay away from processed foods. I know we don’t make very much ourselves, in our modern world. It isn’t very popular to make your own bread (especially when your cilia are so damaged that you find yourself  “gluten intolerant”). However, give it a go. You may find out that all that food you were eating, really tastes like crap anyhow.

 

 

Is soy bad for me? The good, the bad, and the ugly

is soy bad for meSoy is rife with controversy. Yes, soy. Every day it seems as though someone asks the question, “Is soy bad for me?” As a person smack dab in the middle of the health food / natural medicine industry, it seemed ridiculous that I hadn’t given the the question of “is soy bad for me?” much thought.

Here was my reasoning:

  1. Soy is often a remedy for female issues. If you go into any health food store and glance around the women’s section, you will find isoflavones…this is soy.
  2. Soy is ubiquitous. It is in a ton of foods and supplements that you wouldn’t even suspect it in. We eat it unless we are vigilant not to.
  3. Millions of human beings in Asian / Indian cultures eat soy every day of their lives without the deleterious effects some say it causes.
  4. I spent a majority of my life as a vegetarian. Although much of my protein is garnered from the grain/rice combo. It and quinoa can’t do it all. Soy plays and has played a rich source of nutrition throughout my life. Plus, tempeh is darn good.

So…when I originally heard the crying question of, “is soy bad for me?”, my response was, heck no!

The other day I began to do some research on this soybean and the answer to the question of “is soy bad for me?” may not be so resounding…in fact, there are some huge warnings you should heed when ingesting soy.

Is Soy Bad For Me?

  • GMO soy sucks! Is soy bad for me? GMO soy is definitely bad for you. The worst part is that 93% of all soybeans are GMO beans. I cannot begin to negotiate the tirade I could go on about GMO products right now. Fodder for the next blog!
  • Soy Protein Isolate soy isn’t much better. Is soy bad for me? Soy protein isolate has major problems that are bigger than its massive GMO problem. The problem is that they have taken the soy protein with all its phytoestrogenic qualities and isolated it from the rest of the bean. Basically you distill these properties making them strong and harmful. This form of soy is linked to nasty things like infertility, erectile dysfunction, hormonal disruption, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, difficulty losing weight, digestive problems, food allergies, and loss of libido. Wooo, that is a long list!

The good news, for me, is that there is one type of soy that does show positive health benefits. That is fermented soy!

Is soy bad for me?

Not fermented soy…tempeh, miso, natto, soy sauce.

Possible positive results from consuming fermented soy include:

  • preventing osteoporosis
  • decrease cardiovascular disease
  • preventing dementia
  • certain cancer protection (lung, liver, prostate)

So…the moral of the story is don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I was eating only non-GMO soy but still consuming the isolate. Since doing my research I made the shift to the fermented tofu. No problem, and more tempeh for me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are The Top 4 Best Greens Powder? I Gotta Know.

Best Greens PowderWe need greens in our diet. Dark green leafies. Purple leafies. Grassy leafies. We can never have too many greens. Of course, the best way to get your greens is through your diet. We should be eating a lot of these rich, darkly colored, organic veggies each and every day. Are we? Are you? I do a good job. I love veggies so it is easier for me. I crave them and delight in them. However, I still don’t feel like I get enough. I also know I don’t get enough grasses and superfoods, like goji and acai. These can be found in a good greens powder. There are a TON of awesome greens powders. You may be asking….,”What are the best greens powder?

The best greens powders are ones that have fun, interesting greens in them, preferable ones that I have a hard time ingesting on a regular basis. The best greens powders are also ones that are palatable, at minimum. Greens drinks can be hard to do on their own. I stick mine in a protein shake and that is the way I evaluated their flavor. They all went into a shake that contained:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop whey protein
  • 1/2 scoop Organic GMO-free soy protein powder (which is becoming increasingly hard to find)
  • 1 splash of coconut sugar-free Torani Syrup (can a natural food manufacturer please make this product with Lo-Han or Xylitol?)
  • 2 handfuls of ice

Whiz this up in the blender and enjoy with a spoon.

Here we go…onto the best greens powder results.

  1. Divine Health Green Superfood: I found this product at the Natural Products Expo West. It is DELICIOUS. It wins the flavor test hands down. I warn you, it is sweetened with Stevia so you will have to ease up on any additional sweeteners you use. They use fermented grasses and include superfruits, probiotics, and enzymes. It doesn’t have 10 million ingredients but it is filled with energy and is so yummy you or your child can eat it straight, just mixed with water.
  2. Green Vibrance/Maximum Vibrance: Okay so this is the one with 10 million ingredients. It is the best greens powder winner that got me hooked on greens in the first place. It is an incredible product that has high enough levels of the ingredients to make a difference. I would use the Green on a daily basis but the  Maximum is pretty incredible. It takes the Green and adds Super fruits and Protein. Awesome! Plus, it tastes a whole heck of a lot better than the Green. The Maximum Vibrance is vanilla and creamy.
  3. Vitamineral Green: This is a best greens powder because it is an all around good greens powder that weighs heavy on the sea greens. It is all food and no isolates. It doesn’t taint the flavor of your shake too bad.
  4. Greens Plus Organic Superfood Amazon Chocolate: This is a pretty fun mix of high ORAC super fruits, greens, probiotics, and chocolate. It has grasses and herbs we don’t normally consume  and none of the ones we do. It tastes fab!

Greens detoxify. Greens alkalize. Start in on a greens regimen and you will get hooked. I did. You just feel better.

How do I Feed My Family On A Budget? Top 7 Tips

feed my family on a budgetWe used to eat out an awful lot. Sometimes we ate at fast food restaurants, sometimes we ate at nicer places. I love Indian and Thai so we frequented those. However, we decided we wanted to eat healthier. I know you want to eat healthier, too. But, maybe you have found out, as I sadly did, that eating healthy is not cheap. I kept asking myself, “how do I feed my family on a budget?”

First thing we did is we looked at what eating healthier even meant. We found a ton of advice, some more helpful than others. What it boiled down to is that most of are us are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, let alone protein and healthy fiber. Our family certainly wasn’t eating the types of food we ought to.  Some other insights included:

  • Don’t overeat
  • Eat organic and non-GMO whenever possible
  • switch to fat free or 1% milk
  • choose lower sodium foods
  • drink water instead of sugary beverages

Okay…seemed simple enough, huh? It was until I realized how dang difficult it was to feed my family on a budget and do it in a healthy way. The vegetables alone were running me out of house and home with the cost. Here is the low down to stretch your dollar.

How I feed my family on a Budget Tips:

  1. The best produce buys are fresh sweet potatoes and carrots.
  2. Another inexpensive way I feed my family on a budget is to use cabbage. You get a lot of bang for your buck with cabbage. It has high nutritional value. It can be eaten by itself, with a little dressing, or added to salads, soups, or other dishes to extend them.
  3. Choose oatmeal instead of processed cereal. It costs less and fills you up longer.
  4. If you want fruit when you feed your family on a budget pick the bananas and pears.
  5. Queso Blanco is your friend. You may have never heard of it or used it. Explore! It is readily available, a lot cheaper than other cheeses. Plus, it is versatile and is less processed.
  6. Shop at local farmer’s markets. You can get organic food at a huge discount.
  7. Grow your own. That is right, transform your yard into your own garden.

These are just a couple of the ways I learned to feed my family on a budget, healthier. When you want to feed your family on a budget, it requires finesse. It is not easy and I commend anyone who takes on the effort. Don’t give up! Don’t give in to the ease and cheap allure of fast food. Persevere, you and your family will be healthier when you feed your family on a budget….healthy!

The Organic Definition: When is Organic NOT Organic?

wheatWe hear the word “organic” thrown around all over the place. We see it at the supermarket, we see it at the natural market but are these claims reliable? What is the organic definition?

There are so many varieties and nuances, but in its most basic sense the organic definition is a food product that was grown without synthetic pesticides. Also, it implies that foods do not contain additives and chemicals like  ripening agents are not used on them.

Further, organic food should not have been irradiated or be a genetically modified organism (GMO). The organic definition also includes meat and animal products which must be free of antibiotics and hormones. Finally, the farm or food practices must be deemed sustainable.  Sounds, pretty safe, huh?

But are you safe with this organic definition?

  • Certified Organic: Certified organic foods are grown to the organic standards of the USDA. Being certified organic gives a farmer or food producer the right to bear the USDA Organic Seal. If a product doesn’t have this certification they are not allowed, by law, to give themselves the organic definition. That is, unless they are a very small farm. There is an application process, including an inspection of the property.
  • Levels of Organic: Yes, the organic definition has layers of complexity that are good to know because you want to eat as organic as possible, right?
  • 100% Organic: This is self explanatory. All the ingredients are organic and the processing method is organic.
  • Organic: 95% or more of the ingredients are organic. Some approved chemical additives are allowed.
  • Made with organic ingredients: Here is where the organic definition gets dicey. At least 75% of the ingredients are organic.

Can the organic definition of “organic” products be trusted? In theory, yes. There are very very, $11,000, very costly fines for mislabeling your product organic when it is not. However,  some companies have come under severe scrutiny from the Organic Consumers Association. They call into question the legitimacy of many brands who use the organic label. These include:

  • Kellogg’s (Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms);
  • General Mills (Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar);
  • Dean Foods (Horizon, Silk, White Wave);
  • Smucker’s (R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic);
  • Coca-Cola (Honest Tea, Odwalla);
  • Safeway (“O” Organics);
  • Kraft (Boca Burgers and Back to Nature);
  • Con-Agra (Orville Redenbacher’s Organic, Hunt’s Organic, Lightlife);
  • and PepsiCo (Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic)

Now you are armed with all the down and dirty information on eating organic. Don’t settle for anything less!

Chinese Food Therapy: Why is My Peach ‘Warm’?

Chinese Food TherapyThere are so many ways for you to look at the food we eat. In allopathic, or Western, medicine we know that some of our food choices cause disease in the body. If we eat fried, high fat foods regularly, we are looking at specific problems – high cholesterol, heart disease, breast and colon cancers, etc. If we are alcoholic, we may get a fatty liver that eventually hardens. Chinese food therapy, you may be amazed to realize, looks at our food choices not only causally, as a reason for certain disorders, but as a means to alleviate certain conditions.

What is the theory behind Chinese Food Therapy?

It is founded on the concept of yin vs. yang. Yang foods are hot and increase the heat in the body. They are dense foods, rich in fat. By contrast, yin foods are cool and lower the bodies heat, they are generally foods that have a higher water content. The Chinese food therapy ideal is to eat foods that balance the yin and the yang. When you eat too much of one type of food you get diseases associated with it. You put yourself out of balance by focusing too heavily on yin or yang foods.

Further, if you have a problem cropping up, Chinese food therapy tells you that you can alter your diet to heat or cool it based upon the need. If you had a cold starting, you would not want to eat any cold, yin foods. If you suffer with eczema you want to avoid eating too many hot, yang foods.

What foods are hot (yang) and which foods are cool (yin) in Chinese Food Therapy?

Foods are inherently hot or cold. There are many tables you can refer to. Here is one by Yanga Zhu. Leah has an awesome knowledge of the nature of certain foods. She will suggest you eat certain foods and stay away from others. It is good to know she makes those Chinese food therapy recommendations to balance and heal our bodies.

Now you know: a peach isn’t warm because it has a fuzzy little coat; ‘warmth’ is part of its fundamental nature.

What are GMOs and Why Should I Be Afraid of Them?

what are gmos plantsI am always astounded when people that I peg should know about GMOs turn around and ask me, “So, what are GMOs anyhow?” It happens often enough that I think a post is in order.

What are GMOs?

GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms.

What are GMOs made from?

GMOs, otherwise known as  “frankenfood” come in all varieties and permutations. Scientists, in a lab, take an otherwise harmless food or animal and splice its D.N.A. with D.N.A. from bacteria, viruses, or other plant or animal. The Non-GMO project tells us that GMOs cannot occur in nature or through crossbreeding or hybridization. That is a common misconception. Often people think a GMO is just a hybrid. You take two types of corn and one is more resistant to a certain mold and the other is a better food crop. You cross the two and you get corn that has both these qualities. This is not the case. GMOs are something out of science fiction and like those scary monsters in a sci-fi movie, you ought to be afraid. You ought to be very afraid.

What are GMOs common plants?

Unfortunately, 99% of all corn and soy is genetically modified along with all sorts of other products, that are seemingly innocuous, like potatoes, sugar from sugar beets, and zucchini.

What are GMOs for?

Let me give you a sense of what GMOs do in a plant. One type allows a crop to be “Round-up resistant”. You may have sprayed Roundup on little patches of weeds growing between the cracks on your driveway to eliminate them. Round up is an herbicide. It kills plants, but not these plants. These resistant plants can be sprayed like crazy with Round-up and everything around them dies but the crop. Problem is, when they test the blood of city dwellers, most have detectible levels of Round up in their blood.

Another form of GMO is designed to make the plant resistant to certain bugs. When the bugs feast on the corn, their little bellies explode, thereby, killing the pest. Unfortunately, we have all sorts of cilia and such in our bodies. Common sense alone will tell a person that there may be some unwanted explosions going on in our gut, too.

What are GMOs effects?

In over 60 countries, these substances face extreme restrictions or outright bans. Even China forces their foods to be labeled if they contain GMOs.  However, this is not the case in America. It is hard to know what products are filled with GMOs and which are not. And….According to leading health author, Chris Kessler, “even scientists within the FDA itself have repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems.”

So, the question, “what are GMOs” is answered. The question remains, “What can I do?

1. Stop shopping at your traditional supermarket! Trader Joes states that their name brand foods do not contain GMOs. Get their policy statement here. Whole Foods labels their name brand foods and is slated to label all their foods by 2018.

2. Buy Organic! Organic products, by definition, are Non-GMO. However, watch out! The “organic” products at traditional grocery stores, like the “O” brand at Safeway stores has been targeted by watch dog organizations as lying about whether or not the ingredients are, in fact, organic.

3. Speak up! Tell people what you know. Tell your family and friends. March in the upcoming protests around the country on May 25, 2013, called “March Against Monsanto.” Locally, the San Diego march is to take place in Balboa Park!

Edible Seaweed

Dulse Edible SeaweedSeaweed is  a food that has historically been used by every culture that is located near the sea from Irish Dulse to Japanese Wakame. It has long been considered a delicacy. According to Seibin and Teruko Arasaki, authors of Vegetables from the Sea, “All of the minerals required by human beings, including calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, and zinc are present in sufficient amounts.”

Of the many benefits, seaweed is known to cleanse the body of toxins, bind with heavy metals in the intestines and help rid them of the body. Seaweed feeds the shafts and ducts in the scalp and improves the condition of our hair.

Here are some of the most popular types of seaweed

Brown Algae

Arame – A Japanese sea vegetable, with a mild flavor, arame is dried and cut into thin strands, it can be added to soups or served as a vegetable side dish.

Hijiki – Found primarily in the Far East, contains the most calcium of any of the sea vegetables.

Kelp – This sea vegetable grows mainly in the north along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It can be sprinkled on foods as a condiment, or whole kelp adds a nice touch to salads or it can be used as a wrap for a variety of fillings.

Kombu – used for soup stock or added to the bottom of a pot of rice or vegetables to help them keep from sticking; added to a pot of beans, kombu helps them cook faster and renders them more digestible due to the high mineral content.

Wakame & Alaria – These seaweeds are similar in characteristics but differ in their habitats. Wakame is collected in the cold waters off the island of Hokaido, Japan and alaria is harvested in North America. Wakame is a good source of protein, iron, calcium, sodium & other minerals and vitamins. Alaria is high in vitamin K and the B-vitamins as well as the minerals iodine and bromine.

Red Algae

Agar-Agar – This is a versatile, tasty gel that will set at room temperature. Its been used for centuries in the home as a mild laxative and as a basic ingredient in a Japanese dessert, kanten and can be used as a replacement for gelatin. Agar-agar is rich in iodine and trace elements.

Irish Moss/Dulse – Irish Moss is most often used dried in relishes, breads, soups or fritters. Many people snack on this dried dulse straight out of the bag.

Nori – Unlike other sea vegetables that are collected wild, Japanese nori is cultivated. In Ireland, it is known as sloke and in Scotland and Wales as laver. Gaelic people have long made flat breads from flour and nori, known as laver bread. Its most prominent use is as the wrapping for sushi, although it can be cut into strips, lightly toasted and used as a garnish as well. It is exceptionally high in vitamin A and protein.

Mindful & Green Holiday Gift Ideas!

I don’t know about you but this holiday season came faster than ever before. I have a few ideas for holiday gifts for your family and friends.

  • A CSA membership to your favorite farm. Search for CSAs in your local area. This is a great way to get constant reminders to eat good fresh foods. If you don’t want their veggies, check out donating to them as a gift in someone else’s name.
  • *A Massage or Acupuncture treatment from me! (I know it is shameless to hawk myself but rush to help DE-STRESS from the hectic pace of the holidays.
  • *One year my daughter helped me pick out some ducks and part of a cow from Heifer International for her cousins holiday gift. It was one of the more unique gifts we gave and it gave the kids, who were young at the time, a wider view of the world. Heifer International website is http://www.heifer.org/.
  • *One of the best gifts that was suggested to me was “50 Reasons Why I Love You”. Write down 50 reasons why you love
    someone. Everything from “The great meals they prepare” to “How they hold your hand when you are out on the town”. One
    of my family members gave this to her husband. He said it was the best gift he ever got. A great gift for someone who has everything!

Cutting Vegetables for Maximum Benefit

chopping carrotsI want to touch on how to cut our food for maximum benefits, especially vegetables. In the process of cutting vegetables we change or cut the foods energy pathways, to make them easier to cook, more digestible and more appealing to the eye. The smaller you cut the vegetable the more energy it takes from you but the more enlivened and quicker it takes to cook that vegetable.

You can actually cut wilted veggies small and it reenergizes them. The smaller the cut, the easier it is to digest which helps the elderly and children. Veggies that are left whole or cut in large pieces are better for stews or baked dishes. They retain their natural vitality and sweetness.

In many traditional cooking methods it is important to wash the cutting board and knife between each item that is cut. It retains the uniqueness/individuality of the item until they are ready to combine. I find this to be important to keep the clarity of tastes until they are ready to be combined in the recipe.

For vegetables that will be combined in cooking, try to cut each one of them a similar size for more uniform cooking. I also learned to cut the vegetable such as a carrot on a diagonal or bias so the person eating it gets some of the top and some of the bottom energies of that carrot. There really is no wrong way to cut vegetables but by being mindful and cooking with intention a meal becomes the nourishing sacred event that it is meant to be.

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Leah Davida Krecu is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing at Circle of Life Healing Arts Center in Encinitas, California since 1997. She practices a light style of acupuncture with a heavy emphasis on bodywork. Leah is always open for questions at her office at 760-632-7728.