Month: January 2019

 

RAW Versus COOKED.

People really like to debate on this topic.  In health circles it is an issue that comes up often.  Is RAW food healthier than COOKED food? 

It really is a big area of questioning, and unfortunately the answers are not clear.  We will take an approach of using modern science and facts and also ancient wisdom.  Here are some useful clues.

We know that some nutrition can be destroyed or at least damaged by cooking.  This especially includes things like vitamins and enzymes.  There is a large amount of research suggesting that enzymes are destroyed at around 120 degrees F.  We need these enzymes to aid in digestion and other valuable bodily functions.  We also do not want to lose our vitamins. 

On the other side, certain foods appear to be enhanced by cooking.  They become easier to stomach or digest.  Cooking can also make foods that are otherwise inedible something that humans can eat.  This is especially true with some forms of grains.  It can make eating meat more appealing.  It also can make some tougher vegetables like root crops (potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, etc) into something more comforting than the raw counterpart.  There is also much evidence that cooking actually ENHANCES some nutrition.

So in truth, it is a very confusing subject.  There is evidence on both sides of the debate.  If you take out cooking; you usually remove the eating of many grains, some beans, some meats, and some vegetables.  If you eat too much cooked food, you may wind up with enzyme and vitamin deficiencies, and chronic fatigue. 

Ok, so we know it is confusing, what can we do in reality to help develop healthy habits when it comes to eating raw and cooked foods? 

Much of the answers will come from personal intuition and experimentation.  We have different genetics, live in different areas, and vary in lifestyles.  The goal is to find the level of raw-food eating that promotes optimal health.  Here are some tips.

  • Favor RAW when there is no good reason not to.  This applies to most FRUITS, some vegetables, healthy oils like olive or coconut, and dairy.  Cooking will usually turn these into LESS VALUABLE products for human consumption.
  • Favor RAW if it doesn’t bother you.  There are some plant foods that have legitimate reasons NOT to be eaten raw.  This includes some nuts, seeds, legumes, rough vegetables etc.  Many of these have enzyme inhibitors that can mess up digestion.  Some people soak these to help with that.  Other vegetables may be too tough for sensitive digestive systems.  But again, if it doesn’t bother you; favor RAW.  This will keep the nutrition more intact. 
  • Favor COOKED if you feel grains are a healthy thing for you.  Many grains are inedible when RAW.  So many cultures have been living healthfully with grains we can’t just classify them as bad.  Obviously you want whole grains, in the natural form.
  • Meat is where it gets tricky.  We need to let go of cultural stigma here.  This appears to be a personal thing.  Some people cannot stomach raw meat.  However, we need to make sure this is not just a mental construct.  Cultures that eat things such as SUSHI may benefit in health from fresh, raw fish.  Others find cooked meat to be comforting and easier to digest.  An important thing is to balance cooked meat with raw foods.  Using cold pressed oils and raw veggies can do a lot of good.

AHHH, it is so confusing!  Alright, well we understand there is a lot to think about and debate here.  Basically, you want to upscale your level of RAW foods until it feels unhealthy.  Most people could probably use a higher level of RAW.  A small percentage need to allow COOKING to have it’s uses.

-JOSEPH

The Importance of Bodywork.

This post refers to a broad category of therapies which I usually blanket into the term “Bodywork.”  There are many other names, but this is what we will use here.  What do we mean by bodywork?  A good definition might be manual therapies that effect healthy change in the body, especially in the areas of muscles, joints, circulation, and spine.  Here are some common therapies in this field.

-Yoga and Stretching

-Massage

Chiropractic

These are primarily PHYSICAL therapies that attempt to allow your own body to function more optimally.  They do this by enhancing circulation, releasing tension, correcting imbalances and so forth.  Most of these therapies also have a side-effect of increased mental/emotional wellness and stress relief.  In other words, they make you feel better.

Unfortunately, many people do not find the time or space to practice these healthy activities.  This may be due to time restraints, busy lives, poor body awareness, lack of motivation, etc.  It would appear that many people choose exercise, but forget to do the bodywork.  On the other hand, it is no small task to keep the body limber, massaged, and properly adjusted.  So the goal here is to do bodywork in a practical way.

My recommendation is to focus on the areas of most importance first.  This is more often than not the neck, shoulders, and spine.  We get messed up here because of poor posture, lifestyle reasons, and stress that often stores in the shoulders.  The reason this is such a problem is because we need a high level of circulation from our body to our head.  If there is too much tension you greatly limit that circulation.  This is why yoga is such a great activity.  When used properly, it can help to bring your neck and spine back into good alignment.  A little assistance from a chiropractor or massage therapist complements this.

The other area of focus is the feet.  Our feet carry us around, yet we devote very little thought or care to them.  Massaging the feet can be a great treatment.  There is a therapy called “Reflexology” that focuses on such activities.  Often times the feet will be very sore until after a few rubs.

So basically, this article is designed to remind people of the great benefits of bodywork.  It is very easy with our busy, modern lives to neglect to do these activities.  However, the increased physical wellness, mental/emotional clarity, and relieved stress is enjoyed by people who create space to participate in these ancient therapies.

-JOSEPH

How Do We Exercise?

Exercising would appear to be a rather complex topic.  There is much discussion via experts on the correct types of exercise, format, duration, etc.  Some people favor more of a strength-training approach, while others advocate cardio and endurance activities.  Many people go exercise without really having a program or strategy.  This can also be problematic.  So what are we to do?  Take advice from experts, media, friends, etc?  How do we figure out what exercise program is right for us?  Well here are some basic guidelines. 

  1. Walking and working are the basic exercise.  Humans walk around and we tinker with things.  This is what generally runs our metabolism.  Unfortunately, a lot of modern conveniences and technologies have made it to where we do not have to be as active as we used to.

2. Start with walking.  It is the most simple and effective mode of exercise.  It is low-stress, low risk of injury, and is what your body expects you to be doing lots of.  Hopefully your job allows you to do much of this, but some with more sedentary jobs may need to find time outside of work.

3.  The next level is light cardio and bodyweight exercises/endurance strength training.  We are not talking about running 10 miles or bench pressing 250 pounds here.  These are intense activities.  What we mean here are things like light jogging, biking, hiking and bodyweight exercises on the strength training side.  Some light weights may also be used here.  The idea is to keep the repetitions fairly high as to build endurance and energy.  This workout should feel good and give you more energy as you frequently do them.  Again, fairly low risk type of exercise.

4. The last level of exercise that I recommend for those ready is moderate-high intensity interval training.  There are certain benefits of exercising like this from time to time.  Benefits may include hormonal gains, increased muscle mass or tone, confidence, and it provides healthy challenge.  Things like fast paced running, biking.  Sprinting can be a very effective exercise if done properly.  Moderate level strength training in the repetitions of maybe 6-12.  Unfortunately, as we move into performance gains we start to stray away from health and longevity.  The risk of stressing your body too much and acquiring injuries start to increase at this level.

5.  Exercises I do NOT recommend are power-lifting, high-intensity cardio till you drop type of activities, or some of these programs that try to “WHIP” you into shape.  Most of these types of exercise are high-risk and do not really promote health and fitness.  They may help you drop a little weight real fast or build muscle quickly but the risk of injury, overexertion, and the ability to participate long-term are not worth it in my opinion.

-A Note on Bodywork:  Stretching, Yoga, and massage are some of the most underutilized activities in fitness programs.  While I do not consider these exercise, they are counterparts to your program.  Our lifestyles can create imbalances in our muscles and tightness throughout our bodies.  It is amazing how much tension we accumulate just going through daily life.  Adding small amounts of bodywork is a great way to deal with this.  I will try to do a separate post on bodywork in the future.

So hopefully this was not too long of a read.  These are some of my thoughts on how to exercise appropriately.  Start with walking, then go light with what you enjoy before engaging in the heavy stuff.  If you are suffering or feeling worse then back off.  Remember, the goal is to be fit, healthy, and happy.  This may require dropping the ego some as many of us have unrealistic body images we are chasing.  Also, don’t forget the bodywork and TLC!  The proper exercise program will vary from person to person so don’t feel like you are not doing it right because someone else is doing it differently.  Of course there is also commitment.  Exercise programs work best when used regularly!  So have fun, mix it up, and listen to your inner wisdom and you can find the program that is right for you.

-JOE

What Do We Eat?!

Forgive me, as this will be a very short summary on a much larger topic.  I also have not written in this blog for quite some time so please be patient with my skills hehe. 

The topic is what to eat.  It is a highly complex issue, yet we can simplify it if we know some basic principles and concepts.  Also remember that this is just my take on things.  Obviously there are loads of different opinions, scientific research, and other stuff meant to confuse us right?  Here are some of my beliefs.

Biochemical Individuality:  We are all different inside and out.  We have different genetics, come from different ancestral patterns, live in different regions and so forth.  People did not all evolve eating the same stuff!  Add to this that we have different employment, incomes, relationships, tastes, exercise levels,  mental/emotional temperaments, and that list could go on for a while.  So keeping it short, we all have different nutritional preferences and requirements.

This can be further split into something called “Metabolic Typing,” which attempts to categorize individuals into 1 of 3 categories.  There is;

The Protein Type:  Meat eaters, paleo/keto style eating, high protein, high fat usually.  Some of these do not do as well with carbs (especially grains and high sugar fruits).

The Mixed Type:  Somewhat self-explanatory.  These people do well on a well-rounded approach utilizing modest amounts of the food groups.  Some grains, some nuts, some meat, some veggies, some fruit.  Makes sense right?

The Carbohydrate Type:  This is where you find vegetarians, vegans, and those who are kind of nonchalant as to whether they eat meat or not.  They just don’t crave it in the same way as the other types.  These people usually do well on moderate amounts of vegetable foods such as grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and fruit.  They may also enjoy vegetarian animal foods such as milk or eggs.

So basically, most people can fit themselves generally into one of these categories.  Of course, it is also possible to be on the fence between two types.  After identifying your type we return to the basics.

-Whole foods

-Local when possible

-Favor fresh produce

-Organic when possible

-Avoid processed foods and GMO’s

Once you are eating healthy foods in proportions that are correct for you it is ok to use some intuition and self-guidance when choosing foods on a daily basis.  Maybe you notice that you feel terrible when you eat beans, but feel great eating rice.  We just need to continuously listen to these signals.  Remember, it is a process to keep improving what we eat.  Hopefully this helps make things a little easier to understand.  We don’t want to get so caught up in the latest trends or science that we forget to trust our own instincts.  There is of course much more to elaborate on with this topic but I just wanted to give a simple overview.

-JOE