Over the last several years, my wife and I have made A LOT of changes in the way we live and eat in an effort to increase health and longevity. When people hear the changes that I’ve made, most of the time they think I’m nuts! For most people, giving up grains, dairy, and legumes sounds like too much to handle. So in this first post, I thought I’d share some of the smaller changes that I have made over the last few years that have helped improve my health and the health of my family. These are changes that I’ve implemented that don’t require a tremendous commitment but their impact goes a long way. Let’s begin:
- We started using liquid vanilla stevia from NuNaturals in place of anywhere we would use sugar or splenda. I know, I know, stevia tastes like crap, right? Not this one though. After trying and failing to get used to the taste of powdered stevia, my wife and I almost gave up until I found this specific brand of liquid stevia at whole foods. This specific brand tastes awesome. Takes a slight adjustment but once you are used to it, you’ll love it. My dad, a die-hard sugar guy, uses this in his coffee now which blows me away. Stevia is 100% natural and does not spike your blood sugar or insulin levels the same way that sugar will. Also, it has no known harmful side effects for you.
- Speaking of coffee, I gave up caffeinated coffee (and most recently I gave up coffee altogether due to potential allergy to it). Coffee enthusiasts will talk all day about the powerful antioxidants in coffee, but in truth, the caffeine in coffee wreaks havoc on your cortisol levels, tricking your body into fight or flight mode each time you down the tasty treat. Heightened cortisol levels lead to an insulin response and weight gain, but also completely screw with your nervous system, blood pressure, adrenal system, and can mess up your sleep patterns. In a world where all of us are so consistently stressed, I ask: why add to that stress by intentionally revving up your body’s fight or flight response by drinking caffeine? Plus, who wants to be controlled by a substance? I don’t know about you I don’t want to be addicted to anything. Instead of that morning coffee, try drinking 2 large glasses of water and eating an apple when you wake up. That should do the trick. It worked for me. I don’t even need the apple anymore. I just wake up without the caffeine. Article on caffeine, cortisol, and weight gain.
- We started using only carcinogen free sunscreens and body/face lotions. One of the least spoken of health of issues I can think is this one. Many studies have shown that several of the ingredients in most conventional sunscreens (Banana Boat, Coppertone, etc.) might actually PROMOTE skin cancer, and can damage your DNA! Info on dangers of sunscreen. Instead of using these sunscreens, try spending your first 20-30 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen at all. If you do this at the right time of the day that should naturally give you the amount of vitamin D you need (direct exposure to sunlight is the ONLY way your body can produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in too many bodily functions to name here, and has been shown to help cancer prevention. Unless you work outdoors for a living or regularly supplement with a quality form of D3, you are likely deficient). After that, throw on some all natural or organic sunscreen for better protection and avoid poisoning your body! Remember peeps, your skin is the largest organ on your body, and it is porous. When you apply things to your skin they seep into your pores and can enter your bloodstream. Here are a few brands we really like and use quite a bit for us and our 4.5 year old son: Livestrong, Aubrey Organics for kids and a separate one for adults. In the same vain, we have moved to all natural or organic soaps and body washes as well. Basically, anything that touches our skin we try to stay away from known carcinogens like parabens.
- I started using a neti pot regularly to clean my sinuses. If you are an allergy sufferer and typically have a lot of mucous, the very best thing you can do for yourself would be to cut grains and especially dairy from your diet. Once I cut dairy, ALL of my sinus issues ceased within days. However, if you just can’t bring yourself to eliminate dairy from your diet, make neti potting a mainstay of your daily routine. You’ll breathe better; you’ll have less sinus infections, and less allergy symptoms. You can find neti pots at any drugstore Whole Foods, or on Amazon. People get freaked out by neti pots but I assure you once you get used to it, it becomes as commonplace as brushing your teeth. Here is a video from Daniel Vitalis, a neti guru, that teaches you how to use one.
- Speaking of teeth, I have moved to fluoride free all natural toothpastes. I know, I know…dentists everywhere, the American Dental Association, and the FDA all laud fluoride for its amazing dental health benefits. Except, the dentists have been misled, and fluoride is really just a toxic waste byproduct that should never have been placed in our drinking water or toothpastes to begin with. It’s a total myth that you need fluoride for strong teeth. Stay away from sugar and grains, eat tons of fresh organic veggies and lean quality cuts of meat and fish, floss and brush regularly with fluoride free toothpaste and watch your teeth become healthier than ever! For more info on this you can watch this free documentary on YouTube about fluoride. Some brands of fluoride free toothpastes I like: Jason, or Earthpaste.
- And, speaking of fluoride we put in a whole home water filtration system for our home as well as a reverse osmosis filter for our drinking water. This is so important, people. Fluoride is only ONE of the dangers in our tap water (depending on where you live. Different municipalities have different contaminants, but they’re all bad! We’re talking about lead, nitrates, chlorine, and other substances not meant for human consumption). Here is some information on the dangers of drinking fluoridated water. If you plan on getting a filtration system for your home, check out NSF to make sure that the filter you are thinking of purchasing is certified by them.
- I use a Swiss ball as my chair at work. My goal is to buy an adjustable standing desk but they are freaking expensive. So for now, the Swiss ball will have to do. Here is some info on how using a Swiss ball as a chair has helped some people suffering from back pain. Here is an article that talks about how sitting all day in an office chair shortens your life!
- I started using Green Vibrance greens powder in my shakes and smoothies to up my greens intake. It’s by far the most complete and quality powder out there. I also am starting to really like Boku Greens Powder, specifically because they include powerful adaptogen mushrooms in the powder which help your body deal with the negative effects of stress. Don’t use these as a substitute for eating veggies. Use it to augment your intake of them.
- I perfected the great tasting health smoothie! After many years of trying and failing, I finally came up with a way to make a powerhouse health smoothie that provides me with all of the quality fats, proteins, carbs, and nutrients I need in a meal. A perfect meal replacement! In a blender, mix:
- Use a base of either almond milk, coconut milk (preferably homemade organic)
- 1 organic banana (not too ripe. Overripe bananas are way higher in fructose and cause too much of a blood sugar spike)
- 1/4 cup of frozen wild organic blueberries
- 1/4 cup of organic frozen strawberries
- 1/4 cup of organic frozen raspberries
- 1/4 cup of organic frozen blackberries
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin organic coconut oil
- 1 serving of green vibrance greens powder
- 2 raw pasture-raised organic eggs (yes RAW!). If this disgusts you, use Jay Robb’s egg white protein powder.
- Optional: 1 tablespoon of Raw organic cacao powder
- Optional: add liquid vanilla stevia to taste. I usually don’t need to do this as the fruits tend to sweeten it enough for me.
- Thanks to my brohem Erik Nissani, I started making my very own organic raw cashew date milk. I have to say, it blows away ANY milk you can buy at a grocery store! It’s fresher, tastier, and has ZERO preservatives in it, unlike other brands of nut milk. Here is a brief video that shows you how easy it is to make your own cashew milk.
I can keep going on but that’s enough for today. So, now it’s your turn, let’s hear it. What small changes have you made in yours or your family’s lives recently that have made a big difference?
– Ricky G
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.