Why should you be concerned about eating GMO sourced foods?

We’ve looked at what GMO foods are, and how they are made.

With an understanding in place of what GMO foods are and where they come from, its time to look at some concerns centered around the consumption of GMO foods or products that contain ingredients from GMO sources.  Why should you be concerned?

Based on the release of new studies, several concerns have been raised.   For example, a recent Reuters article referenced a French study done at the University of Caen that states that “Monsanto’s NK603 GM corn or exposed to its top-selling Roundup glyphosate weed killer were at higher risk of suffering tumors, multiple organ damage and premature death.”  One of the results of this particular study is a temporary ban by Russia on the import of NK603 corn.  If other countries are concerned about the safety of these engineered foods, isn’t it worth your time to stop and consider what all the fuss is about?  It’s your life and your body you are caring for.  Do your own research, there are other long term studies with the same findings that should at very least cause you to stop and consider if the potential risk is worth not stopping to question the safety of GMO foods,  or maybe giving them up altogether.

Remember – you only get one body; you have a right to know what you are putting in to it, and a responsibility to take care of it.

Food for thought – watch this video released by Nutiva encouraging labeling of foods containing ingredients from GMO sources. It is a quick look at GMO, GMO labeling worldwide, and an encouragement to Californians to vote for proposition 37 which would require the labeling of GMO foods. This has significance for the rest of the US as well, as it likely would result in the same labeling being used on many products throughout the rest of the country – allowing consumers to make an informed decision about the products they purchase.


Questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below:

How much GMO have you eaten today?

If you’re not already familiar with the term GMO, or GM food, you’ll want to read the previous post that gives a quick overview of what GMO means and helps explain what GMO food is.  After learning what GMO is, some people are surprised, some don’t care, and some decide that they aren’t going to eat GMO foods.

You might be surprised to learn some of the GMO products already in the US food supply that are routinely consumed by unsuspecting consumers.

Think about the fact that in the US food supply there are GMO products such as:

Corn – LOTS of corn – this ripples down into our food supply in terms of many products too – chips, cornstarch, feed for animals, HFCS, corn oil, and many others

Sweetcorn – yes – unfortunately, that kind too.

Soy – this applies to every product from hydrolyzed vegetable protein to tofu to soymilk, some types of baby formula, etc.

Canola oil – did you know that Canola is a GMO ?

Sugar – more than half of the sugar sold in the US comes from sugar beets, and 95% of that is from GMO beets.   Soon we will also have sugar from Roundup Ready beets – another GMO sugar beet variant.  Unless your bag of sugar says 100% organic or 100% cane sugar, it almost certainly contains sugar from GMO sources.

The list also includes certain varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, rice, much of the Hawaiian grown papaya, and peas.

Other than dairy products that come from cows receiving some form of bovine growth hormone (don’t forget ice cream – most of the ice cream is made from dairy products from cows that receive bovine growth hormone), there are not currently gmo animal products approved for sale in the US.   This refers to animals who’s genetic material or dna have been directly modified – you still may be purchasing animal products from animals who were fed and/or raised on GMO crops such as corn.

The previous post looked at  what GMO products are, and how they are made.
In this post we’ve looked at some of the GMO food products that are sold in the US – and that you are probably already consuming.
Be sure to read the next post where some of the specific concerns about the long term effects of consuming GMO products are reviewed – and how you can minimize your exposure to products containing ingredients from GMO sources.


Have questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you – use the form below to contact me.

What is GMO food and should you care?

GMO stands for genetically modified organism.  Simply put, these are organisms that have had their genetic material (dna) modified or altered through some form of genetic engineering.

Three important things to understand about the term GMO:

  1. There are various methods that can be used to accomplish this.
  2. The alteration can be done using material from the same or a different species than the one being modified.
  3. GMO is perhaps most concerning when food items are modified.

According to Wikipedia, most genetically modified plants are generated by the use of a particle gun to inject foreign material into the dna of the plant being modified or through a transferal technique using bacteria to inject new material into the plant being modified.  Either way, the resulting dna is something new that has not been seen in nature.

Genetic modification can be made using material from the same species, or from a different species altogether.  When it is from a different species, it is called a transgenic modification.  One example of this is a tomato that was developed (but never commercially marketed) using fish genes.

My biggest concern is that as of October 2012 in the US, there is still no requirement that GMO food products be labeled, and there is no labeling requirement for food products that contain GMO ingredients.  The argument made by the promoters and marketers of GMO products that there is no difference and so things do not need to be labeled.  Consumers should have the right to know which products are GMO so that they can make their own judgment and informed purchasing decisions on the food and food products they eat.  It is interesting to note that there are mandatory labeling requirements in place for GMO products or ingredients in Europe.


Be sure to read the next post about GMO products currently (October 2012) in the US food supply that you are probably already consuming.


Questions – comments?  Use the form below to contact me – I’d love to hear from you.

How to make your coffee even healthier

Yes – even healthier!   Our previous post talked about some of the health benefits of coffee.  This post contains tips for making that next cup of coffee even healthier and things you can do to maximize the healthy benefits that coffee can bring to a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s start with the coffee itself – with the methods used for it’s growth and production.  If at all possible, try to go with organic coffee.  While coffee growers may not be the worst offenders in terms of herbicides and pesticides, you still want to avoid these toxins whenever possible.

Always try to get whole bean and grind your own coffee.  Coffee is a complex beverage; the flavor comes from hundreds of volatile compounds and oils found in roasted coffee beans.  Because of the volatile nature of these compounds, they can begin to dissipate quickly once the beans are ground and exposed to air.  It is these compounds that also contribute to the antioxidant qualities of coffee.  Best to grind right before brewing.

Consume shortly after brewing, or carafe quickly once done.  I prefer a method where the coffee is brewed directly in to a thermal carafe.  Many oils and volatile compounds are released from the grounds as the coffee is brewed.  These begin to evaporate or dissipate immediately after brewing.  To minimize this, avoid leaving an open pot or carafe sitting on a burner or warmer for extended periods after brewing.  Coffee that continues to heat or cook after brewing will undergo changes in both the taste and the antioxidant properties.

Use real cream or half and half or milk (organic of course) if you cream your coffee.
Avoid the non-dairy coffee creamers; read the labels and you’ll see a list of things you probably wouldn’t want to ingest on their own – why put them in your coffee.  Choose between milk or cream depending upon your diet and your goals for fat intake.

Finally, if you do need to sweeten your coffee, try stevia or a natural sweetener, or a small amount of sugar (preferably organic).  Avoid the artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame to avoid the toxin issues associated with artificial sweeteners.

Questions or comments – let me know; I’d love to hear from you.


Have some coffee and boost your health!

Go ahead and enjoy some coffee today!

I’ve been meaning to post about coffee for some time now since it is something I enjoy and drink regularly.  While traveling in Kenya recently, I was able to enjoy many cups of excellent coffee.   So while it’s fresh on my mind, lets look at why you should go ahead and enjoy that cup of coffee and a few suggestions on how to help make it a bit healthier.


It may comes as a relief to some people that coffee can actually be a healthy drink.  Coffee is naturally full of antioxidants, and several studies have recently been released pointing out natural benefits and protection that comes from these antioxidants.  In addition, some studies point to some unique protective effects coffee seems to have on various parts or systems in our body.


According to recent studies, including those cited by a recent Life Extension Magazine article, these protective effects cover many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.  Other recent studies cited by many media outlets including ABC News also link consumption of 3 or more cups of coffee a day to increased protection from the most common type of skin cancer.  It is interesting to note that the key in this particular study seems to be the caffeine, as drinkers of decaf did not seem to get the same protective benefit.


Coming up – tips for making that next cup of coffee even healthier; things you can do to maximize the healthy benefits that coffee can bring to a healthy lifestyle.





How about grilling a healthy … burger?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

When someone mentions healthy foods or foods that are good for you  – a burger is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, there is a way to make a healthier burger and to add healthy garnishes and condiments to make it even more nutritious.
Here at some changes you could make to boost it’s nutrition and avoid some of its unhealthier aspects .

Let’s start with the burger itself – if you make it out of organically raised grass fed or pasture raised beef – that makes it better. You will avoid the hormones and antibiotics by going organic and get the benefit of healthier beef from a cow raised on the food they were designed to eat – grass.

If you make it from bison instead of beef – even better. Bison are free-range animals, and are raised without hormones and antibiotics. In addition, bison is a healthier red meat that doesn’t have the same amount of fat as beef.  Bison (buffalo) is even recommended for heart health by the American Heart Association because it is very low in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

A whole grain bun is better than a white bun – whole grain breads are always healthier than those made with white flour – even better if it’s organic. You could always skip the bun altogether and enjoy the burger with some healthy toppings.

Organic condiments like ketchup can help avoid more toxins – and of course, look for ketchup made with sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup.

For an added boost, consider adding some sprouts and avocado (organic of course).
You get some satisfying healthy fats from the avocado (which will help leave your hunger satisfied), and an added vitamin and enzyme boost from the sprouts.

Remember – you don’t have to do these all at once if it seems overwhelming. Take these steps one by one and transform your diet into a healthier one one little step at a time. After you make one change, move on to the next.


Questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you – leave a reply in the box below.

What’s holding you back?

So you’ve decided that you have some fitness goals, or want a healthier lifestyle, or want to lose weight, or want to get into shape and have your body look a certain way, or be able to run a 5k or 5 miles …  what’s holding you back?   It might just be you.

To often people sabotage their own success before they even start something.
Today – now – you have to eliminate negativity from your mind and from your psyche.   It’s very easy to look around and blame your friends, your spouse, your co-workers, your frame, your body type, genetics, the snack food in the vending machine, the fast food restaurants, your busy schedule or any of those things around you – the list could go on and on – seemingly endless.
You could also sabotage yourself mentally and emotionally thinking about past times when you’ve been discouraged or not reached a goal –  or about diets that you’ve been on in the past (remember – diets don’t work – change in lifestyle does).

You don’t have the luxury of thinking this way.

Where you are today is the result of all of the thoughts and actions you’ve taken in the past.  Remember, that is the past and what you want to focus on is NOW.

As long as you are living and breathing, it is not too late to make a change.

Yesterday is gone, and you don’t have tomorrow yet – but you do have today – you have this moment right now.   This is the time to decide who you want to be, what kind of shape you want to be in, what kind of lifestyle you want to have, what state you want your health to be in.


  1. Decide on your goal.  You may want to work with a coach or mentor if you’re not sure what your goal should be – but once you decide on it – right it down and keep it in front of you – literally.  You need to constantly remind yourself of where you are headed and what you want for yourself.  This is best done once you decide and commit it to paper.   Even better is to have a coach or mentor that helps keep you on track.  As a part of this, you have to decide what is most important to you.  Once you understand your goal, you can start to measure the things you eat and how you spend your time against that goals.  Some things will stack up, other things you will have to give up.   It won’t seem like much of a loss as long as you keep your goal in mind and before you.
  2. Don’t be discouraged that it will take some time and effort to reach your goals.  You didn’t get to where you are today overnight, and you won’t reach your goals overnight either.  You’re in this for the long term and you have to keep your long-term goals in mind.   The one exception to the overnight thing is that it’s not a bad idea to have some mini-goals that you can check off as successes along the way.  Decide to skip candy for a day, or dessert for a week, or to exercise every day for a month.  Checking off these short-term successes can be a great encouragement toward reaching a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Place reminders of your goal around you.  This might be a post-it note on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror – or maybe on the background/desktop of your computer.  These reminders help keep you on track and help keep you from getting of track.  Just like you wouldn’t head East if you wanted to go West, you need reminders of where you’re headed.  Snacks, cookies, cakes, and lying on the couch snacking and watching TV every night are probably not going to help you attain a goal of a healthy lifestyle.  That doesn’t mean you can never eat a cookie or watch a TV show – but it should help you weigh out what’s important and whether your actions are moving you in the right direction.
  4. Change what you need to change to help you reach your goal. If you want to lose weight, don’t go into the donut shop.  If you want to get more physically fit, stop lying on the couch all night every night.  If you want to quit eating junk food, stop buying it and having it in the house.  If you have healthy foods around you – you will eat healthier things.  If you regularly spend some time exercising, you will get more physically fit.  If you get good regular sleep, you will be more rested and an overall healthier person.  Incorporate the good things you want into your lifestyle and remove those negative things that got you to a place where you don’t want to be.  Remember that if you want a different outcome, some things will need to change.
  5. Forget the past.  Its gone and over and you can’t go back and change anything about it.  You have today and the decisions you make right now will move you toward or away from your goal.  Want to lose weight – you will need to change some of the things you’ve done in the past – probably both diet and exercise (see the posts on which is more important).  Want to be able to perform better athletically – you are going to have to find some ways to exercise to help you reach your goal.  Any goal worth having is worth the work to get there.   If you don’t change anything then you won’t change either – that’s what got you to where you are today.

Finally, try to surround yourself with people to can encourage you toward your goal and with things and reminders that will help you get there.  The notes and reminders in your daily planner, and on your screen, mirror and refrigerator are all helpful.  People around you that encourage you toward your goal are even more helpful.   You should create an environment around yourself that helps drive you toward your goal.  It’s your life, and you can have a healthy lifestyle if you



Juice or Juicing

There is a difference.

On the one hand, by juice I’m referring to the jars or cartons of grocery store juice; this stuff is usually clear, filtered, strained and sweetened – often with some added preservatives and flavors as well.  On the other hand, by juicing I’m referring to taking whole foods and using a Vitamix (my recommendation) or other powerful blender to make juice from whole foods.  Just to be clear – I’m referring to juice that still hs the pulp or fiber from the whole food included – not strained, filtered, or extracted juice.  Here are a few of the differences between the two and reasons you should be using a Vitamix.


Juice in a jar has been made, distributed, bottled, stored, distributed yet again and then purchased from your store before finally reaching your home.  In extreme cases – for example in the case of orange juice –  the juice may have been stored a year or more before being “enhanced” and packaged and sent to your grocer.
There is no juice fresher than that consumed right after you make it.



Clear juice in a jar or bottle has been strained and filtered to the point where virtually all of the fiber has been removed.  When you make your own juice from whole foods, they still retain all of the benefit that they did before being made into juice.  While it’s true that the fruit won’t crunch in your mouth like it did before being juiced in your Vitamix, you’ll still be ingesting all of the fiber and nutrition – just in pulverized form.



Fresh juice (namely juice made at home with a Vitamix) tends to have a higher antioxidant, enzyme and phytonutrient count as a result of being freshly juiced, and not strained, filtered, and pasteurized. In addition, many juices and especially juice drinks that are labeled as 100% juice or 100% natural contain additional apple or grape juice or juice concentrates as sweeteners.  Stick with fresh made juice – for the freshest and most nutrition, make your own.


Juice can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but you’re best off when it’s your own fresh made juice.  This way you control the ingredients, can certain of what is and isn’t in the juice, can avoid unnecessary sugar or artificial sweeteners, and can customize the juice to your tastes.   I recommend always including some vegetables in your fruit juice for balance and nutrition.





Five foods you should start eating now

So many websites focus on what NOT to eat, or what to stop eating.    We have that mental list of things that we’ve heard aren’t good for you, and those things we know aren’t good for you.   This is the first in a series on foods you really should eat regularly – that should be part of your healthy lifestyle.  I’ll go into more detail on each one of these in other posts.

Almonds are a great source of good fats (yes, you do need fat in your diet).  They also have protein, are a good source of magnesium, vitamin E, and calcium.  Have a handful or two a day (roughly 2 ounces) if you feel hunger coming on or the need for a snack.   By all means skip the salted and smoked almonds though.  For the maximum benefit, stick with raw, unsalted almonds.  Also think about almond butter as a healthy alternative to peanut butter.

Apples are beneficial in so many ways!
Here are a few reasons you should try to eat one or two apples every day.
Apples are a good source of fiber, and the fiber in apples has been shown to act as a natural statin.  They are also low calorie; at 100 calories or less for a typical apple, an apple is a great substitute for other sweet snacks.
Be sure to check out the post on an apple or two a day for more detail.

Blackberries are a great source of antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals, and are a great topping on a number of foods, or enjoyed whole as a healthy snack.  Throughout the summer months, fresh local blackberries are usually not that expensive either.  Consider them as a topping to your cereal, oatmeal, or throw  a handful in your smoothie.   Frozen blackberries make a great snack and also work really well in a smoothie – especially if you have a powerful blender or a Vitamix.

Blueberries are another powerhouse; they pack an amazing amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients.  They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals like manganese.   Like blackberries, blueberries are great fresh or frozen, and are a nice addition to a healthy smoothie.  By all means try to obtain organic blueberries if possible since blueberries are especially prone to pesticide contamination.

Chia seeds are an amazing food and have been used for their nutritional benefit for centuries –  long before they became a fad or used on “pets” sold during the holidays!  Chia seeds are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and a number of other minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus.   Easily incorporated into your diet by sprinkling on salad, cereal, yogurt, or stirred into juices and drinks.

Questions, comments, or want to find out more?   Leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

What’s the deal with sprouts?

If you’re not already familiar with them, sprouts can seem pretty weird!  This post will give you some basic info on sprouts, why they’re good for you, how to eat them.

Sprouts are basically just seeds that have been sprouted (allowed to start the process of growing), and usually also given a chance to “green up” a bit to develop a bit of the chlorophyll.  There are many different kinds of sprouts, though most people are probably familiar with or have seen alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts.  Both are popular on salad bars, and you’ll often find bean sprouts in various Chinese or Thai meals.

Sprouts are good for you for several reasons:

They’re raw.    Raw foods contain enzymes that are not found in cooked foods.  When foods are cooked (above 117 degrees for three minutes or more) many changes occur – including the destruction of enzymes that are good for your health.   Sprouts are an easy and delicious way add raw food and get these enzymes back into your diet.

They’re packed with nutrients.   The process of a seed sprouting actually increases the vitamin and mineral content when it sprouts.   This is an easy and natural way to get nutrients in a natural and very digestible manner.

Talk about natural!  Sprouts require no fertilizer, pesticides, or anything other than water.  Best of all, if you buy organic sprouts or start with organic seeds, you know that you’re not ingesting any unwanted pesticides or chemicals – only the natural nutrients provided by the process of sprouting.

Sprouts are delicious!  Depending on the type of sprout, sprouts can have little flavor, be very subtle, or even rather bold tasting.  Some sprouts are nutty or spicy tasting.  I recommend that most people start with alfalfa sprouts.   They’re mild tasting, easy to buy already sprouted in most grocery stores, and easy to grow at home.  They also have a mild taste, so it’s an easy addition to many foods.   From there – experiment!  You’ll find that there are a variety of readily available sprouts, and many options if you grow your own.

Sprouts can be incorporated into your diet in so many ways!   Here are three ways you can try (but don’t stop here – try your own combinations).

  1. Add them as a topping to your salad.   This is a pretty easy way to add sprouts to your diet, as you can add them to your salad without changing the flavor much, and you can even begin to do this if you eat out at a salad bar
  2. Add them as a topping on a sandwich.  Sprouts can add a healthy snap to your sandwich both in terms of taste and texture.  Add a forkful or two of sprouts to your next sandwich for an easy nutritional boost.
  3. Add them to your juice.  Juice should already be a regular part of your healthy lifestyle.   Toss a forkful or two of sprouts into your blender or Vitamix the next time you make juice to get the added nutritional benefit.   With a good blender or even better – a Vitamix, the sprouts will be incorporated into the juice without leaving any chunks, bits, or anything stringy.


Have a question or something to say about this post?  Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.