The Myth of Moderate Exercise: It Isn’t Enough


 Parkside Fitness Centre

The Myth of Moderate Exercise

By Carol Crenna 

The accepted advice of getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week isn’t enough to spur any real change in your body weight or shape.

Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that if you want to see real results, you need a lot more, and if you’ve got over 20 pounds to lose, exercising at least an hour at a time is required. 


The same study from the University of Pittsburgh following 200 overweight women for two years found that those who lost and kept off 10 per cent of their weight were exercising twice as long as the others, and the biggest losers were active 68 minutes a day, five days a week (about 55 minutes a day more than before the trial began), burning an extra 1,848 calories a week. 

toronto-hotel-fitness-centre-topMOTIVATION TO MOVE. 

Most of us know that physical activity makes us healthy and youthful, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. But knowing the benefits doesn’t get us moving.


First, we’re deluding ourselves. Many people over-estimate their activity level, or still think they do what they did a couple of years ago.

Look in the mirror to update your self-image and determine how much exercise you are actually doing now, considering life and work changes. When you say that you’re active, compared to whom exactly? At your last workout, could you not have pushed yourself an extra 10 minutes? 


If you’re feeling apathetic about dragging yourself to the gym or playing with your kids outside, force yourself to do it. It’s called “loving discipline,” and is no different than teaching your child why they can’t watch TV when they have homework to finish, or to get to bed on time.

You don’t want to have to deal with a crying or angry child, so why do you insist on it? You do because you love them, and know that this consistent, caring discipline creates guidelines which become habits for life.

You need to give yourself the same loving discipline for the rest of your life. 


Like all other animals, we are prone to conserve energy at all costs for survival. But we don’t have to run from predators or catch food anymore so we don’t use that conserved energy.

The human body, which hasn’t changed in 100,000 years, was made to work. That’s why we have to push ourselves to go through the pain of exercise to reach our goals, and ignore the laziness instinct. 

fitnesscentre491x284LIGHT A FIRE UNDER YOUR BUTT. 

Jump-start your body in the morning by exercising instead of drinking coffee, which will energize you for the entire day. Don’t call it exercise; call it your “new favourite activity.” Commit to an activity that you like to make working out a treat.

Consider only allowing yourself to read a “junk food magazine” (celebrity gossip or fashion) when you’re at the gym. Go for a speed walk in a wealthy neighborhood so you feel like it’s something special.

If you have worked out four times in a week, give yourself a healthy treat, like strawberries in December. 


Write exercise goals into your daily planner. You’re far more likely to complete them if you write them into your schedule four to five days a week. Once they’re down, that important appointment time can’t be canceled.  

skiing 3MAKE IT FUN.

Create special days of the week like Dancin’-in-the-Street Day – find a new music artist that you like each month and listen to it on your run, or Evil Elevator Day – only take stairs, no elevators, where ever you go.

There is always one hour per day that you can replace what you do (like watching reruns on TV or coming back empty-handed after shopping) with exercise.

Use a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone approach to fitness: Get off of the bus a few stops earlier or park a kilometre away from your destination and walk; take a yoga class with a friend instead of having a coffee visit; and walk your kids to and from school each day. 


What do you do well? Play an instrument? Cook? How good were you when you first started? Didn’t you envision yourself being better at it, and keep trying until you learned how?

Consider your job. How did you get there? Why didn’t you keep doing your first job forever? Didn’t you set a goal and see yourself being successful in a better job? 

A successful athlete’s daily choices about how to spend their lunch hour, whether to have a second drink at the bar or go home to get a good night’s sleep, or whether they chat on the phone for an hour instead of going to the gym all add up. They don’t hope that things will change; they stay focused until it does. 


It’s estimated that 75 per cent of weight gain happens from November to February, and holidays aren’t the only culprit. Lack of sunlight makes your body produce less of certain brain chemicals including mood-boosting serotonin. 

Don’t let bad weather be your excuse to cocoon; instead take your outdoor workout indoors to a gym, climbing facility, pool or dance studio. Or better yet, learn to love the outdoors no matter what the weather forecast brings.





Conscious Cooking: A Chef’s Holistic, Healthy Ideals


Conscious Cooking: A Chef’s Holistic, Healthy Ideals

By Carol Crenna        

Global chef and nutritionist Francois de Jong has interesting views about preparing and eating food.

Francois has had a remarkably varied career: living in Hong Kong, he opened that city’s first organic vegetarian restaurant; living in the Bahamas, he was a chef for the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movies; he was chef at a Relais and Chateaux French restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut; and he worked with acclaimed Canadian chef Michael Noble, and assisted Noble in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Cuisine Competition in Lyon, France.

Francois now works in Nanaimo, BC as Food Programs Coordinator for Foodshare Society, which educates the community on sustainable, local food. It offers youth agriculture training, classes about preparing nutritious meals and how to connect to local farmers, and teaches the importance of food security and locally grown products.


CAROL: Organic vegetarian food means a lot to you. 

Francois: I approach being a chef in a holistic manner, not only knowing how to cook, but knowing where the food comes from: how it’s grown, shipped, marketed, prepared, served, eaten. I feel there is a direct relationship between every aspect from the lady bug on the plant to the potter who made the bowl you eat from to the nourishment it gives your body.

I’ve become very interested in leading an “integral” life, following Ken Wilber’s writings. He put forth the idea of “four quadrant living” with a conscious respect for all things.

They include physical, (which is nourished by our thoughts and the food we eat), the exterior collective (that provides everything including the food), the interior collective, (values and world views), and the interior individual (where our thoughts manifest from and are turned into action).

When you consciously layer all quadrants in every part of life: family, friends, a spiritual practice, community, the environment, and care of the body, you have a full life on all levels. This approach gives me a clear view of how everything is connected.

By being conscious of this, I will not only improve my individual health of mind, body and soul, but I am confident that I can also play a role in changing views of all that I am in contact with by leading and modeling an integral life.

CAROL: How do you do this as a conscious chef?

Francois: By circumventing agricultural technologies, modern food processing practices and the fast food culture, and embracing the simplicity of the past. I’m learning about natural farming in a time when there was a direct connection between people, their land, their spirituality and their food.

CAROL: How did you apply this when you opened a restaurant (both in Hong Kong and in BC, Canada)?

Francois: It compelled me to take a closer look at relationships: I considered not only the food but everyone connected to it. How about the cook orchestrating the meal? Has she been working a 13-hour shift in a heated kitchen and under extreme pressure, or does she have the time to consciously put her love and energy into creating the food?

I considered how I managed staff, and instigated an equal profit sharing program so that when I got a bonus, because costs decreased and more customers came, everyone benefited. The extra income allowed staff to take courses or help their families to improve their lives.

Continuing down the staff line, the server is just as important; their dialogue can inform, enlighten and set the customer’s mood.

Then there’s the consumer. Have they physically, mentally and spiritually prepared themselves for the nourishment? Eating on the run may fill our bellies, but is it enough to fill our souls? Digestion and absorption aren’t words that we often associate with a social dining experience, yet they are keys to feeling truly satisfied by a meal.

johnny-depp-pirates-of-the-caribbean2CAROL: What was it like working on Pirates of the Caribbean?

Francois: Disney built a massive tank for the set, cutting a square section of the island out where the shoreline used to be, so they could have more control over the ships for filming (although many of the actors have still got seasick while on board). We were stationed nearby on land on a set much larger than most, with 550 cast and crew. The boat where Johnny Depp lived was moored just below me.

Filming took a year on one of the largest productions ever made. At one point, we hadn’t had a day off in almost three weeks, and I was working 18 to 20 hours a day because the kitchen staff had to feed two units filming day and night. We served dinners as late as 10:00 p.m. and breakfasts as early as 3:00 a.m.

It was inspiring, though, since everyone was away from home, excited to be working on the project, and were so appreciative of the food, which was important to keep them going.

CAROL: Were the stars of the movie healthy eaters?

lgfp1785Francois: Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley ate with everyone else. I made Orlando brown rice every day, on his request, and Keira was usually at the salad bar or eating lots of vegetables.

Although it was not like working in a five star restaurant, the quality of the food was very high. Everything had to be imported. We offered a full gourmet buffet with organic chicken, organic eggs, wild fish, quality meat and vegetarian entrées every day. There was a full salad bar with every type of fruit and vegetable imaginable. But since people also craved it, there were lots of white flour baking, desserts and processed packaged foods, too. They made the choice how healthy they ate.

CAROL: You have worked at several fine dining restaurants. Do you consider the food really healthy?

Francois: They offer the highest quality ingredients you can buy, but choosing how healthily they are prepared is almost completely up to the customer. It’s about gaining the knowledge to become mindful about what you put into your body, and making an effort to know what is in the menu item before ordering. Asking for sauces on the side or having fish poached instead of fried are easy.

I loved it at restaurants when there was a special request because I got a chance to show my skill and flexibility; I enjoyed the challenge, and often the customer was more appreciative.

life_building1_0CAROL: What was it like to open the first organic restaurant in Hong Kong (called Life Café)?

Francois: Organics is a very new concept there. I interacted with customers for feedback and also visited the farmers and importers to explain what I needed, having the opportunity to learn the entire cycle of a product. But we were starting from scratch so it was very difficult.

It’s one thing to open a restaurant, but having to source farmers and importers for every ingredient, and for them to understand the quantities we would need, was a real challenge. And I don’t speak Cantonese, Mandarin or Nepalese (the nationality of most of the staff).

I had to find the time, since I was involved in every aspect including kitchen design, hiring, training and managing staff, creating all vegetarian and vegan recipes and menus, food costing, and, of course, cooking.

CAROL: Were you successful?

Francois: We managed to make the restaurant completely organic, though farmers had only been selling organics for home deliveries before that. We found organic blue corn and ground it ourselves to make polenta; we found people in rural China who picked wild mushrooms, and found wild honey.

We used spelt flour and quinoa since the restaurant was almost entirely wheat-free, and had a variety of organic beans for vegan dishes.

It really took off, and another vegetarian organic restaurant opened within a year, run entirely by Buddhists who volunteered as a service to their faith. By year end, we had the restaurant, deli, retail products and special event catering.

We marketed the concept very differently there than in the West. In Hong Kong, people are most concerned that they are buying the best that they can get, whether it’s designer clothes or a top of the line car. We educated them by saying that this food is the premium product, and this was so because it is organic, rather than selling the healthy organic aspect.

The customers came in understanding what they wanted and why they had chosen to come there. They wanted to discuss the wheat-free and sugar-free items, and what was and wasn’t working for their bodies.



Article written by Carol Crenna originally featured in VISTA Magazine

HEADED FOR A DRUG BUST: Are drugs keeping us sick?

Drugs (


By Carol Crenna

Bill Maher, social and political commentator and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher quips, “If you believe you need to take all the pills the pharmaceutical industry says you do then you’re already on drugs.”

If we don’t address the actual cause of our health problems, rather than using a bandage approach to symptoms, then we won’t find a solution to illness or to our rising healthcare crisis. As Maher states, we won’t stop being sick until we stop making ourselves sick.


Maher feels that because there is no money in healthy people or in dead people, pharmaceutical companies, and the government policies that support them, focus on people in the middle. He refers to those who have one or more chronic condition that makes them reliant (or so it would seem) on prescription drugs.

As a result, medical researchers have mainstreamed formerly rare diseases, and may even “come up with the pill before they come up with the disease.”

We the public are ultimately responsible, of course. According to Julian Whitaker, MD, Whitaker Wellness Institute, California, the primary reason that our medical system is out of control is because we believe everything that doctors say. We take their advice without questioning.


“If you take at face value what another person says simply because he is wearing a white coat, then you are being neither responsible nor reasonable, and you must share in the responsibility when things go wrong,” Whitaker writes in his monthly newsletter Health & Healing. Doctors aren’t rescuers; in fact, they are often just as tired, impatient, distracted, unconscious and even unsure as other people.

He stresses that you must do research about the benefits and drawbacks of drug treatments to make informed decisions. Consider whether a drug really is the best option for you, or whether you should get a second opinion.


 Caring for people with chronic, often preventable, conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure accounts for 75 per cent of medical spending. Given the huge human and financial cost of chronic diseases, trying to avoid them through preventative health seems obvious.

But,  like, Senator Tom Harkin states in Newsweek Magazine, “We don’t have a healthcare system; we have a ‘sick care’ system. The current system is about patching things up after the fact. We spend untold hundreds of billions on pills, surgery and hospitalization, but spend peanuts, 3 per cent of healthcare dollars, for prevention.”  


Comedian Maher points out that drug advertising always makes the initial disclaimer, “When diet and exercise fail…,” but diet and exercise don’t fail. It’s proven by studies like the one from Duke University, for example, revealing that exercise is just as effective for depression as Paxil and Zoloft. Maher continues, “So ask your doctor if getting off of your butt is right for you.”


In the book Ethics, the Medical Profession and the Pharmaceutical Industry, Howard Brody, MD, lays out the facts to determine whether the medical-pharmaceutical relationship is an ethical one.

He says that small pharmaceutical companies in the late 19th century, formerly called “ethical” drug makers, and unscrupulous large “patent-medicine peddlers” gradually became aligned and dependent on each other.

Half a century later, they courted medical researchers and doctors. They found those doctors that were willing to promote drug-based approaches for patients rather than more naturopathic ones at that time, and funded them. According to Dr. Brody, these connections have continued to grow, evident in lucrative contracts that fuel medical research, generous financing of postgraduate medical education, and subtle manipulation of research data.

They’re revealed in logo-ed promotional trinkets in doctors’ offices and “Ask your doctor…” television ads. Brody also questions the close relationship that the FDA has with physicians.


These relationships keep your doctor’s prescription pad full – but also give us life-saving drugs. Medicines are vital and we owe much to their powerful benefits, but it’s that power that should be respected, not abused. Drugs are drugs, whether they are alcohol, prescriptions or cocaine; they have detrimental, addictive, sometimes dangerous side effects.

One study shows that for every dollar spent on prescription drugs, $1.30 is spent taking care of their side effects.

Supplements (


Brody’s book offers ample data showing that patients’ interests aren’t always being served; the industry pays for expensive drugs when cheaper would do, and it risks offering questionable drugs brought to market too soon by manufacturers.


“Research that is driven by marketing rather than scientific aims would seem, in the end, to be low-quality research,” Dr. Brody comments about the Vioxx scandal. “A profession is not just a way of making money; it’s a form of public trust. …Medicine has for many decades been betraying this public trust.”

Dr. Brody says prying medicine and the pharmaceutical industry apart will probably take an act of government, but will this happen?

In the end, it’s not just about prevention or early detection of disease, it’s about getting people to consider that maybe the answer won’t be in the form of another pill. It is in having the courage, patience, self-love and inner trust to get to the root cause of illness, and then to take action with that knowledge in the best way for the body.


  • Youtube, Bill Maher, Real Time with Bill Maher “Pharmaceutical Rant”
  • “The State of America’s Health as Obama Takes Office” US News World, January 2, 2009
  • Newsweek Magazine, Dec 26, 2008, Ending the ‘Sick Care’ System,  Sen. Tom Harkin
  • Julian Whitaker, MD, monthly newsletter HEALTH & HEALING,
  • Your Definite Guide to Wellness Medicine Ethics, the Medical Profession and the Pharmaceutical Industry, Howard Brody, MD, 2008

Your Trusted Toiletries May Be Killing You


 Your Trusted Toiletries May Be Killing You

By Carol Crenna


If you run out of your trusted toiletries, you can always use the antifreeze in your car. In fact, if you’ve ever used hair spray, hand lotion, deodorant or liquid foundation makeup, you have already used it – with the ingredient propylene glycol.

This chemical, linked to health problems including kidney and liver abnormalities, changes to the brain and cell damage, is also used for brake fluid and antifreeze. 

You probably know that Health Canada regulations now require manufacturers to list ingredients on packaging (as of 2007). The labeling is designed to help shoppers make informed choices about everything from perfume and nail polish to toothpaste and shaving cream.


If you haven’t studied chemistry, you may be baffled. 

Learn to identify dangers in products you now take for granted: 


Your hand moisturizer may be poisoning you with PETROLATUM, linked to cancer; POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE, highly irritating and causing internal bleeding if ingested; and PHENOL CARBONIC ACID, which can induce vomiting and circulation problems if ingested in tiny amounts.

Even if you don’t accidentally eat it (perhaps while putting food in your mouth right after applying the moisturizer), it goes onto your skin, a highly absorbent organ directly linked to other organs. 

189883_7260LETHAL LATHER

The common ingredients in shampoo and body wash, SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE or SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE, damage skin, may increase cataracts, and are mutagens capable of changing the genetic code within cells. 

Chemicals including sodium lauryl sulfate (a close relative to what’s used in spry-on oven cleaners) become more carcinogenic when contaminated with other chemical ingredients such as T.E.A. (Judi Vance, Beauty to Die For)


In your beloved berry lipstick (which you end up eating), the common colourant FD&C Red #3, along with at least four other red dyes, has been found to mimic estrogen in human molecules and damage breast cells.


Even The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick states that claims for anti-wrinkle creams are “rubbish,” and recommends spending your money on a good bottle of pinot noir instead. 

Chemicals including ALPHA-HYDROXY ACID, RETINOIDS and HYALURONIC ACID may accelerate rather than prevent aging. GLYCERIN used in anti-aging moisturizers actually draws out moisture from the skin so it sits on the surface, which may dry it from the inside. And ISOPROPYL MYRISTATE is said to clog pores and has carcinogenic effects. (Judi Vance, Cosmetic Health Report) 


“People will be surprised what’s in their cosmetics. Many ingredients are quite harmful to our health over long-term use. We’re looking at health risks like carcinogens, mutagens and reproductive toxins,” said Madeleine Bird of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Canada on CBC News. 

“We should avoid using perfumes, nail polishes and dark hair dyes — products of most concern,” she concluded. Keep in mind that perfume is in almost every grooming product you own.


Health Canada estimates that 10,000 cosmetic products are available in Canada. Some may not pose serious health dangers but may cause irritation.


In hair dye, for example, PARA-PHENYLENEDIAMINE (PPD) triggers allergic reactions. Eczema may show up on the face or hairline, and in severe cases, face swelling leads to painful bruising that requires hospitalization.

More than two-thirds of hair dyes contain PPD or related chemicals. Studies on men who use hair dye showed almost double the risk of bone cancer, and on women showed a much higher risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (Living Healthy in a Toxic World by David Steinman)


About 5 per cent of adults suffer noticeable reactions to chemicals, experiencing rashes, hair loss and breathing problems. (A recent trip to a massage therapist’s office resulted in a highly itchy, swelling rash all over my neck and shoulders from the cream used, and no ingredients were listed on the bottle.)

But, even if you don’t see evidence that it isn’t good for you, as Bird stated, “The concern is that we use many cosmetics in many ways on our bodies every day for many years,” and it’s cumulative. 

The Canadian Cancer Society is urging the government to introduce stricter regulations, including warning labels for substances that may cause cancer. 


I’m not suggesting that you forgo daily hygiene, dying your hair, or donning makeup, but you can be more conscious of what’s necessary and what’s not, and of products that contain fewer chemicals. 

Consider not using facial toners, for example, which contain numerous chemicals and simply dry out and irritate the skin, and talcum powder, since studies show it may cause ovarian cancer. And keep in mind that a 7-ounce tube of conventional fluoride toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.

Look for products that don’t include synthetic fragrance and use essential oils instead. These use lecithin to replace petroleum ingredients, and botanicals (plant colourants) to replace chemically-created colours.


Remember that not long ago washing your hair meant grabbing a bar of soap and water ─ try the latest all-natural shampoo bars that last far longer than a bottle of shampoo, have no chemical ingredients, are better for the environment (available at health stores). 


Slowly combing your fingers through it makes hair shine from natural oils with no silicone-based shine-enhancers required. If you need extra support, try pure argan oil (the popular, but chemical-filled Moroccan Oil includes this, but buy the real thing from health stores) or a touch of virgin coconut oil instead. And if you want to continue dyeing hair, at least seek out those that don’t contain ammonia, paraphenylenediamine (PPD) or resorcinol, available in many hair salons. 


For your face, unrefined oils such as evening primrose and borage oil create exactly the same moisture barrier as expensive face creams when used topically, and also taste good on salad.

Others to try include seabuckthorn oil (found in capsule form at health stores) and camellia tea oil (at specialty tea stores). And, as you probably know, what you put inside your body, by eating healthful omega oils, avocados, fish, and lots of fresh vegetables, is reflected outside in supple, youthful, vibrant skin.




Recipe Slice Publishing 3


By Carol Crenna 

First we fretted over what was more important: to eat local or to eat organic, in regard to food’s nutritional value and environmental cost.  

Though it’s still debated, it was generally resolved that organically-grown local food was best. Whether or not we felt healthier or more conscientious eating it, we definitely felt smug buying it.


Now controversy brews over what’s better, local or global, after new books including Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, by James McWilliams, argues points made in earlier pro-local books like The 100-Mile Diet and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. 


Though we may have once been scolded for playing with our food, we’re now preoccupied with dissecting everything on our dinner plate.

That’s not a bad thing. Investigative journalists have opened our eyes to the dark side of why it’s possible to buy cherries in January, why once-rare treats like macadamia nuts and fresh figs are now fairly commonplace, and why chicken has become so curiously inexpensive. 

As writer Marian Scott states, these books have raised disturbing questions about the seamy underbelly of our global food system, and inspired a quest for nutritional redemption that has sent consumers scurrying to farmers’ markets.  (The Vancouver Sun, January 2, 2010)


Now with every mouthful, we consider: carbon footprint – fossil fuel used and pollution created to produce/transport it; food miles – the distance and time it took to get to our plate; nutritional value – whether there’s much left in it after depleted soil, days on a truck and destructive processing denature it, and what’s in it that we don’t want – preservative and addictive chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and GMOs.


Just when we thought local was better than international, Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong says, not necessarily. The author argues that field-grown indigenous crops imported from warmer climates are less energy intensive than hothouse produce grown locally, and the energy we use to prepare food at home equals twice as much as its transportation footprint. 

He says agonizing over food’s origins has made us lose sight of global poverty. The problem of adequately feeding billions using sustainable production methods should be a major consideration.

He asks, which is worse, using technology and GMOs to increase yields on land that’s available to grow food, or destroying more tropical rainforests and building environmentally disastrous water pipelines to feed locals? 


Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face extreme food shortages. Soaring prices in 2008 sparked riots in 30 countries, with food inflation pushing an additional 100 million people into deep poverty, on top of a billion already starving.

Two-thirds of India’s 1.1 billion people depend on farming for their income, but cultivatable land has dropped by one fifth in the past year due to dwindling water supplies, deforestation, and a changing rainy season.

China faces great shortages — Beijing bought huge tracts of arable land in Africa to grow crops for consumption back home. (AFP News, September 08, 2009) Where does that leave Africans? 

If we don’t stop getting cheap produce from China, what other options are left them? 


Eat local and focus improvement efforts on global.







GOING RAW: Is Raw Food Better?


Tomato Recipe by Slice PublishingGOING RAW

By Carol Crenna

Are you considering kicking the cooked food habit, like a growing number of North Americans?


Rejecting your grandparent’s cooking traditions is not meant to be fanaticism, but a turn away from the denatured, overly cooked fare that threatens our culture. It’s about providing the body with the nutrients it needs from whole, fresh vegetables picked from the garden, rather than trying to get them from processed pasta with limp grey veggies covered in sauce.

Raw foodists promote that it alleviates chronic health problems, improves digestion, reduces allergies, increases energy, lessens PMS and menopausal symptoms, and may heal the very ill.


Yes. And no. Some experts say it’s debatable. Cooking destroys 10 to 25 per cent of vitamins; lighter cooking results in fewer losses. For example, 100 grams of broccoli has 93 milligrams of vitamin C when raw, and 75 milligrams boiled, 71 micrograms of folic acid raw, and 50 micrograms boiled.

There are exceptions such as tomatoes which increase nutrients after cooking; and nutrients in potatoes, legumes and grains are easier absorbed after slight cooking. Research shows that cooked beans, for example, are two to 12 times more readily digested, depending on preparation, than when soaked or sprouted. Proper preparation is the key.


Sprouting, another possibility, changes nutrient amounts – sprouting dehydrated grains increases protein and vitamin content, but sprouting fresh grains decreases them. Other raw food techniques such as fermentation and pickling improve digestibility.


Only tiny amounts of minerals are lost in cooking, but are leached into water if boiled, so steaming or low-temperature stirfrying is better. (The claim that minerals are converted to an inorganic form by cooking which can’t be absorbed isn’t true. The human body has both organic minerals, like iron, and inorganic ones, like salt; and the body can use inorganic minerals, like iron from cooking pots.)

Eating some cooked foods increases mineral intake by helping you get the high volume of food you require for adequate minerals. Green vegetables are an excellent source of minerals, for example, but few are able to chew and swallow one pound of raw broccoli every day for adequate amounts. (Mountain gorillas spend 40 per cent of the day chewing.)


Raw foodists also promote that enzymes in raw food carry the “life force,” which can be transferred to the body, enhancing vitality and longevity. You only need to examine food before and after cooking to believe this.

Enzymes in raw foods, which are destroyed by cooking, are important to digestion, and raw foodists believe that lacking them forces the body to produce more of its own enzymes. There’s no question that food enzymes aid digestion — anyone taking nutritional enzyme supplements will attest to that.

Research is mixed on whether cooking demands more enzyme production by the body. Since 90 per cent of nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, digestion there relies on bile and pancreatic enzymes because most food enzymes are destroyed in the stomach prior to reaching the intestines.

But you may not get all available nutrients from foods before they’re eliminated (through your colon, I mean) without those initial food enzymes breaking food down.

Very healthy pizza from the cookbook "Slice: Health Inspired Food"

Very healthy pizza from the cookbook “Slice: Health Inspired Food”


A study confirms that people who eat salads and raw vegetables have more nutrients in their bloodstream, and increased chances of meeting recommended daily nutrient amounts.

Researchers at University of California analyzed raw vegetable intake of 9,400 women and 8,200 men. People who ate more salads and raw vegetables had higher blood levels of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene, alpha and beta carotene.


Raw food not only gives more of what we should be eating, it avoids what we shouldn’t.

While cooking destroys antinutrients so that certain foods previously toxic become edible, research shows that it can also do the opposite. There’s a direct link between acrylamide – produced in roasted, fried or baked food (especially potatoes and bread) and uterine and ovarian cancer.


The University of Maastricht found that women who consumed 40 micrograms of acrylamide a day (the same as in a small bag of chips) had double the risk of cancer than women who didn’t. Cooking also often leaves toxins undestroyed, and the result of cooking is that you eat more of that food than if it were raw. For example, there are several antinutrients in grains including phytates which deplete the body of minerals.


Raw originally, but then partly cooked — research about when ancient hunting-gathering humans started cooking varies from 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Many aboriginal tribes have cooked for millennia because conditions of living off the land (even in tropics) provided limited amounts of edible raw plants but abundant roots/tubers to get the energy they required.

And we modern hunter-gatherers may be too busy to find and eat the needed amounts of raw to fulfill requirements. What do I mean?


While you might jump at the chance to not have to cook meals, eating raw doesn’t mean less prep work. Ask any raw foodie, and they will tell you that preparing a raw meal takes just as much time as cooking one; I’m not talking about throwing together a salad, but preparing gourmet wonders like raw lasagna or raw pad Thai.


You’ll pack the most fat-fighting nutrients into the least amount of calories by eating vegetables raw. There are only 20 calories in a tomato, 10 in a cup of spinach, 15 in an 8-inch cucumber, 20 in a 4-ounce serving of green beans, 22 in 4 ounces of carrots, 18 in a cup of mushrooms, 26 in a cup of eggplant, and 15 in a 4-ounce serving of broccoli. That’s a lot of food for 140 calories!

Raw vegetables have lots of fiber and water which help to make you feel satiated (full). And they burn more calories during digestion to help you to lose weight.


You probably know that glycemic index diets promote that foods which keep blood sugar levels steady make it easier to lose weight. They are often based on broad assumptions, black-listing all high glycemic – high sugar content – foods. They also usually make little distinction between healthy ones, like carrots and fruit that are full of life-giving nutrients, and unhealthy ones like processed pasta and sugar.

What does this have to do with raw food?

These diets often don’t discuss the difference between cooked and raw foods; cooked carrots, for example, have different amounts of available fiber and enzymes so are absorbed differently than raw ones. The fiber in raw fruits and veggies makes the available glycemic amounts low because we don’t digest and absorb the sugars easily when fiber is present. It is overly cooked and/or processed foods that have highly available glycemic amounts.


If you don’t have year round access to a variety of fresh raw fruits and vegetables to get all of the nutrients that different plants provide, you may be a little malnourished. In port cities, we revel in year-round imports, but if you are struggling in midwinter to survive on local cabbage and grains, meals can become ho-hum.


No, blue-rare steak isn’t considered “raw food” by most enthusiasts. Meat-eaters say it can be an efficient way to eat: cows eat grass – a leafy green vegetable – and corn – a high protein/starch vegetable – so therefore steak is a mechanism to get raw veggies into your body. But it’s obviously a weak argument.


You have tried the all-carb diet, the all-meat diet and the all-fruit diet and they all didn’t work (especially if you did them all at the same time). Try the all-raw diet if it feels right.

My advice: Eat raw. Eat cooked.

A combination of 50 per cent raw and 50 per cent slightly cooked (without processing) provides optimum nutrients. But there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example, traditional Chinese physicians advise that if you have a cold body type (cold hands and feet, and get chills easily), eating hot foods is healthier, particularly in winter. And the elderly sometimes have a difficult time chewing and digesting raw food.

Try tossing shredded carrots and cabbage on top of stews and stirfries before serving; add sliced cucumber, spouts and tomato to a protein (fish, chicken, egg) in a sandwich; start a meal with a spinach salad, or munch on broccoli and carrots with a dip as an appetizer.


Cook vegetables only slightly so they’re still brightly coloured and crisp. Don’t cook them until they’re soft. You like things cooked soft? My response: remember that if food goes in soft, it comes out hard. But if it goes in hard, it comes out soft; healthy bowels are a top priority for vitality and disease prevention.

For more information on raw vs. cooked: see and


DOES SOCIETY MAKE YOU SICK? Cultural habits that aren’t good for you

Relax when with othersDOES SOCIETY MAKE YOU SICK?

By Carol Crenna 

“Culturogenic diseases” have nothing to do with the type of disease passed from one person to another. It refers to everyday social habits you take for granted that can make you sick.

Although we’re born as human animals, we become domesticated, packaging ourselves into a culturally acceptable form that defines how we dress, eat, function and interact. 

Many of these behaviours aren’t healthy because they aren’t natural.


Did you know that women who don’t wear bras have very low rates of breast cancer occurence? There are several studies showing that poor circulation and drainage of fluid in the breast is a factor in breast cancer.Not wearing a bra has been used to successfully relieve chronic breast pain and cysts.

I’m not suggesting you stop wearing a bra in social situations, but consider one that isn’t nearly as tight, conforming and without an underwire.

Take your bra off as soon as you get home to give your body a break. Breast massage can also help drain fluid. 


What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom and there is none nearby? You hold it until later when it’s “more convenient”. This can lead to incontinence, bladder infections, kidney stones and prostate enlargement. Make your body functions a priority.

Urine is a waste product that the body needs to quickly eliminate from its system to stay healthy. Avoid a “too full” bladder feeling, and never sit for long periods with a full bladder since this compresses it into other areas (such as the prostate, if you’re male).

And don’t avoid drinking water simply because you have to urinate a lot, since most people are chronically dehydrated. 


Some people have insecurities about bowel movements which leads you to hold in your waste until you are in a comfortable, safe environment. This often leads to constipation and contributes to diverticulitis and many other problems since the toxins back up into your system. 

When you have the urge to defecate, don’t ignore it or your body will eventually stop giving you those signals and serious, chronic challenges occur. Poor bowel function, for example, has been closely associated with colon cancer.


While antiperspirants are a lifesaver in certain situations, in many they can be eliminated or at least replaced by a natural deodorant (that covers the odour rather than stopping the perspiration).  If you try to hold in any type of toxic waste, including perspiration, you can make yourself ill.

This may be particularly important for women suffering from PMS and menopausal discomfort. It is recommended to perspire more during menopause to eliminate toxins that increase hot flashes and spontaneous sweating.

Take a daily sauna or hot water bath, and then replenish fluids. Sweating during exercise is not a substitute since it creates its own toxins that need to be released.


Having your period a century ago was a very different experience ─ women then would be allowed to rest quietly and even spend more time alone for a few days. Our culture no longer allows women to set aside quiet time while menstruating. 

The demands of your lifestyle require you to manage menstrual flow while keeping up your normal hectic pace. This is a fairly traumatic physical process for your body that you need to appreciate. 

Allow your body to recuperate. If you don’t, the result may be exaggerated PMS symptoms, vaginal yeast infections and cervical dysplasia. Try switching from tampons (which act like a stopper to hold the flow inside) to more natural unbleached pads or a menstrual cup instead.


Fashion makes us that way. Whether it’s from a flattening sport bra, form-fitting jeans or elasticized socks, the resulting constriction can cause circulation troubles that affect your lymphatic system.

This network of vessels removes fluid, toxins and debris from your tissue, carrying the material to your lymph nodes which are filters and producers of white blood cells that combat infections and diseased cells.

This is your immune system’s pathway, and interference with its routes causes fluid buildup and toxins that destroy tissue. 


Certain natural functions aren’t done in “polite” company. Not allowing yourself to pass wind in public, for example, can contribute to diverticulitis and digestion problems. 

Some gas is an important, natural part of digestion. Food travels through the intestine in segments. Gas between these segments helps to propel digesting food forward. However, excessive gas can be diet or stress related, and can be easily and naturally rectified.

If you’re in the company of others, remove yourself from the area, and if you noticeably expel gas, it’s not a sin. We all do it. Just excuse yourself, as you would a burp.

References: 1. Centre for Culturogenic Disease Control, 2. Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer

Original article by Carol Crenna in Vista Magazine