I am currently in the US for a seminar on Nutrition. On Wednesday I had the great opportunity to visit the local farmers market in Boulder, Colorado. It was amazing to see all of the fresh organic produce, and the people behind it. I only wish I was staying longer and had a kitchen so I could use all of this amazing food. Unless you have your own vegetable garden it does not get fresher than this. Yumm!
The freshness of a vegetable or a fruit also directly translates into how much nutrition it contains. For every day it’s left on the shelf it looses nutrition through oxidation. That is why eating fresh, local and organic produce is the best way to go if you want to optimize the nutritional value of your food.
Very often I think that we get stuck in a routine and we buy the same stuff at the same store as we always do. Of course, it is convenient and saves us some time. But, I would like to remind you to try and thinkmorelocal and farm fresh, rather than easy and pre packaged. Remember that everytime that youbuysomethingyouvote with your money for that producer, whether you think about it or not. And that vote weighs heavier than you might think. The food industry has to follow quickly if we as buyers decide that we do not want to buy a certain product any more. And as many times as we eat in a day, week and year – that’salotofvotes!
We are never going to “get rid of” the huge supermarkets and that is not the point. But, let’s not forget about our localheroes, trying to make a difference around the area where you live. It’s not easy for them to try and compete with the prices of the large corporations and the convenience of the huge supermarkets.
So I would like to ask you to try and supportyourlocalfarmingcommunity in any way you can. Find out about where the different markets are and when you could visit one. Are there co-ops that delivers fresh produce? A lot of small local farmers also have chickens, maybe you can get your eggs from there? Why not buy a vegetable that’s in season that you haven’t tried before? Who knows maybe that recipe will become a new staple in your kitchen? Get out of your comfort zone a little and just try.
Remember that youhavetheability to vote for fresh, local produce every time you buy food. So, vote wisely and support your local farmers and co-ops whenever you can. If for no other reason, it will simply taste better!
As we are all using computers and phones more and more frequently and we often tend to loose sight of our posture as we do, it is important to take care of our neck. When we are in a position of our head hanging forward out in front of our shoulders, it creates a lot oftension in our neck. Over time this compresses the discs in the cervical spine (neck) which can in turn irritate different nerves in that area. This is most likely no news to you, but are you being proactive and doing something about it?
Since we lean forward with our head so much of the time, it is important to lean back in the other direction too, to even things out a bit. This takes some of the pressure off the discs that are being most compressed, and helps the fluid in the discs to re-position itself. It also helps to open up some of those tight muscles in the front of the neck and upper chest area.
In this video you will see an example that is very easy to replicate at home on your own, using your bed or sofa. You could also use a foam-roller if you prefer. If so, lay down on the floor, put the foam-roller underneath you along the length of your spine and let your head hang over the edge.
Below you will learn different techniques for loosening up the area in the upper chest and front of the neck that you can do yourself. A lot of the times the reason for pain in the back of the neck can be found in the front. If I were to follow both of these videos, I would start with this one loosening up the area in the front of the neck first and then lying down on the sofa and letting my head slowly tilt backwards.
I hope you will find these tips useful.
Remember, pre-habis better than re-hab!
Why is it that tea is healthy for us? and just to be very explicit when I say tea, I mean organic loose-leaf best quality you can get your hands on tea. So, unlike us animals that have the ability to run away from danger, a plant obviously cannot. Because it is stuck in one place it has to use other means in order to protect itself from things like UV-light, bugs and things that want to eat it. This protection comes from different kinds of polyphenols which are organic chemicals that have metabolic, toxic and therapeutic properties.
Two of the most well known polyphenols in tea are called catechin and flavonoids. They are very powerful antioxidants, and have been used in many studies for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. So the plant, in this case tea, builds up a good defense mechanism for the environment where it lives so it can be strong and healthy. By drinking extracts from the tea plant (or drinking the entire leaves as in Matcha) we reap all of the benefits of the plants polyphenols. Pretty clever having the plants do all the work and we simply drink the benefits. We are for sure not the first ones to use this method to heal ourselves though, our animal friends in the wild already knows to eat certain types of plants to heal themselves from parasites or kill bacteria.
“If we can learn from animals that have used medicinal plants for millions of years, and then look at what they use it for, then we could learn interesting things,” de Roode says.
Because each plant has a unique environment, it will build up a different combination of beneficial polyphenols, from plant to plant. This is true for tea but also for all other plants. That is why, lets say an apple that came from Sweden will taste different from an apple in Spain. They will also have a different polyphenol composition, even if it is the same type of apple. For this reason, it is very important to eat as many different types of vegetables and fruits as you can, to reap all of their different benefits and healing properties, and the same goes for drinking tea. Why limit yourself?
Some of my favorite healing teas are Green Tea, Matcha, Pu’Erh, Oolong, and Yerba Mate. Here is a great overview of what’s what. Of course there are plenty of herbal teas as well that are excellent for health, such as mint, olive leaf, fennel, nettle, ginger, and chamomile just to mention a few.
On a recent trip to Taiwan I had the opportunity to sample plenty of fantastic Oolong and Pu’Erh teas. The very best Oolong teas are all made in Taiwan and can only be bought in the country, as the locals are so fond of their oolong tea that they don’t want to export their top quality ones. I also had the chance to sample some really fancy old Pu’Erh teas from as far back as 1975! But, honestly I could not really tell a huge difference between the ages. What I did notice though was that the higher quality of the Pu’Erh, the sweeter and less earthy the taste.
We tend to be creatures of habit, so I would like to invite you to explore the amazing health benefits of drinking tea, and expand your tea horizon. Think of it as preventative and healing medicine that you can use daily. The next time you are out shopping, take the time to go into a proper tea shop and ask for help with finding a new tea. Just buy a small amount, and most important find out how you should brew your tea!
So many times I have friends who tell me that they don’t like drinking green tea, yet when they have it at my place they like it. That’s because a really high quality green tea should only be steeped in 70C for about 30s-1min. A lot of people leave it in a lot longer and/or use boiling water, and this makes the tea very bitter and quite nasty to drink. Don’t do that to yourself, or the tea!
Mixing teas has been known to be even more powerful – when the different organic chemicals interact their combined powers supersedes their individual ones. William Li mentions this is in his excellent TED talk “Can we eat to starve Cancer?“. Tim Ferriss is also a fan of mixing teas and below is one of his morning versions.
Because many teas does contain caffeine (a diuretic), it is important to drink some water in between tea cups to stay well hydrated. I wish you a lot of fun in exploring the healing world of teas.
Wishing you all lots of creativitea and claritea! 😉
Tea Mind Humilitea, Possibilitea, Qualitea, Solidaritea, Abilitea, Equalitea, Individualitea, Serenitea, Insanitea, Confidentialitea, Vitalitea, Creativitea, Sportea, Claritea, Realitea, Activitea, Longevitea, Impossibilitea, Familiaritea, Humanitea, Puritea, Levitea, Longevitea, Immunitea, Digestabilitea, Electricitea, Sensualitea, Femininitea, Festivitea… ~Letters to a Young Zentrepenur – The Republic of Tea
When we think of tea we think of something healthy and natural. However, from last weeks article we learned that it ain’t always so. Have you ever thought about what the actual tea bag that holds the tea is made of? Probably not, but after reading this article I think you just might.
Most often tea bags are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and food grade nylon. These substances are considered “two of the safest plastics on the scale of harmful leaching potential” But, what I am wondering about is what happens to these plastics when put in boiling water and left to steep for a couple of minutes?
Both of the above plastics have a very high melting point, meaning that they will not brake down in boiling water. However, there is another temperature point for plastics that is called “glass transition” temperature (Tg), which we should pay attention to, and this is much lower than the melting point. It means that even though the PET plastic will not melt in boiling water, it will start to dissolve on a molecular level, and could leach out right into your tea cup.
“If the question is, ‘As the polymer goes through that transition state, is it easier for something to leach out?’, the answer is yes,” said Dr. Ray Fernando, professor and director of polymers and coatings at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The big tea companies, such as Lipton, claim that it is safe to use these plastics in tea. But what about this study that showed that mineral water in a PET bottles “demonstrate a widespread contamination of mineral water with xenoestrogens that partly originates from compounds leaching from the plastic packaging material… Overall, the results indicate that a broader range of foodstuff may be contaminated with endocrine disruptors when packed in plastics.“ Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic and interfere with our hormonal (endocrine) system, which can cause all sorts of problems within our bodies. And that is just from the PET bottle being in contact with the mineral water. What I want to know is, what happens when you put it in boiling water?!
Epichlorohydrin is another substance commonly used to treat tea bags, which makes the bags stronger and keeps them from breaking. According to Wikipedia ” In contact with water, epichlorohydrin (a highly reactive compound) hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, a carcinogen found in food.”
The Environmental Protection Agency says drinking water with high levels of epichlorohydrin, over a long period of time, could cause stomach problems and an increased risk of cancer. For perspective: The E.P.A. allows up to 20 parts per million in drinking water, and epichlorohydrin-
containing bags may include 50 parts per billion. 
So, with this knowledge and still wanting to drink tea, what can we do? Inform yourself about the teas that you are already using and figure out what the bag is made of, and if the tea has been known to contain pesticides. Check out this article for more information. Dr.Mercola recommends us to “purchasing tea from manufacturers who can certify that their tea bags do not contain epichlorophydrin, and avoid plastic tea bags. Your best option is to opt for loose tea…When selecting tea of any kind, it should preferably be organic (to avoid pesticides) and grown in a pristine environment (tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals and other toxins from soil and water, so a clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea).”
I wish you a great weekend with a nice cup of loose leaf organic tea! 😉
Yes, you did read that right. Tea, cow poop and natural flavors have a lot more in common than you would ever have thought. How on earth did I ever end up making this connection? Well, last week I had a conversation with a friend about beverages and sugar content. At one point we landed on tea, and my friend said “well, at least I don’t have to worry about the tea I’m drinking, as it is all natural, right?”. Wrong! Unfortunately, you do need to worry if you care about what you are putting into your body, especially when it comes to tea in a bag.
Let’s start with natural flavors, what is it exactly? Well, it can be just about anything compiled of tons of different things, as long as it originally came from a natural source such as plants and animals. Read more about natural and artificial flavors here. The origin of a product very often used in natural flavors is called Castoreum, or in plain English beaver-butt. Hmm..beaver-butt in my tea? No, thanks!” Read more about it here, and check out the video below for more information.
Ok, so that’s pretty disgusting. But what does cow poop has to do with my tea? Well, as it is a natural source, it also goes under the disguised name “natural flavor”. Mayu Yamamoto, a Japanese scientist, managed to figure out a way to extract vanilla fragranceand flavoring from cow poop. It is a lot cheaper than using real vanilla. She actually won the lg Nobel Prize in Chemistry for it in 2007. You can read the long version here about her project, and the short version here. Yummy, beaver-butt and cow poop in my tea?
The term “natural flavouring substance(s)” may only be used for flavourings in which the flavouring component contains exclusively natural flavouring substances.
So, whenever you read a food label on any kind of food or beverage, and you see that it contains natural flavorings, now you know that it can be just about anything ranging from beaver-butt to some type of sugar to cow poop. Also, when you read a food label, the ingredients are listed in the order with the largest amount of ingredient appearing first. Meaning that if you start reading the label for lets say peanut butter and it says: Sugar, sunflower oil, peanuts etc. Sugar would be the largest ingredient in that food product. Check it out the next time you buy something, it can be quite a revelation!
“Who knew that I would be the producer of the vanilla flavor in your ice-cream and other food products?”
So what can we do? Always check the label on anything that you buy, and find out which brands do not use natural flavors! In terms of tea, I recommend buying loose leaf tea. You can buy the empty tea bags separately and fill them up yourself, if that makes it more convenient, to use at work for example. PUKKA tea is one brand that I trust and that I use a lot when I am traveling.
Enjoy your weekend, and keep reading those labels! 😉
Sometimes you come across something or someone that reaches you on a deeper level and puts life in a bit of perspective. During recent travel I came across the documentary “Dancer” with Sergei Polunin, which did that for me, and I wanted to share it with you.
Sergei Polunin has been quoted to be the best male dancer of his generation, and has been linked to the very greatest of all time such as Nureyev and Barysjnikov. Being such an amazing performer and dancer does not come from nothing though, and this is the part that is so often forgotten in the search for success. What does it really mean to be successful, and how far are you, and the people around you willing to go to make “it” happen? And when “it” does happen, was it worth the cost?
At what should have been the very height of his career, Sergei decided to say goodbye to the world of professional dancing by performing one last dance, depicting his struggle with the decision, in the video “Take Me To Church”. That video instantly went viral, and suddenly his life took on an unexpected direction.
If you get the chance check out the movie as well.
It is about that time of year where a lot of people are about to go on vacation, and plenty choose to go by car. Sitting in the car for many hours in a row can cause a lot of muscle stiffness and back pain. Starting your vacation moving around like an unfolded Swiss knife is not exactly how most of us envision our vacation to start, so what can we do?
I would start by taking good care of the hip-flexors, and the large surrounding muscle groups. When we are sitting still for long periods of time our hip-flexors become very stiff, and when they get too tight they won’t allow us to stand up straight very easily. Instead the muscles on the flip side of the body, the glutes and hamstrings have to work a lot harder to try and keep you in an upright position. This is a loose loose power battle between the muscles, and after a while they all get jammed up and this is where you step out of the car like an unfolded Swiss army knife and are unable to stand up straight and move freely. That situation is definitely no fun at all, so, let’s do some preventative work instead!
Make sure to target the following muscles to stay as flexible as possible in your low back and hip area. Use the lacrosse ball for 2-3 min on each. Remember, where it is the most tender and painful, that is where the most stiffness is, so that is where it would be a good idea to add on a few extra minutes.
The TFL is really key here so make sure you spend some time on both of them. Here is a video to help you get into the right position. You can also do the same move with the lacrosse ball lying down on your side on the floor, instead of standing up. I prefer only using the lacrosse ball while lying on my side on the floor, but try out what works best for you. Remember that it is a small muscle so use small deliberate movements.
Add these active mobility moves to keep the hips free: Lateral lunges (see video below) Couch stretch (there is a previous post about it)
If you know that you typically will have a problem in the low back and hip area after a long drive, why not get ahead of the problem and start a couple of days or at least the day before with the above mobility exercises.
Think pre-hab instead of re-hab!
On the day(s) of driving, every time you stop, make a couple of lateral lunges, and stretch your quads. It will go a long way.
Also – hydration is key for the muscles and your body to feel well. So keep drinking that water. Aim for at least 2L a day and even more if you are drinking anything with caffeine or sugar in it as it will act as a diuretic.
Yesterday was showcasing the big Team Presentations with all the riders, including some of the fresh National Champions sporting their special jerseys, and tomorrow Le Tour de France 2017 kicks off in Düsseldorf. If you are not too far from the area and you have never experienced the Tour de France live before, why not head on over and join in the celebration of one of the biggest sport spectacles in Europe. If you are in Luxembourg you can catch the riders passing through the country on the 3rd Stage on Monday. If you don’t have to work on Tuesday, or maybe can get away with taking a long lunch, you can watch them start the 4th Stage inMondorf-les-Bains.
If you want to visit Düsseldorf during this weekend, you can find some great information here. You can also visit their facebook page that has a lot of fun videos and information, and Cyclingnews is always a good place to keep up with the results. If you have never been to Düsseldorf I highly recommend it. It is a very stylish and fun city with lots of new cool design buildings in the harbor area, and the Old-town along the river is a nice place to hang out and grab a bite to eat. For more information about what’s going on check here and here.
This inspirational video was shot in Düsseldorf, starring a good friend who also used to be one of “my riders” from when I was working on the Pro-circuit, Steffen “Weigi” Weigold. Another one of “my riders” Marcel Sieberg is getting ready to start the Tour and you can see a short video with “Sibi” here.
With all this cycling inspiration and yellow fever going around, people tend to all of a sudden jump onto their bikes and ride a lot more than usual. I think it’s awesome that people are motivated and getting out there! However, I see a lot of people failing in their preparations so I want to highlight a couple of things that could be a brick in the road.
“To repeat, if your bike is not fitted correctly, everything from your position to your mechanics is compromised. In addition to not being as efficient as possible, you dramatically increase your susceptibility to injury.”
Get properly fitted for your bike. It is supposed to feel good when you are out riding. Yes, tired muscles is one thing but you should not be in a compromised position slowly creating a chronic problem. Check out the below videos for some easy changes. Go to a bike store that has been around for a while and ask them to help you out. If you are into getting stuff done yourself, the book Power Speed Endurance  is a great source on how to do that.
And here are a couple of quick tips on proper form while riding.
Make sure that you invest in a good pair of bike shorts that fit you right. If the seams on the pad are just in the wrong place, or if the pad is too large for you the creases will quickly cause you a lot of discomfort and even saddle sores, and that, no amount of “chammy cream” can undo. Which brings me to my next point, do yourself a favor and use a goodchamoise cream to put in your bike shorts and/or directly onto your crotch. It will make a big difference especially when you are increasing the length and frequency of your rides. I have always liked the Swiss Assos brand but there is plenty to choose from like for example DZ Nuts Pro created by another one of “my riders” Dave Zabriskie.
I hope today’s blog has given you some good basic information, but even more so, inspiration. Enjoy the ride! 😉
 Power Speed Endurance by Brian MacKenzie & Glen Cordosa, Cycling as a skill p.140
Today starts the big celebration of “Midsommar” in Sweden. It is a tradition celebrated since ancient times, and one food to be found everywhere to celebrate this day will be strawberries. It is also the National Day of Luxembourg, and there will be plenty of strawberries eaten here as well. Let’s take a closer look at one of the most beloved berries in the World.
Strawberries are a great food because among many things they are a low-allergen food, which means that it is very rare for people to have an allergic or intolerance reaction to them. Even so, many people think that they have a strawberry allergy. How can that be?
Last year one of my clients told me the story of how he ended up having to take his young daughter to the emergency room on a Monday, after her symptoms (skin rashes, itching) had gradually become really bad over the weekend. Long story short, it was one of the first weekends where strawberries were being sold, and they had bought a tonne. The daughter, who loves strawberries, had eaten her fare share every day that weekend, and it turned out that she had an allergic reaction to the pesticides that were sprayed on the strawberries, NOT the actual strawberries.
Because strawberries are such fragile fruits, they are sprayed heavily to keep them looking fresh as long as possible. Their skin is also very thin and porous, which means that they soak up anything that has been sprayed on them. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can just rinse off. Strawberries is the very top offender on ewg’s dirty dozen list that I talked about last week. To read even more about the pesticides used on strawberries got to www.ewg.org and type in “strawberries” in the search box, and you will have plenty to read.
Kelly Dorfman, author of Cure Your Child With Food, guides us to ask the following questions regarding your child, or yourself, to help figure out if you are reacting “to something besides the food itself, most likely pesticide residues, artificial flavors or colors or genetically modified food”[ 2]
Do you, or your child get symptoms when eating strawberries sometimes, but not always? When you eat the strawberries at grandmas house you have no reaction, but when you are eating them at home (from supermarket) you get, for example, an itchy throat.
Do you or your child get red cheeks or rashes that seem impossible to attribute to any one food?
Do you or your child complain of an itchy throat or mouth?
Do you or your child seem to be allergic to something, but nothing comes up in allergy testing? (symptoms could be itching, skin rashes, swelling, wheezing, nasal congestion, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness)
Are you or your child very sensitive to sounds, lights, temperature or smells? This could be an indication of a more delicate nervous system, which will be even more sensitive to toxins.
So, what can you do? Start by paying attention to the questions and symptoms above. Learn about the dirty dozen from ewg. And regarding strawberries I think the best cause of action for your health is to plant them yourself, buy them organic, or simply let it be.
Enjoy the festivities and your organic strawberries 🙂
[1,2] Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND: Cure Your Child With Food, p.256, 269
The dirty dozen – sounds like it could be the next Quentin Tarantino movie, doesn’t it?* But you guessed it, it is not. So, what’s up with the dirty dozen?
The dirty dozen is a list that gets put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every year based on the amount of pesticides and chemicals they contain. Meaning that the item at the very top of the list contains the highest amount of pesticides, and therefore it is not considered a wise food choice.
To make it easy, when you cannot remember the list, think of it like this. The more fragile the vegetable or fruit is, the larger is the chance for damage during transportation. This means an increase in using food spray and anti-mold chemicals to make sure that vegetable or fruit does not get damaged. Also, the more porous the skin is on the fruit and veggies, the more it will absorb everything that has been sprayed on it. It will basically act as a sponge, like strawberries for example. This is important to think about, because once it has been absorbed by the fruit or veggies you cannot simply rinse it off. Still need some more help with the list? EWG has an app to help you out.
Not only does these different chemicals mess with our liver and kidneys (that have to work very hard to try and filter them out of our bodies). These chemicals also interfere with our nervous system. A common misconception is that nerve toxins used to kill insects are not very harmful to humans. This is not true as they are toxic to our nervous system and neural development . They also interfere with our hormonal system (one of the most used herbicide in the world, Atrazine, is a known endocrine disruptor), and thenutrients in the food by making it harder for our bodies to absorb them.
But, what about organic food costing more? Yes, it does cost a bit more, but it is an investment in yourself and your family. I think that it is very important to buy organic produce. We are getting enough pollution through every day life, and I believe we do not need to add even more to our bodies through food. Did you know that “at least 107 different active ingredients in pesticides have been found to cause cancer in animals or humans; of these 71 are still in use on food crops”. If taking the step to buy organic seems like a lot to you, at least start thinking about omitting the biggest offenders on the dirty dozen list. You will be doing yourself a big favor by reducing the amount of poisonous chemicals that your body has to deal with on a daily basis.
Did you know that people who are allergic to a certain vegetable or fruit are most likely allergic to the pesticides and food sprays on it, and not the actual food itself.
Think of the nutrients and organic food as strong clean building blocks for “the house” (you) that you are constantly building. Think of the pesticides, food sprays and other chemicals of acting like heavy duty fungus, mold and termites in this metaphor. You may not notice that they are there right away, but after a while they can and will destroy your entire house. What kind of building blocks are you interested in choosing for “your house”?
Spread the word, not pesticides! 😉
* Actually the Dirty Dozen is a World War II movie from 1967
 According to the National Campaign for Pesticide Policy Reform. p.418 Staying Healthy with Nutrition
 Endocrine Disrupters. p.418 Staying Healthy with Nutrition
 Misconceptions about Pesticides p.432 Staying Healthy with Nutrition