Last week the EWG (Environmental Working Group) published it’s 2018 Dirty Dozen list. According to the working group’s tests, the 12 fruits and veggies on the list below contain the highest amount of pesticides.

While opting out of “organic” may save you a few buckaroos, when it comes to the dirty dozen you might want to rethink the thrifty approach. Going for organic versions of the listed 12 will help you avoid toxic chemicals. Pesticides have been known to pose health risks worth noting. For instance, they have been linked to cancer, hormone disturbance and brain damage. I also just read about a study that took place at the Harvard School of Public Health which connected fertility problems to the consumption of high pesticide foods.

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1. Strawberries (The EWG found TWENTY TWO different pesticide residues in a sample of these berries!)
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Grapes
6. Peaches
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Tomatoes
10. Celery
11. Potatoes
12. Sweet Bell Pepper


Overall, fruits and vegetables that have an outer peel (which you do not eat) will have much fewer pesticides than those with edible skin or no skin at all. The outer layer creates a barrier between the potentially toxic soil and the part of the produce that we consume. Keep this in mind when you are opting in or out of splurging on organic. This being said, I wanted to as well include the “Clean Fifteen” list. These fruits and veggies have the least amount of pesticide residue.

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbages
5. Onions
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Papayas
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplants
11. Honeydew melons
12. Kiwis
13. Cantaloupes
14. Cauliflower
15. Broccoli



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“constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to ill health, and  eating to avoid constant inflammation promotes better health and can ward off disease”, says Russell Greenfield, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a private-practice physician.

“It’s very clear that inflammation plays a role much more than we thought with respect to certain maladies”,  Greenfield includes.



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Recent studies have shown that there are over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in this Chinese cabbage! It is also a wonderful source of minerals and vitamins.
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Celery has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It helps to fight heart disease as it improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  It’s seeds help to combat bacterial infections as well.  Add it to your soups, salads or juices!
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There was a recent study in India that demonstrated coconut oil’s ability to reduce inflammation and heal arthritis more effectively than leading
medications.  This is most likely due to the strong anti-inflammatory compounds found in lipids within the oil.  I love to use coconut oil to cook my eggs, or enjoy spoonful for an afternoon boost.
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Blueberries have been known to keep our motor function sharp, improve memory and ward off cognitive decline. They contain quercetin which is  a powerful flavonoid that fights inflammation and even cancer.
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5.  SALMON  
This delicious fish is full of Omega 3 Fatty acids which have been shown to ward off chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Ensuring we are ingesting enough essential fatty acids is one of the best ways we can prevent  inflammation.
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It is beet’s powerful antioxidant, betalain, that gives them their beautiful color.   Beets fight to repair damage that inflammation has done to our cells.  A huge bonus for this root veggie is that it contains a significant amount of magnesium, which is crucial for processing calcium in our bodies.  Without enough magnesium, calcium can build up in our bodies and lead to problems such as kidney stones.
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7. GINGER – In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is recognized for its ability to break down toxins that have accumulated in our organs.  It acts as an inflammatory by reducing inflammation that is caused by overactive immune responses.


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Listen to this short audio recording to learn WHY EXERCISE IS SO IMPORTANT FOR NECK PAIN:


In short, you will hear that when our neck and upper back muscles become weakened, our head leans forward. This misalignment puts a ton of strain on our cervical spine which results in neck pain. I have provided 3 simple exercises that aim to improve posture and bring the head back to a neutral place.


*purpose: to increase strength in the muscles that draw our head back over our ears.
Starting Position:
Back against the wall, standing tall with good posture.

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Action: Gentle draw chin toward chest while aiming to flatten your whole neck against the wall. Hold for 6 full seconds, then release. Repeat 12 times. Being with just 1 set, then work your way up to 3.
Notes: Chin tucks can be repeated several times throughout the day. In fact, repetition is key to create proper postural habits. Once comfortable against the wall, you may perform this exercise free standing. I often do this exercise at red lights (just be sure to stop immediately and focus on driving once that light turns green, go!)

*purpose: strengthen shoulder girdle, upper back and neck.
Starting Position:
Lying prone, arms by your sides with thumb out and palms facing down. Place rolled towel under forehead.

A. Draw shoulder blades together, without force, and lift arms up off of floor.
B. Roll your elbows in, as your face your palms out with thumbs up.

C. Lift your head off of towel while keeping your gaze down to maintain proper alignment of neck. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 12 times. Begin with 1 set, work your way up to 2.

Notes: To help stabilize the muscles in the front of the neck, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. If 10 seconds feels like too much to start with, begin with 5 seconds. Build strength slowly and safely.

3. T to I’s
*purpose: strengthen upper back, open tight chest and shoulder muscles.
Starting position:
Stand tall with your back against a wall and bring your arms out to a T. Aim to flatten your lower back out onto the wall.

Keeping your fingers, arms, back and head in contact with the wall, draw your arms up over your head into an I position. Move slowly to the top and then back down. Repeat 7 times. Begin with 1 set, work your way up to 3. This exercise may be repeated throughout the days that you exercise.

Notes: Gently push into the wall as you slide arms up and down.





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Weight Loss: Is timing everything?

For millions of years our genes have been reacting according to our patterns of behavior.  If we keep this in mind when looking at our bodies tendency to store or use fat as as energy, it makes weight loss quite simple.  Let’s say you walk 10 minutes after a meal as opposed to before a meal.  Do you think your body would react differently?  If you answered yes, you are correct.  

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When you move around post eating, your system is not sure whether or not you are moving on to the next hunting ground and hence will not store the food you just ate as fat.  On the contrary, if you consume a meal and then sit down your system thinks ‘aha, I don’t need this food for energy, I think I’ll store it for later use”.  
All this being said, if your goal is weight loss – consider the timing of your movement and exercise. Perhaps take a stroll after your biggest meal to send your metabolism into action.   As a side bonus, your digestive system will thank you for the movement! 
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Having been in the fitness industry for ten years, I can say from experience that one of the major roadblocks which impedes client’s progress is the “I don’t have enough time in the day for exercise” statement. As a firm believer in the idea that even 5 minutes (of intentional movement) a day will keep the doctor away, I was elated to meet David Levinger who is living proof of this philosophy. I wanted to share with you all the exercise routine he has created for himself, who he is, and what inspired him to commit to 5 minutes a day, twice per day plan. I don’t doubt for a second that his story will encourage anyone who is looking to jumpstart their game plan for optimal health.


Meet David:

“I’m a nearly 38-year-old career ‘Computer Guy’ that enjoys being active but rarely has to time for consistency. When I was younger, pre-marriage and kids, I’d hit the gym regularly doing weights and Spin classes, hiking, backpacking and martial arts.  8 years ago my youngest daughter was born and finding the time became increasingly hard.  Since then I haven’t had a regular exercise routine.

My wife and I love to walk and hike a few times a week – it’s a great way to slow down, talk and get your body moving.  However, it didn’t do much to slow my weight gain.

I knew what I wanted was to remove the tire around my middle, strengthen my back and increase my flexibility.  All the exercises I included in my 5 minute routine had those goals in mind.”


Q & A

  1. What was the prime motivation for your 5 minutes a day, 2x per day routine?

I’m  5’10” and after a recent trip to visit family in New Orleans, I came back weighting 192lbs. This was a new high for me and I was not happy about it.  I felt heavy, weighed down, and slow.  At 38, I knew my metabolism wasn’t as fast as it used to be.

  1. Why 5 minutes?

I’d just finished reading a book called The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and, while not at all about fitness, in one of the short chapters at the end of the book he described his thoughts on exercise.  The following excerpt leaped out to me:

“If you consider your diet and exercise as simple energy deficits and excesses, with a straight calorie-in, calorie-burned equation, you will fall into the trap of misspecifying the system into simple causal and mechanical links. Your food intake becomes the equivalent of filling up the tank of your new BMW. If, on the other hand, you look at food and exercise as activating metabolic signals, with potential metabolic cascades and nonlinearities from network effects with recursive links, then welcome to complexity, hence: Extremist. Both food and workouts provide your body with information about stressors in the environment.”

Reading that made me wonder, would short but vigorous bouts of exercise trigger different things within my body and have a noticeable impact? With that thought in my head I went downstairs and started to exercise. I began by doing a few exercises I remembered using a medicine ball that I happened to have around. It took around 10 minutes and it was exhausting and depressing. I could hardly do anything I used to, but it was a start.

  1. When you do not ‘feel like doing it’, how do you stay on track?

That’s one of the other reasons I picked 5 minutes twice a day. When you don’t want to go to the gym for an hour a few times a week it’s easy to find an excuse. I don’t have time today! I’ll do it tomorrow. But 5 minutes? You always have 5 minutes. Get up a little early. Stay up a little late. If you can’t do 5 minutes then you’re CHOOSING to NOT do it. For me, that’s harder than choosing TO do something.

  1. How has your overall health changed?

Well for starters I dropped from 192 to 167 over the first month and a half. Secondly, my strength has improved a ton.  Initially it was so hard to do even do the 10 minutes, but now while it still gets my heart going, it never feels unattainable. My flexibility has improved a bunch as well and whereas before I had persistent lower back pain that’s been gone for months! My energy level has gone up and it’s easier for me to start the day as well as fall asleep at the end of it.

  1. How long have you been doing this and how long do you foresee yourself continuing?

It’s been a consistent 5 months with no exceptions or missed days. I don’t see myself stopping. It’s 5 minutes. You always have 5 minutes.

  1. What does your routine typically consist of?

I start with a standing medicine ball twist. Then I do the touch the floor and arch my back from this link:https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=%23&ved=0ahUKEwi8mICcsI3ZAhVFyVQKHRwHDoMQwqsBCGcwBQ&usg=AOvVaw0VTJzWxrN8ZFOD4xbU2nov

Then I switch to three resistance band exercises picked up from this YouTube link https://youtu.be/9Ebx4N90qqg

  1. From roughly the 7 min mark I do a modified version where I keep my legs off the ground making sure I always come to a fully relaxed rest position with my arms but keep my legs off the floor.
  2. From the 10 min mark, but I do both legs at the same time most of the time. Helps stretch my lower back
  3. At the 9 min mark, pretty much in modified

Often times I will swap in several twisting exercises where I anchor the resistance bands within the door.

  1. Tell me in 10-20 words, how do you feel right after your early a.m. routine.

I feel focused, energized, ready to tackle the day, loose in my back, tightened up in my middle and excited.

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Cactus the new coconut?

While the thought of a desert is far from hydrating, further contemplation on how much water native plants must store to survive such an arid environment quenches my mental thirst.   It makes a whole lot of sense why the fruit of the prickly pear cactus plants is being juiced to produce cactus water.  If you are a natural food store shopper, chances are you have started to see this product on the shelf.   Is this new fad worth all the hype?  With about half the calories and sugar of coconut water, plus unique beneficial compounds – my answer is YES.  Absolutely.  Read on for the fruitful facts.



low amount of sugar 
high amount of electrolytes (esp. potassium)
high amount of minerals
high amount of vitamins
low in calories
potent source of Betalain Antioxidants *
potent source of Taurine*
*Let’s discuss these two benefits in a bit more detail as they are vital to the achievement of optimal health.
Betalains are powerful antioxidants that studies have shown provide protection against oxidative stress-related disorders.  Particularly they prevent cell damage and are anti-inflammatory.  They also revitalize our skin.  The cactus fruit is the only fruit which contains all 24! To give you a better picture, cactus water has two times the amount of these betalain antioxidants than beets do. 
While you will often hear Taurine referred to as an “amino acid”, it is not so biochemically speaking.  Yes it is an acid that contains an amino group, but rather than a carboxyl group (like true amino acids) it contains a sulfonyl hydroxide making it a sulfonic acid.  That being said, let’s refer to Taurine as an orgainc compound that is broadly distributed in our tissues.   What makes this compound so noteworthy?
It has been shown to aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis and coronary heart        disease (by reducing the secretion of serum lipids and apolipoprotein B100)
Dietary Taurine promotes weight loss and as well reduces oxidative stress caused by exercise. Hence, it aids in muscle recovery. 
It shields against toxicity of lead and cadmium, and acts as a strong antioxidant 
It is essential for the proper functioning of our skeletal muscle, cardiovascular system, our central nervous system and our retina.

In cacti conclusion – bottoms up! 

~SALImage result for cactus waterUD~

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Natural Tick Repellent

Remember, what we put on our skin ends up INSIDE our body!  Our skin is the largest organ we are walking around with – let’s feed it quality substances.  When it comes to living a healthy and organic lifestyle, what we lather on our bod is just as significant as what we put in our mouths.  Here is a wonderful DIY essential oil blend that will work like a charm to keep those ticks off of you, your family and your pets!

Palo Santo


1 cup distilled water
2 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops palo santo essential oil
1 drop myrrh essential oil
4 drops grapefruit essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
1 drop thieves hand soap or castile soap.

Place all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spritz on socks, sneakers, boots, ankles and legs as well as any exposed skin.   Have fun on the trails!

*If your cupboard is bare in the essential oils department check out http://www.bulkapothecary.com – great bang for you buck!




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