Thursday, March 29, 2012

Smoothies vs. Juicing

by Lisa K. Beach, Ph.D., CHES

Juicing and smoothies are both great ways to consume more micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other healthy nutritious compounds). When made with quality ingredients, tailored to meet a person’s specific needs, both smoothies and juice can be wonderful nutrient delivery systems (and they can taste great too).

The differences between the two are as follows:

1. Juicing requires more produce for the same quantity of end product (it’s more expensive than blending/smoothies)

2. Smoothies maintain fiber content (juice has none), and are more “filling”

3. Juicing requires more expensive equipment (smoothies can be made in a relatively cheap blender, but there are also very expensive blenders that allow for blending a wider variety of ingredients)

4. Clean-up for smoothies is easier and quicker (juicer clean-up can range from about 5 minutes to 15, depending on the juicer)

5. Juice contains more concentrated micronutrients that are delivered to your cells much more quickly and efficiently than smoothies

These are all important things to consider because buying equipment and intending to make juice or smoothies does not actually mean you’ll do it—you have to budget the time, money, and fridge space (and the motivation) to make it happen!

The main question I receive about juicing and smoothies is “which one is better?”

My response goes something like this:

Juicing is awesome. It’s like mainlining nutrients if you consume it on an empty stomach. Your body doesn’t have to do much work to absorb the nutrients. It is energizing, and if done first thing in the morning (after “fasting” since dinner), this allows the body more time to work on important detoxification and metabolism processes rather than switching over to digestion (which happens when you eat breakfast or drink a smoothie). For increasing energy, blasting the body with nutrients, clearer skin, and doing a mini-fast (or longer if you have the strategies and desire for that), juicing is an amazing tool.

Smoothies provide significant amounts of micronutrients too, and they’re packaged with fiber. Fiber, which is something most Americans need more of (the average American female gets less than 12 grams a day but the recommended amount is 25 grams or more), can be super high in a smoothie, depending on the ingredients you use. You can put greens and veggies in a smoothie, and start your work day having consumed a day’s worth of nutrients and veggies (but you don’t have to feel like you ate a salad for breakfast). You can add protein, fat, and other filling ingredients to a smoothie to keep you full for many hours and/or to help you strategically recover from a workout or meet certain macronutrient (carb, fat, protein) goals. When you’re on the go, a picky eater, or need to find a way to get more nutrient density in your diet, smoothies are an awesome choice.

My advice? Identify your goals, resources, time availability, and health needs, and pick one based on those factors---I like both smoothies and juice, but I think the best one for you is whichever one that makes you feel the best and is the most likely that you'll do! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Acu-Pressure for Allergies

Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM, L. Ac., Adjunct Faculty,  Kaplan University

Hello again !! I hope you found some helpful ideas in the previous allergy blog . As promised , this time we will review some useful acupressure points that will address some of the most common allergy related symptoms as well as some that will generally tonify your body.

Acupuncture point: LI20- located on the Large Intestine Meridian, located on either side of your nose about 1/8 of an inch from the tip (where your nose and your face meet). ST3-Can also be located by placing your middle finger next to the location of your index finger.Press upward on these points and breathe deeply while you hold your fingers in place for no less than a full minute.

Symptoms: Sinus congestion


Acupunture point: UB2- located on the Bladder Meridian  directly above the inner corner of the eye on the inside end of the eyebrow (you will feel a little notch in the bone there and it will be quite sore if your sinuses are inflammed). Manipulate with moderate pressure .

Symptoms : Sinus congestion and runny nose

Acupuncture point: LU7- located on the Lung meridian , about 1.5 fingers width above your wrist crease, just after the styloid process of the radius. Generally found by sliding your finger from the thumb side of your wrist crease over the styloid process and press where it is  sore.

Symptoms: Sneezing , runny nose , sore throat, general " lung " health.

Acupuncture point: LI4- located on the Large Intestine Meridian, located in the middle of the web between your thumb and forefinger. Generally found by sliding your finger from the joint of your index finger towards your wrist stopping in the depression where the thumb and the index finger bones meet and pressing where  it is the most tender.

Symptoms : It is the command point of the head and face . It is very helpful for  headaches in the front of the head( not only sinus related) ,  and general pain  Contraindications: Do not use if pregnant

 Acupuncture point: ST36- Located on the Stomach Meridian , one hands breadth below ST 35, one finger width lateral from the anterior border of the tibia.

Symptoms: Preventative!! Tonifies Wei Qi ( a concept similar to Western “Immunity") and is thought to increase overall health .

 Each point should be held for 30-60 seconds and you can repeat the sequence or individual points 2-3 times a day when experiencing allergy symptoms.

I hope you find this information useful . Next time, we will review nutritional recommendations and additional therapies for allergy management .

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Treating Allergies With Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM )

By Mary Oleksowicz , MSTOM, L. Ac. Adjunct Faculty  Kaplan  University 

The unusually warm winter here on the East Coast means that the flowers and trees (and even weeds) are blooming much earlier than usual. As a chronic seasonal allergy sufferer, I know that the natural approach to allergy treatment is most effective as a preventative measure. In order to best reduce the impact of all the blooms and blossoms, starting to strengthen your body prior to the height of the allergy season is most effective.

TCM views what we would commonly call “allergies” as the invasion of an external pathogen (usually wind) coupled with an imbalance or weakness of one’s constitution. Most frequently these weaknesses or deficiencies are associated with the lung and/or spleen.  The energy of our lungs (Lung qi) is responsible for the proper function of the respiratory tract, including the nasal passages. Spleen qi is known to transform and transport things . When our spleens are weak, digestive function is reduced and this can lead to an overproduction of mucus( poorly  "transformed” food energy ). Mucus in both TCM and Western physiology tends to collect in the lungs. Also with digestive function reduced our “protective qi “  also known as wei qi is unable to properly protect us from external pathogens (wind) , leaving us susceptible to “attack” .

 The most common treatment , as mentioned,  is preventative. This  means  that one would consume herbs or herbal formulas for several weeks prior to the expected allergy season. Herbs that are slected are usually known for their ability to  tonify the lung and spleen , such as Codonopsis (dang shen), Atractylodes (bai zhu), Poria (fu ling), and prepared Licorice (zhi gan cao),An appropriate patent medicine  or “ tea pill “ for this type of deficiency is Six Gentlemen Formula . This formula also contains Pinellia (ban xia) and aged citrus peel (chen pi), which helps the body to clear mucus and dry dampness more effectively.  If your body needs additional tonification, Yu Ping Feng San ( Jade WindScreen) is often suggested for allergic rhinitis. The key ingredient in this formula is Huang qi (Astragulus) . This herb is known for its ability to strengthen the spleen and tonify your defensive ( wei qi ) .  In Western herbology , astragulus is known as an “ adaptogen “, a supplement that supports metabolic health and helps organisms to best adapt to environmental factors and the damage they could cause.

As always, before starting any new course of supplement use, be sure to consult your physician and a knowledgeable Traditional Chinese Herbalist. Over the course of this week, we will also investigate nutritional and acu-pressure support for the allergy season.

Mary Oleksowicz, L. Ac
Friday, March 16, 2012

Research in Epigenetics

I know it’s hard to believe – but the mice in this picture are identical twins!

As I mentioned in my previous post, nutrition affects the epigenome and thus the expression of our genes. Epigenomic research has revealed that not only what we eat affects our genome –but what our mothers ate affects us as well. These mice are a reflection of the affect of maternal diet on the epigenome.

Click on the NOVA science video below to learn more about epigenomic research with identical twins:

Epigenetics video downloaded from Teachers' Domain, 

I hope you have enjoyed this brief trip into the world of epigenetics! If you would like to explore this topic further, please check out this NOVA website:


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nutrition and the Epigenome

Epigenetics is a relatively new field of study that offers us a deeper understanding of how our environment affects our health. One area epigenetic researchers have been focusing on is how nutrition influences the epigenome. Here’s how it works: Through the process of digestion, the foods we eat become molecules our bodies use for various cellular functions. Some of these molecules are used as chemical tags on the epigenome. These tags determine whether genes will be expressed or not. Nutrients involved in these processes include methionine, folic acid, vitamins B12 and B6, choline, betaine, reseveratrol, genistein, sulforaphane, and diallyl sulphide, and more. Interestingly, diets high in these nutrients can quickly alter gene expression.  Foods high in these methyl donating nutrients include seeds nuts, leafy veggies, seafood, egg yolks, red wine, soy, broccoli and garlic.

Click here to learn more about nutrition and the epigenome:

Stay tuned for a video about epigenomic research using identical twins…


Genetic Science Learning Center (1969, December 31) Nutrition and the Epigenome. Learn.Genetics. Retrieved March 13, 2012, from
Wednesday, March 14, 2012


If you have been following this blog, then you know that I have a deep interest in how food affects health. This interest has led me down many paths, one of which is exploring the field of epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of how our genome responds to our environment. Environment includes things such as what we eat, our stress levels, our behaviors (like smoking), and environmental toxins (such as BPA). In a nutshell, the epigenome is a set of chemical tags that sit on top of the genome and affect how genes are expressed. In other words, the epigenome influences whether genes will be “on or off” – this in turn affects how our cells function. Essentially, epigenetics confirms what we have known all along: What we eat and what we do affects our health. 

Check out this video from Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah, to see how it works:

Stay tuned for details on diet and the epigenome…

Nancy Silva, ND
Faculty, Health Science Dept

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