Two Weeks to Better Health?

Reposted from NYR Natural News

We hear it all the time – we are what we eat.


But two recent studies have brought home just how true that is – and how quickly we can change our lives if we change our diets.

In the first study Coop, Sweden’s largest grocery store cooperative, commissioned the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) to find out whether switching to an all-organic diet could reduce the level of pesticides found in people’s bodies

Over a two week period, the Palmberg family – parents Anette and Mats and their children Vendela, Evelina and Charlie – swapped their conventional diet for an organic one. Daily urine tests revealed that at the end of that period almost all traces of pesticides were out of their bodies.

Multiple pesticides in the body

Before the dietary intervention the family all had traces of multiple pesticides in their urine including:

  • MPCA – or 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid an herbicide commonly found on citrus fruits that has been declared a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
  • Ethylenebisdithiocarbamates – fungicides used on grapes and raisins (and found in wine) that is toxic to the thyroid and liver and is a potential carcinogen.
  • Atrazine – a hormone-disrupting herbicide widely found in groundwater and associated with growth and developmental delays and sexual abnormalities.
  • Chlorpyrifos – an organophosphorous insecticide known for its damaging effects on the human nervous system
  • 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) – a chlorophenoxy-herbicide is a hormone disrupter and has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
  • Pyrethroids, such as cypermethrin and esfenvalerate – insecticides that have a damaging effect on the nervous system.
  • Chlormequat chloride (CCC) and mepequat– growth inhibitors used on a variety of grain products and even coffee linked in animal studies to developmental toxicity and neurological and organ damage, respectively.

Several toxic fungicides used on fruits and vegetables and associated with a variety of effects from skin rashes/sensitivity to liver and kidney damage were also detected.

A fast ‘clearout’

Before the experiment, eldest child Evelina’s urine was showing around 460 nanograms of chlormequat chloride per millilitre of urine (the ‘average’ that most of us carry is around 19 nanograms). Levels in children can be high because their diets can be higher in grain products –such as porridge, bread, and pasta –compared with the adult family members.  After eating only organic foods for two weeks, the chemical could not be detected in her urine.

The most profound effects were found in toddler Charlie’s samples. His chlormequat chloride levels were 675 nanograms but became undetectable by the end of the experiment. Despite his urine before the experiment showing particularly high levels of three other of the chemicals, after the experiment none of these were detected.

The way that an organic diet quickly cleared pesticides from the body is especially important for children, since children carry a higher proportion of these substances in their bodies and because their bodies are growing and changing may feel the toxic effects more profoundly.

The scientists at IVL notes in their report that this might be a good reason for following the precautionary principle, and finding safer agricultural methods for growing our food.

“Given how little we currently know about the combination effects of all the different chemical substances that people are exposed to in their day-to-day lives, it may be wise to apply a principle of caution in this regard,” they note.

Modern versus traditional diets

In a second study, also over a two week period, African-Americans were asked to swap their Westernized diets to a traditional African high-fibre, low-fat diet dramatically lowered their risk of colon cancer.  The key, according to the data published in published in Nature Communications is that the traditional diet has significant beneficial effects on gut flora.

Colon cancer is the fourth commonest cause of death from cancer worldwide, accounting for over 600 000 deaths per year. Colon cancer rates are much higher in the western world than in Africa or the Far East, yet in the United States, African Americans shoulder the greatest burden of the disease.

The study involved 20 African American volunteers and another group of 20 participants from rural South Africa. The two groups swapped diets under tightly controlled conditions for two weeks.

The volunteers had colonoscopy examinations before and after the diet swap. The researchers also measured biological markers that indicate colon cancer risk and studied samples of bacteria taken from the colon.

At the start, when the groups had been eating their normal diets, almost half of the American subjects had polyps – abnormal growths in the bowel lining that may be harmless but can progress to cancer.  None in the African group had these abnormalities.

After two weeks on the African diet, the American group had significantly less inflammation in the colon and reduced biomarkers of cancer risk. In the African group, measurements indicating cancer risk dramatically increased after two weeks on the Western diet.

Feeding a healthy gut

In switching to a traditional African diet, which was higher in wholefoods, the 40 people who took part (20 in the US and 20 in South Africa) increased the amount of soluble fibre in the diet – from approximately 10 grams to more than 50g per day. Although eating less animal fat and proteins was also seen as helpful, this was perhaps the most beneficial change in terms of reducing cancer risk

The study found that bacteria in the gut – known as the microbiome – altered their metabolism to adapt to the new diet. In the American group, the researchers found that the African diet led to an increase in the production of butyrate, a by-product of fibre metabolism that has important anti-cancer effects.

Principle investigator professor Stephen O’Keefe at the University of Pittsburgh commented:

“Studies on Japanese migrants to Hawaii have shown that it takes one generation of westernization to change their low incidence of colon cancer to the high rates observed in native Hawaiians. Our study suggests that westernization of the diet induces changes in biomarkers of colon cancer risk in the colonic mucosa within two weeks. Perhaps even more importantly, a change in diet from a westernized composition to a ‘traditional African’ high fibre low fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk within two weeks, indicating that it is likely never too late to change your diet to change your risk of colon cancer.”

And that really is the significant finding of these two studies. Whatever your age you can make significant beneficial changes in your life from changing your diet. So why not get started?

Year END Resolution

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This time of year I’m usually convincing myself I’ll be alright through the holidays; that I won’t over-do it and put on any extra weight- at least not THAT much that it won’t come off easily. Thanksgiving isn’t quite here, so the reality of how powerful the sugar laden food-pull is, is easily pushed off as not-so-bad.


Than the second week in December hits, and all bets are off. Every weekend there’s some Christmas Party, and everyone is bringing yummy treats to every place you go- work, class, etc. It’s unavoidable. At first I pretend to play damage control, but that goes right out the window too quickly.

A Better Place

This year is different. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was last year. I’ve been working out all year, so it’s become part of a routine I don’t like to miss. This lighter me will be able to combat the peer pressure a bit, because when you feel good, your will-power increases (it does for me anyway). Plus, my metabolism is naturally higher because my lean mass is greater, AND if I do decide to indulge, the actual workouts help burn this off. Definitely a better place than last year! The will-power to say NO, the body chemistry that naturally burns more, AND the schedule to help combat the questionable decisions I may make. I’m definitely in a better place. 

Let’s face it- we need to live a little. This holiday weight fiasco shouldn’t send us completely into stress mode, but neither should we just throw in the towel and succumb to every sugar impulse, especially if that’s already part of your yearly routine (be honest with yourself). 

The holiday festivities are so enjoyable for me BECAUSE I don’t eat like this all the time. I EARN it. Not that I don’t indulge here and there (those of you who know me, know that I’m known to EAT! -but only because I take my days of restraint seriously so all the days balance. I’m often doing doubles to balance my diet decisions. I know. I know. You can’t out-train a bad diet, but I’m getting better).


I told myself for years I’d start getting back into shape. That I would stop eating so much crap. That I could invest 30 minutes a day to improving my life. Years later, tomorrow had still not arrived, so I decided TODAY would be the day. That day, I started a fitness schedule, started tracking what I was eating, changed the way I grocery shopped…

…then I forgot. Time passed. Today came again.

I stopped, again.

Today came back around. This time I lasted a little longer, but I still fell off the wagon.

Life can legitimately get crazy, and I’m not good with maintaining things when my schedule gets all switched around, which seems to happen way too often, but every time TODAY comes back around, it’s easier and easier to find, and we dance just a little bit longer.

2015 progression

In August I moved from FL to NY and my schedule got totally whacked out… then the stress of opening a new business… But I’m back to it and going strong into the most dangerous time of year for weight gain!

Demand Better

You get the picture. This has not been a smooth journey for me. I’m up and down, back and forth, but learning to stop being frustrated by this. Not feeling guilty because of these falls was the biggest thing I learned that helped me REALLY be stronger each time I came back around to TODAY. It’s the first thing I tell people when they engage me in any kind of I need to be better talk regarding food, fitness, health, etc. The guilt needs to be put aside. The stress about yesterdays failures need to be viewed as learning curves for today. The victim mantras that are our excuses need to be seen as such, forgotten, and simple steps that solve the problem need to be executed. There’s no reason that if 60 minutes can’t be put in, than no time should be put in. Some of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done were only 15 minutes. Even with screaming kids running around, a 15 minute workout can be completed (just ask my niece and nephews).

Demand from the people around you that you be allowed to make yourself better. Demand it from yourself. When I’ve mis-calculated my day, so it’s midnight and I still haven’t gotten my workout in, I get my workout in. I’ve found that this doesn’t actually bite into my sleep or rest time, since I’d never go right to bed anyway. Being too tired is not an excuse I allow for missing a workout. 10 minutes in and the movement has woken me up. Being tired should be a reason we work out. Look up the studies that show how non-activity breeds non-activity. Your relaxing time isn’t helping you recover from being un-relaxed.  

Make It Happen

Bottom-line: Make it happen today, whatever it is. Tomorrow will never come. When you forget, like I’ve done over and over, just pick up and continue on when you remember again.

Fitness and Tattoos

Tattoo Shop

I’m about to open a tattoo shop. Talk about super exciting! While I’m not a tattoo artist, my 2 partners are, and they need someone to keep things organized…

Because of this new adventure, I’ve been brainstorming how to brand my fitness life in tangent with my tattoo life. I love tattoos, and have quite a few already (I’m sure many more will be on the way now that I’ll be living and breathing them), and am excited to be able to share in other people’s brainstorming of skin art. It’s so fun to see what others love enough to have put on their bodies for the rest of their existence!

Fit Tattoos

Already, I’m surprised at how often I hear that people won’t get a tattoo they want because they’re afraid it won’t look right on their flabby body. Or, that since they’re planning on getting into shape (some indistinct timeframe we all have a vague notion of in our minds), they’ll wait until that happens before getting the work done, afraid the change in body composition will change the tattoo.

While it can be easier to tattoo on a slimmer form, since there’s not as much skin to stretch, though there are still areas on skinny people that need stretching, waiting to “get fit first” is not a valid reason to wait. Losing weight will not alter your tattoo directly, and if done well to begin with, will continue to look great through numerous body morphing trials.

To eliminate and prevent the droopy appearance of the remnants of excess body fat during and following weight loss, without resorting to surgical procedures, you must change your body composition, not just lose bodyweight. That means paying particular attention to the ratio of your body fat to muscle, or lean body mass. Preventing loss of lean body mass while dieting to lose body fat will dramatically improve your appearance. –The Myth of Loose Skin

Here’s tiny-vessels amazing body transformation (read all about it on her blog). Please note how well her tattoos held up.

jessica-weight-loss-tinyvessels tiny-vessels-weight-loss

Here’s another example I found on Quora:


I didn’t come across any examples of tattoos AFTER weight gain, so if you have any examples of that, please share 🙂

Send your pictures

I’d love to post your before and after pictures of tattoos that survived weight fluctuations. Send me yours! Or just send me pics of your tattoos! We’d love to see those too! Post in the comments below, or email me: