How to Spring Clean and Revamp Your Fridge and Pantry for Optimal Health 

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your closets. This is your chance to get rid of excess baggage in your kitchen, too. With a fridge and pantry full of nutritious, whole foods you’ll be able to make healthier meal choices and create the foundation for optimal health. Bonus: You’ll feel lighter, too.

The first step to cleaning your fridge and pantry is to read labels. Follow these guidelines to help you decide what to keep and what to toss.

How to Read Labels

  • Look for five or fewer ingredients.
  • Look for ingredients that you can pronounce, or to quote Michael Pollan, “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
  • Pay attention to serving size, often something you may think is a single serving is actually labeled as two or even three servings.
  • Look at fat content and aim for zero trans fat. Trans fats are found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and have been directly linked to heart disease.
  • Look at sodium content and aim for low-sodium or no-sodium foods. The daily-recommended guideline for sodium is between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day.
  • Look at sugar content and aim for no more than 26 grams (6 teaspoons) per day.
  • Look for artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine, and artificial flavorings and colorings. Studies have shown these artificial ingredients to be carcinogenic with the potential to damage DNA.

Toss foods that don’t meet the guidelines and re-stock your fridge and pantry with healthier options. Aim for re-stocking mostly whole foods, with a minimum of processed or packaged foods. Here’s what to look for …

Spring Clean the Fridge

  • Many condiments like ketchup, relish, bar-b-cue sauce, and salad dressings are loaded with sugar and salt. Consider making your own salad dressings from scratch for a healthier alternative to prepared salad dressings.
  • Some yellow mustards contain artificial coloring, look for brands that don’t.
  • Imitation mayonnaise may contain artificial ingredients, aim for all natural mayonnaise, or better yet make your own from scratch.
  • Check expiration dates of condiments, which tend to sit in the fridge for a long time, and toss any that are expired. When in doubt, check the guidelines from Consumer Reports on how long to safely keep condiments.
  • Eat organic produce whenever possible—it’s more nutritious and less toxic for your body, and it’s healthier for the planet too.
  • Eat from all colors of the rainbow.
  • Follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guidelines.
  • Shop local farmers markets for seasonal produce, which is often pesticide free even if it’s not certified organic.
Meats, Eggs, and Dairy
  • Look for labels stating non-GMO, no antibiotics, and no growth hormones.
  • Buy organic, free-range poultry.
  • Try to find grass-fed beef and lamb.
  • Avoid farm-raised fish; buy only wild-caught.
  • Get cage-free eggs.
  • Choose organic, no rbGH dairy products.
  • This is the number one place that sugar hides so ditch the naturally and artificially sweetened drinks in favor of water or herbal teas.
  • Substitute soda with sparkling water—add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or a few cucumber slices, mint, or organic berries for flavor.
  • Stock a variety of flavorful herbal teas, some of which are naturally sweet (such as those containing licorice root).
  • Buy organic, fair trade coffee, and aim for only one or two cups per day, preferably before noon.
  • Following Ayurvedic tradition, Dr. Suhas recommends not eating anything older then 24 hours. According to Ayurveda, leftovers are difficult to convert into Ojas, the vital nectar of life.
  • The Mayo Clinic recommends not eating anything older than 3 or 4 days, after which food poisoning becomes more likely.
  • Review the federal government food safety website for a list of limits on how long you shouldstore frozen foods.
  • Do not re-freeze thawed, raw meats until after they’ve been cooked.
  • Ice cream and other frozen fats are hard to digest, and are also loaded with sugar. Try substituting fruit sorbets made from scratch for ice cream. This blueberry-lemon sorbet even has anti-aging properties.

Spring Clean the Pantry

Breads, Flours, and Pastas
  • Aim to eat complex carbohydrates rather than simple, refined or processed carbohydrates whenever possible. Complex carbs take longer to digest and aren’t as likely to spike your blood sugar.
  • Breads are often high in sodium and sugar, and may not actually contain whole grains even if they say they do. Look for sprouted true whole grain breads that don’t contain flours but actually list the whole grains in the ingredients.
  • Ditch any products that contain refined or bleached flours.
  • Toss your white flour pastas and replace with brown rice, quinoa, or lentil-flour pasta. Alternatively try using spaghetti squash or julienned zucchini.
Breakfast Cereals and Grains
  • Look forGMO-free cereals and grains. If you’re gluten-sensitive or celiac avoid wheat, barley, and rye. Most breakfast cereals are over-processed so try substituting with whole-grain cereals instead.
  • Try steel cut oats, or quinoa, amaranth, and other ancient grains for breakfast.
  • Replace your white rice with wild rice, forbidden (black), brown, or red rice.
  • Soak or ferment whole grains overnight to make the nutrients more bio available and easier to digest.
  • Try making your own grain-free granola out of nuts, seeds, coconut, and berries.
Chips, Cookies, and Crackers
  • If you can, ditch all chips, cookies, and crackers. These are likely to contain hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats) and are usually high in sodium, sugar, and empty calories. Many chips and crackers also contain GMO ingredients.
  • Bake your own cookies from scratch like these gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
  • Look for whole-grain and seed crackers. There are several brands available in natural food markets.
  • Almost all chips contain unhealthy oils including: sunflower or safflower oil, both are high in omega 6’s which most people consume too much of. Also keep an eye out for other unhealthy oils like cottonseed oil (often GMO) and canola oil, which are frequently found in chips and crackers.

Every type of oil has its own optimal cooking temperature as well as a type of fat it contains. Some of the most and least healthy oils include:

Healthy Oils:

  • Olive oil is healthiest eaten raw, or used at low to medium heat for cooking. Beware that many olive oils have recently been adulterated with other oils, and artificial colorings and flavorings. Check this list to find pure olive oils.
  • Coconut oil has a high flash point, meaning it’s excellent to use at medium to high heat for sautés and stir-fries. Though coconut oil does contain saturated fat, it is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids, which metabolize differently than the long-chain fatty acids found in other saturated fats, so it’s healthier for you.
  • Nut and seed oils such as avocado oil, walnut oil, grape seed, and sesame oil are all options.

Unhealthy Oils

  • All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) have been shown to increase heart disease risk.
  • Cottonseed oil is high in saturated fat and pesticides
  • Canola oil contains GMOs unless specified “organic”
  • Palm oil is high in saturated fat. It is also unsustainably farmed and a leading cause ofrainforest deforestation.
  • Whenever possible try for fresh, dried, or frozen legumes instead of canned legumes.
  • Canned legumes can be very high in sodium as well as BPA leached from the cans.
  • To aid in digestion, soak dried legumes overnight or for 12 to 24 hours before cooking.
  • If eating soybeans, make sure they’re organic—otherwise they’re likely GMO. Soy is also healthiest eaten whole (edamame form) or fermented (tempeh and miso).
Canned Goods
  • Overall, fresh or frozen foods are healthier than canned goods.
  • Look for boxed alternatives to cans, or look for BPA-free cans.
  • Look for single ingredients. Many canned goods are high in sodium, have added sugar and sometimes hidden gluten ingredients as well.
Nuts and Seeds
  • Choose raw or dry roasted. Both types are a healthy source of fats and protein and make a great snack.
  • Dry roasted nuts can be high in sodium and can turn rancid more quickly if they’re roasted in oil, so look for dry roasted nuts that have low- or no-sodium with no added oils.
  • Store all nuts in a cool, dark location, and eat within 30 days to prevent rancidity.
  • Nut butters are a great source of protein as well as healthy fats. Again pay attention to sodium content, sugar, and other added ingredients. The healthiest nut butters contain just ground up nuts, nothing else. You can even grind your own at most natural food markets. (Note: Peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut.)
  • High in antioxidants, some studies have shown chocolate to be heart-healthy in moderation.
  • Aim for chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa for the healthiest option.
  • Look for organic and/or soy-free chocolate. Non-organic soy is likely GMO.
  • Look for fair-trade chocolate to avoid contributing to child slavery, which plays a part in the energy of the food you eat.

While you’re spring-cleaning the food in your fridge and pantry, clean your cupboards and refrigerator by wiping everything down with toxin-free household cleaners. Or consider making your own non-toxic cleaners out of white vinegar and lemon juice.

Spring-cleaning your fridge and pantry and re-stocking with healthy, whole food options will put you on the right track for optimal health.

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Dry Brush Your Skin


Dry skin brushing has long been a part of Ayurveda’s cleansing philosophies. Your skin is an organ of elimination, just like your kidneys, liver, and colon. Dry skin brushing helps keep the pores clear and the skin active to assist the body in this cleansing process. It also helps to increase blood circulation. Dry brushing exfoliates the skin’s outer layer and stimulates the sweat and oil glands, providing more moisture for the skin. Continue reading

Tim helps local reporter recover from injury

By Steve Carpenter Wednesday 14 August 2013 Updated: 14/08 18:36

Latest NewsBuy photos » Observer sports editor Steve Carpenter (top) and sales executive Wayne Lovelock (below).

TWO members of the Coventry Observer team will go head-to-head for charity next month when they take part in the Kenilworth Half Marathon.

Sports editor Steve Carpenter is taking part in his first half marathon on September 1 in a bid to raise funds for Zoe’s Place in Coventry, which helps care for children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

While sales executive Wayne Lovelock, who is a more experienced runner, is running for a cause close to his heart after his wife’s sister passed away from Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Both have been training vigorously over the past few months and are hoping to raise as much money as possible for their respective charities.

Wayne’s progress has been halted due to a foot injury which almost ended his chances of participating.

“I have found the past couple of months very frustrating,” said Wayne.

“Thankfully the treatment offered by Tim Metford at the Acupuncture Clinic in Finham ( really helped and he soon got me back up and running.

“Now I’m back on my feet the next challenge is to get fit in time not only for the Kenilworth Half Marathon but also the BUPA Great North Run at the end of September.”

Paul Smith at PT90 fitness camp ( has been helping both Wayne and Steve not only with their fitness but he has also supplied a nutritional plan for the pair.

To sponsor Steve visit and to sponsor Wayne


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Read more: Observer pair go head-to-head at Kenilworth Half Marathon | Coventry Observer

The Fertile Flow – The Health Benefits of Acupuncture

By Gabriela Rosa – Natural Fertility Specialist & Naturopath | EFT, Natural Fertility, Men & Women’s Health

For those of you who have never experienced Acupuncture, it is one of most ancient therapeutic techniques of Chinese medicine. It encourages the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.

This article may help answer some of your initial questions but feel free to call our Clinic if you’d like to discuss any aspects of acupuncture therapy.

So How Does Acupuncture Work?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.

Go with the Flow

Energy, or Qi, flows through these meridians. All diseases are the result of this energy not ?owing properly. Stimulating different points allows the Qi to flow well again which relieves pain, produces relaxation of mind and body, produces homeostatic effect harmonizing the body’s innate ability to self-regulate and enhances immunity

The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and re-establish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.

The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Can Acupuncture help when trying to conceive?

Acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:

promotion of health and well-being,
prevention of illness,
treatment of various medical conditions.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including Reproductive problems.

Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress and emotional conditions.

In 2002, a team of German researchers discovered that acupuncture significantly increased the odds of pregnancy among a group of 160 women who were undergoing IVF treatment. Forty-two percent of the women who received acupuncture got pregnant, compared to 26 percent of those who didn’t receive the treatment. The researchers speculated that acupuncture helped increase blood flow to the uterus and relax the muscle tissue, giving the embryos a better chance of implanting.

Other research does suggest that acupuncture is effective in reducing stress. Since stress has been shown to interfere with getting pregnant, it makes sense that reducing your stress through acupuncture could theoretically improve your odds of conceiving. Some women find acupuncture helpful to cope with the stress they feel about trying to conceive.

Acupuncture may also help male infertility. A few studies have shown that regular treatments significantly improve sperm counts and motility (the strength with which the sperm swim) and can significantly improve the quality and health of sperm. In a study published in Fertility and Sterility in 2005, researchers analyzed sperm samples from men with infertility of unknown cause before and after acupuncture treatments. They found that acupuncture was associated with fewer structural defects in sperm and an increase in the number of normal sperm

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for general wellbeing you may have monthly visits.

What about side-effects?

There are usually no side-effects. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered.

These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.

But I’m scared of needles – what are the needles like? Do they hurt?

People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle.

Because your practitioner carefully sterilizes the needles using the same techniques as for surgical instruments, or uses disposable needles, there is no risk of infection from the treatments.

Ok, but does it really work?

Yes. In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Today acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia, the Soviet Union, and in Europe. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians.

Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time other techniques are being used, such as conventional Western medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments, and homeopathic or naturopathic prescriptions. It is important that your physician-acupuncturist know everything that you are doing, so he or she can help you get the most benefit from all your treatments.

Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude (“I don’t know if I really believe in this.”) will not block the treatment results.

Is there anything I should know prior to the treatment?

Yes. To enhance the value of a treatment, the following guidelines are important:

Do not eat an unusually large meal immediately before or after your treatment.
Do not over-exercise, engage in sexual activity, or consume alcoholic beverages within 6 hours before or after the treatment.
Plan your activities so that after the treatment you can get some rest, or at least not have to be working at top performance. This is especially important for the first few visits.
Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor. Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) especially in the week prior to treatment will seriously interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments.
Remember to keep good mental or written notes of what your response is to the treatment. This is important for your practitioner to know so that the follow-up treatments can be designed to best help you and your problem
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