I am a recovering alcoholic (been sober for 3 years and 5 months now). Lately I am craving alcohol, a lot. I wonder if I might be deficient in a nutrient or if this is an emotional issue, though I am not sure what. My life has really been pretty decent lately.
RYAN HARRISON ANSWERS: Addictions of any kind are a very tricky matter, as anyone recovering from one will tell you. There are all kinds of angles to consider: every addiction has several aspects in play including physical, psychological, social, and cultural. To successfully overcome an addiction, each aspect needs to be addressed and healed. That you have been sober for 3+ years is wonderful news and a testament that you have done some good healing work – well done!
And yet, as you notice, cravings can certainly come back to dog your steps. There can be different reasons for this, chief among them psychological and biochemical.
In the former, a personality that has utilized alcohol in the past to soothe mental or emotional upset may certainly have established unhealthy psychological responses, sort of like mental “muscle memory”. The unpleasant emotional stimulus arises and the emotional body responds as it had learned in the past by craving the substance once used to numb it. For such unhealthy psychological processes, I highly recommend the use of energy psychology, especially Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is a remarkably simple-yet-effective ancillary therapy based on the energy system utilized in acupressure and acupuncture. It is especially powerful when applied to psychological and emotional disturbances, including addictions and cravings. I can’t recommend it highly enough, though I strongly suggest working with a qualified EFT Practitioner. While the technique is relatively easy to learn and apply, the help of a skilled practitioner will multiply your odds for success.
On the biochemical side of the craving/addiction coin, you should know that people with alcoholism tend to have a blood-sugar imbalance and candidiasis (an overgrowth of Candida albicans, an “unfriendly” bacteria naturally found in the intestines). These two conditions actually increase alcoholic cravings, so working to improve them should be top priority. Where blood sugar is related, you should move from fast-burning, simple carbohydrates to the longer-burning, complex kind. Decrease your consumption of simple sugars and stay away from anything with high fructose corn syrup. Drink plenty of purified water, and get adequate daily exercise. Consume a variety of organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. This will help your body bring itself back into balance and raise your overall level of energy. Additionally, taking 200 mcg of chromium two to three times daily can help reduce sugar and possibly alcohol cravings. Taking 500-1,000 mg of encapsulated cinnamon also helps level out blood sugar, especially if taken before each meal.
If candidiasis is suspected, a detoxification program is in order. Not surprisingly, when people undertake a thorough detoxification, addictions and cravings of all sorts drop away with relative ease as the body “remembers” what it really wants as far as food/fuel and stops craving the junk foods that have been sustaining (or poisoning) it for so long.
It takes some willpower to fight and beat candidiasis, but it can be done. My suggestions include finding an all-natural fiber supplement that provides at least 12-24 g of fiber daily. A high-potency, whole food-derived multivitamin/mineral supplement will supply your body with the combination of vitamins and minerals it needs to detoxify. Taking 250-500 mg of milk thistle three times daily helps the liver detoxify and rejuvenate itself. And a good B-vitamin complex is recommended, as well, as the body requires many of the B-vitamins for detoxification. Also, perhaps second in importance to the fiber, be sure you take a high-potency, multi-strain, enteric coated probiotic to help repopulate your intestines with “friendly” bacteria, tipping the scales back in their favor.
Finally, it bears mentioning that there may certainly be a neurochemical component to your addiction and addictive cravings. Research has suggested that much addictive behavior is actually regulated by the dopamine-serotonin relationship in the brain. In general, too much dopamine accentuates cravings; serotonin, on the other hand, signals the brain to stop producing dopamine, and produces a feeling of satiety. So, taking 100 mg of 5-HTP (a serotonin precursor) three times daily on an empty stomach may help reduce cravings from a neurotransmitter perspective.
I want to do a detox, but I have mercury fillings in my teeth. I can’t afford to get them out yet. Should I wait to do the detox, or should I make an adjustment because of the mercury in my mouth?
DR. SHILLINGTON ANSWERS: This is a good question and I’ve been asked it many times in the past. It is best to do a complete total body cleanse NOW rather than waiting until after the mercury is removed. Usually, teeth with mercury fillings in them leach this toxic heavy metal into one’s system slowly over the years and the accumulated build-up in the brain and other organs is what eventually gets one into a state of ill health. A complete detox (done correctly) removes massive amounts of toxins, including these heavy metals within a 28 day time frame, giving instant relief from the toxicity. One can then plan out the removal of the mercury fillings over the next several months. After this has been completed, another full detox is in order to clean up any residues along with the Novocain used in the procedure.
Yours in Knowledge, Health, and Freedom,
What are your favorite sweeteners? I make a lot of raw food dishes for a reluctant family with a sweet tooth.
RAW CHEF DAN ANSWERS: I use a lot of sweeteners depending on what dish it is and who it is for. Many times when I am making food for an event or by contract there are already considerations like Veganism, kosher, non agave eaters…
Stevia is always an acceptable sweetener for everyone from diabetics to vegans; however, I find its flavor to be thin, almost like a saccharine. It is very sweet but has very little flavor and I find myself adding more salt to a dish to bring out the sweetness. Also, different brands and the form it comes in can vary greatly. A raw stevia powder is available and although sweet it can have a very unpleasant bitter aftertaste especially if it is a green powder. Some of the liquid (tinctures) can also have a bit of a bitter overtone. In my experience, Wisdom Of The Ancients Steviaclear Extract and NOW Stevia Glycerite are good brands that taste great. Stevia is very concentrated and a little goes a long way. So if I need my product to be on the dryer side, stevia is the obvious choice. Other sweeteners like honey or agave can add too much liquid to a recipe where it is not wanted. Stevia is also very low on the glycemic index and often recommended to diabetics.
Raw honey is one of my favorites. Honey does come in many flavors determined by what flowers are feed to the bees so trying and using different honeys can produce different results. Honey has a strong taste and its flavor needs to be considered and incorporated into the recipe. Raw honey also harbors a considerable amount of amylase, the enzyme that digests starch. The only other raw that contains any measurable amount of amylase is raw miso. Raw honey is good to use in any recipe that has grains or other starchy foods. Though most starch found in raw foods is already sweet like carrots, beets, corn… the amylase can help break down the starch into sugar. Many vegans do not want to use honey due to the past misconception that it is an animal product. It was thought that bees actually ingest the flower nectar then regurgitate it once they return to the nest. That did not set well with the vegans. However in the early 1990s, using more powerful microscopes and further investigating, it was discovered that honey bees actually have an external pouch much like a kangaroo where the nectar is stored for transport and does not ever enter the bee’s innards. So as Yoda would say, “Vegan honey truly is!”
Agave is also very popular in raw foods and has a full yet fairly neutral flavor. It can be used in desserts or in savory dishes like curry sauces, dressing’s pate… there are light and dark agaves, blue agave, and “truly raw” agaves. You would have to research a little to decide which is best for you. I use agave in my raw restaurant as it works for all recipes and is accepted by vegans, though there are some raw foodies who won’t order anything with agave in it.
There are other sweeteners out there that I do not or at least have not used, like yacon which is really healthy. It tastes sweet, but the human body does not recognize it as a sugar. Therefore it has none of the biological effects of sugar. Though one of the best raw foods out there, I do not use it in the restaurant simply because of its high price and the fact it requires a large quantity to achieve any noticeable sweetness. It is good for home use, but not so great for a restaurant.
There are also beet sugars, barley malts and a few others. I do not know too much about them.
In many cases I just use fresh or dried foods to sweeten. For desserts I use mostly fruits and add agave, honey or stevia only if needed. Dried fruits also work great for thickening sauces while adding sweetness, like in a curry sauce of salad dressing. Red and yellow bell peppers are sweet and work great for dressings, sauces and gravies. Carrots and or beets can also add sweetness if you use them. In conclusion I try to use sweet food as much as possible then add dedicated sweeteners if the dish needs more.
Are cashews a raw food? I heard they have to be heated up to be opened. I also heard that almonds are no longer raw (read that in last months issue).
RAW CHEF DAN ANSWERS: Ah, the old cashew question. The simple answer to that is if the cashews in question are any less than $18 a pound they most likely are not raw. The word cashew refers to a tree, its fruit, and the popular, edible nut it produces. The nut comes from the bottom of the cashew apple.. The apple is a delicacy in Brazil, where the fruit originated but it is not eaten in large quantities in many other places. Cashews are now consumed heavily world-wide but they are especially popular in Asian cooking where they are a common ingredient in Thai cuisine. Reference:mahalo.com.
There is a toxic resin inside the shell layer. If the shell is not opened properly, the resin will get on the cashew nut, making it inedible. Most companies steam the shell open at a high temperature thus cooking the cashew nut inside. A certain nut producer in Indonesia uses a special technique with specially-designed tools (without using any heat at all) to open the shell cleanly every time without ever exposing the cashew nut to the resin. The raw cashews are much sweeter, tastier, and nutritious than their cooked counterparts.
Many people avoid cashew nuts because of their high fat content, though they are lower in total fat than almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts. Cashews provide essential fatty acids, B vitamins, fiber, protein, carbohydrate potassium, iron, and zinc. Like other nuts, cashews have a small percentage of saturated fat; however, eaten in small quantities cashews are a highly nutritious food. Reference: living-foods.com
In the raw community raw cashews are sold under the labeling of “really raw” cashews.
As for almonds – yes, sadly enough, a law was passed and enforced last September that all almonds in the U.S., Mexico and Canada have to be pasteurized before public distribution and sale. We fought long and hard to crush the bill, but the powers that be have more money and more lobbyists than the raw foodies. And they (FDA and the Codex Alimentarius Commition) are not going to stop at almonds either so brace yourself. Pasteurized leafy greens, sterilized fruits and cocoa will be restricted as a “controlled substance” by the FDA. Its coming folks, so hold on!
Raw almonds can still be purchased as an import through the good folks at Living Tree, Better Than Roasted or from my friend Seth Leaf at Living Nuts. Glaser Organic Farms have also just put on the market a “raw” almond butter that look really great.
In conclusion if you want your nuts truly raw, your best bet is to buy from a raw conscious shop like my friends at Live Live in NYC that takes the time to research products for their purity and integrity. They have done all the work and we get to do all the eating!
What blender do you recommend? I am about to start a raw foods diet and I want to know what blender will work best. I am looking to spend not over $100, but if I really need to I suppose I could spend more. Thanks!
RAW CHEF DAN ANSWERS: No blender under $100 is worth having. Get the Jack LaLanne Power Blender if the Vita-Mix is out of your budget.
I always seem to gravitate to 20 pounds overweight. I really eat pretty well and follow most of the guidelines OLM recommends. Is it possible my body just prefers to be at this weight, and is 20 pounds serious? I am 5’11”.
RAYMOND FRANCIS ANSWERS: Twenty pounds overweight is a serious matter since we can already measure biochemical abnormalities in people who are five pounds overweight. Twenty pounds is sufficient to be producing excess estrogen, a flood of free radicals and other health-damaging chemicals. This accelerates aging and increases the risk of all diseases and disability.
I have found that when people go on good diets and still can’t lose weight, they may be looking at a toxicity problem. There are two causes of overweight disease: deficiency and toxicity. You are obviously still lacking key nutrients and/or still exposed to environmental toxins that are causing the disease.
Raymond Francis, In your book, Never Be
Sick Again, you mention that store bought cooking oils have trans-fatty acids. But lately I’ve seen so much more attention paid to whether or not something has Trans fats, they’re being eliminated it seems. Are there still trans fats in typical cooking oils?
RAYMOND FRANCIS ANSWERS: A. Trans fats are still very much with us, but they are slowly being reduced. However, even if all trans fats were removed, this still does not solve the problem that most Americans eat the wrong fats. Americans still consume huge amounts of highly toxic oils such as soy, peanut, canola, sunflower, safflower and corn oils. These contain too many omega 6 fatty acids and the excess of omega 6s in our diet is causing an enormous epidemic of chronic inflammatory disease such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and asthma.
Exercise – Heart Rate
Do you monitor your heart rate when working out? I’ve been told that it’s really important but I’ve never paid any attention to it. I consider myself physically fit, so do I need to monitor it?
ERIC HARR ANSWERS: Hello Jerry, thank you for the question! You hit on arguably one of the most important aspects of achieving your health and fitness goals — and doing so without undue fatigue or injury. And that is: using a heart rate monitor during all of your aerobic workouts. It is vitally important, and you should begin paying attention to monitoring your heart rate no matter how fit you are. Working out without a heart rate monitor is like driving your car without a speedometer. It’s driving blind. For more information check out my article Training and Your Heart Rate by Eric Harr.
Car Pooling with Rex
I take my dog to work almost every day. I live in Atlanta and have to drive in rush hour traffic every morning. Can I drive in the car pool lane since I have a dog with me?
OLM ANSWERS: Yes, you absolutely can drive in the car pool lane with your dog! Be sure to bring your dog to court with you. OLM
Email your questions to questions [at] organicmail.net. Questions may be edited for clarity or length.