The King and Queen of Fruits: Durian and Mangosteen

The antioxidant powers of mangosteen
Photo by NataschaM

Last week I wrote about the benefits and the power of antioxidants in keeping us young, boosting the immune system, and feeling great.

This week I’m going to talk about a particular type of antioxidant that is harder to find… in fact it is only available in two fruits: the king & queen of fruits. Before we get into the powers of this particular antioxidant, let me introduce you to the king and queen of fruits.

Durian is the king of fruits.

You might want to see my video all about durian, so you can get a better idea of the history of this odd fruit.

Durian is a large spiky fruit, that smells strong. How strong? Each time my boyfriend’s mom visits us when we’ve got durian in the house, she asks if we’ve got a gas leak.

Even though it’s the king of fruits, durian is a bit of a controversial fruit because it’s an acquired taste. It’s also an acquired smell, so much that it’s banned in hotels and subways in many parts of Asia where it originates from.

durian-mangosteen
Photo by Becky Quan

Mangosteen is the queen of fruits.

Although it’s small, mangosteen is definitely the queen of fruits because when eaten with durian it can balance out the “hotness” of durians. This is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts of yin and yang or hot and cold foods.

Since most modern day diets tend to be too “hot” with lots of meat products or acid forming foods, mangosteen is a great fruit for balancing your food intake.

Special Antioxidants: Xanthones

So what’s so special about these two fruits for them to be known as the king and queen of all fruits? Well the taste is definitely part of it, but I think there’s something even more special about these two. They both contain the hard to find antioxidant Xanthone.

Most fruits only have about 2-5 antioxidants per serving, whereas a mangosteen or durian has upwards of 43 Xanthone antioxidants.

Now, this may get a little technical so hang in there with me as I explain exactly what’s so special about xanthones available in mangosteen (and durian).

According to scientific literature from PubMed, obesity-associated inflammation happens when white blood cells enter into adipose tissue (fat) which produces an inflammatory antibody reaction, leading to the development of insulin resistance.

The xanthones, alpha- and gamma-mangostin, are major bioactive compounds found in mangosteen that have antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Another study showed that Mangosteen fruit pericarp is a rich source of xanthones, showing remarkable pharmacological activities. From potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities.

Since most of the antioxidants we talked about are actually in the outer layer (the pericarp) of the mangosteen (remember, we’re talking about bright colors here) then you might wonder how you can get those Xanthones into your body.

Well I’ve recently chosen to carry a product that is designed with the modern on-the-go lifestyle in mind.

The busier you are, the more stress you take on, the more you accumulate free radicals. That’s why I think it’s essential for people to start getting more antioxidants from the king and queen of fruits.

So unless you’re already consuming fresh durians and mangosteens, I’d love for you to consider getting in touch with me to see if this new plant-source mineral and mangosteen product is right for you.

Find Out if It’s Right For You

Just email me here, or call me at 1-802-323-1841 and I’d love to discuss this new product with you and get your body the Xanthone antioxidants it needs!

Love, Nathalie

Why You Need Antioxidants & How to Get Them Naturally

We hear nutrition buzz words like antioxidants, free radicals, and oxidative stress all the time… but what do they really mean, and more importantly what does it mean for your health?

What are antioxidants?
Photo by Darren Hester

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals is a chemistry term that describes a molecule that is unstable. A molecule is unstable when it has an uneven number of electrons, and is constantly searching to bond with other molecules to gain that electron.

When an unstable molecule bonds with an existing stable molecule, it “steals” the electron it needs and causes a domino effect by making the once-stable molecule turn into a new free radical.

The term “free” refers to the fact that these molecules are traveling throughout the body looking for a fix (an electron).

Sounds innocent enough, but free radicals are responsible for:

  • Accelerated aging
  • Destruction of DNA
  • Clogging of arteries
  • Tissue damage

I should add that our body naturally produces free radicals when it needs to fight off viruses and bacteria. However, most of us have way too many free radicals due to environmental factors like pollution, radiation, smoking or inhaling smoke, pesticides, herbicides, and stress.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are phytochemicals, vitamins, and other nutrient dense substances that fight free radicals. Antioxidants to the rescue!

How can you tell if a food has antioxidants? Colors!

Plants create different colorful pigments to protect themselves from the sun’s UV rays. Plants too can develop free radicals if they are under too much ultra violet sun light. That’s why they develop bright and colorful antioxidants.

Lucky for us, we can eat these colorful plants and fruits and gain the beneficial antioxidants to help us fight free radicals.

Ever notice how all of these “antioxidant superfoods” are dark and colorful like pomegranate, blueberries, acai, etc? Yep, it’s those color pigments that have the antioxidant properties we’re looking for.

Antioxidants act like scavengers for free radicals, giving them one of their electrons. The key is that antioxidants continue to be stable even if they donate an electron. Hence antioxidants have a stabilizing effect, that can repair damage and prevent more from happening.

Antioxidants also improve your body’s immune system, helping you fight off colds and out of control cell reproduction.

Antioxidants are colors
Photo by Doug Wheller

How Do You Get Antioxidants Naturally?

I’ve already hinted at this in the previous section, but the trick to getting your antioxidants in naturally is to eat lots of colorful plant based foods.

Think in rainbows. Dark blues and purples, shimmering reds, yummy oranges, delightful yellows, powerful greens.

When you shop at the farmer’s market or grocery store, look for the bright colors. Manufacturers try to lure you in with brightly designed boxes and cans, but if you let your instincts kick in you’ll be drawn to the naturally beautiful colors of fresh organic produce.

Studies have shown that eating more than 5 portions of fresh fruits and vegetables each day can cut down your risk for heart disease and stroke by 25%.

I think these natural antioxidants are working their magick!

Leave a comment

What’s your favorite colorful fruit or veggie? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Love, Nathalie

Homemade Acne Treatments? How About Foods that Prevent Acne

This article has been a long time coming, and it is hard for me to post pictures and write about my journey with acne. I started getting lots of pimples when I was eleven years old, and tried everything to get rid of it.

Finally, after years of struggling with facial and body acne, I feel like I am ready to share what I have learned to stop zits and breakouts. I’m by no means an acne expert, I share only what has worked for me.

Homemade Acne Treatment
Acne photos – before and after high raw diet

Hormonal Acne, Pimples, and Sugar

I started having lots of acne and breakouts when I was 11 years old. At that point in my life candy was a staple in my diet, and so were processed sugary foods like cakes and cookies. I also drank soft drinks left and right.

Oh, and I should mention that my favorite restaurant growing up was McDonald’s. For the toys.

Since I started breaking out at a young age (no one else had acne yet) my parents and I tried all kinds of things. I went to the dermatologist, the esthetician, and bought every type of cream and “system”.

I kept hearing “rumors” that acne was caused by chocolate, or soda, or sugar. When I asked my dermatologist, the answer was a flabbergasted – of course not! Diet has nothing to do with breakouts, it’s all hormones. (Now I know that the body is a sum of the whole, and that nothing is ever isolated!)

Nothing really put a dent into the acne, no matter how much on the spot acne treatment stuff I applied. The years went by and I continued to eat peanut butter sandwiches, lots of sugary snacks, junk food, and soda.

Acne and Birth Control Pills

Finally in an act of desperation when I was 16 I went on the birth control pill, as recommended by my dermatologist.

I saw a slight improvement in my skin, even though the acne never completely went away. Unfortunately the birth control pill would go on to affect a lot of other things in my body.

I gained about 20 pounds in one summer when I started on the pill. This exacerbated an already messed up relationship with food and emotions.

It also put my hormones out of whack. In fact when I decided to stop taking the birth control pill 5 years later, I had a hard time getting my period back.

Oh, and when I stopped taking the birth control pill my acne remained at the same level. So really, I think the pill did more harm than good… especially when you take into account the side effects and how it threw off the balance of good bacteria and yeast in my body.

Homemade Acne Treatments

So what do I think is the best homemade acne treatment? A change of diet, quite truthfully. I’ve tried all the creams, all the homemade masks, and the closest I’ve come to clear skin is by eating right.

So what do I consider to be “eating right”? Eating lots of high water content fresh fruits and vegetables, reducing or even eliminating sugar, wheat, and dairy.

Here’s a little bit of what might be going on underneath your skin, and why what you eat really influences acne and breakouts:

  • You get breakouts and pimples when oil glands get infected with bacteria, causing an inflammation response and filling up with white blood cells and pus.
  • Eating foods that boost your immune system will help your body fight the bacteria, thus reducing the inflammation. Immune system boosting foods include those high in Vitamin C like oranges, kiwis, and broccoli.
  • Sugar causes spikes in energy and blood sugar, and generally leads to a compromised immune system, low energy, and a cycle of eating more sugar.
  • Sugar also feeds the yeast, causing an imbalance of good bacteria in the body. Without the good bacteria to protect you, you are more vulnerable to breakouts.
  • Stress has an impact on the immune system, essentially shutting down our digestion and other auxiliary “services” to undertake the fight or flight response. That’s why you get more breakouts when you’re stressed.
  • Toxins and other unwanted substances can get lodged in the body, either through the foods we eat, the air we breathe, or the products we put on our skin. If you observe breakouts after using certain products, discontinue their use.
  • Allergies and food sensitivities cause your body to go into an immune response, leading to constant inflammation, and reducing your body’s immune response sensitivity over time.
  • Water is essential for flushing out the toxins, hydrating the body and the skin. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day.

Acne Tips

Here are some other acne tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Check out Acne.org for videos on how to wash your face to reduce inflammation.
  2. Picking pimples is not recommended, it causes scarring, and just encourages more pimples in the same spot.
  3. Be gentle on yourself – a lot of this is about mindset, and change is never an overnight transformation.

Finally, I need to say that I’m not totally blemish free. I still get some acne and pimples, but it’s much more manageable.

In fact, I usually know exactly why I am getting breakouts. Lack of sleep, too much stress, not eating right, a certain type of make up or lotion, that time of the month, etc.

Got Any More Acne Treatments or Tips?

I’d love to hear your acne story. If you found a natural way to reduce or stop your acne, let us know in the comments!

We’re all in this together and the more we share, the better for future visitors who are in need of advice.

Love, Nathalie

From Tired, Overweight, and Depressed to Radiant Beauty with Whole / Raw Foods

Dawnmarie Raw Foods Before & After

This is a guest post by Dawnmarie, read on to hear her story of transformation with raw foods.

The year 2006 was the worst year of my life. My best friend of 15 years and I had a falling out. My Grandmother died. I lost my job. I opened my own practice only to close 9 months later in near bankruptcy because of low reimbursement from insurance companies. My husband left. I found a new partner. He left. My dog was diagnosed with ehrlichia.

My life was starting to sound like a country music song. But perhaps the most devastating news came from my ob/gyn.

You aren’t fertile. Your FSH is too high. You need an egg donor.

Having wanted children all my life, now 37 and without a partner, my chances were quite grim.

Not only would I need a sperm donor, but also an egg donor. There must be a way to restore my fertility.

In addition, at the time, I was taking a pharmacy load of medications:

  • Wellbutrin for ADHD and depression.
  • Lamictal for refractory depression (standard antidepressants no longer worked).
  • Strattera for ADHD.
  • Klonopin for anxiety.
  • Citrucel for my irritable bowel with constipation.
  • Bottles and bottles of Advil for various aches and pains, headaches and menstrual cramps.
  • Glucosamine for joint pain.
  • Coffee to wake me up in the morning.
  • Sleeping aids to get me to sleep at night.

I was 155 pounds, heavy for my 5″7 frame. My cholesterol was elevated. And, I had acne. All of the time. I didn’t recognize who I had become. And I didn’t like her.

Discovering Raw Food

My friend Leslie, at the same time my husband left, decided to “go raw” for a few weeks to do a “cleanse.” I thought this was ridiculous and unnecessary.

Meat and dairy are essential to a balanced diet. Its good for you. Or so I thought and so I had learned.

While my world continued to spiral down, I noticed Leslie’s was improving. She became my emotional rock and she was no longer so fragile.

Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine

She continued to tell me about “raw” and I continued to dismiss her. But for Christmas, to support her, I bought her Gabriel Cousens’ book Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine. And I did myself the favor and read the introduction.

There was one thing that he said that I wanted to hear, you can “change hormone production with a living food diet.

A month later, when I arrived in California for a job so that I could prevent bankruptcy, I “went raw.”

After three months, I was no longer anxious. I didn’t need Klonopin.

After six months, I didn’t feel depressed. I stopped the Lamictal. Several months later, I didn’t need the Wellbutrin, either. Strattera was causing my blood sugars to rise. I stopped it, and they normalized. The Citrucel sat on my shelf.

Eating fibrous foods was not constipating. I wasn’t buying Advil, either, as I no longer ached. I didn’t get headaches anymore. I replaced coffee with green smoothies. I slept well every night.

Testing The Raw Boundaries

One day, early in my raw journey, I was overtired and decided to get a latte prior to work. Within hours, I was doubled over in pain.

All along, I had been lactose intolerant, and didn’t realize it. So that’s why I wasn’t farting anymore.

I lost weight. All of it. And I was back down to my prior college weight of 125 pounds. I looked and felt fantastic.

Although, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos (likely induced prior to going raw, by the large quantities of dairy I used to consume, as dairy promotes autoimmune disorders), my thyroid hormones stabilized quickly, and I haven’t yet needed a prescription for thyroid replacement.

Once I stopped gluten, I no longer had acne.

The Ever After Part…

It’s four years later, and I’m still mostly “raw” and definitely only consume a whole food plant based diet. I feel better now at 41 than I did at 31.

Another fertility specialist just informed me that my AMH is zero and that I have only one follicle producing in my left ovary per month.

He says I need an egg donor and he says I have a non-significant very small external fibroid on my uterus.

My mother lost her uterus to fibroids at 37. I believe had I not turned my diet around, I, too would be getting a hysterectomy.

While all of my other health problems have cleared, the fertility issue is still a challenge. I’m not giving up.

I’ve been to Clear Passages for 30 hours of physical therapy to prepare my ovaries and uterus for pregnancy. (A pleasant side-effect of this treatment, now that my uterus isn’t nailed to my abdominal wall from adhesions, is that I can now orgasm on intercourse).

I’m taking DHEA, which has been shown to improve egg quality and follicular production. And next week, I fly to Seattle to attend Randine Lewiss course for women with reproductive challenges like my own.

Whether or not I become pregnant on my own or by a donor egg, my raw food journey has lead me to a better place, to better health. This physician, healed herself, with a whole food, plant based diet.

Thank you Dawnmarie!

I just want to take a moment to thank Dawnmarie for sharing her story with all of us. It’s amazing what a whole food diet can do, and I am so blessed to be able to share this message with the world!

Love, Nathalie

5 Conversations that Influenced Who I Am Today

Influential conversations

Me, getting ready for work

Recently I was thinking back on some of the people who have had the biggest impact on me as a person. We are all connected and we all influence each other more than we realize.

So here are a few of the conversations or sayings that have really opened up my mind, changed my perspective, and got me where I am today.

“Have you ever tried making cookies from scratch before?”

The situation: My instructor and I had just finished a grueling day-long Tae Kwon Do competition, and I was famished. I reached for a box of “home made” cookies and we both dug in. She asked me how I made the cookies and I gave her a puzzled look.

I had never made my own cookies from scratch before, I always bought the premade dough. These days I obviously make my food from scratch… all the way from whole mostly raw foods.

“Practice every day, so that you can make your weakest move into one of your best moves.”

I was training for the US National Tae Kwon Do competition, and I was practicing a tough pattern with my instructor. There was one move that was bringing me down.

The simple thought that I could practice this move until it became my best move changed my life.

I was able to stop fretting and start doing, which put me miles ahead of my competition. And more importantly, it showed me that I can do the same in other aspects of my life too.

“Oh, you just got those interviews because they need to fill their female quotas.”

During my first year of University, my female Software Engineer friends and I were discussing how many interviews for internships we got when a professor overheard us.

Instead of giving us any advice on how to ace those interviews, he made us feel like we didn’t deserve them by saying outright that companies had to fill their female interview quotas.

Luckily I didn’t take it personally, I just got even. I practiced a lot and asked for advice from more experienced friends. I aced those interviews and got a great internship right off the bat.

“Mandarin will become one of the most widely spoken languages on the planet.”

My grade 7 math teacher was awesome at teaching math, but he also introduced me to learning Mandarin. At the time I didn’t know the difference between Chinese and Japanese languages, let alone cultures. I was a small town girl with little “real world” experience.

After hearing that Mandarin was the next language to learn, I made it a goal. I already spoke French and English, so Mandarin didn’t seem too crazy.

My goal didn’t manifest right away, but bit by bit situations in my life arranged themselves for it to happen. In University I was able to take Mandarin classes, and in 2008 I traveled to China for 4 months with my boyfriend Robin.

“Are you sure you want to eat that?”

This question will probably haunt me (and possibly you too) for a long time.

As some of you know, I used to eat a 100% junk food diet… lots of processed stuff, tons of soda, candy and sugar like you wouldn’t believe. I ate cookies for breakfast. (Do you notice a theme with cookies yet?)

Well my Tae Kwon Do teacher couldn’t believe I was going to compete by fueling myself with nothing but fake food. At the time I didn’t get it. Now, I’m on board with the lesson… and I’m sharing it with you.

What conversations affected you the most?

We all have events and conversations that shape who we are as people today, share yours in the comments below!

Remember that no matter what, your actions and words do have an influence on others, so don’t be shy! Each word is a seed planted that might not grow today but that will help others over time.

Love, Nathalie