Jul 122010

juice If you have or know someone with psoriasis, this post may be of interest to you. If not, I apologize for posting something with a rather narrow focus on a site that’s usually very general. But if you’ve struggled with psoriasis, as I have for many years, any suggestions or ideas are usually welcome. So I thought I’d discuss an experiment in juice fasting I’m going to try for the next few weeks.

As a bit of background, psoriasis is a skin disorder that is currently thought of an auto-immune disease, with probable genetic components and various “triggers”. Basically, the body’s immune system attacks its own skin cells, causing those cells to die off at a much faster rate than normal. Everyone sheds skin cells every day, but in the case of psoriasis, the immune reaction causes itching, painful red patches that quickly form white scales and flakes, which shed like dandruff (in fact, some dandruff is caused by psoriasis).  If you’ve ever seen this on someone, rest assured that psoriasis isn’t contagious – just painful, aggravating and embarrassing. Among the things that can trigger outbreaks are stress, weight gain, lack of sunshine… but many outbreaks seem rather random.

Psoriasis is notoriously difficult to treat, and most of the treatments have dangerous side effects. For me, none of the treatments have ever done much good at all. Only one thing seems to have reversed psoriasis for me. On two occasions when I had gall bladder issues that were so bad I couldn’t eat for a week or more – the condition began to disappear. This caused me to wonder about the dietary triggers for psoriasis.

As it turns out, there have been alternative health practitioners for years (including Edgar Cayce in his trances) who have believed that psoriasis is a reaction to various foods, possibly in relation to so-called “leaky bowel syndrome”. The theory is that in some people, the intestinal wall becomes too permeable, and allows various substances to pass into the bloodstream that don’t really belong there, causing various problems including triggering psoriasis outbreaks. I’m not so sure about this theoretical mechanism, but I can personally attest that for some people, food and psoriasis are linked. Whether this is “leaky bowel”, allergies, or simply some interaction with the immune system I’m not sure.

In any case, many people, as it turns out, report some success with fasting, and with juice fasting as a treatment for psoriasis. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who’s books I’ve discussed elsewhere, is a big proponent of therapeutic fasting.  I’ve tried fasting completely (taking only water) several years ago. It helped the psoriasis quite a bit, but I was unable to continue a complete fast more than a week without becoming too weak to function normally. And one of the things about treating psoriasis is that if you stop too soon – if there are patches left, the condition tends to simply come right back. If I had the resources to do a medically supervised fast, this might be an option. But at the moment it’s not.

During my gallbladder episodes, the only things I was able to keep down were lemon-lime soda and a bit of apple juice. This suggests that a juice fast might be able to do the job. Quite a few people report success in treating psoriasis with either a juice fast for a number of weeks – or alternating juice one week with fruits and vegetables the next.

So I’m giving it a try. I’ve been primarily on juices for three days now, and I’m already seeing about a 30% improvement in the psoriasis (I’m also losing a bit of weight, which is just fine). I am, however, making some modifications to the “ideal” juice fast which I feel are necessary for my situation.

1. Fresh, raw juices are said to be the best for juice fasting. I don’t have the time or money to go that route. I’m using store-bought apple, grape, orange and “green” juice.

2. If I get so hungry that I feel in danger of going off the diet, I’ll have fruits and veggies if needed. At the end of a week of juice, I’ll evaluate and decide if I want to stick with juice or alternate with a week of fruits and vegetables.

3. I’m occasionally expected to eat out on business. If this happens I’ll stick with a salad.

4. I’m allowing myself tea. I tried allowing coffee but it didn’t go over too well, making me suspect caffeine has been a problem. 

5. I take a multi-vitamin just to cover the bases.

So far, this is working out much better than the total fast. I’m much less hungry, my energy is good, and the results so far are as good as a total fast. It remains to be seen if this will continue.

If you or someone you know has psoriasis, you might look into juice fasting. I’ll report on my results here and tweak the diet as needed as I go along.

Jan 242010

We’ve been trying to stick to a healthier diet for the new year. The other night, my daughter fixed a dessert we’ve been dying to try every since we saw the recipe in Jennifer Cornbleet’s book Raw Food Made Easy. It’s raw vegan chocolate mousse. How can you make a chocolate mousse without cream, butter and eggs? By using avocado and figs! Just the idea of making a chocolate dessert based on avocados was so intriguing we had to try it. And as it turns out – it’s wonderful! You would NOT guess it had an avocado base if you didn’t know in advance. It has a rich, creamy chocolate flavor with just a hint of exotic undertones in the taste that make it unlike anything you’ve ever tried. Make it for your family and see if they can guess what’s in it.

This version makes 2 servings:

1/4 cup pitted medjool dates, soaked

1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

3/4 cup mashed ripe avocados (about an avocado and a half)

1/4 cup plus two tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or carob powder

1/4 cup water

Put the dates, maple syrup and vanilla (if desired) in a food processor with an “S” blade and process until smooth. Add the avocado and the cocoa powder and process until creamy, scraping down from the sides as needed. Add the water and process briefly. Store in a sealed container. It keeps several days in the fridge or up to a week in the freezer.


Jan 232010

Raw Food Made Easy – for 1 or 2 People, by Jennifer Cornbleet. I don’t eat a diet that’s 100 percent raw, by any means. But the more I incorporate raw foods into my diet, the better I feel and the healthier I am. I’m not sure I’d ever want to go 100 percent raw, but most of us could benefit from adding more raw foods into our diet.

I shopped around quite a bit to find a good beginner’s “cookbook” to help transition to raw foods. Of course, it isn’t technically a “cook” book. More of an UN-cook book. This one seemed to come with the best recommendations, and I have been very happy with it. Jennifer Cornbleet starts out by helping you outfit a raw-food kitchen, and gives shopping lists of staples and recipe ingredients.

The recipe chapters cover everything from beverages, salads, soups, entrees, sauces, and even desserts. If I have a chance, I’ll post her recipe for raw vegan chocolate mousse, which is absolutely wonderful

Now I understand from raw food enthusiasts such as Steve Pavlina that as one get adapted to a raw food diet, there is less and less need to spend a lot of time and energy making dishes that are, to some extent, intended to mimic cooked foods. At some point, you might just prefer a bowl of grapes to some sort of raw vegan cake substitute. But I think a book like this is actually a great help in transitioning. Because one of the hurdles to be overcome with a move toward raw food is the fear that we are never going to be able to enjoy a delicious dessert or a hearty entree again. This book can get you past that fear. You will be amazed at how good the food is and how little you miss cooked food.

Be aware that the recipes are geared toward one or two people, so you will need to increase them to feed the number of people you are “cooking” for.

Nov 022009

My first Ezine article on raw foods and weight loss! Enjoy…

rawfood1Raw Food Weight Loss – Why Does it Work?

By Keith

Perhaps it’s just my own exposure to it, but a
raw food weight loss diet seems to be growing in popularity. I first
encountered a raw food diet myself as a last-ditch effort to avoid
the onset of type 2 diabetes. I was developing all the symptoms, and
had been warned by my doctor that I was on the verse of developing
diabetes. I learned about people reversing their diabetes with a raw
food diet through various sites on the internet, and was desperate
enough to give it a try.

It worked. Not only did my blood
sugar normalize, but I started losing weight hand over fist. Other
health problems (such as high blood pressure) began correcting
themselves as well. Once the crisis was over, I began asking myself
questions. Why did raw food work so well? What was there in
particular about raw as opposed to cooked vegetables and fruits that
made such a difference?

In fairness, there are a lot of
experts who will tell you that it doesn’t. Doctors like Joel Fuhrman
claim to have very similar results with a vegan diet that includes
cooked vegetables and beans, as well as raw fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Fuhrman makes excellent arguments as to why whole plant-based
foods help you lose weight. It basically revolves around the density
of the nutrient ratio to calories. The mechanism that regulates human
body weight perfectly when consuming foods found in nature is
completely inadequate for regulating the system when confronted with
the food monstrosities that humans create from processed and
artificially concentrated empty calories. But this argument applies
equally well to cooked or raw foods, as long as the foods are whole
plant foods. Is there an additional benefit to eating raw?

raw food enthusiasts, including myself, think that there is. One of
the common explanations for this is that cooking destroys enzymes in
the raw plants, which are critical to digestion. This improved
digestion, the theory goes, contributes to weight loss. The science
behind this, from what I’ve researched, is a bit dubious. Yes, there
are enzymes in raw foods, but they are different from the ones used
by humans in digestion. On the other hand, it’s certain that cooking
chemically alters food in ways that are not completely understood.
They are not understood because we have only a dim grasp of the
staggering array of chemicals that even the simplest fruit and
vegetables consist of. It is this interplay of hundreds of nutrients
– some of them as yet undiscovered and not yet researched – that
contributes to health.

 Perhaps there is something even
more fundamental to the effect of a raw diet. Many of the primary
changes I noticed when switching to a raw diet were mental changes –
even, if I may introduce the word, spiritual changes. Raw food simply
seems to have a “life energy” to it that translates into a
different experience when living primarily on raw food. I don’t know
that this “life energy” will ever be completely transparent
to scientific study, but many people who have tried raw food will
testify that it makes a difference to them and their quality of

Or me, raw food has been a health transformation. Yes I
have lost a lot of weight. But most importantly, I simply feel more
in touch with my health. I finally feel at home in my body.

Campbell is a Reiki master and independent priest involved in healing
and holistic health.
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