Denver - Design District - Alameda and Broadway
368 S Broadway
Denver, CO 80209
At Natural Grocers we pride ourselves on our standards. In fact, I think it is safe to say we have the highest standards of any major grocery chain out there. We only sell USDA certified organic produce, never conventional. All of the dairy products we sell come from pasture-raised animals, never confinement dairies. And eggs? Our eggs have come from cage-free chickens since 1955, and we recently took our egg standards up a notch and now sell eggs only from free-range chickens. Our standards extend to the pricing of our products too, because we believe healthy food should be affordable. Now with the introduction of our new Natural Grocers brand products, we’re upping the ante again. You won’t find better house brand products at a better price anywhere else.
There you have it. Five great reasons to love our new products, and I didn’t even get started on the taste (the pasta sauce, made with heirloom tomatoes, will knock your socks off!). Natural Grocers brand products are the natural evolution of our 63-year commitment to delivering the highest quality products at affordable prices and we’re excited for you to try them. I think you’ll love them as much as we do!
Ah…the mysterious “toxins” that you detox…
…do they really exist? Are they woo-woo? Are they accumulating in your body causing cancers and plaques and inflammation?
In this article, you’ll learn about toxins, detoxing, and how to support your body’s innate ability to detox.
Let’s begin with an understanding of what toxins actually are. In simplest terms, toxins are harmful agents found in the environment that may accumulate in the human body causing ill-health and disease. And yes, they do exist. When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals—an analysis of the general population’s exposure to environmental chemicals—they found some pretty shocking results which suggest that no matter how “clean” you live your life, just about everybody shows some evidence of a buildup of toxins.
The CDC’s report discovered an average of 212 chemicals in people’s blood or urine, 75 of which had never before been measured in the U.S. population. The chemicals included acrylamide, formed when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures, and as a byproduct of cigarette smoke; arsenic, found in many home-building products and used in conventional poultry production; environmental phenols, including bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastics and food packaging, and triclosan, used as an antibacterial agent in personal care products; perfluorinated chemicals, used to create non-stick cookware; volatile organic compounds (VOCs), found in paints, air fresheners, cleaning products, perfumes and colognes, carpets, and dry-cleaned clothing; and synthetic pesticides, including a variety of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides commonly used in conventional agriculture.
When you add them up, these chemicals do indeed present a toxic burden to your body, and as the CDC found, can accumulate in blood and bodily tissues. While your body does have detoxification organs—namely your liver and kidneys—they can easily become overburdened with the vast amount of environmental toxins that we are exposed to every day.
While the kidneys are important for acting as a filtration mechanism for your blood and removing wastes from the body, it’s the liver that shines when it comes to detoxification. Along with filtering your blood to remove toxins, your liver uses a two-phase process to break down toxins and move them out of the body. During phase I, toxins are broken into smaller fragments, and in phase II, the toxins are bound to other molecules, creating a neutralized molecule that can be excreted in bile, urine, or stool. It is important that both phases are working efficiently to prevent a toxic backup in the liver.
But in order for this liver detoxification to effectively work, your body must have adequate nutrients. If not, the phase I and phase II processes may not work adequately, which can leave toxic substances to build up in your body. A basic way to support your body’s natural ability to detoxify is to ensure you are getting optimal amounts of these nutrients:
As we saw from the CDC report, we live in a toxic world and most, if not all, of our bodies are overburdened. Take these action steps now to begin reducing your toxic load.
The foods you eat supply your body with the nutrients it needs to keep detoxification moving along smoothly; I touch on this above in the nutrients required for each phase of detoxification. Below are additional foods that play a big role in optimizing detoxification—aim to eat them as often as possible.
So should you detox? The short answer is yes. The modern world is constantly bombarding us with a slew of chemicals, burdening our bodies with a toxic load. We all need a little help now and then, and our bodies’ detoxification system is no different. But the way you detox doesn’t have to include harsh colon cleanses and fasting protocols. Reducing your exposure to toxins where you can, supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to properly carry out its daily detox functions, and increasing certain types of foods that optimize detoxification go a long way in lightening that toxic load.
Congratulations! You made it through January! Maybe you’ve even managed to stick to your resolution. But now, as we move into February and winter really sinks in, you may feel like you need a boost. Still have a few extra pounds hanging on from the holidays? Maybe your energy levels are sluggishly low. Or your brain feels as if it’s in a fog all the time. Enter MCT oil, the healthy fat that can supercharge your life. Long-known in the Paleo world, MCT oil is quickly gaining a reputation among the rest of us for promoting quick, clean energy, healthy weight loss, and a sharper brain.
Now that we’re learning to love fat again, it’s time to know about medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), special types of saturated fat found in coconut and palm kernel oils. Compared to long-chain triglycerides found in olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, etc., MCTs are very easily metabolized (i.e., they are not stored as fat!) and used by the body for energy. The four types of MCTs are caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, lauric acid. All four are categorized as MCTs, but it’s the first three that are readily converted by the liver into ketones, which are then sent out into the body for quick, clean-burning energy. MCT oil is a concentrated source of these specific MCTs and effectively increases their levels in the body.
Whether you’ve recently started the keto diet, or are just working to shed extra holiday pounds, MCT oil is your new BFF! Research has shown MCT oil encourages healthy weight loss by promoting satiety, increasing thermogenesis (the rate at which you burn calories) and fat oxidation (fat burning!), reducing fat cell size, and suppressing the accumulation of fat.v vi In one double-blind, controlled trial, 86 healthy men and women were randomly assigned to consume a diet rich in either long-chain fatty acids (LCTs) or MCTs for 12 weeks; daily calories consumed were the same. By the end of the 12-week period, body weight had decreased in both groups; however, in the subjects with higher body mass indexes (BMI > 23 kg/m2), the weight loss was significantly greater in the MCT group, including a greater decrease in waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. The amount of body fat also significantly decreased, with those with a higher BMI seeing a larger decrease in subcutaneous fat (the fat that lies just under the skin around the belly, thighs, etc.) and those with a lower BMI seeing a greater decrease in visceral fat (the fat that wraps around internal organs). Another study comparing the weight-loss effects of MCT oil with olive oil found that after 16 weeks, subjects who consumed MCT oil had lower body weights and total fat mass, in addition to less abdominal fat, compared to those who consumed olive oil.
Long-known in the paleo world, MCT oil is quickly gaining a reputation among the rest of us for promoting quick, clean energy, healthy weight loss, and a sharper brain.
The gist of ketosis is that you are shifting your body from being primarily a sugar-burning machine to a fat-burning one (hooray!); this metabolic shift is not only good for weight loss, but also for energy production. Consider this: There is a complex, multistep process to convert glucose into energy your body can use; it also creates oxidative damage that can wreak havoc on cells. On the other hand, the ketones from MCT oil are quickly and efficiently metabolized and reduce oxidative damage.ix Animal studies have found that adding MCT oil to the diet leads to a higher density of mitochondria in muscle cells, “likely resulting in improved ATP production, enhanced motor function, and slower progression of diseases associated with metabolic dysfunction.
Dietary ketosis has been used since the 1920s to control epileptic seizures, but you certainly don’t have to have epilepsy to enjoy the brain-boosting benefits of MCT oil. The ketones produced from MCT oil readily cross the blood-brain barrier, providing an efficient and clean source of energy to brain cells. A hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is the brain’s inability to utilize glucose to produce energy, but because brain cells can readily use ketones, researchers have begun investigating the role MCTs may have in the treatment of these and other brain disorders, such as traumatic brain injury. The results are promising. Human studies have found that MCTs increase ketone levels in the brain and improve cognitive performance and memory in those with mild cognitive impairment and mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, especially in those carrying the APOE4 gene. Ketones in the brain also have a neuroprotective effect and have been shown to increase glutathione activity (one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants), reduce cell death, enhance mitochondrial function, and have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. It’s easy to incorporate MCT oil into your daily routine—add it to your morning coffee or smoothie; supercharge your pre- or post-workout shakes; use it as the oil in homemade salad dressings; drizzle it over your food, or just take it by itself. The best way to benefit from this healthy fat is to start slow—too much before your body is used to it can cause digestive upset, usually cramping and diarrhea. Start with one teaspoon per day, working up to two or three tablespoons daily, and start supercharging your life!
We are a nation riddled with anxiety. Whether you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (or a combination of any of the above), you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults, or close to 20 percent of the population, with millennials and people of color reporting the most anxiety overall and baby boomers reporting the sharpest increases in anxiety.
Americans’ anxiety levels are increasing, but the good news is that anxiety (and mental illness in general) is losing its stigma and has become a trending topic in the national conversation. Though that is encouraging, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, only about 37 percent of those with anxiety receive treatment. So while there may be more awareness, many people continue to suffer. Anxiety can be overwhelming and hard to know how to handle, but it can be controlled. While there are multiple causes of anxiety, and severe anxiety disorders may require medical treatment, many anxiety symptoms can be controlled with lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, meditation, etc.) and by supporting your body and brain with nutritional supplementation.
Our modern diets full of processed foods high in sugar and low in saturated fats have left many of us overfed, yet undernourished and mentally unbalanced. We are unknowingly plagued with sub-optimal levels (in some cases, outright deficiencies) of essential vitamins and minerals, some of which play crucial roles in mental health. Start by building optimal levels of these nutrients:
Known as a calming mineral, much of the population consumes inadequate amounts of magnesium. Mental and emotional stresses quickly deplete levels, as do poor eating habits, alcohol consumption, and certain prescription drugs. Sometimes called the original “chill pill,” magnesium plays important roles in the nervous system, including modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (our central stress response system) and blocking excitatory transmission in brain cells, both of which help prevent feelings of anxiety. Research has shown that increasing magnesium levels results in antianxiety eff ects and can relieve mild to moderate anxiety and anxiety associated with PMS, especially when combined with vitamin B6. Studies have used 250-300 mg of magnesium along with 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily with efficacy.
Speaking of B vitamins, it’s a good idea to take a quality B-complex as a foundational supplement. The B-family works synergistically and is vital for mental and emotional wellbeing; the B vitamins are involved in healthy neurotransmitter production, a healthy stress response, and are necessary for normal central nervous system function.v vi vii viii Stress, sugar, and alcohol all quickly deplete levels of the B vitamins.
The omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are essential for healthy neurological function. And like magnesium, many of us are woefully low in these important fats, and instead consume an overabundance of proinfl ammatory omega-6s. Clinical research has shown that subjects diagnosed with anxiety have signifi cantly lower levels of EPA and DHA and a higher ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in the brain, and at least one trial has shown a correlation between low levels of EPA and severity of PTSD.ix An analysis of 19 clinical trials published late last year examined the anti-anxiety eff ects of EPA and DHA in patients with signifi cant anxiety and fear-related symptoms. Researchers found that taking between 1,000 and 2,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily was associated with an improvement in anxiety symptoms, with the strongest eff ect seen in patients with specifi c clinical diagnoses.
With more information emerging on the gut-brain axis, researchers have begun to delve into the connection between gut health and mental health, with exciting fi ndings. For example, a healthy balance of Biﬁ dobacterium and Lactobacillus species in the gut is important for producing the brain’s main calming neurotransmitter gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA); low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety. Research has also found that probiotics normalize cortisol levels, regulate the HPA axis (hyperactivity or dysregulation of the HPA axis is a strong marker of anxiety), and reduce systemic pro-infl ammatory cytokines, which have been found to play a role in the development of anxiety.xi Many people have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in their guts, or dysbiosis; restoring a healthy balance is especially crucial for those with anxiety.
Long-term support is vital, but when you feel yourself on the edge and need something to restore calm, consider some of these “in-themoment” remedies:
The amino acid L-theanine enhances alpha brain wave activity, which induces feelings of calm, and increases the synthesis of the calming neurotransmitter GABA. L-theanine has been shown to lead to changes in brain activity similar to that of meditation. A calming eff ect is usually felt within 30 minutes at doses between 50 and 200 mg. For more severe anxiety, doses may be increased up to 800 mg daily, divided throughout the day.
Passionﬂower has long been used as a folk remedy to treat “hysteria” (i.e., anxiety) and insomnia, and modern research is confi rming its effi cacy.xiii One study including 36 patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder found that 45 drops of a liquid passionfl ower extract was as eff ective as 30mg of oxazepam, a common anti-anxiety prescription drug, and without the side eff ects reported by those taking the drug. This herb may be especially helpful for those whose anxiety is coupled with insomnia.
Flower essences are infusions made from the fl owering parts of plants and are used for their benefi cial eff ects on mood and emotions. They are said to work on a subtle energetic level, but with profound results. One study including moderately anxious subjects who reported personality traits as anxious, impatient, irritable, nervous, and tense, found a 100 percent reduction in anxiety levels after treatment with a blend of impatiens, cherry plum, white chestnut, and beech fl ower essences. Eighty percent of the subjects taking fl ower essences reported that even when confronted with stressful events, they were able to stay calm.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion, but one that should pass. When you begin to feel like it has a grip on your life, it’s time to address it. Consider taking a holistic approach that includes nutritional supplementation that can support your body and brain to cultivate calm.