Happy 4th of July!
Let freedom (and vacation weekends) ring!
It’s funny being an adult because holidays still make you feel like a kid.
Particularly yesterday (Friday)—the day before the holiday, it seemed as though the whole city was in ‘check out’ mode: No traffic on the roads, days off from work and the feeling foot-loose and fancy free!
What are you up to this weekend?
Sand? Water? Fireworks? A backyard BBQ? A community workout? Just a day OFF to do nothing but hang (or sleep in)?
Hopefully something fun in the sun, no matter what.
Speaking of sun…you’re protecting yourself right?
Here in Austin, Texas, it’s always a scorching 90+ degrees outside, and you can bet your bottom dollar, if you want some sun (rays), you will get them—sunburn and all.
And in order to protect yourself, you’re using sunscreen right?
After all, you don’t want to get skin cancer right?
Because you know….Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than 2 million people being diagnosed annually.
In fact, some 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to the age of 65 will be diagnosed with one of these tumors at least once during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI 2012).
However…what if what you’ve been told (“Lather up with sunscreen”; “Avoid too much sun”) is actually not decreasing your risk of skin cancer at all?
In other words: The sun is actually NOT the culprit of skin cancer…rather, it’s your diet and potentially even underexposure to the sun.
Skin cancer, at its core, is by and large a processed food, poor nutrition and low Vitamin D (lack of sunshine believe it or not) epidemic…not a sunbathing epidemic.
This news came as quite a shock to me initially, but as I did more digging into it…it all began to make so much sense.
After all, humankind has evolved 4 billion years with plenty of sunlight, and prior to the industrial revolution, people worked outside for hours on end. There was no sunscreen and people were not getting skin cancer.
Flash forward to the past 100-150 years, wherein the human ‘way of life’ has changed significantly—namely our diets (hello Agricultural Revolution as well!).
Raise your hand if you were a kid of the processed food generation?
Pop-tarts, cereals, enriched breads, crackers, conventional peanut butter, frozen dinners, snack bars, diet products, Jello cups, Doritos and Pringles, Chef Boyardee, Rice A Roni, Hamburger Helper, Stouffer’s lasagna, Dunkaroos, Gushers, sodas, Goldfish, instant oatmeal, yogurt cups, artificial sweeteners, and beyond.
If cancer typically takes anywhere from 20-30 years to develop (Abbas & Borman, 2012), and our skin cancer epidemic didn’t really begin until the 1950’s and 60’s (long before “ozone depletion” even became a buzzword)… Something is fishy…
The primary culprits in the skin cancer epidemic are found on our plates and lining the shelves of 60-70% of the grocery store: Trans-fatty acids (found in packaged and processed foods we were raised on), rancid oils and sugar.
These foods are directly attributed to “free radials” that attack the cell wall of your cells, weaken your immune system and cross-link proteins (attributed to the wrinkling process of skin).
According to the Center for Disease Control (2013), most Americans only get 1 to 1.5 servings of veggies and fruits per day…a mere 1/3 of the recommended servings of at least 3 veggies per day and 1-2 fruit sources for antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
So where is the bulk of our “nutrition” coming from then?
- Colorless grains,
- Fake foods,
- Sugar-based products,
- And poor quality proteins (hormones, non-organic, chicken coops, etc.).
Consequently, our nation is sicker than its ever been (high cancer rates, obesity epidemic, heart disease, etc.).
Simply put: Nutritional deficiencies cause skin cell dysfunction because your cells are not getting the nutrients they innately require to function and ‘stay strong’.
Since our skin system is continually ‘healing’ and renewing itself from any injuries it sustains (from bug bites to scrapes to oven burns and sun burns), it needs nutrients (amino acids, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids).
If, or when, these are unavailable (due to lack of consumption and/or poor digestion), then your cells and your immunity are compromised…thus setting you up to be more susceptible to skin cancer. In addition, nutritional deficiencies upset the biochemistry of your body in general-creating many harmful substances that damage the skin, such as homocystein (an amino acid that causes inflammation).
The bottom line?
You do not get skin cancer from the sun, you get skin cancer because you are not properly nourished (weakened cells) and are often exposed to other chemicals that are linked to cancerous toxins (processed foods, sugar, gut irritants that upset the gut flora like processed grains and dairy, pharmaceutical drugs, plastics, health/beauty products, even sunscreens themselves!).
In fact, researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit, recently released a report confirming nearly half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. Many sunscreens contain vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate—all known to be directly cancer-causing and toxic for years.
Moreover, when we wear sunscreen, we inhibit our ability to absorb Vitamin D—the ‘sunshine’ Vitamin. Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining our skeletal structure (calcification of bone and absorption of calcium), as well as regulating our nervous system, heart function and normal blood clotting. Vitamin D has also been shown to be a key factor in the prevention cancer—suggesting sun exposure (not lack of sun exposure) can actually help address cancer.
One particularly noteworthy study looked at a group of menopausal women were given enough vitamin D to raise their serum levels to 40 ng/ml.
The participants experienced a 77 percent reduction in the incidence of all cancers, across the board, after just four years. The crazy thing is, 40 ng/ml is a relatively modest level. The latest information suggests the ideal serum level for vitamin D is 50 to 70 ng/ml. To have such stunning findings at just 40 ng/ml highlights just how powerful Vitamin D is.
It’s REALLY all about answering the question “Which came first…the chicken or the egg?”
A poor diet + exposure to chemicals = Weakened cells and immune system = Increased susceptibility to skin cancer, along with other diseases.
Get it? Got it? Good.
Get some sunshine! And eat good food!
…Now on to the celebrations…check out these picnic-worthy dishes you can impress all your friends with this summer.
Picnic & Backyard BBQ Hits
Finger Lickin’ BBQ Shredded Chicken
- 4-6 boneless, skinless organic free-range chicken breasts
- 2 cups homemade BBQ Sauce (see below)
Directions for BBQ Sauce
Ingredients (for sauce)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
1/4 cup onion
26 ounces tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 Tablespoons organic yellow mustard
3 Tablespoons raw honey*
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (more or less for your spice level)
*If you want a sugar-free BBQ sauce, omit the raw honey or replace it with 1 teaspoon of Stevita stevia or ¼ pineapple chunk juice (from a can)
Directions (for sauce)
- In a blender or food processor add the garlic cloves, quarter of an onion and tomato sauce. Blend until everything is completely mixed together, approx.. 30 seconds
- Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until melted
- Add the mustard, raw honey, and spices and mix until everything is combined. Put the cover on and bring to a light boil
- Once the sauce starts to bubble, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes (longer for a thicker sauce)
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for 7 days.
Directions for chicken
- In a crockpot place the chicken breasts at the bottom and cover with the primal BBQ sauce. Using a spatula or large spoon stir together so the BBQ sauce fully coats the chicken breasts. When you are done mixing make sure the chicken breasts are laying flat at the bottom of the crockpot so they cook evenly
- Turn the crockpot on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. After done, the chicken is ready to shred.
- Once the chicken is done shred the chicken in the crockpot with two forks. The chicken will shred very easily and the BBQ sauce will completely mix together with the chicken for the perfect shredded BBQ chicken
Sweet Potato Salad
- 2 sweet potatoes (or yams), roasted, peeled and cubed
- 4 organic eggs, hard boiled and chopped
- 2-3 ribs celery, sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, minced
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise, (Primal Mayo)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground sea salt
- Bake the sweet potatoes for at least an hour at 350°F and hard boil the eggs.
- Once cool, peel and cube the sweet potatoes and add to a large mixing bowl.
- Once cool, chop the eggs and add them to the sweet potatoes.
- Add the celery, dill, mayo, salt and pepper and mix to combine.
- Add chopped red onion if you’re looking for a bit more crunch and a few cloves of minced garlic if you’re looking for a some flare.
- Serve warm or cold
Simple Coleslaw (no mayo)
- 1 head of cabbage (green or purple), thinly shredded (use food processor shredding attachment)
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly shredded
- ¼ onion, peeled and thinly shredded
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon raw honey
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt to taste
Squeeze out excess water from the vegetables and add them to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, honey, vinegar, garlic powder, and salt.
Add the dressing to the vegetables and mix well.
Chocolate Banana Ice Cream (don’t pack this in your picnic basket—it will melt!)
- 1 13.5 oz can of full fat coconut milk
- 3 small ripe bananas
3 heaping Tablespoons of Caco Powder
- In a blender add the full fat coconut milk, bananas and cacao powder.
- Blend until smooth and thoroughly mixed. Taste it. If you’d like it
- sweeter add maple syrup or 1 tsp vanilla extract. Adjust the flavor to
- your taste, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Place in the freezer
- for 4-6 hours, or until firm.
3 Fourth of July Workouts
And…what’s an American holiday without a good ol’ Hero WOD (workout of the day)? At least in CrossFit boxes nationwide, that’s the case. The ‘Hero’ workouts are special benchmark workouts that honor particular soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Today, I hopped in with a friend and her crew over at Exitium CrossFit in East Austin. However, you don’t have to be part of a community to get a great workout in and simulate the hard-won, sweat deriving victories won for you and me!
Here are three workouts you can do in your own home or gym…wherever you so choose (don’t get all crazy…just choose one).
50 Pull-ups (or ring row)
400 meter run
95 /65 pound Thruster, 21 reps (or dumbbell thrusters-choose weight)
800 meter run
95/65 pound Thruster, 21 reps
400 meter run
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
10 Push press, 10 reps (115/85 lbs. or dumbbells)
10 KB Swings (53/35)
10 Box jumps (24/20)
The Seven (my fav!)
Seven rounds for time of:
7 Handstand push-ups (or regular hand-release pushups
7 Thrusters (heavy)
7 Knees to elbows
7 Deadlift (heavy)
7 Kettlebell swings (70/53, heavier)