Dandelion root tea instead of coffee?

Traditional Medicinal Roasted Dandelion Root TeaTraditional Medicinals.

It’s a brand name, but it’s also a cool phrase to describe drinking health-inducing tea, because, yes, our diet should be the first place we look when we suffer from a chronic illness.

Let’s face it. Our medical professionals do a great job when dealing with acute trauma, like a broken arm or an accidental knife through the hand (don’t ask…).

However, when it comes to treating us for things like high cholesterol or hypertension or type 2 diabetes, well, doctors tend to reach for a drug from one of their pharmaceutical partners and be done with it. Sure, they may pay some lip service to “you should really eat better and get some exercise”, but then they write the scrip, and the patient’s human nature takes over.

That thesis is pretty much the overarching theme of this website. We must take control of our own health and fitness, and we should start with our diet.

So, I’m not going to harp much more on that here.

What I really want to say is that I have recently rediscovered roasted dandelion root tea. I say “rediscovered” because I’d bought it last year and tried it a couple times in the evening. I didn’t really care for it.

Recently, though, I did this cleanse thing, and it prescribed a cup of this tea in the morning. In that context, I found roasted dandelion root tea very enjoyable.

I suppose I could focus on the health benefits of the tea. Livestrong tells us how dandelion root tea can help keep the kidneys and bladder flushed and healthy, and also how it may help increase healthy digestive tract bacteria. The box says something about healthy liver function, but I don’t know anything about that.

Here’s what I do know about Roasted Dandelion Root tea: It is a suitable substitute for coffee.

BLASPHEMY!

Well, that’s what I would have said to anyone who dared offer up something as a suitable substitute for coffee. After all, coffee is one of my food groups. It’s a necessary nutrient in my diet.

And I’m not talking about that adulterated junk some drink and call “coffee”. Coffee with anything added to it is no longer coffee. It’s a completely different beverage.

Black, unsweet coffee, which is what I drink, is the nectar of the gods, so for me to proffer something as a substitute for coffee, well, that’s a pretty big step. But I’m taking it.

I still love coffee. What I don’t love is caffeine headaches when I don’t get it, and that is what prompted me to try alternatives.

You may ask, “Why don’t you drink decaf, Steve?” While I have found a decaf or two that taste pretty good, nothing really matches the flavor of real coffee for me. Plus, drinking decaf does nothing to deter the desire for real coffee, right? Kinda like fake sweeteners do nothing to deter the desire for real sugar. But that’s another discussion for another time….

Also, let me make this perfectly clear: roasted dandelion root tea does not taste like coffee. I am not saying it does, because it doesn’t.

However, once I realized that drinking it took away my desire for coffee, I explored its flavors. There’s is obviously a roasted element there, and dandelion root tea also has the slightly bitter hint that is always present in a great cup of coffee. I don’t know if the flavor profile is the reason dandelion root tea satisfies me, but that seems like a logical conclusion.

Anyway, if you are looking for a way to break the coffee habit, maybe try roasted dandelion root tea. Works for me.

And, please, let me clarify: I am not giving up coffee. I love the stuff. But a single-shot americano once a day — maximum — is an amount that works for me. Supplement that with some tea, and I’m good to go!

 

Fitness? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

You may have seen the viral video from a while back that featured the phrase “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” If not, it’s below.

[youtube=Nh7UgAprdpM]

It’s true. There are things that we don’t have time for, and when it comes to fitness and nutrition, we have to make decisions about how to prioritize our life’s agenda items every day.

What’s more important?

  • Spending time with my son OR working out?
  • Being polite and eating Aunt Martha’s famous chocolate cake OR staying away from sugar?
  • Reading the book I am currently into OR doing yoga?
  • Eating the same thing as my family OR eating what I know is better for me?
  • Spending time preparing fresh food OR eating processed food

There are plenty more examples, but you get the idea.

So, then, how do we go about making those decisions? Some of the choices above may seem obvious to you, some of them not so obvious. Some of them may even present false dilemmas, which is the logician’s way of identifying an “either/or” situation that doesn’t account for other valid choices.

For example, couldn’t you:

  • Work out with your son?
  • Eat just a bite of Aunt Martha’s cake?
  • Every once in a while, at least, have the whole family eat a healthy meal?

Sure you could. I would, personally, choose not to eat the cake, but I would be all for — at least once in a while — working out with my son, if I had one. I would love to try to encourage my family to eat healthier meals by preparing them in such a way that they’d enjoy them every so often.

The yoga versus reading example above gets me pretty often, and, honestly, I usually opt for reading, but the example above that I live with most is whether or not to take time to prepare fresh food.

The meal I just ate for lunch gave me the idea for this post. It was a Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burger (processed) with bottled sriracha (processed) and cut up tomatoes (fresh) and kale (fresh), plus some balsamic vinegar (processed). It was really good, and, admittedly, not the worst thing for me.

However, had I had time, I would rather have made my own bean burger and sriracha. (The vinegar, I’ll leave to the experts.)

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’m busy. I have things to do. I’m not talking about sitting in front of a tv — although I do that, too, because relaxation is important — but I mean real things. So, yeah, I eat processed beanburgers and bottled sriracha. Every once in a great while I’ll make up some burgers and freeze them, but generally I eat the Morningstar ones, and I’ve yet to make my own sriracha. Are you kidding? Have you tried that rooster sauce? How could I beat that!

Would my health and fitness be better without processed food? Sure, and I am conscious of that. In fact, as I was cooking the burger, I purposely thought about what I could eat to balance the meal with something fresh.

So, yeah, I choose to spend my time on other things, rather than use it all making food from scratch. Maybe when I retire — if that ever happens — I’ll make more of my own food. Hell, I may even have a garden!

However, time in my life is currently at a premium. So when it comes to eating processed foods, I do it, but I try to make good choices. Fresh food? I prepare and eat a lot of it, but 100%? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Is your diet too acidifying?

While I’d heard about it for years, I became very closely acquainted with the concept of an acidifying diet this past summer while I was going through The Ultimate Reset. As I researched and read about it, I found out a few interesting things.

  1. Our bodies needs to maintain a balance between acid and base (alkaline) or we will die.
  2. Many (most?) acidic foods (like citrus fruits) actually have an alkalizing effect within the body.
  3. We, of course, have mechanisms in place to alkalize or acidify our bodies, whichever is necessary to maintain balance.
  4. The Standard American Diet is highly acidifying.

Fact number 4 above is the reason The Ultimate Reset focuses a lot on alkalizing the body — most of us swing too far toward acidic, because if the foods we eat.

What are these acidifying foods?

  • Meats
  • Sugary beverages (including fruit juices) and diet sodas
  • Grains
  • Pastries
  • Alcohol
  • Milk and cheese
  • Regular and decaf coffee and black tea

Look familiar? Yeah.

How about some alkalizing foods?

  • Vegetables, especially greens
  • Legumes, especially soy beans
  • Fruits, especially citrus
  • Herbal and green teas

There are levels within each group. For example, beef is more acidifying than chicken, and kale is more alkalizing than a tomato, but you get the idea, right?

All those burgers, tacos, and steaks we eat, all that soda and beer we drink, the coffee we wake up with, well, those all serve to acidify our bodies.

Theres’ nothing wrong with consuming those acidifying foods, at least not in the context of this discussion of the body’s acid-alkaline state. I mean, I said it above: The body needs a balance, and being overly alkaline is just as dangerous as being overly acidic.

However, as we look at the list of acidifying foods, we can easily tell that the Standard American Diet is high is those, and relatively low in the alkalizing foods. We tend to prefer meat to veggies, pasta to legumes, coffee and black tea to herbal tea, and I think most of us will admit that we just don’t eat enough fruit.

I could give you a list of symptoms of an overly acidic body from the book  The Acid-Alkaline Diet, but, really, the list is quite extensive and it would also apply to many other ailments…. Okay, if you insist, here are a few:

  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling of depressions
  • Frequent infections
  • Sensitivity to high-pitched noises
  • Easily stressed
  • Headaches
  • Swelling of the eyes
  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Excess stomach acid
  • Dry skin
  • Skin gets irritated in sweaty areas
  • Hives
  • Leg cramps

What can we do about our acidifying diets? The answer is pretty simple: We need to substitute some of our acidifying foods for alkalizing ones.

Here some things you can do:

  • Limit coffee consumption, substituting green or herbal teas
  • Add lemon or lime juice to your water, although, keep in mind that while those juices are alkalizing agents inside the body, they are acidic in nature, and you probably don’t want acid washing over your teeth all the time, so do this once or twice a day only, or discuss it with your dentist
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Keep greens — kale, spinach — in your fridge and add them to whatever you eat. I buy the containers of cleaned organic baby kale and spinach and add them to just about everything, including sandwiches, pasta dishes, soups, salads
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Eat more fruits, especially avocados, although watch out for the high fat content of avocados
  • Use meat more as a garnish and for flavoring, rather than making it the main focus of a meal
  • Leave off the cheese

As with any change in your diet, it’s much easier to do this incrementally. Try it out for a few days a week, see if you feel any better. If you do feel better, alkalize more and more often. Hopefully, the feeling of well-being can keep you on track.

For me the changes were profound — softer, moister skin overall, especially around my heels and cuticles, and whiter eyes that don’t burn nearly as much as they used to. I should mention that my diet became more alkaline automatically as I switched to a plant-based diet, so there are more factors in play than a focus on alkalizing my body.

That’s the way it is with nutrition and the body, though. There are no silver bullets. With so many variables, both outside and inside our bodies, it’s not possible to say, for example, “Eat more avocados, and you’ll be okay,” or “Eat less meat, and you’ll be healthier.” We are all different, so the only thing to do is try things out, see what works.

If you eat a Standard American Diet, though, it’s safe to say your diet is too acidifying. If you don’t feel 100% all the time, alkalizing your diet may be just the thing you need. Give it a shot!

Being fat is not inevitable

Fitness is a lifelong struggle. It takes work. I tell young people all the time, “Develop a fitness habit now, because when you get older, it’s that much harder to get into the swing of things.”

How often do we not even try a fitness program, because we “know” beforehand that we will not be able to complete it? How many times has our prejudgement of the outcome caused us not to even attempt it in the first place?

We almost certainly base this attitude on past fitness failures.

You know, when we were young and saw the first signs of body bulge, we watched our calories or carbs and hit the gym. That lasted a little while, months or years even, but then our lives filled up, and fitness took a back seat.

A few years — and more than a few pounds — later, we decided that we have got to do something about all this weight we’ve gained. We joined a gym, tried to do the same routines we did back in the day, but it wasn’t so easy anymore, and, anyway, our lives kept interrupting. With our long hours at work, it was just impossible to eat right. The kids — the kids — were always needing a ride here or there. Oh, and then there was that morning we woke up and couldn’t move our neck for 2 weeks.

Now we are even older and fatter. We think about the gym — are we really still paying the monthly membership? — but we know that’s not going to work. We look around and we compare ourselves with others our age, and we come to the conclusion that, “Being fat is inevitable. Might as well get used to it.”

I was so there. That story is mine — well, without the kids — and it may be a lot like yours, too.

So what can you do? You have to do something? Or are you happy being overweight? You know that being overweight is the road to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, so you would like to lose some pounds, but if your mindset is that the path to fatness is inevitable, then you will likely just accept that “fact” and take your chances. After all, not everyone dies of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, right?

Well, hell, go buy yourself a carton of cigarettes, then, if that’s your attitude. After all, only 20% or 25% of smokers get lung cancer.

The other day, a friend of mine was telling me that he knows he needs to find time for fitness, but he is just can’t work it into his schedule. Believe me, I get that.

Regardless of your reasons for not eating right, for not exercising, at some point, something will click. Something will change inside your brain that says, “You know what? I need to make time to get healthy and fit.”

I don’t know what it will be for you. I really don’t know what it was for me.

I mean, I know I was feeling weird pains. I know I was on medications that I didn’t want to be on. I know I was shopping for size 44 pants. I know I saw a photo of my fat self that jarred me. But I have no specific recollection of an epiphany. It just happened.

At some point, I knew I had to turn things around.

At some point I realized that being fat is not inevitable.

I hope that realization comes to you before it’s too late.