Archive for the ‘Detoxification’ Category

Acai: Scam and Deception

Posted on: May 17th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

I am receiving so many junk mails about the AMAZING effects of Acai products.  In general, I am very skeptical when anything is advertised as a cure-all.  Acai certainly is marketed as an effective therapy for a vast number of health concerns.

Based upon my exposure to research from Acai manufacturers, the primary value of Acai is its high anti-oxidant activity.  ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is one measure of antioxidant activity.

Promotional materials for Acai claim that the ORAC value of Acai is several times higher than other anti-oxidant rich foods.  As with all statistics and marketing, the devil is in the details.

According to one freeze-dried Acai supplement manufacturer, the ORAC value of 100 grams (about 3.3 ounces) of freeze-dried Acai is 5,500 ORAC or about twice that of 100 grams of blueberries.  That is very good.

However, this manufacturers supplement contains 1,000mg (one gram) of freeze-dried Acai per 2 capsules.  This provides an ORAC value of 55!  The ORAC value of one cup of blueberries is between 9,000 and 13,000 or equivalent to 260 servings of Acai freeze-dried supplement.

One $40 (discounted from $50!) of Acai supplement provides sixty 1,000mg servings of Acai.  In other words, $40 provides you with the anti-oxidants activity of 1/4 to 1/3 cup of blueberries.  

Bottom Line:

Anti-oxidants are very important and promote health, however you would get many times more anti-oxidant effect at a small fraction of the cost from eating some blueberries each day.

Be well,

Richard Malik, ND

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The 5 Best Foods

Posted on: May 17th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

A patient recently shared with me that she saw a nutritionist talk and he listed the what he thought were the five healthiest foods.  I can’t remember the whole list, but they included avocados, almonds, and eggs.  

I wouldn’t put these foods in my top 5 list because many people are sensitive to eggs and some are sensitive to tree nuts.  

Avocados are a vegetarian source of complete protein, high in fiber, and energy rich due to high amount of fat.  They contain a high amount of linoleic acid which your body primarily uses to make inflammatory fatty acids like arachidonic acid but also uses to make a generally anti-inflammatory fatty acid called Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).

Avocados are an excellent food and, for taste, one of my favorites.  But I wouldn’t call it one of the 5 healthiest foods.

So, even though I don’t like to list the 5 best foods (I think it is best and most fun to eat a large variety of healthy foods), I thought it would be a fun exercise to list my top 5.  Let’s see how it goes…

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables – I know, this is a group of vegetables, not a single food, but they provide excellent nutrition, support detoxifcation, and even appear to reduce the risk of some cancers.  If I had to pick one cruciferous vegetable as my favorite, the winner would be… kale.  Other cruciferous vegetables include many types of greens, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, and cauliflower.
  2. Seasonal fruits are rich in health promoting fiber and essential nutrients.  Fruit that is in season is richest in nutrients AND tastiest.
  3. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but low in mercury like sardines and wild Alaskan salmon
  4. Water – clean and pure water is important for tissue function, digestion, delivery of nutrients, and detoxification (urine and sweat)
  5. Medicinal spices – spices are herbs that are more tasty than medicinal herbs, but have excellent effects on health.  Healthful spices include garlic (anti-cancer and anti-microbial), cilantro (supports detoxification), ginger (improves circulation, aids digestion, and anti-inflammatory), turmeric (anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer), Rosemary (mildly anti-inflammatory), Thyme (supports lung function and weakly anti-microbial)
Well, I didn’t do a very good job of recommending 5 foods – looks like I listed about 30.  Oh well.
Be well,
Richard Malik, ND
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Organic or Not Organic – That is the Question

Posted on: April 7th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

Many people think that “organic food” is synonymous with “health food.”  This is not true.  Organic candy bars are almost as bad for your health as normal candy bars.  Eating a lot of organic sugar still helps people gain weight and obesity is a cause of most of our health concerns, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Basically, organic junk food is still junk food.

But, what is the difference between organic and inorganic produce.  Some people can’t afford to shop for organic produce.  For them, it is still important to buy healthy conventionally grown food because it is the next best thing.  Others can afford to buy some of their family’s groceries from the organic sections of their grocery store.

Here is some information to help you make the best decision.

EWG Shopper's Guide

EWG Shopper

First of all, let me be clear that organic produce is healthier than conventionally grown produce.  Research does show that organic produce tends to be more nutrient rich and tastier than conventionally grown produce.  Organic produce also tends to have lower amounts of residual toxic pesticides and herbicides.  From an ecological perspective, organic foods also tend to be grown with agricultural methods that are healthier for the ecosystem.  There are plenty of reasons to buy organic if you can afford it.

The Environmental Working Group has recently updated their list of the most and least heavily pesticided produce.  They calculated the amount of pesticides people would be exposed to when normally consuming these foods (oranges and bananas are peeled while apples and pears are washed and eaten with the skin).

If your budget is tight, only buy the organic produce that helps you avoid the greatest amounts of pesticides and herbicides.   This information will help you maximize the healthy effects of every dollar of your grocery budget.

Be Well,


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