Living a sustainable lifestyle

Living a sustainable lifestyle has always been a part of me, especially because of having grown up in Santa Cruz, California. I grew up being told that sustainability is so important because every action we make affects our future… and I couldn’t agree more.

Shopping sustainably has never been easier! There are so many things you can do. For example, go to your local farmers market, buy groceries with the least amount of packaging, bring your own bags and containers, buy from our bulk section to save money and cut packaging that otherwise would go to the landfill, and purchase organically grown products. Luckily, here at Down to Earth we will be making it easier for you to shop sustainably.  This month we'll be intalling a new HowGood shelf tag system that lets you easily identify the best products based on sustainability, social impact, and environmental friendliness.  Read all about it in this newsletter, "New Down to Earth Price Tags to Rate Products' Sustainability."

Happy shopping!​

Shannon Green
Marketing & Administrative Assistant
Down to Earth

Happy New Year from the Love Life Team!

Photo: Silouette of Woman Jumping

Every January we like to focus on getting a strong foundation for our health to set the tone for the entire year. Making resolutions is easy, but following through with them is the challenge. We know that having support is the key to the success of our resolutions and Down to Earth is here to help!

This month our outreach calendar is full of workshops that are going to help you on your healthy journey for 2016. We started the year with our popular monthly cooking classes on January 2nd in Honolulu and January 5th in Kailua.

Guest chefs Andrea Bertoli and Teresa Jordan will be joining us for special detox classes. Andrea will do a New Year Detox class on January 13th, which will be a combination cooking and fermentation class. Chef Teresa, aka “Raw Mama T” is a well-known Raw Vegan Chef, and will be coming from Los Angeles. She will be teaching a two-part raw class January 16th and 17th that is sure to please every palate.

On January 14th and 16th we will host a free lecture on “Oliginol”. Oliginol is a lychee extract that is reported to contain anti-aging properties and to help with circulation, in addition to other benefits. You won’t want to miss this lecture.

Have you heard of Keawe Bean Flour? Vince Kana‘i  Dodge, owner and founder of Waianae Gold, will join us January 23rd for a keawe bean lecture and demonstration. Learn how to make his famous “‘Aina Bites”. They are healthy and oh so ONO!

Maui, we have lots in store for you too! Our regular raw class will be a little different this time. We are bringing the Oliginol lecture to you on the scheduled class date January 19th, and I am going to host a raw food pupu party for all the students that come to the monthly classes. This is an appreciation for supporting the class all year long.

For times and reminders of dates for all of these wonderful classes and workshops please visit our Events Calendar.

We want to wish you all a Happy, Healthy New Year. Let’s make 2016 our best year yet! Let Down to Earth help and support you on this journey. If you have any questions please call us at 947-3249. We look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming classes!

Happy New Year!!!!!

Love, Mama T

The More I Learn About Noni, the More I Love It!

Photo: Noni Tree with Fruit

Aloha Kakou. What a beautiful summer we are having in Hawaii Nei. Even with it being a little warmer than usual this summer, there’s no place I’d rather be.

I am so excited to share my newest obsession of this summer. Now, if you live in Hawaii you’re probably well aware of this amazing fruit. But in the 12 years that I have lived in Hawaii, I have never really delved into it, until now. It’s absolutely a miracle food to me and I can’t get enough. Ok, have I piqued your interest? Well this incredible fruit is… noni!

The more I learn about noni the more I love it. Did you know that noni…

  • Is known as the “pain killer tree” and may help to alleviate headache, joint, and arthritic pain.
  • Contains substances believed to balance mood.
  • Is often used as an immune booster.
  • Is rich in nutrients and phytochemicals for healthy skin and hair.
  • Contains ingredients believed to fight cancer.
  • People have found that it helps with cholesterol.
  • Is often used to aid in digestion and relieve constipation.
  • Contains antioxidants.

All of these are incredible reasons why I can’t get enough of noni these days. I have been taking Puna Noni’s noni supplements. I have also been using their liquid noni in my smoothies. Noni has such a strong smell, and some people are not able to stomach it because of this, but these ways of taking it are perfect. I have also been using the Puna Noni shampoo and conditioners, and they are incredible! Puna Noni mixes noni with natural aromas from orchids, coconuts, plumerias, tuberoses, and mangoes to make the best smelling products ever! I love the coconut and tuberose lotions; they are my favorite!

Anyhoo, I just wanted to share with you a little about noni and perhaps you’ll try something new too. Please visit any of our team members in our Wellness Departments for guidance to the wide variety of noni products that we carry. I would love to hear about what you try and how you like it, or perhaps you can share a noni recipe you make at home. 

Wishing you a fabulous summer!

Aloha Nui, Mama T


*The health and nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

The Real Culprit Behind High Cholesterol, Dismantling Dr. Atkins and Fruit Appreciation 101

High cholesterol is a rising concern in the United States. Once thought to be a condition of middle and old age, it was recently found that approximately 1 in 5 teens has cholesterol levels that raise the risk for heart disease. Dr. Campbell, in his book documenting his authoritative 27 year nutritional study dubbed the China Study, explains how the primary culprit behind high cholesterol is not what we’ve been led to believe.

First of all, it’s important to understand that the cholesterol we eat (called dietary cholesterol) and the cholesterol that our body produces (called blood cholesterol) are not the same thing. Your doctor can’t measure how much cholesterol you consume, he can only measure the amount of cholesterol that’s in your bloodstream. The process by which your body manufactures cholesterol is complex, and the cholesterol you consume in the form of fat may not become blood cholesterol once your body digests it.

Dr. Campbell discovered that the levels of blood cholesterol found in the Chinese population were significantly lower than the US. Even the highest levels in China were so low by US standards that it was commonly thought they could have no affect on health. However, Dr. Campbell found that even a slight increase in blood cholesterol was associated with a higher risk of cancer and heart disease.

Dr. Campbell set out to study what aspects of nutrition might contribute to higher blood cholesterol. He found, much to his surprise, that “consuming animal-based protein increases blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol also raise blood cholesterol, although these nutrients are not as effective at doing this as is animal protein.”

In other words, you may have heard from your doctor that you should eat lean meats to lower your cholesterol. But Dr. Campbell has discovered that it is the meat itself that is a greater cause of high blood cholesterol than the fat around the meat! He continues, “in contrast, plant-based foods contain no cholesterol, and in various other ways, help to decrease the amount of cholesterol made by the body.”

Many people have heard about the Atkins diet, which promises that you can lose weight by eating as much fat and animal protein as you want, as long as you stay away from carbohydrates. Dr. Campbell makes it clear that just because an idea is popular, doesn’t make it true. While he acknowledges that many people have lost weight on this diet, he says that the weight loss is temporary and unimportant compared to the negative side affects that accompany this diet over the long term. Constipation, headaches, hair loss, vomiting, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, kidney damage and increased cancer risk were just some of the side affects reported by studies of high protein, low carb diets. He concludes, “You can also lose weight by undergoing chemotherapy or starting a heroin addiction, but I wouldn’t recommend those either.” He also points out that Dr. Atkins himself was an obese man with heart disease and high blood pressure who suffered a heart attack.

So what does Dr. Campbell recommend? He points out that the diet of rural Chinese – who have levels of blood cholesterol lower than most Western doctors have ever seen -  is low in animal protein and high in carbohydrates. The difference is that they primarily consume complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Americans, on the other hand, mostly eat refined carbohydrates in the form of crackers, cakes, sweets, soda and white bread. Complex carbohydrates include fiber, which is necessary for good digestion, along with vitamins and minerals in a form that your body can assimilate. They are broken down in a controlled manner in your body, and are a good source of accessible energy. Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, are rapidly broken down into glucose which causes a sudden spike in blood sugar and is then stored as fat.

The conclusion is: we need to eat plants – fruits, vegetables, grains and beans - in their natural state. If we can retrain our taste buds away from refined, fatty and sugary foods, we will appreciate that this is not such a sacrifice. For thousands of years, fruits were considered the sweetest, most delicious temptations on earth. Figs, plums, apricots, apples, peaches, pomegranates, dates and grapes have long been appreciated as works of art in themselves, delighting in their beauty, aroma and taste. Imagine a plate filled with orange squash, purple sweet potatoes, dark green kale and brown rice. The bright colors in your vegetables are signs of naturally occurring antioxidants, which are potent anti-cancer agents. Dr. Campbell explains how plants build antioxidant shields to protect themselves from the free radicals produced during photosynthesis. “The plants make the antioxidant shields, and at the same time make them look incredibly appealing with beautiful, appetizing colors. Then we animals, in turn, are attracted to the plants and eat them and borrow their antioxidant shields for our own health. Whether you believe in God, evolution or just coincidence, you must admit that this is a beautiful, almost spiritual example of nature’s wisdom.”

Next time you have an avocado, cut it open, sprinkle it with a pinch of sea salt, and eat it with a spoon. There’s nothing better. Consider the last time you ate an orange off the tree. Go find one (if you can’t find one, plant one. Hawaii is the perfect climate for citrus. With a grafted tree, you can see fruits within two or three years). Cut through the peel and pith to reveal the juicy flesh beneath. Take a minute to smell the orange oils, which are natural anti-depressants. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Take a bite of your sun-drenched orange. This is what sunshine tastes like. Mmmm…..

Pouring on the fat! NYC poster gets the message across

Poster: Are you pouring on the pounds?

The New York Health department has given up the idea of taxing soda as a weapon in the war against obesity and have instead started a graphic advertising campaign showing a soda being poured into a glass, with the soda turning into liquid fat on its way to the glass. Pretty graphic, and some may even think gross, but it really gets across the message that drinking soda is a major cause of obesity. Pretty creative, and great to see the government actually get serious about getting the message across.

The following is from the NYC Department of Health press release, "August 31, 2009 – It’s hard to overeat without noticing it. By contrast, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can sneak up on you, adding hundreds of calories to your diet each day without ever filling you up. In a new effort to highlight the health impact of sweetened drinks, the Health Department is confronting New Yorkers with a bold question: Are you pouring on the pounds? The agency’s new public-awareness campaign, which includes posters in the subway system and a multilingual Health Bulletin, goes live today and will run for three months."

A New York Times article about it is interesting:

Only 1 in 7 change their lifestyle when told if they don't they will die - part 2

Aloha, yesterday's blog post generated a lot of comments, so many that I want to address a few with a second one. And of course, I forgot the most obvious action points for changing your lifestyle to save your life, which are very simple, people need to:

  1. Act responsibly. I mean, how ridiculous is it to not stop smoking cigarettes even though you know it is going to kill you, or to continue with a fat laden and otherwise unhealthy diet when you already have heart problems, or you don't change your diet, don't get exercise, and remain grossly overweight, while looking forward to the day when you start dialysis, after being diagnosed with pre-diabetes. None of this makes any sense. Hey, life is hard, change is hard, but so what? Take responsibility for your life and make the changes you have to make. Get on with it.
    One of the comments to yesterday's post from ziggywellness was: "A few years back when my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic I quickly took all of her advice. I increased exercise, I upped my fiber, I cut out tons of saturated fats and I lost close to 20 pounds. I remember the reaction she had on my next visit, it was nothing short of total shock." This is the kind of attitude that is needed!
  2. Stop being so self centered. Ok, fine, you don't want to change your activities because you like them so much and can't give them up. But, how about you stop being so self absorbed in your own happiness and start thinking about others, e.g. your immediate family members, your other relatives and friends, co-workers etc. Dying prematurely or becoming afflicted with a preventable disease has a big impact on them (gross understatement). It also imposes cost burdens on society as a whole.

Maybe people could consider the idea, and this may be a bit radical, but you know, you aren't the only person in the world and what you want is not the most important thing in the world. There are a whole bunch of other people in the world (as in billions) and your actions impact them. Giving up your self-centeredness and acting with concern for others, rather than focusing on the fulfillment of your own desires and what you like to do and so on, will paradoxically actually make you happier.

So in short, take responsibility, stop being so self-centered, and take action. Change your lifestyle, live longer, don't get preventable disease, be happier.

What are you giving up? What have you got to lose? Cigarettes aren't that great are they? I mean sucking smoke into your lungs is it really something to die for? Eating meat, is that such a great thing, the taste of other's blood, is that something to get heart attacks and cancer for?

Mark Fergusson

Health care debate should be about how to reduce the incidence of disease

Speaking about tobacco health care related costs which are estimated at $96 billion per year, that figure is dwarfed by the health care costs and productivity losses associated with just 5 diet related chronic diseases which are estimated at $864 billion per year.

  • $448 billion heart disease and stroke
  • $117 billion obesity
  • $50 billion osteoarthritis and osteoporosis
  • $75 billion cancer
  • $174 billion diabetes

The US medical "care" system is focused on treatment of disease, rather than prevention. The cost of medical care for chronic disease far exceeds the cost of following a healthy lifestyle consisting of a vegetarian plant based diet, regular exercise, and abstention from intoxicants which would significantly reduce the incidence of such diseases.

Instead of spending so much on medical care, which creates the need for very expensive public medical insurance, we should be focused on disease prevention and encouraging the living of healthy lifestyles; strangely enough I have not heard anything about this during the health care debate, all we hear about is how the so called rich people are going to be taxed to pay for the $1 trillion cost. Why isn't the debate focused on how to cut the incidence of disease so that the costs of health care won't be so much, and not only that but people will have a better quality of life at the same time.

Less cost, better health and happiness, seems like a no brainer to me. That is what the national health debate should be about.

Mark Fergusson

Another cause of the health care crisis we don't hear about

We have been blogging in recent weeks about the debate in Washington and the nation on the health care crisis and how we aren't hearing any discussion about addressing the root causes of the crisis, i.e. the underlying unhealthy diets and lifestyle choices (meat and junk food based diets, lack of physical activity, consumption of tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, etc.) and the widespread practice of defensive medicine. Another major cause of the bloated medical system's costs to add to the list is the cost of medical mistakes.

To get an actual cost estimate is difficult, but a few statistics help show how significant the problem is. A 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that physician error, medication error and adverse events from drugs or surgery kill over 225,000 people per year in the US.

This makes medical care the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease (710,000) and cancer (553,000). In the China Study, an insightful book by Colin T. Campbell PHD, the breakdown by cause is given as follows:

  • Medication errors 7,400 or 3%
  • Unnecessary surgery 12,000 or 5%
  • Other preventable errors in hospitals 20,000 or 9%
  • Hospital borne infections 80,000 or 35%
  • Adverse drug effects 106,000 or 48% (almost half)

Adverse drug effects, the biggest one, is death from taking the "right" drugs at the prescribed doses, i.e. it is not a medication error, it is the drug you were supposed to get, used at the correct dose, and dying from it. Sometimes you see on prescription drugs a list of side effects, at the very end you may see "death". Well, it isn't something to disregard, 106,000 people a year die from taking their medicine. Apparently 1 in 15, or 7%, of all hospitalized patients have a serious adverse drug reaction that "requires hospitalization, prolongs hospitalization, is permanently disabling, or results in death". And this is a conservative number as only cases definitely attributed to drug side effects are included in the numbers.

The human cost is high, the financial cost to the medical system is also undoubtedly high. When you add it to the medical costs of treating diseases caused by poor diet and lifestyle choices, if we make a few simple changes, we have more than enough money to provide medical insurance for everyone.

If we can get people to change their diets to a predominantly plant based vegetarian diet then they will significantly reduce the likelihood of getting disease. This will keep them out of the medical system, and they won't need the expensive drugs that all too often end up killing them.

Health care debate misses the real solution

I continue to be amazed that the debate over changes to the nation’s health care system is not focused, or at least that a significant part of the debate isn’t about how to reduce the need for so much expensive medical intervention/treatment in the first place. The current debate assumes that the current level of medical care is a given, that it is going to increase as the population ages, and that more and more of the population will likely become obese, get diabetes, have heart disease, get cancer, etc. According to a recent Washington Post article it is expected that an astounding 20% of GDP will be spent on medical care by 2017.

It is obvious that substantial cost savings can be had by simply encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle and providing them the education and resources to do so. If people live healthier lifestyles then there won’t be the need for as much extremely expensive medical intervention. E.g., the cost of lifetime treatment of heart disease can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for heart surgery, drugs, tests, disability payments, lost productivity, etc. etc. It is surely much cheaper to encourage people to live a lifestyle that substantially reduces the likelihood of getting heart disease in the first place.

In another example, one of the proposals to reduce medical costs is to have one stop medical clinics for people with diabetes. A recent Washington Post article states, “David Kendall, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Third Way think tank, notes that one out of every 10 health-care dollars spent in the United States is directly linked to diabetes. Pilot projects have shown that paying a medical team for total care -- monitoring blood-sugar levels, giving eye and foot exams -- rather than paying for each visit to an ophthalmologist or podiatrist is better for the patient and costs less.”

This is a good idea for reducing costs, even a great idea; however, it is staggering that 10% of the health care dollars spent in the United States are directly related to diabetes. The article goes on to say, "The financial losers will be hospitals that no longer amputate somebody's foot or the dialysis centers" that are no longer needed, he said. "That's where we save a lot of money.”

Thus, aside from the staggering financial costs of diabetes, we are dealing with the very real human suffering and misery of foot amputation, ongoing dialysis treatments, blindness, etc. How much better would it be to put our efforts into reducing the incidence of diabetes in the first place? Diabetes is primarily a diet and lifestyle disease, and the current obesity epidemic is a major contributing factor to its increased incidence.

The health care debate must include serious discussion on how to reduce the incidence of diet and lifestyle related diseases that are overburdening the health care system with unsustainable costs.

The natural and organic products industry, alternative health care providers, and especially vegetarian companies like Down to Earth have a lot to contribute to this discussion. To lower costs and to give people the gift of good health, the government should actively encourage people to:

  • Adopt a vegetarian plant based diet consisting of natural and organic foods which are low in sugar and salt etc. (In relation to this, the government should stop subsidizing industries that sell unhealthy foods full of things like corn syrup that are addictive and lead to people consuming way more calories than they need)
  • Use alternative therapies, acupuncture, homeopathy, ayur veda, naturopathy, etc. where appropriate, rather than relying solely on invasive and expensive conventional western medicine approaches of treating symptoms rather than addressing the underlying causes of the disease
  • Make judicious and appropriate use of dietary supplements
  • Get regular exercise, breathe fresh air, and drink lots of clean water (rather than soda which is full of calories, or alcohol containing beverages)
  • Not use tobacco, alcohol or drugs

If this approach was adopted the savings would be in the trillions of dollars over the course of a decade, thus making the provision of medical insurance for everyone more affordable.

To read The Washington Post article:

A Marathoner’s Yoga Practice

Photo: People in a Yoga Class

My family knew I was that boy from a very young age. Jumping from couch to couch. Digging in the dirt. Running around the yard with our dogs. I was that boy who just could not stay still! I loved the feeling of roaming free in the great outdoors. In fact, I still do!

My 2016 New Year’s Resolution is to run the Honolulu Marathon. That’s right…run. What was I thinking?! I’ve never run for sport in my life! It wasn’t long before I felt the early effects of running. I felt achy all over, but especially in my knees. What is an aspiring runner to do? In comes yoga.

I do yoga every day. In the Marketing Department, we do daily morning yoga stretches as a team to help us stay flexible and pain-free throughout the day. I find that I feel more awake and ready to get to work. It helps me to feel more centered throughout the day. Even doing a few quick yoga poses during the day helps to manage stress.

Yoga has helped me tremendously in my marathon training. If I feel pain in my knees, I do several stretches to help release some tension. My yoga instructor says it at every class: Listen to your body. When a certain pose feels good and alleviates pain in the long-run, something must be working. If it hurts too much, stop. Yoga has helped me to be kinder to my body, to be more mindful not to overdo things. If I feel too achy or exhausted to go for a six-mile run, just take it easy and walk. It’s okay to get into Child’s Pose when you’re too exhausted to join the class in their headstand. Listen to your body.

Breathing is another aspect of yoga that has really helped me in my training. It seems so simple. Breathe, Jordan! Breathe! But when you’re going for that inversion at the end of a long steamy yoga class, sometimes you forget to breathe. It’s important to breathe deep, controlled breaths in yoga. It helps you to concentrate and come back to your center. Breathing deep yoga breaths during my runs have helped me to complete long-distance runs without getting distracted or discouraged. I found that a deep three second inhale and exhale breath cycle works for me. It also helps me to enjoy the present moment. Breathe in, enjoy the bright sun…breathe out, enjoy the cool wind...

Whether it’s to help you become more flexible, to strengthen and tone muscles, or help you to feel centered, everyone can benefit from yoga. There are many yoga studios in Hawai’i to try out. Some are donation based and some have class fees. Bring a friend with you and have fun! There are also many free yoga videos online to practice yoga from the comfort of your home! With International Yoga Day coming up on June 21st, there will be many opportunities to embrace and celebrate yoga this month. I’ll continue incorporating yoga into my life, even after the Marathon.

Yoga has proven to be instrumental in my pain management as I continue on my path to the 2016 Honolulu Marathon. It’s helped to prevent and alleviate pain before a major injury happens. Yes, I am still that boisterous little boy on the inside. But yoga has reminded me of the importance to look deep within. Listen to your body. Breathe. It calls me back to the stillness within despite all the movement around me. Yoga is a truly beautiful practice that I recommend as a part of everyone’s fitness journey.