Is Hand Sanitizer Bad?

It is a bit ironic to sanitize your hands hoping to fend off colds and flus when the sanitizer you’re using may be contributing to much more serious health issues. Hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps with synthetic parabens and triclosan are found to suppress proper thyroid function, increase risk of allergies, mimic estrogen, and contribute to long-term compromised immunity. Fending off illness needn’t be so risky. When it comes to hand hygiene, good old soap and water and/or an essential oil based sanitizer does a great job in killing germs.

Health risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers?

  • Kills good as well as bad bacteria. Like our intestines, there is beneficial flora on your skin as well. Hand sanitizers kill microorganisms indiscriminately, however, good flora appear to repopulate quickly after use.
  • It is not safe to drink. Thousands of poisoning cases are reported annually to the American Association of Poison Control regarding children and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. A simple solution, use sanitizing towelettes rather than gels around kids.
  • Reduced ability to fight off infections with continued use of sanitizers doesn’t appear to have consistent results.
  • Skin irritation, drying and redness can accompany continued use of alcohol-based sanitizers. Some people are more sensitive than others.
  • Methylparabens have an estrogenic affect on the body. Most research agrees that parabens are best avoided.
  • Triclosan, a pesticide used to slow the growth of some bacteria and viruses, was found in 2005 to not be superior to washing your hands with soap and water. Evidence is mounting that it is dangerous (disrupts thyroid, mimics estrogen) and should be avoided.
  • Some germ exposure helps us build a strong immune system, so one must ask themselves if they actually want to keep a mostly sterile environment or not.

Benefits of hand-sanitizers

  • When soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizers do reduce spread of germs that can cause respiratory or gastrointestinal illness by about 59%.
  • Hand sanitizers were found to be better at killing norovirus than just soap and water.

Safer sanitizing options

Even with the best hand hygiene, you will probably get sick once in a while. Building a strong immune system through proper diet, an active lifestyle and stress reduction is your best shot at avoiding illness.

Published on, February 16, 2011.

Agave: What you don’t know may hurt you

The agave syrup/nectar currently sold in grocery stores is not all it’s cracked up to be. The marketing leads you to believe that agave nectar is traditional, used for thousands of years by Mexican natives, an “all natural” sweet syrup requiring very little alteration from its natural plant form. This is not the case.

What is modern agave?

Agave syrup is not obtained by squeezing sap from the leaf of the agave plant. This sweetener is made from the large agave root bulb through a process much like high fructose corn syrup is made from corn. Companies differ in their manufacturing processes. Some claim that they do not use genetically modified enzymes, sulphiric/hydracholoric acids, dicalite or clarimex chemicals to make their agave syrup, but most do not make these claims.

The end product: an extremely sweet, highly processed syrup that is almost 70% fructose. Agave syrup is higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup (55%) and sugar (50%). You will learn shortly why this spells health disaster.

Agave syrup, a history

In the ’70s, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) entered the marketplace and quickly became popular as a sugar replacement in packaged foods because it was really sweet and really inexpensive. Its safety for our health has been questioned ever since. Tension has been mounting as consumers demand answers.

Recent ad campaigns have been working hard to convince us that high fructose corn syrup is safe and natural, yet the request to change nutrition labeling from HFCS to “corn sugar” indicate that those attempts at reputation redemption don’t appear to have worked. Suddenly, agave nectar (that’s been around since the 1990s) is all the rage. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Why is fructose harmful to your health?

In Dr. Robert Lustig’s presentation, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, he explains the many ways that fructose is contributing to Metabolic Syndrome (a cluster of symptoms including obesity, lipid problems, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and liver cirrhosis). Below are some reasons why fructose is bad for us.

  1. Damages our liver. The liver processes fructose just like alcohol, leading to many similar side effects.
  2. Fructose disrupts appetite control. It doesn’t suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone in our stomachs, so we stay hungry.
  3. Tricks our metabolism. It doesn’t stimulate insulin or leptin because there is no receptor site on the beta cell of the pancreas. If insulin doesn’t go up, neither does leptin and your brain doesn’t register that you ate something!
  4. Overworks our liver. The liver metabolizes fructose and glucose very differently. Eighty percent of calories from fructose are metabolized by the liver as opposed to only 20% of calories from glucose: It is much more work by the liver to break down fructose.
  5. Raises triglycerides, contributing to heart disease.

Furthermore, and this is specific to the agave plant rather than to fructose, the saponins (a natural component especially high in agave and Yucca species) have some potential health risks: red blood cell disruption, vomiting, diarrhea and possible stimulation to uterine blood flow (may increase risk of miscarriage).

Healthier sweeteners

Raw honey, organic maple syrup, dates, stevia, xylitol and organic sugar are preferable to agave syrup.

Fruit does contain fructose, but in low levels, so you needn’t worry unless you consume very large amounts of fruit or fruit juice. Instead, focus your efforts on eliminating processed foods and beverages containing high amounts of fructose.

Continue reading on Agave syrup: What you don’t know may hurt you – San Francisco Healthy Living |

Healthy Breakfast Sausage, Non-traditional breakfast Part 2

We’ve done it again and made a very tasty breakfast video.

Quick and Easy Sausage Patties

1 lb ground meat* (we used pork in the video)

1/4 teaspoon of each – cumin, basil, oregano, and thyme

Dash of sea salt

That’s it!

Yields about 8 patties (4 servings). We recommend cooking up the whole pound and storing the leftover patties in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for later consumption.

Other spice suggestions:  a dash of brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne or red pepper flakes, minced or powdered garlic

Try pairing with starchier foods like sweet potatoes or beans as well as veggies like raw or steamed kale or spinach.

Each (pork) patty contains:

150 calories

12 grams fat

9.5 grams protein

0 grams carbohydrate

*Make sure your meat doesn’t contain preservatives like nitrites or MSG and that the animals are raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. If using beef, lamb, or buffalo ensure that the animals were 100% grass fed, also called grass fed & grass finished.

Animals that are not grass finished are fed grass the majority of their lives and then fed corn the last 6 months to fatten them up. By the time the meat is butchered the cells have changed structure and are unhealthy to eat. Contrary to popular belief, cows are not meant to eat corn!*

Stay Tuned for our next Healthy Breakfast video!

5 great Santa Cruz walks in 5 days

Need some walking inspiration? Here you go!

Vegans At Increased Risk For Heart Disease

American Chemical Society just released an article about vegans being at increased heart disease risk, specifically blood clots and atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”. Are we really surprised by this?

We need to consume animal products, in some form, to be healthy. The amount and type absolutely depends on your unique biochemistry, but this study is a good reminder that when we eliminate all animal products, our health suffers.