What’s The Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao?

Some of you might believe that cocoa and cacao are the same thing, but that’s definitely not the case. Here’s the deal: if your chocolate bar is made with cacao, you’re about to dive into a true antioxidant-rich superfood. However, if it’s made with cocoa, you’re not getting nearly the amount of health benefits you would with the cacao-derived treat.

The big difference lies in the processing of the cacao bean. If the bean is high-heat roasted, then you have cocoa, NOT cacao. Cacao is never roasted, but kept in its raw state, then cold-pressed to extract its healthy goodness and preserve its nutrients. In addition, the intense dark brown color of cacao is quite distinctive from its much lighter cousin, cocoa.

Another reason why cocoa-based products get a poor nutritional score is because the big chocolate manufacturers throw in substances like soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, and vegetable oil. Candy bars are notorious for this, and as a result they should be avoided like the plague. Your best bet is dark chocolate, because it has a high cacao content. The higher the cacao percentage, the healthier it is. Make sure you look for CACAO and not cocoa on the wrapper!

Proud To Be A MitoXcell Ambassador!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have probably seen my posts about MitoXcell products. I am particularly fond of the original MitoXcell blend which I have every day, and which I swear by for peak performance and recovery as well as optimal cellular health.

Please check out my ambassador profile on the MitoXcell website!

Stacey Naito

I strongly encourage everyone to try MitoXcell products! Go to http://www.MitoXcell.com to shop, and be sure to enter my discount code at checkout for 25% off your order!

Discount code: NAITO25

Don’t Sleep In Your Makeup!

sleeping in makeup

There are enough women out there who are in the habit of sleeping with their makeup on that I thought this would be a great topic to tackle in my blog. The three most common reasons why women sleep in their makeup are 1) they don’t want their bedmates to know what they really look like (listen, if you’re that concerned, the object of your love/lust is probably too shallow to be a good catch anyway), 2) they are too lazy to take a few minutes to remove their makeup, or 3) they are too drunk to perform a makeup removal ritual. I am not going to say that I have never fallen asleep with my makeup on, but it is exceedingly rare. I am so fastidious about removing makeup that I do a thorough face cleansing immediately after photo shoots and events, because I can’t stand the feeling of full makeup on my face. I honestly don’t know how many women wear full makeup every single day, and I especially cannot understand how some of them will sleep in those layers of gunk!

I cringe every time I hear a woman say that she frequently sleeps in her makeup, because I immediately think about how her skin is unable to breathe and heal because of all the pollutants, germs and oils which bake into it while she sleeps. Makeup is like a mask, and when it sits on top of the skin at night when you are sleeping, it prevents the cells in the skin from performing their restorative processes. Harmful chemicals from the environment cause free radical formation which goes unchecked when the skin is not cleansed, so the result is dull, prematurely aged skin.

Another reason why sleeping in makeup is unhealthy is that it clogs pores. As if that wasn’t enough, all that caked-on makeup serves as a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. I can always tell when women sleep in their makeup, because their skin has a congested, dull appearance, and acne breakouts are common. Even on the nights when a woman who habitually sleeps in her makeup decides to cleanse her skin, she is re-exposing herself to the bacteria, pollution, and oils which were left on the pillowcase along with the makeup from the evenings when she was too lazy to remove her makeup. In addition, sleeping with full makeup is a sure way to stain pillowcases.

I have actually heard women say that as long as they remove their face makeup, there shouldn’t be any hygienic issues with leaving eye makeup wrong. They couldn’t be more wrong. Eye shadows commonly have highly irritating substances like bismuth in them, and leaving them in contact with the delicate skin of the eyelids can invite eyelid inflammation, aka blepharitis, which is NOT fun at all. In addition, mascara, eye shadow and eyeliner can transfer onto the pillow, then get into your eyes, causing corneal irritation or infection.

Another reason why sleeping in eye makeup is a bad idea is that most mascara formulas dry out the eyelashes, and when left on for prolonged periods of time, can cause them to become extremely brittle. Lashes are more prone to breakage when they are dry. Also, for those of you who dare to sleep in false eyelashes at night, be aware that lash adhesives also tend to be very drying and irritating to the lash line, and can even inhibit lash growth if kept on the lash margin for too long.

Though the best way to cleanse your skin at night is to use a gentle yet thorough cleanser and a motorized brush (Clarisonic makes great brushes, but there are decent drugstore brands too), you should at the very least use a makeup remover towelette. If you are truly lazy, keep the towelettes by your bed so that you can easily grab them and wipe your face and eyes before hitting dreamland.

One More Thought On Muscle Loss And Aging

I posted an article several days ago which discussed the interventions which can be practiced by older individuals to maintain muscle mass. In that article I discussed the importance of weight training, consuming adequate protein, and adding certain supplements which can reduce inflammation. A critical component in maintaining optimal function of the body at the cellular level is ensuring that micro-nutrient needs are met, i.e., meeting the body’s vitamin and mineral requirements. Given the fact that numerous nutrient deficiencies are increasingly common (such as magnesium, vitamin D3, calcium), supplementation with high quality products can often make the difference between a healthy state and one riddled with illness.

One sure way to meet micro-nutrient needs each day is to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement. I recommend taking a multivitamin which is dosed several times a day because the chance of optimal absorption is much greater than once-daily dosing. My favorite is SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber, because it delivers high bioavailability on a three time dosing regimen each day and is suitable for everyone, but it is especially great for individuals who tend to experience intestinal discomfort from multivitamin formulas.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx


The Benefits Of Fruit

FruitFruit has gotten a bad rap recently in people’s efforts to eradicate sugar from their diets.  However, I strongly believe that this is a big mistake.  Fruits are low-calorie and (with the exception of avocados) low in fat, and are plentiful in vitamins and soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber aids the body in ridding fats and cholesterol from the body as well as ensuring regular transit of food particles in excretion.  In addition, fruits offer antioxidants which protect the  body from oxidant stress and many diseases, as well as boost our immune response.

I especially love blueberries as they contain a special type of antioxidant known as anthocyanins.  In fact, all “blue” fruits (blackberries, acai, mulberries and black grapes contain these powerful antioxidants just underneath their skins.

Here is a list of some of the most popular fruits along with their associated health benefits:

APPLE:  Apples are packed with soluble fiber and are high in vitamins.  Due to their high fiber content they can be excellent aids for individuals who suffer from constipation.

BANANA:  This fruit is well known for its high potassium content.  Those who have issues with high blood pressure might want to make bananas a regular part of their meal plans in order to manage their pressure issues.

BLUEBERRIES:  As stated before, blueberries are one of my favorite fruits because they offer so many health benefits.  This fruit is ranked number one in antioxidant activity and may help to lower the risk of developing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  They also freeze very well.  In fact, not too long ago I was in the habit of purchasing large batches of blueberries, then freezing them for use in my morning oatmeal.

CRANBERRY:  This extraordinary fruit prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall and in so doing can be very effective in preventing urinary tract infections from developing.  I recommend the extract or juice to women who are prone to frequent urinary tract infections as it minimizes the chance of developing infections.  Cranberries have a strong antioxidant effect as well.

PINK GRAPEFRUIT:  This fruit is very high in a form of soluble fiber known as pectin, which can help to lower cholesterol.  It also is rich in lycopene and flavonoids, which may have a protective effect against certain types of cancer.  Beware of this fruit if you take cholesterol-lowering statins or some other medications, as grapefruit can interfere with some medications.

KIWI:  This strange, beautiful, tart fruit is packed with vitamins C and E, has 3 grams of fiber in one fruit, and is also rich in potassium and magnesium.  In fact, kiwi has more vitamin C than oranges do. 

MANGO:  This fruit has ample amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have a protective effect on vision and can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.

ORANGE:  Oranges are rich in folate, an essential substance which helps to prevent neural tube defects in unborn infants and which also has a protective effect against the development of high blood pressure in women.  It is also rich in vitamin C and fiber.

PEAR:  Pears contain a lot of soluble fiber and for this reason can be very effective in relieving constipation.

PINEAPPLE:  This tropical fruit, besides containing large amounts of vitamin C, contains an enzyme known as bromelain which assists in breaking down protein and facilitating digestion.  Bromelain also has wound healing properties, helps to prevent blood clots and inhibits cancer cell growth.  Pineapples also have anti-inflammatory properties which can help to alleviate arthritis pain.

POMEGRANATE:  This fruit is rich in antioxidant tannins which have a demonstrated protective effect on the heart.  Individuals with high blood pressure or risk of heart attack will benefit from ingesting this fruit on a daily basis.

PRUNE:  Prunes are very high in sorbitol which has a mild laxative effect, so the old wive’s remedy of drinking prune juice for constipation was extremely valid.  This fruit is also very rich in boron, a mineral which may help prevent osteoporosis.

RASPBERRY:  Raspberries are rich in folate, magnesium and ellagic acid, an antioxidant which may help to prevent cervical, esophageal and colon cancer.  They also provide large amounts of fiber, as well as vitamins A and C.

STRAWBERRY:  Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and potassium.  They also have a protective effect against carcinogens.

I realize that many people are not able to locate the fresh varieties of fruits throughout the year, so I want to call attention to the varieties of fruits which are available frozen.  Dole offers the following fruits in frozen versions:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Mangos
  • Mixed berries
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Frozen fruit is picked, washed, peeled, cut and frozen immediately in order to retain the bulk of its nutritional value.  When you are ready to use the fruit, you can either thaw it at room temperature or lightly defrost it in the microwave, though I strongly prefer room temperature thawing.

People who compete may have adopted the attitude that fruit is a big no-no, as they believe the fructose in fruit will potentiate fat retention.  However, if you consume small portions with meals, especially with your post-training meal, there is no way that you would consume enough to create such an issue.  I strongly disagree with the mindset that fruit consumption should be eliminated during contest prep, as this robs the body of powerful antioxidants and deprives a competitor of natural sweetness, which could result in strong cravings for sweet items which are made with sucrose or artificial sweeteners.  If you are extremely concerned about consuming too much fruit, try a small portion (1/4 to 1/3 cup of fruit in the morning with your first meal, and the same portion size with your post-workout meal. 

You might find it challenging to consume fresh fruit on a regular basis, and if so, you might not be incorporating vital nutrients into your diet on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, and my favorite is SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber. SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin delivers high bioavailability on a three time dosing regimen each day and is suitable for everyone, but it is especially great for individuals who tend to experience intestinal discomfort from multivitamin formulas.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx

Get The Best Skin Ever- Part 1: Lifestyle Adjustments

Beauty face of woman with clean skin


Please read my RxGirl article on making lifestyle adjustments that will transform your skin. You can access the original article by clicking on the link above, or keep reading here for the full article.

“What skin cream do you use? Your skin looks amazing!”

This is a common exclamation from women who admire the flawless skin of those who are either naturally dermatologically blessed or have been proactive about practicing good skin care. Perhaps you are one of the blessed individuals, but most women deal with acne, wrinkles, oiliness, hyperpigmentation, dry skin and dark circles under the eyes, all of which can be addressed with targeted products. If you practice consistent skin care with the right products, you will see improvements in the tone and quality of your skin.

Before delving into topical products in Part 2 of this article, I will utilize Part 1 here to review the many variables which can dramatically influence the quality of the skin.

Sleeping Beauty –
There’s a lot of truth to the adage about getting one’s beauty sleep. When you get adequate sleep, you optimize your body’s ability to repair itself because it has a chance to release human growth hormone in the deep stages of sleep. Conversely, cheating yourself out of a good night’s sleep results in an increase in cortisol release, which increases the amount of inflammation in the body. Basically, the inflammation prevents your cells from repairing damaged collagen, and if this occurs chronically, your skin will adopt an aged appearance. So get some quality shut-eye every night!

Don’t smoke –
I know most of you ladies don’t engage in this habit, but if you do, bear in mind that the habit breaks down the collagen and elastin in your skin, aging you prematurely. Smoking also constricts the blood vessels in the upper layer (epidermis), which interferes with delivery of oxygen and other vital nutrients which are involved in cell renewal. Lastly, the constant pursing of the lips which occurs while puffing on a cigarette causes fine vertical lines (“smoker’s lines”) to develop around the mouth.

Internal antioxidants –
We have all heard of the benefits of daily antioxidant intake and how these nutrients boost the body’s immunity, decrease inflammation, and even improve cognition, so it shouldn’t surprise you that antioxidants also promote cellular repair in the skin as well. Make sure to incorporate foods and supplements which have antioxidants such as vitamins A,C, E, cofactors like CoQ10, and polyphenols like resveratrol in them.

Hydrate from within –
Drink plenty of water, and you will be rewarded with glowing, healthy skin. Every time I have told a patient who suffered either from dry skin or from stubborn acne to drink plenty of water, I have seen dramatic improvement in the quality of their skin after they began drinking at least three liters of water per day. Adequate hydration will ensure that toxins are flushed out of cells and the cells are filled with water.

Healthy fats –
One of the hazards of competing is the tendency for coaches to completely strip dietary fat from contest prep diets. What results is a gaunt, unhealthy, aged appearance in the face which looks terrible and just screams for dermal fillers. Rather than wreak havoc on your youthful appearance, why not keep healthy fats like avocado, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed, almonds, cashews, and fish oil in your daily regimen?

Limit alcohol –
Alcohol is notorious for dehydrating the skin and for that reason alone should be ingested in moderation. Also, since alcohol is toxic to the liver, it impairs the body’s ability to remove other environmental toxins which will be reflected in the quality of the skin. And for those of you who suffer from rosacea, that relaxing glass of red wine with dinner is a big no-no because it will aggravate the condition.

Clean makeup brushes –
When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? Makeup brushes should be thoroughly washed on a regular basis to remove product build-up, bacteria and oils. If you suffer from acne, you need to be especially diligent about cleaning your makeup brushes regularly. As a general rule, clean foundation and concealer brushes at least once a week (twice a week if acne is a major issue). Eye makeup brushes should be cleaned every two weeks, and other brushes should be cleaned monthly. There are some excellent brush cleaning solvents, but you can mix one part baby shampoo with four parts water for an excellent and cheap brush cleaner.

Sanitize cell phone –
Cleaning your cell phone on a regular basis is a good sanitary practice to adopt, and can also save your skin from acne breakouts and rashes. Think for a minute how much you touch your phone and how much dust, ear wax and fingertip residue can accumulate on its surface. It’s no surprise that putting this bacteria- riddled device next to your cheek can cause skin flare-ups to occur. The best way to clean your phone is to use a soft cloth which is lightly sprayed with a dilute isopropyl alcohol solution (equal parts iso alcohol and water).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article which will cover topical products and treatments for luminous, youthful skin!

I Need An Oil Can

Lately I have been in CONSTANT pain from inflammation in my neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and ankles which has me creaking like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. I wouldn’t mind it so much if the pain patterns were completely predictable, but there have been days when the pain has shifted from one side to another. No amount of massage or adjustment seems to calm things down either. Granted, I have not been as diligent about taking my daily supplements due to almost two weeks of international travel which threw my daily routine off track in a big way. Now that I am back in the States for a while now, I plan to get back into my daily rhythm which will hopefully cause most of my aches to abate.
Tin Man
As a result of the pain I was enduring, I had a massage last week while in Bali. It was an amazing deal at 120,000 rupiah (about $10 U.S.) for a full hour of shiatsu massage, so I jumped on it. What I had forgotten was that shiatsu massage can hurt like a mother^%#@$* due to its focus on trigger points and deep pressure. I was writhing in pain for the entire hour, but figured I needed the torture. Usually if my patients experience deep massage, I will tell them to take arnica or ibuprofen for the next 24 hours to address inflammation, but since I am a doctor (and doctors really DO make the worst patients), and also since I had no access to anti-inflammatory agents, I tolerated the pummeling I got and simply hydrated as much as I could. The next morning, I was in so much pain that I could barely walk, and I couldn’t turn my head at all. Stretching was almost impossible because my range of motion was terrible. Thankfully, my range of motion increased gradually as the day progressed and my muscles warmed up.

After dealing with such intense discomfort for a while now, I think I will take my own advice and resume my daily intake of antioxidants, glucosamine, and turmeric. For those of you who may also be feeling like a poorly oiled tin man, you might want to follow suit.