MTHFR Mutations: Do you have this hidden kryptonite?

Hi! My name is Melanie, and I’m MTHFR homogeneous A1298C! How about you?


A large percentage of us harbor variants of a genetic mutation which cause things in our body to go awry. Unfortunately, this isn’t ti


ome cool glitch which grants you superpowers, X-Men style. Rather, it’s a not-so-fun snag in your genetic coding, technically called a single nucleotide polymorphism (“SNP”). An MTHFR SNP, if you have it, affects every single one of your body’s 50+ trillion cells, and their ability to do fun stuff like methylate, detoxify, regulate neurotransmitters, and assimilate nutrients and energy. So. Many. Things.

Let’s break it all down, shall we? (Since our bodies may be failing a little bit in that area anyways.)


Methylation is a process in which the body passes methyl groups (1 carbon + 3 hydrogens) around. It happens 1,000,000,000+ times per second. That’s a lot of methylation going down. Methylation is super important for tons of processes in the body, including regulating ATP production, AKA: energy.

MTHFR mutations hinder your ability to properly methylate.  It’s sort of like money. If you’re in the US, a properly working MTHFR gene gives you the ability to transform say, euros into dollars. Money is money, but it’s only useful to you in a certain form. If you have an MTHFR mutation and don’t address it, you could effectively walk around with loads of cash in the form of euros, but be, for better or less, broke. When you can’t methylate efficiently, and turn vitamins into their properly usable forms (particularly folate and other B vitamins), then things can quickly go south. MTHFR mutations are associated with nasty things like chronic infections, allergies, miscarriages, addictions, autism, fibromyalgia, schizophrenia, depression, and cancer.


The MTHFR gene affects a lot of stuff, including all of the following:

  • Tells your body how to make the MeThylenetetraHydroFolate Reductase enzyme. This MTHFR enzyme helps your body process amino acids. If the enzyme is made improperly, as is the case with those with MTHFR mutations, then stuff in the body gets a little wonky (seeing as how we are made, in part, of amino acids!)
  • Helps your body properly use and assimilate folate (B9), by converting 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate into its activated form of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). You need the activated form of folate for lots of stuff, like synthesizing DNA and dealing with homocysteine. (See the next point!)
  • Helps your body convert homocysteine into methionine. High homocysteine levels = inflammation, and are associated with kidney disease, psoriasis, low thyroid levels, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Generating neurotransmitters. Undermetylaters and overmethylators can experience cognitive and mental problems when methylation is out of whack. (Oh hey anxiety or depression!)
  • Helps with cellular repair and detoxification. For things to run smoothly in your body, and not feel sluggish, gross, and crummy, you need a proper MTHFR gene. Hindered detox = more toxins in your body.  
  • Proper methylation is required for production of carnitine, CoQ10, ATP, and creating protective cushions for nerves. (Oh hey nerve pain!)
  • Ensures adequate levels of glutathione, a foundational antioxidant necessary for efficient functioning of, well, basically everything.
  • Helps your body generate proper levels of SAMe, which is necessary for breaking down hormones, proteins, and chemicals in the body, as well as histamine. (Oh hey allergies!)
  • Methylation also controls gene expression. A glitch in your MTHFR gene, can lead to more genetic problems down the line.


While a lot of things in this world can make you feel pretty crappy, here are some indicators you may have an MTHFR defect:

  • allergies
  • sensitivities to perfumes/ foods/scents/ everything under the sun
  • chronic fatigue
  • anxiety
  • light-headedness/ brain fog
  • folate deficiency
  • lots of other things


Given the fact that there are 20,373 base pairs of chromosomes in the MTHFR gene which could potentially go awry, MTHFR mutations are, unfortunately, not uncommon. An estimated 70% of the population has one mutation. Problems tend to arise, however,  when you get specific mutations, such as the highly studied C677T and A1298C variants. With these, you can be:

Heterozygous: you have one mutant copy of one of the genes
Homozygous: you have two mutant copies of one of the genes
Compound Heterozygous: you have one mutant copy of both genes

INTENSE SCIENTIFIC DETAILS PARAGRAPH ALERT: If you care about the specifics, the “normal” versions of these genes are MTHFR C677C and MTHFR A1298A. If one of the Cs is messed up on what should be MTHFR C677C (like MTHFR C677T), then you’d be Heterozygous MTHFR C677T. If both Cs are messed up (like MTHFR T677T), you’d be Homogenous MTHFR T677T, typically just called Homogenous MTHFR C677T. Likewise with the A1298A gene, if one of the As is messed up, you’d be Heterozygous MTHFR A1298C. If both Cs are messed up (like MTHFR C1298C), you’d be Homogenous MTHFR C1298C, typically called Homogenous MTHFR A1298C. (That’s me!) MTHFR C677T + MTHFR A1298C would be a Compound Heterozygous mutation.

(I cannot BELIEVE I just wrote all that out, given my limited genetic knowledge.) 

Thankfully, single heterozygous mutations, may minimally affect feelings of overall health. Heterozygous A1298C *seems* relatively benign for most people, though heterozygous C677T may be detrimental for folate methylation. The more nasty mutations to look out for, are Homozygous A1298C, Homozygous C677T, and Compound Heterozgous A1298C + C677T. In general, the A1298C defect is correlated with more neurological problems, while the C677T defect is associated with more cardiovascular and reproductive problems. Overall, C677T seems to be the most serious, though Homozygous A1298C isn’t very good either.


You can ask your doctor to run an MTHFR blood test. You can also do a 23andMe saliva test. (That’s on my personal to do list!)


While you can’t exactly rewrite your genes, you can address the misinformation being laid out by your genes. It’s like if you knew a teacher was teaching the wrong material, so you went and told everyone in the class the right stuff. Granted, it’s not easy breezy automatic, but it gets the job done! Once you start providing the ingredients needed for your methylation pathways, you can clear out the gunk and get things flowing properly again! To do this:

  1. Get B vitamins from whole foods, like meat and leafy green vegetables.
  2. Avoid folic acid, often rampant in processed foods, at all costs. (BAD! See below!)
  3. Take certain methylated vitamins, like methylated B12 (methylcobalamin) and methylated folate (i.e.: L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate [L-5-MTHF], 6(S)-L-Methyltetrahydrofolate [6(S)-L-MTHF], or L-Methylfolate Calcium). These are vitamins in their bioavailable form – no methylation needed!
  4. Take regular doses of vitamin C, to support detox pathways.
  5. Limit your exposure to food and environmental toxins, and consider partaking in some fasting to further encourage detox. (I practice intermittent fasting every single day!)

DOSAGES: Doctors are quick to prescribe high dosages of folate. The commonly prescribed deplin, for example ranges from 7.5-15 mg of methylated folate. Even my doctor, who discovered my mutation, prescribed 10mg of folate for me. Research indicates, however, that starting with lower doses of folate may be best, as one can easily become overmethylated. Symptoms of overmethylation include: depression, paranoia, head and neck pain, histapenia, and intense rumiations. If you do suffer from overmethylation, consider reducing your supplementation, or supplementing with niacin, which can calm things down.

WARNING: When you start methylating properly (if you haven’t been before), then you’re going to massively increase your body’s ability to detox. While this is awesome, it may lead to temporary die-off symptoms as you shed toxins. It’s like going through and dealing with the nasty stuff at the back of your dirty closet. It’s not just gonna disappear – you’re gonna have to briefly deal with it.

MY REGIME: I currently take 1000 mcg of a sublingual b12 spray (Pure Advantage B-12 Methylcobalamin Spray), with 1 mg of methylated folate (Thorne Research – 5-MTHF Folate Supplement – 1 mg Folate), and am quite pleased with the results. I also just ordered HomocysteX Plus, developed by Dr. Ben Lynch, who runs, and which contains the proper forms of B12, Folate (B9), B6, B2, as well as TMG (Trimethylglycine), which aids the methylation process. I shall report back! Thorne Research also makes a methylated complex: “Methyl-Gaurd”.

Note: The B and C vitamins are water-soluble, meaning you can’t stock up on them. That’s why consistent supplementation is key!


If you have the MTHFR mutation and are struggling to get your folate, you might think folic acid supplements would be a good thing. THEY’RE NOT. While folic acid is often added to foods to provide folate, if you have the MTHFR mutation, you can’t process folic acid. Instead, folic acid blocks folate receptors, and builds up to potentially toxic levels. (This is yet another reason to avoid grains, which often have folic acid added.)

In our previously discussed money analogy, folic acid is like counterfeit money. You go around thinking you’ve got all this awesome money, but really.. you’re broke. Even worse, you’re doing yourself a disfavor by committing a crime. Serious. Problem.


Addressing my MTHFR mutation with methylated vitamins has been rocking my world. I seriously didn’t know it would be this effective. My eyes are becoming whiter, my digestion is improving, my bits of brain fog are disappearing, and my energy levels are rising considerably. I cannot express enough just how vital it is to address methylation issues!

Here’s a specific example: A few months ago, I tried supplementing with iodine to detox halogens (That’s a story for another day). Anyways, I woke up the next day with bloodshot, mucousy eyes. It literally scared me.  I had never seen my eyes like that. It was definitely from detoxing from the iodine. Now that I’ve been supplementing for MTHFR, and feel like I’m dealing with toxins much better, I hesitantly tried iodine again. I had absolutely no reaction whatsoever, and have continued with the iodine protocol. (I’ll leave that for another post!)


Finding out you have an MTHFR mutation can be pretty overwhelming. But trust me, you want to know. While the idea of supplementing with certain methylated vitamins everyday for the rest of your life may seem daunting, consider that you also need to eat everyday for the rest of your life, and no one’s complaining there! You just gotta do, what you gotta do!

You are not the sum of your genes. Well, maybe you are, but it isn’t exactly black and white. Genes are highly influenced by environmental factors: everything from the food you eat, to the stress you feel, to your toxin exposure, to the weather. If you give 10 different kids the same instructions and same supplies to build a birdhouse, chances are you’ll end up with 10 completely different birdhouses. Context. Is. Everything. So while one person may struggle with methylation due to immutable genetic factors, another could just as likely struggle with methylation due to poor lifestyle choices. Knowing you have a genetic mutation, puts you all the more in charge. It also may be the ammunition you need to take charge of your health.

Your body is made to run efficiently and beautifully, without constant struggle. Energy problems, toxicity, and feelings of malaise are signs that something is wrong. You may have these genetic mutations, unbeknownst to you, which you push through with sheer willpower. I applaud you! That was (and perhaps still is) me. The more we know, the more we can get our bodies into the perfect shape for performance. Why struggle unnecessarily if we don’t need to? I say accept your genes, and make them work for you, not against you! Maybe you can’t change your hardware, but you can most definitely reprogram the software.


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 

Links For Further Reading


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7 Organic White Wines For Under $10!

I recently discussed the shocking hidden ingredients in wine, and the ambiguity of organic wine labeling. The time has come to jump into the meat drink of the matter: AKA – the actual affordable organic wines available. Without further adieu, here are my thoughts on 7 organic white wines which are better for your environment, health and wallet. I’ve listed them from low to high prices, since that’s basically how I filter everything to buy in life. (Why spend more, when you can just…. not?)

melanie avalon white table wine green fin.jpgGREEN FIN – White Table Wine ($4.99 Trader Joe’s) 

Wine Specs: 11% ABV, Sultana/Columbard/ Muscat blend

Health Specs: Made with Organic Grapes, Recycled Glass Bottle

Wine Facts: Green Fin is run by Bronco Wine Company, the fourth largest wine producer in the US, and the company responsible for Trader Joe’s infamously adored Two Buck Chuck. Exclusive to Trader Joes, Green Fin is sort of like the organic alternative to a glass of Charles Shaw. On the one hand, you just can’t beat the price of these wines, especially for organic. On the other hand, I find all the whites taste shocking similar, to the point that I’m suspicious they’re even different varietals. They all taste like similarly sweet, happy fruity concoctions more reminiscent of fruit juice spiked with a smidge of alcohol, than wine per se. They’re the type of wines I’d imagine would be the official wine of Disneyland, if Disneyland had an official wine: light, sweet, friendly, and non-offensive. If you like light and sweet, you’ll like these wines. Otherwise… maybe not.

Official Flavor Profile: “This pale straw colored wine has very intense orange blossom and honey aromatics, while delivering a full, rich body with a core of pear, and nectarine flavors followed by a smooth aftertaste that’s long and focused.”

My Thoughts: Green Fin’s White Table Wine is VERY sweet, screaming syrupy honey and apple. The overwhelming sweetness tends to dampen any nuances insinuated by the varied description. On the plus side, the White Table Wine boasts a low alcohol content (11% is pretty hard to beat these days.) If you’re an organic wine lover with a sweet tooth looking for a nightly glass of vino that won’t wreak havoc on your wallet or liver, this wine just may be for you.

pinot grigio melanie avalon.jpgGREEN FIN – Pinot Grigio ($4.99 Trader Joe’s)

Wine Specs: 12.5 % ABV, Pinot Grigio

Health Specs: Made with Organic Grapes, Recycled Glass Bottle

Wine Facts: See GREEN  FIN – Chardonnay

Official Flavor Profile: “Fruit focused with perfumed apples and hints of citrus and honeysuckle. Intense fresh fruit blends with a smooth supple finish.” 

My Thoughts: I think the Pinot Grigio may be my favorite of the Green Fin bunch, despite how similar they all taste. It’s definitely got lots of apple and honeysuckle, with a tinge more of an acidic punch than its brethren, but in a saccharine rather than mineraly way.

green fin chardonnay melanie avalon.jpgGREEN FIN – Chardonnay ($4.99 Trader Joe’s)

Wine Specs: 12.5% ABV, Chardonnay

Health Specs: Made with Organic Grapes, Recycled Glass Bottle

Wine Facts: See GREEN  FIN – Chardonnay

Official Flavor Profile: Light, golden yellow wine is clean and crisp with citrus, typical fruit, and green apple flavors. These attributes provide an enjoyable lingering aftertaste.” 

My Thoughts: Like the other Green Fins, the chardonnay  is also very sweet. I personally perceive lot of sweet pineapple, as well as the essence of green apple (with all sourness completely removed.)

GROUNDSWELL VINEYARDS – California White Table Wine ($5.99 Whole Foods)

groundswell.jpgWine Specs: 12.5%, Unknown Blend

Health Specs: Made with organic grapes, Vegan, Eco-friendly glass bottle, FSC certified recycled paper labels

Official Flavor Profile: “A force of nature in its own right, Groundswell White erupts with a youthful mix of apples, pear and floral notes, making it a savor-worthy companion for those times when you just want to go with the flow.” 

History: I couldn’t find much information on the Groundswell company, including the specific grapes used in the blend. Hmm….

My Thoughts: Groundswell’s White Table Wine is a nice mellow, light-to medium bodied wine. Though I have no idea what grapes constitute the specific blend, it’s a nice balance of sweet and acid. I personally taste lemon in the beginning, followed by some light apple, with a mineral, acidic finish. If you’re looking for a nice, light white wine with lowish-alcohol content and very decent price tag, this one may be a winner.

organic-natural-white-nv.jpgFREY’S – Natural White ($9.99 Whole Foods)

Wine Specs: 13.5 ABV, Chardonnay / Chenin Blanc blend

Health Specs: USDA Organic Wine, No Sulfites Added, Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sustainable methods, Biodynamic Farming

Official Flavor Profile: “A bright and crisp dry white wine filled with pleasant flavors of ripe melons and pear… Lemon custard and praline aromas follow through to a crisp, light-to-medium body of kiwi, honey nut and melon. “

History: Frey Vineyards proudly holds the title of “America’s first organic and Biodynamic winery,” established in 1980. Frey’s wines notably bear the USDA organic seal, rather than just “made with organic grapes.” As such, they have no added sulfites, and use traditional yeast. Frey’s methods of biodynamic farming encourage naturalistic, supportive approaches for the earth, water, and wildlife. (i.e.: composting grape waste; hand harvested fruit; no acid/sugar adjustments, etc.)  According Frey’s website, 90% of the land is an “unspoiled natural habitat.”

My Thoughts: On the organic spectrum, Frey’s takes the cake. Their commitment to pure winemaking and environmental preservation is quite laudable. If all wineries followed their practices, all would be right in the wine world!

As for the wine itself, I do feel like Frey’s white table wine might be an acquired taste. The wine is very dry, with a lemony, almost astringent zip to it. Very minerally. In fact, when I first tried it, I was very much not a fan. However, as I had bought quite a few bottles under the allure of the price and organic promise, I’ve been sipping on it a bit more, and warming up to it. Now I think I kind of like it, and can appreciate more of the nutty, crisp flavors (honey nut, praline, etc.) If you want to hardcore support the organic wine movement, at least give this wine a try.


LOST VINEYARDS – “Treehugger” Bianco ($8.99 Sprouts)

Wine Specs: 11-13% ABV, Trebbiano/Gargenega/Bombino blend

Health Specs: Made with organic grapes, Recycled glass bottles, Paint-free recycled aluminum tops, recycled cardboard cartons with non-toxic inks

Official Flavor Profile: “Crisp, clean and delightfully fresh, TreeHugger Bianco has a delicate tropical bouquet. Flavors of crisp pear and key lime give way to a complex finish of pear and tangerine that changes to lime and mineral.” 

History: Run by Lost Vineyards, the TreeHugger line prides itself on being “better for our planet and therefore, better for you,” and also labels itself as “America’s No. 1 Ultra Value Importer.” I really like their website, which emphasizes their personal practices.

My Thoughts: Perhaps the most distinct aspect of TreeHuger is its golden goldilocks hue. I taste nice flavors of pear, grapefruit, and lemon meringue, with very light sweetness, and a very dry finish. This is a wine I’ll likely revisit in the future for a second opinion (from myself.)

CN_pinot-grigio-organic2.pngCANDONI – Pinot Grigio ($9.99 Whole Foods, Sprouts) 

Wine Specs: 12- 13% ABV, (100%) Pinot Grigio

Health Specs: Made with organic grapes, Gluten-free, Vegan

Official Flavor Profile: “Candoni Organic Pinot Grigio is a refreshing, everyday wine. The beautiful aromas of melon, pear and pineapple are complemented by delicate avors of lemon and fig.”

History: The Candoni organic Pinot Grigio is grown in the “unspoiled” Veneto Region of Italy, and certified organic by Suolo e Salute. It does note to be 100% Pinot Grigio, which is important, since normally a wine only has to 75% of a varietal to claim that name. (Yey misleadingness!)

My Thoughts: Out of all the organic whites I tried for this review, I believe this one may be my favorite. It’s got a nice medium body with balanced sweetness and acidity. Daintily more nuanced than some of the other options, I particularly taste honeyed peaches and nut brittle, lending a nice blend of fruity dryness, with an earthy finish.



SALADINI PILASTRI – Pecorino ($12.99 Total Wine) 

Wine Specs: 13.5% ABV, Pecorino

Health Specs: Made with organic grapes, Sustainable

Official Flavor Profile: This early-ripening grape produces a wine of great structure and character. Intriguing minerality, with notes of citrus characterize this high quality, classic wine.”

History: The Pecorino grape hearkens from the Ascoli region of Italy.

My Thoughts: Ok, this one doesn’t fit the criteria for this post, but I originally bought it in my buy all the organic wines spree at Total Wine (the sales associates swore it was the best), did the research and tasting notes, and would like to write it off on my taxes. Plus, if the intense fruity sweetness of the Green Fin wines discussed at the beginning are a huge turn off, this Saladin Pilatri Pecorino is the exact opposite, making it a nice way to end things.  I personally get tons of mineral and lemon notes, with a peachy essence. Overall, it’s a very “grown-up” tasting wine. I know that’s not very articulate wine speak, but whatevs!


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 

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What’s In A Wine?: Sneaky Additives and Deceptive Labels


The suspicious lack of nutrition labels on alcoholic beverages may leave you thinking vodka is just vodka, beer is just beer, and wine is just wine. At least that’s what I always thought! I mean, you’d think a wine would be just fermented grape juice, right?


The truth is, a lot of stuff can go into wines, which isn’t actually wine. Sad day. Obscure government regulations instigated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) don’t help matters. According to the TTB , 60+ additives can be used in the winemaking process, including everything from acacia gum to animal proteins to folic acid. Not to mention the many pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides sprayed on the grapes in the first place.

ridge-vineyards-ingredient-list-10004546.jpgIn fact, a “good” wine ingredient list might look like this one from Ridge vineyards, who have vowed to label their wines in testament to their minimal amount of additives. As they state, “Ridge is adding to its labels a list of actions and ingredients to demonstrate how little intervention is necessary to produce a fine, terroir-driven wine from distinctive fruit. Although an ingredient list is not required by the TTB, if a winery chooses to add a list of ingredients to its back label it must list ALL ingredients.”

Still, I bet that picture label features a lot more ingredients than you would guess… and that’s on the low side! So when it comes to secret wine additives, let’s look at some of the biggies and funsies, shall we?



Lack of labeling aside, wine bottles often do say one thing about their contents: “Contains sulfites.” That succinct statement actually isn’t that helpful, since all wine contains sulfites to some extent. Sulfites are highly reactive, and release sulfur dioxide to eradicate unwelcome yeast and bacteria, stabilize the wine, and prolong shelf life. The problem isn’t so much with naturally occurring sulfites (which can be quite low), but rather with added synthetic sulfites, which can reach substantially high numbers. This can yield more unbound “free sulfites” more likely to react with you. 

According to the TBB, wines can contain the following amount of sulfites:

Organic Wine: < 10 naturally occurring sulfites
Biodynamic Wine: < 100 ppm added sulfites
“Made with Organic Grapes”: < 150 ppm added sulfites
All other wine: < 350 ppm added sulfites

Of course, only an estimated 1% of the population harbor an actual sulfite allergy. Headaches from wine more likely arise from histamine, tryamine, tannins, or alcohol content. Still, the potentially massive amounts of sulfites added to many wines is a bit disconcerting.

If you’re super concerned about sulfite content, you can actually add a few drops ofjust-the-wine-1a.jpg sulfite- neutralizing compounds (which are likely just small fancy bottles of hydrogen peroxide) such as JustTheWine. Additionally, the Üllo Wine Purifier claims to remove sulfites from wine, while optionally aerating it. I shall try these and report back! (I personally like the idea of the latter, since I’m not so gung-ho on adding yet another ingredient to wine.)


To make wine, yeast must ferment grapes. That’s just how it goes down. On the plus sidewine yeast.jpg, yeast create the whole wine thing in the first place. (Yey!) On the down side, genetically modified yeast may be finding their way into wine, such as the green-lit GMO yeast strain ML01. A genetic mutation blending yeast and bacteria, GMO yeast can aid winemakers by combining bacterial malolactic fermentation and yeast alcoholic fermentation into one step. But if you’re concerned about the health implications of GMOS (which is the subject of another post entirely), this can be problematic.


Not gonna lie, I’m morbidly fascinated by “Mega Purple,” a coloring, textumega purple.jpgrizing, and potentially sweetening agent added to many (if not most) cheap and affordable wines, in order to standardize production and yield uniformity. A 68% sugared syrup concentrate made from teinturer grapes, Mega Purple lets winemakers magically color correct their wine to the lustrous liquid naturally obviously (?) intended. In other words, Mega Purple is like an Instagram filter for winemakers, except they don’t tell you you’re looking at instagammed wine. It’s a dirty little purple secret.


Moving from the morbidly fascinating to the just plain morbid, we’ve got dimethyl bicarbonate, a sterilizing/stabilizing agent moonlighting by the name Velcorin. Velcorin kills potentially nasty things in wine, which I suppose is a good thing. On the flip side, the stuff is so toxic that workers must wear Hazmat suits when administering it. Yikes. While velcorin does ultimately break down into Co2 and methanol, if you did happen to drink Velcorin-laden wine within 24 hours of its addition, you just may die. No big deal.


Sorry vegans, your wine may just not be that into you. In the “Fining” process of winemaking, substances are added to wines which “glom” (stick to) unwanted particles, (like copper, proteins, and even smells and flavors) and are then removed from the wine. Fining agents can include things like: egg white, milk products, gelatin, porcine or bovine proteases, casein, and isinglass from fish bladders. (Non-animal-derived fining agents include bentonite clay and synthetic polymers.) While these substances may only reside in the final wine in trace amounts  (if any), it’s still something to keep in mind.



I don’t want to scare you, but wine can contain trace amount of gluten! A super sticky protein which binds to everything (like your digestive tract!), gluten can be used as a fining agent to cling to unwanted material in a wine. Gluten can also be used to seal the oak barrels used to age wine. While gluten is likely only present in very minute amounts (if any) in the finished products, for Celiacs (and those wary of gluten in general), even a tiny bit may be too much…


In the “chaptalization” process, sugar, be it in the form of pure cane sugar or grape sugar concentrate, can be added to grape juice before fermentation to increases the ultimate amount of alcohol created by the yeast.  Other compounds can be added to wine to adjust levels of acidity. For example, chalk may be added to reduce acidity, while citric, malic, and tartaric acids may be added to increase acidity.



Saving the best for last, I personally think pesticides may be the biggest problem with wine additives. Conventional grapes are typically sprayed with a number of synthetic, toxic “cides” to kill unwanted bacteria, yeast, and fungus. Pesticides can wreck havoc on our own personal gut microbiome (research suggest they may target the good bacteria in our gut), and are linked to a number of diseases. For example, the pesticide Roundup contains the compound glyphosate, which has been linked to nutritional deficiencies, increased toxicity, gastrointestinal problems, autism, and cancer. Since pesticides can become ingrained within the genetic makeup of the plants themselves, you can’t wash them off even if you wanted to!

When it comes to wine, grapes consistently rank in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” – the list of produce most contaminated with pesticide residue. And it’s likely pesticide residues on grapes find their way into the final wine product. After all, to make wine, you literally let grapes soak in their skins. Umm…  Studies have shown that pesticides such as myclobutanil, tetraconazole, azoxystrobin, dimethoate, and pyrimethanil are often present in wine, sometimes in amounts mirroring those found on the grapes! Scary stuff.




If you’re a little nervous now about all the stuff going into your nightly glass of vino, you may be interested in jumping on the non-conventional wine bandwagon, like me! But all the vague labeling, from organic to made with organic grapes to sustainable to biodynamic, can leave you scratching your head. Let’s break it all down, shall we?



The main difference between USDA organic wines and wines “made with organic grapes,” is the amount of allowable sulfites. USDA organic wines can only contain naturally occurring sulfites, while wines made with organic grapes can have up to 150 ppm added sulfites. Here’s the more specific breakdown:

USDA Organic Wines: USDA Organic wines can only contain grapes certified organic, with no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, grown in a way which protects the environment and soil.  All added yeasts and other agriculture ingredients must be organic. Non-agriculture additives cannot exceed 5%, and must be on the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.” (Though this list features quite a bit of suspicious additives, such as agar agar, carrageenan, and non synthetic waxes. Fun times!) No added sulfites are allowed.

Wines “Made With Organic Grapes”: Wines made with organic grapes can only contain grapes certified organic (see clarification below), with no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, grown in a way which protects the environment and soil. Added yeasts and other agriculture ingredients do not have to be organic, but they cannot be GMO. All non-agriculture additives do not have to be organic, but they must be on the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances” (which, as mentioned before, is a bit scary.) A maximum of 150 ppm added sulfites is allowed.

Clarification: The whole “made with organic ___” label can be a bit vague, since only 70% of a product with this label has to contain that organic ingredient, though the entirely of that ingredient must be organic. So for example, a tomato soup “made with organic tomatoes” must contain only organic tomatoes, but could also contain non-organic broth and other vegetables.  Thankfully, since wine features just grapes as the main ingredient, wine “made with organic grapes” means the wine is made entirely of organic grapes, not just some organic grapes. Yey! (If it weren’t, it would have to say “made with organic and non organic grapes,” which I personally haven seen.)



Sustainable and biodynamic practices speak more to the spirit of agriculture. With no central governing agent, “sustainable” is rather muddy to define, and may or may not yield organic wine. Biodynamic, on the other hand, must adhere to rigid criteria, and implies organic wine as a foundation, even if it is not labeled as such.  Here are the basics!

Sustainable Wines: Sustainable wines tend to be made in a way which support the environmental ecosystem. This typically entails a focus on greener practices which don’t damage the environment, such as reduced waste byproducts and renewable energy. Third party certifiers include organizations like SCSglobal Services and Sustainability in Practices (SIP). While sustainable practices may attempt to reduce damage to human health, and may include organic wines, they do not mandate organic practices. You would need to contact individual wineries labeled as sustainable for their farming methods, especially when it comes to pesticides and additives.

Biodynamic: Perhaps the crème de la crème of agriculture practices, biodynamic methods take organic and sustainable concepts and expand into even more philosophical terrain, pun intended. The Demeter Association provides the certification standards, and includes USDA organic certification rules in their standards. Biodynamic standards are very holistic and in tune with nature, including attention to cyclical climate and earth patterns (like the lunar cycle), systems which integrate animals for natural fertilization, and encouraged biodiversity. See the full, extensive criteria here. One thing of note: biodynamic winemaking does allow added sulfites up to 100 ppm.


wine organicBack in the day, before we even had toxic synthetic pesticides and additives to use in the first place, wine just was organic. How convenient! (I’m pretty sure the water Jesus changed into wine at that wedding didn’t contain Mega Purple and Roundup.) Such is not the case today, in a time when even wines labeled “organic” can contain nefarious, non-organic compounds. On the flipside, wines today without an organic label could be completely organic, but the wine producers didn’t take the time or, more likely, have the money to pay for the label. Indeed, many small, family-owned and especially European wineries may practice old world farming which render arguably “organic” wine. As an even crazier example, say you grow your own grapes and ferment your own wine: I doubt you’d pay to secure the “Organic” or “Biodynamic” seal, but you know where it’s coming from.

So when it comes to wine labels, perhaps the spirit of everything is best.

It’s quite plausible that an occasional wine labeled “sustainable” may be just as good as, or perhaps even better, than another labeled “organic,” since it involves a return to the natural order of things, rather than just potentially appealing to commercialized organic zeitgeist. In fact, some even argue that the headache required to acquire “organic” labels has actually discouraged farmers from attempting such practices. {Sigh} Others argue “organic” pesticides are just as damaging as synthetic. Not to mention the aforementioned issue of many non-organic things allowed in organic wines, which can be misleading for the consumer. Of course, the spirit of organic is grand, I just fear intentions can be sacrificed and corners cut in the appealing lure of a green dollar.

So what’s a wine lover to do?

I advocate doing your research. Rather than just jumping on the organic seal bandwagon, take a moment to research the spirit and mission of the winery: are they actively making efforts to reduce harm to humans and the environment? You just might be better off at times with a wine from a small, family-owned winery, than an “organic” wine produced by a major wine conglomerate. (By the way, a mere 6 major companies are behind 60% of the wine made in the US: E&J Gallo, The Wine Group, Constellation Wines, Bronco, Trinchero Family Estates and Treasury.)

That all said, I still think organic wines are a great step in the right direction, and I’ve been trying out a ton of them recently myself. And if the big powers that be want to jump on the organic bandwagon, I say more power to them. When I go to restaurants myself, I try to stick to wines labeled organic, sustainable, or biodynamic if available. And speaking of that last one, biodynamic may indeed be the best way to go.

Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 


References (wines and headache)
Posted in Alcohol, Uncategorized, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Trek Beyond: The Philosophical Implications Of Going Where No Star Trek Has Gone Before

I’m a Star Trek girl. Like really. My first crush was on Spock, before I arguably knew what crushes were.  I watched every single episode of the original series, memorizing episode titles and studying a companion guide. I constructed a mock Enterprise manual, complete with blueprints and organized by department (The Bridge, Engineering, Sick Bay, etc.). I found a random robot toy which made the perfect sound for my self-constructed tricorder.  I spent hours constructing my own “Star Trek Opoly”. Yep, I was that girl. melanie avalon star trek.jpg

And there’s a reason I’m a Star Trek girl. Not only did the series arguably crystallize the Sci-Fi genre on television, but it did so with a fundamentally “real” approach to the science at play, coupled with searing insight and musings on human nature. The series isn’t just a platform for phasers and aliens; rather, it’s an astute commentary on the nature of reality. It’s this metaphysical aspect which is sorely lacking from the most recent big-screen Trek endeavor. Now I apologize in advance, because I’m not typically one to critique. A vast amount of energy, talent, money, and spirit goes into making a film, especially one of Star Trek‘s caliber. But while Star Trek Beyond shines as a stand alone piece, I feel like the movie series is quickly warping away from the spirit of its genesis.


startrekbeyondposter.jpgStar Trek Beyond, the third installment in J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the original franchise, feels more Star Wars-y than Star Trek-y. At the risk of alienating people with the following statement, (pun intended), I believe a key difference between Star Wars and Star Trek involves the second word in their respective titles: Star Wars signifies beautiful action. Fighting. War. Star Trek, on the other hand, is more about the philosophical issues and mind. It’s not so much about the war, as the Trek… the journey. 

What always drew me to the original series was the philosophical issues at play. True, the episodes can be cheesy at points and every planet has that same weird red hue, but in the end, you typically walk away thinking about something: the concept of justice (The Conscience of the King), the futility of prejudice (Let That Be Your Last Battlefield), man’s true nature beneath social convention (The Naked Time), the cost/benefit of ignorant idealism (This Side of Paradise)… After all, when you have an episode titled For The World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky, you just know there’s some contemplation going on here, even if the particular episode doesn’t live up to it.


One of my favorite episodes: The Naked Time.

Many of the original Star Trek episodes aren’t so much about space travel, as they are about space travel leading to engagement with new cultures and, consequently, new perspectives. In exploring the unknown corners of the universe, the Enterprise crew experiences new worlds, new ideas, and new concepts. In doing so, they learn things not just about others, but about themselves along the way. Star Trek Beyond, on the other hand, falls short by simply reiterating established concepts we already believe in. While it hints at exploring some revolutionary concept explaining Kralls’s seemingly evil actions, it falls short at actually doing so. 


Overall, I found Star Trek Beyond’s plot to be a bit underdeveloped and confusing, held together by some vague notion of revolting against organized, controlling government-type forces (aka: Starfleet).  If that’s the concept we’re gonna debate, I’m all for that! I just wish the film had truly expanded on it, rather than nodding to it briefly in a watered down version for the masses. Put simply, this most recent installment felt like 2 hours of pretty shooting and fighting, with minimal thought at play. Even space itself was mostly absent, and felt claustrophobic at that.

Within the first 10 minutes, I knew things were in trouble. (SPOILER ALERT IN THIS PARAGRAPH). After all, ripping off the Enterprise’s warp drives right from the get go, is a big no-no in my book. Had I been in the writer’s room when they suggested tearing the Enterprise to pieces right at inception, I would have been like, Listen guys… No.  The Enterprise is the heart of the series: killing her at the beginning is hard to come back from. She somehow made it through 79 episodes of the original series, more or less, just fine! (I did harbor a brief moment of hope when Scotty signified he might be able to pull things together, in typical Scotty fashion, yet, alas, such was a false lead.)

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Just a night in, watching Trek with the fam!

The movie also includes shockingly few nods to the original series, beyond the characters themselves. I get that no one wants the film to be a rip off, but I do believe a hearty amount of Trek motifs would be more than welcomed (something I believe the first Star Trek film did quite well.) For example, I’m typically the last person to encourage meaningless sensual cinematic flings, but a token signature of Star Trek is Kirk’s inevitable romance with the current episodic alien woman. How in the world Spock ended up with the token romance (sparse though it may be) is beyond me.


And what about the humor?  While Star Trek Beyond has its fair share of credible one-liners, it misses the mark on some of the outstanding, substantial humor of the original series (Think:  I Mudd, The Squire of Goths, and of course, The Trouble With Tribbles.) And while the film opens with Kirk’s obligatory log (Star Date: Let me now tell you what I’m feeling…), it fails to include the characters’ philosophical musings on the Bridge at the end. Even Kirk seems somewhat ashamed of the original series in the opening of Star Trek Beyond, lamenting that the journey has become some what episodic.


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Star Trek questions the root of the Greek gods in Who Mourns For Adonais?

There’s just so much material in the original series ripe for expansion. If I were to write and/or direct the next Star Trek film, I’d expand upon themes, characters, and/or worlds from the original episodes. For example, Who Mourns For Adonais would make a fantastic foundation – exploring the role of “aliens” in Earth’s Greek (or other) mythology. Or perhaps the concept and implications of an all-destructive weapon, à la The Doomsday Machine. (Don’t you think I know that? There was, but not anymore!) Or a reality of mankind devoid of inhibitions, in the aforementioned Naked Time. The intricacies of family in Journey To Babel. Human nature in Mirror Mirror…



The City On The Edge Of Forever

And of course there’s The City on The Edge Of Forever, perhaps the most ingenious, groundbreaking, and heart breaking Star Trek episode of the original series. Its astute exploration of time travel influencing history, and sacrificing one love for the greater good, provides material which would make any movie proud, exploring themes which could push a Sci-Fi franchise into award categories. (I had the pleasure of watching it on the big screen at USC – so exciting!)

That’s something I liked about Abram’ second movie: Star Trek: Into Darkness: it built upon the Khan character of the original episode Space Seed as well as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, touching on themes of terrorism, foreign policy, interventionism, and forcible democratization. (Benedict Cumberbatch’s speech as he recounts the destruction of his crew is simply breathtaking.)

I also always loved the original series’ tie-ins into our own dear planet Earth – something Star Wars could never do. Think episodes like Assignment Earth, Requiem for Methuselah, or even The Savage Curtain. So of course, one of the things I did like about Beyond, was its aptly suited placement of the “Classical” music of the 1980s and 1990s, with Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” Such references are not only humorous, but they add a revelatory perspective to pop culture relevance in the passage of time.


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Pretty please can I just be her?

The bad news? I think something is lost in space in Star Trek Beyond, which sacrifices intellect for action. It’s 70% war, 30% trek, when I believe that ratio could be reversed.  The good news? Yeoman Janice Rand still hasn’t made an appearance in the new film franchise… there’s hope for my dream role yet!

In other news, I ate kangaroo last night, so I think I totally could handle weird alien space meals….

Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you! I’ve also got a new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 



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Can You See the Color Blue?

Look at the color wheel below. Can you quickly identify the blue square?


Before you pat yourself on the back with glorious ideas of keen color perception… it’s pretty likely that you can. (Unless you’re color blind and didn’t realize it, in which case… #moment?)

But here’s the thing: in scientific studies, cultures which don’t have a word for the color blue – like the Himba tribe in Namibia – take much longer to identify the blue square in a similar situation. The Himbas don’t have words to distinguish between blue and green, and instead just see… a lot of green. More green, in fact. On the other hand, when Himbas look at a color wheel like the one below, they can more easily select the outlier.


Now who’s got the superpowers?

Similarly, a 2007 study found that Russians who have words for light blue and dark blue, but no word for just blue, can more quickly identify various shades of blue than English speakers.

Some people have taken this to the extreme, and suggested it means we couldn’t even see the color blue until the Egyptians constructed  a word for it in 2500 BC. Indeed, the word “blue” is completely absence from ancient texts. For example, in Homer’s Odyssey, the ocean is “wine-dark.” And if you think about it, there really aren’t many natural blue things in nature. There’s the sky, the ocean (maybe?), and… blueberries? But even those are sort of purple?


It’s possible we can only conceive of colors and even concepts in general, when we attach language to it. It’s like that feeling when you just can’t put your finger on it. In such a situation, you have an inner instinct, but you can’t identify it. Perhaps identification via language is what renders something understandable to us.

I am reminded of the Greek’s four different words for love: agape (typically unconditional love between God and man), eros (sexual love), philía (friendship love), and storgē (typically love between parents and children). Does having these different words for love, create different forms of love? Could you love at all, if you had no word for it?

In any case, you can hack language to supercharge your life. In The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own TermsVishen Lakhiani invents his own terms to identify life concepts, and provide self-motivation and productivity. (For example, “brules” are “bullsh*t rules which unnecessarily hold us back.)

I encourage you to take this knowledge and run with it. Identify something in the world – be it a feeling, concept, or hue – which you have no words for… and name it. It just may color your world in more ways than one.


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 


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2 “Miracle Fruits” Which Hack Your Taste Buds, Stop Sugar Cravings!

Many of us struggle with #sweetproblems. While lifestyle changes like a Paleo diet or a bit of intermittent fasting are great for killing sugar cravings, sometimes you just need a sneaky little sugar hack. Enter two different superstar fruits, both with the savvy nicknames of “Miracle Fruit.” Though these two miracle fruits do completely opposite things, they’re pretty nifty tools for your sugar slaying arsenal. Prepare yourself for some #mindblown moments!


IMG_6581.jpgThis first hack may make you question your perception of reality. I present you, dear friends, with our first Miracle Fruit: Synsepalum dulcificum (which holds the most stock on the “miracle berry” and “miracle fruit” names.)

HOW IT WORKS: The synsepalum dulcificum “Miracle Fruit” harbors a glycoprotein called miraculin, which binds to taste receptors on the tongue and makes acidic things taste sweet.  The effect lasts around 30 minutes.

MY EXPERIENCE: I ordered MBerry Miracle Fruit tablets on Amazon. The directions call for dissolving a tablet on your tongue, and then tasting sour things. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I popped the candyesque pill into my mouth. (I was mostly just wondering about the negative ramifications of the corn starch additive, to be honest.) Once I’d adequately dissolved the tablet – which had a very slight sweet taste within itself – I first reached for a slice of PINEAPPLE. I noticed it tasted sweeter than usual – with the usual lingering “bite” oddly gone. I next tried a sip of WINE. It was nauseatingly sweet. Like sugar water. I put it down with disgust. Intrigued, I sliced open a LEMON – the creme de la creme of acidity. This would be the true test. I puckered up my face in anticipation, and licked the lemon, preparing myself for the inevitable shudder. Instead, I was shocked to find it tasted like a delectable lemonade fruit! I couldn’t believe it. I licked the lemon again – still sweet? So very weird! Especially when I knew what it really tasted like? Or maybe not? Maybe taste is all in our heads anyways? What is sweet?? Metaphysical thoughts began swirling through my mind. I decided to go big or go home. I reached for some APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. I couldn’t believe what I was doing as I poured out a spoonful.


Like the wine, the vinegar now tasted like sugar water.

Curiosity rose with a fury. What else could I taste? I began rummaging through the fridge and pantry. I grabbed my raw, unpasteurized SAUERKRAUT with anticipatory glee. Biting into the normally sour lactic cabbage now tasted like sweet relish from childhood. What else to try?? I opened  up some canned HEART OF PALM. The tang of citric acid was replaced by sweet mashed goodness. This was too weird. I was beginning to feel like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I sighed that I didn’t have some intense BLUE CHEESE or such to try – at this point I was willingly to forgo my dairy avoidance in the name of experimentation.

For the finale, I grabbed some FROZEN ACAI which had lingered for eons in the freezer, as I’d decided it was too sour for consumption. I contentedly licked the frozen purple mass, which now tasted like a sweet popsicle.




This second hack is equally mind-blowing, equally effective, though perhaps not quite as fun.

HOW IT WORKS: While gymnemic acids found in gymnema sylvesyre can reduce blood sugar levels and attack the sugar-frenzied candida, this “Miracle Fruit” can also hack the sweet buds: it can block sweet receptors, making sweet things taste bitter!

MY EXPERIENCE: I don’t habitually consume super sweet foods, but after taking some gymnema sylvester, (which I also ordered off of Amazon) I found my go-to fruits and sweeter wines tasted oddly unappealing. They lacked any sweetness, taking on an altered, bitter taste.

While experimenting with gymnema sylvestre isn’t as fun as synsepalum dulcificum, it has its own redeeming properties: it can make you very aware of how ingrained your habits may be. Drinking wine after a drop of gymnema, makes the wine taste, well, kinda yucky. Yet I still found myself wanting to reach for the constant sip… and then being sad when it didn’t taste good. And still weirdly wanting it? I imagine this would go for people who habitually consume sweet candies, cookies, or anything really! Oh hey habit!



If you want to eat sweet things without the sugar – just trick yourself into it! Or go the other route and kill your sugar sense in the first place altogether! (I guess it depends if you prefer denial or disgust for killing the craving.) Also, I think some Alice in Wonderland -themed flavor tripping parties are in order!

Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 

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This SECRET Alcohol Drink Has Almost No Liver Damage!!

What if I told you there was an alcoholic drink which could reduce liver damage by 93%? What if I told you it’s already in stores? What if I told you the reason you don’t know about it, is because legally they can’t tell you ANY of this?

True Story.


Flashback to my pre-Paleo, pre-IF, vodka drinking days

On the one hand, alcoholic drinks can liven up life, while moderate drinking even correlates favorably to longevity. Yey! On the other hand, drinking alcohol can cause you to text your ex #inthemoment (because they’ll never know you’re drinking, obvi), decide you are suddenly the most dashing person on the plant, potentially throw up in the bushes, wake up with a hangover, and reap substantial liver stress and DNA damage. With all of this in mind, Harsha Chigurupati, of Chigurupati Technologies (a company with the goal of “aiding the evolution of mankind”) has got our backs! (Or should I say livers?)


Chigurupati has developed a synergistic compound called NTX, which prevents most of the physical damage caused by alcohol, without killing the buzz... meaning you can have your drink, your liver, and your foolish actions too!7465ee9b442785dd9b5320b7428b474f.jpg

Chigurupati’s parents run the major pharmaceutical company Granules India Limited – ironically one of the largest creators of the liver damaging acetaminophen (aka: Tylenol) in the world. On the plus side, this lucrative background familiar to the pharmaceutical world put Chigurupati in the perfect position to solve the alcohol damaging problem once and for all. In a decade-long crusade, Chigurupati laboriously tested the various “Generally Recognized as Safe” ingredients in the US which can be added to alcohol (there are over 370 of them), until he found three which provide the support needed for the liver to reduce toxic overload and damage. These ended up being glycyrrhizin, mannitol and potassium sorbate. Adding these ingredients to an alcoholic beverage provide the liver with the appropriate substrates to minimize alcohol’s toxic effects. (Glycyrrhizin in particular is an extract of licorice, and increases glutathione levels, which are super important in the detoxification pathway. In fact, glycyrrhizin can increase glutationie levels 10x more than placebo.)

In studies, patients’ liver enzymes climbed from 23-24 when drinking NTX alcohol, compared to 23-35 when drinking normal alcohol. That’s a pretty big difference, my friends.

Chigurupati wanted to engineer the NTX ingredients into the actual alcoholic drinks themselves, rather than provide it as a separate pill. This ensures proper timing of the ingredients alongside the alcohol, while also preserving user habits. NTX doesn’t change the taste of the drink, serving as a sort of invisible barrier to damage. And when I say invisible, I mean real invisible. Almost… secret?



Flashback to the 21st b’day of one of my favoritest peops on this planet.

Federal regulations, mandated and run by the highly controlling Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), strictly prohibit health-related claims in alcoholic labels. (In fact, the whole industry is very weirdly regulated. Ever noticed there’s no nutrition label on alcoholic drinks? This drove me insane in my calorie and then carb counting label-reading days.) This also means that any company selling alcohol infused with the protective NTX compound, literally can’t tell you about it, even though the health effects are documented in peer reviewed studies and human clinical trials. Talk about a buzzkill!  I mean I sort of get the no-health-claims-on-alcohol rationale. The last thing we want is college kids downing handles like it’s vitamin water. (Oh wait, they already do that.) But still, the fact that documented health effects, like “reduces liver damage by 93%,” can’t be listed, when so many overstated health benefits are listed on other food products (yey “heart healthy” breakfast cereals!), is fairly frustrating.


Here comes the good news! The protective NTX compound is now sold (semi-secretly) in stores! It’s currently infused in Bellion Vodkawith an upcoming launch planned for a Bellion tequila and bourbon as well. (For you craziers and southerners! #alcoholstereotyping) Visiting the Bellion website, of course, is super vague, with labels like “Functional Spirits” and “The first functional vodka in the world.” I grabbed the below screencapture from the website:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 10.43.22 PM.pngNTX-infused Bellion Vodka is sold in stores, primarily in the northeast and southwest. {Sigh} My fingers are crossed that it makes its way to the rest of the country soon! If I had access to this stuff, I’d probably welcome back hard alc drinking into my life. Heck, it might even be better than wine! (I haven’t had hard alcohol in 5 years, thanks to an awful night where I ended up practically dead and heart broken and throwing up in a taxi and then didn’t move for like 3 days interesting experience.)

So will it become public? Chigurupati Technologies has filed a petition to vocalize NTX’s benefits in sale. Read it here. 317775_2031906126245_1108373194_n.jpgAnd for a great interview with Harsha Chigurupati, check out episode #310 of the Bulletproof Podcast.

So yeah, while they can’t say it, I can! Oh hey free speech! (And there’s nothing like a drink to really free up your speech!)

>Post Gets Taken Down By Feds<


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 



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Melhem A, Stern M, Shibolet O, Israeli E, Ackerman Z, Pappo O, Hemed N, Rowe M, Ohana H, Zabrecky G, Cohen R, Ilan Y. Treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection via antioxidants: results of a phase I clinical trial. J.Clin.Gastroenterol. 2005; 39:737-742
Ming LJ, Yin AC. Therapeutic effects of glycyrrhizic acid. Nat.Prod.Commun. 2013; 8:415- 418
Pandit, S. Study on the evaluation of hepatoprotective and antioxidant effect of processed Glycyrrhiza globe fortified ethanol (NTX) in human subjects. A Report for Chigurupati Technologies (Feb. 2016).
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U.S. Patent Application No. 20150141358, “Reduced toxicity in alcoholic beverages” (May 21, 2015). 
van Rossum TG, Vulto AG, de Man RA, Brouwer JT, Schalm SW. Review article: glycyrrhizin as a potential treatment for chronic hepatitis C. Aliment.Pharmacol.Ther. 1998; 12:199-205
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Shock Away Your Bad Habits! (Pavlok Review)

Imagine wearing your own personal medieval torture device on your wrist, perhaps in glistening neon pink, if such fits your fancy! While it invokes the spirit of the fitness-minded Fitbit , or the life-organizing Apple watch, this one is slightly more sinister… and potentially more life changing. It has the power, through the implementation of a precisely delivered shock, to literally change your brain circuity, breaking long-ingrained habit loops to reveal a better version of you.

pavlok.jpgPavlok is a shock-administering wristband developed by self-hacker Mannish Sethi. The product is named after Ivan Pavlov, the Russian scientist who experimented with classical conditioning with dogs – training them to associate food cues with bells and shocks. Sethi developed the Pavlok device as a personal extension of this shock therapy concept. The device allows you to literally shock yourself when unwanted behaviors rear their ugly head. In Mannish’s own words, “I have a hundred devices that track what I do, but this is the first device that changes what I do.”

Pavlok promises to help you break your bad habits, or your money back. (The 100% money back guarantee is what convinced me to shell out $169.00 for the thing. And by the way, Pavlok is also one of the few items actually cheaper NOT on Amazon. Go direct to their website to purchase.) Pavlok like the concept of slapping yourself with a rubber brand to stop a habit, except much prettier and, well, easier.  Available in black, red, blue, gray, and neon pink, a flexible rubber wrist strap houses a removable, rechargeable shocking device, displaying a proud lightning bolt evoking the spirt of Harry Potter. Yes, you do indeed touch this button, and yes, it does indeed shock you.


Per the website, here are the official instructions:



Contrary to how it may seem, the idea behind pavlok.pngPavlok is not to torture yourself into better habits. It’s not really about punishment at all. It’s much more neurological than that. Pavlok works by breaking the habit loop. Most habits are on a sort of autopilot: a cue-action-reward loop driven by your subconscious basal ganglia. Something triggers your habit, which you then automatically enact without thinking. With Pavlok, you administer a shock whenever you experience a bad habit cue, drawing attending to the habit circuitry, and allowing you to break the habit chain. The slight unpleasantness of the shock not only draws awareness (which can sometimes be enough to break a habit loop by itself), but takes things one step further by associating something unpleasant with the habit. Double whammy!

The instructional training lessons in the Pavlok app feature awareness exercises, meditations, and even aversive training conditioning sessions, in which you basically enact the bad habit while shocking yourself, Clockwork Orange style.

You can also join the official Facebook group upon purchase, with 2,000+ members discussing their experiences, hacks, and successes.


I first tried Pavlok for procrastination, for which it worked shockingly well. (Can we still be friends after that pun?) Basically, I’d sit down at my computer, dedicate myself to a task, and shock myself each time I got the urge to deviate. It didn’t take long before the desire to distract myself with Facebook or other such nefarious endeavors evanesced! Interestingly enough, and as noted by other users, I found the Pavlok concept was so effective, that the actual wristband become almost defunct immediately. It only took a few times of shocking myself while procrastinating, that I began simply thinking about procrastinating, and not doing it… rather than shocking myself. Basically, it makes you super aware of the habits you’re trying to break, so then you just don’t do them.

Pavlok has also made me realize just how stubborn I am to break some habits, and how emotionally-based some of them are. I have no problem, for example, using Pavlok to help me break habits which don’t make me feel good anyway, like negative self talk. But for other habits I truly enjoy, like siping on wine or going crazy munching on fruit (I really do go crazy), I find myself almost sad at the idea of shocking myself during something that feels so good. My neurotransmitters mourn the loss of their pleasure.


I imagine this may be your main question. My answer? Not really. It’s more just unpleasant. From what I remember, it doesn’t really hurt as much as a similar shock device I wore while appearing on a certain gameshow a few summers ago. {Sigh.} The shock is so quick that it’s almost over before its begun. You can also change the intensity via the smartphone app.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 3.05.58 PM.png

That time I was getting shocked on national TV.


If you’re an obsessive life-hacker like me, you just may learn a thing or too from Pavlok. Plus, it feels kinda cool to walk around with a bright pink, shocking wristband. I shall leave you with one of my favorite literary quotes of all time. As the Misfit says at the end of A Good Man Is Hard To Find“She would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” 


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and AudiobIook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 


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Is it Possible to Build Muscle on an Intermittent Fasting Plan?

I’m incredibly honored to bring you today’s post – courtesy of Vit Kashchuk, editor of! Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat is one of the foundational intermittent fasting protocols in existence, and a major inspiration for my book The What When Wine Diet. When they contacted me about writing this guest post, I just about died. Plus, I get asked this question about maintaining or even building muscle while fasting, all the time. Enjoy!


Brad Pilon. The Man. The Legend. The Intermittent Faster.

Current research shows that short-term fasting is actually good for your muscles, thanks to increased growth hormone, cellular cleansing, and muscle protein synthesis. However, in this post you will not encounter any scientific findings on the subject. Instead, you’ll learn a simple yet unconventional theory. This theory explains how you can gain muscle on an intermittent fasting diet and how the conventional bodybuilding theory of overloading on calories in order to gain muscle has the potential to cause undesired weight gain.

Our theory is that the “natural” state for your body is one of growth with a system of factors that work together to prevent constant growth. In other words, imagine having a car with the accelerator permanently on, and you have to change the speed by pushing down or releasing the brake. However, in your body’s case, there are hundreds of brakes.

If “growth” is your default setting, you don’t need to force growth through eating huge amounts of food. If growth is what you want, you need to look at the “brakes” in place that stop growth. However, these “brakes” are not a bad thing; after all, no one wants uncontrolled, unstoppable growth!

These brakes are both internal and external. This means they can come from within your own body (such as the myostatin gene which prevents your muscles from growing) or from outside sources (such as not working out or having excessive amounts of inflammation in the body). Compare this to the current accepted theory, which is that an adult body stops growing and must be stimulated and forced in order to grow more.

Our theory explains the inconsistency of recommendations such as protein or calorie intake for building muscles. For example, a nutrient deficiency can be a “brake” that prevents muscle growth. Once you start consuming the appropriate amounts of protein or calories, then adding more food does nothing to encourage more muscle growth. Think of it this way: once a brake is off, it’s off.

That is why you can achieve muscle growth with intermittent fasting. It’s important that you continue to consume a sufficient level of protein and calories in order to encourage muscle growth. If you do that, and cultivate muscle growth with exercise such as resistance training, your muscles can and will grow.

There is no hard and fast number regarding the sufficient level of nutrients you should consume; it varies entirely based on your body weight, lifestyle, and training goals.

Take the example of a 5’1” woman with an inactive lifestyle besides her 2-3 workouts on a


Me. The Not So Much Legend. Also The Intermittent Faster. (And I love my “girly” yet rock hard muscles!)

weekly basis. She may be able to lose fat and build muscle on a restrictive diet of 1,200-1,500 calories per day.

Meanwhile, a 6’4” man who burns many calories at work and works out for 3 hours daily may not be able to build muscle at even a such a high number as 5,000 calories per day. So keep in mind that it will take trial and error to find the right caloric and protein intake to match your body and your desired results.

Also, be aware that the recommended intake of calories and protein can change as your lifestyle changes. Let’s imagine that the 5’1” woman suddenly increased her daily activity levels. Her 1,500-calorie daily intake would most likely not be sufficient. By the same token, if the 6’4” man only exercised for 1 hour per day, then his prior 4,000-5,000 calorie intake could potentially make him become overweight in a matter of months.

Bottom line – yes, you can build muscle by using intermittent fasting. Short-term deficits like restricted calories do not affect factors like muscle growth. Adequate nutrient consumption for muscle growth does not have to mean maintenance for body weight. Rememberese-cover.jpg, the exact number of calories or protein needed for muscle growth can change along with external factors like activity levels. If we keep that in mind, we can see why huge surpluses of calories are not the answer. The real answer is that determining nutrient adequ
acy for muscle growth is much better for your health. But this answer is harder to identify than most muscle-building experts let on. This is why this theory is not as well known as conventional bodybuilding theories despite its potential for greater success.

This post was contributed by Vit Kashchuk, fat loss coach, intermittent fasting proponent and editor of


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and Audiobook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 


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How To Survive The Switch To Natural Deodorant! (And Why!)


And by the WRONG DEODORANT, we mean… most deodorants.

I did it.

It’s one of those things I want to PROCLAIM TO THE WORLD, except I cannot do so without appearing like an utter freak. (Which perhaps I am, but one must keep up appearances.) So I shall now silently proclaim it to the virtual world: The switch to natural deodorant has been accomplished!

It wasn’t easy. I wasn’t so much worried about the smell, but rather the sweat side of things. Because sweating makes me feel gross. And I HATE feeling gross. I don’t mind feeling miserable from temperature or fear or pain or awkward social situations, but from grossness? I’m just like… um NO. I even tried switching to an all natural deodorant last year, sweated for a day, and kissed the concept goodbye.

Before getting into the nitty gritty of the (now successful!) transition, as well as the product I use, let’s take a look at the very concept of sweating, and why it’s actually a good thing!


We’ve got lots of sweat glands. By lots, I mean 1.6 – 4 million lots. We’ve actually got sweat glands everywhere except the lips. (Oh hey chapped lips!) These glands are coiled tubes underneath the skin which let stuff out. (Let it go!) They’re primarily responsible for keeping our body temperatures regulated, by directing heat via water evaporation out of the body, and cooling the skin. Regulating your body temperature not only keeps you happy, it also keeps your brain and body happy. An overheated body doesn’t do anyone much good.

In addition to serving as onboard air conditioning systems, sweat glands also excrete water and electrolytes, and form a protective barrier on the skin to thwart bad bacteria. Some sweat glands even release pheromones, AKA: Come Hither chemicals. (So stopping up your glands with antiperspirants is a very unsexy thing indeed.)]
Notice I didn’t list “remove toxins.” That research is actually mixed on that front. Contrary to poplar belief, we don’t hardcore sweat out toxins. For all you hot yoga/sauna fans, sorry! Detoxification primarily occurs through stuff like the liver and the bathroom. That said, we do detoxify a bit through the skin, and some studies show sweat may release things like cadmium, BPA, environmental chemicals, and other nasties. I know I totally just contradicted myself. Basically, detoxification may not be the primary reason we sweat, but it’s likely a nice side effect. As a n=1 sidenote, I’ve also noticed that, since adopting a Paleo diet, my sweat doesn’t smell that bad. Hmm…..


Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.29.12 PM.pngThere are two main types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands are found all over our skin, with high concentrations in the hands, feet, scalp, and forehead. They release a salty water mixture. Apocrine glands are found infamously on the armpits, as well other nifty places like the breasts, ear canal, eyelids, nostrils, and genitalia. (That list make me laugh.) They release a thicker substance of water, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Sweat glands are controlled by the uncontrollable automatic nervous system. They can be turned on by physical exertion, environmental temperature, as well as emotions and nerves. Oh hey sweaty palms!


Sweat by itself actually doesn’t smell bad. It’s w7e560a7eaa50fd8aee9012f2ae11998b.jpghen bacteria on our skin feed on the sweat, that things start getting a little funky. You could, in theory, sweat a ton with no smell, or sweat a tiny bit, and conjure up a stench, Pig-Pen style!
It also means perfumes just mask the bad scent, and potentially encourage bacteria to boot! On the other hand, natural antibacterials can keep your sweaty regions free of bacteria, preventing the scent from occurring in the first place.

WHY MOST DEODORANTS/ANTIPERSPIRANTS ARE BAD (And not in a crazy conspiratorial way.)


Yes she’s beautiful but dumb. Because she’s wearing chemical deodorants. (I said it.) 

According to the FDA (not that I’m a fan of the FDA, but whatevs), deodorant is a cosmetic. Antiperspirants are over the counter drugs. Yep. And while manufacturers claim there is no direct link between antiperspirant chemicals and health problems, these are the same types of companies which allow chemicals, colorings, trans fats, etc. in our food. Just saying.

Antiperspirants commonly contain aluminum, which keeps us FRESH! by literally blocking our sweat ducts. The sweat ducts absorb the aluminum ions, and then swell and squeeze close. Anything trying to get out, well, doesn’t get out. Does that sound healthy to you?  To make matters worse, aluminum is a neurotoxin linked to things like liver toxicity, Alzheimers, other degenerate diseases, and breast cancer. (Aluminum in the skin may particularly affect estrogen receptors in the breast, encouraging cancer.)



Green Tidings Deodorant.PNG

Loving this stuff!

Unlike my previous failed attempt, this time I RESOLVED to do it. I researched the vast galaxy of natural deodorants for hours. I was saddened to realize that the antiperspirant aspect of deodorant is really what I like… and really what I needed to get rid of. {SIGH} I finally settled on Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant, in Unscented Extra Strength.  It had rave reviews (oh hey 4.5 stars out of 4,854 reviews!), was decent priced ($7.99!), contained all natural organic ingredients, and also didn’t promise to make you not sweat, but would absorb moisture via stuff like tapioca starch and baking soda. (I found such honesty oddly refreshing, pun intended.)

I sucked it up, mentally prepared myself for hours of yucky, sweat-induced grossness, and swiped on a smidge. I was skeptical. Unlike my smooth feeling Dove, I didn’t really feel, well, anything. Should I apply more? Yet the instructions started by saying, “You don’t need to apply as much as you think!”, promising that a few light swipes would last for 24 hours, and that if it felt creamy, that actually meant I’d applied too much. I guess this was a #trust moment.

So I went about my life.

And ya know what? It wasn’t that bad.

I did notice perspiring a little bit more than usual, but not terribly so. And as the days passed, even that light sweat mostly dissipated. I actually feel less gross now. Not even kidding. I think wearing chemical antiperspirants put your body into a weird cycle of perspiration, where you’re shushing your body most of the day. It’s like when you try to hold in tears or a sneeze or a cough… it just becomes unbearably worse. Ya gotta let it out!

After a few weeks of wearing completely natural deodorant, I don’t think about the nature of my pits anymore, as I did in the past. I simply swipe on the Green Tidings after a shower, and I’m good to go. I’m hooked. The stuff smells like nothing. Literally it has no smell. At the same time, it makes me have no smell. Everybody wins!


Like what you read here? Check out my book, The What When Wine Dietavailable in Kindle, Print, and Audiobook on Amazon! Or my YouTube Channel! And of course, don’t hesitate to Contact Me with any questions – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also, new book on Intermittent Fasting coming soon!! 



The science behind sweating

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