COCO KNOWS FACTS: Will Red Meat Give you Cancer?

I’ve been reading a lot of this:

“Eating bacon is as dangerous as smoking!”
“Red meat increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent!”
“Everything gives you cancer, so you may as well eat anything you want, anytime you want!”

So will eating bacon and red meat give you cancer?

Probs not.

I’m going to attempt to clear up some of the confusion and mop up the damage done by passionate, yet sloppy, journalism:

The World Health Organization (WHO? (that’s what I asked, too)) has stated that processed red meat – stuff like bacon, hot dogs, salami – has been classified as a “Group 1” carcinogen, meaning there is good evidence to show that it causes cancer in humans. Cigarettes are also a Group 1 carcinogen, which is prompting all the hysteria.

A Group 1 rating tells us how sure we are that something causes cancer, but it doesn’t tell us how strong the risk is. Cancer Research UK illustrates this by urging us to consider a banana peel. “They definitely can cause accidents, but in practice this doesn’t happen very often […]. And the sort of harm you can come to from slipping on a banana skin isn’t generally as severe as, say, being in a car accident.”

Ok, so how strong is the RISK of cancer from eating processed and/or red meat?

Well the researchers found that eating 50 grams of processed red meat daily increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18% (and 17% for 100 grams of unprocessed red meat, like hamburger or steak).

OH CRAP, you say, CAN I FREAK OUT?!?!?!

Not yet. Let’s put it into perspective. Smoking increases your risk of developing lung cancer by 2500%, but eating 2 slices of bacon EVERY SINGLE DAY increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18%. So your lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer goes from about 5.0% to 5.6%.

Also, it’s important to note that the report didn’t distinguish between eating organic pastured bacon and other processed meat (like Ballpark hot dogs). Nor did it differentiate between grass fed vs. factory farmed meat. Factory farmed meat has been shown to contain fewer healthy omega 3 fats, but more dangerous bacteria, including bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics – which increases your risk of food poisoning.

Red meat is a great source of tons of important nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, zinc and protein. And you’d have to eat 4 1/2 pounds of carrots to get the same amount of vitamin A contained in 3 oz. of beef liver.

Takeaway: Relax. You can happily – and healthfully – eat red meat a few times a week that has come from lambs, pigs, and cows that have been humanely raised on their natural diet (usually this means grass-fed) and not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Avoid spam. Enjoy a few slices of bacon every now and again. And again.

As for the oft-quoted sentiment that “Everything gives you cancer, so you may as well eat anything you want, anytime you want!”

Well…women who say they eat anything they want, anytime they want have a 28% increase of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Now why isn’t the media freaking out about THAT? :P

You can read the original Lancet article that started all this here.

Other good reading material on this subject can be found here and here 

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COCO KNOWS HEALTHY: 5 Lifestyle Habits to Help Prevent Cancer

Here is my latest guest blog post for Grass Fed Girl. Image

The statistics are daunting: 43% of men and 38% of women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and 23% of men and 19% of women will die from the disease. But there is a glimmer of hope when you consider that 50% of all cancers are preventable, according to the World Health Organization.

Diet as a baseline

Chronic inflammation can lead to an increased cancer risk, so an anti-cancer diet is one that is also anti-inflammatory. Eating a Paleo diet that is rich in omega 3 fats, organ meats and colorful fruits and, especially, vegetables is a great place to start. If you can’t commit fully to a Paleo diet, then try to reduce the amount of grains you eat and be sure any dairy you consume is organic.

You can give your diet an extra anti-cancer punch by using spices liberally. A bonus article on three anti-cancer spices is coming soon. Of course don’t smoke but I am sure you already know that! It is also important to clean up your beauty care routine by eliminating toxins from your make up shampoo and skin care.

Click here for the 5 uncommon, yet important ways to help reduce your cancer risk.

Note: Grass Fed Girl and I have different favorite sunscreens. Her favorite is linked to in the article, but this the one I use and recommend. 

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I wrote this post for Wise Roots Nutrition, where I’m currently interning/assisting. 


When it comes to DIY, I’d rather someone else do it for me. Sew a dress? Hang a picture? Make homemade greeting cards? Not happening.

In fact, I’m so against DIY that I quite like the idea of laying poolside while someone else feeds me grapes…and chocolate…and cheese…and to heck with it! All my meals for the rest of my life.

And yet. Every morning I carefully measure and mix together my homemade serum in the palm of my hand, and smooth over my skin. Why don’t I just leave it to the pros?

Because I can make a serum that’s cheaper, more effective, and way better than any fancy serum you can buy. And I’m going to tell you how you can make it too!

The serum consists of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. Let’s talk about why these are so great:

HYALURONIC ACID: We’re born with skin full of it – it’s what gives babies plump, taut skin and we lose it as we age. It’s the main ingredient in injectable fillers like Restylane which doctors use to add volume to lips and to smooth out lines and wrinkles. It works well topically, too. It lightly moisturizes and softens all skin types and may help prevent UV damage. It also mixes well with many different ingredients and makes a fabulous “base” for more active ingredients, like water soluble vitamin C. Speaking of which…

VITAMIN C: The best anti-aging vitamin for your skin! This potent antioxidant promotes collagen formation, helps even out skin tone, brightens your complexion and it is beneficial in all stages of wound healing. This isn’t just me speculating – numerous scientific studies back these claims up.

So what’s wrong with purchasing a serum that combines the two? Well… a bunch of stuff:

  1. The most effective topical form of vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid. Unfortunately, this form is highly unstable when exposed to liquid (like when it’s put in a serum) and easily breaks down and loses potency.
  2. Vitamin C is prone to oxidation, which also means it won’t be as effective. When it oxidizes, it goes bad and turns orange. It’s no coincidence that many vitamin C serums come colored orange. This disguises oxidized vitamin C and means that you can’t tell whether or not there’s even any beneficial vitamin C remaining in the serum.
  3. Vitamin C is only effective in concentrations at or above 10%, and maximum absorbency occurs around 20% concentration. Very few bottles will even list the concentration of vitamin C – and remember, even a high concentration of vitamin C doesn’t guarantee that the vitamin C hasn’t already oxidized.
  4. Most hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serums include a lot of unnecessary ingredients. These can range from DMAE and retinyl palmitate, which can actually damage your skin, to preservatives called parabens, which have been found in breast cancer tumors.
  5. They’re expensive! A once ounce bottle of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serum can cost anywhere from $30 to over $100 – and that’s without any guarantee that the vitamin C is even potent!

This is one of those cases when doin’ it yourself is not only cheaper, but actually more effective. By mixing pure L-ascorbic acid (the best form of vitamin C) and hyaluronic acid yourself, you’ll be guaranteeing a product that’s super fresh, super potent, and super-duper effective!

Step 1: Grab yourself some pure L-ascorbic acid Vitamin C powder, about $13 including S&H.  To give you some perspective, skincare brand Philosophy charges about $36 for 1/8 the amount of powder – and theirs isn’t even pure vitamin C.

Step 2: Either buy a hyaluronic acid serum with a simple ingredient list, like this one here, $22 OR get four times as much by making your own for $13 (including a reusable container – ingredients/directions below). This will make enough hyaluronic acid to last you about one year.

To make your own hyaluronic acid serum, you’ll need:

1 gram of hyaluronic acid (powdered), $7.50

1 4oz amber glass bottle with a secure lid, $5.49

100ml (or just under 7 tablespoons) of very cold distilled water


  1. Pour the water and 1 gram of hyaluronic acid powder into the bottle, screw the lid on and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  2. Refrigerate and shake every 5-10 minutes for about 2 hours, which is how long it should take to completely dissolve and form a gel.

Every morning and/or evening, mix 1/16 tsp of vitamin C powder with 1/4 tsp of hyaluronic acid serum in the palm of your hand until the vitamin C dissolves. This will create a hyaluronic acid serum with a 25% vitamin C concentration – if this irritates your skin, reduce the amount of vitamin C powder you use. Although this should take you all of 30 seconds, if you’d rather not play chemist every day, you can make a larger batch using the same ratios and store it in the fridge for 7-10 days.

Apply daily to your face, neck, upper chest and backs of hands. If you notice any skin sensitivity, decrease the amount of vitamin C powder in your mixture or only use every other day. Any vitamin C applied during the day should be followed with a good natural sunscreen, as vitamin C breaks down in the presence of UV light.

Making this fabulous anti-aging brightening serum is one task I will always leave to the pro…me!

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COCO KNOWS PRETTY: Guide to Non-Toxic Nail Polish

I wrote this article for Wise Roots Nutrition, where I’m currently interning/assisting. 


You live by Michael Pollan’s words: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” And even though he never said anything about nail polish, you still feel a little hypocritical traipsing about town with a Barbie pink manicure. Let’s settle this once and for all:

Can bright nail polish fit seamlessly into an organic-lovin’, toxin-hating girl’s life?

Well, yes… if you choose the right brands.

Up until recently, nearly all nail polish formulas contained the “Big 3” toxic ingredients – and many still do:

  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization that rates the safety of many personal care products and ingredients, rates DBP a lousy 10/10 for toxicity. It’s been linked to infertility, hormone changes, and anatomical changes in the reproductive system development in baby boys.
  • Toluene: Also receives a terrible 10/10 from the EWG. It is described as a “potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea.” Exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may cause developmental damage in the fetus, and it has been linked to blood cancer.
  • Formaldehyde: Another 10/10 toxicity rating. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens has classified formaldehyde as “carcinogenic to humans,” and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has classified it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Formaldehyde gas is also linked to nasal cancer.

In 2006, many companies began removing these three chemicals from their formulas. Popular “3 Free” companies include Wet n’ WildMACEssie and most OPI colors. Some companies have gone ahead and declared themselves “5 Free” by also removing (or never including) the also toxic formaldehyde resin and camphor from their nail polishes.

The brands below are all verified “5 Free” and have received rave reviews across the Internet:

Chanel: This high-fashion company has gone 5 Free. You won’t find any bubblegum or pastel hues in this line, which features classic colors. $27.
Priti:  A wide assortment of colors, with particularly lovely ethereal tones. Featured in numerous designer fashion shows. $13.
Mineral Fusion: Boasts 61 colors and an abundance of glittery polishes. Also sold at Whole Foods. $8.
RGB: Beautiful, rich colors, with a reputation for staying put. $18.
Vapour: Great staying powder, offered in 11 colors. Vapour also has “3 Free” nail color, so make sure you check the labels for “5 Free.” $16.
Zoya: Recently voted “longest wearing” by Women’s Health Magazine. This is my personal favorite, both for the durability, gorgeous color selection (over 300 colors to choose from!), and reasonable price. Also available at Whole Foods. $9.

For Kids and Mommies-To-Be:

The following are non-toxic and water-based. These may not hold up quite as well as the above conventional formulas, but if non-toxic is your first priority (or you’re giving a pedicure to someone who occasionally puts their toes in their mouth), try these out.
Acquarella: Water-based, completely non-toxic, and available in fun, bright colors. $16.
Scotch Naturals and Hopscotch:  Both brands are “beyond 5 free” as they’ve removed the ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, alcohols and heavy metals. Scotch comes in 43 jaw-dropping colors. $18. Hopscotch features 19 vibrant colors kids will love. $8.
Piggy Paint: Kid-friendly paint that’s also free of BPA, ethyl acetate and acetone. Nearly odorless and comes in an array of bright, cheerful colors. Also carried at Walmart. $8.

Don’t see your favorite brand above? See how it measures up in the Environmental Working Group’s online database here. Whether you have your nails done at a salon or do them yourself, always use nail polish in a well-ventilated area: in a large space, near an open window or door. Opt for organic or “green” nail salons and feel free to supply your own nail polish.

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COCO KNOWS YOGURT: The Truth About Going Greek

I’m interning over at Grass Fed Girl and wrote this article about how to make sure you’re getting all the benefits from your Greek yogurt.


Good, Bad and Ugly: Where Does Your Greek Yogurt Fall?

Is your Greek yogurt laced with GMOs, packed with sugar, fortified with vitamins that you can’t absorb, thwarting your weight loss efforts and pushing your body towards an inflammatory state?  No?

Are you sure?

Chobani. Fage. Wallaby Organic. Trader Joe’s brand. With numerous health authorities singing the praises of Greek yogurt, we seem to have forgotten one important fact: Not all yogurt is created equal.

What is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is characterized by its high protein content. With about 13 grams of protein per 5.3 ounce serving, it has more than twice the protein of traditional yogurt, which averages 6 grams per serving.

During normal yogurt production, one cup of milk is required to produce one cup of yogurt. But in the making of traditional Greek yogurt, the yogurt is strained, which removes much of the whey, water and lactose (milk sugar). Rather than one cup of milk, two to four cups are needed produce one cup of Greek yogurt. The result is thick, creamy yogurt that is high in protein and low in sugar.

Unfortunately, this process also results in a large amount of largely unusable whey acid, which companies are struggling to dispose of. To learn more about the controversy regarding the environmental impact of commercially produced Greek yogurt, check out these articles from Modern Farmer and from NPR.

Greek Yogurt Provides These 3 Benefits…if you’re eating the right kind!

Read the full article here to see how your yogurt measures up.

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COCO KNOWS QUINOA: The Not So Superfood

I’m interning over at Grass Fed Girl and recently guest blogged about how quinoa might not be so healthy afterall. 


Many people consider quinoa to be their favorite high-protein, gluten-free grain.

The problem with that is…

1. It isn’t high protein.
2. Some varieties can cause a reaction in people with (gluten-sensitive) Celiac disease.
3. Quinoa isn’t even a grain—it’s a chenopod, which is related to beets and spinach.

In a world that’s gaga for quinoa—the United Nations declared 2013 the Year of the Quinoa–what else have we got wrong?

Click here to find out!

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Is red wine really good for me or do the red wine companies just want me to believe this? Thanks.

Mild to moderate consumption of any sort of alcohol has been linked to numerous health benefits from Alzheimer’s prevention to heart health. Unfortunately, most of these studies have been epidemiological studies, which pretty much means there’s a correlation but you can’t say with certainty that alcohol is beneficial. 

As for the health benefits of red wine – it’s mostly praised for its resveratrol content, which is a polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes and blueberries. Studies suggest that around 20 mg per day of resveratrol can be beneficial. Unfortunately, red wine contains only about 6 mg in an entire liter. Not quite reason enough to drink like a fish.

In short – 1-3 drinks per day isn’t a problem. Red wine is likely the healthiest, but pick your favorite (try to avoid sugary mixed drinks and cocktails), and avoid binge drinking.

What deodorant do you recommend? All the things I’m reading about my current is scaring me. But I seriously need one that is effective. After all, I do live with people. And work with them too.

I like this deodorant.


It only has essential oils, so you don’t have to worry about aluminium, parabens, or other potentially harmful chemicals. Alternatively, I’ve heard good things about just swiping some lemon under your pits.

An interesting thing to note is that the reason the underarms of your shirts can get discolored is not due to sweat – it’s due to the chemical reaction between your sweat and the antiperspirant in your deodorant.

What are your views on veggie bacon? Yay or nay? 

Ingredients in regular bacon: Pork, water, salt, sugar, celery powder


The Morning Star bacon contains genetically modified soy and corn – both of which are inflammatory, high in omega 6 fatty acids (the kind we get too much of anyway), and the GMO component is potentially harmful as well. It also has sugar, gluten, artificial color, MSG, and carrageenan, all of which have been linked to everything from hyperactivity in children, obesity, inflammation and gut health. I’m not even sure what a handful of the other ingredients even are (disodium guanylate anyone?). 

Always try to avoid artificial/processed fake meats and cheeses. Don’t be afraid to just eat regular bacon, especially if it’s organic – it’s better for you and tastes better too.


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COCO KNOWS BRAINS: 10 Ways to Not Lose your Marbles

I’m interning over at Grass Fed Girl and recently guest blogged about things you can do to help maintain an active, healthy, and functioning mind. 


My great-uncle poured himself a glass of scotch. And then he drank another glass. And another. And another, until he’d emptied the bottle. When his wife came home, she found him spread eagle on the floor, too drunk to stand up.

My great-uncle isn’t an alcoholic; he has Alzheimer’s disease and simply forgot that he’d already had a drink when he fixed himself another. Sometimes he forgets how much food he’s had to eat and overeats to the point of being sick. Other times, he has trouble recognizing me. Eventually, the disease will destroy the part of his brain that holds his oldest and most precious memories.

1 in 3 seniors will have some form of dementia when they die. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death, and once you develop it, there is very little that can be done to slow its progression.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to help keep your mind sharp and healthy… click here to find out what they are!

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COCO KNOWS STRESS: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress

I’m interning over at Grass Fed Girl and recently guest blogged about one of the most important, yet oft-overlooked components of wellness: stress management. 


“Many maladies are due not so much to what happens to us as our inability to adapt, and they have therefore been called ‘diseases of adaptation.’”
–Hans Selye

It’s the year 15,000 BC and you’ve just killed a young wild boar. Your mouth is already watering with anticipation when you spot something out of the corner of your eye. Your turn your head and see an enormous, angry mother boar charging towards you.

Your heart pounds. Your muscles tense. You know that there’s no way you can outrun an angry boar, but your spear is still lodged in the piglet. As the mother boar nears, you sprint to the nearest tree and quickly shimmy up it, knowing that wild boars can’t climb trees. You’re breathing fast, and rivulets of sweat stream down your temples as the mother boar snorts and scratches around the tree trunk before giving up.

Click here to read the rest!

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I’m interning over at Grass Fed Girl and recently guest blogged about the superfood o’ the moment – matcha green tea.


First there were pomegranates. Then came goji berries. Now, it’s matcha green tea
that everyone’s fussing over. Fortunately, matcha lives up to its hype. For starters, it contains 10x the antioxidants of pomegranates and 5x the antioxidants of goji berries.

Matcha is essentially very finely powdered green tea leaves that are mixed into liquid and consumed whole. Unlike regular steeped green tea, when you drink matcha, you’re ingesting the entire crushed up tea leaves rather than just the leaf-infused water.

Click here to read the rest!


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