Food on Table

This or That with Gina Ruffa

Today, the latest health trends are exchanged as a sort of currency among those who pride themselves on being “in the know.” But when the data is constantly evolving, do modern health practices really come down to more than personal preference?

We sat down with Pharmacist and Natural Wellness Expert Gina Ruffa for a little game of This or That in which she took on a few of the fads the health and wellness community is buzzing about, including our personal favorite, CBD.

Read on to learn her interesting rationale behind some of the most popular health trends! 

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Let’s begin with a hot topic: Keto or plant-based?

I like plant-based with a keto twist. I’m a big fan of an organic, whole-food, plant-based diet. However, ketogenic diets can have a lot of benefits, especially with carbs limited to less than 50 grams per day. But when it comes down to it, I choose plant-based before anything else. Keto diets are meant to be a therapeutic diet; plant-based is a lifestyle diet good for overall health, disease prevention and treatment as well as longevity. 

Look at it this way: In the animal kingdom there’s no antioxidants, no fiber and no phytonutrients. In the plant kingdom, there’s no cholesterol. 

I’ve personally been a vegetarian for over 20 years but I occasionally incorporate fish, eggs and organic cheese into my diet. Ideally the animal products consumed should be grass-fed, wild-caught or organic.

Plants are certainly nature’s medicine! Sticking with the food trend, are you a proponent of intermittent fasting or regular mealtimes? 

Absolutely intermittent fasting. Regular mealtimes are what we were taught growing up but now we know intermittent fasting contributes to anti-aging and increases our growth hormone. A 16:8 fasting window, or fasting for 16 hours and eating for eight, is comfortable for most people.

What intermittent fasting does is induce autophagy, a “self-eating” mechanism similar to a vacuum cleaner eating up the junk in damaged cells in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. The more tangible benefits include weight loss, blood sugar stability, improved heart and brain health, and reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation.

And should you eat your fruit or skip the sugar?

Fruit is a healthy treat and in its natural state gives us lots of vitamins C and A. Fruits are a great way to break the fast because they are easy to digest and very cleansing to the body. A good tip: Berries tend to have the lowest sugar content and highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), or antioxidant, value.

Natural supplements or pharmaceuticals?

My mantra has always been to exhaust our natural alternatives first. We can always resort to prescription medications if necessary, but these may have a greater likelihood of drug interactions and side effects. Still, pharmaceuticals are essential for conditions like heart arrhythmias, seizures and life-threatening infections.

CBD or medicinal marijuana?

My choice is CBD. It’s the safer choice. Medical marijuana has some indications, but it’s overprescribed. The fact that it’s mind-altering is concerning and I do believe it can be a gateway drug. 

On the positive side, medical marijuana is better than opiates for chronic pain. It’s obviously an okay choice for late-stage cancer patients to help with appetite and feelings of euphoria, but CBD is better for all of the more common health conditions.

And for the gym-goers: Crossfit or isolated muscle work?

Crossfit is very common now and a great way to improve strength, agility, endurance and overall flexibility. The thing you need to be careful of is how strenuous these exercises are and the necessity to modify workouts according to fitness level, age and physical limitations. I personally choose crossfit because I like the energy level in group fitness or crossfit classes.

Isolated work is great for correcting muscle imbalances and weaknesses as well as for body-building. I think they each have their roles, but I do think crossfit is a great choice if you’re careful and cognizant of your limitations.

When you aren’t feeling well, should you rest or continue to exercise? 

If it’s mild and you don’t have a fever, then mild to moderate activity is usually okay. It can help with your immune system and help boost your natural defenses. Walking or using an elliptical are good choices and can help sinus conditions and boost circulation. 

Finally, a morning fan-favorite: Caffeine. Is it healthy or unhealthy? 

Here’s the thing: Caffeine in moderation has loads of benefits. It can improve our memory, speed up reaction time, help detox the liver, burn fat, improve stamina, reduce inflammation and fatigue and prevent neurodegeneration. On the downside, caffeine can contribute to acid reflux and bone thinning.

Do I think green tea or coffee is better? I would say green tea has more benefits. Some people are very sensitive to the cardiac effects of coffee and experience palpitations. Green tea has a great calming effect because it increases the alpha waves in the brain. It can also help with weight loss, anxiety, concentration and bone mineral density. I wish I was more of a green tea drinker, but I love my coffee!

That’s good news, as I don’t think many of us can bear to part with our tea or coffee! And for an added boost of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects, we at Farmulated recommend dropping a dose of CBD into your morning beverage of choice. 

Thank you for giving us so much to ponder, Gina! 

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Stay tuned for more blogs featuring Pharmacist and Natural Wellness Expert Gina Ruffa. In the meantime, you can learn more about Gina at what-supp.org

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