The Health Bridge Show: Sofa Series Episode 1

Sofa Series
Last fall, Pedram Shojai, Ken Cook, and Abel James all visited Sara Gottfried at her home and we recorded a long conversation that lasted nearly two hours. Here is the first two parts of that conversation. They discuss how Ken started the Environmental Working Group and what EWG aims to do. How can we live sustainably? Are we aware of all of the various toxin and chemical exposure events that take place through everyday life? Can technology help control certain issues?

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Why Laxatives Give False Relief

Did you know that each year, Americans spend more than $700 million on laxatives? The United States supposedly has the highest rate of laxative use compared to several other countries.

Yet, statistics show that as many as 40% of people use laxatives incorrectly. At least 15% of diarrhea cases are due to incorrect laxative use. (1) Furthermore, laxatives are often abused by people who seek to lose weight. The individual mistakenly believes that the laxatives can work to rush food and calories through the gut and bowels before they can be absorbed.  But that doesn’t really happen. Let’s explore this question: Why do laxatives give a false sense of elimination? What are healthier alternatives to laxatives?

What are laxatives?

laxativesLaxatives are substances that can help an individual have a bowel movement, an indication that the body is cleansing. They are used to relieve and prevent constipation. Because different types of laxatives work in different ways, their effectiveness can vary from person to person. In general, bulk-forming laxatives (also referred to as fiber supplements) are the gentlest on the body and safest to use long term. Stimulant laxatives are the harshest and should be used sparingly.

When a bowel movement is forced, it can disrupt the body’s natural mechanisms. Laxatives should only be taken to relieve or prevent constipation, because they can produce adverse reactions that can physically impair the digestive system. Constant intestinal movements as a result of  using laxatives tend to give individuals a false sense of waste elimination. While it is true that some of the individual’s bodyweight does shed during the process, it is important to keep in mind that ultimately it’s really just water weight.

A common misconception of laxatives is that they can help with weight loss. What you really need to know is that overusing laxatives can be dangerous. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are potential side effects. Diarrhea causes too much water loss. This could lower the blood pressure, increase the heart rate, cause dizziness and fainting. Laxatives can also change levels of important minerals in your body. This can lead to kidney stones, heart and muscle problems.


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Show me the SKIN Facts!


Now that we know what’s in them, do they actually work? Don’t leave that makeup counter without asking for the ‘SKIN Facts”! No really, we tried this and unfortunately didn’t get the response we were hoping for.

Dr. Vesna Petronic-Rosic, dermatologist of the University of Chicago Medical Center, shares that most companies rarely publish studies that display the effectiveness of their product. They tend to focus more on potential side effects, such as skin irritation and allergic reactions.

So why is our knowledge of the ingredients in skincare and cosmetic products so sparse? To what extent do these products deliver their desired effects? If data from research and tests were more readily available, we’d all be more educated consumers. Unfortunately, companies tend to cite scientific evidence to help prove that specific ingredients in anti-aging products actually work, but they keep these studies private and decline to present them to the general public.

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Easy Ways to Improve Digestion and Speed Up Metabolism Naturally

DigestionIt’s 1 pm and you just finished your lunch not too long ago. Now it is time to get back to work, but all you want to do is take a nice, long nap. Your body feels heavy and your mind is starting to fog. Sorry to break it to you – but you may be in a food coma.

Food comas are no joke! They can be especially dangerous in the workplace. Known as post-prandial somnolence  (Fancy huh?) to the medical world, a food coma is defined as a normal state of drowsiness following a meal.

To break this concept down even more, think of it as a series of chain reactions. When you consume food, your body goes into a general state of low energy due to the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system in response to the increase of mass in your gastrointestinal tract. This then leads to a specific state of sleepiness caused by hormonal and neurochemical changes related to the rate at which glucose enters your bloodstream and the downstream effects it has on the transport of amino acid in the central nervous system. In other words, your energy is being diverted to aid in digestion, so “non-essential” functions such as, exercise and muscle exertion are placed on the back-burners.

As a general rule of thumb –  the bigger the meal, the harder it will be for you to stay awake! When you eat a lot at once, your parasympathetic nervous system ends up shifting more of its energy to help with digestion. What you eat also matters. When you consume foods loaded with fat and sugar, they are quickly broken down into glucose (the simplest form of sugar). Your body uses glucose for fuel and this increase of it will cause a spike in your bloodstream. To counteract this surge in blood sugar, your body then releases more insulin to clean up the excess glucose. However, the increase in insulin causes your brain to produce more serotonin and melatonin, which are neurochemicals that make you feel sleepy.

If you’re concerned about feeling sleepy after eating, we have some tips that can help you improve your digestion and overall gut health…
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Embracing Healthy Family Practice with The Wellness Mama


Katie, the Wellness Mama, joins Sara Gottfried and Pedram Shojai on The Health Bridge. As you may already know, Katie is the mother of five children and it’s tough being a mom. In this episode, these three health and wellness gurus share parenting tips and strategies to teach our children healthy habits.



How do we make sure our kids (and perhaps even us) are eating healthily despite the fact that most kids’ menus are filled with unhealthy options? Is it possible to encourage children who hate vegetables to give them a go? And how do we make sure our kids are getting enough activity if all they want to do is play video games?

You’re really going to have to watch or listen this episode to get the full picture. However, we want to provide you with a great resource for healthy recipes for kids’ meals. Super Healthy Kids has an index of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snack ideas. If you’re looking to spice things up for your family, give this resource a try. Sometimes we have to be creative when it comes to encouraging our children to eat more fruits and veggies. It’s not an easy feat, but nothing is impossible. Good luck!


Don’t forget to subscribe to The Health Bridge! 

What’s all the hullabaloo? Is that a Wrinkle?!


Everywhere you look there always seems to be a new anti-aging cream containing the most advanced technologies on the market- but how do we know these creams actually work? Do we even know what’s in them?

To answer these questions, we did a bit of research. Our team has delved into the facts to unearth more information on anti-aging creams.

First off, what’s in them?

To truly understand what works, we have to take a look at what these serums are made of! In doing so, we identified some of the main components that give anti-aging creams their umph. These include pentapeptides, collegan, sirtuins, and resveratol.

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The Hungry Man: Overcoming Gym Intimidation

Gym Intimidation

I spent my college years learning everything I could about fitness and nutrition. I got my diet in order and started going for jogs every now and then. There was, however, one place I could never get myself to go: the gym.

Even though my college had a gym that was free for students, I never once stepped foot inside it. When I started working here at, Pedram offered me a gym membership and for months I refused. For some reason, I just did not want to go to the gym. I lost a lot of weight throughout college, but I never amassed any kind of muscle definition. I still have some belly fat that I’m not happy with. I knew a gym could help me out in this regard, but my fear of entering unknown territory held me back.

I had a few “good” reasons for avoiding the gym throughout these years. Of course there’s the issue of money. After I graduated college, I remained at the grocery store at which I worked to try to save up money to make my big move to California. No way could I spend extra money on a gym membership. But there was a much bigger reason that I never wanted to admit: social anxiety. Yes I was definitely skinnier than I was back in high school, but I wasn’t worried about my appearance at the gym. There was a foolish notion in my head that were I to enter a gym, my time would be spent just staring at the machines and trying to figure out how they operate. Or if I got myself on a machine I would exercise incorrectly. And I didn’t want to use a machine incorrectly! The “regulars” would judge my lack of knowledge and maybe even laugh when I wasn’t looking.

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Foods that Lead to Weight Gain with Guest JJ Virgin

As we near summer, we’re all thinking about getting that perfect beach body. Some of us are probably starting an exercise routine and trying to get our diets in order.


This week on The Health Bridge, Sara Gottfried and Pedram Shojai welcome nutrition expert JJ Virgin to go through a list of the foods that we often consume, but will make us gain weight. Why do these foods lead to weight gain? What happens inside of our bodies when we eat these foods? What can we do to help our bodies burn fat?

Check out this episode of The Health Bridge for JJ’s blacklist! You may be surprised by some of the foods on this list… because you might be eating them.

Weight Gain

The Hungry Man: Beating the Freshmen 15

It’s nearly time for my ten-year reunion, but there’s a small part of me that’s the same person I was in high school.

No matter how far I’ve moved away or how many new friends I’ve made, there’s a part of me that’s still the loud, musical-loving, inappropriate-joke-making kid I was so long ago. What has changed, however, is that I no longer weigh over 200 pounds. At 5 feet 6 inches tall, that was quite an amount of weight to carry. I was born and raised in the midwest, Grand Rapids, MI to be precise, and was hardly the fattest person in my class. That said, I was definitely far from being fit.

My weight was never a prevalent health issue; my yearly check-ups never resulted in any alarms. My doctor once even mentioned I was healthy and it was just how I was built. I could actually run a decent mile for being as fat as I was. I was that person who was first to make fun of my weight. Others could try to put me down, but they couldn’t say anything I already hadn’t covered. I wasn’t that depressive fat kid in high school. My weight and image was just who I was. Sure I could have done more to maybe get in better shape. The amount of pop I would drink while playing video games for hours straight would have killed an elephant. The food I ate wasn’t healthy and I ate a lot of it.

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Simple Tempeh Reuben Salad Recipe

Summer Bock and Robyn Youkilis come together to create a salad version for a favorite, yet not so healthy, sandwich… the classic reuben. They have created a salad that has all the great flavors of the reuben, but without the guilt. This simple recipe is easy to make and sure to satisfy your cravings!

In Summer and Robyn’s recipe, they use tempeh as a substitute for meat. If you’re a vegetarian, you may already know about this soy-based superfood. If you’ve never heard of tempeh before stumbling onto this delicious recipe, then let us explore what this food has to offer.


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