Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP

International Best-selling & 16-Time Book Author, Board-Certified Doctor of Natural Medicine, Registered Nutritionist, Herbalist

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Is Your Starbucks Habit Making You Fat?

January 5, 2015

Some Starbucks beverages contain more sugar than cola.When we think of fattening foods most of us think of fast foods, decadent desserts, fried foods, or TV dinners.  We’re far less likely to consider our Starbucks habit as the reason for our spare tire, muffin top, or those extra pounds we’re carrying around.  Yet, many Starbucks’ beverages contain more fattening sugar than a comparable soda, which everyone knows are loaded with sugar.  A can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar, which is an extremely high amount of sugar even for a full day’s meals. 

So just how much sugar are you getting in your favorite Starbucks beverage?  I hit the nutrition information on the company’s site to find out.  Here is the sugar content in some of your favorite drinks.  All of the grams of sugar listed are for a typical “grande”-sized drink, which is the Starbucks lingo for a “medium.”  Here’s the amount of sugar in some of your favorite Starbucks drinks:

-An Eggnog Latte contains 48 grams of sugar.  That’s 12 teaspoons of sugar!

-Worse, a Caramel Brulee Latte contains an appalling 52 grams of sugar.  By comparison, a comparable size (16-ounce) Coke contains about the same amount of sugar at 53 grams.

-A Cinnamon Dolce Latte contains 40 grams of sugar

-A Café Mocha contains 35 grams of sugar, which only seems small in comparison to a Caramel Brulee Latte, but is actually a huge amount of sugar for a beverage.

-A Gingerbread Latte contains 39 grams of sugar.

-Chai Tea Latte contains 42 grams of sugar in a single beverage.  That is more than 10 teaspoons of sugar!

-The newer Teavana Oprah Chai Tea Latte contains less sugar than the Classic Chai Tea Latte but is still an excessive 31 grams of sugar. Come on Oprah, you can do better than that!

-Strawberry Smoothie contains an insane 41 grams of sugar in a single beverage!  Many people might choose this option thinking it is healthier than other Starbucks selections yet it is loaded with sugar.  It contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.

-A Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino Blended Coffee is the worst Starbucks beverage I found.  It contains 65 grams of sugar or more than 16 teaspoons of sugar!

-Chocolate Smoothie contains 34 grams of sugar.  By comparison to many of the other beverages this one seems low in sugar, but 34 grams is almost as much as a can of Coke.

-Iced Green Tea Latte contains 49 grams of sugar.

-Bottled Coffee Frappuccino Coffee Drink contains 46 grams of sugar.  The bottled beverages are only 13.7 ounces so this beverage actually contains more sugar than a Coke.

Obviously, cutting out your high-sugar Starbucks beverage in favor of a low-sugar option like a regular coffee or tea sweetened with a few drops or a small amount of stevia (a natural herb) powder is a simple way to cut your sugar intake and lose weight.  For more healthy ways to lose weight check out my book 60 Seconds to Slim.


Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox, 60 Seconds to Slim, and The Probiotic Promise. Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites HealthySurvivalist.com and DrMichelleCook.com, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.  Take the FREE WEEKEND WONDER DETOX QUIZ to determine which detox is best for you.

Proven Aromatherapy for Weight Loss + Fat-Burning Oil Blend

June 3, 2014

Smelling your way thin may sound too good to be true but according to exciting at Niigata Univrsity School of Medicine in Japan, certain scents trigger weight loss.  According to the study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine, the smell of grapefruit and lemon activates the body’s ability to burn fat while suppressing further weight gain.

Other research at the Department of Nursing at the Wonkwang Health Science College in Korea found that abdominal massage with specific essential oils reduced belly fat in post-menopausal women.  The scientists divided women into two groups.  Study participants massaged their own abdomen twice daily for 5 days each week and continued for the duration of the study, which was 6 weeks.  One group used only grapeseed oil while the other group used a blend of grapefruit, lemon, and cypress oils.  The women who used the citrus-cypress blend had significantly less abdominal fat at the end of the study.  Their waist measurements dropped significantly and they experienced an improvement in body image compared to the control group. 

While the study only examined post-menopausal women, it is likely that the effects would transfer to other women as well as men.  Post-menopausal hormonal changes can actually make it more difficult for many women so it is encouraging that the study showed great results with this group.

Here’s a recipe to make your own abdominal fat-burning massage oil, adapted from my new book, Weekend Wonder Detox

Measure two ounces of sweet almond oil in a glass measuring cup.  This oil acts as a carrier oil for the essential oils.

Add 5 drops each of pure grapefruit, lemon, and cypress essential oils to the measuring cup.

Pour into a glass bottle, put the lid on, and roll the bottle between your palms to blend the ingredients together. 

Use a small amount of the oil to massage your abdomen daily—or twice daily to obtain the study-proven dose.


Massage the oil into your abdomen using large circles starting above your belly button and working outward toward the left side of your abdomen.  Ideally, perform this massage daily, or at least five times weekly to obtain the study results. 

Note:  Grapefruit, cypress, and lemon essential oils, along with grapeseed carrier oil, are available from Mountain Rose Herbals.  Avoid using the oil just prior to exposure to sunlight since grapefruit and lemon can cause slight photo sensitivity.  Wait at least three hours.  While allergic reactions are rare, discontinue use if you observe rashes, hives, or other allergic reactions. 

Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes, exclusive deals, and more.  Follow my blog on my site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and  60 Seconds to Slim.

Mountain Rose Herbs

5 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

April 29, 2014

Have you tried “everything” to lose weight but no amount of calorie counting and healthy eating is making the scale budge?  You’re not alone.  This is the situation for many people, especially women over age 35 who are particularly vulnerable to some hormonal changes that can challenge our best efforts to get slim.

According to Dr. Cobi Slater, PhD, DNM, CHT, RNCP, ROHP, author of:  The Ultimate Candida Guide and Cookbook: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating Disease Causing Yeast and Revolutionizing Your Health! “The most common systemic imbalances that lead to weight loss resistance in women and men are connected to the extremely delicate symphony of hormones.  The key players are the thyroid and adrenal hormones as well as estrogen, progesterone, leptin and ghrelin. Once the body regains balance, the weight comes off easily.” Here are five  reasons she cites as the most common reasons people can’t lose weight even when they’re “eating right”: 

1.  Thyroid Imbalance

If thyroid hormone levels drop so does the rate of metabolism.  The result:  reduced energy, depression, digestive weakness, constipation, and weight gain. 

2.  Adrenal Imbalance

When we experience chronic stress, the adrenal glands respond with a “fight or flight" reaction through the output of stress hormones, which signal fat storage.  Adds Dr. Slater, “Long-term stress causes your body to hang on to every calorie it can in preparation for crisis. There are more cortisol or stress hormone receptors in our stomach than any other area. This is the reason that the "spare tire" forms around the abdomen during times of chronic stress.”

3.  Female Hormonal Imbalance

The balance between estrogen and progesterone can result in fat, especially belly fat storage.  Dr. Slater indicates that “as early as 35 years old, our estrogen and progesterone levels can begin to fluctuate. In an effort to preserve fertility for as long as possible, the body hangs on to extra fat - especially in the belly because this fat can make estrogen.”  According to her, an estimated 50% or more of the population is in a state of "estrogen dominance" in which progesterone levels are low in comparison to estrogen, resulting in an imbalance that results in weight gain.” 

4.  Insufficient Sleep

When we don’t get enough sleep, the hormones leptin and ghrelin can become out of balance.  A “Ghrelin is the 'go' hormone that tells you when to eat and is responsible for the hunger feelings. When you are sleep-deprived, ghrelin is produced in larger quantities causing an increase in appetite and cravings. Leptin, on the other hand, is the hormone that tells you to stop eating and when you are sleep deprived, less leptin is produced. A leptin deficiency prevents the brain from telling the stomach that you are full!” shares Dr. Slater.

5.  Food Allergies or Sensitivities

Inadequate digestion along with toxic buildup and the resulting inflammation and food sensitivities can also be a factor in weight that just won’t budge.  It’s a form of chronic stress that increases our adrenal hormone cortisol which results in fat storage.  Fat stores also buffer toxins from doing damage to our tissues.  Many toxins act as hormones in the body, further disrupting our delicate hormonal balance.  What does this mean to you? According to Dr. Slater:  “You could be eating all the "right" foods that are actually "wrong" for you! Often people are allergic or sensitive to foods that are seemingly healthy.”

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts that inform you on how to address each of these health issues.


Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites HealthySurvivalist.com and DrMichelleCook.com, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

Detox Your Car in 10 Simple Steps

April 11, 2014

Detoxify to help you stay healthier.I just bought a small used utility truck.  After months of scouring the marketplace and test-driving vehicles it reminded me of just how many chemicals most people use in the maintenance and upkeep of their vehicles.  Here are 10 ways to detox your car based on my new book, Weekend Wonder Detox (DaCapo, 2014).

Avoid Car “Air Fresheners” – Whether it dangles from your rear view mirror or plugs into your heating and cooling vent, most air fresheners are saturating you in toxic chemicals. This includes the occasional spraying of household air fresheners in your car as well. Find out more about these nasty products in my article “What’s in that car air freshener?”  There are companies that make car aromatherapy devices that allow you to use pure essential oils in your vehicles, giving you great scents and health benefits at the same time. 

Don’t Sweat the Details – Detailing, the comprehensive cleaning, polishing and waxing of your car’s interior and exterior, involves a host of chemical products and chemical fragrances. Save your money and your health by purchasing a portable steam cleaner at a fraction of the price of a detailing package.  I bought one for seventy dollars and use it with a biodegradable, natural liquid soap or a cap full of orange oil in hot water to deep clean my car whenever I want.

Some detailing packages offer engine shampoos as well.  If you think you are safe by keeping the chemicals under the hood and out of the car, think again.  Those shampoo chemicals will blow in through the vents and you will suck them in with every breath you take. Engine shampoos can contain glycol ether EB (an experimental animal carcinogen, sodium metasilicate, nonylphenol ethoxylated (recongnized as an endocrine disruptor) and sodium xylenesulphonate.

Dust Your Dash – That film of dust that covers your dashboard, console, and gauges is an accumulation of dirt, pollens, dead skin and hair.  A regular wipe with a wet cloth will keep the dust to a minimum, reduce allergens and provide relief to asthma-sufferers.  The last thing you need is an asthma attack on the freeway.

Vacuum Regularly – Now that you have taken care of the hard surfaces above, don’t forget to clean the fabric surfaces as well.  There are small vacuums made for cars that will pick up debris and give the illusion of clean.  However the motors vent into the car, spewing smaller particles back into the vehicle air space.  I prefer an external shop vacuum with strong suction that allows me to keep the motor outside of the vehicle.

Pets Bring Their Own Hitchhikers – Pet owners are passionate about their furry family members and like to bring them everywhere.  Unfortunately, fleas are passionate about dogs, cats and other animals and come along for the ride. Fleas are not just a nuisance.  These parasitic insects can cause rashes, allergic reactions and spread disease.  They can survive for weeks without feeding so just because Rover isn’t in the car doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk.  Break out the vacuum regularly, steam clean the upholstery or take out the seat covers and wash them after your pet is out of the car. Pets also leave traces of fecal matter and urine in your vehicle – enough said.

Vinegar for Visibility – Forget commercial glass cleaners, water and white vinegar works just as well and costs a fraction of the price. The vinegar’s odor dissipates quickly and is a great replacement for the many toxic chemicals found in commercial window cleaners.

Remove the Food – Is your car littered with fast food wrapper and half-used ketchup packets?  Eventually remnants of your meal on wheels will begin to decompose or grow mold, which can cause allergies and create mycotoxins, including cancer-causing aflatoxins. Mold is not scared off by salt and sugar found in the packets either.  It also prefers the warmer temperatures found in most vehicles during the spring and summer months too.

Moisture = Mold – Speaking of mold, cars are neither airtight nor water tight and rain water, melted snow and spilled drinks can create moisture buildup in your car. If you aren’t aware of moisture leaks at first, you will be when the musky, dank smell builds up when you open the car door.  By this point, you may also be experiencing increased allergies, respiratory problems or migraines when driving.  Clean up and dry out spills (try a blow dryer to speed up the drying process), repair leaky spots and find a dry, low-humidity spot to open your vehicle up and dry it out.

Get Upwind of Gas Fumes – Gas stations are hard to avoid for most drivers.  Consequently, gas fumes are hard to avoid.  Gasoline is extremely toxic and breathing the vapors can affect your central nervous system and brain, respiratory system and cause dizziness and nausea.  If you use self-serve stations, try to stay upwind of the pump you are using and don’t squeeze off those extra few clicks at the end of filling up.  That’s when most of the fumes escape into your breathing space.  If you are at a full service station, keep your window up until you pull away and then roll it down to get an air exchange when you have some space on the road from other vehicles.

Small Space, Big Pollution -   Remember, your vehicle is a small space with questionable ventilation when the windows are closed.  Chemicals, fumes, scents, including personal care products like perfume, hairspray and fabric softeners, will not dissipate quickly in such a small space, creating a highly polluted environment.  The same poor air quality exists in garages that typically house chemicals such as solvents, paints and other toxic products.  If your car has been parked in the garage all night, you are inhaling all these substances when you leave for work the next morning. Open the garage door before you leave to air it out and drive that first mile with the windows down to get the stale air out and fresh air circulating.


Check out my new books 60 Seconds to Slim and Weekend Wonder Detox.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

11 Things You Really Need to Know about Caffeine

March 10, 2014

Caffeine has pros and cons.Is caffeine good or bad for your health?  It may come down to who you are and your health situation.  Before you decide if that coffee, tea, or energy drink habit is right for you, consider the following 10 things you really need to know about caffeine:

The Sliding Caffeine Threshold

Everyone is different and so is our caffeine-tolerance.  One person’s perfect amount is another person’s nerve-rattling, hand-shaking, can’t-sleep-at-night amount.  What’s right for you depends on many factors like whether you metabolize caffeine slowly (it stays in your system longer), whether you’re on medications that slow the rate of caffeine metabolism (such as the birth control pill which tends to double your jolt), whether you suffer from a nervous system disorder or insomnia, if you’re petite or big-built, are pregnant or whether you’re a smoker. 

Decaf vs. No-Caffeine

You might be inclined to think that decaffeinated coffee means it is free of caffeine but that’s just not the case. Decaf coffee still contains some caffeine in it.  It is simply caffeinated coffee that is processed to remove a large percentage of the caffeine. 

Coffee Standards

The average person consumes 300 mg of caffeine, which most doctors consider moderate consumption.  Every cup of coffee or tea tends to differ in the exact amount of caffeine.  Starbucks coffee, for example, tends to contain about 20 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, so a 16-ounce coffee provides 320 milligrams, which is more than the average daily amount.

Medical Students Hopped Up on Energy Drinks

While we tend to think of caffeine as increasing our energy, in a study of over 900 medical students researchers found that of those who drank caffeine-containing energy drinks, 29% experienced increased weight gain and 32% experienced increased overall fatigue over students who didn’t drink energy drinks.

The Caffeine-Alzheimer’s Link

In a Florida-based study researchers found that women who drank three cups of coffee daily had a reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Drink Up to Reduce Inflammation

In an animal study, researchers found that caffeine supplementation combined with moderate swimming, reduced inflammation. Another study at the University of Illinois showed that caffeine may block brain inflammation linked with brain diseases.

Ditch the Caffeine while Expecting

There’s controversy over the role of caffeine consumption and pregnancy, staying away from the java may be a good idea anyway.  In a study of children born to pregnant women who ingested caffeine, the caffeine-exposed babies had signs of impaired growth, including low birth weight. 

Natural Born Slacker? Cut the Caffeine

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, studied the effects of caffeine on rats after first assessing their natural motivation levels.  They found that the natural “workers” started slacking off after consuming caffeine.  The natural born “slackers” remained slackers regardless of caffeine ingestion.  Caffeine could not motivate them.  While the results may or may not translate to humans, if you’re trying to encourage someone to “get the job done” you might want to buy them a coffee after the task is completed.  The study is scheduled for publication in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology

The Gender Factor

Scientists studying the way caffeine affects people made an interesting discovery:  Higher caffeine consumption was associated with decreased risk of diabetes in men and an increased risk in women.  So caffeine consumption and its effects even depend on gender.

The Female Cancer Connection

Women who drank 4 cups of coffee daily had a 25% reduction in endometrial cancer

The Caffeine-Skin Cancer Link

In another study mice fed caffeine developed 27% fewer skin cancer growths after UV exposure.  Combining the caffeine with exercise resulted in 62% reduction in tumors.  The researchers believe the results will translate to people as well.

Balance Your Body Chemistry to Burn Fat FastCheck out my new book 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

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