Passion conquers poison- how juice changed my life: Annie Lawless at TEDxLaJolla

Hi. Thank you guys for listening to me today. As Amanda said, Suja is something that I started with a friend of mine, really as a result of a lifelong health journey. So as a child, I was raised on the SAD – that's the Standard American Diet. So as many of you know, I was drinking Capri Suns, I was eating Goldfish crackers, peanut butter and jellies, all those kind of foods that kids eat in school, and that their parents buy. And I had had some health issues. Growing up I had really bad eczema all over my body. Eczema, if any of you guys are unfortunate enough to be familiar with, it's a red, flaky, scaly rash that was everywhere. It was on my legs. I remember being at school and scratching so hard it was bleeding, and I would just glop on these steroid creams every single night, and just thought that that was normal, and that that was what I was going to have.

I also had really bad allergies pretty much all year round. The pre-school where I went removed a mulberry tree because I couldn't even be outside. I also had really bad asthma so I would carry an inhaler with me, I would use it all the time at school; I would be wheezing. And all of these things just kind of became normal to me, and I never really thought, "Wow, this could be connected to food or the things I'm consuming." So those were all the problems that I was experiencing, and I saw a pediatrician, probably around eighth grade. And she was the first person who said, "You know, eczema's an autoimmune thing, and you should really be tested for all sorts of other autoimmune issues because a lot of times they're linked." So I did, and it turned out that I had celiac. Celiac is an intolerance to gluten which is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley, and several other grains.

So I had been pretty much consuming 90% of my diet with gluten and dairy which ended up being the result of my asthma. So this doctor started me on a different diet and within two weeks, my eczema completely disappeared. And for me, this was really the light bulb moment, where I just thought, "Oh my god, there is such a direct correlation between what you put in your body and how you look and feel." Within two weeks, this lifelong issue I've had completely went away, just from removing something from my diet. And to me that was really amazing, and that was really powerful. So I started just researching everything I possibly could about nutrition, and how it affects you on a bioavailability level, what you're absorbing. Your diet can be great, but if you're not absorbing foods, you really can't reap the rewards or get the nutrients you need. So, throughout my research, I became really into juicing.

I kept reading more and more about the value of fruits and vegetables and the way that the phytonutrients, the enzymes, the vitamins, and minerals and antioxidants were really beneficial to the body. Juicing is a great thing because it's really concentrated nutrition, so you can't necessarily sit down and comfortably eat five heads of raw kale. It won't taste good, it won't digest well, and you're definitely not going to enjoy it. With juicing, you can take all of those things together, put them in a juicer, throw a little apple and ginger, and you've got this antioxidant, chlorophyll-rich packed package that you can consume easily and assimilate very easily. So the more and more I kept reading about this, I became fascinated and thought, "Oh my gosh, I have to start juicing." And I was probably about 14 at the time. So my parents, we were at Costco one day, and I made them buy me this little Jack LaLanne juicer, and I just got really obsessed with it. Before school every day I would juice. I would get home and juice. And it was totally weird, nobody understood what I was doing, but I just loved it, and I thought it was so cool.

So I was still following a gluten-free diet, but I was experiencing really low energy and lack of absorption of nutrients. So I was eating a great diet, and I was eating a lot of variety in my diet, but I kept showing up nutrient deficient in vitamin C, iron, vitamin D, all these common things. So my doctor really recommended juicing. She said, "I know you're juicing a few times a week here, but you should really start juicing regularly because your intestinal lining is destroyed from consuming gluten for so long." And if you can think of somebody who has celiac, the inside of their intestines sometimes looks like it has scabs, it's completely torn up. And juicing was really my key. It was my tool to consuming nutrients and absorbing them without any abrasion. So we all know the beauty of fiber.

And fiber's so great because it helps keep you regular, it sloughs the nutrients through the digestive tract, and it helps promote your health. When you juice, you remove all that fiber. So, if you think of a carrot, it's got 100% of your daily value of vitamin A, for example. You're actually not absorbing what you read on that label because your body excretes the fiber. So juicing is a great way to remove the fiber and pre-digest all of that nutrition for you so that you can drink it and absorb it. There's two types of juicing. The little Jack LaLanne juicer that I started on is called a centrifugal juicer. And if any of you guys have a juicer at home, you may be familiar with that circular blade that spins around quickly. And that is a centrifuge. So that actually draws in micro-amounts of heat and oxygen which can kill up to 40% of the nutrients right then and there before the juice even hits your glass.

So it's really important to think about that when you're buying organic produce because you're not actually getting all the juice yielded out, and you're actually not reaping all the benefits of the produce that you're using. So I got really into a series of books by a guy named Dr. Norman Walker. And in the 30s, he really pioneered this idea of using juice to cure all these kind of chronic diseases. So he created a juicer called the Norwalk Press. And it's a cold press, it's the world's first cold press. It's about 100 pounds. It's this big, ugly metal machine. It hasn't been updated since the 30s. It's difficult to use, difficult to clean, but it does yield the most nutrient-dense juice because it doesn't involve the fast-whirring blade. So there's no heat or oxygen introduced into this process. So you can actually juice a day in advance, and it will still be rich in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals 24 hours later.

I read all about this, and I said, "I need this Norwalk Press." So the Jack LaLanne juicer was about $99 dollars, and the Norwalk Press was about $3,000 dollars. So I moved to San Diego for law school, and I told my parents, "All I need for school is this juicer. I have to have this juicer." And they were just, like, "What?! No." So, eventually I got it, as a joint birthday-Christmas present, and I thought that it was just like the best thing I had ever received, and I really became fanatical with it. So, the more and more I juiced, and the more and more I saw my health improve, I saw around me this big juice phenomenon sort of happen. And I'm thinking, you know, juice, back when I was diagnosed ten years ago with celiac was nowhere. I couldn't find it. I couldn't go to a juice bar. I couldn't buy it. And now, at every corner you see a juice bar. This young fitness culture, everybody going to yoga class grabs a green juice.

And why now? What has caused this when it's been used therapeutically for years? And I think it really has to do with the fact that people are wanting to be healthy again. We're watching our nutrition and our health completely degrade the more packaged, processed, and modified foods are becoming available. So it's really important for everybody to step back and look at their diet and what they're doing. All of these genetically modified foods, inorganic foods, man-made foods in a lab, all of these things the body cannot recognize. It's very detrimental to your health when you're absorbing all of these toxins and chemicals, and your body can't process them. So somebody like me, who was having so much irritation from all these foods that I was consuming, really healed myself just by removing them and putting the good stuff in.

And I think that in general, in our society now, everybody's starting to see their health decline, and they're wondering, "What am I doing wrong?" And the food business is a big business. There's a lot of money involved in the production of foods, manufacturers will do whatever they can to get their costs down and to make things cheap. And I think that a lot of times we are duped without realizing it. I don't expect everybody to be a complete nerd and want to research nutrition and health for hours and get obsessed with juicing, so I don't blame anybody for going to the store and picking up things that seem healthy and that are marketed as healthy, and thinking that they are. And that's really the problem going on, and I think that juicing is such an easy way to take a step back and know that what you're consuming is very pure, and very natural, and very clean. It's very important when you're juicing to really go organic because juicing really makes all of the toxins in the produce bioavailable, just the same way it makes all of the nutrients bioavailable.

It's very easily absorbed. So Suja was really a way to kind of take all of these things that I had learned and seen applied in my own life, and create a product that other people could consume. I didn't want it to be pasteurized so it's not. We use HPP which is high pressure processing. And that really helps, because heat, as you know, kills all the nutrients. So, the future of juice really, you know, is changing. We think of juice as Tropicana or Minute Maid when we go to the store, and we buy this cooked, chemical sugar water, when really, the standard needs to be organic, non-genetically modified, unheated juice, cold pressed, preferably. And hopefully, with all of these juice bars popping up and all of the education that's happening, and everybody's desire to become healthy, we can move forward with that as the new standard and definition of juice, and hopefully the new standard for food in general, all of our food choices. I think that once you're consuming organic, cold-pressed juices, and you're seeing your body feel so good, your skin look better, your hair feel better, your energy levels better, your sleep better, your mood better, you don't want to consume fast food, you don't want to throw crap in your body once you start to realize how good you can feel based on nature's most simple and pure foods.

So I hope that your take-home message from this talk today is really to open up your pantry, kind of assess your health, and understand the power of what you're putting in your body, and how simple, simple changes, and just being aware can really change your life and your health forever. Thank you..