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Episode 65: The Benefits of Juicing and Plant-Based Foods with Nastasha McKeon

Brief summary of show:

What are the benefits of juicing and plant-based foods? What is its impact in beating disease?

These are both buzzwords, and in this episode, we’re breaking them down fully with thanks to Nastasha McKeon.

Nastasha is a certified nutritionist and plant based diet educator holding a certification in plant-based nutrition and holistic nutrition. Founder & CEO of Choice Juicery an organic cafe & cold pressed juice concept with six locations in San Diego & Author of “Plant Food is Medicine.”

Natasha's life long passion has been studying the connection of food and how it relates to health. She is a firm believer that-as Hippocrates said-food is medicine and it is her mission in

life to teach people how that applies in their lives by educating them and giving

them the tools needed to make healthier choices.

In her clinical and personal experience she has seen first hand the impact of diet on

disease. She has witnessed the healing powers of food to lower cholesterol, high

blood pressure, reverse type Il diabetes and obesity, as well as relief from

depression and many other diseases.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:00] Why Nastasha believes in a plant-based diet

  • [5:30] How Nastasha’s upbringing impacted her desire to build her business

  • [10:40] How to get enough protein on a plant-based diet

  • [14:15] Why Nastasha feels better being plant-based

  • [17:00] The benefits of juicing

  • [21:50] How to prepare for a juice cleanse

  • [26:50] Tips to know which juices are healthy for you

Notes from Natalie:

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Connect with Nastasha

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie: Have you ever considered a plant-based diet? I have to tell you I've never been a vegetarian, but I have tried to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in my diet. I've thought about it.

[00:00:11] And I know that what mother nature has to offer is beautiful. It is so healthy. What I've always worried about though is getting enough protein today. I wanna dive into the idea. Plant based nutrition, the benefits and how you might get started. Also the benefits of juicing I have gone in and out of phases of juicing.

[00:00:33] It's just so much work. Is it really worth all of that effort? You're gonna get the scoop on that today as well. My guest is Nastasha McKeean, she's a certified nutritionist. Plant-based diet educator holding a certification in plant-based nutrition and holistic nutrition. She's the founder and CEO of choice Juicery and the author of plant food is medicine.

[00:00:56] She has so much to teach us and she is going to do that [00:01:00] today. Natas passion is studying the connection of food and how it. To health. I'm kind of hungry talking about all of this right now. Be sure you check out my website and all of my social media for health tips. And also are you subscribed to my free newsletter?

[00:01:17] I send out podcast episodes deals on my favorite products and so much more each week. So you'll find all of that in the show notes. Let's get started with this week's episode on plant-based Nutri.


[00:01:32] Natalie: Natasha. Thanks so much for joining me today. I know you're right outside of one of your locations.

[00:01:38] So let's go right into what you do and why you believe in a plant-based.

[00:01:44] Nastasha: Absolutely. Well, uh, what I do, gosh, I feel like I do a lot of things. I recently authored a book called plant food as medicine, which I think speaks to my beliefs quite a bit.

[00:01:52] Uh, I think that we can all agree that not all food is medicine. Sometimes I get in trouble for saying this when I'm being interviewed on the news, they'll actually bleep out. When I say. [00:02:00] You know, I think we can all agree that fast food isn't medicine, and they'll actually remove that, which I think is fascinating.

[00:02:05] Being somebody who has a background in news, I thought that you might find that interesting. A couple of times I've been interviewed and I said that. And then when I go back and watch the interview, I'm like, they, they cut that out. Yeah. W where did that go?

[00:02:17] Natalie: I can say a lot about the news today and I have that

[00:02:20] Nastasha: let's go deeper into yes, yes, yes.

[00:02:24] So um, food is medicine. Plant food is medicine has really been the mainstay of my life. When I was a little girl, I experienced the loss of a loved one due to the effects of medication she had been given to treat the symptoms of her auto-immune disease. And for me, she was kind of a light in a dark place.

[00:02:39] I had a really rough childhood. She was kind of like my only advocate, my only ally in my childhood. And she died when I was 11. So things went from bad to worse after she passed. But after she passed away and kind of hearing the failure of, you know, Western medicine for her I was really angry. I was 11, so I was angry at the doctors.

[00:02:56] You know, they failed my grandma. She. You know, she was sick. They gave her this [00:03:00] medication to treat the symptom that the medication caused her to have a heart attack. And they didn't listen to her when she was having heart attacks is kind of a state failure. I was really angry with Western medicine or doctors at the time.

[00:03:09] And I, I was cleaning out the effects of her room and I found this gift bag and it had a book in it and she had never even had the chance to open it. But the book was this book. It was actually titled something along the lines of how to heal yourself naturally what the doctors don't want you to know.

[00:03:24] And of course being angry and 11 I'm like what don't they want me to know? So I flipped through this book and the idea of food is medicine was what this book was all about. And that was something that I had never been exposed to. I don't think I'd even seen a fresh vegetable in my life at that point, you know?

[00:03:38] And so. It planted a seed and like all seeds, it needs to be in the right environment to grow. And as I said, things kind of got, you know, went from bad to worse after she passed. So I didn't have the right environment really to cultivate that seed until later in life. But the passion was always there.

[00:03:51] I mean, even at 11, I found out that soda was bad for me and I gave it up and never drank it again for the rest of my life. Like I had a hunger for it. Which I don't think I [00:04:00] understood until later. But um, ultimately it led to where I am today, which is the founder and CEO of a company called choice Juicery.

[00:04:07] We are all about it's all, it's all. Plant-based, it's all organic. It's all. Gluten-free you know, the, the idea of the concept is really that. Make a place where people literally couldn't make a bad choice. Everything on the menu is designed to actually be good for them. Good for the environment.

[00:04:23] Good for their bodies animals. Aren't complaining about it, just all around. It's a, it's a healthy place where you can come and trust that the food that's on the menu is good for you. You don't have to, you know, look at the menu and say, gosh, that burger and fries looks really good. Let me go with a salad.

[00:04:37] You know, that's hard for most people to. So creating an environment where healthy food tastes good. It's actually yummy food. People crave it. It's really good, but at the same time, it's designed to be good for you. And there's nothing in here that's not good for you. So it's kind of the idea behind Joyce.

[00:04:52] I love that I

[00:04:53] Natalie: am really excited to visit one day. So we went into, then this world of nutrition.

[00:04:59] Okay. [00:05:00] And tell me what that looked like as you, as, as you decided, this is what you were going to do and it led to this store, but tell me how

[00:05:07] Nastasha: that looks. Yeah. So early in life, I always like to say I was practically a baby when I ended up in the banking industry and I.

[00:05:14] Got a headstart really early in life. I was on my own pretty early, so I started working early and I was in banking and finance and I was doing pretty well for myself. You know, according to, you know, our standards, you know, as buying houses and toys and all the things. And I was a mom, I was married, all those, all those things everything, but the white picket fence.

[00:05:33] And I was like, okay, I made it. This is what life is all about. And I just, I wasn't fulfilled or happy in any way. Work was just work. I went to work, I made a paycheck. I came home and, you know, just kind of the monotony of life. And I started to ask questions like, I should, it's gotta be more to life than this.

[00:05:47] You know, like this is it. And one day I was actually working with when I had business clients and we were talking about this and he said, you know, if you love what you do, you'll never work another day. I was like, what is, what does that look like? What does that really look like? What [00:06:00] does that mean?

[00:06:01] So I really took an inventory of my life and I was like, well, what do I love? You know, outside of being a mom, which I love, but last time I checked, I don't get paid to be a mom. You know, what is it that I love? And that for me, I realized that. The best part of my day at work was always enough sitting in the break room.

[00:06:15] And I was sitting there eating my little keenwah salad and telling everybody about how the benefits of it and making extra and sharing it, and people would eat and be like, wow, this is really good. This is good for me. And I'd be like, yeah, do you want the recipe? And I'd share recipes. And over the years of working in the bank, I realized like people I worked with unintentionally and untrained at that time, just self-taught at that time.

[00:06:35] Had done things like this girl, Joe, I worked with, she had reversed type two diabetes just by eating the way that I was eating. And I wasn't even classically trained in any way, shape or form at the time and nutrition, just self tie. And that I had learned a lot about plant based nutrition and I was loved food.

[00:06:50] I'm a foodie. And so when I started going plant based, it was really important to me to really enjoy the food that I was eating. So I got creative in the kitchen and I had so much fun with it. And then I would love to share [00:07:00] that with people. And I found that when I said people good food that tasted good.

[00:07:03] They be open to the conversation about like, well, why should I eat this? And you know, why is this good for me? Because they're eating something they can actually appreciate and enjoy. So I'm, at that point, when I had that realization, I realized like, okay, I've got to do something with this. Like, this is, this is where my joy is at.

[00:07:21] So I decided at that point to. Start studying nutrition. And I jumped into like a holistic nutrition program and a um, a plant-based certification program through Cornell has like an online plant based certification program that I did. And I fell even more in love with it. I feel like I didn't learn anything new.

[00:07:37] It was all stuff that I had really learned on my own at some point. Yeah. Yeah. And then from there, I Gotcha. Wasn't except I started teaching actually kind of to bring things full circle. In my childhood, I mentioned that I had some, you know, pain around, you know, the loss of my grandma and some anger and resentment towards Western medicine.

[00:07:56] And then I found myself teaching at Scripps. I was doing a [00:08:00] employee wellness program for them, and I was teaching plant-based cooking and nutrition to one of the largest medical facilities in San Diego. And uh, my students were doctors and nurses, you know, and I remember being. Really nervous about that going into the first you know, class.

[00:08:14] And it was like filled with, I think there was like 30 people in the class and they were all doctors and nurses. And I'm thinking, when am I going to teach doctors and nurses about nutrition, you know, and come to find out like they didn't, they barely had any nutrition. I never knew that prior to that. So you know, they were so open and receptive to everything that I was teaching.

[00:08:32] They loved the class. They loved, you know, I was teaching them how to cook food, why to eat this food. You know, it was such a fun class for me, but I realized over the course of the year that I was doing that, that people weren't making lasting changes. And when I would talk to people about I'm giving, like why, and I'm giving you the tools I'm giving you the recipes, I'm teaching you the why?

[00:08:50] Like, why aren't you implementing this in your life? What I, the hangup I'd always get was the MTV. I can't, I don't have the time to make this for myself. And I'm like, well, there's [00:09:00] always, you know, there's always a healthy option on every menu. You know, you go to any restaurant, there's a salad, there's a healthy option on every menu.

[00:09:06] And people were like, it's really hard to make a good choice when you go to a restaurant and like, you know, you walk in the door and you're being hit in the face with like the smell of fries and a burger. It it's really hard to choose to have the option. So that's when I realized it wasn't enough just to make healthy food tastes good.

[00:09:18] And I realized I had to serve it in a convenient way. It had to be convenient for people like they could grab it and they could go. I also needed to serve it in a place where they couldn't make a bad choice, everything was going to taste good to them. And so that's kind of when I had the dream was born for like creating a place and serving the food to the people in a convenient way and designing a menu that was meant to heal people and keep people healthy.

[00:09:41] Natalie: Tell me about, so plant-based being something that you believe in, but we've seen so many, if you want to say diets or food plans over the years, we focused on protein and I know you can get some protein when you're doing some plant-based. But tell me about that, because I think that's the concern for a lot of people.

[00:09:58] Like I try to keep my [00:10:00] plate, you know, Green and fresh. And then my family eats the chicken or the burger or

[00:10:07] Nastasha: whatever.

[00:10:08] Natalie: Yeah. But tell me about that. Why,

[00:10:10] why that works for you and why you believe in that?

[00:10:14] Nastasha: Absolutely. I think most people are surprised to find out there's actually this really cool documentary.

[00:10:17] I watched a while back and it was interesting. They went around and they were asking people like, where does protein come from? What does protein? And you know, everyone's like protein is animal meat. Like meat, protein is meat from animals. You can find protein in so many different plant foods.

[00:10:31] There's such a huge variety of proteins and plant foods. And we used to have this belief that you needed a complete protein, but our body actually builds proteins when you don't have to have the whole, all of the essential amino acids in one. Sitting, which is what we used to believe. So that's why people thought that, you know, a complete protein was the most important thing.

[00:10:50] You can eat a variety of different proteins and it's amazing. How much easier it is for your body to assimilate those proteins. And. Less [00:11:00] taxing. It is on your body. So one small example, I like to give, when I was taking my holistic nutrition class, they don't subscribe to any nutritional philosophy, but I remember sitting in class one day and they were talking about how we had this like, list of all these ingredients that like these things, not an ingredient, excuse me, nutrients that we need to consume outside of ourselves.

[00:11:17] And there were two lists of places where you could get those. Those nutrients. One of the lists was, you know, animal-based and the other one was plant-based and next to the animal based list, there was all this potential, like dangerous, like too much of this will pause this too much. That will cause this too much of this we'll pause that.

[00:11:35] And the next to the plant lists, there was no sub list. There was no list of negative side effects of getting these things from. List. And I raised my hand. I was like, wait a minute. So shouldn't, we just be getting all those things from this list. And you're just like, whoa, we don't subscribe to any nutritional philosophy, but I'm like, it's right here in the textbook.

[00:11:52] Like those negative effects of eating too many of these things, but you can get all of these essential. [00:12:00] Nutrients from this list without any negative effects. Like to me, it just seems common sense. So I don't like to, I'm not about perfection. I believe in progress over perfection. I'm fully plant-based myself and the lifestyle has been incredible for me and what it's done for my personal health and the people around me in my life, my family.

[00:12:16] But I don't believe that everyone has to be completely plant-based. I think we can all agree that eating more plants is good for us. Right. And I think it's fun to, you know, for people to experience, you know, what it looks like to create a healthy plate that doesn't have an animal-based protein, but plant based protein, you know, there's beans and nuts and seeds.

[00:12:33] There's so many incredible ways to get those proteins. You don't have to. You know, I'm succumb to like the fake meats and all those things that are highly processed. Don't get me wrong every now and again, I don't mind having a veggie burger, but you know, I try to eat whole foods plant-based, you know, versus vegan, which I think is you know, there's a stereotype around veganism and rightly so, I think that some people are vegan just for say the animals, right.

[00:12:55] Or for the environment, but they're not taking their health into account. So I think you can certainly eat an [00:13:00] unhealthy vegan. Just as much as you can eat and trying to healthy, you know, meet late and diet. And I think that you can have a healthy diet and incorporate healthy meat into that diet. I'm not going to sit here and say you can't live a healthy lifestyle and still, you know, have meat be a part of that.

[00:13:14] I know a lot of people that, that live a healthy lifestyle and they eat. They incorporate more plants. They are really responsible with the meat that they choose. So I don't think it's about progress over perfection. I'm a big advocate for the plant-based movement. It's the best thing that I've ever done for my life and my health.

[00:13:29] It's what I serve at my restaurants. That's what I, I believe in. And I think that everybody can thrive on a plant based diet, but yeah, you do have to put a little bit more effort and work into learning it. Okay. Yeah. Once you learn it and understand it and figure out how to cook that way. It's. It becomes, it's such a fun journey to be on.

[00:13:46] Truly.

[00:13:47] I

[00:13:48] Natalie: feel better being plant-based. You said when, when you first decided to do that, you felt different. What is that? What does that

[00:13:54] Nastasha: feel like? Yeah. So for me, I went and plant-based in stages. You know, I [00:14:00] first went pescatarian and I removed red meat and poultry and things like that from my diet. And that first step of doing that, I just noticed a huge impact in my energy levels.

[00:14:09] And then I think it was maybe a year after that, that I removed, you know, eggs and dairy and all those things. And when I went fully plant-based My friends make fun of me all the time. I'm like the Energizer bunny. Like I, I never stopped and people always ask me, how do you do it all? You're a single mom.

[00:14:23] You run this business. You like work out, you know, all the time you have all these hobbies you serve. You like, you're crazy. How do you do it all? Like, and I always say, I could not do it without my diet. Like my diet eating plant-based has given me so much energy that I literally run out of things to do.

[00:14:39] Like, I, I just go, go, go, go, go all the time. But I have the energy for it. My sleep has never been better. My mental health also, I, I came from a family that struggles with mental health. My father took his life. He struggled with mental health. My mom has struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies, her whole life.

[00:14:54] So it runs in the family. So. I found out more and more and more. And [00:15:00] in this life, in this journey of mine, that a lot of the diseases that we think run in our family, like our diet runs in our family, you know? And I think there's a huge correlation there. So I, when I changed my diet that gave me the energy to work out and that energy to work out and working out in the endorphins and all of those things that you get when you have a healthy, active lifestyle changed my mental health.

[00:15:20] I had. Just incredibly balanced energy moods. I'm happy. 99% of the time. Of course, I'm human and we all have our days, but you know, for me, happiness, you still look like, you know, 10% of the time I'd be happy. And I, some of the time I was tired, lethargic, unhappy, you know, depressed even. And in the last, you know, 15 years since I've been plant-based, it's like I am 95%.

[00:15:45] Happy good mood, high energy energy has a huge, huge contribution to our mental health. When we have energy, absolutely feel better when we don't have energy or low energy, it's hard to be happy. So, you know, [00:16:00] I just feel like in so many ways it's had such a positive impact on my life.


[00:16:03] Natalie: everyone. It's Natalie. I am excited to let you know that I'm opening up spaces for collaboration and advertising and sponsorship on this podcast. And on my YouTube channel, if you're a brand looking to grow in the wellness family or mindfulness spaces, I would love to collaborate with you. You can find a link to get in touch with me in the show notes, and you can always find out more about what I'm up to on Natalie


[00:16:34] Tell me about juicing, because I know that's a big part of your life.

[00:16:37] I go through stages of being like I'm going to juice and it's really great and I'll do carrots and apples, and then it kind of falls off the wayside. It's a lot of work. And tell me about that. Why, why that matters, how that helps you? I mean, I know when I have done it, I get immediate energy from that natural food.

[00:16:57] But do you keep up with that? I mean, I know that's what you do there [00:17:00] in your restaurants too. Yeah. What advice do you have for people who are thinking maybe that's what I should do or

[00:17:05] Nastasha: where I should start. Yeah, absolutely. You know, the thing is um, part of the reason why selfishly I started a juice businesses so that I'd never had to like be in the kitchen, you know, throw in those veggies and the thing myself.

[00:17:16] Yeah. You know, it's, it's available all the time now. I get to walk into a store and grab a juice now. And it is, it's a lot of work juicing. It's so much work. So one of the best things you can do in terms of it. For juicing would be to get yourself like a masticating slow juicer. Um, When you do Cintrifuse juice, which most people aren't aware of, the old style juicer, like, you know, you'd walk into a juice store and they like you pick out your things and they throw them inside this machine and it spins it around and spits out this loop, warm juice that juice has already started to oxidize the moment it hits your lips.

[00:17:44] And so we want to stay away from Centra fuse juicers and Cintrifuse juice. We want to stick with like a cold pressed or a slow masticating juicer, and then you can buy them. They, they have. Great in home units. Now it used to be like, you could only buy a commercial grade unit. Now you can buy [00:18:00] in a whole months and do it at home.

[00:18:01] But when you do that, your juice will have at least a few days shelf life. And so, whereas like a centrifuge machine, isn't going to give you a shelf life on your, just you, you juice it and then you drink it and all that mess. And I do it again the next day. It's like a lot of work. So I would say that's a pro tip would be get like a masticating juicer.

[00:18:18] So you can juice a lot for the week kind of like meal prepping. You know, set yourself up for success. But for me juicing and why I fell in love with juicing was I did my first cleanse years ago. This is still when I, I had a love affair with bread and pasta and still ate a lot of processed foods and dairy and all those things were still a big part of my life back then when I did my first cleanse.

[00:18:40] And I remember I did this, it was a, it was a 30 day cleanse and incorporated a lot of things, a smoothie, a few juices. It incorporated a lot of things. But I remember after the 30 days. At first, I remember being really hard cause he couldn't eat. There are so many things you can eat on the cleanse.

[00:18:52] You know, you got you pretty much juicing and drinking smoothies and eating like raw foods for the most part. And I remember after the first 30 [00:19:00] days being like, oh my gosh, I couldn't wait to like go grab a slice of pizza and a beer. I was like, thank God. Let's go celebrate with the. Cause me to want to go do a cleanse to begin with.

[00:19:10] And I remember like feeling horrible after words, you know, and it was funny cause it was like, wow, I've actually felt this way my whole life. But you don't realize that you feel bad until you feel good. Even though I was healthier than 90% of my friends at the time, you know, I still, I still indulge in a lot of foods that weren't good for me.

[00:19:29] Like things like processed, breads and these types of things. And that when I admitted them, I started to feel. Incredible. And part of that was also the juice I was putting in my body. And this high amount of live enzymes, any chance. I mean, when in our lives, are we ever sitting down eating like three plates of broccoli and spinach?

[00:19:47] Like, it doesn't happen. Right. But in a juice you can, in one juice, you can drink like up to six pounds of organic produce. So you're getting all of that. Live enzymes and vitamins and minerals and all the things that are in that juice on such a high level. [00:20:00] I really do believe that it changes your body on a cellular level.

[00:20:03] People have always said like, you are what you eat. And I do agree with that. But I believe that you crave what you eat. So you've noticed ever, like, you know, when you're like slurred, you can have a dessert tonight. It's like the next. Kind of craving another sweet thing. It's like more, you want more? So the same is true when we put good food in our body.

[00:20:19] When we fill ourselves with high amounts of live nutrition, like a raw juice, a raw organic juice. Oh my gosh. When you put that in your body, you notice you'll start to crave those things. Do you feel good? And then you start to notice when you don't feel good and then you want to feel good again. So it's like you really start to get in tune with your body.

[00:20:37] So. That juicing changed my life. That cleanse changed my life. So I'm a huge advocate for cleansing to help people to feel what it feels like to feel.

[00:20:45] Natalie: Let me pause for a second, ask you this because the few times that I have tried to do a cleanse and I know other people are out there like, oh, I'm going to do this.

[00:20:53] I know your body has to adjust to it. And I remember the last time I tried, this was a couple of years ago that I'm just going to do this for a week. And [00:21:00] I bought this kit within the first two days. I had the worst headache of my life. And I remember another health friend of mine saying your body is trying to get rid of all this stuff.

[00:21:12] And the juice is actually helping, but you got to get over that hump. Is that true? Do you find that with a lot of people? Because I think a lot of people stop because they don't feel good right

[00:21:20] Nastasha: away.

[00:21:21] I would agree with that completely. I would say with, with my choice plans, we have, we have a lot less of that.

[00:21:27] I really, we really try to prepare people for a cleanse. Like we have some guidance we give you before you even start your cleanse. Cause there's some things that you can do to help. That cleanse transition. If, if you prepare ahead of time, so we always ask people, you know, start drinking a green juice every day for a couple of days leading up to it starts limiting all.