THE PLUMBER AND HIS NINGXIA RED

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Wellness isn’t his thing.

Lean by nature and physically fit by trade – with arms and torso of steel – Bob Pizzolato, a N.J. licensed master plumber, is a hard-core ‘Jersey boy.’  His breakfast of choice is porkroll-egg-and-cheese; dinner, a dry-aged steak. In lieu of the gym, he rides a Harley Davidson, captains a boat.

No, wellness was never on his plate.

But just as I’ve swapped out filmy white sundresses and high-strappy sandals for black leather and boots to Harley ride into the night, my plumber has made his way to the ‘spa side.’ After our first spa weekend away, he confessed a love of massage, even long hot soaks laced with sea salts and oil. Over time, he’s added more vegetables, greens specifically, to his palette. And most shocking, to me, started taking daily shots of my NingXia Red (aka ‘wolfberry/goji’ juice).

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Created by Young Living Founder Gary Young, NingXia Red is a high-in-antioxidant wellness cocktail loaded with wolfberries from the NingXia region of China – long considered a ‘national treasure.’ In concocting the drink, Young added to the coveted Ningxia wolfberries – pomegranate, red raspberries, blueberries and therapeutic-grade essential oils of yuzu, lemon, tangerine and orange.

In 1996, Young Living became the first large-scale importer of Ningxia wolfberries into the United States. But founder Gary Young’s interest in the potent berries came years before – in the 1980s when he joined a team of US and Chinese scientists to study the astounding effects the berries had on longevity. The Ningxia province of China is widely known for its centenarian population – here, large numbers of elders live well past 100 years, free of disease.

Young recounts a physician he met during his time in Ningxia. “Dr. Lee walked three miles a day, practiced yoga and meditation daily, and after a breakfast of wolfberries, began his rounds treating patients,” says Young. “Dr. Lee was not unusual – except for the fact that he was 103 years old.”

Young continues another story of a 120-year old woman, who stopped working in her garden, to invite him inside for lunch. “She put down her hoe and started moving toward the house,” Young recalls. “Just being a gentleman, I cradled her elbow to help her up the stairs.  But her daughter, in her 90s, slapped my hand, scolding me, that mother was capable of walking up the stairs herself.”

The Ningxia berry has been heralded for more than 5000 years in China for its ability to strengthen the eyes, liver, kidneys, bones and muscles. And to fortify ‘chi’ (life force). Researchers attribute the berry’s arsenal antioxidant properties for warding off diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiac.

Antioxidants are produced naturally in the body to neutralize ‘free radicals’ – molecules created as result of normal metabolic function, toxicity and polluted environments. When free radicals are not kept in check, the molecules become damaged, leading to inflammation, rapid aging and illness.  Because it is nearly impossible for the body to produce enough antioxidants on its own to successfully balance free radicals, incorporating high-in-antioxidant foods into the diet is widely recommended. Blueberries, red raspberries and pomegranate are among the most celebrated high-in-antioxidant foods. But the Ningxia wolfberry is said to contain the highest amount of antioxidants of any other ‘superfood.

“The Ningxia wolfberry is higher in Vitamin C than oranges, has more beta carotene than carrots and more calcium than cauliflower,” says Young. “It contains 18 amino acids, 21 essential minerals.”

In creating his Ningxia Red drink, Young has raised the antioxidant bar even higher. To receive the same amount of antioxidants as found in one ounce of Ningxia Red, one would have to consume four pounds of carrots, eight oranges, two quarts of carrot juice, two pounds of raw beets, two cups of beet juice, three cups of blueberries, two cups of raspberries and one pint of orange juice. Yes, in a single serving.

Anyone close to me – or simply has seen my refrigerator – knows I never have that much food in my house at any one time. So within only a few days of drinking Ningxia Red `shots,’ I am sold. My mind feels sharper, happier; my physical body more energetic; and my skin more radiant. The plumber, of course, is skeptical. Grumpy even when I raise my red-juice-filled crystal liquor glass in salut. Days turn to weeks before he finally relents, agreeing to try ‘just a sip’ – a gesture made more to silence me than out of his own curiosity or wellbeing.

And then, the magic happens.

“Not bad. Tastes okay,” he says nonchalantly.

“You’ll have to drink it for a few days. To feel a difference.”

“Nah,” he replies. “But thanks.”

Still, I raise my glass to him. Drinking solo. Until one morning, in reaching for my always-ice-cold bottle, I notice the liquid is disappearing faster than I’m consuming it. I raise my eyes in question. And aware of my observation, he shyly confesses.

“I’ve been drinking it. I feel pretty good. Younger. More energy.”

I smile.

“You have another bottle right,” he says.

“No. This is the last. I have to order another.”

“How long does that take?”

“Depends on shipping – a few days probably.”

“Are we going to run out?” There is desperation to his voice.

“Yes.”

“We can’t. We need to order now. Ship overnight.”

“It will still be a few days.”

Sheer panic now. His face is contorted.

“Can’t we get a bottle from someone?”

Laughter swells in me as I take to social media – making the plea for a bottle of Ningxia Red to the masses. Intervention is swift.  A friend immediately shares my post, as does one of her friends. And so on. Within only a few hours my Ningxia Red angel – Meg, a massage therapist, who lives within walking distance of my home – appears. Waving red-juice in greeting.

As I chat in gratitude with my new, around-the-corner friend, the plumber politely steals the bottle away, placing it in the refrigerator to chill.

Note: To date, we’ve had no more close calls. When the last Ningxia Red is opened, an order is placed. For eight bottles. Billable to the plumber.

 

 

 

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